Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A New Twist On A Golden Oldie - Tuna Casserole With NO Soup In It

Wednesday is usually our volunteer day, but today we did volunteer duty of a different nature.  It was Grandma and Pawpaw to the rescue.  Our daughter had to chaperone a field trip for her 8 year old son's class, the 5 year old was at pre-K and that left the 18 month old home alone if we didn't show up.  Now, we could not let that happen (haha), so we got up bright and early (and I do mean early) because we had to trek across town and be at their house by 8 am.  Yikes, I have forgotten how much I dislike getting up at 6 am.  Yay for retirement.

After she returned home from the field trip, we spent a little time conversing and went to pick up the 5 year old from pre-K.  Well, you know Grandma and Pawpaw wanted to have lunch with everyone who wasn't in school, so we enjoyed a fun little lunch out and then made a trip to a fabulous place a friend had told me about that has outstanding home decor bargains and you know how I love a bargain.  We will definitely be going back there again!

We returned to their house and got in our car to head back to the east side of Nashville where we live.  On our way home, we made our usual Wednesday afternoon stop at our other daughter's house to visit with her and her two sons.  The baby is 5 weeks old today.  Wow, time flies.  We spent some time playing with the 2 year old and Grandma held the baby for a good while, and then it was time to head to the little yellow cottage.  Whew, Grandma was tired.

Of course, now it's time for dinner and what are we going to have?  I wanted something different and easy.  There was a tuna casserole I had pinned on my Pinterest board that I had been wanting to try so today was the day.  I had all the ingredients, so tuna casserole it was.  But, let me tell you, this is NOT the tuna casserole I was used to eating when we were growing up.  Everybody's mom had a variation on a recipe and somehow the casserole was always topped with crushed potato chips and made with canned soup.  Now, I have to say I always liked tuna casserole where most of my friends didn't.  But, I like tuna - tuna salad, tuna casserole, creamed tuna, however anyone fixed it.

This recipe is from a blog called Mmm is for Mommy and I thought it sounded really good and there is not one can of soup in it.  Yay!  I did a little tweaking of my own and Dan declared this equivalent to fine dining.  Yahoo, a keeper recipe to add to the repertoire.

I figured out the cost and I will tell you that this makes 4 huge servings, or you could serve smaller portions with sides and it cost less than $6.00 to make.  Now that is a bargain for a delicious meal - and we have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Even better!

There are no potato chips in this casserole, but there is bacon.  Yum.  Her recipe calls for sliced mushrooms and we are not big fans, so I added green peas which we love.  If you like peas and mushrooms, hey add both.  It won't hurt the taste in the least.  I also added some worcestershire and fresh thyme which was a super addition and I topped it with sliced tomatoes.  Trader Joe's had Roma tomatoes for 17 cents each this week and they were big, so I invested in a few and I am so glad I did.  She also added 4 ounces of cream cheese, which I left out.  The sauce was very creamy and I didn't want the extra fat.  Feel free to add it if you want.  Now, here is what you need for this recipe.


1/2 pound rotini pasta, uncooked (I used tri-color)
4 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled (reserve 2 TBSP fat)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP reserved bacon fat
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp worcestershire
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
(1 cup sliced mushrooms)see explanation above
1 cup green peas - if you want to use mushrooms and green peas, use 1/2 cup of each
2 5 ounce cans Tuna in water, drained
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
2 TBSP grated parmesan
1 sliced tomato
1/2 8 ounce block cream cheese (I left this out)
several sprigs fresh thyme, strip leaves from stem (or you can use dried)
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to directions and drain.

In a dutch oven, fry the bacon until crisp, remove bacon and drain.  Add olive oil to bacon drippings.  Saute onions, garlic, celery and mushrooms if you are using them in the bacon fat and olive oil.  Cook until softened.  Stir in dijon mustard and sprinkle with flour.  Cook for a minute or so to get rid of raw flour taste.  Whisk in chicken stock and milk.  Continue to stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens.  Add salt and black pepper to taste and add the thyme.  Add the drained tuna and half the crumbled bacon.  Add drained pasta and mix until all the pasta is coated with sauce.  Top with grated parmesan cheese and remaining crumbled bacon.  I then put a circle of tomatoes on top of the casserole and a little more parmesan cheese.  It looked like this in the dutch oven.
Put the dutch oven (uncovered) in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve.  Fantastic!  You have protein, pasta, veggies, creamy sauce and so much flavor for under $6.00.  Now, who can complain about that AND it is not like the tuna casserole you have experienced in the past.  It is fresh and delicious.

I have to say I am ever so thankful to the creators of Pinterest.  They are geniuses who have changed our lives forever!  I could read a dozen cookbooks a week and never find a recipe I wanted to try. I find several recipes a day on Pinterest.   I have found that most of the things from Pinterest are really good, just beware of mistakes in the recipes.  I have found several - especially making baked goods.  That is where cooking experience comes in handy. Sometimes, I look at a recipe and know it's not going to work, something has been left out or a measurement may not be right and I can fix it.  Other than that, Pinterest rocks!  Thanks Mmm is for Mommy or this inspiration.  Hope you all give it a try.   As Dan said, it's the equivalent to fine dining on a budget!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken of the Sea.'
Jessica Simpson