I hope you guys are ready for some comfort food because this is comfort food at its finest. Let's face it. There's nothing glamorous about tuna casserole, even if you add potato chips or peas. But I truly believe that a good tuna casserole is an ace in the hole. I've been eating this my entire life, and on a chilly day it certainly hits the spot. It's quick, easy, and great for those nights when kids have sports practice, gymnastics, or something else that means that you need a quick and filling meal. I'm actually imagining that since I don't have kids, but still. We ate it pretty frequently when I was a kid, so I'm assuming that's a reason why. This particular tuna casserole is saucy, and I love the tang from the Miracle Whip and the spice from the garlic powder and pepper.
If you don't like so much sauce, use about 12 ounces of noodles instead of 8 ounces. Most of the time that I make this I don't bake it, so it's more like a tuna casserole soup, but that's the way I like it. If you want to add peas, you can add frozen ones in right before it bakes. I've also crushed some potato chips on top before I baked it because it's a wonderful topping. So there you go. Tuna casserole. I'm just keeping it real here on She Makes and Bakes. I promise to post something a little more exciting next. Tuna Casserole RecipePrint this recipe
8 ounces shell noodles
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1/2 cup milk
10 3/4 ounce can cream of mushroom
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
5 ounce can chunk light tuna in waterPreheat the oven to 400 degrees. Boil the noodles in salted water until cooked al dente. While the noodles are boiling, prepare the sauce. In a large bowl, combine the Miracle Whip, milk, cream of mushroom, garlic powder, pepper, and tuna. When the pasta is done, drain it, add it back to the pan, and pour the sauce on top. Stir until heated through. If you want a crispy top, bake it in a greased dish for about 15 minutes until bubbling. Let cool slightly before serving.
Word on the street is that this was President Reagan's favorite mac and cheese. Word in my house is that this is what my Grandma served me every time I came over for lunch or dinner. Every time. I never knew it was Ronald Reagan's favorite until we went through her recipe box. He had good taste because it definitely was my favorite meal at her house.
This is not your stringy ooey gooey mac and cheese. If that's what you're looking for, don't try this recipe. However, this is just as good. It has a custard-y (yes, that's a word--go with it) sauce (except it's not really a sauce). Oh boy. I love trying to express myself. The best part of the mac and cheese is the crispy and crunchy topping that it gets when it bakes. Oh boy. My grandma always sprinkled some paprika on everything so I had to carry the tradition. Plus, it really does taste better with it. Just gives it a little something extra.
So if you have good taste like me and the prez, I highly recommend you try this. As soon as possible. It's easy to make and it has no roux, which means it reheats pretty nicely, too. I should know because I've been eating a lot of it lately!
President Reagan's Mac and Cheese Recipe
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8 ounces macaroni (I used shells)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hot water
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Boil the macaroni in salted water until al dente. Drain. Off the heat add the butter to the pot with the macaroni. Stir in the egg until the macaroni is covered. Dissolve the dry mustard and salt in the hot water and add to the milk. Stir the milk mixture into the pasta. Add in 2 cups of cheddar cheese. Pour into a greased 9x9 or 10x10 pan and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese on top. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for about 45 minutes until bubbling and crispy on top. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
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When I told my husband what we were having for dinner, he squished up his face and said, "I don't think I'm going to like that." Being the nice wife that I am, I told him he needed to try it anyway. And guess what, he liked it. I think his exact words were, "It's good; I'm just not in a soup mood." I'm taking that as a win. And it also means that I'll be serving it around these parts again. Ain't married life grand?
So here's the deal with this soup. I took one of my favorite pasta dishes and adapted it. There's Italian sausage, chicken, bell peppers, onions, and pesto. Oh, and tortellini...one of the best things about this soup. I adore tortellini. This soup is not overly anything (for those of you who may not love pesto). It's a perfect marriage of flavors and a spectacular alternative to your classic chicken noodle soup. It really doesn't take long to prep, and you could make it in your Crock Pot after you did a little prep work, too. Otherwise it takes about 2 hours or so to get on the table. That's a win in my book.
Another win? Here's the best kitchen tip *ever* if you have a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to shred your chicken on low speed. It only takes about a minute and is 100 times easier than using two forks.
