Our Favorite Lenten Meal – Salmon, Macaroni and Scalloped Tomatoes

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I’m posting a repeat of three recipes from 2008 that my family thinks make the best Lenten meal.  I make this every Friday during Lent (7 Fridays in a row) and although I like more variety in my meals, my younger daughter loves this lunch so much that I go through the one-hour prep time so the two daughters and I can enjoy Our Favorite Lenten Meal:  Salmon Patties, Macaroni and Cheese, and Scalloped Tomatoes.  These three items just seem to go together so well.

Mom’s Salmon Patties

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I make these patties the way my mother used to make her “salmon” patties, which were actually mackerel.  Mother didn’t have the money for the expensive salmon and I think mackerel was about 10 cents per can back in the 1940s.  Although I loved her version and didn’t have a very big food budget when I married, I always made the patties with salmon and used her method of adding only crackers, onions and seasoning to the mix, no egg (my mother used as few eggs as possible in every dish).  My family prefers them this way and they are never as crispy on the outside and moist on the inside as when they are fried in Crisco.

MOM’S SALMON PATTIES

  • Servings: Makes 6 patties
  • Print

  • 1 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • One 14-15 oz. can Alaskan pink salmon
  • 12 saltine crackers, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crisco for frying

In a small skillet, heat oil and saute onions on low heat until they are soft but not brown.

Drain salmon and remove any bones.  Place salmon in a bowl and add the sauteed onions.  Add the crushed saltines and a grind or two of black pepper.  The saltines add enough salt for our taste.  Mix together and form into 6 patties.  The mixture should hold together but still be slightly moist.

Melt Crisco in a large skillet and add the patties, browning/cooking about 5 minutes on each side.

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I’ve used several good macaroni and cheese recipes through the years, but this one has become my favorite because, with the use of lower fat ingredients such as milk, cheese and cottage cheese, it is not too bad cholesterol-wise and is still delicious.

SHANNON’S MACARONI & CHEESE

  • 3/4 cup dry macaroni
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tblsp. dried onion
  • 3/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 slices bread, processed into crumbs (about 2 cups)
  • 3 Tblsp. Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9×9″ pan with non-stick spray

Cook macaroni in salted boiling water for approximately 8 minutes.  Drain.  Place in large bowl, add cheese and onion.

In a blender or food processor, blend cottage cheese, milk and mustard.  Pour over the macaroni mixture.  Add salt and pepper.  Pour macaroni into prepared pan.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of macaroni and add a sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes @ 350 degrees F.

Yield:  6 servings

Old Time Scalloped Tomatoes

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This dish has been a family favorite from over 25 years ago when I had a lot of tomatoes at all times.  My husband had every variety in large amounts in his garden and I spent a lot of time canning and freezing them for use all through the year.

Old-Time Scalloped Tomatoes


  • 1 Tblsp. oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • One 14-15 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • One 14-15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Dash of salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  • 2 cups soft bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In small skillet, heat oil and saute onions on low heat until soft.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

In 8×8″ baking pan place tomatoes.  Roughly cut up the whole tomatoes.  Add the sauteed onions.

In the same skillet used for the onions, melt the butter, stir in brown sugar until dissolved.  Add to tomato mixture and stir to blend.

Sprinkle crumbs on top of tomato mixture and bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes until tomatoes are heated through and topping is browned.

Yield:  6 servings 

Serve everything piping hot.

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The salmon can be made into patties ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.  The two side dishes can also be made earlier in the day and then baked at the same time, adding 10 minutes if the dishes are cold.

You may not want to eat this meal 7 weeks in a row but it would make a delicious Good Friday supper.

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Easy Tuna Dill Wraps

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This is an easy wrap that makes a nice, satisfying lunch any time.  Other than warming the tortillas, there is no cooking required.

EASY TUNA DILL WRAPS

  • Four 10-inch burrito-style flour tortillas
  • Dill Sauce*
  • Two 5-oz. cans white albacore tuna, drained
  • One medium tomato, sliced
  • 4 large pieces of lettuce
  • Salt/Pepper

*Dill Sauce

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp. dried dill weed (or 1 tsp fresh dill)
  • ½ tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

Whisk sauce ingredients in a small bowl until blended

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To assemble wraps:

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Warm tortillas in the microwave for about 10 seconds until they are pliable.  Place a tortilla on a plate and spread with sauce to within one inch of edge.  Spoon 1/2 can of drained tuna down center of tortilla.

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Place a piece of lettuce and tomato slices on top of tuna.

