Throwback but Better

This recipe for an updated tuna noodle cazuela {casserole} is ridiculously good. While I was at Trader Joe’s trying to not buy all of the new products, and just focus on my list, ha ha, I realized that I wasn’t sure what the original recipe for tuna noodle casserole consisted of. Obviously canned tuna and a condensed soup of some sort. A no skill required, long shelf life ingredients and comfort food all rolled into one dish. Probably originated in the what, the 1940’s? By someone who thought fish and cheese should go together, because, that is not a popular culinary pairing. I don’t remember my mom making this really… ever. She isn’t a big casserole person, aside from her amazing tamale pie. Anyhow, long story short, this version of tuna noodle casserole is just as easy and doesn’t require canned cream soup, you’ll thank me.

Since I have made this a handful of times, I decided to try a different shape of pasta. Let me tell you, this lily shaped pasta was a perfect fit for this creamy baked dish.

TJ didn’t have Piquillo peppers so I grabbed jarred roasted red peppers, they will do in a pinch. Other than that, instead of canned soup, we make our own roux, I added a little garlic and crushed red pepper because you know me. This is a simple and straight forward recipe for any night of the week.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Cazuela

*recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

12 ounces farfalle (bow tie) pasta

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

3 cups whole milk or half-and-half

1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas

3/4 cup piquillo peppers, sliced (6 ounces) *substitute jarred roasted red peppers

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

One 6-ounce can or jar solid white tuna in oil, drained and flaked

Salt and Pepper

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion (garlic and red pepper if you want) and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the pasta, frozen baby peas, sliced piquillo peppers, Parmesan cheese and tuna and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish, a cazuela (casserole dish).

In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the panko breadcrumbs and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole and bake for 10 minutes or until bubbling.

Serve right away. Pairs well with an Albariño or a good Chardonnay.

Remind me Again

I’ve had a week long hiatus from classes, so now I am doing my best to catch up on life’s moments. However, I have been struggling with MO-MEN-TIA {MO’men(t)SH(ē)A}. “A persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by one or more children marked by memory disorders, personality changes and impaired reasoning.” In other words, losing my memory, madness due to said loss of memory and slight insanity. The worst part, I can’t blame it all on the the kids, I am doing it all on my own. Age I suppose? Too many balls in the air, I am not the best at compartmentalizing. I’m not even sure what I was going to write today, I had an idea, sat down at my computer, and then I was asked what 9 x 30 was. So obviously, I had to stop and ask Siri. The next thing I knew, I was up and preparing tomorrow’s lunches, then I put the girls stuff in the wrong backpacks. Luckily they caught me before they were stuck in class with the wrong lunch. I find myself having to go upstairs multiple times because I forgot what I went up there for in the first place. And, last weekend, I even forgot to feed the girls breakfast. I just went ahead with my morning workout and then Kaili comes in and asks me when she could have breakfast, uh crap, breakfast… So just in case I forget, I have ribs in the oven and cookies to bake.

Before our cruise, we all {sans kids}went out to dinner to celebrate my mom and uncle Brian’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you what we had but I’m not sure anymore, I know there was dessert.

I also took two of the girls out for a lunch date in Bay Park. Kaili ordered fish and chips, which were so good, Averi ordered….wait for it….mac and cheese, which she didn’t like because she is an animal and doesn’t like anything. I had poke, always the poke.

I found this picture on my phone later that day.

I think my original plan was to tell you guys about a recipe. This is an old Cooking Light recipe that I couldn’t even find on their site anymore. I have the recipe printed out, old school style.

I’ll tell you what, I had this dish prepped and in the oven in about 20 minutes. The fact that it can feed a handful of people and/or make for leftovers, it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

Obviously over the years my culinary talent has improved and I have become one with the kitchen. Since this is an old recipe, I made changes to suit our palates. Originally the recipe called for reduced fat cheese…um no thanks. Instead I used half shredded pepper jack and half Mexican blend. I changed the type of beans, the cheese, the oil and even the tortillas. You do you! Let this recipe be a starting point and then go for it. It’s a casserole, it will be so good in the end, no matter what cheese or sour cream you prefer.