Pesto Tortellini SoupPrint this recipe
1 small yellow onion
1 small green bell pepper
1 small red or orange bell pepper
8 ounces Italian sausage
1 large chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 tablespoons pesto
2 cups fresh refrigerated tortellini
In a large pot, cook the Italian sausage, onion, and peppers over medium heat until the veggies are softened and the sausage is browned. Add the whole chicken breast, broth, and water. Cook over medium-low heat for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the chicken breast and shred it. Skim the grease off the top of the soup using a large spoon and return the shredded chicken to the pot. Stir in the pesto and keep on low heat. About 15 minutes before you're ready to eat, increase the heat to medium and wait for it to boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender. Serve hot.
A She Makes and Bakes original
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And we're back! Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday season. My in-laws were visiting us for the past week, and we had a lot of fun. It was nice to be away from the computer for a bit. I love you all, but it's nice to be around "real" people, too. Is anyone else completely confused about what day it is? All day Tuesday I was thinking it was Sunday. My internal calendar is pretty messed up right now.
This meal was planned for Christmas Eve, but I had to change plans for the weather. My husband plows snow, and we had a white Christmas. I didn't want him to miss this meal, so I made it last Saturday instead. This is the second time I've made this (the last time was Christmas Eve 2011), and it's pretty awesome. There's Italian sausage, meatballs, and ribs that are cooked in a hearty sauce. The sauce itself is pretty simple with only a few ingredients but has amazing flavor after you cook all the meat in it. This is one of those recipes where you brown the meat, add the sauce ingredients, and then finish cooking it in the oven for a few hours until the ribs are tender. In 2011 when I made this, I didn't have a pan that I could put in the oven so I did the whole thing on the stove. Low and slow with pretty frequent stirring. It worked really well. This year I did it as the recipe is written in the oven. I've never tried it, but I think you could do this in a Crock Pot, too. You'd have to brown the meat on the stove and make the sauce on the stove, too. Then you could transfer the meat to the Crock Pot and pour the sauce on top. If you wanted this when you got home from work, I think you could do all the prep work the night before and cook it on low during the day while you're at work. Even though I've talked about making this on Christmas Eve twice, it's a great meal for any time of the year. Even on a random weekday when you just want a comforting and hearty meal. Italian Gravy RecipeServes 8-10Print this recipe
For the sauce: 2 tablespoons olive oil1 rack baby back ribs cut into 2-rib sectionsSalt and pepper1 pound Italian sausage links2 onions, diced (about 2 cups)1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano3 tablespoons tomato paste4 garlic cloves, minced2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes2/3 cup beef broth1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leavesFor the meatballs:
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Pinch red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons ketchup
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef1 1/2 pounds linguine or spaghettiAdjust your oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and place in the pan (do this in two batches). Brown all sides of the ribs, about 5-7 minutes total. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs. Brown the sausages on all sides and remove to the plate with the ribs. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and oregano and cook until the onions are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook while stirring until it's very dark, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the cans of tomatoes and the beef broth and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Place the ribs and sausage in the sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover and place the pan in the oven for about 2.5 hours or until the ribs are tender. To make the meatballs, get a large bowl. Mix together the
bread crumbs, parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic, onion powder, egg, ketchup, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Once incorporated, mix in the ground beef. Form the mixture into 10 balls and place on a small parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. About 30 minutes before the sauce is done,
place the meatballs in the oven next to the sauce (not in the sauce) and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer them into the sauce and let them finish cooking for about 15 more minutes until cooked through. Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente. When everything is finished cooking, mix one cup of the sauce with the drained pasta. Place the pasta on a platter with the meat and serve the extra sauce in a bowl. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
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One of the few pasta dishes I can get away with at home is lasagna. While my husband won't eat any other type of pasta, he will eat lasagna. However, when there are only two people eating it, it gets pretty tiresome. Enter these rollups. I make four of them, and they're the perfect size for dinner with minimal or no leftovers. I love that I don't have to eat lasagna for an entire week when I make these. These are really easy to make, and I've made them easier by using jarred sauce. You can certainly make your own or use your favorite brand. I was going for as easy as possible here. To make these, you lay a cooked noodle flat (you can't use the no boil noodles here), spread the cheese mixture on top of it, and roll it up. Then place it in the pan, cover it with some sauce and voila. Dinner! By the way, I'm not normally a huge pepper fan. Like at all. I'm never one to get it on my salad or put it on everything. However, I do love some fresh cracked pepper in my cheese mixture. It really adds something, so I don't recommend skipping it. I also use cottage cheese in my lasagna, but I puree it in the food processor first so I can get rid of the clumps. I like the texture/creaminess better than using ricotta, but you can certainly use either one. Lasagna RollupsMakes fourPrint this recipe4 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente (don't use no boil noodles)1 egg1/2 cup cottage cheese or ricotta1/4 cup grated parmesan
, plus more for sprinkling1/2 cup mozzarella
, plus more for sprinkling1 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon dried parsley1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper2 cups spaghetti saucePreheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you're using cottage cheese, process it in a food processor or blender until the clumps are gone. In a medium size bowl, mix together the egg, cheeses, garlic powder, parsley, and pepper.
