Thursday, August 7, 2008

Project Cook-Along: Cowboy Spaghetti

I've always thought that I was born in the wrong time period, that I was meant to be a cowboy. And after having Cowboy Spaghetti ("Express Lane Meals" by Rachael Ray, pp.60-61) I am quite certain this must be true.

Revisions to the recipe:
1. I used 2 cloves of garlic, instead of 4. I didn't want a vampire-fearing repeat of last week's recipe.
2. I used 6 slices of bacon, instead of 3. I like bacon. And I cooked the whole package up so that it wouldn't spoil, so why not throw some extra in.
3. I only used half of a large onion, instead of 1 medium onion. Makes no difference, I like onion, but I didn't want it to be overpowering.
4. I had no sharp cheddar cheese to put on top. What can I say, I need to pay better attention to the shopping list when I'm in the store! But I substituted some left over freshly shredded mozzarella from last week's recipe. It worked out nicely, but I think the cheddar would've been better.

Lessons learned:
1. Fire off, fire-roasted tomatoes ROCK MY WORLD! I have never had these before, so I sampled a little before I added them to the skillet. Wow. I could taste the wood-stove taste. I could feel the heat. They were phenomenal. I might not use regular tomatoes ever again!
2. Scallions are over-glorified chives. And I love both. I didn't put a ton on top of the dish, but there was plenty there to have a slice or two with every bite. What a difference they make in the overall flavor of the dish, too. I might have to add scallions to next year's list of vegetables to plant in the garden.
3. I learned from last week that I need to prep everything prior to turning the stove on. With the exception of the scallions, I did that this time. I researched how to chop garlic last week, after the fiasco. I chopped and diced everything up, and then was bored out of my mind while the meat browned and the bacon cooked up. I suppose that's the way it's supposed to be though, right? Who woulda thunk it?!? It took about 45 minutes to prep the food and cook the meal. Not quite "express lane" times, but still doable at the end of a long day. And at $11.88, the price is well within the "tight budget" framework.
4. I need to find some alternatives to these fresh foods I keep buying. I know, contradictory to everything the entire world is preaching right now, but listen and I will explain. I bough fresh scallions. The smallest amount I could buy was a bunch - it had about a dozen stalks on it, all about 6-8 inches long. I used one stalk. Now, because I will be out of town all weekend, the remainder of that bunch will most likely be unusable. While the cost was not significant ($0.50 for the bunch), it feels wasteful to use so little and throw out so much. Surely, there are freeze-dried variations that I can use over time, without fear of wasting, right? Or maybe I'm being overly paranoid about throwing out some herbs and vegetables and should let the world keep on turning. You choose.

My final thoughts on the subject are that I can't wait for lunch today! I liked this meal that much.

Coming soon! Umm...not so certain. This weekend is my duty weekend, so I don't know if I'll be cooking or not. If I do, you can be sure it'll be here...