Friday, February 22, 2013

Mother-in-Law's Tuna Noodle Casserole

For Valentine’s Day this year I wanted to make something the whole family would love. This is a difficult task, as you have probably experienced in your own household. Someday I know my boys will be teenagers and will eat every single thing I put in front of them, even if they don’t like it. I can picture them coming home from whatever sports activity they’ve been at, sitting like stinky, hairy Neanderthals at the table, all hunched over their food and ravenous. I will not be able to make enough food for them then. I will spend every day at Costco because they will be capable of singe-handedly eating an entire box of Honey Nut Cheerios with an entire gallon of milk.

"Hey Ansen, I didn't even know I liked bloody Elk leg, but it's not that bad."
"I know what you mean, Asher. Like when your stomach feels like it's eating itself you'll eat anything."
"No joke! I'm so hungry right now I might even eat mom's cooking!"

Until that day comes, though, each night when I yell, “Dinner’s ready!” my young boys sneak timidly up to the table, close one eye and cautiously peer over the table's edge to catch a quick glimpse at what I’ve put on their plate. I watch their faces carefully in this moment. They will either fall or rise. I will hear an “I hate this!” or “I love this!” and I’ll let you guess which one happens more often.
Anyway, my wonderful mother-in-law Beth makes some really delicious food. She makes this dish called Rice Crispy Chicken which my husband asks for every year on his birthday. But I’ve stopped making it for him because it’s never the same despite me having followed the directions precisely. The only recipe of hers I have been able to perfect is this one: Tuna Noodle Casserole. Because even a non-culinary genius can master a recipe as easy as this. In fact, it’s the one recipe my own mother asks for every time she comes to visit me! And the kids love it. It’s one of those dishes where you wish you were the only one home so you could eat the entire thing and no one would ever know. It’s that good.
I’d like to thank the 1950’s housewives who invented this recipe. If you’re wondering how I know it was them, just check out the ingredients below.

1 can of condensed cream of celery soup
1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 measured can of milk
1 can of tuna
1 package fancy wide egg noodles
1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sprinkle of Pepper

Boil noodles according to directions. While noodles are boiling, drain tuna juice and give to your cat. 'Cause you like to reward the annoying behavior that ensues each time you pull out the can opener.

Put the tuna in a casserole dish and mash up. Add pepper.

Add cream of celery and mushroom soups and fill one of the empty cans with milk and pour that in too. Mix together.

Drain noodles and mix into casserole dish.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Sometimes I turn the broiler on to get it extra crispy.

Tip: baby neanderthals like food better when it is served on an animal plate. Also, don't add any vegetables.

These are the yummy cupcakes I bought for dessert in celebration of Valentine’s day. They’re from Icing on the Cake – my favorite cupcake place in Bellingham. I bought two Red Velvet cupcakes since they are my favorite and I thought it would increase my chances of actually having one. Each neanderthal took one. Sad face.

"I look innocent now but once I get this sugar all up in me I'm gonna go crazy, yo. Psycho."

"I can stick my pinky finger up my nose so far I can touch my brain. And still smile!"

Oh, Ash, I can't even make fun of you. You're so damn cute.


  1. i must try to make this again. the last time i tried it, i think i used low-fat/low-sodium soups and nonfat milk. it wasn't that great, so a word to the wise, use the GOOD stuff! :)

  2. Oh you crack me up! And I'm feeling good but man, it still hurts to laugh damn you! This is my favorite tuna noodle recipe and I think you've given it to me 10 times, yet every time I go to make it I can't find it, so I'm glad it's now here on BATF where I can reference it forever!

  3. Great post, Amber! Isn't it a funny thing how good these types of meals can be? My mom makes one very similar to this- the only difference is that she also adds pimentos to it. That also seems pretty odd. Maybe she just does it for color! I've been thinking of making tuna casserole so I'll give yours a shot next week!

  4. This post was hilarious! Thanks for the laugh and the recipe, which I needed again too. I can't remember all the wonderful things we ate at Gold Bar but I do remember this. It's been burned into my memory.

  5. Made this tonight. Pretty for a cream of x concoction! These recipes crack me up but they are oh so comforting. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Was seriously craving this and made it last night. It's as good as ever, the perfect comfort food for this time of year.