Memories of My Starving Post University Days and Kraft Dinner

I am sure I will get a number of people identifying with those days when you had no money, were trying to find yourself and a career after university (way back when….) and Kraft Dinner was a staple. No? Well you are the lucky ones (or should I say unlucky) ūüėČ

There is something about Kraft Dinner that brings back tons of good memories. Now I know it is terrible food but bear with me as I did try to make it a touch healthier by adding a can of tuna.

I indulge in Kraft Dinner about once every 2-3 years so it’s not so bad and the things it makes me think about and remember are kind of fun so really how bad is that?

Here is my adult recipe for Kraft dinner (Did I say the box was on sale for 67 cents and made 3 meals?)

IMG_1851

1 box of KD cooked as per instructions. I only use 1 small pat of butter and a bit of skim milk just to thicken and moisten the orange powder they call “cheese”.

Once cooked and mixed, I add a tin of tuna drained, mix up and sprinkle bread crumbs on top with some sliced tomatoes. (I only had grape tomatoes so I used those instead). Then I bake it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees till the edges get a bit browned.

All I can say is it was yummy, nostalgic and tasty all at once ūüėČ

Advertisements

Fabulous Tuna Dinner

Well it was dinner with Ted and Judy again last night – my favourite “restaurant” ;-). I can’t get over the cooking that these friends do! So last night we had a starter of mussels which where so good I totally forgot to photograph them as we just dove into the bowls. Trust me they were delicious.

The rest of the meal was no exception. Actually I have to backtrack….I was starving when I got to T&J’s place as I had forgotten to eat lunch. Judy had some smoked salmon which she artfully put on top of a tiny¬†dollop of hungarian cream cheese (made with paprika – yes it was awesome) on a¬†¬†thin slice of left over roast potato. Topped with a couple of capers it was an appetizer fit for any restaurant.

IMG_1832

 

Later we had the mussels followed by a tuna dinner that was out of this world! Ted got some sushi grade tuna from a local fish monger and covered it in sesame seeds with a bit of black pepper ground on top.

 

IMG_1837

 

He seared it for 3 minutes per side in a hot cast iron frying pan. Prior to cooking, Ted made a small dish of sauce to go with the tuna. Mix the ingredients below and add to taste. It really does take on a different taste though once you drizzle it over the cooked tuna.

1 tbsp sesame oil

3-4 tbsp soy sauce

¬Ĺ – 1 tsp wasabi paste to taste

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Along with the tuna Judy made her secret mashed potatoes – all I can tell you is there is some butter and her secret weapon is a mix master ;-). They are the smoothest creamiest potatoes ever.

IMG_1838

 

The salad Judy came up with (so creative) was made with the following ingredients:

Red tipped boston lettuce (beautiful looking)

Cubed field tomatoes (from the farmers market that day)

Cubed bocconcini cheese, 4-5 pieces

1 whole diced/cubed avocado

4-5 sun dried tomatoes chopped with a lime infusion (lime juice squeezed over to moisten)

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients¬†(not the lettuce leaves)¬†and¬†pour the juice of one¬†lime over them¬†and¬†mix/stir. Then put into individual boston lettuce “cups”/leaves

The tuna was timed perfectly for when the salad and potatoes were done. Plated, it looked fit for royalty. What an outstanding meal! I of course got to take home the leftovers. Thanks again to my favourite restaurant!

IMG_1844

 

 

Vancouver Island Holiday


I just spent a week out on Vancouver Island with my cousin Rebecca – what a fabulous week! Aside from the most perfect weather, she has just purchased the most perfect house. It’s a heritage home that was “floated” over from Victoria a few years back.

Rebecca is planning on having a B&B at the house and I can’t think of a better place to be. The house has so much character and Vancouver Island is so beautiful. This was a sort of working holiday as I was helping to get things done around the house. ¬†My cousin has some beautiful art that needed hanging so we put up at least a dozen pictures, a beautiful carving of loons and a gorgeous hand made wall hanging. ¬†I also built a headboard from an old door that was left outside (solid oak – they don’t make doors like that anymore).

Now for the food….

Salmon, seafood and more salmon. ¬†It doesn’t get any better than heading down to the fishing boat and buying some salmon for dinner. We had salmon in scrambled eggs for breakfast, in omelettes, seared salmon and BBQ’d salmon. Oysters that were half the size of my palm were $9 for 14!!! And oh so fresh.

IMG_1816

Farm fresh eggs and salmon and grilled potatoes for breakfast

One night we had maple salmon with boiled potatoes and sea asparagus. Some of you may remember I talked about sea asparagus in an older post РI had never heard of them and here they were growing wild at the waters edge right in front of her home!  We picked them and soaked them and I sautéed them with some garlic to put over the salmon.  Yummy meal. We had some fresh tomatoes that a neighbour brought over that day from their garden.  We decided this was a 10 mile meal (as opposed to a 100 mile version)

DSC_1182

Sea asparagus growing wild

 

 

IMG_1806

Soaking in water as they are very salty

 

IMG_1807

Wild Pacific Salmon

 

IMG_1809

Yum!

