Friday, November 13, 2009

Tilapia Helper & other experiments

We're a little prone to experimenting in the Oli-Nish family kitchen. Though for the record, Ed's not allowed to "experiment" anymore except on his own plate. Early in our dating he tried to create wonderful dishes for me, and they flopped. The salmagundi he attempted would have been a lovely "leftovers" stew (which is what salmagundi basically is). Only pasta should not be allowed to stay in a crock pot for a whole day. It made a great thickener, but was barely recognizable as pasta.

The second "Ed Surprise" was an even more colossal failure. I don't think I will ever let him live it down. We were gifted with some wonderful ground venison, and were itching for chili. Alas, we were out of chili seasoning packets - but Ed thought that the taco packets we had would substitute just fine. I think it was the worst thing I've ever tasted that was technically edible. Venison and taco seasoning should never be in same thought process, let alone dish. Yetch!

But even though Ed's been banned from experimenting, I've had more success with it. Back in college and act of poverty and desperation lead to "Pink Pork Chops" - a successful experiment from marinading and cooking pork chops in red wine vinaigrette salad dressing. Though the gravy's pink too, it's pretty tasty.

A bored and bare cupboard afternoon in college (what is it with college?) let to the discovery that nutella really does taste good on just about anything, including baked chicken. Though I think I'll save that odd combination for pregnancy some day.

A Rachel Ray recipe inspired my new love of Brussels Sprout - as long as they've been lightly steamed then sauteed with butter, onions, garlic, and BACON! (but then, bacon makes everything better)

The most recent experiment was also a success: Tilapia Helper. Yesterday, while emailing back & forth, the usual question was asked: Any ideas for dinner? Ed was feeling fish, and we have a bunch of individually packaged frozen tilapia fillets in the freezer. I'd been avoiding them after discovering that being frozen hadn't done much to preserve their texture. And then it dawned on me - surely we have a box of Tuna Helper somewhere in the kitchen? Canned tuna's texture is a bit lacking, and tilapia's a very mild flavored fish. I I wonder if this will work......

It was a hit! Normally, tuna helper's not too high on my list of dishes I look forward too. After spending 5 years with a Hamburger Helper addict (the ExH), I wasn't too keen on anything called "Helper". =P But Ed seems to like the stuff, and it's a great excuse for him to do some experimenting on his own plate - usually with the addition of canned or frozen veggies. (though I have to admit that the cheesier HH's are good with a dash of curry powder)

So while the tilapia was browning in some butter, I opened the last box of Tuna Helper - Fettuccine Alfredo. It was SO good.

I wonder what I'll do next in the kitchen.......

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