I got distracted by some scuttlebutt this morning. The usual internet conversation, that isn’t really a conversation at all, because nobody has to listen, they just get to spout off. This one was concerning the idealizing of family dinners. As usual, people are “for” and “against” (or, rather, just have unrealistic expectations that, surprise, they can’t live up to).
I think family dinners are important for many reasons (an opportunity to connect with each other, to show each other that we’re worth slowing down for, to share food and love), but do I sit down to a home cooked meal at a table, without TV, with forks and knives and napkins, a blessing, and, actual conversation every night? No. I have two kids under 12, of course there are ballet lessons, swimming and piano lessons, work meetings, school meetings, rehearsals, and just plain exhaustion that all must be accommodated. Sometimes we have “TV dinner”, sometimes we feed the kids mac and cheese and broc and we eat later, sometimes I’m out teaching other people to cook, smack at dinner time, and the husband and kids are on their own – who knows what they eat for dinner? That’s life. Am I still “for” family dinners? Absolutely! But do we all just need to relax, go with the flow, and stop trying to be perfect? Yes.
Beef Noodle Quick Dish. “Is it really quick?” asked my kids. Well, it takes a few minutes to brown the ground beef, then about 30 minutes to simmer, so, no, not really quick, as in “ding! goes the microwave” quick, but it still fits the bill for a weeknight, family pleasing meal, and I’m not messing with the title. It’s what my mom called it back when we had family dinners in the 70’s. The reality is this is a tasty, easy, one-skillet meal and you just need a few pantry ingredients and some ground meat to pull it off.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- ½ red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 jar diced tomatoes (Jovial brand 18.3 oz.) or 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 ½ tsp. sugar or honey
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp granulated garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
- 8 oz. dried pasta (Ancient Grain gluten free works great! I like using the fusilli or elbow.)
- 1 cup water
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a wide, deep skillet (mine is 4 qt., about 10 inches wide, 3 - 4 inches deep). Add the ground beef, onion and pepper and cook until browned then drain off the fat.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, red wine, water, sugar or honey, salt, and garlic powder. Simmer 10 minutes.
- Add pasta and 1 cup water. Stir to combine, bring to boil, then lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Taste pasta, it should be "just about done", if not, simmer an extra 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, put lid back on and let sit 5 minutes. Ready for dinner!
Amy’s Kitchen Coach Tips
- Serve with a tablespoon of sour cream, if you like that kind of thing. Or plain.
- The gluten-free pastas from Ancient Grain work great in this. Or use any small shape of dried pasta. Rustichella d’Abruzzo is my other favorite pasta, gluten-ful, this one…but it’s Italian, and it’s organic, so unless you’ve got celiac, give it a try! (Bozeman people, Joe’s Parkway stocks a nice selection.)
- I try to buy my tomatoes in glass, to minimize exposure to BPA liners in cans, especially for acidic contents like tomatoes. Jovial are my favorite pantry tomatoes! (Bozeman: Huckleberry’s at Rosauer’s)
- Thanks, Mom!