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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Going Old School for the "Tastes To Remember" Blogging Event

What flavors or dishes bring you back to your childhood kitchen? Is it a certain aroma that takes you back there, watching mom or dad, maybe even grandma or grandpa make you that special dish of theirs that you absolutely loved?

Sarah at Homemade is having a blog event called Tastes To Remember. Sarah has a fantastic blog, and I hope you'll all check it out. And bring your favorite childhood dish when you do, so you can submit it to this great event! Here's what she says about Tastes To Remember:

Think about the foods that remind you of your childhood. Perhaps it is your mother's homemade spaghetti, or your grandmother's freshly baked apple pie. Or maybe it's a sauce or a simple snack you used to have after school. Whatever it is, this event is all about those tastes and smells that immediately bring you back to your childhood. This is an opportunity for all you food bloggers out there to share what recipe is really important to you (that is, if you're willing to give up the recipe!)."

I wasn't sure what to make for this. I have it marked on my calendar, and it had been staring at me every day. "You'd better get your !@%&* moving and choose something for this event!" (it seemed to say...) hehe. There were lots of things to choose from--my mom and my grandmother always cooked for me, but I couldn't narrow it down. Until yesterday, at the grocery store. My sons and I were looking at the different pasta shapes--they love to try new ones! We looked at Cellentani from Barilla. Those are fun--they're little tubes shaped like corkscrews. My sons, 8 and 5, like their pasta with only butter and parm, or "stinky cheese," as my husband started calling it for their benefit. Which is perfectly fine, until you're in a restaurant and one of them yells to the waiter (who has started to walk away, and is halfway across the dining room) "Wait! You forgot my stinky cheese!!!!!" Luckily, the place erupted in laughter, instead of looks of scorn and disdain.

So! My girls, 13 and 11, have graduated from topping their noodles with butter and stinky cheese, and now wouldn't have noodles without sauce. They don't care if it's homemade or from a jar, they love spaghetti sauce. So looking at the pasta, it hit me...American Chop Suey! My mom used to make it for us about once a week, and we happily gobbled it up. She made it for my kids, too, when they were younger, and it quickly became one of their favorites. Well, the girls, anyway--not the still picky boys.

Maybe some of you are wondering, WTF is American Chop Suey?

American Chop Suey
From Wikipedia

American Chop Suey (also American Goulash, Chili-Macaroni, Chili-Mac, Mac 'n Beef, Macaroni and Beef, or simply Macaroni) is an American pasta dish. The preferred name and recipe varies by region, for example, the name American chop suey is most prevalent in New England. Commercial preparations of this dish are commonly marketed as Macaroni and Beef.

Classic American chop suey consists of elbow macaroni and bits of cooked ground beef with sautéed onions and green peppers in a thick tomato-based sauce. Though this decidedly American comfort food is clearly influenced by Italian-American cuisine, it draws comparisons to chop suey or goulash because it is a thickened hodgepodge of meat and vegetables.

The recipe is quite adaptable to taste and available ingredients. Elbow macaroni can be substituted with any pasta of similar size, such as ziti, shells, or wagon wheels. The onions or green peppers may be omitted. While some recipes call for a smooth prepared tomato sauce, some cooks prefer to add crushed or diced tomatoes along with tomato paste for a tastier, chunkier dish. Black pepper, Italian herbs and Worcestershire sauce are commonly used in preparation.

American chop suey is served on a plate or in a bowl, with grated Parmesan cheese and/or Worcestershire sauce as condiments, often accompanied by bread.

Incidentally, chop suey itself is an American invented dish that is not usually served in mainland China.

It's a great comfort food, that's for sure. It's quick, easy, and (most...see above) kids love it! It shows up on school lunch menus around here to this day. I don't make it often, but my girls are so happy when I do. My 13 year old actually clapped and said yay! when I told her we were having it. It's not easy to get happy reactions out of a 13 year old girl, by the way. I made extra noodles for the boys to have the way they like it.

This couldn't be any easier, and you can make a lot to feed a crowd. It's great for potlucks, too. Oh! I try to use homemade sauce when possible, but since I didn't have any made, and was short on time, I used...shhhhh...sauce in a jar. But it was organic and HFCS free!!! I'm sure you'll let it slide, because the girls loved it, just the same, and that's what counts, right?

