Making Dinner for Mom

If you read my post called A Chocolate Mess in the Kitchen, you may recall that I love recipes that are extremely simple and/or start with a mix and have very few ingredients. Because my mother, who lives in assisted living, complains daily about the horrible food, I try to provide her with at least one meal a week that comes either from my kitchen or a restaurant she enjoys. Most of the time, Im the one who cooks the meal, because I usually take the para-transit, so its impossible to stop by a restaurant to pick up meals.

Often, Im tired, or my schedule is really hectic, but I dont mind cooking for her, because she is so appreciative. I try to make casseroles or something that is easy to transport. Pippen likes it when I bring food too. One time, I was dishing out some beef and noodles, when I accidentally got the serving dish too close to the edge of the table and dumped it out onto the floor. Before I realized what I had done, Pippen was on it like a flash, gobbling as fast as she could. Fortunately, there was enough on our plates already for a good-sized meal.

Last night, I brought over a dish I had never made before, but thats typical of me. I often try out recipes on my mother. Even if its dreadful, she loves it, because she loves me. I have a cookbook of one-pot recipes that I adore, called Glorious One-Pot Meals. One of the reasons I love this book is that every recipe ends the same way, with an exact baking time. None of this Bake until golden, or bake until browned on the edges. That doesnt quite work for me. The thing that is amazing is that the recipe says to bake it for 45 minutes or until 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal escapes the oven. Its true! Just about the time you think, hey thats starting to smell done, in about 3 minutes, the timer goes off. Its really fun to use the recipes for company, not only because theyre good, but also because nobody believes it until they experience it themselves.

Now I could just leave you hanging and tell you to go get the book out of the library and look up the recipe, but here it is with my notations at the end.

Pasta With Meatballs

2 cups rotini, ½ tsp. olive oil, ¾ lb. ground meat, such as beef or turkey, 1 large egg, lightly beaten, ¼ cup bread crumbs, ¼ tsp. sea salt, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, 1 12-oz. jar marinara sauce, 2 carrots, sliced into coins, half a zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into half inch slices, half a yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced.

Preheat oven to 450. Spray inside and lid of a cast-iron dutch oven with olive oil. Scatter pasta in pot. Add 2/3 cup water and olive oil, and stir to make an even layer. Make the meatballs with meat, egg, bread crumbs, salt, and parsley. Add the number of meatballs you need per person onto the pasta. Freeze the rest for another day. Pour in half the sauce. Layer in the vegetables. Lightly season with salt. Pour on the rest of the sauce. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until about 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal escapes the oven.

Heres what Id say if I were reading this recipe to you. First, you dont really need fresh parsley. The meatballs are good without it. When I made this meal for my mother and me, I put in just 6 meatballs. I used lean ground beef. I also used prepared bread crumbs, and I added a little pepper. Okay, I also added a little seasoned salt. I dont like carrots, so I left them out but used a whole zucchini.

For those of you who dont read print, this book is available from the BARD site. I keep it on my Victor Reader Stream, with bookmarks on my favorite recipes. Bon appetit.

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