only help my unbelief


Good eats: Dinner in 45 minutes
July 17, 2008, 5:00 am
Filed under: Posts

So. Here I am. Finally writing my much-awaited dinner-in-45-minutes post. Well, it’s probably not much-awaited, since you didn’t know about it. I’m still learning how to do this blogging anticipation stuff, as you can tell.

To your left, you can see what I started out with at 4:45 p.m. on a Monday afternoon. Below, you can see what I ended up with at 5:30 p.m.

How did I do it, you ask?

Well, it was pretty easy. After all, it only took 45 minutes. How hard could it be?

Let’s go ahead and make sure you have everything you need before you get started.

Assemble the following:
1 pound hamburger
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup parsley (fresh or not)
1 clove garlic, or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce
2 zucchini
1 small onion
1 chopped green pepper (optional)
2 sandwich rolls (or the equivalent)
and also…

Now before, you start criticizing my use of Food From A Box, please consider the following:

* This entire meal includes vegetables, dairy, grains, meat, AND it tastes very good.
* Pasta Roni is cheap and easy to make.
* This meal could not be made in 45 minutes if you tried to do something more complex with one of the side dishes, thus eliminating the entire point of this post and also making the meal this was going to help you with nonexistent.

* Pasta Roni is, actually, not the devil.

By the way, for the Pasta Roni that you ARE going to make, you’ll need to add milk and water. Which I hope you have on hand.

Seriously, though, you don’t HAVE to use Pasta Roni. You can make another side that’s easier for you or that you prefer, or you can cut it out completely. But for the sake of this dinner-making step-by-step, I’m going to be referring to Pasta Roni.

I should first note that defrosting ground beef takes longer than 45 minutes, so you’ll want to take that out of the freezer in the morning.

I’ll be starting the clock at 4:45 p.m., shooting to eat dinner at 5:30 p.m. Ready… set… go!

4:45 p.m. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Get out the ingredients needed for the meatballs and go ahead and roll the meatballs into balls.

4:58 p.m. Spread foil on pan and put meatballs in oven (assuming, of course, that your oven is preheated by now).

5:00 p.m. Start chopping up the zucchini and onion.

5:05 p.m. Put zucchini and onion in small pan on stove. Once I put them in the pan, I add a little bit of water, then sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic and basil on top. Put milk and water for pasta in saucepan on stove. (These ingredients will differ depending on what you’re doing for the pasta, obviously. Some Pasta Roni flavors use only water, so check the box.)

5:10 p.m. Chop peppers for meatball sauce (optional). Stir your zucchini.

5:13 p.m. Realize you never turned the burner on for your pasta water/milk. Turn the burner on. It really helps things get done.

At this point, everything is kind of on its own (although you need to be watching for the pasta water to boil). I took this as an opportunity to clean up as much as I could of what I had already used and to empty the dishwasher. All of this took me seven minutes. That’s right. I couldn’t believe it either. Why do I put off unloading the dishwasher so often?

5:21 p.m. Pour spaghetti sauce into large pan and add the peppers you chopped up. I used a Ragu brand that I’ve had before and really like because of the chunks of mushrooms and onions. Turn the heat on to medium-low. At this point, your pasta should be ready to go in the pan. Also, go ahead and stir the zucchini again and turn it down to low. You just want it to stay warm until you’re ready to eat.

5:25 p.m. Take meatballs out of the oven. They should look something like this, aka delicious.


5:27 p.m. You’re almost done! Use a spatula to remove the meatballs from the foil and put them in the pan with the sauce, which should be nice and warm.

5:30 p.m. Time’s up! Scoop those meatballs out onto a sub-style bun, scoop some zucchini and pasta on the side, and you’re done.

How’s that for easy, fast and delicious?

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