Velveeta Part 2 and a Glass of Wine

So I’m sitting here with a glass of red wine and 20 minutes before supper has to be ready in order for me to watch the premiere of the new season of Hell’s Kitchen. I’m not going to fib – it’s been a day. At the Community Resource Center, my sidekick Betsy and I sorted boxes and boxes of really great gift items donated to us by a major retailer. Then we had to shlep them to the storage room because the free giveaway is next week and these items are not part of it (Christmas is coming!).

Last night, Noah asked if he could have friends for supper. Of course, I said! Then I got up this morning and the refrigerater was BARE. I mean there wasn’t a leftover anything, a raw ingredient anything, nothing. This is what happens when Noah comes home with two friends at 10 p.m. and they’re hungry.

So I had a choice on the way home. Go to the grocery store for ingredients for an ambitious meal (my normal mode) or go to the grocery store and buy, uh, Velveeta Shells and Cheese. Velveeta Shells and Cheese is a sinfully bad (and by that I mean good) product, loaded with all kinds of things you shouldn’t be eating. I can’t even pronounce the names of some of them. How about oleoresin paprika? What is that.

But here’s what I make in a flash. Make the shells and cheese according to the package directions. Brown a pound of ground chuck (it must be chuck, 80/20 lean to fat). Really brown it so there are crispy dark brown splotches throughout the meat. Salt and pepper as it cooks. Then mix one can of diced tomatoes, drained really well, with the shells and ground beef. Throw in a dash of smoked paprika (that’s the key – it’s an umami thing), about a tablespoon of dried oregano, and more salt and pepper. Put in a casserole dish and top with grated Cheddar cheese. Bake it for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. It’s really good. And after another glass of wine, it will be really, really good.

So, Hell’s Kitchen starts in 40 minutes. Sometimes I wonder if I could make it in a kitchen with Gordon Ramsey yelling at me all the time and calling me a stupid cow. Probably not. I cry too easily. He’d like that about me.

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