Great prompt for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop:
Mary and I wouldn’t exactly qualify as “healthy eaters.” We do have fruit, but that’s about all. At times she makes a turkey breast in the slow cooker (her secret: put an entire stick of butter into the cavity), a “healthy” dish or soup (she makes excellent soups). I often joke that her contribution to haute cuisine is cheese, because many of her dishes contain that ingredient.
A few years ago, we found ourselves with two boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (or it might have been the store-brand equivalent) and a pound of ground beef that was about 24 hours away from going bad. She said, “I have an idea. Why don’t we fry up the ground beef, make the mac and cheese, and mix the two of them together?” I was game, so that’s what we did. And we loved it. I remember saying, “let’s make this again,” and that’s what we did. It became a staple of the Holton dinner table.
A few months later, she found a recipe that took fried ground turkey, canned tomatoes, diced jalapeño peppers, rice, and of course cheese. That was another winner, so that was added to the menu. After a while, they earned the names “mac glop” and “rice glop.”
We haven’t made those in some time, because we’ve discovered a new favorite dinnertime ingredient: Rice-A-Roni, The San Francisco Treat.
One night, I was preparing a box of Rice-A-Roni for dinner, and I read the back of the box, where the manufacturer talks about how to “Make Rice-A-Roni A Meal!” It was the same idea as rice and mac glop, except after preparing the meat, you make the Rice-A-Roni in the same frying pan by dumping the ingredients in with the meat, bringing them to a boil, and allowing to simmer for fifteen minutes, just like it says to on the package. We just had ground beef with beef Rice-A-Roni last night, and some time in the near future (Sunday, maybe), we’ll make ground turkey with broccoli and cheese Rice-A-Roni. A while back, we had a couple of chicken breasts that had been in the refrigerator for a week or so. We needed to use them soon, or they’d end up stinking up the refrigerator. No problem! Mary cooked them up in the microwave, chopped the meat, and we mixed it with chicken Rice-A-Roni. Deeee-licious!
A closely-related ingredient is Noodle Roni; we’ve used it much the same way as its corporate twin to invent dishes using ground meat. There are more options for the noodles, including Knorr’s noodle side dishes and the noodle sides that come under the Kroger brand.
Not exactly the healthiest diet, mind you, but we never starve… they’re cheap (less expensive than Hamburger Helper, I think), quick to make, and most importantly, tasty. Besides, we can’t have hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza (the frozen pizzas available today are far and away better than they were in the Sixties and Seventies, and certainly better than anything we can order here) every night.
I’m looking forward to hearing what your favorite unhealthy foods are!