Sunday, June 22, 2008

Today I'm acknowledging a fundamental flaw in my cooking skills.

The simpler the recipe, the more likely I am to mess it up. Simple, easy recipes are my kryptonite. Case in point: no-bake cookies. I picked a recipe with 6 ingredients that approximately 5 bazillion people made with great success and somehow screwed it up. And this is not the first time either. Previous batches have been too soft and required storage in the fridge or freezer. This batch, just to throw me off, decided to be too dry! How I go from super gooey to crumbly dry with the same exact recipe is a mystery. Jason says they are still good, and the kids like them, but I'm too grumpy to eat them myself.

No-bake cookies can't compare to my all-time consistent failure though... potato salad (don't send me recipes. I've tried them all!). My greatest culinary success was this watermelon bombe that I made for Mothers Day many years back. It had a cake base, two layers of ice cream and a watermelon sorbet (which I had to make myself) studded with chocolate wafers for the "flesh". I turned it out without breaking a sweat. Yet heaven forbid that I assemble cooked potatos with other basic ingredients and toss them together and have it taste good. THAT would be asking too much. Oh well, everyone needs to have things to keep them humble ;)

Today we went to the park and let the kids run a bit. The weather has actually been nice for a few days in a row. Would it be safe to say that summer is here? It actually feels like spring, but because we skipped spring this year we'll have a cool summer. In any case, lets hope that the nice weather continues because we are sick and tired of rain.

There are a couple recipes from my favorite recipe makers, Cooks Illustrated, that I'm particularly fond of on busy/tiring days. I hope they come out with more because they are far better than "hamburger helper" type meals and require only slightly more effort.

This Skillet Lasagna is what we had tonight

Serves 4 to 6

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion , minced

Table salt
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound meatloaf mix
10 curly-edged lasagna noodles , broken into 2-inch lengths

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 additional tablespoons

Ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Pour tomatoes with their juices into 1-quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until mixture measures 1 quart.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground meat and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

3. Scatter pasta over meat but do not stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juices and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons ricotta, cover, and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Serve.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Oh my gosh! I totally forgot about no-bakes! I want some!!!!