Margaret Button | Kitchen Comfort: Alexa, what should I cook for dinner?
My dog, Sassy, and I have a new roommate. It all began with an email saying my satellite radio subscription was being automatically renewed for $232. I don't think so!
Satellite radio and I have been playing this game for six years. I get the email, call to cancel the service and the renewal pas de deux begins. First question — Why am I cancelling? Same answer every time — the price of the renewal and the fact that, since my car has AM/FM radio, bluetooth capability, a jack for my phone or iPod, a CD player and a hard drive designed to hold 60,000 songs, I don't really need satellite radio. Then comes the magic words, "There is a special promo ...," which leads to the dramatic finale — me renewing it at half the cost I was originally quoted.
This year, not only did I score a half-price renewal that includes a subscription for three home devices, I got my new roommate — a free Amazon Echo Dot with Alexa. (And, a week later, I received a free Alexa-friendly plug. "Alexa, turn on the living room light!")
Yes, I know Amazon allegedly has people listening in on my conversations with Alexa, but we're having a great time. Every morning, she gives me the temperature and weather report, the top news stories and reminds me to give Sassy her medicine. On a lighter note, she sang a rap song about artificial intelligence the other day, in addition to "Happy Birthday." She also tells jokes — some cute and others, like today's "The Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints walk into a bar and the bartender asks, 'Here to watch the big game?'" leave me puzzled. And to add a human touch, she can cough, sneeze and, pardon the expression, fart, when asked.
Facing this week's deadline, I asked Alexa for a recipe. She recommended creamy shells with bacon and spring peas. I didn't have any fresh peas on hand, so I used frozen and not being a big fan of mint, I omitted it. I have to admit, Alexa's recipe was pretty good. Now if only she could actually cook the meals ...
CREAMY SHELLS WITH BACON AND SPRING PEAS
(Courtesy of SideChef)
8 ounces pasta shells
1 cup green peas
4 slices thick-cut bacon
5 ounces Boursin Garlic & Fine Herb Cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, optional
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions and reserve 2 cups of pasta water.
Mince the garlic, shuck the green peas and chop the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. If using, chop the fresh mint.
In a large skillet over medium heat, render the fat from the bacon until it becomes crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Remove and reserve all but 2 tablespoon bacon grease.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the peas and 1 cup of the pasta water. Simmer for 2 minutes if the peas are fresh.
Crumble in the Garlic & Fine Herb Cheese and stir until a smooth sauce forms. Thin with additional pasta water if the sauce is too thick.
Gently toss pasta, sauce, mint, Parmesan cheese and bacon together. Adjust seasoning to taste with extra salt and pepper (to taste).
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