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!


Dining In: Tuna Pasta with Tomatoes and Arugula June 19, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 7:10 PM
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As you can probably tell, when it comes to pasta, I really like fun-shaped noodles. But, when I came across this recipe the idea of just regular spaghetti really sounded tasty.

I had some extra cherry tomatoes and no lemon, so I decided to give the recipe a little different spin, and a little Parmesan. Plus, it is nearly impossible for me (or my father) to have pasta without some kind of cheese. Simple, light, another perfect summer pasta!


  • 1/2 pound dried angel hair
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Generous pinch hot red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 package good tuna in water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound baby arugula
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese


1.Bring a pot of salty water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve some cooking water before draining.

2.While waiting for the water to boil, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, a couple minutes, then add the tuna and halved tomatoes. Add a splash of the pasta cooking water to create a sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice.

3. Add the cooked pasta along with the contents of the skillet back into the past pot. Toss well to combine. Add the arugula and continue tossing, allowing it to wilt, moistening with pasta water or olive oil as needed.

4.Top with Parmesan and serve.



Dining In: Stuffed Tomatoes January 13, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 9:38 PM
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Week two of actually cooking something other than rice, beans and cheese for dinner every night is in full motion. Again this week, I was inspired by some scrumptious photos on OpenSourceFood. However, this week I didn’t really follow the recipe and instead did what my mother taught me, improvising in the kitchen.

Dinner began as roasted stuffed peppers. But, my dear friends Kristy and Lauren were joining in the dining adventure, and neither of them are big fans of peppers, so I swapped tomatoes for peppers.

And, well, the substitutions continued. I wasn’t feeling mushrooms and had some leftover ricotta cheese. So I combined the tuna, ricotta, onion with some fresh basil and Italian herbs. The roasted tomatoes were drizzled with olive oil and topped with Parmesan.

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes

Since we were eating light for dinner, dessert was needed. Kristy found this triple chocolate mocha cupcake recipe from Design*Sponge, which I could not refuse baking. The yummy treat was the perfect end to a wonderful Monday night meal!

Yummy Chocolate Cupcakes


Dining In: Sesame Tuna with Lime Mash January 5, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 9:30 PM
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Other than blogging, my official New Year’s Resolution is to cook something for dinner, from a recipe, once a week. Most of my cookbooks are really like “baking books,” since they focus on what I’ve been ‘cooking’ for the past 5 years – breads, cakes and cookies. To stretch my culinary creativeness and stop dining out as much, I knew I needed to find the right inspiration for recipes.

I’ve blogged before on my opinion of The Food Network’s site (LOVE the TV channel, not the Web site) and when researching that post I discovered So, that was the logical starting place to find my inaugural dinner recipe. Quickly my eyes fixated on this beautiful and delicious-sounding plate.

Mine didn’t turn out exactly like the recipe. I forgot to pick up seseme seeds, so the tuna was a bit plainer. Also, I forgot to use the sauce I made since it was chilling in the fridge. But, I’ve got leftovers…so I’ll see how the sauce tastes in a few days.


I decided to use a little leftover champagne and blood orange Stirrings mix for a light cocktail. I picked up a little bit of fresh basil, mint and lime to add a nice twist! Ahhh, the perfect way to start the week.