Thursday, September 6, 2012

"It's TV Dinner Time" & An "Easy Comfy Dinner" Recipe

September has begun and we are getting back to our normal routines. School is back in session and memories of summer vacations will hopefully last till next year. It is such a busy time of the year and parents everywhere are trying to make sure their children eat a well balanced dinner after school and activities. I remember when I was growing up; my mom always had a hot, fresh meal for our dinner after our school activities. Dinner time was sacred, it was a time to talk about our day and discuss the events of the world. It was family time, no phone calls, no television, and no friends came to the door, and nothing disturbed us, as we were all together enjoying my mom’s delicious fresh meal she made for us with her tender loving hands. Sometimes my brothers and I had commitments to school activities at dinner time and we were not able to be all together at the table. Most of the time there would be a plate ready to heat up in the oven, but once in a while my mom would give us a TV Dinner as a treat when we came home. It was a fast and nutritious way of having a hot meal before we had to finish our homework and then head off to bed. To me when I think or see a TV Dinner I think of comfort food that brings back many happy memories of my family when I was young.

September 10th is the anniversary of the TV Dinner and it is called “National TV Dinner Day.” The first TV Dinner was sold by C.A. Swanson & Sons in 1953. The TV Dinner was a frozen, precooked meal that was placed in three compartments in an aluminum tray and it was perfect for individual servings. The first product included turkey with dressing, buttered peas and sweet potatoes. A few years later, Swanson added another compartment to the tray for desserts. Each ready-to-eat meal cost under $1 and was packaged to resemble America’s latest craze-The Television! The product fit perfectly on folding trays so people could watch TV while they ate.
Vintage TV Trays

There is some debate as to who actually invented the frozen meal. We know that Gerald Thomas from Swanson & Sons is often credited as the inventor of the TV Dinner, but Clarence Birdseye probably invented the frozen dinner in 1923, as it was Swanson that coined the phrase “TV Dinner”. Many modern TV Dinners can now be cooked in the microwave as well. These TV Dinners are not just for dinner anymore. Today’s large assortment of frozen breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts or snacks are all available in all sorts of sizes and prices. These frozen meals come in many combinations, such as fried chicken, pizza, Salisbury steak to name a few. Other brands besides Swanson began making these meals such as Banquet, Lean Cuisine, Marie Callender’s, Stouffers and many more.

So to honor the TV Dinner I thought my recipe of the week would be, to re-create the TV Dinner as a comfort food, but without the compartments or trays. A dinner that is fast and easy for your active families. I call it “Easy Comfy Dinner”. This is so simple and nutritious plus it is something that can be heated up if you need to for the late bird in your family. This dinner includes a hot open-faced Turkey sandwich, sweet buttered peas, plus creamy mashed potatoes, with a crisp green salad and a home made warm brownie for dessert.

Easy Comfy Dinner

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich
Leftover turkey meat, sliced (you can also use deli turkey)
1 can of turkey gravy or leftover homemade gravy
1 can of sliced mushrooms drained
4 large slices of whole grain bread

Heat gravy in a skillet until heat up. Add pieces of cooked sliced turkey or sliced to the gravy. Coat the turkey with gravy and cool till heated through. Place a slice of bread on a plate. Top with sliced turkey and gravy. Yield: Serves 4

Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds Yukon Gold peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of milk
4-5 scallions thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Smash potatoes with a masher and add milk, butter, sour cream and scallions into potatoes until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet Peas
Your favorite frozen or fresh peas cooked tenderly to perfection with a pat of butter to add flavor to your taste buds.

Warm Brownie
Your favorite Brownie warmed with frosting melting down its side and nuts to give it the right crunch. Yummy! Just hits the spot with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate to end your “Easy Comfy Dinner.”

Till Next Time…….

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