Simple Shortcuts Fall 2008

My laptop is back after a stint in the repair shop, and it's cleaner than it's been in months. Now back to thinking about the food that will soon take residence under these brand-new keys . . .

My new issue of Kraft's free promotional magazine Simple Shortcuts arrived today. I found a bunch of these in my laundry basket of mail when I returned from my year abroad, and at first I thought the company had redesigned the old Food & Family quarterly publication.

But no; in fact, something more sinister (if you think like that) was afoot. Kraft still publishes Food & Family, but for some reason elected to start sending me this truncated monthly magazine instead. However, unless you're someone who does not like to cook, this rag isn't worth the glossy, half-sized paper it's printed on.

Almost every recipe calls for only four ingredients, listed with accompanying pictures so novices can't go wrong. It's like those Men's Health A Man, a Can, a Plan books that way. Also like that series, most of the ingredients are processed foods to make it possible to require so few.

Of course, Food & Family recipes asked for a lot of processed ingredients as well -- the whole point is to get you to buy Kraft products -- but the recipes aren't as bare bones. There's only so many variations on chicken breast in sauce and cheesy macaroni you can read before losing interest. And why would I need a "recipe" for a tray of cheese, deli meats, and crackers?

The most ridiculous part is that they actually devote a few pages in the middle to games. Imagine the Ralphie Parker-esque disappointment on the faces of readers everywhere who take on the scramble challenge only to find . . . "a crummy commercial?!"

Rather than feeling a sense of satisfaction after decoding, "It's not delivery, it's DiGiorno" only two seconds after looking at this page, I feel somewhat disturbed at the number of commercials I've absorbed in my lifetime.

"Stop ranting, stop ranting!" OK, I hear you.

Highlights from the Fall 2008 issue of Simple Shortcuts:

409855E6-26E0-414D-9E5F-05760A4FC232.jpgChili-Topped Baked Potatoes: Stick with low-fat versions of canned chili, shredded cheese, and sour cream, and this baked potato recipe hits the sweet spot between healthy and cheap. A great addition to your meal-planning arsenal. The linked recipe on Kraft's site isn't quite the same, but you'll notice the pictured potato is identical to the magazine's, with shredded cheddar rather than Cheez Whiz on top.

5266626C-E7B4-46BD-84CB-2789F296A200.jpgCapellini Caprese: Looks tasty, doesn't it? I would substitute in whole-wheat pasta and use Zesty Italian rather than Tuscan House Italian (bottled "house Italian" dressings always have a tired, dried-herb flavor I don't care for). Fresh mozzarella cheese could work, too; it's what I usually use in this style of pasta. It does clump, though, unless you deep-chill it in the freezer before tossing it with the hot pasta. Also, if you're looking to emulate the Tomato-Basil Caprese sauce on offer right now at Olive Garden, shredded mozzarella is the way to go.

Meatloaf Minis: I made meatloaf in a muffin tin just a few nights ago. I used ground turkey to please the no-beef crowd, so it's a possible substitution here. You could also add grated vegetables (I use carrots and onions) to make the dish more nutritious; just reduce the water a little to compensate for the extra moisture.

Now, the recipe in the magazine unfortunately doesn't appear online, so here's the lowdown: Set the oven temp to 375 degrees. Mix a pound of extra-lean ground beef, a box of stuffing mix, a cup of water, and a teaspoon of garlic powder. Divide evenly among 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Make an indentation in the top of each mini-loaf. Divide 3/4 cup barbecue sauce among the 12 indentations. Bake for about 30 minutes (you're looking for an internal temperature of 160 degrees). Top with cheese and pop back in the oven long enough to melt the topping.

Kraft Salad Dressing Packets: I've seen these light dressing packets, as well as similar ones from other brands, at every grocer I've visited since my return. Is it the growing popularity of grab-and-go salads? The influence of Hungry Girl? On the plus side, these packets are practically leak-proof and having one in your purse or lunch bag will save you from taking in tens or hundreds of fatty-dressing calories. On the other hand, more packaging means more waste. Also, the flavors (Zesty Italian and Balsamic Vinaigrette) are the same ones usually offered as light options at restaurants anyway. Why not a light ranch or Thousand Island packet? Mmm, that one could double as low-cal "special sauce" for burgers.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment