Sir, respect your dinner: idolize it, enjoy it properly.
You will be many hours in the week,
many weeks in the year,
and many years in your life happier if you do.
William Makepeace Thackeray
We Eltons like food. And we especially appreciate a good dinner (followed closely for our appreciation for a good dessert, a good mid-afternoon snack, and a good breakfast. Lunch kinda gets the bum rush around here).
If you’ve been reading here for the long haul, in other words you’re Danielle Liss or my mother-in-law, you’ll remember I went through a phase where I made everything from scratch. We ate really well then. I was also not employed at that time. The two are probably related.
Note: it is possible to make everything from scratch and stay on a tight budget if you work full time and blog on the side. Just not if you also have three kids in sports, work evening hours and also don’t really enjoy cooking. We give our hours to the things we desire most, and currently that’s sleep for me.
Anyway, Jeff and the kids got really super spoiled during that time from scratch, and they don’t like things like boxed pasta and jarred sauce anymore. You know, those easy standby dinners for busy nights. I understand the taste is a totally different experience, but glory, Momma gets tired, yes?
While we were at the beach last month a little birdie brought us something to make Momma’s life a little easier.
The birdie in question works for UPS and apparently can’t read.
“This Side Up” FAIL.
(Cheerful aside: please don’t tell Jeff I posted a photo of our peeling porch paint! Thankyouverymuch)
Anyway, everything in the box was unharmed as the jars were thoughtfully packed in their own little nests. (Top photo.)
What do the jars contain? Rose Romano’s Italian Peppers, a gourmet topping of fresh bell peppers simmered in a traditional marinara. All-natural, locally sourced ingredients with no synthetic preservatives, only items that you can recognize as real food:
Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Fresh Red Bell Peppers, Fresh Onions, Brown Sugar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Fruit Juice for Color, Citric Acid, Spices
Unlike most jarred sauces, Rose Romano’s isn’t bland or watery, and a little goes a long way. It’s intended to enhance and elevate the flavor of your meal, not obscure it.
The package came with a menu of meal ideas, which was awesome (I think it would be fun to make a family menu. Not really practical anymore, since my kids can read and don’t need to point at a picture, but fun anyways). We picked out a few things but Jeff threw the menu out under suspicion of cluttering the kitchen counter for more than 48 hours, so I had to wing it. Granted, the website has a ton of quick and easy recipes, but that didn’t occur to me until I started writing this, and now I want a Brie panini.
The very good news: everyone, including Jeff, loves the flavor of Rose Romano’s. Enough that they will also me to bring pasta back, even if I didn’t hand crank it myself.
Frozen locally-made ravioli on a bed of garlic spinach; topped with Rose Romano’s and a smattering of porcini. Heavenly.
Grilled chicken and salad (sprinkling of chia) is deemed dinner-worthy when you add a little Rose Romano’s dipping sauce.
We’ve also used Rose Romano’s in Western omelets, on Texas Toast, on burgers, on meatball sandwiches, with sausage and onion: all people-pleasing meals without a ton of time invested. Sometimes I do eat without my phone at the table, so I missed documenting those.
We went through those jars in no time flat. But they live on: I washed them out and use them as water glasses; sometimes I’ll throw a serving of protein powder in one and cap it, then add water after a workout. Portable protein shake.
The box is begging to be reused as a shadowbox, but I haven’t decided what I want to put in there yet.
The last of the Rose Romano’s was used in a family standby that we got from Jeff’s grandmother. After we ate it (and it was particularly yum) I asked Jeff if he wanted to hear the healthy substitutions I’d made, and he sighed heavily and said, “I’ll read it on your blog.”
Um, OK. Here it is then. I’ve changed the name to protect the family recipe 🙂
Rose Romano’d Meat-and-Cheese Casserole
One package egg noodles
One diced onion, I use a medium sized one, I like onion
One jar Rose Romano’s Italian Peppers
One pound of ground beef, more or less
One bar of cream cheese
One small container of sour cream, I think that’s 9oz. (or equivalent amount of plain Chobani yogurt)
- Preheat oven to 375°, grease an 8×8 deep dish
- Boil your egg noodles for one minute less than the “al dente” time on the bag (they’ll cook more in the oven). I’m assuming other broad noodles would work just as well; Jeff won’t let me stray from that part of the recipe. Also, I think “broad noodle” would be a fun insult.
- Sauté your ground beef (I think grass-fed & free-range gives the casserole a better flavor; it’s also way less fat and of course easier on the environment) and your diced onion until the beef is cooked through. Add jar of Rose Romano’s peppers. Simmer on low. If you are using a leaner beef, add a spoonful of sugar, it mellows the flavor. Trust me.
- Cut the cream cheese into chunks in a microwaveable bowl and nuke for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave a few seconds more if necessary to get a spreadable consistency.
- Add your sour cream, or swap it out for plain Chobani yogurt if nobody’s looking.
- Layer in your greased dish: noodles, cheese mix, sauce, noodles, cheese mix, sauce.
- Bake until bubbly, about 35-40 minutes.
I think this tastes even better the day after. Those are the best kinds of meals to make because I’m pretty much the only one who eats leftovers.
This is not an “eating light” recipe. It’s not fancy and it doesn’t photograph well. BUT. It’s comfort food, it’s delicious, it yields leftovers, it reheats well, it’s a fill-you-up-for-your-long-run-or-soccer-game sort of meal. We need those sometimes, for our bodies and our souls.
I wish I still had some. Sigh.
Give me some more ideas! What recipe involves a marinara that I could elevate with a little Rose Romano?
What other healthy or healthy-ish substitutions can I sneak in now, blog about later?
Disclosure: I received Rose Romano products for review purposes. All opinions are my own.