Tuna Casserole

One plated serving of my Tuna Casserole.

The Best Tuna Casserole

This is better than a basic recipe for a Tuna Casserole but it is easy and it’s delicious. Last week, I made a very simple and basic recipe, which was descent, but it didn’t strike me as a yeah I want more kind of a dish so, I decided to step it up. The end result turned out great and I really think you’re going to be pleased because I stuck with all of the basics and through in some ingredients to give this dish more bite.

Frying pan on the stove half full of chopped Holy Trinity ingredients, garlic and peas.

The Holy Trinity with Peas

Many basic Tuna Casserole recipes call for frozen peas but I decided to take it a step further and add the Holy Trinity. As you may or may not know, the Holy Trinity is just 3 simple ingredients made famous in in French and Cajun Cuisine; chopped onion, celery and bell pepper. These three ingredients are a fundamental start to many recipes and I decided that this dish shouldn’t be any different so, I added them.

Mixed Tuna Casserole ingredients, in a large bowl, before baking.

Creamy and Crunchy

One of my favorite things about a casserole is the top layer. I like the crunchy flavor of salty Potato chips and/or fried French Onions. In this case, I decided to add both for more flavor. I crush the potato chips and add them to the mix and add the french onions as a topping with cheddar cheese. That’s not the only cheese I add to this recipe, however. Again, I’m going for flavor and I like anything creamy to be rich so, I added grated Parmesan cheese to the mix along with some cream of mushroom soup and a little milk.

You have to be careful with the mixture of all of these ingredients because you can, very easily, do one of two things; either make it runny, with too much liquid or dry it out with not enough. Those potato chips and the “Al dente” noodles like to suck up that moisture with the casserole is baking so, be sure you’ve added the right amounts that I’ve listed below. And, if by some chance you’re tastes are different than mine, just adjust the liquid, milk, accordingly.

Oh, I almost forgot… I usually salt the boiling water before I cook my noodles to add more flavor but, in this case, I chose Chicken Bouillon. Just think of it like adding the seasoning packet to your ramen and flavoring the noodles. It isn’t weird, it’s pretty much the same frickin’ thing!

Tuna Casserole video tutorial by PoorMansGourmet.

Tuna Casserole Ingredients:

1 12 oz bag Egg Noodles
Cook the Noodles in Chicken Broth or use Bouillon. Approximately 4 quarts of water and 1/3 cup of Knorr Chicken Bouillon.

1 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Butter
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 bunch Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 stick Cellery, diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup Peas, frozen
1/2 Onion, diced
2 cans Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 cup French Onions
1/2 cup Potato Chips, crushed
3 cans tuna, Solid White Albacore
1 tbsp Worcestorshire

Salt and Pepper to taste

Bake at 400° Fahrenheit for 20 minutes then add the Cheddar cheese and French onions and bake for another 5 minutes, then serve.

P.S. You can easily turn this dish into a Chicken Noodle Casserole by swapping out the canned Tuna for Chicken and the canned Cream of Mushroom Soup for Cream of Chicken Soup, instead.

Bottling and Storing Wine

Full 36 Bottle wooden wine wrack against a small wall in my kitchen.

The Easiest Way to Bottle and Store Wine

This is the Fourth installment to my “How to make Wine” video and blog post series. If you’ve missed the other posts and video tutorials, refer to the link above to get caught up. So far we’ve gone through the “Primary Stage” and the “Secondary Stage” of wine making. We also spent some time with Clarifying your wine and now I’m going to teach you the easiest and best ways to bottle and store your homemade wine.

The amzchef Juicing machine.

Sponser’s for this Post

I was approached by a marketing department to advertise a few products for them. I only agreed to help them because these are directly related to the wine making and storing process.

In the first video of this series, I mentioned that it wasn’t a good idea to blend your fruit but a juicer could be used. So, I looked into this Juicer and it’s exactly what you need for a higher juice yield, when you’re making wine.

