Food, it’s something I really REALLY love, I love cooking and eating. As a young child, while my little sister was busy playing with her dolls and tea sets, I was in the kitchen watching my mom cook and bake. My mom was great in the kitchen, she could take a few basics and whip up a grand meal, fortunately that rubbed off on me. :)
I have a few old standbys, one is a tuna casserole, this recipe always makes me think of my mother in law, she makes a similar one and is quite the good cook herself! This is something I am thinking about fixing for dinner tonight, it’s really simple, I boil a half package of noodles, they can be macaroni noodles or egg noodles, oh yeah, I need to start using my pasta roller again (warning, ADD cook here!), it makes the best egg noodles!
Anyhow, back to the tuna casserole, once the noodles are cooked and drained, I start the sauce, these are approximate measurements, I pour some milk into a sauce pan, perhaps 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups, a few pats of butter, salt and pepper to taste, bring this to near boil, then I start sprinkling in Wondra flour, if you haven’t heard of this, it’s great! It’s wheat flour that somehow magically doesn’t lump up when you add it to hot liquids, I keep mine in a shaker cup, also known as a dredger. I sprinkle in the Wondra flour a little at a time, while whisking the hot mixture until it thickens up, you don’t want it real thick, it will continue thickening up while baking. I like mine pretty loose, so I use lots of milk and don’t try to thicken it up too much, just enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Once that is done, I grab a few packets of tuna, I like the tuna in the foil packs, but you can use canned tuna. I usually open 2-4 packets, depends on how hungry we are and how many tuna packets I have laying around. You can use the flavored tuna packets too, my favorite is the sweet and spicy, I’m thinking the lemon pepper would work good too. Add the tuna to the sauce, mix it to break up the big lumps of tuna. Pour the noodles into a glass or metal casserole dish, then pour the sauce/tuna mix over the noodles, next you crush a packet of crackers, I like Keebler club crackers, you can use what you have. I dot some butter on top of this, then stick it in the oven for 20-30 minutes at about 350 degrees F, just long enough to toast the crackers on top. An easy way to crush crackers, put them in a large zip baggie, use a rolling pin on them until they are crushed as much as you like.
Another favorite is bread, it’s just plain old white bread, there’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread. I take about 2 cups of bread flour (you can use all purpose flour), I put this in my Cuisinart food processor with the blade. I add about 1 tablespoon yeast, a few tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, about 3 tablespoons butter (any oil would work), I pulse it until this is all mixed. Next I turn the machine on and start slowly pouring water in until it forms a ball, I have no idea how much water I use, but once the dough forms a ball I stop pouring in water, I keep the machine on for about another 30 seconds, that kneads the dough, do not stop the machine and restart it, it is very hard on the machine and it might not turn back on.
I leave the dough in the machine for the first rise. After it doubles in volume, I remove the dough to a floured surface, I knead it a few times, form it into a ball, then place it into whatever I’m going to be baking it in, I cover it and allow it to rise again, usually a minimum of 30 minutes, then I bake it in the oven, 350 F for 30 minutes or so. It’s done when you tap on it and it sounds hollow. Remove it from the pan and cool it on a rack, wait until it’s cool to cut it.
A variation on that bread is what we call brown bread or chocolate bread, it’s not a dessert, it’s just brown. I replace half the white flour with whole wheat flour, I add about 1/4 cup of cocoa, everything else is the same. With the addition of whole wheat flour, the dough will not rise up as much.
Just a few more recipes here, I make a killer pizza, I make the bread dough using olive oil instead of butter, I use spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese, then I add whatever toppings I like, sausage, onions, black olives, onions, pineapple… you can use whatever you like, it’s really easy to do, and lots of fun for families especially if you make mini pizzas and let each person make their own.
Beer weenies, it’s something I don’t do often, but it’s lots of fun and pretty tasty too. I take those little smokie sausages, a can of beer and about a half cup brown sugar, pour the beer into a sauce pan, add the brown sugar, mix well, add the sausages, cook on med-high until it comes to a good boil, then cook on med until the liquid cooks down by half or more. It will become thick and syrupy, allow it to cool before eating, unless you like scorched tongue :)
Here is a site I enjoy that has lots of recipes, and the really cool thing is this site is all about being frugal while eating great. I am signed up for their newsletter, whenever they post a new recipe, I get it in email. It’s called Pennies & Pancakes, check them out!
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