Tag Archives: organic

pasta shells in creamy tomato sauce

Not to be disheartened by my earlier attempts at eating pasta, I decided at 21.00 tonight when I still hadn’t eaten any tea, to try some pasta again.

Last week I bought this Dolmio stuff – pasta in one bag, creamy tomato sauce in the other. You buy them separately and can mix and match as you like.

No E-numbers, no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives (says the packets they’re in). It is described as a “healthy choice meal for one”, and apparently you should check with your parents before cooking.

So, contents of tonight’s meal is:
Pasta: 200g – “My Dolmio” Pasta Shells
sauce: 150g – “My Dolmio” Creamy Tomato Sauce

Sauce contains mostly tomatoes, cream, and mascarpone cheese. Oddly enough, it also may contain traces of peanuts. Only the sauce though – there’s no such warning on the pasta itself.

It comes with good very simple directions, and as they take different times to cook in the microwave, it even tells you to cook the sauce first, and leave that to stand while you do the pasta.

It says 45 seconds for sauce and 75 seconds for sauce. Despite me having the exact same wattage microwave, I never trust microwave times, so always add on a little bit. Plus with my recent experience of pasta going cold very quickly, I thought putting it in for a bit longer might help to combat that.
I cut the corners from the packets, put the sauce in for 60, removed, and put the pasta in for 90.

There was a funny “sparkly” sound coming from the microwave during cooking. I’m not sure what it is – maybe our microwave is on the way out, because presumably if Dolmio tell me to microwave it, it’s microwavable.

All ready from microwave, into a bowl.
The sauce smells, looks, and tastes very nice. It’s a shame there’s not a bit more of it.
However, I’d forced myself to eat maybe 1/3rd of the bowl of pasta, when even a nice sauce like that couldn’t cover up just how boring pasta really is.

Reading from the ingredients, pasta = water, egg, wheat semolina and…no..that’s it. There’s literally nothing in it.
In my problem-solving, energy conserving (lazy) brain, that seems like something extra to cook/eat for no real reason.

Someone told me once during a conversation about food, that they could “live” off of just pasta. I don’t understand it. For a while as a teenager (and possibly even into my early 20’s), I “lived” off of toast. I have to say that was considerably more interesting.

Tonight’s attempt does gets bonus points for the lack of almost-all washing up. The only washing-up you end up with at the end is one bowl and a fork. That’s not bad going.

I will say it again too. The sauce was very nice. It was so nice, I was imagining what else I could put it on while I was eating it. I bet it would taste great on a nice piece of chicken.

Thinking about that, I made myself so hungry I decided to toast some hot cross buns I purchased yesterday and have them instead of the pasta.
That’s not really a proper evening meal though is it?
I didn’t think so either, so I had a snickers bar as well.
I might have one of my healthy organic yoghurts for dessert. That will make up for it.

oriental chicken stir fry

Well I felt like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight (insert your own dance), tonight.
Knorr might have the K-now How, but I certainly don’t, so this was to be my most complicated new meal so far.
This wasn’t going to include any microwaves and if you read the instructions it sounded very simple but there were a few places I might lose it here.

Lets start with the positives though.
1. 450g Tesco finest fresh, free-range, organic, chicken breast (2 breasts)
2. Knorr “Chicken Tonight” sweet & sour sauce

What it says on the side of the jar is “an Oriental inspired cooking sauce for chicken with pineapple, peppers, bamboo shoots and honey. Great with rice or noodles. Serves 4 hungry people.”
I’ll be honest, that sounds nice. I like pineapples, not sure about peppers, honey is great, and I’ve never eaten bamboo shoots but I think pandas are cute…although they aren’t interested in sex…so maybe it’ll stop my desperation where women is concerned too. Double bonus.
I love Chicken, so theres not much to go wrong there.

One slight downside to this was the price of the chicken. According to the “Chicken Tonight” jar, it is designed to go with 450g of chicken. 450g of finest tesco skinless organic, etc, etc chicken is £6.50. Seems expensive but then it’s designed to feed 4, so not too bad.
I must admit I hadn’t noticed the “serves 4” until I started typing up this. At the time I’d guesstimated 1 chicken breast, and roughly half the sauce.

So onto the cooking we go.
The directions for the sauce say “10mins in a wok” or “20mins on the hob”. Neither includes cooking time for the chicken, and I’ve never cooked fresh chicken before. I was hungry and thought 10mins sounded better than 20, so I found a wok in my kitchen.
I’ve never used a wok before either, and I’ve never fried anything since before I moved into this new house in July 2006.
I lived in a bedsit before that, and I used to fry food there every now and then, but the smoke from it used to prevent me from sleeping well, and make everything smell of smoke for ages, so I just stopped.

So in my new shared house, I was able to find a wok in my kitchen belonging to someone else. Looks like a big frying pan to me, so I poured in some oil. Don’t worry. I have seen some cookery shows – I know you’re not meant to pour loads in – just added a little bit.
While it was getting hot, I cut up one of the chicken breasts. The sauce directions say to “stir fry 450g chicken strips in a little oil until golden”. I’ve not really got any clue how long that takes, but cook until brown.. seems easy enough. Not sure what the definition of strips are..long and thin? Or some sorta rough size? I took a wild stab in the dark there.

About now, the wok started smoking so I shut all the internal doors to stop the smoke alarms going off. I was at V Festival in Chelmsford a while back this year, and someone having a barbeque said the smoke meant it was too hot. I turned the gas down a bit on the oil til it stopped.
Chicken added, cooked til brownish, sauce added. Directions say “add the sauce and simmer for 10minutes, not covered, stirring once or twice”. Those last 10 minutes seemed like an eternity. I think it was up too high to start with because it started spitting sauce all over the place.

That said, so far I’ve used one sharp knife, a chopping board, and one wok. Not looking bad on the ‘utensils used:food at end’ ratio.
It did say on the sauce jar “great with rice or noodles”. I hadn’t bought any of either so I missed them out.
It was only a few months ago that I tried eating rice for the first time in my life. Courtesy of my ex-girlfriend this was. I had no idea what it might taste like – looks like snow, and I’m not hugely keen on rice krispies. I was surprised that it didn’t really taste of anything. She’d had a slight mixup with spices and made the rest of the meal quite hot, so I probably didn’t eat a lot of it – but it was ok.

Almost exactly 10 minutes to the second the sauce went in, the heat came off, and it all went onto a plate.
I couldn’t find my emergency chopsticks I’d got free somewhere, so opted for a knife and fork. First impression – unusual. Dare I say it – “nice”. Interestingly..well.. it sounds obvious, but it really is sweet and sour together. I ate it all and felt like I could have eaten it over again. Sauce says “serves 4”? Well I’d eaten two people’s share already.
Very exciting. A food that isn’t completely boring, that I like, that someone else might want to eat, that I can cook in less time than a pie and chips. Result! 🙂