Home Cooking Assignment: A Nutritious Meal

Tuna Casserole

This recipe is taken from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-tuna-casserole/

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked macaroni

1 (6 ounce) can tuna, drained (used low sodium)

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (changed to mozzarella)

1 cup French fried onions

1 cup canned green beans (added vegetables to make it a well-balanced meal)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, combine the macaroni, tuna, and soup. Mix well, and then top with cheese.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly. Sprinkle with fried onions, and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 8 servings

My Final Product!

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Recipe Evaluation:

This is the third time I made a casserole this semester and I think I’m getting better at it! After baking it in the oven and topping it off with onions, the casserole came out fragrant with the smell of melted cheese and crispy onions. I used ingredients from all the food groups to ensure the meal provided all the essential vitamins and nutrients.  Although this wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing dish I made, it still looked very delicious. The melted cheese and onions gave the top of the casserole a nice golden colour. Since I used a glass dish, I could see the layers of the casserole. The soup had settled to the bottom of the dish and I could just barely see the green beans and pasta that was soaked in the creamy white liquid. When spooning out the food, I could tell that the top was lot drier than the bottom. The casserole did not hold its shape as the pasta fell apart due to the thin consistency of the sauce. However, after tasting it, I knew my recipe was a success! The casserole had many different tastes and textures from the ingredients. The top was very crispy and crunchy from the fried onion and melted cheese, which paired nicely with the softness and chewiness of the pasta beneath. The savoury taste of the cheese, onions, and soup also complimented the slight sweetness of the green beans and tuna. Usually I find canned tuna to be very dry; however I think the soup made it very moist in this recipe. I also found my choice of seashell pasta to have worked well with the casserole. The liquids from the soup were able to go into the little crevices of the pasta so when I bit into it, I was able to get a pocket of creamy soup which made the pasta more flavourful.

This recipe was very easy to follow because the only cooking I had to do was boil the pasta, mix water with the can of soup and put the dish into the oven. Also, preparation was very simple because many of my ingredients were already pre-packaged in cans or containers. Since I only used six ingredients, it saved me a lot of time when shopping and preparing everything. Adding green beans was a good idea because it not only ensured I had foods from all the different food groups, but also provided a different texture to the dish. If I had more cans of green beans, I think I would’ve added more of it! The hardest part of the recipe was deciding on how much water to add to the can of soup to achieve the perfect consistency. I didn’t want to add too much or else it would be bland and watery, but adding too little would make it dry and too salty. In the end, I think I added too much water because all the liquids went to the bottom and made the bottom pasta too soggy. In the future, I will try to make sure my recipe instructions are more specific. I also think I made the mistake of boiling the pasta too long. Personally, I like my pasta to be al dente and have a slight chewiness to them. I didn’t take into consideration that the pasta would soak in the soup, becoming softer as it baked in the oven. Another thing that I would change is to add flavouring, like salt or pepper. The dish had a lot of flavouring, but I think the low sodium tuna I used and the excessive water I added diluted the flavouring in my dish. Overall, I enjoyed this recipe and would definitely try this again, experimenting with different types of cheese, pasta, soups, and vegetables. It was a very simple and easy dish to make that didn’t require a lot of time or ingredients. It took me only 30 minutes to make and it served enough for everyone in my family!

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Recipe Analysis

Chicken Florentine Bowtie Pasta

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 clove minced garlic
4 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Cups Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1 pound bowtie pasta or other small noodle
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

*photo above taken from picky-palate.com.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in spinach leaves, cook, stirring until wilted about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, and pepper, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add cooking cream, stirring to combine.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Add pasta to chicken mixture stirring to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish and top with cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until cheese is melted.Makes 8 servings

This recipe is taken  from http://picky-palate.com/2011/08/05/chicken-florentine-bowtie-pasta/

I took out the onions in the recipe because my sister doesn’t eat them and since I am cooking for my family, I tried to accommodate for  everyone’s needs.

Identify the recipe format

The recipe is written in standard form because the ingredients are listed in the order needed and is separated from the step-by-step instructions.

Why did you choose this recipe?

I chose this recipe because it brought back memories me of my recent road trip to the east coast of Canada. While in Quebec City, my family and I went to this authentic French restaurant that served amazing comfort food. This recipe reminded me of the creamy vegetable pasta dish I had.

Are the ingredients in metric or imperial?

