The Easiest Recipe Ever…Tuna Casserole

I’m not sure if this is a Texas recipe or a Southern recipe in general, but I have been eating tuna casserole since I was little. After I saw it featured on an episode of Reba (Barbara Jean makes a casserole with two kinds of potato chips), I knew it had to be something to do with my Mom’s Texas roots that this recipe has been so popular in our family. It probably won’t get me featured in Bon Appetit’ magazine but my husband and I love it!

Ingredients:

2 cans of tuna

4 bags of single serving potato chips, or half of a large bag (I prefer the plain, but you can just go wild with the options out there, hahaha)

1 can cream of celery

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain tuna well. Mix together tuna, cream of celery and half of the potato chips. Spray a small deep sided pan with cooking spray. Spoon mixture into pan, cover with remaining potato chips. Cook for 25 minutes until heated through.

Tuna Casserole in my Mom's vintage 70s dish :)
Tuna Casserole in my Mom's vintage 70s dish 🙂

Recipe Remix

* If you have unused tomatoes left from the Cheesy Chicken Orzo dish (featured in a previous post) I use them as a side dish with the tuna casserole. Simply cut the tomatoes in half place on a foil lined deep sided cookie pan (not the flat kind, the tomatoes will fall off) and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven with the casserole for the same temperature and time.

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Plants in the Raised Vegetable Bed

We have gone from seeds to sprouts and now to full grown plants in our raised vegetable bed. Our cucumbers are not doing too well but we have big tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, parsley, basil, flat leaf parsley, dill, thyme, mint and jalapenos. Check out the pictures and ignore the nasty grass near the fence that I keep not using the weed-eater on and our yellow looking squash plants. Now we just have to wait for the juicy vegetables to actually grow…

All our Vegetables and Herbs
All our Vegetables and Herbs
Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers
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Cheesy Chicken Orzo

Ingredients:

1 tbs of olive oil

2 tbs of butter

2 tbs of flour

¾ cup of milk

½ to ¾ of a block of extra sharp white cheddar cheese grated

1 and ½ cups of orzo pasta

¾ cup halved grape tomatoes

1/8 cup of chopped fresh basil

1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken (or you can shred a poached boneless skinless chicken breast)

Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper

Instructions:

*While creating cheese mixture boil 1 to ½ cups of orzo pasta per package instructions.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet on medium heat. After butter has melted into oil and begins to bubble whisk in flour. Allow flour to cook for a minute then slowly whisk in milk. Whisk milk until clumps disappear and it thickens a bit. Whisk in the cheese a handful at a time until it melts into milk. Turn heat to low and stir in grape tomatoes, basil, and chicken. Let cook for about five to ten minutes occasionally stirring, until the tomatoes and chicken are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

After orzo pasta is finished, add pasta to cheese mixture. Mix all ingredients together and dash parsley on top. Mixture will thicken a bit upon standing. If mixture looks too thick add a ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Tips: The orzo may not look like much but it grows considerably while you cook it. If you like spicier dishes I occasionally add a dash of cayenne pepper.

Cheesy Chicken Orzo (*Note. This picture does not feature the chicken as I didn't have any the night I took the picture.)
Cheesy Chicken Orzo (*Note. This picture does not feature the chicken as I didn't have any the night I took the picture.)

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Roast Beef Sandwiches and Gravy

This is a sublimely easy recipe, but these are the recipes I love. It’s super quick and may be one you already know, but I wanted to share. We usually eat it with chips, but you can also make mashed potatoes and use the gravy on the mashed potatoes as well. The recipe below is enough for 2, but can be easily doubled.

Ingredients:

Crusty Sub Rolls (I recently found some called Filone rolls which are delicious, but any crusty sub roll will do. Don’t get soft ones as they will fall apart in the gravy.)