In a small baking dish, spread enough of the spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom of the dish. Lay the noodles flat and dry them off with a paper towel if wet. Spread one quarter of the cheese mixture on top of one noodle, leaving one inch at the end with no cheese. Start with the other end and roll up the noodle. Lay the noodle flat in the baking dish. Repeat
with the other noodles. Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce on top of the noodles. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the dish, sprinkle the additional cheese on top, and place back in the oven for 15-20 minutes until heated through (leave it uncovered).
First of all, I'm loving the Olympics. I love watching everyone compete, and I love the sports. However, I think it's funny that the Olympics inspires people to sit on their couches and watch TV. I guess that I went for a bike ride this morning and stood in the kitchen all day, so that can justify me sitting around, drinking wine, and watching gymnasts and swimming tonight, right? By the way, what's up with the female gymnasts wearing scruncies circa 1995? Can't they do something else to give their hair some flair?
Anyway, this pasta has nothing to do with the Olympics other than I might eat this to carbo load before my triathlon next weekend...which still has nothing to do with the Olympics, but I'm excited about it. Almost ten years ago, I spent a lot of time in Grand Cayman. There was (is?) a restaurant on Seven Mile Beach called Cimboco that had great pizza and pasta. Consequently we ate there a lot. They had this great pasta dish called simple n light, and this is my attempt at recreating it. Spaghetti, olive oil, tomatoes, basil, garlic, feta, and parmesan. Like the name says, it's simple and light. And awesome. Maybe they should rename it. Simple n Light Pasta
Serves 4Print this recipe
8 ounces spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large tomato, diced
5-10 basil leaves, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste2 tablespoons feta
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
Boil your pasta in salted water to al dente. Drain and set aside. Using the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the olive oil. Put the diced tomato in and cook for about a minute until softened. Add in the garlic cloves and basil and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Put the pasta back in the pan and toss until coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate the pasta and sprinkle on the feta and parmesan before serving.
Dish from Cimboco in Grand Cayman
I've been on a bit of a caprese kick for the past week, but how can you not be when tomatoes and basil are coming into their own? I thought of this dish last week while I was at work, and when I got home Friday I had to make it for lunch. It came together quickly and definitely hit the spot. Bright and fresh flavors, carbs, and cheese. Heavenly. Not to mention it's great at picnics since it's mayo free.
I have a love/hate relationship with fresh tomatoes, and I'm generally not a fan. Therefore, I cooked the tomatoes quickly in the olive oil and garlic. Not only did it take away that strong fresh tomato taste, but it also gave the oil a great flavor. I highly recommend this, but I think you also could use fresh cherry tomatoes with great results. I know I'll be enjoying this pasta salad throughout the summer...and wishing for it this winter. Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
Serves 4 sides or 2 main dishesPrint this recipe
2 cups mini farfalle pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
10 fresh basil leaves, cut or torn into pieces
1/2 cup cubed mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, boil your pasta just past al dente. When cooked, transfer to a colander and run cold water over it. Let sit until cool.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the tomatoes. Cook for about 1 minute, add the minced garlic cloves, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer the oil mixture to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool.