There's really no set recipe for this, as you can see from the Wikipedia entry above. Use what you've got. I don't usually use green pepper, but my mom always did. She also used beef, I use ground turkey. Here are the amounts I used, and we have lots of delicious leftovers.

American Chop Suey

1-1 1/2 boxes of your favorite small type of pasta (cellentani, elbows, whatever)
1-1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or beef
about 1/2 an onion, chopped finely
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
oregano and basil to taste, or you could use an Italian blend
a bit of salt and pepper
your favorite sauce (I used about a box and a half of pasta, and almost 2 (26 oz) jars of sauce)

Cook the pasta according to package directions.
While that's cooking, heat a large skillet.
When the skillet's hot, add a bit of oil to heat. Add the meat, onion and garlic, spices of your choice, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned and no longer pink.
Drain meat, if necessary, and return to pan. Add sauce to meat mixture and lower heat, just to heat the sauce through.
Drain noodles, and either add them back to the pan the pasta pot, or to a large bowl.
Pour meat and sauce mixture over, stir to combine.
Serve with grated parm and crusty bread.

And there you have it. Easy, and a real kid-pleaser. I know, because I used to be a kid. :)

So get on on over to Sarah's place and bring your favorite childhood dish! You've got until midnight, May 23rd. Thinking about what to make for this event brought back SO many memories. Thank you, Sarah!

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grace said...

i've never heard it called "american chop suey" before, but if wikipedia says it, it must be true. :) it's one of my favorite comfort foods, no matter what it's called! :)

Ben said...

Oh yummy. I didn't know it was not a real Chinese dish. That doesn't surprise me, though. I must enter this event with one of my mom's recipes. Oh so many memories :)

taste memory said...

elle - great dish, I never heard the title 'american chop suey' that's great! When we lived in Ohio a friend gave me one of her family/childhood recipes she referred to as 'goulash' and it was similar to what you made but with chopped carrots + celery!

I am excited about the tastes to remember blogging event - thanks for sharing that and I just went on your friends blog to give her a heads up.

I will try to post something on that if I make it in time!

Sharon said...

What a cute roundup. I'll have to check it out. I hadn't heard of American Chop Suey either...only Chinese-American Chop Suey :) Looks great!

Jen said...

I love American Chop Suey, my mom used to make it once a week too and I have kept up the tradition with my kids, but I haven't made it in a few months.
It is always a quick go to dinner.

Thanks for posting the recipe and the pic are incredible.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

The aromas of Vegetable Stir-Fry with Saffron Rice, Stuffed Zucchini, and Pineapple-Upside-Down cake ALWAYS bring me back to my childhood; and luckily I've been able to "veganize" all of those dish-favorites!! Hooray!! :0)

Oooh, your American Chop Suey dish looks fabulous!!

April was in CA now MA said...

I grew up in the south calling it goulash so thank you for the wiki lesson on other names for it..very interesting! What a coincidence I just made Paula Deen's version of this yesterday! This event sounds great and I can't wait to check out all the recipes submitted.

My husband calls parm "stinky cheese" too, but he won't eat it!!

Anonymous said...

OH my GAWD! My mom used to make this! She called it Goulash, though. My kids ride the short bus, and don't like it, *insert eye roll* but I looooooove it! Can I come for dinner? ;) Thanks for posting this event, Elle! Looks like fun! MUAC!

Sarah said...

Thanks for participating in Tastes to Remember! Your post looks and sounds wonderful, and I so enjoyed reading all about your reasons for making it. I'll definitely NOT be one to yell at you for using a jarred sauce...sometimes, we just need to make things easier on ourselves! I am glad though that you find a sauce without HFCS...that stuff makes me so angry, and it's managed to find its way into just about everything.
Thanks Elle!

Anonymous said...

loove chop suey. and yes, it's not chinese at all. :) what a cool event too!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I've learned something new today! This looks wonderful! American Chop Suey, that's a new one for me.

Vicarious Foodie said...

Yum! Isn't it great how some of the simplest dishes can also be the best?

Unknown said...

