Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Traditional Basil Chicken Rotini - Homemade(ish)

So, after having both a Marie Callender's and a Healthy Choice version of those Steamer meals, I had a revelation - why can't I do something like this?  So I kept the bowl and did some cooking over the weekend.

I made some Rotini, cooked to al dente and put serving size portions in small Ziploc snack bags.  I marinated (in Italian Dressing) and grilled two chicken breasts, then chopped up and put into baggies as well.

I tucked a jar of Classico Traditional Basil sauce in with the bowl, a bag of pasta and a bag of chicken when i went to work today.

I am now eating my experiment, and I have to say that it is pretty good! Granted, the sauce is too chunky for my taste, so i won't use Classico again, but the chicken is still moist and the pasta is just about perfect.

Here's how I did it:

I put the pasta in the bowl that I kept from Healthy Choice and added some water.  I opened the baggie with the chicken in it, and cooked them both in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  I took them out, and then dumped some sauce into a mug that I took from my office.  Heated that to my liking then took it all back to my desk.

Prepared Pasta and Baggie of Grilled Chicken
I dumped in the chicken, then the sauce and stirred it all around. After adding a packet of Parm Cheese from our last Pizza Day, the finished product looks like this:

The Completed Meal - Grilled chicken on Rotini with Tomato Basil Sauce!
I would consider this experiment a success, as it tastes WAY better than the other two meals I've gotten out of a bowl like this! Much cheaper, too!  Probably healthier, as well, but I didn't really check.  I plan on trying Alfredo next! It would be great with this chicken.

Five out of Five Whatevers!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Marie Callender's Homestyle Creations Meatball Lasagna

Continuing my slump of eating at my desk (it's too cold to go out!), today I tried MC's Meatball Lasagna. It's one of those "keep it in your drawer, find it is the Soup or Pasta Aisle" type meals.

The label says it's "tomato sauce, pasta and Italian style meatballs". You get a little less than 7oz of food total, 310 calories and 9g of fat (probably from teh 'meat'). There is also 20g of protein and 6g of fiber in this little bowl.

It was kind of hard to open, but once I got the label and plastic edge-wrap off, it was pretty easy.  You take out the sauce tray and set aside, then fill with water to the little fill line.  Nuke the pasta for 3 1/2 minutes and drain.  Heat up the sauce if you want, but I nuked mine for about 20 seconds, then mixed into the pasta and it was fine.

As for flavor, I added salt and pepper before even tasting because I find prepared foods like this bland.  The sauce is nice and hearty, but not too offensive to my picky palate. No majorly huge chunks of veggies.  The pasta came out nicely, but was slightly difficult to eat with a fork, so I switched to a spoon. The meat tasted funky (almost sweet), so I didn't eat any more of that.  I added a packet of Parm cheese that was in my desk from the last time I got pizza, and that added a much nicer flavor.  I highly suggest that.

All in all, I wouldn't turn my nose up at it, but I don't think it will fill me up, especially b/c I didn't eat the meatballs.

I give it 2.75 out of 5 whatevers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Healthy Choice Honey Ginger Chicken

I remember like 10 or 15 years ago when Healthy Choice was the leader in GOOD TASTING healthy food. The french bread pizzas were always in my freezer. The fettuccine was creamy and yummy. The meals were worth the price you paid for them.

They aren't anymore.

I had "liked" HC on Facebook and ended up getting some BoGo Qs for their frozen entrees.  This week, HC frozen entrees are 3/$5 at Publix, so I used my Qs.

I should have burned them to heat my home instead. Would have been more beneficial, I think, in the long run.

Today, I am trying the Healthy Choice Honey Ginger Chicken Select Entree.  310 calories.  Weighing in at a whopping 8.5oz (barely half a pound here).

Now, you know it's a bad sign when you open the box and you can see the bottom of the little microwave tray through the food (that means there isn't a lot of food there).  Still, I cut the slit, heated, stirred and heated again.  Before stirring, I took the time to get rid of approximately 75% of the metric TON of carrots and peppers and mushrooms that was hiding the OUNCE of chicken.

I'm now at my desk and eying this gross little tray of food.  There is about 6 slices of chicken, lots of carrots, red peppers, peas and mushrooms in the dish (if you like that).

There is a very odd under-flavor to the 'sauce'.  I think perhaps there is too much ginger and not enough honey?  It *wants* to be sweet so bad, but it can't get there.

HOWEVER, I have to note one positive:  THE CHICKEN FEELS AND TASTES LIKE REAL CHICKEN, not like that nasty fake pressed chicken that you see a lot.

Too bad the flavor is just so bad. I just can't eat it, so it's looking like it will be soup and vending machine back-up lunch for me today.

It gets ZERO out of five whatevers.  I would run the other way if I saw this coming down the street at me.

It's just that bad.