Sunday, November 11, 2012

American Classic: Tuna Noodle Casserole

For all of you that just suck YUCK, get over it! :) It's delicious.  I grew up loving tuna casserole, probably because my mom made it homemade. Hamburger Helper makes a version I am sure, but you know how I am about that....

But I am going to switch things up a bit, and give you the hierarchy of the versions of this recipe.  Why is this awesome? Because there are some small changes you can do with leftovers or when sales are going on that pump this up.  There are other changes you can make that turn it into a dorm friendly snack.  Let's go!

So you need about 1/2-1 Cup of noodles, my standard 1/4-1/3 block of COLBY JACK CHEESE (I'm serious only CJC), and two pieces of bread.  Oh yea, and a can or pack of tuna.  I am but one person here, so I opted for the little pouches.  Oh yea, you most likely want about 1/4 c of milk too.  OK, done adding things now.  Yea, I don't put veggies in mine.  Yucky.

Actually my sister made me a legit grocery care package when I moved in, so I was using the second one of those tuna pouches.

Cook the noodles, I like to mix mine.  Then dinner becomes a treasure hunt (OH LOOK! A shell noodle, ahha kidding...sort of...). Drain them and plop in your cheese.  You could be a fancy soul and shred it but I just chop mine up and plop it in.  Seriously, hand washing a cheese grater is no fun.

Why not just use shredded cheese, you ask?

BECAUSE it sucks.  Haha, ok fine not really but I never think shredded cheese melts very well and half of it is kinda hard and plasticky and I really can't stand it.  And don't even consider velveeta because colby jack is the best cheese ever created and it is what you want to use. I like my cheese to have FLAVOR.  Velveeta and rotel make a great dip though, it has its place.

So plop the cheese in and keep it on a low heat.  I always find that I need to add about a fourth of a cup of milk to get it more creamy.  You want to hear it make squelchy noises when you stir.  That's a technical term, squelchy. You could use a scoop of sour cream or greek yogurt and it will be just fine.  I like to add in a little salt and pepper too.  Put the tuna in, get your bread popped down in the toaster, and stir the noodle concoction around so that all the cheese gets melted.  When your toast comes out cube it up and toss it right in the pan.  Serve, enjoy.

Have I ever mentioned I love one pot meals? Because I do.

Now, if you want to send this recipe to the alterations department here are my best suggestions:
  • Use Albacore tuna instead of regular.  Oh man, I am not sure why but the white albacore stuff is fantastic.
  • Use salmon instead of either of those.  If you make salmon one night for dinner, make an extra piece or so.  Flake it up and use IT in the casserole. DIVINE.  So much tastier than canned or pouched tuna ever thought about being. I see the people on the food network say you can't mix fish and cheese all the time, I argue that they have just forgotten their roots.
  • If you are a college kid, use a pouch of tuna with EasyMac and Ritz, and you get a very similar effect.  Dorms can be frustrating on the weekends when you are tired of hitting up the fast food in the commons, and it is nice to know what you can add to super easy things.  Not every college is equipped with sufficient stoves, and for some reason the fast food is never as good on a campus as it is at a real location...and let's face it, we just don't have the money to eat out all the time.
  • Velveeta makes a quick mac product that has broccoli in it, and I must say it is pretty good when you are in a bind.  Throw in some ritz on that and it makes a great broccoli casserole-esque college saver. Not going to lie, I threw bacon in mine once (the little hormel bacon pieces)...that was essentially genius. You could use the canned chicken but that stuff quite frankly scares me...
  • Triscuts with colby or mozzarella and a half of a cherry tomato on them make a great snack too.  That has nothing to do with this recipe, but just in case any of you are college kids and looking for microwave ideas.
For as much as I dog EasyMac now, it saved me quite a few times in the dorm days when I had not eaten much in the cafeteria and needed something later on.  It also did not help that it happened the same year we ate out ALL the time and I gained 15 pounds.  And yes, I have lost it back off now that I am cooking for myself...and sprinting up three flights of steep stairs to get to class.

The atmosphere of eating out and being with friends is fun, that is true.  But if you do it multiple times a week like we did (counting the fast food on campus) it will catch up with you.  I am not saying easy mac is healthy, but they actually have less fat than you might think.  So if you can pack them in with protein the form of tuna, it can help.  Stock your fridge with produce like apples, or raid it from the cafeteria (ISU always allowed us to take a limited amount out at each meal, three meals a day you can add up a fruit stock pretty quickly) and eat apples and peanut butter, or nutella, whatever.  Just eat SOMETHING healthy or be prepared to go shopping for new clothes.  Especially if you are in to the alcohol side of things (I wasn't) because then you are adding that much more caloric intake on top of it all.

Alright, slightly off topic...go make some casserole! it really casserole if it isn't baked??

Oh well, don't care! :) Pin It Now!

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