Friday, March 2, 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole Awesomesauce.

Back before I started this blog, I always had an obsession with everything
"white trash".

I still do.

Calm down and untwist your panties. I don't mean this in a bad way.

Though I love the glamorized "trashy" part, how I see "white trash"
is really the being comfortable with what you have, making it work
whichever way you can and not gussying up the parts that you think
should just to impress others. Money isn't usually taken into account
because there isn't a whole lot to speak of anyway.

I don't know about you but when I was young, my family didn't have
a lot of money. I'm not ashamed, it was what it was. Mom knew how
to feed us on a budget, simple comforting food usually made with
"cream of" soups and gov'ment cheese. It was filling, usually stretched
to feed us more than one meal and always comforting. Now that I'm
older and a parent myself, I find myself turning back to those same
foods Mom made for me so my kids have the same memories and
instant comfort I had.

Years ago, I happened across two cookbooks called "White Trash
Cooking" and "White Trash Cooking II". These were written JUST
for me, I KNEW it. I bought both cookbooks on the spot, drove home
and read those cookbook cover to cover. During parts, I even flashed
back to my childhood and remembered times when my mother, or
grandmother or even a babysitter cooked me specific recipes and I
was back at that same time, remembering the exact feelings I had
that moment and instantly comforted. I own both cookbooks now
and every couple months I look through them and pick something
out to make for my family.

Flash forward many years later, I finally decide *this* is what I want
to blog about. A sense of comfort in knowing that we're content with
what we have and finding humor and beauty in the simplest things.
I want to bring this feeling to my friends. My blog readers. The public.
I think that if we all touched on this part of ourselves more often, we'd
all be a heck of a lot happier.

One recipe for me that covers all those bases AND is true white trash
comfort food is Tuna Noodle Casserole. We all know the stigma with
Tuna Noodle Casserole. It smells, it's usually flavorless (besides salty,
which some people will argue that salt IS flavor), and it tastes
like rewarmed dog pooh. Yep. I used to think that, too. I never had a
Tuna Casserole I liked, until *I* made it. And it was AWESOME.

My recipe is loosely based on Midnight Crunchy Crumb Tuna Casserole,
which is from "White Trash Cooking II". I changed a few ingredients to
make it stretch a little farther and add in a few "vegetables" to goose it
up a bit. I cooked the casserole in my cast iron skillet from beginning
to end (except for boiling the noodles, those I did in a seperate pot).
Feel free to add or subtract what you like from this, this is MY comfort
food but it may not be yours exactly. It's all relative.

This recipe feeds five, which for us means dinner and one bowl leftover
to rewarm the next day.

Cast Iron Tuna Noodle Casserole

1-2 tablespoons butter
2-3 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 large red pepper, chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped fine
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 small cans of tuna, drained
1 can Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup evaporated milk
Couple tablespoons Hellman's mayonnaise
Good shake Frank's Hot Sauce
4 ounces swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 can French's French Fried Onions OR 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350*. Warm the butter in cast iron skillet over medium
high heat. Add in celery, red pepper, garlic, onion and mushrooms.
Saute until vegetables start to look limp. Add in macaroni, tuna fish,
mushroom soup, evaporated milk, mayonnaise, and hot sauce. Stir
everything together until well incorporated. Remove from heat and
fold in cheese. Sprinkle french fried onions (or crushed crackers)
over the top. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly.


  1. This sounds so much better than the tuna casserole I grew up eating. First, the only "spices" in my mother's repetoire were salt and pepper. So this was made with wide egg noodles (which I actually love) a white sauce, tuna and canned mushrooms. Once in a great while, it would get a fancy treatment of crushed potato chips on top. Library paste would have been tastier!

    My dad, smart man that he was, always managed to work late on Fridays. I honestly believed we had to eat it as an atonement during Lent. LOL!

    My mother thought she was the last word in sophistication. In our white collar house this was far from comfort if you want to know about her mac and cheese - That's a whole different story.

    Good job on the blog, it's a fun read.

  2. yum! Great blog and a great recipe. Thank you so much for sharing your life and food with us.