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Comfort food from mamma’s kitchen

By Dina Boucher

Published 11:26 PDT, Fri May 24, 2024

In part two of this series, the price of groceries continues to impact everyone’s household budget. As a senior, preparing meals for two, I can’t imagine how families are managing. On a recent grocery shopping spree I took a photo of the grocery cart and sent it to friends with caption “this is what $300 buys today”. Years ago, I took a culinary course learning to cook exotic foods from around the world and it was great fun for dinner parties to experiment on our friends. Would I do it today, probably not. 

That’s why today, I would rather be realistic and share menu ideas from mamma’s kitchen comfort food recipes that are based on keeping it affordable yet hearty. Going back to my roots, my parents who both came from large families taught me the value of preparing a meal that generates lots of left over recipes. From today’s principle recipe I am including leftover recipe ideas which is based on cooking for two so for a large family it’s okay to add more sauce or vegetables. 

Our principle recipe is spaghetti and meat sauce and from the leftover sauce I make lasagna (8 servings which I freeze individual portions) or sloppy joes, chili, stuffed baked potato and one of my childhood favourites macaroni casserole. As always you can add lots of vegetables and extra sauce to stretch a meal even further while maintaining nutrition.

Spaghetti meat sauce

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 cup finely chopped onion

3 garlic buds crushed

1 green bell pepper chopped

3 celery sticks chopped 

1 tsp oregano

2 large cans of marinara sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

1 pkg. Tex Mex 3 shredded cheeses

1 pkg. spaghetti noodles

1 large pot

1 large frying pan

1 strainer

Step one

• in frying pan brown lean beef

• add garlic 

• add onion

• add pinch salt & pepper

• drain liquid

• put meat ingredients in large pot

• stir in gradually 

• marinara sauce

• tomato paste

• green peppers

• celery

• simmer on low temperature for 2 hrs.

• turn heat off, cover & let flavours blend

• stir occasionally

Step two

• in a large pot add 

• water, pinch of salt, drop of olive oil

• for each serving 1 small fistful of noodles

• bring water to a boil

• cut a noodle in half if there’s no white dot the spaghetti is cooked.

• drain noodles in strainer

• rinse well in hot water

• shake excess water from noodles

• with utensil transfer noodles to dinner plates

• put desired amount of meat sauce on noodles

• sprinkle grated cheese on top of sauce

Left overs—homemade lasagna

Preparation instructions

9” x 12” baking dish

2 pots with boiling water

left over spaghetti meat sauce

package Tex Mex 3 shredded cheeses

6 lasagna noodles

½ cup macaroni noodles

• heat left over spaghetti sauce

• ½ cup macaroni noodles in boiling water

• cook 2 min. less than pkg. instructions

• rinse in strainer and set aside

• cook 6 lasagna strips in boiling water

• cook 2 min. less then pkg. instructions

• rinse in strainer, handle gently

• in a 9” x 12” baking dish

• lay 2 lasagna strips on bottom of dish

• cover lasagna with a light layer of meat sauce

• next spread macaroni noodles evenly 

• spread a layer of meat sauce evenly

• sprinkle shredded cheese covering evenly

• next lay 2 more lasagna strips 

• spread a layer of meat sauce evenly

• sprinkle shredded cheese covering evenly

• place a third layer of 2 lasagna strips 

• spread a layer of meat sauce evenly

• sprinkle shredded cheese covering evenly

• cover baking dish with tin foil

• place in oven 350 degrees for 50 minutes

• remove tin foil and cook until golden brown

• remove from oven, place on board to cool

I like to cover with tin foil and store in the refrigerator and serve the next day when it’s nice and firm. That’s not to say it can’t be served after baking just let it set for 20 minutes. It serves eight.

Left overs—sloppy joes

• heat up spaghetti sauce

• warm a hamburger bun

• place heated sauce between the two buns

• close bun add a little sauce on top

• sprinkle a little Tex Mex 3 cheeses

• serve with coleslaw

Left overs—stuffed baked potato

• wash and bake potato until tender

• slice in half but not all the way through

• with a fork loosen the potato from skin enough to allow the sauce to blend

• sprinkle Tex Mex 3 cheeses on top 

• place in oven for 5 mins. until cheese melts

We find a large potato is very filling on its own. 

Good to know

I find buying lemons one at a time is very expensive so I always buy a bag. Don’t wash them, wrap each Lemon individually in saran wrap and refrigerate. A bag can last me up to three months. I tested this on grapefruit as well and it works.

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