Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tastes like Thanksgiving

I had the day off after a very exhausting work event on Sunday so I hibernated in bed and felt warm and toasty all morning. By 3PM I figured I couldn't be lazy all day so I would make dinner, which I hoped would be a pleasant surprise for Andrew since he didn't actually know I had the day off.

I decided on a casserole, which felt very fitting with this onslaught of cold weather. Casseroles have always been something of a mystery to me. I think I've mentioned it here before, but growing up Chinese-American, it was rare for us to have just one dish as a meal. Even if that one dish was a mixture of a whole bunch of other things, it just wasn't seen at our table often, unless it was something like curry or stew or a big bowl of noodles. So whenever I heard about or saw other American kids eat a casserole or something of the like for a meal, it amazed me.

I couldn't understand their function or why or how or anything ... it wasn't until I got older and began to explore foods that I realized just how awesome a casserole can be. You can make it in advance. You can freeze it. You can supply Babe's farmer a whole week's worth of foods with a freezer full of casseroles (remember that scene in "Babe?") labeled with permanent marker and masking tape! You can add all kinds of crazy things that you love like mashed potatoes or ground beef or noodles or cheese. Everything fits neatly into one dish and if you get a nice Pyrex, it even comes with a lid!

So anyway, I went "All-American" with my casserole and even served dinner with pink lemonade. (That too always amazed me as a kid -- any beverage besides water or tea at dinner was like, Whaaaat? Milk?? Soda?? Lemonade? Juice?!) I decided to make a tuna casserole but added brussels sprouts for taste, nutrition, and bulk. Andrew seemed to like it and exclaimed that it "tastes like Thanksgiving!" Always a compliment. I got most of my research from this recipe I found online (especially the roux part) but as always, tweaked it to my own tastes.

Tuna-brussels sprouts noodle casserole


For the mixture:
Baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
Brussels sprouts, quartered
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Curly egg noodles, cooked al dente
2 cans tuna in water
Soy sauce
Chicken broth
Red pepper flakes

For the breadcrumbs:
Corn flakes, crushed
Cajun spice
Cheddar cheese
Olive oil spray

1. Cook onions & garlic until soft/translucent in 2 tablespoons of butter
2. Add mushrooms, cook until water is released from mushrooms
3. Add brussels sprouts and soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste
4. Cook until water is evaporated
5. Remove mixture from heat
6. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in sauce pan
7. Add 1/4 cup of flour, whisk quickly
8. Whisk in 2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup milk to make a thick sauce
9. Remove from heat and add mushroom and brussels sprouts mixture into the sauce; add lime juice
10. Drain tuna and add to mixture
11. Add egg noodles and mix
12. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
12. Oil a casserole dish and add the mixture
13. Top the casserole mix with the breadcrumb mix (breadcrumbs, spray with olive oil, add spices and cheddar cheese, and mix)
14. Put the casserole in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling through the golden crust of breadcrumbs
15. Serve with lemonade/milk/soda/any other very American drink

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