Notes For The Rookie Cook

The motherly types who inhabit the Daily Globe newsroom — primarily me and reporter Justine Wettschreck — have long been concerned about the eating habits of some of our younger colleagues.

The sports crew, in particular, seems to subsist on fast food. But recently sports editor Aaron Hagen has shown an interest in cooking, even going so far as to acquire a slow cooker and give it an initial whirl with a potato recipe that appeared in this blog.

All Aaron had to do was give us an opening, and soon Justine and I were suggesting all kinds of easy fare he could concoct in his bachelor kitchen. That gave Justine the idea of compiling a cookbook for Aaron, featuring simple-to-make, few-ingredient dishes that he could fit into his odd working schedule.

“I’m not afraid of ingredients,” noted Aaron, who claims to not be a stranger to the kitchen, despite his questionable eating habits. “The biggest thing is the time it takes to put everything together.”

My contribution to the cookbook will be the following recipe for Simple Spaghetti. It’s a dish that I found in a cookbook in the West Elementary library when I was but a novice cook myself, and it’s been a favorite ever since.

The beauty of this dish is that the noodles cook right in the sauce — no separate pot of boiling water needed, and one less pot to wash, too. Don’t omit the basil — it is key to this dish’s flavor.

Simple Spaghetti

 In a large saucepan, brown 1 pound ground beef with ½ cup chopped onion. Add two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce, then use the empty cans to add 1¾ cans of water, stirring to get out any remaining tomato sauce. Season with 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed between the fingers to release the flavor, and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring mixture to a boil and add 4 ounces angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti, breaking it into fourths. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is tender and sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.

Serve topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Justine has compiled a number of recipes — most with four ingredients or less — for Aaron’s cookbook, but this one has five. I think he can handle it.

Simple Chicken Casserole 

Mix 1 can cream of chicken soup and 1 cup milk. Add 1 large can white meat chicken, drained, and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

Thaw 1 bag broccoli-cauliflower vegetable mix in microwave for about 2 minutes. Put vegetables in the bottom of a casserole dish and pour soup mixture over top, stirring until all the vegetables are coated. Sprinkle additional 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until cheese is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Now it’s your turn, readers. What simple-to-make, few-ingredient dish would you submit for Aaron’s cookbook? (Be aware that salt and pepper don’t count as ingredients, but they are the only spices Aaron currently owns — I have to bring him some basil for the spaghetti recipe.) All recipes and ideas (and dating prospects) will be passed along to this bachelor cook. You can e-mail the sub-missions to me at; or send to Beth Rickers, Daily Globe, Box 639, Worthington 56187.

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  1. Pingback : 1940: Tips at Cook School | REPRINT | A Blog of the Daily Globe

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