I did not know that American Chop Suey was noodle and beef. It sounds nice and simple and good.

RecipeGirl said...

And here I thought it was going to be Chinese food. Tee hee.

Memories of my childhood bring forth Beef Burgundy (affectionately called Beef Barfundy) and Split Pea Soup (bleh.) I suppose tacos are a memory too...

giz said...

I also had never heard of American Chop Suey - but that would be okay since I'm Canadian :). Now I really have to think - my childhood - hmmm... I'm sure Psychgrad and I will figure something out - maybe easier for her since her childhood was alot more recent than mine.

Mama Mia said...

old school is the best school...

Unknown said...

yummm...i really love macaronis when i was young...this really transported me to my childhood ^_^

hungryandfrozen said...

That sounds like an awesome blogging event. I love that it has its own wikipedia page :) looks delish and simple!

Anonymous said...

Great idea for a blogging event! I didn't know there was such thing as American chop suey. See I come to your blog and I learn something new. Again! Haha.
Good luck with the contest. I'm glad to be back 'round here. :-)

Tarah at Genesis of a Cook said...

Haha, I like the name 'American Chop Suey' ;]

Food always seems to bring back memories of being together with family, enjoying a nice meal.

Very nice dish. Comforting food.

I'll have to check this event out.

Elle said...

Grace--I've got to say, it's still one of my fave comfort foods, too.

Ben--Yes, please do enter the event!

Ingar--It's funny, right? Same basic dish, changed up here and there, and called different things depending on where you are.

Sharon--thank you!

Jen--thanks! I forget about it, too! I go for months w/out making it.

Veggiegirl--I want your childhood food memories. Come on...hand 'em over!

April--I'm going to check out her recipe! Husbands are funny things, aren't they?


Sarah--Great Event! So thank YOU! And yeah, the hfcs shows up everywhere--I can't even believe where I find it! It's making me angry, hehe.

Diva--thank you!


VF--I love simple!

Kevin--it's definitely simple and good.

Recipegirl-your food names cracked me up!

Giz--you always make me laugh!

Lina--yep, it is!

Rita--thanks for stopping by!

Laura--it is a great event, isn't it?

Zen--I'm glad to have you back!

Tarah--thanks, and I hope you do get to check it out!

DocChuck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

That looks like my favorite kind of pasta - cavatappi! What a delicious bowl of comfort food.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That brings back memories. We ate that a lot when I was growing up. I can't remember if my mom even had a name for it.

DocChuck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amy said...

Thanks, Elle! You reminded me that I need to get my family's yogurt chicken recipe while I'm home so that i can join in too :)

Thanks for sharing your family recipe!

Anonymous said...

This is too weird - I posted an "American Chop Suey" recipe for Ruth's Presto Pasta Night Thursday, too! I can't stand the name American Chop Suey, so I add paprika and peppers and call it Goulash.

Thanks for your fun post from a fellow New Englander!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I've never heard of American Chop suey. Interesting. The dish looks very familiar, though. Definitely comfort food.

Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of this dish, but now I want to eat it straight away. It sounds so very very very good.

Pixie said...

lol wtf? ;) Miss my visits here- thanks for the virtual hugs and for having a good sense of humour. xoxo

Great event hopefully, I'll have something up on time for it.

Anonymous said...

This did bring back memories for me too. I remember having it for school lunch, with some melted cheddar on top. I could really go for some of that right now! :)

Tiffany said...

We always called it Goulash growing up. I guess that's what it is in Colorado, I had never heard it called American Chop Suey before. Either way, it is tasty :)

Lore said...

Yummy! Now that's what I want for breakfast. Hopefully I'm not breaking any law haha :)

Elle said...

Hillary, Renae, Amy, Mike, Lynn, George, Pixie, Lori, Tiffany, and Lore--thank you all for your comments!

Laura Paterson said...

Lol - I'd never heard of American Chop suey before - but that looks like an amazing comfort food. Or a day-after-the-night-before dish...!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, I just wanted to add our family name from this, which I didnt' see listed above. I'm from the Pacific Northwest, and we always called it "Slumgolian", which is such an icky sounding name for such a gooood dinner! My hubby calles it chili-mac, and he's from the same area. Go fig.

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