This is one of those recipes that I have had pretty much as long as I have been cooking. However, I am embarrassed to tell you how I first made it. If you have read my bio you know I admittedly did NOT cook well at all for many many years. I was the Hamburger Helper Queen! That is how this recipe came to be. My desire to “tweek” Hamburger Helper (hanging head in shame). I used packaged taco seasoning, cheeseburger macaroni Hamburger Helper, cheese, and tortillas and just layer them all up. Talk about carb overload!!! Macaroni AND tortillas? WOW
After I lost all of the weight and was just beginning to actually cook real food, my kids actually requested that old awful Hamburger Helper dish. I wanted to make it for them but NOT the old way so that is when I came up with this. I got rid of the packaged taco seasoning to try to cut down some sodium. Of course dropped the Hamburger Helper with the macaroni, added some veggies and low fat cheese, and felt a bit better about serving this to my family.
What is funny is that Kevin and I have been together for 3 1/2 years now and I had never made this for him before last night. I couldn’t believe it. I guess it is just that I have been trying so hard to work on new recipes with lots of “flash” and have left some of my kids comfort food recipes on the back burner so to speak. This recipe is a fun simple meal that my kids will request for birthdays over and over. No steaks, roasts, shrimp on a skewer, fish en papillote for them, they want chili mac or Mexican lasagna!
This recipe is one that I have used for a few different things. It was actually one of the first recipes I ever wrote to my own liking. I combined 3 different recipes to get it. It was kind of confusing. No wait……did I already list that?…..no I need to double that?……how many people will this feed?…..holy crap what was I thinking??? Ya, that is pretty much how it went. When I first started out I got confused very easily. HA who am I kidding? I STILL get confused, it is just part of my charm.
I was really excited to dust this bad boy off. I have never made it for Kevin and it is a nice comfort food kind of home cooked meal. Lately I have been more about trying to cook healthier and eating more fish and chicken. Don’t get me wrong, you can make this healthier, and I probably should have off the bat. But I wanted Kevin to taste the original before I started changing it up on him I guess.
This was also a recipe that I knew everyone would eat. My Dad is not a big fish lover, well actually he just flat out doesn’t like fish. But remember I got him to TRY the Crabby Mac so at least he gives a bit or rather a bite once in a while. HE was very happy to see this meal. I mean Italian right? You know he was a happy camper!
Like I said, you can “healthify” this meal fairly easily. Substitute lean turkey for the ground beef and low fat or fat free ricotta. Also if you can find the shredded mozzarella in low fat that will help too.
No, I have not lost my mind. I know it isn’t Christmas time. Although I wish it was since Christmas is my favorite time of year.
The reason this recipe is called Christmas pasta is, in Rachael’s words, “For Italians, after all those fishes on Christmas Eve, this dish, with four different meats in it, is especially nice on Christmas Night”.
Kevin did the same thing that I am sure many of you did when you first read the recipe title…
K: But it’s not Christmas.
B: Yes, yes, I know honey, this isn’t JUST for Christmas, it is just the name of the recipe.
K: Well if it isn’t JUST for Christmas why is it called Christmas Pasta.
B: Rachael explains in the recipe that it was just her way of getting “meat” in a meal after all the fish Italians eat on Christmas Eve.
K: Well I still think she should have named it something else.
B: Maybe you are right….now can we cook?
When you first look at this recipe it seems like a lot of ingredients and well, it is a lot of ingredients, but not a big hassle to make. Rachael mentions that she has used this recipe in several of her books and is constantly redoing it to make it quicker and easier. I think it is just fine the way it is.
Oh and Kevin decided he loved this. He is the one that looks at a meal I might be making and the first thing he asks “Is there meat?”. I will never sneak vegetarian food in on him that is for sure. I am walking a fine line when I make Pasta Carbonara! He still doesn’t like the name of the recipe though. Oh well, as long as they eat it right?
I am not Italian, but I can tell you that this was a BIG bowl of Merry Christmas to ME!