A’Tempting’ Tuesday: Cheap and Easy Is, As Cheap and Easy Does

With only my son and me at home most of the time, I’ve been giving the tiara a little rest.  There’s been very little “real” cooking going on at my house.

I have been on a mission to find some easy, affordable meals that would work to prepare for just one, as my son and I are on different levels of “taste buddiness.”  There are only so many hot dogs and chicken nuggets one woman can endure, so I’m often resorting to making separate dishes for the two of us.

My search hasn’t turned up much I’m just crazy about yet.  I found this recipe for Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta at Budget Bytes.  This one was okay, but not a real winner for me in the taste department. It was just, well, edible.  Cheap and easy is, as cheap and easy does, I guess. It would have been just as easy to open a can of tomato soup (I love Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup, by the way), throw in some pasta and spinach and be done with it.

It is definitely affordable.  It comes in at just under $4 for 4 servings.  I should have cut the recipe in half.  After I ate it twice, I was done with it and I hate to throw away leftovers.

I might give this one another try.  I followed the recipe exactly.  I will say it fit the affordable and easy requirement quite nicely. I do think with some tweaking and playing with the seasonings, I might make it into something I really like.

Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta

1 T olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
½ tsp salt
2 T tomato paste
2 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ lb. penne pasta
½ (9 oz.) bag fresh spinach

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until tender. (7-10 minutes.) Drain.

While pasta is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic.  Cook both on medium-low heat in large skillet with the olive oil until soft and transparent, about 5 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir.  Add the tomato paste and ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.

Turn the heat to low.  Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and add to the skillet with the tomato sauce.  Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy.  Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until melted.  Add the remainder of the Parmesan and whisk until melted again.

Add the fresh spinach and gently stir into the sauce until it has wilted. Add the pasta and stir until well coated with the sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm.

Despite not being in love with this recipe, I do love the Budget Bytes website.  Check it out.  There’s lots of ideas for easy, affordable dinners.

Cook’s Note:  I may play with this a little and see if I can improve it to suit my tastes.  If you try, let me know what changes you make.

Also, I must apologize for the lack of a photo.  I took one, but cannot tell you what happened to it.  I’ve had some issues with the flash card in my camera.  If I can recover the photo, I will add it later.

Until next time…

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