Monday, February 25, 2013

We'll prepare and serve with flair a culinary cabaret

Today I share what is probably my most beloved, and almost certainly my most used recipe.  I call it (drumroll . . . . )  Killer Spaghetti Sauce.

Really, it's a rigatoni sauce recipe that I took from the oft-mentioned Utah Festival Opera cookbook.  If you're tired of hearing about the book, never fear.  The fact is, once I write about this one, I'm pretty sure we'll be done with all of my favorites from that book.

If you happen to be my neighbor or a local friend, it's quite possible that you either 1)have already had this sauce or 2)will have this sauce within the next year or two.  That's because here in Cantwell-ville, we've been trying to be more consistent in opening our home to others lately, and one of the ways we've been doing that is having biweekly supper guests.  We generally do it on Monday nights, and follow our meal with a short and casual (it has to be short--Heather's attention span isn't long enough for anything more) family home evening activity.

Doing this has been awesome! We've all loved the increased comfort and camaraderie that comes from sharing a meal and conversation together, and making all that happen has really helped us all feel more familiar with our neighbors.  I highly recommend it.

Anyway, because we generally do all of this on a Monday evening, and because Monday evenings tend to be a little overwhelming for me, what with the house being in "post-weekend-mess" state, and just the general "Monday-at-work-ness" that happens at the beginning of the work week, it's essential that this meal be something easy, something I'm not going to stress over, something that's yummy, but also almost auto-pilot if you will.

Enter Killer Spaghetti Sauce.  I throw all the stuff into the pot on Sunday afternoon and let it simmer away for a few hours.  If I'm feeling somewhat ambitious I'll make a loaf of Heidi's easy French Bread, but as often as not, I pick up (or have Eric pick up) a loaf at the grocery store on Monday.  Put together a salad or veggie plate, reheat the sauce, boil the noodles, set the table, pull out the ice cream for dessert, and we're good to go.  Easy peasy.

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Don't judge me by that drip pan okay?  Cleaning them is on my list.  Unfortunately, it's a long list. It may be awhile.

We use Angel Hair Pasta.  Regular spaghetti is much too thick for our ultra-refined palates.
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Sometimes I'll butter the bread, sprinkle it with garlic powder and salt (since for some reason I haven't gotten around to replacing our garlic salt), and bake it for 5-10 minutes at 350 or so.  Voila!  Garlic bread!
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Veggie plates are pretty easy.  I like the veggie dip recipe here.  I've used fat-free greek yogurt before as the base, and even for fat-free, it's pretty darn tasty.
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Anyway, here's the recipe for the awesome sauce:

Rigatoni (a/k/a Killer Spaghetti Sauce)
(UFOMT Cookbook, Michael Ballam’s recipe)

Brown and season ½ -1 lb ground beef well.  Drain excess fat.

1 onion and ½ green pepper (chopped), in ½ cup beef bouillon 5 minutes.

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp A-1 sauce
1 Tbs Olive oil
1/8 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
1 can tomato sauce with bits  (I often use my own frozen tomato sauce here.  However, when I do that, I have to be sure to let the sauce simmer for an hour or two, because my sauce tends to be quite thin unless it's condensed that way.  Also--I generally throw in a bit of my frozen roasted tomatoes or roasted tomato paste.  Sooooo yummy!)
¼ tsp parsley flakes
garlic salt
¼ tsp salt
¾ tsp course ground pepper

Return meat to pan, serve over noodles, with coarse ground pepper and plenty of cheese. 

Note:  Sometimes (as in the picture shown above), I find that I've accidentally cut the onions up too big to be acceptable for the likes of picky children.  When that happens, I just run the sauce (once it's cooled) through the blender to smooth it out a bit and hide the onions and green peppers.  If it's just our family or our family plus grown-ups though, I leave the sauce as is.  I like it a little bit on the chunky side, personally.

5  points for the name of the song
2 points for the name of the musical

other points awarded by whim


Ryan + Angie said...

Be Our Guest, Beauty and the Beast. I'm shocked and honored to be the first to comment. I play this game behind the scenes every year. :)

Jeri said...

OH SHOOT! I knew this one, and thought I had a good chance of being first since I was sitting here at the computer working... but just missed it! oh well. Can I get a point since next year Aaron will be in the school's production of Beauty and the beast, or do i have to actually wait until next years MMM to claim those points, since it hasn't happened yet?

I should get a point for being one of your CULINARY guinea pigs while living in college ave. Rotating through the cookbook... love it!

Jeri said...

just thought of a few other things that maybe I can get points for... I loved Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts! (in the Disney movie version.) She was the PERFECT voice! I used to love watching her each week on "Murder, she wrote." I also got lucky one year and scored some tickets to the MOTAB Christmas Concert with Angela Lansbury... At that concert she sang one of the songs from B & the B... is it called "tale as old as time?" or just "beauty and the beast?" either way, she sang it, and sounded the same as she always does. :) Speaking of MOTAB, I participate in our stake choir every chance I get - and yes, we are awesome - and last year our "guest conductor" was...

wait for it...

Mac Wilberg! Ya, pretty cool eh? Ryan Murphy, the assistant director, usually comes down to run a rehearsal with us, but this year we got Wilberg himself. It was fun. (our director sang with the choir for while, and is good friends with both of them - so we are super blessed that way :)

This making dinner bi- weekly is a great idea. We used to do something like it when it was just Tim & I, and even into the Aaron days - but now our house is already a little crowded... but perhaps i should start inviting our primary teachers and their spouses over for dinner - typically they are just young couple, so we should be able to squeeze them in :) - certainly somethign to think about

Charlotte said...

