Meatballs and Murder

Aaah, the meatball.  That all purpose comfort food staple generally associated with Italian cuisine but versatile enough to morph into almost any ethnic version of itself.  Who hasn’t grabbed a few from the slow cooker at a potluck with them swimming in Barbecue sauce or found joy in taking them to the islands; Hawaiian style over rice.  Making a brown gravy, slopping in some sour cream and they become a fabulous Swedish import; the Volvo of weeknight menus at the family table.

A pound of lean ground beef, an egg and about a half a package of saltines, neatly pulverized with my hand blender, all mushed up.  I don’t season the meat because I always sauce up my meatballs and the sauce is always the star of the show!  Form a half a dozen balls, place in an 8 x 8 baking dish, cover with foil and bake it at 375° for about 30 minutes, or to the nearest “Wheel of Fortune” commercial break after 30 minutes are up.

Every night I assemble dinner with the six o’clock news as background and watch the “Wheel” while it’s all perking away.  I love word puzzles and I have discovered that word games are about the only thing Mr. Man will play at parties.  As a matter of fact, last Saturday we were at a party and Catch Phrase (the hand held electronic version) got whipped out.  Keep in mind, that no one is ever fully sober when we start playing games.  Ever.  Which insures that no matter what we play, hilarity will ensue.   Although we had not played it before, Mr. Man and I played quite well and there was only one clue that Mr. Man was unable to get a guess on from anyone; Penitentiary.  It was a lot of fun and I’d definitely play again.

So back to the meatballs.  Have you ever had them with mashed potatoes?  Yes?  No?  Well, until Mr. Man, I had never heard of it.  Meatballs and mashed potatoes was a childhood favorite of his and about a year into our courtship, he asked me to make them and my immediate thought for the sauce was ‘onion gravy’, thinking that WOULD be good.

No.  He wanted them with red sauce.  He does not like Italian food, at all, so I found this quite perplexing.  Ohhh-kaaaay.  Skeptically,  I did as he asked and it was freaking good and got slapped on the ‘winter comfort food’ list and considering how it’s not been above freezing here for a week, that’s what got served last night.

Because I am all about my two best peeps, lazy and easy, after the original 30 minutes are up on the meatballs, I pour about a half a jar of sauce on them, turn them and then put the foil back on and return them to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  The fewer pans to clean, the better, mostly because the dishwasher we have is me.

Every time we sit down to Meatballs and mashed, Mr. Man says “Steve Cannaday”.  Why?, you may ask.  Because it was in grade school that Steve Cannaday’s mother served Mr. Man meatballs and mashed potatoes for the first time.   Buddies since Kindergarten, they lost touch after Steve murdered his wife, Melissa.  Stabbed her to death for reasons not known to Mr. Man.  No one heard from Steve after he got sent up, not one word has ever trickled through the grapevine of what happened to him.  Is he still alive?  Did he ever get out?  What?  Nothing.

As usual, the serving of Meatballs and mashed last night caused us to go over the same story of Steve and wondering what happened and as I was clearing the dishes I said to Mr. Man, “Oh!  Next time we play Catchphrase, all you have to do is say “Meatballs” and I will say “Penitentiary”.  Won’t that freak everyone out?!?!?

Carry on.

Chicken Tortilla but not quite soup

If I went back to the 1950’s, smartphone in hand, and told my Mother that I had access to all the information in the entire world, but I mostly use the device to watch my bank accounts like a hawk and look up recipes, I’m pretty sure she’d whack me, call the police and get a lifetime supply of condoms for my Dad, just in case I wasn’t a lunatic and she’d just been blessed with the advance knowledge that her not-to-be-born-until-’63-daughter would never work to her full potential.

Yes, I get the e-mails from Ziplist and Pintrest and Bisquick and Allrecipes and Campbells with the new time-saving, budget friendly, quick weeknight dinner appeal.  Yesterday, I clicked on one; Campbell’s Chicken Tortilla Soup.  It looked wonderful and it’s 22° outside here.  At noon.  Seemed like a good fit for the evening meal.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup? Stew? Chili?

Quick run through the grocery after work to grab the stuff and home to throw it all in the crock pot, blast that baby on high and sit back and wait for deliciousness.  It was very, very good, just not as pretty as the picture on the box made it look.  Ugh.

It was more work too, because, please, I am not throwing raw-ass chicken in a slow cooker with a bunch of canned goods for only two hours.  I can’t afford to miss work for two days while the salmonella passes.   The taste was really good but it was definitely NOT soup.  The consistency was more chili.  Open a bag of Fritos and that was our meal.  No complaints from Mr. Man.  Not that we care if he did, just sayin’.

So I just reviewed the recipe and I’ll tweak it around next time to make it more of a soup and also to make a lot less of it!  One of my biggest pet peeves is the people that review a recipe telling you how they changed everything and now it’s better.  Really?  That would make it a different damn recipe now, wouldn’t it?

Enough for now.