Day 153: Return of the mac

June 2, 2007

This evening, L and I made Southwestern Pasta Bake which is essentially a macaroni cheese dish with some spicy chicken and vegetables thrown in for good measure. The chicken is tossed in cumin, chile powder, coriander and salt and pepper, then browned in vegetable oil. Onions, garlic and jalapeño are added to the pan. A cheese sauce is made from scratch with parsley and cilantro added. Everything is mixed together and browned under the broiler.

This dish seems to promise a little more than it can deliver. There are some big flavours in there, but somehow they all seem to cancel each other out and the final result is quite bland. Which is not to say that this is a bad dish; it is satisfying enough for comfort food, but it certainly isn’t spectacular. It’s better than mediocre, but nothing to write home about. It is undoubtedly better suited to be eaten in February or November, but as June evenings go this one is at least cool and wet. I can’t imagine specifically deciding to make this meal again. To make this more exciting, something more would need to be done. The jalapeño and chile amounts could be doubled, and some cheese could be sprinkled on top before going under the grill. Perhaps some oven roasted cherry tomatoes would be a nice addition, albeit a labour-intensive one. Even sun dried tomatoes would work. We both felt that some vegetables should be in there somewhere for a bit of colour and variation. Honestly, I think that it would have been better with some peas or corn added, and the chicken could be skipped entirely (although obviously our feelings towards chicken are no secret).

I stumbled upon an interesting food website today which I never would have found otherwise, and decided to make Baby A some frozen pasta cups while making dinner. We make lunches for daycare and are always trying to come up with quick easy good meals without resorting to pasta pesto or a bag of crackers every day. I put some of the macaroni cheese mixture (minus the chicken) with some extra vegetables into lined muffin tins and broiled them with the pasta bake. Apparently they will freeze well and defrost easily, giving tasty little portions of instant macaroni cheese, with not a packet mix in sight.

Tomorrow, we will be making Smoky Chipotle Chili Con Queso Mac which is the same meal as today, but replacing the chicken with ground beef and swapping the cheddar for smoked cheddar. Sounds remarkably like some of the other macaroni cheese recipes of this year. Tomorrow is the one day of the year when we are less than keen on living where we live. There is an annual street festival which basically surrounds our house. We either have to take the car out the night before and be away for at least 12 hours, or we are home bound. It’s supposed to be a family day but inevitably descends into drunken chaos by late morning. Ten years ago we’d have been right there, but these days we just try and stay away. The highlight was discovering a couple having “relations” on our back porch a couple of years ago. The classy gent in question had a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. It was a particularly pretty sight. Because of Baby A’s nap requirements (well really our requirement that she takes a long nap, for our sanity), we are going to stay around the house tomorrow. We have to be out for a showing of the house over lunchtime; let’s hope the prospective owners like a little voyeurism with their condo.

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  • Reply Scott June 2, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    I made this just over a year ago and had the same exact feelings as you! You expect big flavors, but when all is said and done, blah! My write up and a picture is here.

  • Reply Joannie June 3, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    I don’t like chicken in pasta dishes either. Chicken is not strong enough to stand out as a flavor. Ground beef is better — hopefully tomorrow’s meal will be better.

    I loved the lunch-in-a-box website. I like to think I can pack a good lunch but this site has shown me there’s plenty of room for improvement.

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