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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Comfort food for the whole family

Thursday, June 01, 2000

Tested by Nancy Anderson

JoAnn Dempler sent us today's Countdown recipe for Mother's Elbows, a macaroni, onion and hamburger mixture that she makes regularly. The dish is named for her mother, Jeanne Feinberg, who lives in Easton, Pa., and by coincidence is 84 years old today. (Happy Birthday, Mom!)

"She made what we kids liked," JoAnn said. "Instead of giving us things she wanted us to eat or were good for us, she made what we liked, and this is one thing I liked."

It's a good dish for Countdown because it's a one-pot, pyramid-friendly family pleaser that kids as well as adults can enjoy.

(My mother made a similar dish, using canned tomatoes instead of tomato soup, which she called Slumgully. We kids ate it up, as we did anything that didn't have peas.)

When JoAnn mixes up a batch of Mother's Elbows, she usually ends up eating it all herself.

"My husband, Bill, doesn't like the way I make it," the Squirrel Hill resident said.

"I use fake hamburger because I do low-fat, vegetarian stuff, but he doesn't like fake hamburger -- or onions."

Another of her favorites is a chili recipe made with tomato soup from the Peg Bracken "I Hate To Cook Cookbook" to which she adds corn and fake hamburger.

A staff lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board, JoAnn eats fish but not poultry or meat and prefers pasta, rice and bean dishes naturally low in fat. Her husband doesn't.

"Bill now lives on frozen, microwavable foods and enjoys what he eats," she said, adding that TV dinners have come a long way.

Mother's Elbows

8 ounces cooked elbow macaroni
1 can tomato soup
1/2 soup can water
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
1 pound hamburger or 2 cups Green Giant Harvest Burgers for Recipes
Salt to taste

Put water on to boil for the macaroni.

Saute onions (see note) in nonstick cooking spray in large frying pan. Add hamburger (we used ground round) and brown, pouring off fat, or add frozen fake hamburger. It tastes better with real hamburger but is still good with the fake.

Add tomato soup, water and macaroni. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Salt to taste. Enjoy.

Tester's note: To up the vegetable content, add some chopped green pepper.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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