Tuna Noodle Goodness

A few nights ago,  I stood in the kitchen, as I often do, holding the refrigerator door open and wondering what I was going to possibly have for dinner.

If you’ve been to my house, you know this isn’t that unusual.

If you’re my husband, this probably drives you crazy.

I pulled out the giant brick of Monterey Jack that’s been living in the fridge and ate a slice… then I took a few bites of Coffee Heath Bar crunch… mulling over what I was in the mood for….

I wanted something creamy. Something that reminded me of childhood… it was settled, I was going to make Tuna Noodle Casserole–which is kind of weird because this wasn’t something that was cooked a lot at my house–no big deal.

Except the thought of cream of mushroom soup nauseates me… not to mention the fact that we don’t keep anything close to that in the house… so I improvised.

This is what I came up with. The thing I love about this meal is that you use one skillet. How easy is that?

I imagine you could probably get away without pre-cooking the noodles. I’ll experiment and let you know.

Tuna Noodle Skillet

Serves ~6. Adapted from Eating Well.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked (I used gobetti, elbows or egg noodles would also work)
  • 2 cans tuna fish, drained  (to give your casserole a little more moist-ness, use the stuff packed in oil). We use Wild Planet.
  • 1/2 cup peas, canned or frozen
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. smokey paprika
  • A few good cranks of black pepper
  • A few splashes Worcestershire sauce
  • About a tbsp. of dill
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped,
  • 1 cup Cremini Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock (chicken would also work)
  • Scant 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ~1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ~3/4 cup Monterey Jack, grated
  • A few tbsp. Mazto meal or Bread Crumbs

What to do:

Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. 350-400 is perfect.

In a small bowl, combine tuna fish, peas, mustard, paprika, Worcestershire, pepper and dill. Set aside.

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Prep

Melt butter in a large oven-proof pan over medium heat (a cast-iron skillet is perfect!).

Add in onions, mushrooms, garlic and carrots and cook until softened, about five minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking.

Add in vegetable stock and cook until it’s *almost* all evaporated.

Add in second tablespoon butter and let melt most of the way

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About halfway through flour-sprinkling. Don’t mind my terrible photo.

Sprinkle in flour a little at a time and stir to make sure vegetables are evenly coated.  The mixture will start to resemble a roux/paste.

Add in milk and black pepper (I like to use a lot, but use your best judgment).

Stirring occasionally to ensure that nothing sticks to the pan, bring to a simmer. And try not to slosh milk all over your stove.

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See the sauce starting to thicken?

Stir in tuna-pea mixture.

Stir in half of your cheese.

Let simmer for about three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in noodles and continue to stir for another minute (again, use your judgement here).

Remove from heat.

Sprinkle the last of the cheese and the meal/breadcrumbs over casserole and place in oven. *I actually grated the cheese directly over the pan….in case you’re feeling fancy.*

Broil until cheese is melted and casserole is lightly browned and bubbling.

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This will be a huge hit… whether you are ten or thirty.

Note: Be careful removing skillet from oven…not only is it hot, it’s also going to be HEAVY!

Enjoy!


A Fresh (Picked) Plate

Today I came home to a wonderful surprise. Farmer Ben had been playing in the garden and had some gorgeous veggies to prove it… and then, per usual, he turned it into a wonderful dinner for us to share. Take a look!

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Cabbage rolls, cucumber, beets, tomatoes, and potatoes–all picked today!–paired with local eggs and some chili sauce (a Farmer Ben specialty) from last year’s peppers. I am so excited to enjoy this meal, it’s the first big pick from the garden, other than a few small tomatoes, herbs and tons of lettuce. Not pictured: beet greens and swiss chard… and a giant tomato! I hope you all enjoy your dinners as much as I am going to enjoy this one. Happy Monday!


Something to Smile About…

Last week was rough. There’s really no other way to describe it. 

Without getting into too much detail, I had way too many things going on…and I missed an important appointment because I didn’t double-check my dates (BUT, I was able to reschedule!).

Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who helps me out in any way he can. Last week it was doing laundry, getting up with me at 5:30 in the morning and driving 40 minutes–each way– to pick someone up before I went to work, making  breakfast and lunch, and listening to me have a mini-meltdown midweek. No big deal.

Somehow, we made it through the week and Saturday morning, we were out of bed bright and early to drive down to the social event I’ve been mentioning for the last month or so.

This weekend, Ben and I attended a wedding. The wedding of my friend Laura… or my ex would-have-been-sister-in-law. She’s a pretty amazing lady and we are still close. Driving down Saturday morning my feelings were swinging between “This is going to be totally fine. It’s not a big deal.” and “What the heck was I thinking?! I am so nervous that I am going to drive off the road!”

The reality of the event was somewhere in between. I’ll share more in my next post…but for now, I need to share some positivity!

