Tuna Noodle Casserole

I was raised by a woman from Minnesota, as a result my food memories include many, many casseroles.  We ate them a couple of times a week.  This is one that was part of my children’s upbringing as well.  I was fortunate they all liked it.  Being a stay at home mom for a very long time, making a couple of cans of tuna feed 5 people was a big deal.  I worked very hard on my frugality, but I didn’t want the family to feel totally deprived.  This was even requested for birthday dinner on occasion.

This was something my dad liked.  Now this is where it gets crazy.  He really didn’t like spaghetti even with meatballs, and if you made tuna casserole with spaghetti, he would not look happy.  He’d eat it, but only due to upbringing.  But, if you made any pasta dish with curly Rigatoni pasta, he’d be happy as a little clam.  What childhood memory do you suppose that was hiding?

This recipe is for everyone who over spent on Christmas or you just like tuna.

Bring to a boil enough heavily salted water to cook 12 ounces Rigatoni until al dente.

1/2 yellow pepper, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 cup celery, sliced

1/2 cup onion, chopped

Saute the vegetables in 2 tablespoons butter until soft, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

In an 8 x 8 pan, add 1 to 2 cans flaked tuna, 1 can Cream of Chicken or Mushroom soup, the sauteed vegetables, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup peas or mixed vegetables, 1 cup grated cheese, the drained pasta, S & P to taste.  I usually put a few slices of American cheese on top for a nice crunchy topping and some dried onions, if I haven’t eaten them all.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes.

This is a trip down memory lane.

From the Recipe Box:

There is a wonderful tuna casserole recipe in Chrissy Teigen’s first cookbook Cravings.  It might be even better than mine.  There’s jalapeno potato chips on top!

Remember, I told you how much we love pepper.  Don’t be thinking you need to be a liberal as I am with the pepper grinder.

This might be better warmed up the next day.

Mix up the veggies however you wish.

and remember:  The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering.  Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their lives. Big kiss, Lynn

Scalloped Oysters

I’m not a fan of oysters.  I want to be, but I simply cannot get past the mouth feel.  Each summer I try to eat one.  The operative word here is try.  I live near some of the best oyster beds in the world.  I can’t get enough clams and mussels, so what’s the difference?  I can’t figure it out.

This dish is a holiday tradition in my family.  It was always on the buffet every Christmas eve and it was always eaten to the last crumb.  What I find amusing is my mother who originally made it would not eat it, I took over and do not eat it and this year C the MP made it and won’t eat it.  What a bunch of maroons!

We use oysters in a jar for this recipe.  Shellfish is very seasonal in our area and we’re total rule followers when it comes to fish and game regulations.  Since you will be baking them, you won’t notice the difference.

1 pint oysters

4 tablespoons oyster liquor

4 tablespoons cream

½ cup dry bread crumbs

1 cup cracker crumbs (Ritz or something equally light and buttery)

½ cup melted butter

S & P

Mix together bread and cracker crumbs.  Stir in butter.  Put a thin layer in the bottom of a shallow baking dish, approximately 8 x 8.

Mix together the cream and oyster liquor.

Put a layer of oysters on the crumbs.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add ½ of the oyster liquor mixture.  Sprinkle with some of the bread crumbs.

Repeat layers and cover with the remaining crumb mixture.

Bake 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

*  from the Recipe Box:

Mom would make this every Christmas for Dad, P, and L once she joined our group.  You either love oysters or you don’t, but everyone who does loves this dish.

Oyster liquor is the liquid in the jar with the oysters.  Drain and save to use in the recipe.

and remember:  You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.  Big kiss, Lynn

Sausage Balls

You know by now how much I love a party.  And you simply can’t love a party without the love of a good nibble.  I’ve had this recipe forever, and I don’t know why I haven’t shared it.   Mom used to make these back in the day, only she always had a mustard dipping sauce.  I’m using a sweet chili dipping sauce, because G doesn’t like mustard.  I know, what a maroon.

Anytime you have a recipe that only calls for 4 ingredients, you are on the right track for the perfect hors d’ oeuvres.  These come together so easily.  I will warn you about the mess though.  I used my hand mixer.  The sausage mixture crawled up the beaters and did not want to leave.  My sous chef, the great and glorious G, cursed me for about 30 minutes while he was trying to clean the holes the beaters go in.  Next time I won’t be such a lazy butt and I’ll get out the Kitchen Aid.

