Thursday, September 7, 2017

Ivy Revists Tuna Noodle Casserole

A peek into what I’ve been eating for the last year…

We’re kicking off the start of a new school year with yet another throwback post because last year I had really great intentions about keeping pace with the blog… and then reality kind of threw those off. Whoops. This time, instead of a relic from when I was still living at home, we’re going to take a look at one of my first culinary adventures in my new kitchen. 

So when I first got to grad school, I got really, really sick. Like, can’t hold down any solid food for a week sick. So did my dad apparently, and we think it was either fruit at the hotel we had stayed at’s buffet, or a chicken sandwich, but my mom and brother were eating basically the same food as us, so who knows. Either way, not a good first introduction to a new life in a new city. 

Once I got better, I was faced with the task of making sure I was eating more or less three times a day without the help of anyone else. This sounds fine at first, but in reality takes a bit of adjusting to, even for someone who enjoys cooking like I do. I know that probably sounds silly or maybe even embarrassing that I as a 25 year old hadn’t been fully responsible for feeding myself on a regular basis before this. I ate in dining halls on campus in undergrad and my mom usually made dinner when I lived at home, so this was my first real exposure to how daunting and repetitive meal prep can be. 

Figuring I could make a habit of mixing meal prep with future blog posts – an endeavor that apparently died with this recipe… - I decided to whip out my Betty Crocker New Boys and Girl’s Cookbook and give their recipe for tuna noodle casserole a shot.

Tuna noodle casserole is not really a nostalgic dish for me. We never ate it growing up, and the first time I’d ever had it was when I made the Julie’s Cooking Studio version of it, which you may remember I checked against the Betty Crocker recipe to make sure the AG authors had gotten a more or less accurate version of the recipe in their book. But I think part of why I decided to give this a shot is because I was feeling homesick, and the cookbook was my mom’s growing up. Sappy, I know, but it’s also been weird going from living five minutes away from your entire mom’s side of the family to living in a city where you didn’t know anybody. 

Anyway, one of the major differences between the Betty Crocker recipe and the American Girl version is that you use cream of mushroom soup instead of cheese soup. I very quickly realized I was going to run into problems when the soup kind of didn’t cover as much of my baking dish as I had hoped it would, which brings me to an important life lesson I learned: no matter how much prep you do, you’re always going to end up forgetting to buy at least one important thing when you first move out. I kept going into my cabinets looking for a particular kind of pan or dish and realizing oh right, you didn’t buy one of those. Sometimes it means getting creative, and sometimes it means putting in an order on Amazon. 

Otherwise, the casserole is pretty standard: a little milk, carrots, peas, canned tuna, and cooked egg noodles. Interestingly, the Betty Crocker recipe didn’t call for potato chips, which I’m pretty sure is a required part of tuna noodle casserole, so onto mine they went.

Doesn’t look too bad, right?

One pan dishes like this have become my life blood while keeping weird hours thanks to work and classes. I just don’t have the energy most nights to come home after class at nine or even eleven and then cook a nice meal for myself. Having something waiting in the fridge to heat up and nosh on for the rest of the week might be repetitive, but also pretty comforting in a lot of ways.

So there you have it: a look into one of the first things I made in my then-new apartment. I can promise I haven’t been withholding anything more interesting from you! I’m a little concerned this next year is going to be even more of a race to the finish than the one before, so I’m not sure how consistently I’ll be able to share new things on the blog, but I’ll do my best to bring you guys along on any peeks into the past I do make while slogging through research papers and archival documents!

Grad school year 2, here we come!


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  2. My family ate a version of this when I was growing up- my dad ate it growing up. It somehow was passed to my cousins on my mom's side too! We make the sauce w/ half sour cream and half plain yoghurt instead of with soup. We use lots of peas and peppers and onions, but no carrots. Sometimes we put sprinkled shredded cheddar on top.

    1. Oooh, I like the idea of using yogurt and sour cream instead of soup. I don't really like either canned soup I used, so maybe I'll have to swap to that next time I make this.

  3. Playing catch up again. I remember really liking the Julie version you made. This recipe is more familiar to me. And yes, there is something comforting about a hearty meal like this.

    1. Very tasty! Maybe we should give it another shot when I'm home!