Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Updated Tuna Noodle Casserole May 13, 2011

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 1:58 PM
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As someone who loves a ‘one-pot-wonder’ meal, as well as cheese paired with any sort of carb, it’s surprising that I’ve not made many casseroles. That all changed this week. Even though I work from home and have my kitchen close by all day, I understand that having a Rolodex of make ahead meals can be an asset for any cook.

As a tribute to classic Americana dinners, I thought make ahead meal #1 should be the hated/loved tuna noodle casserole. I searched and found this recipe from The Cooking Channel sounded like a great foundation for an updated take on this standard. Now, this isn’t a Top Chef-style complete revamp of a recipe, but just some tips on making the dish more flavorful and fresh.

Here are the swaps:

  • Butter, onion, sherry,soy sauce, egg noodles — just leave as is
  • Just say no to white button mushrooms. They have minimal flavor and add little to the dish. I used portabellos instead
  • Vegetable stock instead of Chicken
  • Cream instead of whole milk (because that’s what I had in the fridge)
  • More frozen peas than suggested. No reason why you shouldn’t have a full serving of veggies in the casserole
  • Canned tuna has never looked good to me, but I’ve always been a fan of the tuna packets. I chose a Yellowfin tuna in olive oil – not drained
  • Aged white cheddar, not yellow
  • Top with the recommended Panko breadcrumbs

The casserole was full of flavor but not terrible rich or saucy. The Panko added a great crunch and using soy sauce to flavor the mushrooms helped keep everything from getting too salty. I forgot to snap a photo when it came out of the oven, but I decided to capture the leftovers after having it again for lunch today. You can tell there isn’t too much left. Yum!

Oh, and if you have any other casserole or make ahead meal ideas, send them my way!


Tex-Mex Sunday: Tortilla Casserole November 9, 2010

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 2:44 PM
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From the looks of this blog and Facebook, I’d fallen off the face of the online world at the end of September. That’s a fairly accurate statement. I guess I got a little social media overloaded and needed a time out.  Feeling all better now.

October was a crazy month, but I was still busy in my kitchen…there’s just no photographic evidence of it all. I explored cooking curry for the first time, experimented with tofu and Asian flavors, discovered some great meat and fish marinades and baked fresh pita bread and naan. Enough reminiscing, let’s get to the meal that kicked off my re-commitment to blogging.

Tortilla casserole never really caught my eye. Was it because it was called casserole? Was it because it sounds like something they served in my elementary school cafeteria? Maybe. Regardless, a few years back I finally tried a tortilla casserole at a great Mexican food place in Austin, El Chile because it sounded really good and was vegetarian. That dish served as the inspiration for this Sunday night meal and a recipe for chilaquiles from Fonda San Miguel helped me pull it together.

In order to keep the casserole from being soggy, I quartered and lightly fried the corn tortillas. For the red sauce I combined a 5 pepper enchilada sauce and some of my favorite salsa. I also added some black beans to help add a little more protein and texture. I layered the tortillas, shredded monterey jack cheese, red sauce and beans into the dish and topped with some crema. The dish baked for 45 min at 400 degrees and was warm and filling.

Oh, and to make this a balanced meal, I did a green salad with fresh avocado, tomatoes and a homemade creamy cilantro-lime dressing. Pretty and delicious!