Worldrunner3's Blog

February 22, 2010

Of cooking, or: how I stopped worrying and learned to love Hamburger Helper

Filed under: Uncategorized — by worldrunner3 @ 1:50 am

Seriously, folks. This has got to stop.

Many moons ago, at my bridal shower put together by my loving and wonderful aunt Libbie, I had a lot of dearly beloved female relatives give me cookbooks. Some of them had titles that involved some frantic call for assistance. I smiled and thanked them. I thought (stupidly, naively) that surely cooking was the least of my concerns. “I’m smart. I’ve got experience in the kitchen (I make a darn good batch of brownies). I can do this. Nooooo problem.”

Well, ha ha ha. And ha. Ha.

I have had many massive flops, some rather edible meals, and one or two rather glorious successes (posole, my first attempt at making Mom’s chili recipe; thanks Mom!). My most recent frustration comes from my two (count ’em, two) attempts to make tuna noodle casserole.

Wait, really? Tuna casserole?

Yes. Tuna casserole. Go ahead and laugh.

I wanted to make something really delicious and a bit decadent. A basic tuna casserole just isn’t fit for my hubby or me, right? Except for the fact that it had brie, and the texture was all wrong, and there were too many onions, and we don’t actually like brie. Wish I’d known that beforehand.

So Kevin, in all of his lovingness, tells me that it’s ok, I should try again. “But this time…something simple, right?” Right. I try again….Campbell’s should give me good results, right?

Dry? Tasteless? Demoralizing? Yes, yes, and oh my yes.

I have found that I make a darn good Hamburger Helper, though. We’re not starving, no worries; Olive Garden is 20 minutes away, and Walmart carries an excellent selection of frozen pizzas. Frozen veggies, too, which I am eternally grateful for.

So if anybody has a nice, creamy, delicious tuna casserole recipe they’d be willing to share, please pass it along. My tummy will thank you.

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3 Comments »

  1. You will get the hang of it. Your mother is a wonderful cook, but I suspect she found challenges in the kitchen her few first years as well. Like piano, cooking is both an art and science that requires time and practice, practice, practice. I didn’t marry your mother for her cooking skills (that was just a later added bonus that further cemented my decision to marry her as a good one!) and I suspect Kevin didn’t marry you for those skills either. I think your mother fixes a pretty good tuna cassarole, but I suspect it may be a mix (I don’t care — I LIKE mixes!!). When in doubt, more cheese always helps. — Dad

    Comment by Dad — February 22, 2010 @ 2:54 pm |Reply

  2. I DO have a tuna casserole recipe, actually. I picked it up when I took over cooking in my house after I realized that my mom had been living on frozen dinners and pizza since my dad died. It’s only easy if you don’t overthink it, and guys REALLY like it—no fancy stuff in it like brie!

    Here goes:

    You’ll need:

    *A bag of either dry or frozen Amish egg noodles.
    *A cup of frozen,fresh, or canned peas and a handful or two of anything else you’d like to throw in veggie wise. I like broccoli bits and red and yellow bell pepper, if they’re handy. Add in as much as seems healthy to you.
    *A can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.
    *A 1/4 cup of milk (or a 1/3, if you cook a lot of noodles)
    *Two small cans of tuna.
    *Enough shredded cheddar cheese to melt into a gooey mess on top of your casserole.
    * If you want to be really bad, get a box of Cheeze-its (I love the pepperjack kind!)and crumble a few handfulls on top drizzled in about a tablespoon of olive oil or butter. It makes a lovely crunchy layer over the ooey-gooeyness of the casserole.

    Here’s what you do:

    1. Set your oven to 400F. While it’s preheating, get a pot of water boiling on the stove for those noodles.
    2. Toss in 2-3 cups of the dry or frozen noodles, depending on how starch-hungry you feel and how big your casserole dish is. noodles should take up about a third to a half of volume. Look in the pot and imagine any noodles you toss in being about 20% bigger to get an idea of how much you’ll actually be eating. Amish egg noodles noodles cook up fluffy and thick, and all you have to do is boil them until they look floppy. When they’re floppy, pull a noodle out to see if it’s done by cooling it and taking a bite. When the noodles are soft and ready, drain them and set them aside.
    3. Dump half the can of cream of mushroom soup into the casserole dish and cover it with one can of the tuna. Then toss in the noodles, and add veggies (with a dash of salt’n’peppa–around a 1/4 tsp of salt, if you want to know, and enough peppa to make it look like it has a bad case of fleas), the other half of the soup, then the other can of tuna. Over top, pour enough milk so that the noodles look moist and a little bit of white milk peeks through the ingredients at you when you look from above. Shouldn’t take more than 1/3 c.
    4. Don’t put on the cheese or crumble toppings yet! Add more salt and pepper to the top (a little less of both than before–think a few pinches here and there) and bake it for 28-30 minutes until the casserole bubbles.
    5. Take it out, and mix the casserole a little if the noodles look dry. Then add the cheese and the crumbles over top, in that order (if you do crumbles), and bake for another 5 minutes. The cheese will melt, and the crumbles will get brown (and get really crispy if you drizzle a teensy bit of olive oil over them!).
    5. Take it out, cool it for a few minutes before cutting dishing it out, then stand aside. Kevin will destroy it. Caleb ate half of my casserole the last time I made the BIG version of this recipe…

    Lastly, don’t stress. You’re too darn smart to get foiled by a can of tuna and a few noodles. 🙂

    Comment by ruthsgleanings — April 9, 2010 @ 12:38 am |Reply

    • Thanks, girl-this looks DELICIOUS! (And I’ll probably make it w/the crumbles. I have, how do I say this, a certain weakness for Cheezits.)

      Comment by worldrunner3 — April 9, 2010 @ 1:07 am |Reply


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