So what makes these sausage balls so tender and moist?  Probably the cream cheese.  I know, who’d a thunk it?  The cheese does not ooze out while baking.   I don’t know why; I certainly thought it would.

1 pound Jimmy Dean’s Hot Sausage, uncooked

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I usually use Neufchâtel cheese, because it always seems creamier)

1 to 1 1/4 cups Bisquick (I usually use Jiffy Baking Mix, I just prefer it for some reason)

4 ounces grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients until well combined.  Roll into approximately 1 inch balls.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

They can be frozen after forming and then thawed and cooked within the next few months.

*  from the Recipe Box:

Baking them on parchment paper means no sticking and no mess.

If you keep some water handy to splash on your hands during the shaping of the balls, they won’t stick to your hands as badly.

I usually add salt and pepper and a dash of pepper flakes.  I like them a little spicier.

Mom always served them on a platter with dipping sauce and toothpicks.

and remember:  Girls who love bourbon are not weird.  They are a rare gift from God.  Those girls get bigger diamonds.   Big kiss, Lynn

Polenta and Eggs

I think I’ve mentioned before how we sold our house and moved to our cabin a few years back.  The big house had bookcases for days and I kept them all filled.  Now I’m a regular library user.  Fortunately we do have the best library in the world here on the Island.  But there are some things I want for my very own and that’s cookbooks.  I have a rule now:  I check out the book twice and if I love it after two check-outs, it’s OK to buy it.  And trust me, it’s got to be good because the cabin is small and does not have a lot of bookcases.

Another digression, sorry.  This is all about Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook:  Cravings: Hungry for More.  I loved her first book.  She cooks the way I do, easy squeezy.  Her new book came out this year and I’ve checked it out from the library the required two times and it’s so good, I bought it last week.  There’s some really good looking, laid back recipes that I can’t wait to try.  Gluten Free Girl was up today and I decided to feed her the Polenta, mushrooms and eggs.  Nummy!

I didn’t actually use Chrissy’s recipe; I have a polenta/cornmeal mush/grits recipe I really like that I shared last month.  Basically, I used her picture and that’s why I have to break down and buy cookbooks.  I would never have thought about using polenta as the base for my eggs.  It really did need a kick up though.  Just an egg would have been kind of boring.  The mushrooms were just the right addition.  Due to the amount of starch the cornmeal provided, no one needed toast or the like.

  1. cook your polenta
  2. saute the mushrooms
  3. fry eggs
  4. assemble

We all voted after eating them.  G was a little reluctant to try them at first; he was not convinced it would be something he would enjoy.  After he cleaned his plate, he offered to finish off mine.  What a nice guy.  Unfortunately, I got busy multitasking and my egg pictures aren’t as pretty as they should be, but that did not affect the taste at all.

Thanks, Chrissy

and remember:  Be a mess.  It’s fine.  The universe is a mess.  Galaxies are drifting all over the place.  To be tidy is to be out of tune with the cosmos.  Big kiss, Lynn 

Chicken Spaghetti

I had willing victims for dinner tonight and decided to make something new.  I’ve had this recipe saved forever, but just couldn’t make up my mind about it.  Tonight’s taste testers are big chicken Alfredo fans, so I thought they might be the perfect ones for this recipe.

This recipe is from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.  To be upfront, I’m not usually a fan.  I used to love her blog, but I don’t enjoy her TV show.  I have very strange prejudices.   Once I’m over something, I’m totally over it, or in this case, her.

I had a new sous chef this afternoon and we decided to change things up from the recipe as written.  If you would like to see her recipe as she wrote it, it’s all over the Internet.  I know I advocate making a recipe as written the first time out, but I didn’t have everything and my sous chef and I thought WTF.  This is our version.

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

1 pound linguine

2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar

1/2 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 cup sliced celery (I love celery, so it had to go in)

Two 10 3/4-ounce cans cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup or a combination

1 teaspoon taco seasoning

1 teaspoon chili powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the linguine until al dente. Do not overcook.  Reserve the cooking liquid.  In a 9 x 13 casserole,  combine the cooked pasta with the chicken, both cans of soup, 1 1/2 cups cheese, the peppers, onions, seasonings, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved cooking broth, adding an additional cup if it still seems dry.
  3. Top with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover and freeze up to 6 months, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days or bake immediately until bubbly, about 45 minutes. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).

