Sunday, September 23, 2007

Beefy Potatoes Au Gratin

Ok, so this is a recipe for a delicious concoction I call Beefy Potatoes Au Gratin. I got this from a small recipe book I got at the grocery store, but my retard ex-roommate threw it out or something. And then I changed the recipe! So there you go.

SO! Here are the ingredients:

• 2 lbs of ground beef
• 3 boxes of Au Gratin Potatoes (I use Kroger brand, but whatever brand you can find will work the same.)
• Any and all ingredients listed in the box of potatoes’ cooking instructions
• Salt
• Pepper
• 1 medium pot
• 1 big pot
• 1 4 quart baking dish, obviously must be oven safe
• 1 strainer
• Aluminum foil

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then start browning the beef. Cook the beef in the medium pot, chopping it up, moving it around, until it’s all brown. Once it’s brown, dump the beef into the strainer to separate the grease. Put the beef into the big baking dish. Spread the beef evenly over the bottom of the baking dish.

We’re going to use the big pot for the potatoes au gratin. If your box says that you boil water, start with tripling the amount of water and bring it to a boil. Then if your box says that it requires butter, triple the amount of butter and let it melt in the boiling water. If the box calls for milk, AGAIN, triple the amount of milk BUT DON’T ADD IT YET. Adding milk to the hot water could spoil it. So wait for later. Then add your potatoes, and cheese mixes – whatever else it tells you to do. Then, if the box says you need it at all, add the milk. Add a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Mix.

By now, you should have 2 lbs of beef on the bottom of the baking dish. Your big pot should be filled with 3 boxes worth of au gratin potatoes. Finally, your oven should be preheated to 400 degrees.

So now that you potatoes are ready, pour them on top of the beef. Spread the potatoes evenly over the beef. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, take the foil off and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes. When it’s done, take it out and let it cool for 10 minutes.

I suggest serving this entrée extraordinaire with salad and ranch dressing. Enjoy, my little dumplings!



Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pasta Sauce

Ooooh! First recipe, exciting!

This is a very simple way to make home cooked pasta sauce that my mamma taught me a while ago. Here are the ingredients:

• 2 medium onions
• 3 cloves of garlic
• 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
• 1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes (28 ounces)
• 1 box of whatever pasta you fancy
• Table salt
• Ground Pepper
• A bottle of olive oil
• A large cooking pot
• A frying pan
• A medium-sized cooking pot
• A pasta strainer

Ok, get that big old pot and frying pan, and put them on the stove. Leave the medium-sized pot off to one side.

Pour some olive oil on the bottom of each.

Now, leave that alone, don’t put the heat on yet, just leave it the hell alone.

Go get your onions and dice them. That means cut them up into tiny pieces. Put the diced onions into the frying pan and turn the heat on low. Stir them up every so often. You don’t want them to stay in the same place in the pan or they’ll burn and be gross. What we’re going for with the onions is NOT to caramelize them. We DO want them to be cooked though, not very crunchy, almost looking clear white.

Moving on to garlic. These must be cut up tiny-tiny. Don’t use the ends of the cloves.

Just to sum up what should be happening in your kitchen right now:

The big pot on the stove has olive oil in it, just enough to cover the bottom.
The diced onions are cooking in olive oil in the frying pan.

Now, shove all of the onions to one side of the frying pan. Add a little more olive oil into the deserted part of the pan and put the diced garlic in it. When you cook garlic, you want it to turn a golden color. If it cooks too much it’ll turn brown, and it’s going to be bitter and ruin everything.

While the garlic is cooking, keep stirring the onions, making sure that they are still separate from the garlic. Also stir around the garlic every once in a while.

Get your cans of tomatoes, open them up, and pour them into the big pot. Put the heat on medium low. Stir it up a bit and try to smash some of the whole tomatoes in half with whatever you’re stirring with.

Once the garlic is that nice light golden color, mix it in with the onions and let them cook together for a minute or so.