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Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Fold down top and bottom edges of tortilla….

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…and roll tortilla from sides, placing seam-side-down on plate.

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Slice completed wrap on the diagonal in three equal pieces.

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Complete remaining wraps and serve immediately.

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4 servings.  If made ahead of time and refrigerated, microwave for a few seconds to soften tortillas.

There will be enough sauce to have a little bit for dipping, if desired.

Tuna Pasta Mornay

I first tried this dish in 1989, adapted from a recipe in my daughter’s Weight Watchers’ Favorites cookbook.  There were several recipes in that book that were reduced in fat/calories but delicious and became family favorites.  The original recipe used 8 oz. of imitation crab meat (January, 1989 – “excellent”) and I’ve also used shrimp, salmon and now this version with tuna.

TUNA PASTA MORNAY

2 cups dry pasta
2 Tblsp. margarine or butter, divided
1 cup broccoli florets, in bite-size pieces
½ cup sliced onions
½ cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups 2 % milk
2 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
5 oz. can white Albacore tuna, drained and flaked
Salt/Pepper

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente according to package directions.  Drain.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tblsp. margarine/butter; add broccoli and cook over medium low heat until color has brightened.

Add onions and cook until onions are starting to soften.   Add mushrooms and cook until all vegetables are tender.

With slotted spoon remove vegetables and set aside.

In a small bowl,  place flour and add a small amount of milk to make paste.

Gradually add remaining milk and stir.  In same skillet heat remaining 1 Tblsp. margarine/butter. Gradually stir in milk, mix, stir constantly until smooth.  Add cheese and cook, stirring frequently until cheese is melted.

Add the cooked vegetables, flaked tuna and cooked pasta.  Toss gently, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and cook over low heat until heated through.

Serve at once.
Servings – 4

A Snowy Day Retro Meal

My oldest daughter was here for supper in the middle of a weeklong siege of snow and I wanted to fix some kind of comfort food.  What says “comfort” more than a casserole and some cookies from the late 1940s-early 1950s?

The Casserole:  I loved to have lunch at my Aunt Mabel’s house when I was a kid.  Mabel shared a two-family house with my maternal grandmother and each week they and Mabel’s two young children got together with my mother, my sister, and me.   Mabel was something of a kid herself – in her early 20s, funny, good with young people, a tomboy in jeans long before girls had started to wear them in the mid-1940s.  She wasn’t particularly interested in cooking but she always served fun food – cold cuts, store-bought cookies, potato chips – and sometimes she would try out a popular recipe such as her Tuna Noodle Casserole.  My father wouldn’t touch anything that even looked like a casserole with its conglomeration of ingredients, so this was a real treat for us.  At Mabel’s, we enjoyed the food we never had at home, as well as all the latest magazines and, the best thing for me, the chance to sit with the three women and listen to them talk while the younger children went off to play.

This is my version of Mabel’s casserole:

LILLIAN'S TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE

  • 6 oz. dry noodles (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • One can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • Several gratings of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 Tblsp. chopped pimiento
  • 2 Tblsp. dry minced onion
  • 2 cans white albacore tuna (6 oz. each), drained &  flaked
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crushed cheese crackers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray or oil a 9″ baking dish

Cook the dry noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente (about 7 minutes).  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper.  Mix well and stir in the peas, pimiento, onion, flaked tuna and grated cheese.  Stir in the drained noodles.  Pour into the prepared 9″ pan.  Sprinkle the top with the crushed cheese crackers.

Bake @ 400 degrees F for 20 minutes until the mixture is hot and bubbly.

Serve at once.

The Cookies: These cookies are especially good when they’re first baked and the chocolate is still soft.

PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS

  • Servings: Approx. 48 cookies
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  • 48 Hershey milk chocolate kisses
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tblsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening/margarine and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended.  Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beat until fluffy.  Add egg, milk and vanilla, blending well.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually beat the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.

Shape dough into one-inch balls.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2″ apart.  Bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 8-10 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie.  Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.

Yield:  48 cookies 

I would love to have just one more chance to sit around the table with those dear people, listen to them talk and enjoy Mabel’s casserole.

Tuna Melt and Butterscotch Kahlua Mousse

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My youngest daughter is a busy stay-at-home mom who always finds time to get together with me on Fridays for lunch.  I try to make meals that are tasty, quick and easy, and reduced in fat and calories.  Here is the meal we had this week.

Friday was a beautiful fall day in southwestern Ohio and even a low-calorie, low fat meal looked pretty and tasted good.  I made an old standby of tuna salad on sturdy homemade bread, topped with tomato and fontina cheese and heated under the broiler.  Fast, easy and delicious.