*  From the Recipe Box:

It was good enough, both my son and grandson took some home for tomorrow’s lunch.   I want to play with the seasonings a bit more, but I will give Ree another chance.

The recipe called for angel hair pasta, broken into 2-inch pieces (I don’t normally like angel hair pasta, but it would have been the right thing for this recipe.)

I added celery because I like celery.  The original recipe called for green pepper, but I only had orange and red.

and remember:  I’m going to succeed because I’m crazy enough to think I can.  Big kiss, Lynn 

 

Mississippi Roast

I spotted this on the internet a few years ago.  It came with a bunch of hype so I’ve kind of delayed trying it until now.  Yesterday I put the second blanket back on the bed and realized it was time for hardy food.

This recipe caught my eye due to the simple explanation of how the recipe became a part of her family’s meal plans.  You know I like simple, you know I like easy, you know I like all in one pan.  Gluten-free girl was up this weekend and I decided she would be the final arbitrator.  It turns out just because you don’t like gluten doesn’t mean you can’t love all things meat.  I have a tendency to equate gluten-free with vegetarian and that is so not true.

So, as the story goes, fifteen or so years ago, by her recollection, a woman named Robin Chapman made a pot roast in her slow cooker.  Now known as Mississippi Roast, it would eventually become one of the most popular recipes on the web, an unlikely star with unlikely ingredients.

Ms. Chapman lives in Ripley, Miss., but she did not call her pot roast Mississippi Roast, not then and not now. She just calls it “roast.” She used beef chuck to make the dish that first time, and put a packet of dry ranch-dressing mix on top of the meat, along with a packet of dry “au jus” gravy, a stick of butter and a few pepperoncini. It was an on-the-spot variation of a recipe she had learned from her aunt, which called for packaged Italian dressing. Ms. Chapman wanted something “milder,” she said, so she swapped out the Italian for the ranch.  She set the slow cooker to low and walked away. Some 8 hours later, her family dived into their meal with glee. She has made the roast ever since.

I made it for the first time today.  Cowabunga, we all went crazy for it.  Even me, the non-meat eater enjoyed it.  This is going to become a tried and true recipe in my rotation.  It took longer to find the crockpot in the garage than it did to put together the roast.  And, if you have any left, it makes incredible French Dips.  Oh yes!

1 (3 to 5 pound) chuck roast

1 packet ranch dressing or Italian dressing mix

1 packet au jus gravy mix or dry onion soup mix

1 cube butter

8 pepperoncini

Pat roast dry and brown both sides for approximately 3 minutes each.  Place meat in slow cooker.  Add all remaining ingredients on top of roast.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Shred meat with 2 forks and serve.

and remember what Winston Churchill said:   Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.  Big kiss, Lynn

Lemon Chicken with Capers

I’m not much of a meat eater, but I know I need to eat more protein, so I’m always looking for new chicken or vegetarian recipes.  What a conundrum.  This one jumped out at me because I like lemon and chicken, plus throw in capers and I’m a happy woman.  I love the briny pickle flavor of capers.  I’ve also become quite saucy.  This sauce is very flavorful while staying very light.

I don’t know if you have a Buca di Beppo restaurant where you live.  It’s an Italian chain that’s been around for quite awhile and it’s always enjoyable.  This recipe is very similar to something on their menu.  It’s light and yet quite filling.  If you don’t like capers (and you must rethink that), they would be easy to leave out.  I would like it just as well with fresh thyme.  Now that I think about it, maybe even better.  I love putting proteins on the top of salads, just basic dressed greens really.  I toss the greens in a little olive oil and then the juices all mix together.  Way good.

Lemon Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon

Chicken

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to 1/4-inch and cut in half
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup extra light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • sliced lemons for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine wine and garlic over medium heat. Bring wine to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a bowl to remove garlic.
  2. Rinse out saucepan, add butter and place over medium heat. When butter has melted return wine to pan along with cream and salt.
  3. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice of one of the halves into saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 12 minutes. Cover and remove from heat.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Coat each piece of chicken in flour and season with salt and pepper. Place in skillet and sauté about 4 minutes per side.
  6. Arrange chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with capers, and spoon sauce on top. Garnish with lemons if desired.

*   From the Recipe Box:

I found this recipe in the Rumbly in My Tumbly blog.  The author lives in Lynnwood and has the distinction of being the first blog I began following.  She makes the most beautiful pies.

and remember:  Don’t stop until you are proud.  Big kiss, Lynn