My cousin Rebecca is a champion pie maker and since blackberries grow wild everywhere around the island where she lives she made a blueberry and blackberry pie that was outstanding. ¬†We had it my last night at a dinner party given by Kim and Tom with Mary Jo and Veer. What a great night – drinking blackberry wine and eating fresh BBQ’d salmon with oysters. What a great week with great people!

IMG_1820

Before going into the oven

IMG_1821

Baked – what an incredible smell!

 

See below for pics of the house and the neat headboard (yes I am proud of it) ūüėČ

Rebecca's house

headboard1headboard detail

 

Breakfast Pizza

Okay so it’s really an omelette but in my mind I was putting it together like a pizza so work with me on this…

I chopped up half a zucchini and a large handful of mushrooms and sautéd them in a small frying pan. Then I poured 2 beaten eggs with a drop of vanilla thrown in (adds a neat very subtle flavour). I then aded a few halved grape tomatoes. I cooked this up like an omelette and covered it. (You can also put the pan in the oven and cook it that way but for a small omelette it seemed like overkill in a big oven. Covering it worked fine).

When the top was pretty much cooked I used two spatulas to flip it and put some grated old cheddar cheese on top and slid it onto a plate. Then I added some slice avocado on top.  The heat from the eggs finished melting the cheese which held the avocado in place and within about 7 minutes I had a delicious breakfast. You could make this for dinner too and add different ingredients like sliced meat, onion, mushroom in larger slices etc Рanything that you might put on a pizza could work here. For my meal, I served it with a bit of hot sauce just to kick it up a notch.

This would be fun to make with kids and let them put different toppings on it just like a pizza.  Great way to get kids to eat a good breakfast!

IMG_1696

 

 

Pasta Dinner (with Presidents Choice Pasta)

I don’t normally eat much pasta but Presidents Choice (brand name in¬†Loblaws grocery stores in Ontario) black label pasta has put out a commercial using their mushroom stuffed pasta that is mouthwatering. ¬†I happened to be in Loblaws and saw some of this black label pasta and as I was reaching for a package of it to read the label a woman stepped up and loaded every one of the mushroom stuffed pasta into her cart!. ¬†She left the pumpkin stuffed pasta and a cheese version on the shelf along with the style I bought which was stuffed with asparagus.

IMG_1505

 

I felt rather creative that night so here is what I did with the pasta…

Using a roasted garlic flavoured olive oil (which I mixed with a bit of lemon flavoured olive oil), I sautéed some finely slivered peppers with some pine nuts till golden brown. I then added a tablespoon of butter to make some brown butter. While the peppers and nuts were sautéing I boiled the water and cooked the pasta (only needs about 4 minutes). Once the nuts and peppers were done and the butter melted I tossed the pasta into the pan and mixed it all together.

IMG_1491

IMG_1496

I then divided the pasta into two dishes (one for me and one for my friend Richard – because you can’t just eat this good a meal by yourself ;-). I had crisped some prosciutto in the microwave which I then crumbled over top of the pasta and peppers and then grated some fresh parmesan cheese over top.

Felt like we also needed some greens with dinner so using a Kale Salad mix I buy at Costco which is made up of kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and radicchio I added some crumbled feta cheese, chopped mango and tomatoes.

IMG_1489

IMG_1483

All I can say is… Whoa! that was a yummy meal. All ready in less than¬†half an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brunch with Elizabeth and David

My friends Elizabeth and Dave are busy people. Trying to organize a get together is not easy, so when someone has a day free we jump on it.  The other Saturday afternoon we gathered for brunch at their place.

Brunch is one of my favourite meals because it is usually laid back, spent with friends and served with delicious food. Does it get any better?

This day was no exception. While Dave may have been worried that the brunch wasn’t over the top enough I am here to say it was outstanding! ¬†Perfect meal to enjoy with friends and just kick back and have a good yak.

Brunch was an avocado dish that I thought was quite brilliant and have to try making. ¬†We had avocado mixed with baby shrimp put back into the avocado shell which it was served in (so smart!). Beautiful tri-coloured tomatoes (one of my favourite things) and a touch of smoked salmon on the side. ¬†It screamed springtime even though it was only 1 degree outside and pretty darn cold (if you can’t get your fill of spring with the weather you may as well get it with your food ūüėČ ).

