Monday, August 29, 2011

Simple Summer Supper

This is more a formula than a recipe. What follows is my usual way of preparing it, along with a few variations. It's low fat, meatless, high fiber but most importantly, YUMMY!

Ingredients (for 4 people; our family doubles it).

1 cup brown rice (prepare according to package directions)

1 can (15 oz) black (turtle) beans, undrained (heat in saucepan)
1 package baby spinach
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Line meat platter or large shallow bowl with all the baby spinach.
Top with hot rice (spread it out over the spinach so it wilts)
Add cilantro to the black beans
Pour beans over rice
Place the ricotta cheese in dollops on the top
Garnish with cilantro

White rice instead of brown

Marinated veggies: marinate cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper in vinaigrette; the veg go on top of the beans!

Boost the Veg:
Cook carrots and/or celery in the beans until done

Don't like ricotta?
Substitute Fat free sour cream

Top with green onions, as desired.
A shout out to my friend Bruce who often served me something similar;  that was the origin of this!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kraft "Homestyle" Macaroni and Cheese

Sometimes I am just a little snarky.  And frankly, some products are just asking for it.

I make homemade mac-n-cheese almost always.  I was raised on it and nothing in a box will do it for me.  Nonetheless, I have "normal" kids who also like the box stuff, so sometimes I buy it for them.  This week, I came home with the title product.  I probably would not have bought it, but I got it for free in a special.  So we tried it.

When I read the directions, I thought, "Hmmm, this sounds suspiciously like making white sauce."  When I opened the "special seasoning," it tasted a lot like flour.  Then I added the "cheese sauce."  I tasted it of course.  It tasted like a cross between Cheez Whiz and Velveeta.  The bread crumbs were dry, bland and apparently unseasoned.

Here is the thing, with the exception of using the "cheese product" instead of actual cheese, you are basically making homemade macaroni and cheese.  Most times when I make it, I top it with buttery cracker or bread crumbs and run it through the oven for a bit.  But if I'm in a hurry, I do it all stove-top like the aforementioned product. 

So I guess my real question is why anyone would buy this product and not just make homemade mac and (real)cheese?  And if you love the creaminess of processed cheese, you can always use velveeta for half the cheese.  It will not take any longer, I promise.  I spent more time trying to open the "easy open" sauce packet than I would grating the cheese! 

My homemade mac-n-cheese has 8 easy-to-pronounce ingredients:  Macaroni, skim milk, cheese, butter, flour, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.  This "homestyle" product has at least 23 ingredients, including canola oil and several stabilizer, colors, and preservatives.  (I say "at least 23" because I am generously assuming their bread crumbs and macaroni are the same as my "at home" versions.

So please, people, do me a favor.  Do not buy this stuff.  We have to stand up for home cooking sometime!  And if you do not buy it, you will save money, come out even on calories, save or break-even on time and enjoy a savory dish made with love!  If you need a recipe, let me know.