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Recession Food

In honor of yesterday’s bailout bill rejection and subsequent Dow nosedive, I made tuna noodle casserole. I needed something cheap and easy to make me feel better about life. Tuna noodle casserole is definitely cheap and easy, it’s great comfort food, and it has that je ne sais quois of food for hard times.  Yes, watching CNN often inspires me to cook, thanks for asking.  But what can I say?  It was damn good.

Because I fancy myself a foodie and a great improviser, I refused to use the traditional Campbell’s soup recipe and made up my own.  That was a little pointless because really, this is not complicated food and there’s only so much you can gussy it up.  However, my recipe was apparently a success because it was all gone before I could take a picture (that boyfriend sure can eat!).  Here’s what I did so you can make your own:

Tuna Noodle Casserole A La Mary

Ingredients:

  • 1 box farfalle (bowtie) or penne pasta.  Or heck, even spaghetti if that’s all you got.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped.  Fancy, I know.  Don’t worry, shallots are cheap and flavorful and won’t send your home into foreclosure like a sub-prime loan.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful button mushrooms, sliced
  • EVOO, salt and pepper for sauteeing
  • 1 can condensed soup (cream of chicken, broccoli, mushroom, or celery, just use what you have.  This is recession food!)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cans tuna, drained
  • 2 cups cooked peas.  A friend of mine calls peas ‘little balls of dirt.’  Dirt is definitely recession food!
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese or any other cheese you have around.  Gruyere would be fantastic, but who can afford that these days?!
  • Bread crumbs¹

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375.  Cook pasta according to instructions on box.  When done, drain and rinse with cold water.

While pasta is cooking, saute the onions, shallots, garlic, and mushrooms in olive oil.  If you’ve got other vegetables that need to be used up, throw them in!  Not letting food go to waste is good for your body and your grocery bill!  Salt and pepper sauteed vegetables to taste and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the condensed soup and milk.  Add peas, tuna, and sauteed veggies and combine well.  Add cheeses, reserving about 1/2 cup of each for later. Stir.  And pasta and stir until noodles are well coated.

Scoop mixture into a casserole dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove.  Take off foil, cover with remaining cheeses and breadcrumbs, and return to oven for five minutes or until top is browned and bubbling.  Serve with my favorite recession dessert, Jello.  Makes 6-8 servings.


¹Okay, does anyone actually use real bread crumbs in their cooking?  I wrote it up there because that is the “professional” term but, confession time, I don’t use bread crumbs.  I never have stale bread lying around and I will never ever make breadcrumbs out of good, usable bread just for a recipe.  Crushed up crackers are much easier and work just the same.  And I somehow always have stale crackers at my house.  Seriously, I’ve used crushed crackers to bread fish and you cannot tell the difference. Just my two cents.

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