|Spaghetti and Meatballs|
Case in point, spaghetti and meatballs. Lately, we've been buying a lot of ready-made stuff that is easy to heat up because I've been slammed at work for the last few months. However, I actually have a little bit of a lull going on right now thanks to the fact that I just got rid of a pretty demanding client, so we've been able to cook a little bit more. That's been nice to say the least!
Last night, we kind of did the semi-homemade thing (yes, I believe in Sandra Lee -- deal with it) with some spaghetti and meatballs. It was definitely the best spaghetti and meatballs I've ever personally made or served. I'll have to think about it, but I may just have preferred this to even the restaurant versions I've had. I will definitely be doing this again in the future. It was easy, fast, and convenient... but so flavorful and tasty we just couldn't believe our taste buds.
All it was was a jar of spaghetti sauce with one of those McCormick spaghetti sauce seasoning packets mixed in for extra kick. I also doctored it up with about 3/4 of a cup of Burgundy (nothing fancy, just some boxed wine we had on hand) and some things from out of the herb cabinet (basil, thyme, parsley, red pepper flakes, and ground garlic). I simmered it in a big pan until it started to bubble, adding water as needed to keep it from getting thicker than I wanted. Then I just dumped in a bag of "homestyle" Safeway meatballs and let the whole thing cook until the meatballs were hot.
|Delicious Garlic Bread|
I don't know why it never occurred to me to actually simmer the meatballs in the sauce like that, but it hadn't until I saw this ancient episode of Kitchen Nightmares on Netflix a little while back. Gordon Ramsay was telling some dude that owned an Italian restaurant that if he absolutely had to use meatballs that had been frozen, that that was a good way to make sure they were as delicious as possible. I decided to try it with the frozen Safeway meatballs as a sort of experiment and was really pleased with the results.
The sauce made the meatballs really tender and flavorful. The meatballs made the sauce really rich and amazing. You'd never know this was just a bunch of prepared foods and dried herbs from the spice cabinet that were on hand. The whole thing was out-of-this-world delicious, especially when served alongside some garlic bread that consisted of my famous garlic butter on a loaf of "everything bread" that my mom brought home the other day.
Seriously, I don't know why so many people bag on techniques like the ones Sandra Lee uses to make semi-homemade meals. Yeah, meals made from scratch are pretty damned awesome... but they're not really realistic for most of us really busy people to put together at the end of a long day. We literally don't have time and when we have time, we probably don't have the energy. That said, it's sometimes a necessity to turn to convenience food in order to keep bellies full. It's so much nicer to simply use them as ingredients in creations of your own though.
I'd take this over a can of Chef Boyardee or a frozen TV dinner any day of the week. It was certainly just as convenient and probably 50 times tastier and more cost-effective. This made enough to not only feed us last night, but definitely for at least two more meals going forward as well. Can't beat that! It was fast and easy, too.