Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my Dad's 74th birthday! And, it being Sunday, I certainly prepared his dinner request, with a few modifications. We had Cheesy Italian Tortellini; this recipe is from a 2006 Pillsbury publication called Easy Ground Beef Recipes - one of those recipe brochures found at the checkout at the grocery store. Here's the original recipe:

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb bulk Italian pork sausage
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 (15 oz) container refrigerated marinara sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, undrained
1 (9 oz) pkg refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
4 oz (1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese or pizza cheese blend

1- In large skillet, break ground beef and sausage into large pieces. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
2- Spray 4 to 5 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine meat mixture, mushrooms, marinara sauce, and tomatoes in sprayed slow cooker; mix well.
3- Cover; cook on low setting for 7 to 8 hours.
4- About 15 minutes before serving, add tortellini to slow cooker; stir gently to mix. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover; cook on low setting for an additional 15 minutes or until tortellini are tender.

Here is how I modified the recipe:
Instead of ground beef and pork sausage, I used Boca ground crumbles; when using this product it is important to add olive oil for the browning process. I also chopped up 1/2 onion, a few stalks of celery, and 2 carrots and added those to the meat substitute. Since I wasn't using Italian sausage I added about 1 tablespoon of Italian seasonings. Because it was what I had, I used a 20 oz package of mixed cheese tortellini (mixed as in some spinach pasta, some white pasta). Because I added more tortellini than was in the original recipe, I also put an additional container of marinara sauce (so I had 2 jars of marinara sauce in the dish); and I used jarred not refrigerated sauce. Finally, again because I had it on hand, I added some shredded fresh Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheeses to the mozzarella.

This dish turned out to be quite delicious and incredibly easy to make! Dad was quite pleased with his dinner. Mom also made a triple layer chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cake. Dad truly was very very happy this evening.

It is such a blessing to be able to share good times with my parents. I truly appreciate the time we have together. My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about four years ago; we have noticed that his memory loss has recently gotten worse. So, we were happy that today was a good day for him.

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