Once the oil and the pasta are cool, combine them in a large bowl with the basil and mozzarella. Add salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge.
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Now that summer is here, I hope you are growing some basil. It is one of my favorite herbs to grow and use. However, I tend to plant a lot of it and then have too much, which is when I make some pesto. Pesto is incredibly easy to make, and it tastes 800 times better than the store-bought stuff. It requires a few simple ingredients, and you can put it in pasta, on pizza, mix it in with some tuna (more on that later), put it on your eggs...the possibilities are endless!
I've never done this because I don't have ice cube trays, but you can pour the pesto into the trays and freeze. When frozen, pop them out and place them in a freezer bag. Just use one of two of them when needed. Great idea!
I know that toasting the nuts and garlic adds to the work, but toasted nuts really brings out the flavor, and toasting the garlic will get rid of the harsh flavor. I definitely recommend you don't skip those steps!Homemade Pesto Recipe
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3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and toast the pine nuts in a single layer for 5-10 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.
Heat a small skillet on medium heat and toast the garlic in the peels for about 7 minutes until fragrant and spotty brown, flipping the garlic often. Let cool before peeling.
Peel the garlic cloves, add all the other ingredients to a blender or food processor and mix all the ingredients together till smooth. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Source: Cook's Illustrated
This recipe is a gem. It's easy to make, has great flavor, and reheats beautifully. I found this recipe last year and made it for Father's Day, but I could not remember where I saw it. I just googled it, and it's Giada's recipe. No wonder it's so good. I've only made it twice, but I've loved it both times. I think if you grilled some chicken and added it, the dish would be a great main course. I had never used mascarpone before, but it's similar to cream cheese. The mushrooms and wine pair beautifully together, and the mascarpone adds a wonderful creaminess to this in place of a normal roux (which means that it reheats much better). This makes a ton of pasta, so make sure that you are feeding a lot of people or cut the recipe in half. Even half of the recipe makes a lot! Mascarpone Mushroom Rigatoni Recipe
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1 pound rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
Salt and pepper
1 pound mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chives
Boil your pasta to al dente and drain, saving 1 cup of the pasta water. While your pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Pour in the wine and simmer until it is almost evaporated. Add in the chicken broth and simmer until slightly reduced. Remove the pan from heat and add in the mascarpone. Stir until there are no clumps. Add the pasta and parmesan to the mushroom mixture and stir until pasta is coated. If needed, add in some of the reserved pasta water to loosen. Garnish with chives.
Source: Giada de Laurentiis
I have been eating this macaroni salad for pretty much my whole life, and I love it. I think it's perfect for most occasions, and almost everyone loves it (everyone except my husband who hates pasta). In fact, one of my friends requested a bowl of this as her Christmas present one year. I get requests for the recipe frequently, but it's one of those things that you throw together until it looks right. So I made it and measured everything out because I love you guys. It only requires six ingredients, it's a breeze to make, and it's pretty easily adaptable...although I never stray too far from the original. If I want to make this a main dish, I add a can of drained tuna. My parents add pickles to it, but that addition never makes it to my bowl because pickles are the devil!
There's a couple of things about this recipe. You want to cook your noodles past al dente because when you run cold water on them, they'll go back to al dente. Also, once it sits in the fridge, the noodles soak up the Miracle Whip. You can be smart and healthier by adding a couple tablespoons of hot water to loosen everything up, or you can be like me and add more Miracle Whip. It's just better. And no, you can't sub the Miracle Whip for mayo. It's gotta be the whip, and I prefer the light version. If you don't like Miracle Whip, you are not going to like this salad. But if you do, make this for your Memorial Day BBQ this weekend, and you'll have people asking for the recipe! Macaroni Salad Recipe
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1 box pasta (12 ounces, I used bow ties)
1 cup Miracle Whip
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
1/4 cup green onions, diced
3 large celery stalks, diced1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Cook your pasta past al dente, drain, and rinse under cold water. Let it dry for about 10-15 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the Miracle Whip, cheese, green onions, and celery. Add the pasta and stir until everything is combined. Sprinkle the garlic powder on top and stir once more. Place in the fridge until cold. Store in the fridge.
Optional ingredients: 1 can tuna, drained and/or diced pickles
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