This particular machine uses an auger, much like an auger in a meat grinder. Fruit is dropped through the top until it reaches the re claimer and the the auger takes over by feeding and pressing the fruit into the juicer; which separates the pulp from the juice. Both of which are still needed to make your wine so, DO NOT throw the pulp out. Just add them to the bucket the way I demonstrated, in that first wine making video, using the press.

You can purchase one of these Juicer’s HERE using this temporary 20% off Discount code: CX37QTNA

Stainless Steel 24″ BODEGA Wine Cooler 52 Bottle Capacity.

I also received a BODEGA wine cooler from the same marketing group. Again, I’m waiting for the links and discount codes for it as well but, these refrigeration units are ideal for anyone that doesn’t have a basement or a wine cellar; where it’s most often cooler than the rest of the house.

Anyone that can’t afford those kinds of luxuries can possibly find it worth their while to pick up a unit like this to store their wine instead. These units maintain an efficient and stable environment, for wine, set at an exact and constant temperature and runs on only 95 watts of power.

Dark and light wines will vary with different temperatures and your personal tastes will, of course, play a roll in that but this cooler, in particular, ranges between 41° and 68° Fahrenheit in the settings. Warmer temperatures can be set for the red wines and colder chills for the whites.

Personally, I don’t buy wine. I make it. Wine can be very expensive to buy but, in my opinion, it doesn’t make my wine-making any less valuable and it’s worth protecting. I put a lot of work into my process and there’s nothing more valuable in this world than time.

If you’re not into wine or making wine, clearly something like this doesn’t make sense for you. But, if you’re like me and you’re really finding the joy in picking up a hobby like this, that you can enjoy all year long, a wine cooler can really protect your investment.

You can purchase this Wine Cooler HERE with this temporary 20% off discount code: BSLX-77LMQT-CVG9AT

PMGK Homemade wine, bottled and stacked on wine racks in a wine cooler.

Bottling and Storing

In this tutorial, I show you how to bottle wine from a 1 gallon carboy to 750 ml wine bottles. I demonstrate how to siphon and cork the wine using a cheap wine siphon and a Portuguese wine corker. I show you how easy it is to spruce up your bottles with cheap pvc shrink wrap and labels. I also advise you on the type of conditions and environment that is more suitable for wine by demonstrating the use of a wine cooler.

You need to know, however, the proper temperatures that each wine should be properly stored. Though, it would be nice to have a cool basement, a wine cellar or, indeed, a wine cooler like the one I’m advertising, sometimes none of these things are practical. So, let’s dive into next best practice’s.

Dark places are you’re best friend when it comes to the preservation of wine. This means under desks, in corners or closets. Even boxed up will make all the difference. Light, sunlight, in particular, will destroy the wine. That’s why most wines are placed in dark green or brown bottles and wine coolers are made with double pane smoked glass, for protection.

Vibration or constant movement needs to be avoided and heat. So, a basement may be dark and humid for your wine, but if it’s being stored near a furnace or heater, you’re going to quickly ruin your wine. Also, placing a wine cooler in a garage to store your wine, is another bad idea.

Wine bottling, corking and labeling materials for properly storing wine.

Most garage’s lack insulation and, in the Spring, Summer and Fall months, can quite possibly be warmer than any other room in your house. Though you may be thinking,”Hence, the refrigerator”, it’s a bad idea and here’s why.

A compressor will be constantly battling the temperature of the garage to maintain the temperature of your wine. A 30° variance will make your cooler work harder and quite possibly blow the motor, void the warranty and, most likely, ruin you’re wine before you even discover it.

Wine bottles should be stored on their sides. Everyone knows this but do they know why? It keeps the cork wet which in turn keeps it expanded for a tighter fit. The last thing you need is oxygen slipping into your wine and turning it into vinegar.

Any wine should be stored at a minimum of 70° Fahrenheit and much lower for some reds and most white wines and or champagne. 55° F is a nice happy medium and the average temp many red wines should be stored at. 41° F on up is optimal for most light wines and, of course, your own personal tastes will be a factor as well. Many of the tannin’s in darker wine’s can effect the flavor if they’re not stored at the right temperatures so, you can refer to this chart if you’re worried about it.

