Tuna noodle casserole – redux

June 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz

I have some other recipes to share with you that I’ve been concocting with my mother while I’m here in the great North Woods.  But, I forgot my camera cord and can’t download any pictures.  Oops.

Also, this trip is turning out to be a busy one.  Without much time for musings and ramblings about food.  Nope.  We’re running around looking at flowers, checking on dresses, practicing hairstyles (or, more accurately, having hairstyles practiced upon us).  You see, we’re planning a wedding.

And, in answer to your question (in case you are a careful reader and just put two and two together, and found yourself saying, “heyyy, wait a sec…”), yes, Joel and I are already married.  But, we still haven’t had our wedding!  So, we’re gearing up to say our vows in the eyes of our friends and communities and to have a wonderful celebration, come October.

But, I didn’t want to send you all into the weekend without something delicious to think about.  Luckily, I have a recipe I created a while back that I just haven’t found the perfect opportunity for sharing yet.  But, I think this may be it.  So, in honor of being home in Minnesota (I haven’t lived here in years, but let me say, Minnesota is definitely still home!) I’m going to share with you a staple of the Midwest – and Lutheran church basements in particular – a casserole.  Or as it is more properly called, a hotdish. « Read the rest of this entry »

Lasagne with asparagus and mushrooms

May 6, 2011 § 9 Comments

For some reason I want to tell you all “quick, quick, make this lasagne!”  I have an odd sort of urgency about it, and I have no idea why.  Maybe it’s that I think the asparagus is going to go scurrying off into hiding before too long, or that soon it will be too hot to even consider baking something 45 minutes, let alone having that something include a creamy sauce.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s delicious and we should all hurry up and make it so we can eat it (or eat it again, if you’re me).

Not that lasagne is something you can really hurry.  Its architectural layers require some care and engineering to assemble if you want it to come out with beautiful, colored striations, which you do because then it looks a bit like a cool white, green, and brown sandstone cliff.  And, it takes some time to bake, no way around that.  But, all the more reason to get right to it, and not wait around hemming and hawing about whether lasagne should be on the weekend agenda!

I love lasagne.  It feels so pleasantly familial to eat it.  Yet, I don’t make it very often, and I’m not sure why.  Wait, scratch that.  I do know why.  It’s because much of the time there are just the two of us here at dinner, and lasagne is the food of the large crowd.  The family reunion potluck, the ski-team dinner, the 13 kids are coming for a sleep over what on earth am I going to make, occasions.  Often it doesn’t seem quite worth it for two.  And though it makes splendid leftovers – I always think lasagne tastes even better the second day – well, if you make a really big one, it can take a little uncomfortably long to work your way through it.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Root Vegetables Au Gratin (and cream sauce basics)

November 21, 2009 § 3 Comments

You’d think at this point in my life, having gone through a number of years, I’d be used to the way the seasons change. But somehow it surprises and delights me every year to see the leaves change and watch the first snow fall. I’m also shocked every single autumn by how short the days suddenly become. It gets dark so early now! Holy-moly! Nowadays, even though it’s easy to buy any food you want at any time of the year, I think it’s important and pleasurable to mark the shift in the seasons by changing cooking styles and ingredients. As the nights get darker and colder, I feel like it becomes imperative to make heartier, creamier dishes (I justify this (as if it needs justification) because I still bike commute everywhere in the cold and sleet!), which you don’t really feel like eating on warm summer evenings. In chatting about the quintessentially fall foods we eat on Thanksgiving, a friend told me that his mother had recently started making a gratin of mixed sweet and regular potatoes that was amazing. Now, I don’t think I’m going to add this to my Thanksgiving meal this year because I’m just too fond of having my sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes separately. But, I thought, it sounded too good not to try at least something of the sort for a regular supper.

I had never actually made a gratin before. But, having eaten them, I felt I had a pretty good guess as to what the necessary components are. That being: vegetables, a white sauce, and cheese. And given how the dish turned out, I’m inclined to believe that my guess was correct. Anyone who thinks it requires anything more is making it more complicated than necessary (sure this may take it to the next level, but I was quite happy with the level I achieved). So, the key to making a gratin is knowing how to make a white sauce. Once you can do that you can au gratin-ate just about anything you please (as long as you also know how to grate cheese, which doesn’t usually take any advanced training, unless you want to be able to grate without scraping your knuckles, which I think might be virtually impossible). « Read the rest of this entry »

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