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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gourmetting Your Ramen and other food tricks

If you're anything like my wife and me, both in college and little time to eat good outside of Sundays and maybe Saturday mornings, you probably find yourself arriving home at night too tired to make anything beyond a pot of Ramen noodles or some condensed soup. Any food really, if you eat it often enough, begins to taste like wood. I like to be creative and turn to our spice rack to jazz up our mundane meals into surprisingly scrumptious dishes! Try these simple tips to make your food taste just a bit better.

Garlic Tomato Soup
Add a tablespoon or more of garlic salt to your tomato soup to add a delicious, zesty bite to it. It goes down deliciously on a cold day. Other good additions are basil and hot sauce.

Gourmet Miojo
Miojo is Brazilian for "Ramen noodles." Though American miojo isn't quite as good as the miojo down there, I try to adapt some of the creative twists I took when I subsisted mainly on this cheap nighttime supper. For chicken-flavored Ramen noodles, my wife loves when I add freshly ground pepper and basil to it when it's finished boiling. It's surprising how much better a simple "backup" dish like Ramen can taste with just a few spices. Hot sauce is also a good addition to Ramen, and I prefer mine unbroken in the package, with just a little bit of water left.

For an interesting twist to your miojo, crack an egg into it while it's still boiling. It will turn your dish into a protein-enriched meal and thicken it too.

Better Tuna Fish
This might be a placebo effect, but I find that if you prepare tuna fish the night before you eat it, it tastes a lot better. Something about it sitting in the fridge overnight seems to allow the mayonnaise to absorb better or something. I like tuna better gray-colored than pinkish.

Also, don't put too much mayo! That can ruin a good tuna sandwich. And never use Miracle Whip. It's called "salad dressing" for a reason.

...although I've never used it for that either. It's only good on like, ham sandwiches.

Microondas Burrito Magnifico
Just because you don't have time to brown beef and cook refried beans to make your own burritos doesn't mean your microwaved "little donkeys" have to be boring! Throw on some cheese when you've got 30 seconds left on the clock. After it's cooked put a dollop of sour cream and salsa on it and for a crunch—seriously, try this—a handful of crumbled tortilla chips! Turn your appetizer into an entrée. There have been times when I've even had some spare jalapeños and leftover rice to add. Be creative and resourceful!

I got the idea from the restaurant Gator Jack's (Subway does this too, probably) to put salt and pepper on my ham sandwiches. It's a great addition and very simple. I had to be very creative last summer when sandwiches day in and day out got tedious to eat. I even unwittingly invented a delicacy when I accidentally bought sweet pickles instead of dill pickles and put them on my turkey sandwich. Try it yourself! When in doubt, put on a layer of sauce that normally wouldn't go on a sandwich, such as Thousand Island dressing or steak sauce. You never know!

I'm also beginning to discover that whiter cheeses go better with meat sandwiches than yellower cheeses like cheddar, but it's still a work in progress...
* * *
Maybe I'm just a food fanatic (my favorite show happens to be Man v. Food), but I don't believe food should just be for nourishment. Throw a random spice in your next mundane dish and see what happens! I've had my share of disgusting inventions (just ask my wife), but now and then I'll find something that becomes a new sensation in my kitchen. It's worth it all when, rather than a last resort, my wife actually gets a craving for Gourmet Miojo.

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