We’re going to change the pace with today’s installment and talk about a recent evening in the kitchen that ended nicely, but first went very, very poorly. As is the case with most food blogs, all the photo editing and lovely stories make it look like life is all birthday cakes and beautiful muffins, all the time. But I want to make it known that some truly terrible stuff comes out of my kitchen sometimes. Let’s get down to it.
I’m going to start off by immediately shifting the blame for this failure to Trader Joe’s. You heard me, TJ’s!! Your fault, not mine! See, I had this brilliant idea to make a dish of butternut squash ravioli with sauteed peppers and onions, flecks of bacon, and chunks of goat cheese, all topped off with sage leaves. Doesn’t that sound like sophisticated dining? I sure thought so. And wouldn’t you know it, Trader Joe’s sells fresh packaged butternut squash ravioli for only a few dollars, so my winning dish would be elegant, fast, and easy to prepare. Win, win, win.
So, I went home and got cooking. Everything was looking beautiful; I had tossed the ravioli and the other ingredients together in my favorite serving bowl; wine was poured; music was playing. And then I decided to sneak a bite of the ravioli while Alex had his back turned. And this is the face I made:
I know, one should expect anything with butternut squash in it to be a little on the sweet side. But WOW, this stuff was sweet. Like, glue your jaw shut with corn syrup sweet. I checked the ingredients list on the label to see what was up. And then I spotted it.
Amaretti biscuits. There were cookies in the ravioli. Seriously, Trader Joe’s?? Do I have to break out the Cookie Monster song again? And besides, isn’t this the kind of thing you should have to warn people about?? Learn from my mistakes, people… when shopping at Trader Joe’s, be sure to read labels, because you never know where cookies may be lurking.
Alex took a bite of this sad stuff anyway, just to be polite, I suppose, but I knew there was no way I was eating that mess for dinner. So I immediately started formulating a back-up plan, and in about two seconds, I hit on the brilliant idea that saved the evening: nachos. Did you know how easy it is to make nachos at home? In about ten minutes, we had a tray of gooey, melty, crispy nachos on the table, and that sorry butternut squash cookie business was a thing of the past. Clearly Alex was pleased about this:
But here’s the thing. I think we were intended to have those nachos all along. There was half a can of black beans in the fridge that I’d been intending to polish off for days, we had an unreasonable amount of shredded cheese and cilantro hanging out near the black beans, and Alex had just run around the corner to buy a bag of tortilla chips not half an hour before the dinner fiasco. Plus, we were able to salvage the veggies and bacon from the ravioli bowl, and they were just the perfect addition. Is that fate, or what?
So, what did we learn from this? Well, a few things, actually:
- Everybody has kitchen flops. Just accept it.
- Always, always, always read labels! Save yourself from stealthy cookie attacks!
- When dinner gets you down, nachos are the solution.
If you want to make nachos for dinner tonight– and I highly recommend it– here’s all you have to do. Set the oven to about 375, and while it’s heating up, arrange tortilla chips on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle those chips with an ungodly amount of shredded cheese (seriously– just shovel it on there) and some drained canned black beans. Pop the baking sheet in the oven; it doesn’t really matter if it’s reached 375 yet. Keep an eye on it, and remove it from the oven when the cheese melts and begins to bubble and brown. Once the nachos are out of the oven, toss on any other toppings you have on hand. We used sauteed orange bell peppers and onions, bacon chunks, handfuls of cilantro, spicy salsa, and dollops of creme fraiche (because I was out of sour cream and, frankly, I can’t tell much difference between the two). Instant happiness; dinner saved.