After that, turn the heat off on the frying pan and dump the onions and garlic into the big pot with the tomatoes. Stir them up and let them simmer together for about ten minutes.

My roommate thinks that simmering is when you keep the heat on low. It’s not. It’s when the contents of the pot are bubbling softly, rather than bubbling violently like when it’s being boiled.

So, after it’s been simmering for a bit, add the salt and pepper to taste and keep smashing the whole tomatoes in half.

As the sauce is cooking, fill up your medium-sized pot with cold water. Don’t fill it to the top, though. You’re going to be adding pasta to it. If the pot is filled too much with water, it will overflow when you add the pasta, duh.

Alright, put the pot of water on the stove and set the heat to high. Put a lid on it, if you have one. It doesn’t really matter, the water will boil either way. It’s just going to boil faster if the lid is on.

Once the water is boiling, add salt to the water. This will give the pasta a bit of flavor on its own.

To measure out how much pasta you want to use, this is what my Nonno does: take a bowl (whatever bowl you’re going to use to serve the pasta in), and fill the bowl according to how many people are going to eat. So for two people, put in two bowls worth, three people three bowls, etc.

Dump the appropriate amount of pasta into the boiling water. Make sure you stir the pasta around every few moments so that it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Test the pasta by periodically taking out a piece with a fork and tasting it.

If it’s tough, it’s not done.

If it’s chewy, it’s not done.

It has to be tender.

If it’s mushy, you over did it. It is now inedible by Italian standards.

Once you find the pasta to be perfect, dump it out in a strainer over the sink.

By now, your sauce should be ready to serve.

I taught this recipe to my friend Diego and he added his own little spices to the sauce because he’s Costa Rican and he has to. I use hot peppers from my Nonno’s garden. What my mamma suggested is to put the tiniest pinch of cayenne pepper in. But when using cayenne, be careful. Too much of it will make your face explode and more importantly ruin the sauce.


To make it a meat sauce, simply add a pound of ground beef to the big pot before putting in the tomato sauce.

Brown the beef in the olive oil. This means that you smash up the beef with your stirring implement and keep shifting it in the pot until it is brown throughout.

When it’s done, pour the beef out into a strainer. This gets rid of all the grease. Then put the beef back in the pot and add the tomatoes.


1. Use lean beef. It’ll either say 8% fat or 92% lean. You want the fat content to be somewhere in that area.
2. Keep washing your hands! Especially after dealing with raw meat.

Sweet! That was the first of many entries in this recipe blog. I hope your meal turns out great. Please feel free to comment on any part of the recipe or if you couldn’t understand some parts or if you just have questions in general.

I’m off to go eat Mexican food now. ADIOS, HOMIES!!!



Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rippity Rap, RAP-TASTIC!

Greetings, hungry undergrads! In this blog I will give you several recipes that are totally easy to make, really really good, and will most importantly stop the braying beast that is your hunger.

I’m only 21, I don’t know how to make fancy stuff really. But what I do know how to do is keep my roommates full and happy.

If you’re new to the cooking scene — don’t worry. I’ll explain all the technical cooking lingo and take you step-by-step on how to make these simple recipes. Some cooks don’t realize that it’s kind of weird to learn how to brown beef or even boil pasta correctly, even though doing the slightest thing wrong can mess up your entire dinner.

To keep disasters to a minimum, I’ll include photos of what you’re doing should and should NOT look like. For instance, I just fucked up some onions. So when I do something wrong I’ll take a picture and let you know what your food should not look like.

As I write, I’m making pasta sauce, hence the onions. To give you an idea of how I do things, there’s only five ingredients: onions, canned tomatoes (crushed and peeled), garlic, and olive oil.

Who wouldn’t rather have homemade sauce instead of nasty Prego? I don’t know about you but there’s just something wrong about sauce from a jar. Maybe it’s because I’m a Guinea/WOP (Italian), I don’t know.

Anyways, whether you are a total stranger to the kitchen or already know the basics but just don’t have the time for friggin’ duck a l’orange (which is really good by the way) — I’ve got recipes for you.