Sliced roast beef (I usually get a half pound for my husband and I)

Sliced cheese (provolone or sharp white cheddar)

1 tbs of olive or vegetable oil

2 tbs of butter

About 3 tbs of flour

1 can of beef broth

About 8 oz of milk

Instructions:

Turn on oven broiler.

Turn on a medium saucepot to medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in saucepot and add butter. Melt butter into oil. After butter has melted in oil whisk in flour slowly and let cook for about 3 minutes. Whisk in beef broth, then whisk in milk. Bring to a low simmer and and let simmer for about 5 minutes then turn to medium low. Stir occasionally while you fix sandwiches. Split rolls in half and butter. Place in broiler for a few minutes until the butter has melted and sides of the bread begin to turn brown. Remove rolls and place a slice or two of cheese on each roll. Place back under broiler for a few minutes until cheese begins to melt (watch carefully! Don’t let rolls burn). Then pile sandwiches with roast beef. Transfer gravy to bowls and dip sandwiches in the gravy.

Bubbly butter and flour
Bubbly butter and flour
Gravy Cooking
Gravy Cooking
Finished Roast Beef Sandwiches and Gravy
Finished Roast Beef Sandwiches and Gravy
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Springform Pan

I love baking, I really do. However, I am a far better cook than baker. Which is probably why I love cupcakes so much because I meet them with much less adversity than some of my other baking experiences. I could list many different examples of this, but one that comes to mind involves a springform pan and a flourless cake recipe. The recipe was simple enough; melted chocolate chips, eggs, sugar, and a few other essentials. I mixed it all together and poured the batter into the springform pan. Now if you have any experience with springform pans you are probably thinking right now that I didn’t make sure the bottom of the pan was secured inside the outer metal loop. However, I did make sure the metal bottom was secured tightly in the metal ring. I popped it into the oven, set the timer, and went outside to check on the garden. I came back in about ten minutes later to discover that the house was not filled with the wonderfully delicious smell of chocolate cake. Instead it smelled like something was burning, which is never a good sign. I was optimistic, hoping that it was perhaps some leftover food on the bottom of the oven that perhaps was burning. It was not. A good half of the cake had leaked out onto the bottom of the oven and was burning. I quickly turned off the oven and got the cake out. It had turned into a half gooey brownie-ish state, that obviously was inedible. Although I did try it and it tasted pretty good, but I figured it wasn’t able to be served at that point. Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there. I then decided to get rid of the burned mess on the bottom of the oven I would turn on the oven’s self-cleaner (which I had never used before). Soon my husband and child were barricaded in the bedroom as I opened every window, turned on every fan, and was desperately trying to stop the self cleaning function (which is not easy to do), to stop the excessive amount of smoke that was pouring out of the oven. It took several hours to completely air out the house and I am still cleaning out the oven!

The moral is that there is a right and a wrong way to put a spring form pan together. Even if it is secure make sure the bottom of the pan is right side up so the edge prevents the batter from running out. And don’t take the easy way out of cleaning an oven.

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Why I Cook Cupcakes Wednesdays

– Because they take less time to bake than cake.

– Because you can decorate them according to each individual person’s preference. For example, this year for my husband’s birthday we will be having both peanut butter icing and vanilla icing.

– Because you can buy cute cupcake containers and put them in your kids’ lunch for school.

– Because you only have to frost the top of a cupcake, not the sides (which can be difficult and normally causes my cakes to lean).

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Sprouts in the Raised Vegetable Bed

Last week we planted vegetable seeds in our raised vegetable garden and have waited for the little seeds to grow into seedlings.  I went out to check the garden today and we have little sprouts! The cucumber, zucchini, jalapenos and tomatoes have sprouted. As I mentioned in the previous post I planted way too many cucumber seeds and they all sprouted so I’ll have to get rid of some. Below are some pictures of a few of our little babies

Zucchini Sprout
Zucchini Sprout
Cucumber Sprout
Cucumber Sprout
Jalapeno Sprout
Jalapeno Sprout
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