Today I just have a couple of recipes for you from Off The Beaten Path.  I am, at my core, a very lazy human being.  Let this say what it will about physicists, about post-collegiates, about men in general, but I frequently do look for the lowest-energy solution in many things, cooking included.  Consequently, many of my cooking endeavors end up being searches for creative ways to easily and cheaply make food that tastes good but doesn’t require a degree in the culinary arts.  Here’s a few of the results from those processes:

Penultimate Poor Man Tuna Casserole (I left room in case a better one comes along)

I had previously heard of “poor man’s tuna casserole,” which is made by mixing one can of tuna in with a box of Kraft (or off-brand if you’re THAT cheap.  But seriously?  Just go to Costco, the Kraft is cheap enough and tastes better.) Cheese & Macaroni.  Not content, however, with The Way Things Were, I attempted to come up with a slightly more interesting concoction.  After much delicious trial and error, I think I’ve finally achieved a recipe for fans of mac & cheese looking for a bit more.

1 box Kraft (or other brand) macaroni & cheese
1 7-oz. can of tuna (Starkist or otherwise)
A discrete amount of Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar
One or more large carrots, and an equal amount of broccoli
Salt, Pepper, Pappy’s seasoning, etc., whatever you want

Okay!  Make the macaroni from the box like normal.  As it’s cooking, peel and chop the carrots and chop the broccoli as well. You can easily steam the vegetables by pouring a couple of centimeters of water into a small pot, pouring the veggies in and covering and boiling the water for a few minutes.  Do this while the mac & cheese is cooking.

Once you’ve finished the macaroni recipe, turn the heat down on it until it’s just being kept warm.  Add the tuna (drain it first), grate as much of the Tillamook cheddar as you desire (this is frequently a large amount for me) into the pot and stir it all into the macaroni as evenly as possible.  Just give it a good twirl.  Add the steamed veggies to the mixture (don’t add the steaming water please) and stir.  Add salt, pepper, spices, etc. to taste but it should taste pretty good.  This actually makes quite a bit of food; enough for two people to eat very heartily and be stuffed or for three or four to eat moderately.

Possible alterations to this recipe include:  adding different vegetables, trying different varieties of cheese, varying the amount of tuna or the type of meat added (Peter likes to put sliced ham in macaroni but this seems repulsive to me; different strokes I suppose.).

Hunt’s Tomato Soup

I know what you’re thinking.  Well okay, I don’t, but I have two guesses.  One, you may be thinking “what do you mean, you have a recipe for Hunt’s tomato soup?  Doesn’t Hunt’s have the recipe for that?”  If you are slightly more of a kitchen aficionado, you are probably thinking “Hunt’s doesn’t make tomato soup, they make sauce and purée and paste and stuff like that!  What gives?”  Okay, you got me on that one.  The other day I was hankering for tomato soup but we didn’t have any.  Not content to sit around cursing the heavens in futility, I sat around wondering the following instead: Can you make decent tomato soup out of tomato sauce? After a bit of googling, I found that the answer was most likely “yes!” based on a few people’s Yahoo Answers results.  Bolstered by those who had gone before me in kitchen pioneering, I churned out the following recipe for soup that was actually quite delicious.

1 can of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce (I would probably use this over paste or other brands of sauce.  Hunt’s makes really basic, somewhat watery sauce to begin with which makes it more suited for this endeavor than, say, Classico.)
2/3 can of water
Garlic salt, oregano, pepper and regular sea salt, etc.
A pinch of parmesean cheese

In a pot, add the sauce and the water.  Heat on medium heat, mix in spices to taste (I feel like I used maybe 1-1.5 tablespoons of garlic salt and <1 tbsp of everything else.)  After mixing, let simmer, stirring occasionally, until it’s warm enough to eat.  This took about 10 minutes for me, enough time to grill up a couple of cheese sandwiches with a friend.

Easy!  Variations to try next time:  substituting any or all of the water for equal amounts of something else — chicken broth, cream (probably not at the same time), etc., trying different spices, varying the ratio of sauce to diluting mechanism.  I should note that I am essentially to cheese what Paula Deen is to butter; if I can find a way to work it into the meal, I almost certainly will.

So there you have it!  Two easy meals proving that post-collegiate males do, in fact, know their way around a kitchen.  I should say that most of my kitchen endeavors are non-by-the-book, do-what-feels-right events (this is actually the one arena where I don’t prefer to stick to the established rules.  Take from that what you will), so if you are looking for more established recipes than “add this until you like the way it tastes,” feel free to quantify an exact amount and let me know what you come up with.  Unless you are quantifying a small amount of cheese; you can keep that to yourself.