Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sweet as Pie: Easy Pasta Carbonara

Remember all those times I've said I am falling soooo far behing in my cooking club adventures?

And how I said that many of the recipes I have cooked but not posted about?

It's about 50/50 these days, where I've cooked but not posted yet, or just not cooked it at all.

This particular recipe, for Easy Pasta Carbonara, goes back to February.  I actually did cook it, but as you can tell, the review is a bit delinquent.

Here you go:

Easy Pasta Carbonara, from the Pampered Chef (see link above for the recipe)
Verdict: Quick, simple, and very flavorful.  Great for a weeknight.
Cook it again: Absolutely!
Cost Factor: Everything* this calls for is in our house all the time, so this was a pantry recipe for us.  (* whether we have cream cheese is hit or miss, and we didn't use turkey bacon, but rather regular bacon.  Sort of.)

I was a little bit apprehensive about this because I don't like turkey bacon.  (Really, now: what's the point?  If you want bacon, have bacon, that's how I see it.)

I also procrastinated a little on this one because making bacon the right way and rendering up the fat makes the house smell like bacon for a week.  In the winter, with the windows shut in the Maine cold, that wasn't something I wanted to take on.

That's a lie.  I just didn't want to clean the grease-spattered stove.

Okay, okay, maybe a little bit of both are true.

In the end, one weeknight I came home from work and, as has been our practice lately, Mick took CAM to either ballet or baton, so I could put on comfy-cozies and relax and cook dinner.  (That sounds odd, I realize.  For me, the relaxing and cooking dinner go together. I just don't like to have to start dinner at 6, after we get home from ballet or baton -- that makes for a late, stressful night.)

But I still didn't want to take the time to cook up the bacon, and since I'd neglected to defrost our bacon, I had to improvise.

If you're wondering,

this is a ramekin of bacon fat we keep in our fridge
 Plus this:

renders up reallllly nicely to give you "fresh, crisp" bacon without the mess.  Like this:

I have to admit:  I was just playing around, taking my chances when I did that -- but I am so glad for that little discovery.  Now we can have recipes that require bacon whenever we want, which is a nice thing to add to our weeknight dinner lists!

But that's not it.  (You know, in case you were thinking this was easy bacon carbonara.  Duh.  Of course that's not it!)  You have to add the rest of the ingredients:  onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, chicken stock, evaporated milk, cream cheese, bow-tie pasta, and chicken broth, and let the concoction cook off for a while. (I thought it was a lot like a homemade Hamburger Helper: all the players into the pot, and cover it up to cook.) 

Shortly before it's done, you add frozen peas.  I'm not particularly famous for enjoying peas, but I do enjoy new peas.  The tinier, the better -- mostly because they are sweeter.  I'm the girl who picks the peas and carrots out of fried rice, if you know what I mean.  So, we cracked open a can of LeSueur and poured about half the can into the dish.  Frozen peas?!  Puh-lease!

Because they weren't frozen, they were ready in no time.

And this ...

... was the final, delicious result, dressed up with some freshy-grated Parmesan on top.

I'm only three months late in posting about it, but it was worth it, I promise!


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