Tag Archives: pasta

Healthy Tuna Casserole

Steve McQueen, were he still alive, would have turned 81 on March 24. I think we should all take a moment to reflect on our favorite Steve McQueen movie. And if you don’t have one, here are a few suggestions:

The Magnificent Seven

"We deal in lead friend."

Bullitt

"Look, you work your side of the street, and I'll work mine."

The Towering Inferno

"It's a fire, mister, and all fires are bad."

The Great Escape

"You aren't seriously suggesting that if I get through the wire... and case everything out there... and don't get picked up... to turn myself in and get thrown back in the cooler for a couple of months so you can get the information you need?"

I’ve been thinking a lot about the question of what my favorite movie is. I have never been able to answer that easily. As I mentioned in a previous post, I adore cheesy movies.  But just because I can (and have) watch You’ve Got Mail 1,000 times, doesn’t mean it’s my favorite.

On the other hand, a movie I love that is generally considered to be a great Film isn’t necessarily going to be something I watch again and again, but can it still be my favorite?

How do you choose a favorite? Am I the only one who struggles with this question?

Anyway, I have to place The Great Escape into my top 5.  It might be my favorite.  I’m just not ready to commit.  My husband will probably be shocked to learn that my maybe-favorite movie doesn’t have a love interest plot line.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a woman in the entire movie.  But there are lots of cool guys.  Super cool guys, like The Cooler King.

So in honor of Steve McQueen’s birthday, and my almost choosing a maybe-favorite movie, I am serving an adventurous meal.  That’s right, I am going to be bold and daring, just like The King of Cool himself.  Picture race cars, motorcycles, reckless adventures and dauntless courage.

Tuna casserole.

You heard me.

Laugh if you must, but it truly is an adventure for my family. I haven’t made tuna casserole since I was first married. My kids have never had it. My husband learned years ago that although he loves tuna, every time he eats it, he gets sick. So the beginning of my cooking career was also the end of my tuna casserole career.  But one night I found myself at home with just the kids for dinner, and it was a Friday during Lent (no meat) so I decided to resurrect an old favorite.  With some changes.

Healthy Tuna Casserole

  • 1 12-oz package Wacky Mac pasta (you can use regular pasta, but it won’t be as much fun as saying, “I have to go to the store to get some Wacky Mac”)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cans (drained) white albacore tuna
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 handfuls chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4-1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and  cook for about 7-8 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add flour and cook for one minute. Add milk and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook for one more minute, then remove from heat.
  5. Stir in peas, tuna, and dill. Pour into ungreased 2-qt. casserole dish.
  6. Add drained pasta and mix well. Top with bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Wacky Mac

 

I am such a lazy cook. I am just so terribly busy caring for my little critics! I keep the ends of loaves of bread in the freezer to make bread crumbs, but whenever I need bread crumbs, I’m too lazy busy to toast the bread and crumb it. So for this dish I crushed some whole wheat Ritz crackers on top instead. It was really good. Take that, bread crumbs!

I like tuna casserole with rye bread and butter. I guess because that’s how my mom always served it, so it just feels right.

Healthy Tuna Casserole

My adoring fans critics thought:

Curious George: This would be really good if there was no cheese, no grassy things, no peas, and no meat.

Sarah Crewe: It’s okay. The tuna tastes like chicken.

Batman: I think this is delicious!

Elmo ate every bite.

Don Corleone had a small taste.  He said: The dill is a nice addition. It’s like the tuna and a pickle met at a bar. It’s really good; I wish I could eat more.

My little Curious Georgewhat am I going to do about him? He hates everything. He’s the Mikey of my dinner table. I asked him that very question once: “What am I going to do with you, you hate everything?” and he said, “Mommy, I don’t hate everything. I like lots of things. I like plain pasta. And there’s other things I like, too, that I can’t think of right now.”

It does make dinner time an adventure, I’ll give you that. And those nights that I do serve plain pasta are such a treat! No crying 4-year-olds at the table! It’s bliss! I’m going to have to treat myself to one of those nights soon, to give my cooking ego a little boost.

Oh well. Happy Birthday, Steve McQueen!

"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting." -Steve McQueen

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Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

Today we mourn the loss of an icon.  Elizabeth Taylor died today at age 79.

National Velvet

"I want it all quickly 'cause I don't want God to stop and think and wonder if I'm getting more than my share." -National Velvet

I wish I could write an obituary to honor her, but I wouldn’t be able to do her justice. I’ll just share some pictures instead:

"You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. She looks up to you. You're her oracle. You're her hero. And then the day comes when she gets her first permanent wave and goes to her first real party, and from that day on, you're in a constant state of panic." -Father of the Bride

"Seems like we always spend the best part of our time just saying goodbye." -A Place in the Sun

"Maggie the cat is alive. I'm alive." -Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

"There are never enough hours in the days of a queen, and her nights have too many." -Cleopatra

"I'm loud and I'm vulgar, and I wear the pants in the house because somebody's got to, but I am not a monster. I'm not." -Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

"Why, there's a wench! Come on and kiss me, Kate." -Taming of the Shrew

Well, you know what they say. When you are mourning a Hollywood legend, the best thing to do is to eat lots of pasta.

They do say that, right?

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

  • 1 lb pasta, any variety (I used spaghetti)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 5 chicken sausages, sliced (I used garlic flavor)
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz package baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp garlic & basil flavored vinegar (see note)*
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken sausage and saute for about 5 minutes, or until sausage is browned.
  3. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat.
  5. Add pasta to pan and top with remaining olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss well.

*A few notes: One of my husband’s students gave him homemade garlic & basil flavored vinegar for Christmas, so that’s what I used. It was fabulous in this dish. If you have a flavored vinegar that you think would work, then by all means, go for it. If not, I would suggest red wine vinegar. Don’t be afraid to play around with the flavors to see what you would like.

A second note: I used dried sun-dried tomatoes. If you use tomatoes packed in oil, drain them, and then cut back on the olive oil a bit in step 5. You can always add more if needed.

 

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

I have to say, this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. I really love marinara sauce, but it’s so nice to have something different for a change. And I love sun-dried tomatoes, and don’t use them enough! And chicken sausage is so tasty and easy! Since it’s pre-cooked, you really don’t have to do anything to it. I just like to brown it for personal preference, and because I think it looks more appetizing.

The Critics:

Sarah Crewe: Mmmm! This is pretty good! The sausage gives it a real flavor.

Batman: It’s delicious!!!!

Curious George: It’s good, but I don’t like the tomatoes. They taste like red raisins.

Elmo: Me too! Me too! Me too! (She wouldn’t stop eating!)

Don Corleone: It’s a piquant and delightful blend of pasta and pig. Oh, it’s chicken? It’s a piquant and delightful blend of pasta and poultry.

Ah, well. Rest in peace,  Elizabeth. We will miss you. Say hi to Michael Jackson for us.

On a brighter note, a special shout-out goes to Steve McQueen who would be 81 tomorrow, March 24. Happy Birthday, Big Guy!

More about The King of Cool later…

Steve McQueen