The Shameless Chef: A Raviolier Ravioli

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Have you ever slouched out of bed around 1:30 in the afternoon, grunting and snorting, and staggered to the kitchen, opened up a can of ravioli for breakfast, and tossed it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, only to realize "Damn. This ravioli just isn't ravioli-y enough"? No? Liar.

Yes, I'm a big fan of canned ravioli, especially on those days when my body craves an absolutely unbelievable amount of sodium, but sometimes it feels like something's missing. Sometimes it feels like the ravioli itself is just a good start towards something better, something grander, something... that could fit in a casserole dish. If you're surprised, you either just started reading this column or are what Jethro Tull and I like to call "Thick as a Brick."

You will need:

• 1 big-ass can of ravioli. Or two regular-ass cans. • 1 lb of ground beef. Or if you've got leftover ground turkey from last week's recipe, that will work, too. • Some spaghetti sauce, probably not more than a cup. • Cheese, preferably cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella.

First, start browning your meat. Why are you giggling? Oh, grow up.

Next, line your casserole dish with some ravioli tiles. You can get really symmetrical if you forgot to take your OCD meds, but this will be the bottom layer, so just pour 'em in. Then, you'll drop on as much ground meat as you prefer, which, if you're like me, will be "all of it." Now you're going to need one more layer of ravioli, and then you can top that with some spaghetti sauce.

For the final step, you top it with all the cheese you can muster, then you put it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. That is, if you're one of these crazy bastards who likes making things harder on themselves for no reason (you know, like a lead singer). Turns out this recipe cooks just as well in the microwave. Put the microwave on 50 or 60 percent power and heat it for about five minutes, maybe longer or shorter depending on your microwave.

Anyone bitching about "too much tomato sauce" will be fed to the goddamn sharks. On those certain brain-addled, jelly-legged summer mornings (afternoons), only a hell of a lot of tomato sauce straight out of a can is going to save you. Don't ask me why that's true; I didn't make the rules.

This turned out very tasty, but could have been tastier. I added hot sauce and it worked wonders. Next time I'll try making it with a pound of spicy Italian sausage instead of the ground turkey. THEN WE'LL SEE WHO THE CHEF IS AROUND HERE, WON'T WE, BOYARDEE???

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