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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From the Pantry Cheesy Tuna Shells - Time saving, easy cheap meal

You know I don't have a lot of recipes. I don't seem to have time to cook from them. I have been cooking and feeding a family with little or no recipes for almost 25 years. You know spaghetti make a million ways, meatloaf, tacos, burritos, chicken that is grilled, fried, baked, and all the every day meals. I mean I use a recipe here and there to bake, but I don't have a big ole book of recipes.

When I have done WW over the years I do use a few of the recipes from my books. Some good, some really gross.

I hope that some day I can get out some cook books and just cook for leisure. It seems I am always cooking for a family and there isn't time for the frills and gourmet foods that I'd like. Not that gourmet can't be simple... but you know what I mean?

Working the 9-5 grind and cooking and having a family. It is hard. Sometimes it is hard to use recipe books as the ingredients are hard to come by. Well not hard to come by but it is hard to get a list and gather items.

Here is a little recipe for the busy person. It is a recipe right out of the pantry. I only had to buy two items. (Pasta Shells and Alfredo) The rest are from the Pantry.
It is my "recipe" for Cheesy Tuna Shells. I bet most have a recipe that they make that is similar. It is basically no more than a tuna casserole. So this is basically tuna casserole with NO celery chunks, no peas, and no cream of mushroom soup. Not that I mind those ingredients. But some (kids, hubby etc don't want to have to pick out certain bits from the casserole). This recipe is for those. Unless you don't like Tuna. Even that isn't a problem, I made it without tuna last week as a side dish! YUMMO!

The ingredients:
A jar of Alfredo sauce (you can make your own)...or use the packets. This is the 30 minute version. Any Jar will do. I used a four cheese Alfredo for this one. WW fans...buy the lighter version.

Parmesan Cheese (packaged, shredded or grate your own) Once again this is the busy mom version.

Bread Crumbs - any old brand.

Medium Pasta Shells - ( whole box)

1 cube of butter - WW fans use the diet stuff....

1 Cup 1% milk - lucky thin folks use whole milk.. WW use non fat.

2 cans Tuna Fish ( I used one albacore and one chunk light in water) You know whatever is in the pantry

2 - 3 cups shredded Medium Cheddar Cheese. I suppose you can use bagged. I always grate from a block.

Okay... Real Story.

  • 4:30 left work
  • 4:45 pull up to the house, drive into the garage and go out to get the mail.
  • 5:00 I am changed into sweats and the dogs have been let out. A pot of water is on the stove boiling. I am grating a pile of cheese (approx two-three cups).
  • By 5:05 the water is boiling and I add salt and a box of pasta to the water. Set timer for 12 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, I get out a big bowl and slice up the butter, open the cans of tuna (I have it draining in the sink) and open the Alfredo. I get out the 13 inch dish and get it ready.
  • 5:20 or so I am straining the pasta, adding it to the butter and the Alfredo in a bowl and mixing. I add about a cup of milk, then mix in a cup or so of the cheese about 2/3's of the pile. I add salt, pepper (fresh ground) , celery salty, onion powder. Oh don't forget to add the Tuna too! Mix it all up. ( remember if you like real onions, celery or peas, add fresh chopped stuff now, this is the non chunky version)
  • 5:25 - pour into a 13 inch dish. Then spread a layer of cheese on top, a layer of bread crumbs and a layer of Parmesan cheese. Now just put into the preheated over and bake until golden brown for about 25-30 minutes.

At this point there is very little mess. I have been tossing cans and jars as I go along. So there is five minutes to rinse or wash the mess.
After that you have 20 minutes... that is time for a nice treadmill walk, or time to create a blog post, (this blog post was almost finished by the time I pulled it out of the oven), read a chapter in a book. You can set a nice table I suppose or scoop from the dish off the counter. If you have time make a salad, or steam some veggies. You gotta (should) eat your veggies!
  • By 6 pm dinner is ready and you can clean up (5 minute max) and have the evening to do what you want.

And if you are one that likes an evening martini, this is your time to make a Cosmo and sit and blog a bit. Just don't spill it after the photo shoot like someone else did. Wink!

I hope you all like it. I think if I were to critique the recipe I would say it could use more of a creamy factor. Maybe this is where the cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup would come in handy. Depending on how large your family is, you have great leftovers for tomorrow or lunch!


Janel said...

I'm glad I work at home and don't have to deal with making supper after a long work day and commute! I really like this recipe. My daughter would be very happy not to have to pick out the bits she doesn't like so much :)

Sandy Jay said...

This looks really good but I'm not a big fan of tuna fish so I think I'll try it with chicken.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This looks so wonderful! I was salivating by the end of the pictures! I love the idea of using the jar of Alfredo sauce - thanks for sharing!!!!!!!

Marie said...

I LOVE anything tuna-noodle-casserole- thanks for this recipe!
Also thank you for stopping by for the first Unfinished Fridays- I hope to see you again this week! :-)

bermudaonion said...

I bet my hubby would love this! Thanks for the recipe. Just how many cosmos did you have? ;)

itsJUSTme-wendy said...

Ok, I am sooo going to make this!!!!
I love tuna cass. but have always made it with cream o mush soup, and guess what? I HATE mushrooms! So I end up being the one picking out the mush. I have tried it with cream o cel. soup but just not the same. But this recipe from you sounds really great!!!!
Thanks so much Toni!

Courtney said...

It all looks very yummy!

Ti said...

Looks yummy to me! We enjoy tuna casserole and eat it many different ways but I have never used the alfredo sauce.

Dar said...

What a great post Toni and the casserole sounds divine! Your pictures are awesome especially that last one-very pretty setting.

You know we really cook the same things too in our favorite ways. I guess it's just easier that way. It's easy to do because you've done it so many times before and everyone likes it.

You've inspired me to make a tuna casserole soon. I've always used the mushroom soup but I'm going to try the Alfredo next time around. Thanks!

Jenny Girl said...

This looks so much better than my current lunch of tomato soup ;) This is agreat idea. Thanks Toni! I'm trying this soon.