MOM'S TUNA MELT


  • Two 5-oz. cans of white albacore tuna, packed in water, drained)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
  • 1-1/2 Tblsp. finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tblsp. (or more) snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayo (Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayonnaise)
  • 3/4 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • Sprinkling of salt and grating of pepper to taste
  • 6 homemade rolls, split, or 6 slices of sturdy bread
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 6 thin slices of fontina cheese

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In a medium bowl, mix together the drained tuna, bell pepper, onion and cilantro.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and red wine vinegar.  Add the mayonnaise mixture to the tuna and vegetables, add salt and pepper, and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, preheat broiler.  Place split rolls or slices of bread on a large baking sheet.  Spoon the tuna mixture onto each roll/bread piece.  Top with a slice of tomato and a thin slice of fontina cheese.  Place under broiler until tuna is heated through and cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.

Yield:  6 servings

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Based on 6 servings, nutrition per DietPower software is:  233 calories, 8.25 g fat, 26.5 mg cholesterol, 235 mg sodium, 165 mg potassium, 2.63 g carbohydrate, .447 g dietary fiber, 11 g protein.

Weight Watchers:  5 points per serving 


Dessert had started out to be Chocolate Kahlua Mousse, but I found I had only butterscotch instant pudding on hand.  The butterscotch and kahlua made a good combination and a nice finish to the meal.

BUTTERSCOTCH KAHLUA MOUSSE


  • One 4 oz. box of sugar/fat-free butterscotch instant pudding
  • 1-1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup kahlua
  • 1-1/2 cups Cool Whip Lite topping, thawed

In  a medium bowl, whisk together the pudding mix, milk and kahlua for 2 minutes.  Fold in the Cool Whip topping.  Spoon into 6 dessert dishes, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Yield:  6 servings


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Based on 6 servings, nutrition per DietPower software is:  160 calories, 3.67 g fat, 3.69 mg cholesterol, 239 mg sodium, 82 mg potassium, 23.6 g carbohydrate, 1.66 g protein

Weight Watchers:  4 Points/Plus per serving

Impossibly Easy Seafood Pie

crabplt2I adapted this recipe from one found on www.bettycrocker.com.   We have had the pie for lunches, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and now for our Easter breakfast.  It’s very tasty and a nice source of protein before digging into all of the chocolate eggs.

IMPOSSIBLY EASY SEAFOOD PIE

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 4 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 oz. can fancy white crabmeat, drained
  • 2 Tblsp. dried, minced onion
  • 2 Tblsp. diced pimiento
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Grating of black pepper
  • Grating of nutmeg
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease pie plate, 9×1-1/4″.

In a small bowl place the cream cheese cubes and with the back of a spoon, cream until smooth.

crcheeseAdd Cheddar, mixing well, then the crabmeat, onions and pimiento.  Place this mixture in the greased pie plate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Bisquick, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs.  Pour into the pie plate on top of the crabmeat mixture.

cheesmixBake uncovered @ 400 degrees F for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (some cream cheese may stick to the knife).  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

crabbkdMakes 6 delicious servings.

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An Airport and a Good Lenten Meal

Lunken Airport in eastern Cincinnati has been a popular destination for our family for generations.  When it was dedicated in 1930, it was the largest commercial airport in the U.S.  This photo was taken on a visit to the new terminal in the 1930s, showing my little sister, cousin and me.

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I still enjoy visiting the airport, having lunch and watching planes with my youngest daughter and her two children.  They’re just as fascinated as I was on my childhood visits.

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In the 1980-90s, my office was across the road from the airport and we enjoyed special lunches at the Sky Galley restaurant.  The first meals served on a commercial airliner (American Airlines) were prepared here.  The Sky Galley is in the original Art Deco terminal building and the ambience is wonderful – lots of airplane memorabilia and a view of the runways where some company jets and many small planes are constantly landing and taking off.  The food is good, plain home-style cooking.  It was a tradition for my oldest daughter to meet me for lunch on Good Friday and to enjoy their special Lenten meal of salmon patties, macaroni and cheese, and scalloped tomatoes.  Now that I’ve been retired for 14 years, I make it a point to cook the same meal several times during Lent and certainly on Good Friday for my two daughters.   I’ve posted the recipes for my version of salmon patties, macaroni and cheese, and scalloped tomatoes.

In addition to being just plain good food, the dinner brings back memories of grand old Lunken Airport.

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