A one-word appraisal of the past two nights' meals would be “superb,” but that refers only to the taste. Myriad other factors should be considered when considering a recipe: (1) length of time it took to make the meal (which is almost always twice as long as it says above the recipe), (2) how many dishes it requires (and if they can be washed along the way- or have to be left until the end), (3) if most of the ingredients were already in the pantry ready to go (if you have to spend $50 at the supermarket on one dinner, what's the point? You might as well get it pre-made!), (4) how fattening it is (anyone can make something taste good when adding 8 sticks of butter), and THEN (and only then) (5) taste should be acknowledged. That said, here is a more detailed assessment of the spaghetti and the chicken from the past two nights:
Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs
Time- The listed amount of total time is 1 hour, 10 minutes. In reality, the recipe took more like 2-2 ½ hours to complete. You have to consider the fact that you are making the sauce (which has to cook and simmer for a while in order to thicken); making, forming, and frying the meatballs; and boiling the pasta. Then, you combine everything and add the parmesan and oregano. If you have the time, though, it's worth it, because although it says 4 servings, the yield is a lot more. The sauce and meatballs can be frozen to make another supper in the future.
Messiness- 3 rather large items are required for this recipe: the dutch oven (which is heavy and therefore can be difficult to wash, the large skillet to fry the meatballs, and the pasta pot. Additionally, you need a large bowl to make the meatballs, a cutting board, sharp knife, strainer, measuring spoons, can opener, etc. The point is, a lot of dishes are involved, so clean-up can be lengthy.
$- I basically had to purchase an onion, the tomato puree, tomato paste, ground turkey, and saltines (which I now have ten billion of, if anyone wants to have a saltine party with me). For such a large meal, the cost was not too bad. I keep fresh herbs in the garden, so that saves me a bundle at the grocery store (you can also plant herbs in a pot if you don't have the room- just ALWAYS keep mint separate, as we had it take over the entire garden a couple years ago. It JUST WON”T DIE!).
Taste- I'm not going to take back my initial judgement, however I would like to elaborate. The overall meal was, in fact, superb, however I found the sauce to be a little thin. Perhaps the use of chopped tomatoes instead of puree would alleviate this? Maybe I'll also allow the sauce to simmer longer on the stove. Additionally, I think the recipe called for too much tomato paste.
Time- This was actually a really quick one. The total time as per the magazine says 45 minutes, which is pretty accurate- this includes the 30 minutes it takes to bake the chicken! There is no chopping if you use pre-minced garlic, and if you use pre-shredded cheddar, excess time (and dishes!) won't be utilized.
Messiness- Very few dishes were necessary for this recipe, so clean-up was easy.
$- I just had to buy the crackers. Seriously, Ritz and saltines are beginning to take up the entire cupboard.
Chunky monkey- It says 32 grams of fat. It feels like 2,000 grams of fat.
Taste- The chicken tasted extremely decadent. I can't believe I dipped the chicken in melted butter before slathering it in ritz cracker crumbs and cheddar cheese. The meal was very reminiscent of being at home- the cuisine equivalent of a giant hug from someone you love (picture someone who is a little, well, round).
Thankfully tonight we're having salmon- I think I've consumed my allowance of calories for the week in two days.