Doll it Up Monday: Tuna Helper

This is another re-make it Monday post like the last one, where I take an easy meal that I don’t think anyone couldn’t afford, and make it better in taste, with playing around with any type of veggies, fruits, or spices.

For this week, I’m dolling up one of those childhood dinners that we never wanted to see again, if we grew up a little more on the frugal side of life: (insert meat here) Helper. I’m making the Tuna Helper not like Tuna Helper.

Instead, I’m making tuna helper more like a tuna casserole but without baking it. You could bake it if you wanted, but for those who don’t have the time (or just don’t feel like it), it CAN be done in a skillet. And this will be a one pan meal as well, so get excited!

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Start off with some veggies that you like:

Tomato
Mushrooms
Onion
Green Beans
Sweet Peas
Corn

Make sure they’re diced if they need dicing or cut. I did later add diced tomatoes, because tomatoes.

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Next, start what the directions say on the box, and add in your veggies, and drained canned tuna.

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Let it be almost cooked and add some bread crumbs, and from here you can bake or keep cooking it on the stove. Let cool and serve!

It’s such a simple meal, and can be flipped into a skillet meal/one pan meal or an easy baked oven meal. You can also easily double or triple the meal size depending on family size or if you want to make leftovers for lunch or the next day.

I’m not sure on the whole freezer meal thing yet. If you know a trick, I’d love to know, for winter meals, since the cold months up here in the lower North-Eastern states is approaching sooner than we think.

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(Re) Make it Monday: Jazz Up a Cheap Meal (Rice-a-roni)

This will be my first over time, to doll up basic boxed dinners like Hamburger/Tuna Helper, Rice-a-Roni, and Knorr Pasta/Rice sides.

Today, I’m starting with a Rice-a-Roni dinner. They’re about a buck, and you add meat (chicken, turkey, pork, certain fish), and you have the meal there. But this one, *my* version, adds a twist!

So start with browning your meat.

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Add diced veggies you’d like out of:
Onion
Tomato
Any color bell pepper
Mushrooms

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If you want to make it breakfast-y, add scrambled eggs. Past that, follow the directions on the back of the box of how to cook the rice!

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Some other possible add ins might be:

Salsa
Shredded Cheese
Diced Chiles
Jalapenos
Ro-Tel

How do you make your simple rice-a-roni a little fancy? Which one is your favorite to make? Is there one you can’t stand?

Taco Tuesday: Taco Salad Editon

I was soo feeling tacos, so here we are. Babe’s been struggling with illnesses off and on, as this weather won’t just pick one (winter or spring), so I took to a mild form of taco salad, that I got from my ex’s sister in law. It’s different, but good, and you can add in all the spice you want, while not hearing everyone else eating, complaining “It’s too spicy!!!!!”

What makes it different, you ask? Well, take to these ingredients, and take a guess:

-Ground meat or substitute. I like ground turkey
-taco seasoning
-onion
-tomato
-lettuce or spinach
-shredded cheese or substitute
-Catalina dressing (I like Kraft’s sweet honey one for this)
-sour cream, or substitute
-refried beans
-soft tortillas, or Doritos (spicy nachos, cool ranch, or nacho cheese, all will do)
-anything else you want, like chives, rice, hot sauce, jalapenos, etc

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Start by dicing up some onion, and put in a hot pan with oil. Let it start cooking, and put some taco seasoning in with it, then your meat substance. While the meat is cooking, dice up any more onion you’d like, and all the other veggies. If you’re using tortillas, rip a few tortillas into bite sized pieces. If you have rice, cook that too.

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Once the meat is almost done, add some more taco seasoning. Once it’s done, add refried beans, and if you want cooked rice in there, add the cooked rice here as well. Let the refired beans and rice get warm, and soak in the seasoning.

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From there, grab a big bowl, layer some tortillas or chips (kind of crunching them as you go), some veggies, then the meat mixture, cheese, and dressing. Rinse and repeat.

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At the top, add some sour cream, and if wanted, either put some salsa in now, and mix it all up. Serve, and add any spicy condiments, as desired (or not).

I hope you enjoy this simple and milder take on taco salad. I enjoy it both with chips and tortillas. Which one is your favorite? Try them both, and get back to me!

