Remember when you were a kid and your mom or dad made you dinner every night? Were there certain foods, a menu if you will, that often turned up on your table? I'm betting there were. There certainly were in our home. And sometimes, I make these foods. My brother and I refer to them as Ann Johnson (last name changed) Specials, in honor of my mom. Here's a run down:
1. Shepherd's Pie. Are you lucky enough to know what this is? Not everyone is, although I'm willing to bet Xbox does. It's a casserole made up of layered ground beef with onions, peas, corn, and topped with mashed potatoes. I know it doesn't sound great, but it is actually really delicious and something that I've Incorporated into my family's dinner plan. Something about the disgustingness of eating a mouth full of beef, corn, peas, and potatoes all at once is actually really quite lovely.
2. Baked Chicken; on the side - frozen green beans and mashed potatoes. My mom loved making some baked chicken. It's a classic, a crowd pleaser. She'd even make gravy. And everything tastes better with gravy.
3. Buttered egg noodles, hamburgers with no buns, and frozen green beans. Oh my god did we ever eat some buttered noodles up in our house. You can also substitute hot dogs for the hamburgers. And we NEVER had buns. NEVER. This meal was so greasy my stomach turns just thinking about it. But we had it at least once a week for as long as I can remember.
4. Pork roast with mashed potatoes and frozen corn. Another classic. I make this one all the time too.
5. Grey steak, baked potatoes, and frozen green beans (are you sensing a trend here?). We had steak maybe once a week. And it was always, ALWAYS grey. This is an Ann Johnson classic of the first degree.
6. Spaghetti with quick sauce. We had this every single week as well - spaghetti (always the long pasta), with a quick, homemade sauce consisting of green peppers, onions, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian Seasoning, salt, and ground beef. It's referred to as the quick sauce because REAL sauce simmers all day. She'd make this and we'd eat it within the hour. I didn't eat sauce from a jar until I went to college, and this is the truth.
7. Ham and cheese sandwiches; tuna fish sandwiches. My mom makes the best, best, best ham and cheese sandwiches in the world, and her tuna fish sandwich is perfection. She sprinkles them with love or something. I'd rather have one of her sandwiches than any gourmet sandwich in the world.
8. Beef stroganoff. This is my mom's most special of her specials. Every time we see her, she makes this for us. There is nothing particularly special about her recipe (I think it came from a magazine) but it is really, really delicious. It's my favorite of all her specials.
9. Meat loaf, mashed potatos, and frozen corn. Every. Single. Week. I ate enough meat loaf as a child that I should have become a meat loaf. And? Mom, I love you, but her original meat loaf sucked big time. Ugh, it was so awful, just ground beef, eggs, and bread crumbs. Seriously, it was a loaf of meat. But later, she stated making this one that had dill weed in it and it is the best meat loaf I've ever had. I've yet to recreate it.
10. Pan-fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, and frozen corn. This is my second favorite Ann Johnson special. Holy crap to I love me a pan fried pork chop. I wish I was eating one right now.
11. Sunday morning breakfast - fried eggs, home-fried potatoes with onions, and bacon or sausage or BOTH. She made this breakfast every Sunday of my life and it is my absolute favorite meal on the planet. She fried her potatoes in an entire stick of butter. They were always golden and crispy and delicious.
Okay, so did we eat some freaking potatoes, or what? For reals, we had them almost every, single night. We must have eaten 10 pound of potatoes a week. Isn't that obscene?
Anyways, those are the Ann Johnson Specials. I'd be curious to hear what your mom or dad's "specials" were when you were growing up.