Chef-Boyardee and Me

I have been cooking and tweaking my pantry. While still following Marcella Hazan’s recipes, I have also begun taking a more Ayurvedic approach to my meals. So far it has been going well and I feel rejuvenated. Well, that is until this Labor Day weekend where a 12-mile race and a lack of any plans threw me back into snack-grazing mode.

In my kitchen, this past month I have cooked:

  • Mushroom Sauce with Ham and Tomato (p. 159)* accompanied with Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Penne Pasta
  • Bolognese Meat Sauce (p. 203*) with Casarecce pasta
  • Granma’s Chicken Noodle Soup**

After a brief online conversation with Shazzameena, author of the blog, At My Table, I have decided to not copy out Hazan’s recipes. All recipes from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking will reference the page(s) where the recipe may be found. I have debated this in my head, and this is what sits best with me.

Please take the time to go over to At My Table, where Shazzameena is attempting to cook all 446 recipes in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan. That is too lofty of a goal for my ADDled brain. I cook off the cuff, usually depending on what I get at the Farmer’s Market. Definitely all last-minute with me. I bow to cooks like Shazzameena, At My Table.

sliced ham and reconstituted porcini mushrooms ready to be added to the pot
plated Mushroom Sauce with Ham and Tomato
plated Mushroom Sauce with Ham and Tomato

This was an easy weekday meal using the ham I had left over from making sandwiches for lunch. The gluten-free pasta wasn’t bad, I must admit. However, from the picture you can see it started to break apart and didn’t really keep its shape.

While the boy was reluctantly shopping at the supermarket with me, he indicated he wanted to buy some Chef Boyardee. I said I’d make it for him. As a kid I lived off of Chef Boyardee  and Franco-American Macaroni and Cheese. My mom worked and I would come home from school for lunch, as one was able to in those days, and heat a can up for myself. I just couldn’t do it now. So I referred to the book and found a recipe for Bolognese Meat Sauce on p. 203. Hazan advises that the meat for the ragu, as she tells us the Bolognese call their meat sauce, should not be from too lean a cut. Unfortunately, as my father complains, it is hard to find anything more than 80/20 in the stores these days. As my father says: You can not make a good meatball with this, and he is right. This sauce takes at least 3 hours so it is not a quick midweek dinner, but it can be made ahead of time as noted on p. 205.

The ground beef is simmered in milk. This is a new one for me. Usually, I brown and season the meat and then simmer in tomato sauce.
The ground beef is simmered in milk. This is a new one for me. Usually, I brown and season the meat and then simmer in tomato sauce, no milk or butter included.
Pasta with Bolognese Meat Sauce, my version of Chef Boyardee
Pasta with Bolognese Meat Sauce, my version of Chef Boyardee

Compare the two pictures of pasta. The first a brown rice gluten-free penne is shiny and slick and did not keep its shape. The organic casarecce wheat pasta is al dente and keeps it shape and absorbs the flavors of the sauce very well. A good pasta makes all the difference. Although the sauce was good, I think I prefer it without the milk and butter added to the sauce. I don’t think I will do it this way again honestly, but that is just my preference. Most likely because my family comes from Central and Southern Italy where we use olive oil instead of butter, and don’t use milk.

A little over two weeks ago, I started the 3-Season Diet Challenge over at Dr. Douillard’s LifeSpa website. I have stopped my constant grazing and snacking. I eat 3 meals a day: a light breakfast, a big lunch, a small snack at 5 pm, with a soup for supper. **I made Granma’s Chicken Noodle Soup from Cooking is an Adventure too! This is a small recipe book I picked up when my husband and I stayed at Barb & Marty Cohen’s bed & breakfast The Shore House at Lake Tahoe (which unfortunately closed this year). The food was so delectable that I bought the cookbook and the cookies were so yummy that my husband took a bag to go and then we stayed over again on our way back home – just for the cookies!

Recipe from the booklet, I omitted the sugar and didn't bother to remove the fat
Recipe from the booklet, I omitted the sugar and didn’t bother to remove the fat

IMG_0836 IMG_0830 IMG_0831 IMG_0833

our room with stove
our room with stove

Next up, I hope to create a repertoire of soups that I can cook up for evening meals.




  1. Lovely to have the mention! Mind you, I haven’t been up to much Marcella cooking recently…so I may need to bow to you instead! I hope to pick up again when energy levels are better. Keep up the good work.


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