CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Tennessee Test Kitchen is back in operation.
To review, the Test Kitchen is in the Grigoraci, Paterno and Associates accounting office, located on Tennessee Avenue. I've written of the TTK and the actions therein in my former "Recipe Connection" column.
It's where I go to test new recipes and foist older tried-and-true ones on willing taste-testers -- the office staff.
Earlier this month we had what I called a "Taste of the Calendar." Each year, my husband, Vic, sends a calendar to his clients. The culinary theme of the calendar changes annually and each year has its own set of new recipes, one for each month, with recipes on the back pages.
Among the entrée and dessert calendar items on the menu was today's easy to prepare dish, which wasn't in the calendar. Keeping in mind these are very busy working people, it's easy to do "from scratch" even when just arriving home in the evening because of the simplicity of the ingredients.
I came up with the recipe idea and, after reducing the sodium and fat where possible and working up the nutrition numbers, I found it would fly as a healthy bite, especially if an eye is kept to portions.
You might want to add chopped zucchini to the base mixture for more vitamins and minerals. That's a tip I picked up at a food trade show. The vendor who was making tacos said she always adds zucchini to the taco meat to boost nutrition. I've since found that a chili or taco base makes a good veggie hideout -- camouflage for picky eaters.
The seasoning mix isn't in the nutrition program, so the sodium count is a little higher than listed below.
If you have sodium concerns, you may choose salt-free canned tomatoes and corn or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes and 2 cups frozen or fresh corn (cut from cob).
If you go with fresh, watch it to see if you need to add any liquid, because you wouldn't be using any liquid from cans.
To solve questions about the contents of the prepared mashed potatoes, you could boil and mash your own.
But if you still want to keep to a quick, convenient product while controlling the ingredients, use the Ore Ida frozen russet potato chunks that are ready to steam and mash. That way you could add your own butter and milk choice.
However, the nutrition information was reached by counting potatoes mashed with butter and milk (both were listed on the prepared potatoes label), and the totals still came out well.