Homemade Sushi: Remake it Mondays

So last Tuesday, I finally made sushi again. I’ve been craving it for awhile now, and while my dad and I were in Pittsburgh over Easter weekend, we visited the Strip District. There’s an oriental shop there, and we picked up a good bit. I took home some pickled ginger, nori, and some teas.

For this week’s remake it Monday food, plus with my craving of sushi, I’m bringing you, well, sushi. It’s easier than you think, but it takes a sharp, wet knife, and patience.

Most of the work is in the rolling and cutting of it, so be warned.

To start off, decide what you want in your sushi rolls. Feel free to look up different types of sushi, or just go for whatever sounds good. For meats, it’s always seafood. You can have vegetarian options, with no meat, but with cream cheese and veggies, or vegan options, with veggies.

This time, I did lobster and crab, with veggies. I did two rolls of each. Trust me when I say, that when eaten by themselves, you’ll eat slightly more than what you think you will. But don’t over do it, as the fullness factor WILL hit you.

Ingredients:
-short grain rice (search sushi rice on Amazon)
-veggies like cucumber, avacado, sweet potato, carrots)
-nori (seaweed sheets. this one comes with a bamboo mat)
-seafood, like crab, lobster, salmon, or tuna.
-soy sauce
-wasabi (optional. look here.)
-cream cheese
-pickled ginger (optional. look here.)
-bamboo rolling mat (Amazon FTW)
-clear wrap
-sharp knife (like, sharpen your knife, seriously. then wet it each time you slice)

Starting off the cooking, get your rice going, according to the package. The sooner the better, as you’ll want to have it warm, cool enough to touch, but not room temperature.

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Roughly speaking, as your rice is going (it depends on how much you have to cut, and how much you’re making in terms of sushi rolls), cut up the “guts” of your rolls (veggies, meats).

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Set up your bamboo mats as well, at this time, with a near cut-to-size clear wrap piece, then nori, and it’s waiting for the rice (or if you’ve become comfortable in putting rice down first, then nori, go ahead and wait on the nori).

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Once your rice is done, and “touchable”, layer that on the nori on your bamboo mat (or the rice, then the nori), not covering the whole thing though. Cover the middle third (eyeball the nori into 3’s, and do the middle, very lightly…lighter than you think or would want to…trust me. You’ll have a burrito in no time, if you’re not careful).

Then from there, almost sparingly (yes, you’ll use less than you think, on everything), add in some “guts”. It’s okay not to have everything in there. That’s part of it.

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At this point, you should wet one end of the nori, whichever end you want to roll towards (I usually wet the top, furthest away from me, and roll away from me). Then, roll baby roll. Watch this how-to, BEFORE TRYING, if you’re new.

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From here, throw the clear wrapped rolls into fridge or freezer (depending on how fast you want to eat them), and let cool. You can do roll by roll, or throw them in at the same time. After that, make sure you have a sharp knife and a bowl of water, to wet your knife each time you slice.

Once it’s cool to your desire, cut it into bite sized (or 2-bite sized), making sure to wet the sharp end of the knife each time you cut. One day, it’ll turn out like mine did. And keep in mind, this is a roll in, where it looked better.

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This was my endevour. What is yours? Share your experience or pictures below!

Make it Monday (Well, ReMake it Monday): Tomato, Spinach, and Parmesan Chicken

As a part of my make it Mondays program, which I’m recreating some dishes that I know, love, and have tweaked over time to personal liking (which the man approves nearly all of the time), I’m making the dish that got Dave into spinach: the tomato, spinach, and cheese baked chicken.

Now you can pair this dish with nearly any side, like mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, green beans, or carrots and peas, or over noodles (I’d add a not-too-sweet red sauce, but not too much to overpower the taste from the chicken). It’s a very nice stand alone dish as well, supplying that you give your men (and boys) enough chicken. I would suggest 1 good sized chicken breast for every adult, or growing kid about pre-teen age and older. If needed, they can have 2. Only you know your family’s needs, so judge for yourselves here!

Let’s get to the cooking, am I right?!