Wine Serving Temperature Chart
How to make Wine part 4 – Bottling and Storing Wine video tutorial by PoorMansGourmetKitchen

Deep Fried Monte Cristo

Deep Fried Monte Cristo Sandwich cut in half and served with powdered sugar and Raspberry jam.

The Best Monte Cristo

If you’re a fan of a Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich, you’re going to love the Monte Cristo. It’s, more or less, the French version, with the addition of sliced turkey, invented in the 1930’s and it’s fried and seasoned with confectioners sugar and served with Raspberry jam. There are many different versions of this sandwich, served around the globe at different diners. Some are battered and seared like French Toast, others are battered thicker and deep fried, instead. I’m going to show you how I make a Triple-Decker with these ingredients and a fresh new take on the batter for deep frying.

Tagged and bagged Mesquite Smoked Turkey and Sweet Smoked Ham.

Monte Cristo Meat and Cheese

When it comes to deli meats, I like them sliced thin. It’s just my personal preference. I use 4 slices of each per sandwich and I recommend using only 2 if you’re using thicker cuts. I purchase Mesquite Smoked Turkey and Sweet Smoked Ham for this recipe. It generally costs me around $5 dollars per lbs for each.

The Cheese used in this recipe calls for Swiss and Cheddar Cheese. Thanks to Covid-19, my kids school continued providing school lunches and they gave us a few blocks of Swiss Cheese and I purchased medium cheddar cheese, from my grocery store. You can change it up any way you like it but that’s the basic recommended recipe.

Monte Cristo Bread

I couldn’t find much on the specific type of bread used to make a Monte Cristo but, it is my understanding that this sandwich was inspired by the French Croque Monsieur. That sandwich uses Brioche, which is similar to a highly enriched pastry, which is light and slightly puffy.

In this recipe I chose to go with Sourdough bread because it makes excellent French Toast and I think it’s best for the Batter I’m making. An Artisan White is an amazing bread to use too, however, and it is great for grilling with melted butter but, I would only use this bread for this sandwich if I was using the basic egg and milk wash when pan frying.

The typical White Round Top loaf of bread is practical, cheap and commonly used as well. Usually the crusts are cut off to make it look more luxurious but it will work for a pan or deep fry. Just use what you have, though, and it will turn out great no matter what you choose!

Deep Fried Monte Cristo Sandwich, cut and stacked on top of each other.
Serving a Monte Cristo Sandwich

Many restaurants serve the Monte Cristo as more of a savory sandwich with the addition of Sweet for garnishment. This sandwich is covered inside with Mayonnaise on ever slice of bread and Mustard on only the top and bottom pieces and, once the sandwich is battered and deep fried, confectioners sugar is sprinkled over the top and served with Raspberry Jam.

A few additional ingredients grace the batter to make this recipe top notch. Like many French Toast recipes, I felt like it was appropriate to add some cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of cayenne and some orange zest. A good alternative, if you’re avoiding the sweeteners, use garlic and onion powder instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Check out some of my other sandwich recipes: Grilled Ham and Cheese, Double Decker Grilled Cheese, Lobster Roll, Spicy Philly Cheesesteak, Reubon, Steak and Cheese Sandwich, Sloppy Joe.

Deep Fried Monte Cristo by PoorMansgourmet
Deep Fried Monte Cristo Ingredients:

Ingredients for 1 Sandwich
1 loaf Sour dough Bread, 3 slices per Sandwich
4 slices Smoked Ham, thinly sliced or 2 thick slices
4 slices Smoked Turkey, thinly sliced or 2 thick slices
1/4 cup Swiss Cheese, grated or 2 slices
1/4 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated or 2 slices
4 tbsp Mayonnaise
2 tsp Mustard

Batter for 2 Sandwich’s
1 cup Self Rising Flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder or Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Onion Powder or Nutmeg
pinch of Cayenne
Orange Zest
pinch of salt

1 inch Canoil Oil, for frying

Be sure to follow the instructions in the Deep Fried Monte Cristo video tutorial and fry the battered sandwich at 350° Fahrenheit for approximately 30 to 45 seconds, on each side, or until golden brown.