Let me be upfront with you– this is not a pretty dish. It’s beige and sloppy-looking and won’t win any beauty contests. It won’t amaze your tastebuds with new and exciting flavors, either. But on the plus side, it’s reasonably healthy, quick and easy to make, and is basically the epitome of comfort food for a wintry evening. Also, it’s delicious, so you should make it.
While I’m sure the combination of beans, bacon, and cabbage has been around for a while, I somehow didn’t “discover” it until recently, when I was googling dinner ideas and came across a recipe in the Washington Post. I’ve adapted it to drastically increase the cabbage (and thus my perception of its healthiness), but aside from that it’s good as-is. The smokiness of the bacon combines with the creaminess of the beans to give it a really hearty flavor, and the cabbage just kind of melts into the dish, adding bulk but not hitting you in the face with cabbage-y flavor or odor. With plenty of black pepper and parmesan cheese, I’ve eaten this repeatedly this past winter, and regret nothing.
I know it’s traditional to serve vodka sauce with penne, but all I had in the house was farfalle, so I went with that. But the sauce is really the star here, and always will be– spicy, creamy, rich but with bright tomato flavor, it’s a perfect comfort food. Plus, it’s made with pantry staples (the original recipe called for shallots and fresh tomatoes, but I think the modified one is just as tasty) and is quick and easy enough for a weeknight dinner!
So after making the eggnog I had a pint of whole milk leftover, and since we never drink whole milk (and since I have an aversion to throwing perfectly good food away), I had to think of something to make with it. I thought pudding might be nice– it’s one of the only things I use whole milk for– but I was out of eggs and didn’t have enough chocolate in the house for a really good chocolate pudding, so I turned to a tried-and-true source of recipes and found (drumroll please) butterscotch pudding.
It sounded fabulous– the warm, toasty notes of dark brown sugar, combined with the sweet creaminess of pudding– and looked simple to make. In reality I experienced a few problems, probably because I didn’t trust the recipe enough.