Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chris Cooks Days 4 & 5

Chris really did finish his week of cooking...for the most part. I'm just a little slow posting about.

While he originally planned for 7 straight days of cooking, we decided to call it quits after 5. This was not by his choice but out of necessity for our schedule. The boys went camping Friday night, and Phil and I celebrated our anniversary Saturday, so those two days got scratched. Well, not completely, because Phil and CJ are making hamburgers tonight (on the menu for last Friday). And I'm sure we'll have Italian Beef sometime soon.

Enough about what we didn't cook and on to what we did...

Day 4 was Sloppy Joes, Carrot and Grapes. CJ's friend Tristan joined us for both the making and the eating again. The Sloppy Joes were from Paula Deen's My First Cookbook. If your kids are interested in being in the kitchen, I highly recommend this cookbook. The instructions are clear. On the left side of the page are pictures of all ingredients and equipment needed. And, CJ could pretty much cook without any help from me. Last week, he made milkshakes, cinnamon rolls and the sloppy joes, all from this cookbook.

His sloppy joes were delicious. (I don't think he even remembers that when he first moved in, he HATED sloppy the kid will eat almost anything.)

Day 5 was the recipe I was most impressed with his choosing. It was from Everyday Food, my go-to food magazine. And the recipe was for Pasta (Orecchiette) with Bacon and Tomato Sauce. This is one of those recipes that sounds good but tastes even better than you would expect. And, it was easy and called for everyday ingredients.

One of CJ's all-time favorite meals is something his family often made, called Mac and Tomatoes (shell pasta, a can of tomato juice, a stick of butter). It's also better than I would have expected. Well, he thought this recipe tasted like a little fancier Mac and Tomatoes...and that's high praise around our house.

One more thing: It. Is. Spicy. We love spicy, so it worked at our house. You, however, might want to go light on the red pepper flakes.

Here it is:

Orecchiette with Bacon & Tomato Sauce
From Everyday Food

• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
• 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
• Grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley, for serving

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add bacon and cook until browned and almost crisp, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, breaking them up as you go, and season with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook pasta 1 minute less than package instructions. Reserve cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

Add sauce and pasta water to pasta and toss to combine; cook over medium-high until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate 3 cups pasta for a separate dish. Serve remaining pasta topped with Parmesan and parsley.

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