Monday, July 9, 2012

My Mom's Spaghetti: My Comfort Food

I'm in North Carolina for the summer, hopping between High Point with my parents and friends, and Charlotte, where my sister and brother-in-law are raising their brand-new baby, Travis Winston Beglin. This baby just happens to be the sweetest, most precious little smiling bundle of, as cliché as it sounds, joy. He's 3 months old and, well, perfect. His flawlessness, I'm sure, is due to my sister's unfailing dedication as a new mom. 

I've learned that the key to "happy baby" is an on point sleeping schedule. Baby eats, plays, and the second you see an adorable baby yawn, get that booger to sleep! In his cute little crib with his adorable little animal mobile. As long as his sleeping and eating schedule is always on time, Baby T rarely fusses and only plays. It's great for my Mom and I, the visitors, because we have the honor of playing with the baby bunny while he's awake, and just hanging out while he's asleep. My sister, Caroline, on the other hand, doesn't have many moments to herself, but you'd never realize it because she never complains. It's more than impressive, it's honorable. Being a mother seems to be some scary shit, and she hasn't skipped a beat. Kudos to you, mi hermana!

Look at that baby smile!
You are welcome.

Love this baby bunny!

Now that I'm on summer vacation, I've been spending my days incredibly lazily. While I'm home, I've been getting my fix of the Food Network, particularly because the fiancé and I are TV-less (by choice!) in the DR. Knitting, looking for recipes and DIY projects, scanning Pinterest and Facebook - these are all worthy activities of Food Network or TLC's Say Yes to the Dress as back noise. Anyway, my Mom tends to join me while I watch, and she gets very upset that most Food Network hosts credit their mothers for their culinary "skillz." My Mom is patient, kind, funny, and quirky, but she is not a woman who enjoys being in the kitchen. I started my cooking prowess independently in college, and I've gotten serious about it in the last year and a half. Putting the pieces together, you'll see that I was not living at home while I was learning how to cook. But it's ok, Mom! You taught me too many other things. I need to be able to figure out a few things by myself!

My Mom's Spaghetti is her signature meal that, despite her magnetic pull away from the kitchen, has marked many special moments in my life, both before and after being gluten-and lactose-free. It has, what the fiancé calls, the 3 B's: it's bueno (good), bonito (pretty), y barato (cheap). Are you tempted yet? No really, this spaghetti is incredible. Most, if not all, of our family birthdays and other days of celebration were spaghetti days. Many a Sunday while my sister was in college, she came home for dinner with a few of her cronies, and those were always spaghetti days. When I come home from wherever I've been, spaghetti is normally what we eat first! My Mom's Spaghetti is my own personal comfort food, I know it's my sister's, too, and I've taken this tradition with me to the DR.

One cool November evening, we had a few of our best friends over for dinner, and My Mom's Spaghetti was on the menu.

I added some sliced mushrooms to this spaghetti, plus all the goodness you'll see in the recipe below.

Look at all those smiling, full faces!

After that night, our friend Juanddy talked about this spaghetti all the time! The next time I knew he would be over for dinner, I planned for spaghetti again, and then invited everyone else to try it! It was a huge hit, and nothing was left over! 

Not gluten- or lactose-free! But I didn't eat these!  

I think something intimidating about discovering you have food allergies is that you imagine your life without the foods you love. Yes, you'll find new foods that mark moments and people that are meaningful to you, of course. But I've found a way to eat My Mom's Spaghetti no matter what, by making slight changes, whether in my choice of pasta - whole wheat to gluten free - to eliminating the 1/2 pound of cheese I used to add on top. Obviously, these tweaks are easy ones, but I bet you can find a way to adapt the most important recipes in your life to your new diet. For example, since I found out about my recent digestive issues, this meal has been been adapted to be meat-less. We ate it without the ground beef at my sister's house last week! Do your best not to write off those breakfasts, lunches, dinners, or muffins that make you the happiest! You can find a way to keep them in your life!

You can always send them to La Buena Fe and I'd be happy to help you adjust your favorite recipes, too!

The most important thing you should take from this post is that when you make this recipe, you must share My Mom's Spaghetti on a special day or with people you love! Or, in other words, pay it forward!


My Mom's Spaghetti

(Cooking time: 15-20 minutes)

1 package of gluten-free, and lactose-free (don't forget to check for milk!), spaghetti noodles

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 pound of ground beef, or substitute with ground turkey (But if you're going to do it, you might as well go with ground beef. It's so much better this way.)
1 package McCormick Thick and Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix
1 3/4 cups of water
1 6 oz. can tomato paste

** Leave out 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the ground beef or turkey for a meatless option.**

First, cook your spaghetti according to the package's instructions. 

While your spaghetti is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauce pan. Brown your ground beef until it is brown and crumbly. Then, stir in the McCormick sauce mix, water, tomato paste, oil, and ground beef until well blended. Bring the sauce to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve over pasta and add parmesan cheese (if you can!). Serves 4-5. 

a buen tiempo!