Oh how I love that Paula Deen. I was watching her show today and she said the following: "fat equals flavoooooor!" I could have died laughing. That lady really knows how to enjoy life through food.
So, normally I think myself to be a pretty healthy cook. I don't really use much butter or fat or beef or cream. For me, it's usually just turkey, chicken, spinach and olive oil. I know this is a little crazy since I'm from Oklahoma where beef is the main staple of most meals and where it's just southern enough to require butter in most recipes. But the other day I was preparing to cook dinner and I was just really craving some food like my mom makes it (read: buttery, beefy, delicious). It's fall and sometimes you just need some comfort food! I guess you could say that I decided to embrace my inner Paula Deen, both because that lady LOVES some butter and also because my mom really likes Paula Deen and often uses her recipes. So I decided to make spaghetti...just like mom makes it...well, almost. While I did load down on butter, I still used ground turkey instead of beef. (despite my inner desire to go all the way, my natural instincts got the best of me)
I began by making my sauce. I started by drizzling olive oil in my warm pan and tossing in a chopped onion. Once the onions started becoming a little translucent, I tossed in my ground turkey. I let that cook until it was cooked through and seasoned it with garlic salt, pepper, and a blend of Italian seasonings. Then I added in my pasta sauce. What I have found through my few years of cooking for myself is that while you can make sauces and chili and soup by quickly just warming up the ingredients together, it turns out so much better if you let it simmer for a while on a low heat to let all the ingredients mesh together. My mom used to do that with her meals and I never understood why she let it cook so long when it was obviously already warm enough to eat (I was impatient, obviously). So, after I combined all the ingredients, I turned down the heat and just let it simmer while I cooked the pasta.
I started by bringing a large pot of water up to a boil. Once it was boiling, I added in a generous amount of salt. It's important to season the water when you're cooking spaghetti because that's where the pasta gets its fullest flavor. This is especially true when you use whole wheat pasta, which is the type of pasta I use. Then I added in the spaghetti and let it cook to al dente. Here's where the fun comes in...
Once I drained the pasta, I began to season it. **Side story** When I moved to college and got my own apartment, I began cooking for myself for the first time. I tried making spaghetti and I would get so frustrated because it never tasted like my mom's and I just couldn't figure out why. So when I went home for one break, I was sure to watch what exactly my mom did with her pasta to make it so good. Here's the secret: right after draining the pasta, put it back in the pot and immediately drop in slices of butter. In addition, sprinkle Italian seasoning and pepper into the pasta. Then mix it all up.
While most people say that the key to spaghetti is in the sauce--and that may be true for people who make their own sauce--I have to say that I believe the key to making yummy spaghetti at home when you don't make your own homemade sauce is to add some zing to the noodles. YUM!!! Again, this is especially true when you use whole wheat pasta.
So once the pasta was finished, I moved on to the side dish. Typically, I try to have a green vegetable with my meal but all I had at the apartment was canned creamed corn, so I decided to just make that (remember, this meal was not meant to be healthy--just to be comforting). I put the canned creamed corn into a pot and of course...added butter. While creamed corn is amazing by itself because it's so smooth and sweet, I find that adding a little butter creates a fuller, smoother texture and flavor. Now the seasoning is the kicker. So, Adrian's dad's side of the family is from Louisiana and they love Cajun flavors. I made gumbo for him for the first time this past Thanksgiving and the recipe called for this seasoning I had never heard of--Tony Chachere's.
Everyone in his family kept telling me that you can put this stuff on everything, but I honestly just could not think of anything I'd be willing to put it on/in that wasn't gumbo. So the other day we had plain ole sweet corn and Adrian added Tony's to it, so I decided when I was making my creamed corn that I would try adding Tony's to that to add a little zing. Oh...my...goodness....it totally made the corn. I have definitely found my new favorite seasoning.
Anyhow, that was my adventure in modified-Paula-Deen-and-mom's-food comfort cooking. What do you like to cook on days you feel like splurging?