 

To start off, you’ll need these ingredients:

-A chicken breast for every person you’re feeding (I only need 2, so I picked up some clearanced Perdue Chicken breasts, with no added hormones, and no antibiotics for $4-$5 at WalMart)

-Tomato(es). You’ll need 2 slices per chicken breast, and you can cut them however thin or thick you like…I would recommend the larger tomatoes instead of the salad/snack ones,

-shredded cheese of choice (parmesan and mozzarella are a good match…I switch it up, or use a mix of the two)

-Spinach (I just get the ones in a bag, for salads)

-salt and pepper to taste (or not. I like using hymilaan pink salt, but for this recipie I used regular salt because I was running low)

 

Now here comes the prep-work. Past this, it’s easy breezy Covergirl (literally just baking).

-If using a regular oven, preheat oven to 350 (sometimes I use the toaster oven, which I just heat up after putting it in, since it’s tinier than the “big oven”

-Take your chicken breast and cut it in half, then cut it down that new middle on each half, stopping just before you cut it entirely (you’ll want it like a book, so you can put the top layer of chicken back over. It’s okay if you cut it all the way through, just lay it on top)

-put chicken on baking sheet/pan. Grease with whatever you want to (pam/spray, butter/margarine, or not)

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-Salt and pepper to taste each chicken breast.

-Slice your tomatoes, and put on each chicken breast. I like to slice, then cut that slice in half. It just works better for me for some reason, while eating.

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-grab a little handful of spinach, and put on top of tomatoes.

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-Fold over chicken top (or put the “top” on)

-put cheese on top, to desire.

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-bake about 45 minutes, until the chicken is white and cooked through, and the cheese is browned.

-cook up whatever sides you want, let cool, and eat up!

I recommend potatoes and rolls as a side, and for adults, a crisp/medium bodied white wine (or just your go-to wine). Don’t go for a super sweet white wine though, just a little juicier.
Original Recipe Pinterest board

Re-Make it Mondays: Bourbon Maple Glazed Wings

As a part of my make it Mondays program, which I’m recreating some dishes that I know, love, and have tweaked over time to personal liking (which the man approves nearly all of the time), I’m making bourbon maple glazed wings. Now, per recommendation, I suggest making sure you get ample meat on your chicken wings, or opt for some sort of bite size chicken. I also recommend to try on any other style of chicken, such as thighs or breasts. This glaze is so delicious, that you’ll want to just eat it as is!

This would go good with any BBQ side dish (grilled pineapple would be good!), and maybe just by itself. I did land up tweaking the original recipe, by using Jack Daniels instead of a bourbon, but using the sour mash flavoring of Jack worked out wonderfully. Plus Dave and I love Jack Daniels to drink on occasion, so we’re always sure to have some on hand – never mind the medical uses.

Anyway, enough with the teasing. Let’s get to what you wanted to see and make: these bourbon maple glazed wings! Now keep in mind, I’m scaling this for 2 adults, so adjust accordingly.

To start off, you will need:

-3 pounds of chicken wings (if serving with side dishes, go for 2 pounds) (I’d go boneless chicken, to make it even easier to eat)

-butter to taste, at least 2 Tblsp (depending on how smooth you like things, and how much you like butter)

-½ cup bourbon

-¾ cup maple syrup (I suggest pure maple syrup, not the artificial flavored syrup)

-2 tblsp tomato paste, or half a small can

-a good bit of rosemary (I eyeballed it, it called for 1 tsp)

-salt and pepper to taste

-grated onion to taste (use a small hole grater, like on a cheese grater)

To make:

-melt butter in a saucepan, and add onion. Let it cook for a moment, and add everything but the chicken, and bring to a nice low simmer

-Preheat oven to 350

-pour a little over half over the chicken, and return the rest of the marinade to the stove, for a little more simmering time.

-place chicken on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, flip over and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until browned.

-make whatever side dishes during this time, for time efficiency.

-during the last 10-15 minutes, simmer the rest of the marinade, and make sure it will coat a spoon nicely.

-let the chicken cool slightly, and spread the rest of the marinade on the chicken, making it a nice glaze.

-Plate it all up and enjoy the amazing flavors!

Original recipe Pinterest board