A pantry ready recipe with a lemony twist

Lemony Tuna Noodle Casserole requires no baking. Just a little time at the stove top.

Many of our kitchens have become well-seasoned because we’ve been compelled to cook a few meals – not because we want to, but because necessity has called upon our cooking angels to pull us back into the flames because of COVID-19.

We are still weathering this pandemic and in many parts of the country restaurants are only open for takeout. And those that are open for business are for the most part al fresco (outdoors) or have limited indoor seating.

This is why today home cooked meals rank right up there with baseball, hotdogs and apple pie.

A good home cooked meal starts with a well-stocked pantry. Just having an array of staple pantry and refrigerator ingredients saves so much time when you finally step up to that cutting board. It also inspires a range of epicurean possibilities when inspiration strikes or when guests arrive unexpectedly.

Lemony Tuna Noodle Casserole plated. It’s so good.

My Lemony Tuna Noodle Casserole was totally inspired by ingredients I had on hand. My early memories of this classic dish weren’t that thrilling. It was merely a staple in my dinner rotation because it was quick to make, inexpensive and it fed my ravenous family of four.

Listen to me on 94.7 The Wave website as I step you though making this delicious dish. Just click on the arrow above. Listen closely on how to “level up” this dish for you and your quarantine boo.

This zhuzhed up version is a delicious departure from the cheesy version I used to make. It’s still budget friendly but it’s certainly not your mom’s or grandma’s tuna noodle casserole. It has a light, delicate sauce made with evaporated milk and fresh grated Parmesan cheese infused with fresh lemon juice and grated lemon zest. The albacore tuna that gets added to this dish kisses the lemony sauce that clings to the pasta like a long lost relative. Oh and this recipe brushes aside traditional elbow macaroni and instead uses orecchiette pasta – which is such a family friendly and fun shape for the kids.

You probably have  most of the ingredients to make this Lemony Tuna Noodle Casserole in your pantry. What are you waiting for?

Are you ready to try this reimagined tuna noodle casserole? Dive right in! Make sure to listen to my podcast as I step you through how I made it and hear about some of the basic pantry and refrigerator ingredients I keep on hand.

For a list of my recommended ingredients click here. Keep in mind this is in no way an exhaustive list. It’s just a baseline to build on so.

Lemony Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: You can do it!
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You will love this remake of a classic family favorite.

Ingredients


1 large can Albacore tuna (12 ounces)
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely lemon zest
16-ounce package of pasta (orecchiette featured here or use elbow, spaghetti or any pasta of your liking)
Salt for pasta water and to season later
5 ounces can evaporated milk (or ¾ cup)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup fresh, finely grated Parmesan
1 ½ cups reserved pasta cooking water
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions


Before you start any recipe, gather all your ingredients.

  1. Drain tuna.  Empty contents onto a plate and break apart with a fork.
  2. Zest one whole lemon which should yield about 1 teaspoon of zest.  A microplane grater works best. Cut lemon in half and into a small bowl, squeeze out enough juice to yield 2 tablespoons of juice. Set aside.
  3. Begin your pasta and add salt to the water. Make sure to add lots of salt to your pasta water, about a tablespoon works best. Remember this is your only opportunity to really get favor into the pasta.
  4. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Stir pasta occasionally until it is al dente (pasta will finish cooking at the end in the sauce you will prepare later).
  5. While the pasta is cooking, add evaporated milk and lemon zest to a separate sauce pan and cook over medium heat, whisking often, until it begins to simmer, about 2 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add unsalted butter and stir until melted.
  7. Add fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and whisk well until the sauce is creamy and emulsified. Then, remove cheese sauce from the heat.
  8. Scoop out 1½ cups of pasta cooking water just before pasta is al dente.
  9. Drain the pasta when done. Add cheese sauce to the pasta and stir thoroughly.
  10. Stir in the flaked tuna and 1 ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Taste and add additional salt, pepper, pepper flakes and lemon juice to taste. Stir well and cook on medium heat about 3 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat. Cover with the lid and let set aside about 10 minutes. The sauce will appear loose but it will tighten up very quickly as it cools.
  12. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.

