I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. Mostly I love to hate it. I have written about this topic previously in The Highs and Lows of Cooking and Eating – A Necessary Evil. Perhaps the irony in this is how much I enjoy watching the Food Network and how impressed I am by people who create wonderful food without needing a recipe. There are very few things I cook that don’t require me to reference a recipe.
I am guilty of saving a lot of recipes, particularly on AllRecipes, without ever actually making them. On Mon. though I finally attempted this Tomato Cream Sauce. One of the reasons I love AllRecipes so much is the reviews and feedback. I often read several of them to get an idea of any tweaks other cooks invoke that may help me. In the case of the sauce recipe I read many reviews that stated to puree the sauce in a blender prior to mixing in the cream and butter. I chose to do this as well particularly after seeing how chunky the sauce was from the diced tomatoes. I’m very particular about textures and will push large pieces of tomato out of my sauce even in restaurants.
I was excited after pureeing the sauce to see how much smoother it became. I topped my penne pasta with it and proceeded to have one of the best homemade meals I have had in some time. I could not get over how high quality the sauce tasted. It reminded me of vodka sauce without the vodka and was better than any jarred vodka sauce I had ever used. I was so excited for Jason to try it the next day (he works second shift and takes whatever I make for dinner as leftovers to be his dinner) and had hoped I didn’t hype it up too much that he would be let down. Fortunately he found it equally as good and I plan on making a huge batch to take to my aunt’s Christmas party.
Tues. night I had to coach winter track after work and get a haircut. Busy nights tend to result in crock pot meals. I threw chicken breasts, catalina dressing and pineapple chunks with some juice together in my crock pot and set it on low to cook throughout the day until I returned home.
Despite hating nearly all vegetables I am on a constant quest to attempt to like more of them. I am certain this will be a lifelong battle. I had bought frozen Mashed Sun Dried Tomato Basil Cauliflower the other week in hopes of finding a way to like cauliflower. I had tried a frozen cauliflower with cheese side dish in the past and wasn’t very impressed. Coming off my Mon. night sauce success high I was more pumped to try a new food. I took comfort in knowing even if I didn’t like it I had my pineapple chicken to eat.
I popped the tray in the microwave and as soon as I began to smell it cooking my heart sank. The smell was unappealing and normally for me that means I’m not going to like the taste either. When I pulled it out the texture perturbed me as well. This was no comparison to the thick and creamy style mashed potatoes I was used to but rather a thin, somewhat runny substitution. I did microwave the cauliflower for another 30 seconds which helped thicken it a little more, but mashed potato consistency it was not. Still I couldn’t write it off before trying it. I wish I could say I turned out pleasantly surprised, but I didn’t. I have tried worse tasting foods (like escargots on my last cruise – that was spit into my napkin), but it certainly will not be something I buy again. To my credit I did manage to eat my serving by mixing the chicken into it. Jason, who likes most foods including cauliflower, echoed my decision to not buy it again after he tried it the next day. I still have a frozen side of cilantro lime riced cauliflower to try and I’m hoping we like that one more.
So this week evened out in my cooking world. One amazing pasta sauce recipe sure to be used again and one frozen flop never to be bought again.