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Raise your hand if your guilty foodie pleasure is a good ol’ feed of KD? If you’re wondering, yes, I’m talking about pasta goodness which is called Kraft Dinner.
“The best-selling way we know to help you stretch your food dollar.” — Retro Kraft Dinner Advertisement
No, this is not an advertisement for KD but I have to share this with you. I can’t shake it. You’d think the amount of times I’ve eaten KD as a child, and while in college, I would be totally sick of it — that’s a hard no. It’s addictive.
Not that I eat it all the time but I do enjoy putting on a box when I’m craving comfort.
Have you ever questioned the history of KD? I read the idea of macaroni and cheese dates back to the mid 1700s in Northern Europe. However, the commercial Kraft Dinner (macaroni and cheese in a box) was invented in 1937 in the throes of the Great Depression. Ah, yes. It all makes sense now. You see, our family has a connection with KD.
It’s a nostalgic supper time dish.
Why? Growing up, my Mom titled it, “The day before payday dinner.” The struggle was real, my foodie friends. However, what I didn’t realize at the time was how inventive and resourceful she was when it came to putting food on the table. She turned a box of KD into a glorious cheese pasta dish by adding other ingredients.
I think it served a few purposes, like changing it up on the cheap but most importantly, for a mom, was to make sure it was nutritious as possible. She would mix together anything from frozen veggies to tuna fish — sometimes both with a few herbs and spices.
“Fettuccini Alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults.” — Mitch Hedburg
There’s nothing like a bowl of KD with a few squirts of ketchup but how about you try stepping outside the box to spice it up a little? That’s what I love about cooking, you get to experiment with all sorts of ingredients and flavours.
Think about it, there’s everything from ground beef and tomato sauce, bacon and broccoli, salsa, sausage and peppers, jalapeno and cauliflower, chicken and frozen veggies. The possibilities are seriously endless — it’s all about personal preference and what your palate will welcome. To break it down, think of it outside of its name and think of it more as a cheesy pasta casserole.
Can you remember when one box could easily feed a family of three or four? Geesh, how things have changed. I can eat an entire box on my own now. I don’t know if I should be really sharing that. Oh well, it will be our little secret, OK? Also, can we talk about the price difference? Remember when a box was under 50 cents? Hence, “the day before payday dinner,” anyway, moving along. That was a total squirrel moment.
“I forget things almost instantly. It runs in my family. Well … at least I think it does.” — Dory, Finding Nemo
For today’s column, I chose to make a box of KD with tuna and green peas. Do not scrunch your face up. I know it may not sound like it works but it does — trust me! Make your KD as you typically would. The only thing I would change is adding additional milk. Why? Because the additional ingredients may suck up the liquid and get too dry for your liking. You may have to take your time with this to get the consistency you prefer as some people like their KD on the dry side, others like it soupy.
When you have your preferred consistency, add the tuna and mix. I used the entire can, then, add your peas. I prefer frozen peas over canned as I think the frozen texture works better for this recipe. I’ll typically add about three quarters of a cup. Voila! There you have it, easy peasy and super tasty.
Remember, don’t judge a recipe by the picture. Give it a try, you may be surprised at how much you’ll enjoy it.
I can tell you first hand that “the day before payday supper” is definitely fit to eat.
Erin Sulley is a self-confessed foodie who lives in Mount Pearl. Instagram: @erinsulley