Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Recipe Review!

I decided it would be nice to review the "new recipes" I try on my Menu Plans. Nothing bothers me more than trying a recipe and wondering if it is good or not. Taste is subjective, of course, and everyone's cooking skills vary.

This week, I changed our Meal Plan up on the fly. I had planned another dish - a cold tortellini Caesar Salad - but late in the afternoon, I just wasn't feeling (or tasting it)... So I jumped online and did a couple of quick, random searches.

Often when I change my mind like this, I use words like "quick" or "easy" because I want something PRONTO and do not want to spend days prepping and cooking my meal. We are fortunate that no one in our house has food allergies or any serious "dislikes" of food (well, I don't like tomatoes, but that's weird story - you'll see why in a second).

I decided on Tortellini in Creamy Tomato Mushroom Sauce for the main course. The selection criteria included:

  • had the ingredients on hand

  • minimal work

  • simple and easy to put together

  • short cooking time

I didn't want the standard Caesar Salad to accompany the dish - we'd just a Caesar Salad on Sunday (for dinner) and it felt like a bread. But I dislike the waiting times for usual yeast breads. Then I found this Soft Bread Sticks. It doesn't have yeast, reviews were good and I read a few of the comments so I could incorporate the tastes of my family.

I got home at 4:50 and started cooking with in 10 minutes (so 5).

I commenced the sauce first. Because I am not a tomato fan, I like to cook tomato things a little longer so they break down more and get mushy.

Tomato Cream Sauce
What I did differently:
- Used only about 1/4 of an onion, finely diced. Our dog generally always has a small bit of our dinner on his kibble and onions are toxic for dogs.
- Used one can (398mL) of diced tomatoes with their juices. We further cut them up with scissors.
- Used a can of sliced mushrooms, drained and rinsed. It struck me as weird to have 'shrooms in this sauce. After making it mushrooms, I will, in future completely omit them as they add no benefit to the recipe taste wise.
- Added 1/2 a yellow pepper, diced. Next time, I will add more peppers. Probably a whole red and yellow pepper.
- I added 1 to 2 tablespoons of DRIED basil and 2 tsp of DRIED oregano in place of the fresh.
- I added about a can full of 1% milk instead of the 1 cup of Evaporated milk. I may have added a touch more too because it thickened quickly and we like our sauce a little thinner.
- Added more salt - about 1/2 tsp? I season a lot to taste.
- Used a blend of Parmesan, Asiago and Romano Cheese. This is the one I used. It is expensive ($6.99 for the canister shown, but I do feel it is worth it).
- Used tortellini instead of ravioli

Ease of Prep: 5
Make again: 5

Soft Bread Sticks
What I did differently:
- Scaled the recipe for 8 servings (all ingredients below are based on the up scaled number of servings)
- Used only 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar
- Used 1 to 2 tsp of garlic powder and 1 tsp of dried oregano
- Melted more margarine (oh, yes, I used marg instead of butter)
- Hand kneaded the dough until I got a sticky dough. TroubleMaker helped. he likes to toss it on the counter.
- Rolled the dough into "snakes"
- Poured about 1/2 the marg in the bottom of my cookie sheet
- Placed the "snakes" on the sheet and brushed them with the rest of the melted marg
- Sprinkled very generously with garlic powder, black pepper and oregano. And finally, added a sprinkle of the same cheese mixture used in the pasta sauce.
- Baked at 455 for 14 minutes. My oven is SLOW and doesn't heat properly so most people wouldn't' have to cook this long.

Ease of Prep: 5
Make again: 5

These were the best "no yeast" bread stick I've ever eaten. They had a bread like texture and taste. They are even better cold the next day. I was amazed at the simplicity and taste and would highly recommend this recipe!

Overall, the recipes tried last night were simple, easy and quick. Because I always cook with my three year old, it takes longer but we were seated and eating by 6 o'clock. If I didn't have my little helper, we probably would have saved 20 minutes.

Because I just decided to do this as I was eating last night's leftovers for lunch, I neglected to take a picture of these recipes. I will be more diligent in the future!

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