The chicken is the most time consuming part of this recipe. If you can grab a rotisserie, you’ll save yourself an hour.

Cooking Light’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole

1 tablespoon canola oil (or olive oil)

1 cup chopped fresh onion

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Pepper to taste

1 (15 ounce) can white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (black beans are just as good)

2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken

1 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided

1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, divided

18 (6-inch) tortillas, divided (corn or flour)

Cooking spray

2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided

1 cup 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 (16-ounce) jar salsa verde ( I used a medium spice level)

10 tablespoon sour cream, you can use light sour cream.

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

Grab your 13 x 9 inch baking dish and spray with cooking spray.

Heat your oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper; cook a couple more minutes. Stir in the strained beans; cook 2 minutes. Add chicken, green onions and half of the olives, stir well, and then remove from heat.

Layer 6 tortillas on bottom Spread 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas; sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 6 tortillas.

*Note, these measurements are completely at your discretion.

Combine the milk, chopped cilantro, and salsa in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour over top of tortillas. Cover and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese, remaining cup green onions, and the remaining olives.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and you can’t wait any longer.

Serve with sour cream. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and your favorite hot sauce.

Mushroom Stroganoff

What do you call a mushroom in a fable?

The morel of the story. Ha ha ha…ha.

I didn’t know mushroom stroganoff was a thing. I thought I invented it in my head one morning but when I started Googling, it saddened me to find that once again, I was not the only one with that idea.

Back when we were store hopping for the Indian Chaat ingredients, we picked up a bag of egg Cavatappi at the International market. It worked perfectly for this dish.

Meanwhile as I was making dinner, one of the girls came in and asked to have a snack.

And then when the youngest beast is fed…..

Apparently she’s been raised in said prison….sigh.

Back to dinner. Creamy mushrooms over pasta, how good does that sound?

INGREDIENTS

*Recipe adapted from https://damndelicious.net/2019/02/06/creamy-mushroom-stroganoff/

8 ounces egg noodles of your choice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 large shallots, diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups beef stock

1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (less is more)

3/4 cup sour cream

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Crushed red chili flakes, to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and browned, about 5-7 minutes or looks like this.

Season with salt and pepper, you can even add your crushed pepper now, if you like heat.

Stir in garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute

Gradually whisk in beef stock and Dijon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in pasta and sour cream until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. 

Stir in Parmesan until melted, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately but not to the children who will whine about mushrooms. Leave them with their Nutella while you enjoy this delicious meal with a cold glass of Chardonnay!

Cooking with Kids {Basic Pizza Dough}

I love cooking with kids, my mom cooked with me, I cooked in my classroom and my two girls have been in the kitchen with me from early on. Now I am not going to say it’s easy, cooking with children. What’s easy is taking a picture of your child cracking an egg and then once the picture is taken it’s like “okay, you’re getting it all over, get out!” Am I right? The key is to go in knowing it is going to be messy and if you have multiple kiddos then there is always going to be a fight. BUT, it’s good for them, good for their brain and if you have your wine glass full, a little easier on you!

Kaili picked a pizza dough recipe out of her cookbook and read me the ingredients.

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup water

1 package yeast

2 tbs olive oil plus 1 more for the bowl

2 tbs sugar

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

Combine sugar, water and yeast in a measuring cup or small bowl.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center.

Pour yeast mixture and oil in well and stir into dry ingredients until you have a soft dough.

If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Knead until smooth on a lightly floured surface.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled.

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How simple is that? Now the hardest part is a toss up between the clean up or the refereeing.—> Take a big sip of wine!

Once I put the dough on a hot baking sheet, they slathered on store bought pizza sauce {it was a weeknight meal y’all} and cheese. Anything else in their mind is “gross”. Side eye.

