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Something From Nothing ~ Week 14

The tuna casserole is a lost art. Why? Because, in this fast-paced, fast (and inferior) food environment, one hardly ever sees a simple can of tuna turned into something absolutely delicious! Many moons ago, while a thrifty military wife, I subscribed to a newsletter called "The Tightwad Gazette". The author, Amy Dacyczyn, was able to raise a large family, pay off her home, and have her husband retire from the military early! This.....had my attention. In addition to all the useful and frugal tips and tricks, there were many recipes that I still use to this day.

There was a problem, however. Dear Husband does not eat cheese, nor mayonnaise, and he's not that fond of frozen peas (my addition to the casserole), either. One Sunday lunchtime, after multiple discussions with lovely Daughter S, I could not take it any longer. I HAD to make it. By now, you know me well enough to know that the craving monster must be adhered to - because if one does not obey the craving monster, he will stalk you until said craving is satisfied. Here is the recipe (with my modifications). Thank you to all the frugal homemakers whom I have crossed paths with. You have made our road to financial freedom a little less bumpy. Hang on, here's the tuna casserole (that you'll actually like!)...

Oh ye humble can of tuna....

Seafood Casserole
4 to 5 oz. pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 cup milk or dry white wine
1 can condensed cream soup (mushroom or celery)
1 cup shredded American Cheese (4 oz.)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or dill
6 to 8 oz. drained canned seafood (shrimp, crab, tuna or salmon)
1 recipe crunchy topping/French fried onions
1 cup of frozen peas

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. Combine mayonnaise with milk or white wine. Stir in soup, cheese and seasonings. Gently stir in cooked pasta or noodles and drained fish or seafood. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with Crunch Topping. Bake 5 minutes more. Makes 6 servings

Crunchy Topping: Combine 1 cup soft bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter or use 1 cup of either crushed potato chips, chow mein noodles or French-fried onions or ½ cup slivered almonds.

As per usual, I scoured the pixie pantry, fridge and freezer, and found that of course, I had everything to make this - another wonderful part of this dish is that it is filled with items we typically keep on hand.

Clockwise from bottom left; sharp cheddar, the rest of a can of French fried onions, mayonnaise, white wine, the tuna, some dill weed, egg noodles and mushrooms. Not shown, milk, butter, and frozen peas. Now before I get into my lecture mode, and tell you why I will not spend over a dollar on those awful, sodium-heavy cans of soup, I will show you how incredibly easy it is to simply make your own - for probably twenty cents worth of ingredients!

Simply chop the mushrooms and saute over medium heat in two Tablespoons butter.

Add two Tablespoons flour

Then, whisk in two cups liquid. I used one cup milk, and one cup chicken stock...

Add salt, pepper and garlic powder, and bring up to a good simmer, until thick and rich.

This is how you make cream-of-ANYTHING soup. Simply use the two-two-two rule (2 Tb. butter, 2 Tb. flour, and two cups of liquid), and you've got cream of mushroom, asparagus, celery, or anything else that you now don't have to spend over a dollar on! Oh, and this whole process takes under ten minutes. Set your gloriously home-made soup aside, and cook whichever pasta you like for your tuna casserole, drain, and place into your serving dish.Incidentally, this can be made with canned salmon, or crab meat as well.

Mix in some frozen peas....

Then, add all of the other ingredients, except for the French fried onions, or your crispy topping...that part comes later. Mix well, and place into a 350 degree oven..

Note: you can certainly use the dry mustard called for in the recipe, but I have simply always gone with the dried dill (and a lot more than the recipe calls for)...it is the perfect herb with seafood. Bake for about thirty minutes...then, add your crispy topping of choice..

Bake for another five minutes or so, until your topping gets nice and golden brown on top. The results? Honestly, I am SO sorry I waited so long to make this again, it was, and is...absolutely fantastic! I'm not sure if it's the wine, or the dill in this....but, even Dear Husband ate it - enthusiastically! Now, that's an endorsement!

Seriously, I would serve this to guests! So, after a thrifty Sunday lunch, as we dozed in front of a good movie, the newly-reunited Kitchen Angels asked me if they could go outdoors, and see if they could spot any pretty birdies - it being Spring and all, and I thought; "why not"? Well, I neglected to inform the young ladies that in order to SEE any birds, one has to be well away from the feeder.....not this.....

Whatever am I going to DO with those two? Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for a seafood specialty straight from Nevada, and week 15 of Something From Nothing.

Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

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