Monday, February 21, 2011

Cheesy Tuna Noodle Thing: A recipe (sort of)

My dear husband asks me each day what I have written. When I have made a post, I give him a brief description, to which he usually says, "You're title is about aprons, you should post a recipe."

So I am posting a recipe.

My children love this casserole, and since they can never remember the word "casserole," they have given it the above name. To give credit where credit is due, I originally took this recipe from "The Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dascyzn, which is well worth the money (all 3 volumes). I have modified it to suit my own needs and will show you some other modifications you can make as well.

NOTE: This makes a huge casserole (I have 7 table food eaters plus myself and husband). It will probably overflow a 9x13 inch pan, so use a bigger one (mine is 4.8 quarts or about 10x15) or two 8x8s or 9x9s.

NOTE (#2): My recipes are somewhat vague as I tend to measure in "handfuls" and "spoonfuls." For this I apologize. I try to give a range of measurement when I can't say exactly how much of something to use. You can adjust it to your family's tastes.

Cheesy Tuna Noodle Thing

5 to 6 cups dry pasta, prepared according to package directions just to tender *1
1/2 to 1 cup white cooking wine (or broth if you prefer)*2
1/2 cup to 1 cup mayonnaise *3
2 cans cream of chicken soup *4
at least 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese *5
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dill *6
2 cans tuna, drained (6 oz. each) *7
your desired casserole topping*8

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta, drain, set aside.

Mix wine and mayonnaise. Add soup, dill, and cheese. Gently mix in tuna and noodles.

Pour into baking dish, cover with foil, bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, top as desired, and cook 5 minutes more.

Modifications

*1 I use elbow noodles. They are cheap and bulky. I like little shells, too. If using a different meat, use a different pasta. Tri-colored rotini goes well with chicken, for example. I have also done the mix and match thing because I had small amounts of 3 different pastas in my cabinet and wanted to use them up.

*2 I use wine in cooking. I realize some people have a moral objection to all alcohol, so use broth. It will alter the taste, but not in a bad way.

*3 If you use Miracle Whip, use less as it has an overpowering flavor. I would replace the extra with a little milk or else the sauce will be really thick.

*4 You can honestly use just about any cream soup and not really change the flavor much. Cream of celery is probably the best choice, I just always seem to have chicken on hand. You can also replace the soup altogether with about 4 cups of very thick white sauce (recipe follows) made with bouillon for flavor. I actually prefer it with the white sauce.

Simple white sauce to replace cream soup:

Pour 2 cups milk into a jar with tight fitting lid. Add 6 tablespoons all purpose flour. Close lid and shake like crazy until very smooth. Empty into a saucepan. Add 2 more cups milk, 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine and 1 or 2 chicken bouillon cubes, if you want. Heat slowly to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil one minute, still stirring constantly.

*5 I say you can never have too much cheese, so I put in a couple of healthy handfuls. You can use different cheeses to change the flavor. If you are using chicken, for example, monterey jack is good. Swiss is nice with crab.

*6 Of course use a different spice with different meat. Poultry seasoning goes well with chicken, as does Italian seasoning.

*7 You can use just about any meat and get a decent result. I have used chicken, crab, and shrimp. I also have used salmon, which worked out really well (you might want to pick out the bones and skin, though, because they just don't look very appetizing in a casserole).

*8 Most people have something they always top a casserole with: breadcrumbs, french fried onions, parm cheese. I leave this one to personal preference.

So there you have it: a vague, sort-of useful recipe for a cheesy tuna noodle thing. My real point in posting it was to show how you can adapt a recipe to what you have on hand and still have it work out. I used to think you had to follow a recipe exactly or else it would be wrong! I rarely follow a recipe exactly anymore.

If anyone has success (or failure) with it, please let me know.

Warm regards,

Shannon

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