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And voila! A cheese pizza that they both ate and didn’t kill each other over!

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Shrimp Piccata over Mashed Cauliflower

Shrimp Piccata is an easy weeknight meal, the cauliflower takes a bit more time but is still doable under the weekday pressures. Mashed cauliflower will also reheat very well if you are the Sunday prep day type of person.

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MASHED CAULIFLOWER INGREDIENTS

1 small head of cauliflower chopped

1/4 cup or more, whole milk

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp. Kosher salt and more to taste

pepper to taste

Fill a medium pot halfway with water. Add cauliflower and cover pot. Bring to a boil, cook until florets are easily pierced with a knife, about 8 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor.

Add milk, butter, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Purée until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

SHRIMP INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp butter, divided

12 oz. uncooked peeled, deveined, large shrimp

1 medium shallot sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup chicken broth

¼ cup dry white wine

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp drained capers

Salt and Pepper to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Heat the oil and one tablespoon of  butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In the meantime pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.

Add the shrimp to the skillet. Cook the shrimp, flipping after one minute. Once the shrimp turns opaque and is slightly undercooked remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the shallot and garlic the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. If you like a little heat, this is a good time to add some red pepper flakes. Add the chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and capers, stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Add the shrimp back to the skillet with any juice. Cook for 1 minute, or until the shrimp is cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add butter and serve immediately atop the creamy mashed cauliflower.

 

Tomato Galette

This is a perfect dish to make when you have beautiful tomatoes begging to be used. Store bought pie crust makes it an easy weeknight meal and the addition of some golden caramelized onions can turn it into a weekend hit. Although you may not want to share, it’s that good!

INGREDIENTS

1 unbaked Pie Crust

1 (5oz) package of Boursin Garlic and Herbs Cheese

1 small yellow onion, sliced and caramelized

2 Large or 3 Medium Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Honey

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Handful of torn or chiffonade basil

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 large egg with a drizzle of water, beaten

Preheat your oven 375 degrees.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, unroll the pie crust. Spread the Boursin cheese on the dough leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle the onion over the cheese and then layer on your toms. Sprinkle with a healthy shower of salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and honey and then the basil.

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Gently fold the edges of the dough up over the tomatoes, repeating every two inches around the free formed pie. Brush the crust with the beaten egg wash.

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Pop into your heated oven and bake for *1 hour or until crust is golden.

* Don’t go too far, check at the 30 minute mark to make sure the crust isn’t burning,

Let cool for 5 minutes.

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Devour with a nice glass of wine.

Shrimp in Thai Coconut Sauce

Thai and Coconut, probably two of my favorite things but when you mix them together with some spice, its pure harmony. Most of the time we have a bag of Kirkland raw, peeled, tail on shrimp in our freezer. No fuss and cooks up in minutes, perfect for a weeknight meal. If you can prep everything, cut all the veg and make the sauce…. or as the French say, “mise en place” then this dish comes together in no time.

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Ingredients

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on or off, your preference)
4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided (you can use vegetable oil)
2 gloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
½ onion, peeled and sliced
½ red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup coconut milk
3-5 tablespoons high quality fish sauce (start with 3 tablespoons and add more to taste)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons basil, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
Serrano pepper sliced for the heat lovers

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Directions

Place the shrimp in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil, garlic, ginger, kosher salt and red chili flakes. Toss to coat and let marinade for 10 minutes to 30 minutes.

Heat a good sized skillet over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the peppers and onion to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and cook the shrimp for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until opaque, transfer shrimp to a plate.

In a medium bowl whisk the coconut milk, fish sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, brown sugar and stir well. Transfer the cooked onion and peppers to the skillet and pour the coconut milk mixture of the peppers. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp to the skillet with the basil and cilantro and toss to coat.  Garnish with more cilantro and basil, chopped green onion and sliced Serrano. Serve over rice, noodles or riced cauliflower.

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*Recipe adapted from Foodie Crush