A very happy pasta dish to you

Grilled salmon and penne pasta all plated and ready to eat!

If there is one food that makes me deliriously happy, it’s a pasta dish.

I love pasta.

What more can I say.

I love pasta made any way.

I love pasta shapes that cling to the sauce.

I love pasta shapes that swirl in my mouth.

My Penne Pasta with Grilled Salmon recipe is a real winner.

It’s better than any chicken dinner.

Listen to me on 947thewave.radio.com website as I step you though this delicious recipe. Just click on the picture.

Well enough with the schoolhouse rhymes. This family-style recipe is a great addition to your repertoire. The delicate sauce is delicious and tasty. The grilled salmon makes it a filling, one-skillet meal that is great for Sunday dinner, special occasions, or just because you like pasta.

I hope you enjoy what I would say is my favorite go-to recipe because I always have the ingredients on hand and ready to deploy for a quick family dinner, or when unexpected guests arrive hungry carrying a bottle of Pinot – which they have been known to do because they know I am always cooking up something.

Bon appétit!

  • Difficulty: You can do it!
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A lovely penne pasta and grilled salmon dish that is pure love


Ingredients


2 pounds of salmon filets, skin removed
Cajun Seasoning
Olive oil

Ingredients For pasta
1 pound Penne pasta
2 can fire-roasted tomatoes (do not drain)
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ medium red onions, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Cracked black pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions


How to make the grilled salmon

  1. Wash and pat dry fish.
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil on both sides of fish and season each side with your favorite seasoning or spice rub.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add fish fillets, and cook 2 minutes on both sides to brown. Remove from heat. Place fish on a baking sheet and place in oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, remove from oven to cool.

How to make pasta sauce

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet set at medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until tender and translucent about 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula.
    Add chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant, just under a minute.
  2. Add both cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, chopped red onion, ¼ cup olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and cracked pepper (to taste). Mix well.
  3. With a potato smasher, mash tomatoes in the skillet until all the tomato pieces are crushed.
    Turn up heat to bring mixture to a gentle boil. Then cover with a lid and reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  4. While sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to directions until al dente – meaning it is firm and not overcooked. Chef tip: make sure to add 1 tablespoon of salt to the pasta water. This is your only chance to thoroughly favor the pasta.
  5. When the pasta is done, drain it in the sink, but reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.
    Add cooked pasta to sauce in the skillet and mix well. Add half of the pasta water to loosen sauce. Add more if necessary.

Bringing it all together

  1. Break the cooled salmon filet into generous pieces and place the pieces of fish on top of the pasta.
    Serve with torn fresh basil leaves and Parmesan cheese grated over the entire pan or on separate servings, if desired.

Vegan option: top pasta pan-grilled asparagus and grilled corn.

A little lift from a lemony loaf

Lots of lemon zest and lemon juice helps to make this lemony loaf delicious.

Around the nation, and for that matter around the world, COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being lifted.

Some restrictions are being lifted more quickly than others. Being able to enjoy some of the liberties we have often taken for granted like playing tennis,hiking, shopping and dining at a restaurant (under safety guidelines) have given us all a much needed lift after being on lock down for nearly three months.

This is a lemony load bread of lemony proportions.

A bit of a lift is what we all need, and this lovely lemon loaf recipe will lift your taste buds right out of the doldrums.

This easy to make lemon loaf bread is filled with lemony goodness from the lemon zest and fresh lemon juice folded into the batter to its delightful lemony frosting that is so darn lemony good.

Listen to me on 94.7 The Wave website as I step you though this easy recipe.

This recipe doesn’t require a fancy stand mixer or an electric hand mixer. A good old fashioned mixing spoon will do the trick because the secret to this recipe is not to over mix the batter. And if you love a good food hack, this recipe has a mock buttermilk trick you will never forget and can always use.