The recipe is in imperial because it uses cups, tablespoons, pounds…etc

Identify and define all the recipe terms/techniques in the recipe

Stir: Using a spoon or spatula to mix the ingredients together

Drain: Remove the water from the food by pouring over a colander

Preheat: Set the oven at the desired temperature at beginning of preparations

Dutch oven: A large, heavy cooking pot with a lid

Wilted: When the vegetables become limp through heat and loss of water

Tender: When food is easy to  cut or chew and not tough

Yield Change

Since I’m cooking for my family of four, I’m only cooking half of the recipe and changing the yield to four servings. This will allow everyone one portion for dinner. The measurements of the ingredients will now be:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion (took out onions)
1/2 clove minced garlic
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup cooked shredded chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Cup Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1/2 pound bowtie pasta or other small noodle
3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Equipment and Tools

I will need the following equipment and tools to prepare this meal:

  • Stove
  • Mini convection oven
  • Pot
  • Frying pan
  • Wooden flipper
  • Chef knife
  • One sided grater
  • 1 cup measure
  • 1/2 cup measure
  • 1/4 cup measure
  • 1 tablespoon measure
  • 1/2 teaspoon measure
  • 1 teaspoon measure
  • prep bowls
  • colander
  • glass baking dish
  • oven mitts

Let’s get started!

In my  first step , I prepared my ingredients and equipment.

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I then preheated the  oven to 350 degrees F. I didn’t use cooking spray because I didn’t have any and my dish is  pretty easy to clean anyways.

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Before I began cooking, I measured out each ingredient. I first measured out (2) cups of spinach and  cooked shredded chicken breast that was leftover from the day before.

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Then, I measured the kosher salt and ground black pepper.

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Next was the extra virgin olive oil and (2) cups of  Philadelphia Cooking Creme

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I didn’t have a scale to measure the pasta so I eyeballed 2/3 of the package which roughly translates into a little over 1/2 pound (226g). I used a ruler to see where 2/3 is at. I also measured  shredded cheese into a 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup.

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Now that everything was measured, it was finally time to start cooking!

To being, I poured the pasta in a pot of boiling water so it will be ready to use later on. Once it was in, I turned the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for 12 minutes.

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Next, I added the oil and garlic in the pan, stirring until the garlic was slightly browned. I used medium-high heat for this step.

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After a minute, I put in the spinach at medium heat, and stirred until wilted for about two minutes.

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Then, I added the chicken, salt, and pepper, along with the cooking creme, stirring until combined.

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After 12 minutes had passed, I went to check on my pasta.  I drained the pasta, pouring it into a colander and ran it under cold water to stop it from continuing to cook.

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Then i added the pasta to my pan mixture, stirring to combine and evenly coat everything with cooking creme. Sadly I forgot to take a picture of the final product in the pan 😦

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I transfer the final mixture to my baking dish and topped it with cheese.

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Next, I put my dish in the oven for 20 minutes.  Looking good so far!

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After the 20 minutes was over, my pasta looked gooey and crispy so I turned off the heat and left it to cool for 10 minutes.

Voila! My final product looked amazing and the smell of cheese and baked pasta filled my house. Even my dad came downstairs from his room because of the mouth-watering aroma!

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Couldn’t wait to try it out!

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Recipe Evaluation

It was the first time I made pasta with cream and my family and i believed my attempt went very successfully! Although I had to be honest and say it turned out nothing like the pasta I had in Quebec, however it was still very delicious. I think baking it for 20 minutes makes it taste even better as the cheese was gooey and the pasta was crispy on top. The top was golden and the melted cheese melted into a nice coating. It kind of reminded me of lasagna, but without the tomato sauce. Underneath, the cream made the chicken, spinach, and pasta very moist and easy to chew. I was surprised by the tenderness of the chicken and I think the fact that the recipe called for  shredded allowed it to be easier chewed. I’ll have to give credit to Picky Eaters food blog for that smart decision to use shredded chicken over cubed! The pasta this time was cooked al dente which I prefer the best because I enjoy the chewy texture. Even though onions weren’t used, I didn’t think the pasta lacked in taste. However, if there was one thing I would change, it will be adding more spinach because 2 cups cooked is not a lot. I will certainly try this recipe again in the future!

The recipe was more complicated than most pasta dishes I made in the past  and more strenuous to make with it’s multiply steps and cooking methods. I felt the order of the recipe was not always efficient. For example, it said to prepare everything in the pan before cooking the pasta, but if people were to follow that, they would have to wait a long time for the pasta to finish cooking. In addition, the steps to prepare the ingredients were not included in the directions so at  many times, I would have to think if there was anything else I had to do. For instance, the directions didn’t include instructions on making shredded chicken breast or pasta. Thankfully, I had leftover shredded chicken so I didn’t have to cook an entire chicken breast and shred it. If there was one thing I would change, it will be adding more spinach because 2 cups cooked is not a lot. I might also bake it for 5 minutes longer so the top can be even more crispy. 🙂  In the end, I believe that I accomplished the recipe and got through without too many obstacles!

Now that I nailed a great pasta dish,  I think I’ll move onto desserts the next time!