No Prison Orange For Me Dinner

Sometimes, in the course of human relationships, you just gotta step back and realize.

You would look terrible in prison orange.

This is that kind of frugal dinner.

My partner is retired. I am not. He used to hold thrall over life and death in a very busy urban fire department, in a city rife with crime and frankly action. Perfect for an adrenalin junky. Now, not so much. Thus, every once in a while, he forgets that I don’t work for him or report to him and we…


Yes, let’s go with that word. Clash.

This is one of those meals that you can make to literally shut your partner up. The kind where if your spouse is anything like my partner, he/she will get up the next morning and finish off the leftovers for breakfast while you contemplate your escape for the day.

That kind of meal.

A cross between a goulash and one of those boxed skillet suppers, it uses simple ground beef as its base. I always use small macaroni as the pasta, bought from the dollar store, and cheap canned tomato sauce and tomatoes. It is absurdly easy to make but has that childhood comfort food mystique about it. I modified it to accommodate the slow cooker because letting it simmer and stew all day is part of the strategy for keeping your partner peering hopefully into the pot, sniffing expectantly while you, again, plot your escape.

Hopefully, not in prison orange.

No Prison Orange For Me Goulash


2 pounds ground beef

One large onion (I have been known to swap out half a red onion and a fist full of chopped green spring onions)

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cans each: tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes (I sometimes wait for the garlic flavored to go on special and stock up otherwise dollar store variety is just fine)

2 and a 1/2 cups water

2 cups dry small macaroni shells

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

4 garlic cloves minced

2 teaspoons ground pepper

2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 tablespoon ground paprika

1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

Method: Sauté the ground beef in the olive oil along with the onions and garlic until the beef is brown and the onions softened. Be sure and not overcook the garlic as it will turn bitter. Tell your nosy partner you are busy and to get out of your kitchen. Drain the oil if it seems too greasy. Dump the mixture into a slow cooker along with the water, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add the seasonings. Let cook on low for 5-6 hours while you ignore your partner. About an hour before serving, cook the macaroni shells according to package directions but minus two minutes which means if the directions say 7 minutes, you only cook them for five and so on. Drain and add the drained shells to the slow cooker stirring well. Turn the slow cooker on high for the last hour. If it is still too soupy, you can ladle some into a pot and boil it for a few minutes. Add the cheese at the very last minute. Serve with crusty bread and a chopped salad culled from produce already in your crisper. Go take a long, hot bath. Alone. Lock the door. You need your space, after all.

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