So, here is a short list of things that made my weekend (and life in general) pretty amazing:

1. My hubs. This man makes my life a lot more interesting. Each and every day. Not to mention,  he’s pretty handsome.

2. Wearing a dress that I haven’t worn in a long time and finding out that it still looks pretty good. It’s an awesome feeling, and nice to know that hard work does pay off.  

We clean up pretty well, don’t we?

3. Local Produce. I love going to farm stands, co-ops and farmers’ markets and knowing that I am supporting my local economy… not to mention, it just tastes better. This weekend, my sister, Ben and I visited Turks, a small farm and flower market in Horseheads, NY.

Shades of Summer…

I love summer veggies!

4. My amazing family. And our abillity to make stupid faces. Meghan is going to kill me.

5. Fresh Ingredients. Simple Food. Delicious-ness. Here are some shots of our Sunday lunch. Thrown together in about thirty minutes after a quick trip to Turks and Wegmans for supplies.

Brie and Baguette are a must-have!

A closer look… Quick Pickles, Caprese Salad and A Veggie Plate

6. Potato Salad. Especially when it’s not drenched in Mayo…Recipe for this particular salad is coming soon!

I love all the color in this bowl!

   7. Late summer nights. Particularly when paired with a glass of wine in hand, hummus at my fingertips and ridiculous conversation. Bonus points for a bonfire.

What are some things that make you ridiculously happy? 

As I said, stay tuned. More to come!


And Now a Short Break for ….Tortillas!

I know, I’m supposed to be writing the second part of the Restaurant Etiquette post… but I decided to marinate a little bit longer to get into the diner’s state of mind.

So, I am going to share this easy-peasy tortilla recipe instead. Seriously. This is going on the list of “Items to never buy again!”

The best part about these tortillas? Under ten ingredients. That’s it. And all things you can pronounce!

I used this recipe. It’s from Tasty Kitchen user KGSouthernComfort. If you’re not familiar with Tasty Kitchen, it was started by Pioneer Woman, basically it’s an online forum for sharing recipes. I love it.

Spelt and Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas: 

*adapted slightly from Tasty Kitchen*

You will need:

  • 1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour (you can usually find this at your local grocery/health food store. I typically buy Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder-I use the aluminum free variety.
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax seed meal (optional)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup hot water
  • a pinch of salt (optional)

I skipped the salt but I think it would be really fun to add in some spice, I’m thinking some garlic, cracked pepper or smoky paprika…next time… 

Combine your dry ingredients.

Add olive oil and mix with your hands until mixture begins to crumb. You should have some pea and/or oat-sized pieces.

Add Hot Water and mix. It will  form a large ball.

Cover with plastic wrap… or just cover with a towel like I would…and let sit for 30 minutes.

I ended up placing mine in a Zip-lock bag and refrigerating for two days before I used it…it was fine.  

Divide the dough into twelve small balls.

Roll out one at a time on a lightly floured surface.

Cook in a hot un-greased cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Flip when bubbles begin to form on top.

Serve warm.  And that’s it.

Sorry I didn’t get any good pictures. But it’s pretty self-explanatory.


Fridge Emptying Goulash!

I have been having a lot of fun lately. Whether it be ice skating, updating my food journal, planning a workout, perusing food blogs, watching old 3rd Rock episodes with Ben, cooking/destroying my kitchen, watching Ben cook and not destroy the kitchen or working too much,  I’m having a good time. In short, 2012 has been good so far. No complaints on my end.

As you know, I go through food phases. For some reason, the last few weeks have been missing meat. It wasn’t intentional and I’m not complaining, it just worked out that we ate a lot of veggies/beans. As much as I love my veggies,  I am ready for some beefy deliciousness.

This weekend I finally had some red meat; Ben made this crazy good (and super easy!) goulash. Basically, it was a mish-mash of what we had in our fridge. It was also a one-pan meal. The best kind.

Here is what he did, I apologize for not having exact measurements …or photos, as I was just watching Ben work his magic.

Fridge Emptying Goulash

To start, Ben chopped up a couple of carrots, a tomato and 2 cloves of garlic (normally, we would add onion, too… but for some crazy reason, we were out) and threw them in the trusty iron skillet with some olive oil over medium-low to medium heat.

After a few minutes, he added a pound of (local, grass-fed) ground beef. He browned it, stirring occasionally.

Once the meat was browned, he added in some leftover tomato sauce,  maybe a cup or so?  After stirring, he put in one small can of Muir Glen (Organic) tomato paste.

For seasoning, he kept it simple; cracked pepper, onion powder (due to the lack of chopped onion), marjoram, some chili sauce (a few tbsp.) and some smokey paprika. This can be adjusted according to your own tastes.

He let everything simmer for a few minutes and added about half a can of V8-as much as I love V8 juice, I was unsure about this. Thank God I trust Ben’s judgment. 

After the V8, he gave one more stir and let it cook a little longer-covered, until the carrots were tender.

We served it over pasta with a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of Cabot pepper jack.  So good.