Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Diced Tomatoes = Improv Food Awesomeness

I have now improved two improvised meals with diced tomatoes, and I come sharing my newfound wisdom.

1) "Real America" Tuna a la Tomato

As everyone knows, left to my own devices, I eat horrible things. This is why, since we had a coupon long ago, a box of Tuna Helper stood on our shelf in the pantry. I decided to make it for at-work lunches.

After a horrible experience with Hamburger Helper and Morningstar Farms Grillers (tastes like a very bad idea), I resolved always to add other things to "Helper" meals so that they have some taste and nutritional value.

This time, on top of Costco canned sliced mushrooms, I added a can of diced tomatoes, as well as the sauce packet.

The result: not bad. The diced tomatoes turned a plain cream-saucy dish (I used skim milk) into something closer to an Italian pasta. Definitely edible.

2) The Pedant Succeeds With Goat Cheese

Today, the Sherbs and I managed to find ourselves with an unplanned dinner, so I promised to make something. I had in my head the Amateur Gourmet's blog post about a penne alla vodka recipe from Lydia Bastianich, the Sherbs's favorite WETA Create food personality.

It was, of course, horrible with cold and rain outside, so we didn't want to buy anything. Which meant that we had no cream and no vodka.

However, after an excellent risotto last week, we had some leftover goat cheese. This was the inspiration.

I started with a can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes, which Cook's Illustrated considers the best brand of canned tomatoes, and a can of Hunt's diced tomatoes with random junk in it, which Cook's Illustrated did not rank highly but was on sale when I was stocking up on emergency pantry goods at the Teet (did you make out like a bandit on triple coupon weekend? We did!). Added to that the remainder of some vegetable stock, a healthy dump of garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and grated parmesan, not to mention more canned mushrooms, and it started to seem like sauce.

Then, in went the cheese and two small spoon scoops of low-fat sour cream. It creamed up just enough for true tastiness when we added the Barilla Plus rigatoni (I was too lazy to reach back further on the shelf for penne). The Sherbs and I both liked it a lot.


bluesleepy said...

You have no idea how jealous I am that you get PBS Create. We had it in Washington state, but apparently Rhode Island is not nearly cool enough to carry it. I so miss Lydia. Bah.

I also love America's Test Kitchen. Have you seen Cook's Country? I get that magazine too, and they just started making a show about it. It's sort of the same as the regular ATC, but enjoyable nonetheless.

I made a meal tonight that used up leftover chicken and pasta and zucchini. (You can see it here:http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Zucchini-Pasta-II/Detail.aspx). Granted, it's both meat and dairy, but you could EASILY leave out the chicken (and use no-chicken chicken broth) and have a delicious meal. I wasn't sure about the addition of the cream cheese, but it really made for a creamy sauce that was really delicious.

The Pedant said...

Thanks for the recipe!

While I do love the Cook's programming, their recipes are often too unhealthy or treif for our kitchen. So I tend to stick with their podcasts for entertainment and their Best Vegetable Recipes cookbook.

Sherbs said...

Bluesleepy - make sure to rss Lidia's blog on Lidia's Italy website (it's linked in the post). I would also have a difficult time having Create and then loosing it. I'm still mourning over a loss of the Food Network which I had for 3 months! But, next time you're in town you'll have to come over when Lidia and ATK are on.

Diana said...

Did you buy the goat cheese from Costco?

Sherbs said...

Diana - ironically, no! It was just a 10 oz "log" from the supermarket. We tend not to buy things that will spoil at Costco. Except chumus. Cause sabra rocks

Diana said...

Besides Costco, I've found the cheapest place to buy goat cheese (with a hechsher) is Whole Foods.