Quite honestly, words are beginning to fail me at how institutional this quartet of recipes are tasting. The meal this evening tasted like there was somehow a tin of condensed soup in there, it was so blah. The smells emanating from our kitchen make me feel like we are living in a daycare center or residential facility, not to mention the smells that we are currently generating, mmmmm, yummy.
The instructions for the Tex-Mex part of the Tex-Mex Mac-n-Cheddar are as follows:
Preheat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of EVOO and the beef. Brown the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the peppers and cook together for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
I have to say that we seasoned with garlic, onions, paprika and chilli, in addition to the salt and pepper, and this still tasted of that which shall not be named. (Interestingly the start date of this project coincides with us starting a swear-box. This is in an attempt to prevent Baby A spouting expletives along with moo and baa, go and no, as some of her first words. Already we almost have a college fund set up…)
In the introduction to this book, Rachael Ray states that
Coming up with the recipes for this collection of 30-Minute Meals almost killed me…
So, why bother to create 365: No Repeats? Well, aside from wanting to use that cute title (which I was totally hooked on) I did have a legitimate goal: I wanted to write a book that inspired people to become more creative and instinctual when they cook. I wanted to put together an assortment of 30-Minute Meals so broad it conveyed the idea that once you get the hang of it, cooking gets easier and easier- so easy that you could prepare dinner every single night for a year and never eat the same thing twice and still not spend your life in the kitchen…
I intended that you could just cook your way through this whole book (maybe marking one here and there that didn’t grab you that particular night but you want to come back to) and never get bored. No more leftovers for you- every night can be full of new flavors!
Ok, I get the premise and think it is admirable; switching ingredients to make a new dish from a master recipe so you don’t have leftovers makes sense. But so far the variations occur early in the dish so that you don’t add to your leftovers to change things, you go back a few steps and change the course of the dish. So why, oh why oh why, would someone put four macaroni cheese recipes together (with alternating cheeses in the sauce) if the intention is that the reader can work through the book from start to finish? The book labels the first of the four recipes the “Master Recipe” then says “Now try” the second variation. So far so good, but the following page is labelled “Or try” the third variation, “And then try” the fourth. Even Rachael Ray doesn’t seem to really believe in trying four variations in a row. Why can they not just be listed in two well-spaced sets of two, and cross-referenced?
Ok, enough ranting about that. One more thing and then I’m done. We really need to cut down the portion sizes and add in some sides of vegetables. Somehow I feel we’re maybe even more likely to develop scurvy than when we had pasta pesto every other night- at least pesto is green. There’s only so much white or brown food you can have before craving soup or salad. One vegetable per dish seems a little sparse.
Tomorrow, tomatoes, chorizo and chipotle peppers go in with the vat of cheesy pasta. And then we gratefully leave behind macaroni cheese until Day 22. That’s over two weeks away, wowser.