When my son was a little guy his friend's family invited him out to dinner. I offered to send some money for his food, but the friend's parents wouldn't hear of it. When Austin returned from dinner out, I had the usual questions for him. "So where did Michael's parents take you to dinner." "Red Lobster, Austin replied." "Oh, how nice, I remarked. They have a wonderful children's menu. What did you have?" "Lobster, he says. It was so good mom." Eek! You know lobster was not on the children's menu. Another embarrassing mom moment where I was remiss in instructing my little one in proper ordering etiquette. Aack! You learn a lot with the first kid.
[Monkey brains graphic I saved you from. NEVER Google images for "Monkey Brains"]
Another time, Austin was invited to dinner at a neighbor friend's home. He's kind of a picky eater, so I wasn't sure he'd enjoy the meal, but I did instruct him how to behave and react properly even if he was served live monkey brains. When he came home he was bragging about how wonderful the meal was. I asked him what was was for dinner and he said "Hamburger Helper." Aack! After all those years of listening to the pediatrician and not serving white bread, hot dogs, Hamburger Helper, etc., my picky eater had found his favorite food.
I bought Hamburger Helper a couple of times, but then I remembered this recipe a co-worker gave me before my kids were born. It's a family favorite now even when I make it with ground turkey. Just don't tell them it's turkey. ; ) Hence, the Turkey Assistant title.
Chili-Mac or Spanish Rice (Turkey Assistant)
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, chopped
1 green, red, yellow or orange bell pepper
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder (or more)
salt and pepper
8 oz. elbow noodles, cooked al dente (I liked the stuff above. Whole wheat pasta works great too.)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Brown ground beef and drain fat. If using turkey, use a small amount of olive oil to brown the turkey and add the Worcestershire sauce to boost flavor. Add onion and pepper and continue cooking until vegetables soften. Toss in some puréed acorn squash if you're in to tricking your family. I plead the fifth. Add diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook noodles and grate cheese. Add to beef and tomato mixture and heat until cheese melts. Garnish with Italian parsley if desired.
Spanish rice version: Instead of the pasta, add 1 cup uncooked rice before you cover and simmer. Once the rice is cooked, add the cheese.
Note: the original recipe has a 10 oz. package of frozen green beans and an extra can of diced tomatoes, but my son won't eat this dish if I add anything resembling a bean. Told you he was picky. I usually serve green beans or peas on the side and add in a tossed salad or crudités platter which he will eat.
Back to sewing tomorrow. It's the weekend and the weather is going to be perfect for bike riding, boating, pool sitting and a little back porch sewing. Have fun everyone!