Kindness is a Tuna Casserole

This week isn’t my typical iCook. I wanted to tell a personal story and thank a few people.

Death is a part of life but it never comes at a good time. We recently lost my wife’s mother and had to travel to Wales for the funeral. The trip was going as well as could be expected until our final leg home. Our flight from Newark, New Jersey to Nashville, Tennessee was cancelled with few options available for us to get home. Eventually we received a hotel voucher, ate some takeout pizza and got a little sleep. Then we hopped into a rental car and made the 970-mile journey to Paducah - in one day!

We posted our situation and progress on social media. Many of our friends commiserated with us about our situation and the hardships involved with travelling long distances by air. And, a friend offered us some much-needed kindness in the form of food: She prepared us a meal and left it in our refrigerator, along with a loaf of bread and some fresh fruit.

The next day, still exhausted, we tried to unpack and get some chores done. We were grateful not to have to run out for bread and to have a meal to eat. 

Other acts of Kindness

I want to thank all the people that supported us while we were traveling. Our neighbor watered our garden. The magazine and iList staff looked after our cat and the folks at the Stone Creek Kennel took care of our dogs. Our daughter booked a rental cottage in Wales so we had a comfortable place to stay.

Food in the time of need

I think it’s inherently human to prepare food for someone in need or who has experienced a tragedy, or illness. I’ve always believed that cooking for someone is a great way to show empathy and love. This simple act of kindness can often help to keep us going - even when we don’t feel like carrying on.

My sister-in-law was alone in Wales taking care of her mother when she passed. One of the first things my wife did when she got there was to help with basic household tasks and prepare meals. That simple gesture hopefully eliminated some of the stress.

A few years ago, when my wife was battling cancer, friends and neighbors would bring us food. I look back on those times with mixed emotions but I am so grateful that we had friends to help us. I may not have thanked you all then, but I want to take this time to thank you all now. 

Pay it forward

Please don’t wait for tragedy to strike before doing something nice. Pay it forward with random acts of kindness. I guarantee that you will receive much more than you give if only in the knowledge that you made the day better for someone.

Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Courtesy of Food Network Kitchen

Serves 4

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces of wide egg noodles
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 6 scallions (white parts sliced, green parts finely chopped)
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced plus 2 TBSP chopped leaves
  • One 12-ounce can fat free evaporated milk
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • ¾ cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (about 3oz)
  • One 5-ounce can water packed tuna, drained and flaked
  • ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles per directions on package. Reserve ½ cup cooking water, then drain the noodles and return them to the pot.

Melt 1 TBSP butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallion white parts and the sliced celery cooking until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the evaporated milk, ½ tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper (assuming you have a pepper mill). Stir in the peas and carrots and mustard. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the noodles then stir in the sour cream, ½ cup cheese, the tuna and the reserved water. Transfer the mixture to a 1 ½ quart baking dish.

Melt the remaining 1 TBSP butter and toss it with the panko, scallion greens, celery leaves and the remaining ¼ cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle mixture over the casserole. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

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