Italian Tuna Casserole


It’s been quiet around here for the past week or so, as we have been vacationing in Rhode Island.  We are on our way home today after a week of fun and relaxation with the extended family!

I recently decided to dust off some of my cookbooks, which were feeling neglected and find some new recipes to make.  I have a bunch of Rachael Ray cookbooks.  Her recipes are quick and easy to make, although many take a lot longer for us to make than her “3o minutes.”  The recipes are also usually pretty tasty.  I often adapt the recipes adding or omitting ingredients based on our taste preferences, but there are very few of her recipes that we don’t enjoy.  And I have made A LOT of her recipes.  I was perusing Express Lane Meals and found this tuna casserole recipe.  When I made this a couple of weeks ago, the weather was surprisingly cool for summer.  I had most of the ingredients on hand and was in the mood for a comforting classic.  When shopping for the frozen spinach that the original recipe called for, I saw that Shoprite now sells boxed frozen chopped kale.  I had to try it and think it was a great substitution in this recipe.  There are few foods that my daughter dislikes, but tuna is one of them.  When she found out what I was making for dinner I had to listen to her complain that I knew she didn’t like tuna and why couldn’t I make something else.  She also might have  mentioned that she wasn’t going to eat dinner.  I tried to tell her that this wasn’t like the tuna sandwiches that she often sees the rest of the family eating.  There’s no mayo and she likes pasta and cheese.  Wouldn’t you know that she ate this with no problem!  She said she wanted dessert and that’s why she ate it.  My son, the tuna eater, was the one who gave me a hard time!  I believe there was too much “green” for his liking but he did end up EVENTUALLY eating all of his dinner.  This was a tasty take on the classic tuna casserole.

Italian Tuna Casserole
Recipe adapted from cookbook Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals

1 10-ounce box frozen chopped kale, defrosted and squeezed to drain excess water
1 pound short-cut pasta
1 tablespoon EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil), once around the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Black pepper
2 6-ounce cans white tuna in water, drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella

1. Spray a 2 quart or 9×13′ casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil cook pasta as directed on the package. Drain and set aside.

3. While the pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the EVOO, then melt the butter into the oil. When the butter melts, add the onions and garlic and cook until tender approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the
flour around the pan and cook for a minute.  Whisk in the wine and then the stock.  Then whisk in the milk and bring mixture to a bubble. Reduce the heat to low. Season the sauce with the hot sauce and mustard, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken, then add the kale, separating it as you add it to the sauce.  Add the tuna, flaking as you go, then stir to combine.  Heat the kale and tuna through for a minute.  Add the cooked pasta and mix with the sauce.  Pour the tuna and pasta mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese.

4. Preheat the broiler.

5. Place the casserole under the broiler for 2 minutes to brown the edges and the cheese.


Cinnamon Apple Baked French Toast Casserole


Our kids LOVE breakfast for dinner.  When I asked them last week what type of breakfast food they wanted me to add to the weekly meal plan they unanimously said French toast  It’s been awhile since we had it, so I was glad to comply.  Luckily, last week’s weather was amazing!  Even though it’s now officially summer, it wasn’t too hot or too cold, so I didn’t mind putting the oven on for an hour.  What’s great about most French toast casseroles, including this one, is that they can be made the night before.  Although they take some time to bake in the oven, all or most of the prep work is already done.  I’ve made many French toast casseroles but this is definitely one of the best!  With the milk, heavy cream, eggs and butter, this isn’t something that I want to be making every week. However, it is REALLY good and I know that I’ll be making it again. While Ree from The Pioneer Woman recommends topping this casserole with butter and maple syrup I have to tell you that this is sweet enough and moist enough that we did not need the extras.  If you are looking for a French toast casserole, I highly recommend this one!

Cinnamon Apple Baked French Toast Casserole
Recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman


1 loaf French Bread
8  Eggs
2 cups Milk
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
3/4 cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

2 apples peeled and diced
1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces

Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Cube the bread and put into the baking dish.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the peeled, diced apple pieces onto the casserole.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter pieces and cut them into the dry mixture forming small crumbs.  Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the bread and apple mixture.  Bake in the preheated oven for one hour.  Let cool for ten minutes then serve and enjoy!

Sausage Peppers and Onions Pasta Casserole



Summer will be here soon.  That means lots of grilling and BBQs.  When I get tired of burgers and hot dogs, sausage and peppers is always a hit!  I recently found this pasta dish that combines all of the flavors of the summer fave that can be made anytime of the year.  With the gooey cheese and pasta, this is a comfort dish.  I made this last week before the temperatures took a sudden rise!  I recommend saving this recipe for a cooler day when a hearty, filling pasta dish is needed.  This was a hit with everyone, including the kids!

Sausage Peppers and Onion Pasta Casserole
Recipe adapted from Family Foodie

1 pound ziti
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
½ cup butter
1 bell pepper cut into strips
1 small yellow onion, sliced
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2¼ cups milk
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.  Spray 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Cook pasta according to directions on box.

2.  In a large skillet, over medium high heat, brown the sausage, breaking up into small crumbles.  Once browned, remove the sausage from the pan and drain the fat.

3.  Melt the butter in the skillet then add the peppers and onions, sautéing until tender.

4.  Stir the flour into the pepper and onion mixture and then slowly add the milk.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until blended well.  Stir in the 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, the 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Stir the cooked pasta and sausage into the cheese mixture.  Once combined pour into the prepared baking dish.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.