If you love lemons, this light and luscious lemon loaf bread must be on your “quarantine bake list.”

A single slice? It won’t be enough.

So the next time your neighbor, co-worker, or family member asks you if you want some lemons,  don’t pause – take them and get baking.

Lemony Lemon Loaf Bread

  • Servings: 8 to 10 slices
  • Difficulty: Easy
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A luscious and lemony loaf bread .

Ingredients

For the lemon bread:
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour, leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup evaporated milk with 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice added.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (this juicer makes it easy)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (I use a microplane grater)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons extract (2 teaspoons lemon, or 1 teaspoon lemon and 1 teaspoon vanilla – your call)

For the lemon glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Pour 1 cup of evaporated milk into a bowl and add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Let stand at least 10 minutes until thicken. You are creating mock buttermilk.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    In a separate mixing bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, evaporated milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs, and extract (lemon/vanilla) until fully combined.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread it around into one even layer.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 40 -50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If needed, tent with foil for the last 15-20 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning on top of the bread.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the loaf pan. Carefully remove from the loaf pan and transfer to a plate or wire rack to cool. Make sure lemon bread is completely cooled before frosting.

To make the lemon frosting

  1. Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice. If the glaze is too thick, add more lemon juice as needed. If the glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  2. Pour the glaze on the bread and spread it around to fully cover the top of the bread. Allow the glaze to set 15-20 minutes before serving.
  3. This tasty loaf can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for 2-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

Creole Rice and Shrimp

Creole Rice and Shrimp up close and personal.

Creole food has never tasted so good than when it’s made in your kitchen! The simple blend of Creole spices in this recipe are spot on. One bite will conjure up tasty memories of the fine Creole restaurant-style food you love. Yup, this recipe will take you there. And I can take you there, step by step, if you pop over to my podcast which lives at 94.7 FM The Wave website. Just click here.

Wanna hear me step through this recipe. Click on the picture and I will take you through it step by step!

Restaurants may be closed for dining in, but your kitchen is open for business.

Creole Rice and Shrimp plated and ready to eat!

So get cooking and what better time to make this recipe than now when you have a little bit of time on your hands!

Creole Rice and Shrimp

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: Very easy
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You will love the flavor and enjoy the abundant shrimp.

For Rice

2 cups brown jasmine rice
3 cups stock
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt

Spice mix
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (omit if you don’t want the heat)
½ teaspoon dried thyme (not ground)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 bay leaves, whole or ground (your call)
(Note: this spice mix imparts subtle Creole flavor, for more robust flavor use 1 teaspoon of dried thyme and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano)

For shrimp
2 pounds shrimp (shelled, deveined, tails off)
1/2 stick butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup white wine (turn it up with ½ cup – your call)
1 cup fish stock (or chicken stock)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

How to make the rice

  1. To a large skillet or saucepan add two cups of rice, 3 cups of stock, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, and½ teaspoon salt. For this recipe I used a 9 ½ frying/ saucepan with a lid.
  2. Bring ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer according to instructions until done. When done, remove from heat.

How to make the shrimp

  1. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high until melted.
  2. Blend spices in a small bowl by combining the cayenne, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, paprika, and bay leaves (whole, or ground) Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  3. When butter is melted, add the garlic, blended spices, wine, stock, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce and mix all the spices into the butter. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat.
  4. Add half of the shrimp to the butter and spice mixture and cook until firm and pink, about 2 minutes on each side until done.
  5. When that first pound is done, remove and place on separate plate. Add remaining shrimp and cook until done. Remove and place on the same place.

How to put it all together

  1. After all the shrimp is done (remove bay leaves if you did not grind them) pour the butter and spicy mixture that remains in the skillet over the rice and mix thoroughly.
  2. Stir in the cooked shrimp. Cover and let stand 10 minutes to allow rice time to absorb the spices.
    Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.