Seven big points to Angie for musical and title, another point for being first on the board, and ANOTHER point for playing in front of the curtain instead of behind the scenes this year!

TOTAL--9 big ones!

Jeri gets a point each for having a kid slated to be in the show, being one of the fair testers of my early recipes, and seeing Angela Lansbury in person. The whims allow no points today for the Mac Wilberg conducting experience, though that IS cool.

Furthermore, I think you should start inviting people over, even if you are crowded. We once invited a family over that had SEVEN kids. That's eight kids and four parents for TWELVE people in our little townhome. We set up three folding tables in addition to our dining room table and ate in the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. It was like a little Thanksgiving all our own, and we all had a ball. I highly recommend it. Personally, I've found that people don't care too much where they eat or what they eat, but just that someone cares enough to want to spend time with them and have them in their home.

Jake said...

Have you heard Justin bieber s song "beauty and a beat"? Melissa hates it so naturally I think you should check it out. My favorite line is "we're gonna party like its 3012 tonight". I wonder what it's like to party like you're 120 years old.

Charlotte said...

I'll give you a point for that Jake. I'm almost always up for a good beat.

Carol said...

All I have on this one is that I saw Beauty and the Beast on stage here in Denver. I actually saw it twice. I loved it so much that I just had to bring my nephews and niece to see it (further proof that I am the world's greatest Aunt). It is a fond memory for all of us.

On another note - Paige Davis who was the host of one of my FAVORITE shows "Trading Spaces", got her start and met her hubby while performing in Beauty and the Beast. (By the way -did you know that this awesome show is on it's way back? Yea!) Paige played Babette the Feather Duster and he (Patrick Page - thank goodness she doesn't have to be Paige Page) played Lumiere.

I'm thinking that some whim points should be in place here for documenting my status as World's Greatest Aunt and for tying together Beauty and the Beast with my other favorite topic - DIY!

Carol said...

One more comment on the recipe - I used your recipe for tomato paste this last fall. BIG hit! When I canned my Spaghetti Sauce, I used my homemade paste for the base. Talk about homemade yummieness (how could that not be a word?). At Christmas I asked for and got (early) a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. Family and friends got home grown and then made sauce with homemade pasta. Even the picky kids loved the spinach pasta that I made.

I am out of sauce but still have paste. I'm making homemade lasagna for my Mom's church next week and will be using the paste then! Thanks for sharing!

Melissa Corry said...

I love the song "Home" that was written for the Broadway production. My favorite line from it is "But I know that I can't solve my problems going back." It is a wonderful reminder to me when I start to play the "if only" game.

Charlotte said...

Carol: One point for having seen B&B live, and another point for being an awesome aunt. One more point for those interesting facts about Paige Davis. One more point for the details on your own pasta culinary cabaret. Total points = 4

Melissa: a point for the reminder of that awesome song.

If I were going for whim points, I would tell you all that my favorite song in the musical is a jaunty number called "No Matter What", and it's a duet with Belle and her father, where they sing about how they will love each other no matter what may come. Years ago I used to dream about singing this duet with my own father in a stake talent show or something, which if you know my dad at all, you might giggle a little and realize that there is a better chance of my dad running for and winning a presidential election than there is of this actually happening. But, I still love the song. Maybe in the next life. . . (?)

Charlotte said...

P.S. It's a BARNBURNER!!! Three way tie for first place! Woo-hoo!

Mom C said...

I saw Patrick Page in Cedar. He appeared in a BBC production they filmed on the Adams Shakespeare stage. My understanding was we'd see a Shakespeare production, instead they filmed less than 5 minutes, no costumes, can't remember what he said, and we were done. I bought tickets for that!
It was filmed in the Adams because that was (is) the most authentic reproduction of the Globe Theatre.

Mom C said...

Lisa Minelli was the one that brought Cabaret to my knowledge. It isn't what I think of when I think of Beauty and the Beast but it is talking about a dinner show, or burlesque, usually with adult themes. Wikipedia says like the ones in Las Vegas, that have mostly dissapeared. However, they mention the Tropicana and Dad and I unfortunately, saw the show at the Tropicana.More nudity than we ever saw again, I can tell you! We probably don't deserve a point for that, maybe for honesty, but in our defense, you have to remember we were just little ole hicks from the sticks.

Mom C said...

When I remember, I throw in some of the frozen roasted tomatoes when I make the cross country spaghetti dinner. They make it thicken up in a hurry. Some of the kids really, really like it. I'll have to try your recipe. I make my big cooking pot full and then bottle the leftovers. This year I didn't have enough to bottle.

Mom C said...

I love that you are having families to dinner! That is a wonderful tradition. I hope you keep it up.

Harmony said...

I always make enough spaghetti sauce to freeze for another meal. It's one of my go-to quick and easy meals for nights when there isn't time to cook--usually Crazy Tuesdays, as we've come to call them at our house.

I love sharing a meal and an evening with friends or potential friends. Thanks for the reminder that it doesn't have to be fancy to be enjoyable.

Any whim points out there for having seen the inimitable Patrick Page in his early years on stage at the USF? I think I saw him in Othello in the late 80's.

Charlotte said...

Points to both Mom and Harmony for having seen Patrick Page (who lest you all forget met his wife while performing in "Beauty and the Beast") live. Also, you both get points for sharing with us your spaghetti modus operandi.

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