Happiness Project #37: Baked Tuna Casserole!

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Whoa! Another Dinner Dish?! All in the same month?! Why, yes! Yes, indeed, my friends! This Mama’s on a mission! To bring some dinner to the table! And highchair. And possibly, a dog dish, as well. Though, not ALWAYS to the dog’s dish, mind you. And since, I really, REALLY like the idea of all-in-one Casserole’s for my family, I went scouring the internet and Pinterest for my next (hopefully rather) easy dinner dish. Now before you go on judging me, I am NOT ashamed to admit to being somewhat of a Pinterest nerd either. So there! Enter, the simplest version of a Tuna Casserole Recipe I could set my eyes upon. With peas. Again. Yes, we really like our peas in this house. I chalk it up to how small & Toddler friendly they are. Though, next time I may add in some fresh Broccoli too, since I didn’t happen to have any of America’s favorite veggie tree on hand last night.

Hmmm, speaking of last night, which was the 4th of July here in my neck of the woods (or more accurately, city), my kitchen ended up becoming a bit…crowded. By my very scared and horribly trembling Beagle/Terrier Canine Child, Chloe Girl. For SIX hours! SIX hours worth of loud, booming, the-sky-is-very-likely-falling neighborhood fireworks. Which I was NOT happy about it. At all. Yes, I understand that everyone wants to eat, drink and launch very pretty sparklies. But for SIX hours?? At the expense of everyone else around them, who might (just might) have sleepy babies and nervous dogs?? Until 2am?? Apparently. Like I said, by 11pm last night, I was NOT pleased. And had a very terrified Chloe Girl huddled up in the kitchen corner, pressed up against my legs. Which made using the stove a little crowded.

Anyhow, even though I was understandably half distracted by comforting my Chloe Girl as well as tinkering with this particular recipe, all while convincing myself NOT to run out into the street, welding a large knife (because I was THAT enraged by all of those inconsiderate neighbors of mine), I did eventually manage to get this Casserole in the oven. Hallelujah. Which, even today, is still being very happily consumed. So to all of my fellow Mommy & Daddy friends out there, with too much to do in the day and not enough free time spent in the kitchen, this easy, relatively all-in-one recipe might be exactly what you’re looking for! Well, besides more sleep, that is. *wink*

Pinch of kosher salt

2-1/2 cups elbow macaroni pasta

1 cup breadcrumbs (my husband prefers Panko breadcrumb so we nearly always have a couple of boxes of this laying around)

5 to 6 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons, plus 2 tablespoons (reserved) fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1-1/2 cups whole milk

3 (6 oz) cans solid light tuna, packed in water, drained and fluffed with fingertips

1-1/2 cup frozen peas or 1 cup broccoli, thawed

Once all of the ingredients are gathered and prepped, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to it’s packaged instructions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.

In another small bowl, toss together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, until just coated.

In a medium sized pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add in the flour and whisk to combine with the olive oil. Once combined, slowly add in the broth, followed by the milk. Whisking continuously, bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, stirring every minute or so, until the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Stir in the the pasta, tuna and peas, until fully, evenly coated.

Spoon out your casserole mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish and top with the lemon tossed breadcrumb mixture. Slid this on into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the crust on top is lightly browned and bubbling.

Transfer to a wire rack before sprinkling the reserved 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over the crust. Let cool for a good 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Such a lovely, easy Dinner Dish. Perfect for any last-minute occasion. Happy Cooking, my friends!

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