Take a look at how beautiful this brunch was.  2 hours later we were talked out and we all had other stuff to get done. I left with a big smile on my face and the feeling of warmth and contentment.

brunch

Another Taco Night with my Neighbours

Spur of the moment decision….. Lets do a taco night tonight! ¬†That was the conversation my neighbour/friend Zannat and I had while picking up some groceries.

I always love the look of the table when we do this because it is full of colour.

IMG_1501

This time Zannat made a yummy main for the taco using¬†ground turkey with vegetables and hoisin. ¬†The flavour was great (so much so that I made a batch of it the next night to have for lunches and dinner when I¬†didn’t feel like cooking).

We had tomatoes, cucumbers, sautéed mushrooms, grated old cheddar and pineapple pieces.  We moved between the hard taco shells, soft tortilla shells and lettuce wraps.  Simple meal, not hard to prepare and fun for all of us. I will admit though that it is not the tidiest meal we have ever had but that was part of the fun :-).

FYI – the ground turkey was browned in a pan with chopped and frozen vegetables, onion, a bit of garlic and just under a ¬ľ cup of hoisin sauce to 1 lb. of ground turkey. Add a can of lentils, stir and then add the hoisin in small amounts until it is fully mixed and you get the flavour you want.

Lunch the next day with leftovers was ground turkey and lentils with hoisin wraps ūüėČ

turkeyhoisinwraps

Enjoy!

Chicken and Pasta Prima Vera

This recipe started out as pasta prima vera but I thought “why not add some protein to it”? Turned out to be quite yummy and when a group of friends wound up back at my house all hungry I happened to have a big bowl left over from a food order I had just filled so was able to get everyone fed and happy in a very short period of time.

IMG_1200

Ingredients – serves 6-8:

Olive oil Рenough to sauté vegetables

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small bite size pieces

4 cloves minced garlic

1 red and 1 yellow  pepper cut into thin strips

2 large handfuls of chopped raw kale

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half

1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup fat free evaporated milk

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, dissolved in 6 tablespoons water

Pepper to taste

1 large carrot peeled and sliced into strips with a peeler

Fettucini or linguini – enough for 6-8 people

3/4 – 1 cup grated Parmesan

A large handful of fresh parsley leaves chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Salt to taste if you want to (I don’t usually cook with salt)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and kale and cook until softened about another 4-5 minutes. Add carrots and stir into other vegetables. Stir in flour/water combination and mix throughly with vegetables. Add stock, evaporated milk and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until liquid has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. If liquid does not thicken enough add another tsp of flour and water mixture and stir through.

While the vegetables are cooking, bring water to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta until it is al dente. Drain pasta and combine and toss  with vegetables and sauce. Serve garnished with Parmesan, parsley and basil.

Note: sauce thickens even more by the next day.

Dinner Club at Jocelyn and Bills’

Argentina was the country of choice for our dinner club evening at Jocelyn and Bills’. ¬†What a spread! ¬†While there are usually 8 of us plus up to 2 additional guests, there was enough food to feed an army. And what amazing flavours of food!.

We had tomatoes dry grilled till blackened on one side Рthen sliced cross hatched with black pepper sprinkled over them.  The tomatoes were so juicy drizzled with a bit of olive oil and some fresh oregano leaves sprinkled on top.

tomatoes grilling

There were endives seared in red white vinegar and melted sugar – sounds very sweet but it actually just gave a hint of sweetness as the melted sugar didn’t stick but slightly moistened the endives. ¬†Oh sooo goood!

tomato and leek

Other appetizers included a piece of provolone with cracked pepper and chilli peppers heated in a pan until softened and then cut and spread on small pieces of baguette.  This was outstanding.  Another starter was a platter of soft pears peeled and sliced served with prosciutto and topped with chopped parsley and olive oil (I think that was the herb topping?) There were sliced potatoes (mandolin thinly sliced), empanadas, and chimichurri sauce and other delicacies served as well.

pear and procuitto

Then the main course  Рmeat Рwhich is what is served in Argentina in abundance.  We had amazing grilled steaks and sausages.  A meal to remember!

stak and sausange

And on top of all this amazing food Рwe all did a presentation on a slice of Argentina. In the end we walked away stuffed and learned on all things Argentinian.  Fabulous evening.

Dinner at Jane’s

Had a wonderful dinner at my friend Jane’s the other night along with another friend Jocelyn. ¬†We sat out in the garden on a perfect evening eating until we started clearing dishes and I freaked out about the bees (yes many of you know I am somewhat bug phobic….). ¬†Inside we went for a pretty spectacularly presented dessert of fresh fruit and a trifle (and some more wine….)

Dinner was salmon steamed in parchment with vegetables (recipe from the cookbook French Women don’t Get Fat), baby potatoes and perfectly ripe deliciously meaty tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. So so good!

raw salmon

salmon in parchment 2

salmon in parchment1

triffle