Sugar Dish Me

"if you can read, you can cook" -my momma

Teacher Workday

with 28 comments

I would like to dedicate this post to my sister, Lindsey. She chases other people’s children around five days a week trying to inspire them to learn. I can barely make it through an evening of fraction homework with my own children (Dear Oldest Son Andrew, Thank you for being totally gifted at math and helping your little brother. Without you I might be driven past the point of no return. Love, Mommy).

My children are home from school today, so I put on the news this morning and took my sweet time fixing Chad’s breakfast and coffee. The local news likes to blab on about the school board and the budget; this is nothing new. People argue, they have a zillion meetings and waste a bunch of tax dollars filming discussions that ultimately get us nowhere because the school board does whatever it wants to anyway.

The discussion this morning was so moronic that I almost spilled my piping hot coffee (and for me to waste a single drop of my reigning life blood coffee, you know it HAS to be serious).

Let me explain that teachers here have not had a raise in 3 years. For 3 years my little sister and thousands of other hard-working educators have been stringing along, trying to stay motivated, working 12 hours a day (sometimes more), meeting guidelines, meeting deadlines, and tolerating insane amounts of micromanagement/ nonsensical bureaucracy all in the name of educating our children. In my opinion, they deserve more than an unpaid summer vacation.

So this morning, the newscasters explained that the school board has to choose between giving the teachers a 3% (one percent for each year no one compensated them for performance or cost of living) raise and keeping elementary and middle school aged children in class until 4:15 pm. What they decided not to explain is that if the children are in class until 4:15 pm, so are the teachers.

This is making my head hurt. That requires comfort food with a healthy springy twist. Bonus: If you are a teacher, this recipe should be affordable on your meager budget. And if you have children in your classroom until 4:15 pm and don’t make it home until 8 pm after fighting traffic, it can be made ahead of time.

Wash and trim a whole pound of asparagus, cutting it into 1-2 inch pieces.

Chop one clove of garlic, one onion, and grate the zest of one lemon.

Open a 12 ounce can of tuna in water and drain it completely. Squeeze the juice of half the zested lemon into the tuna and set it aside. Cook a pound of your favorite whole wheat pasta. I used penne. Drain the pasta and put it back in the big ‘ol pot you cooked it in. Toss your raw cut asparagus on top of that.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then stir in the garlic and lemon zest. Whisk one tablespoon of cornstarch into one cup of cold lowfat milk. Pour this into the onion and garlic mixture stirring constantly and bring to a slow simmery boil. Add a cup to a cup and a half of shredded cheese (I used a lowfat cheddar jack blend) and keep stirring until the cheese is melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the waiting pasta and asparagus. Toss the lemon juiced tuna on top of that.


Add a little more shredded cheese to the top and bake in a preheated oven set at 350 for about 20 minutes. The cheese sauce will be bubbly and the cheese sprinkled over the top will melt and start to crisp just a little.

If you prefer a more traditional tuna casserole to soothe your comfort food needs, you can find my recipe for French Fried Tuna Casserole here.

Tuna Noodle Asparagus Casserole


1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 medium onion, diced

1 lemon, zested, and the juice from one half of it

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound whole wheat pasta (I used penne)

1 (12 ounce) can of tuna in water, drained and flaked

1 cup of lowfat milk

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/4- 1 1/2 cups of shredded lowfat cheese

salt and pepper to taste

To Make

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. Add the cut aspapagus to the pasta pot. Squeeze the lemon juice over the drained and flaked tuna and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon zest and continue cooking for about a minute. Whisk one tablespoon of cornstarch into one cup of cold milk and stir it into the onion/garlic/zest mixture. Continue stirring over medium high heat until the sauce thickens and then stir in the cheese, reserving enough to sprinkle over the top of the finished casserole. When the cheese is melted, pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and asparagus. Add the tuna and stir everything to incorporate. Pour into an ungreased 9X13 casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Recipe inspired by the March 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.


Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

March 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm

28 Responses

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  1. Looks amazing Heather! I’m definately going to try it..


    March 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

  2. Amen on the school budget! I prefer to have classroom teachers inspired, energized and happy to come to work. Which is hard to do when you can’t pay your mortgage, are stuck with handling unfunded mandates and politicians call you lazy.

    Year Of Healthier Living

    March 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    • I know how hard my sister works- how much she cares, and how much of herself she puts into it, and she is one of so so many. Out of all the stupid crap tax dollars are spent on why are schools at the bottom of the list? These are the people that I trust with my babies!!! They help to shape them into grown up people! That’s gotta be worth a decent salary. Gah.

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      March 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm

  3. This is a great dedication my friend – besides as usual a fabulous recipe, I have to say it is most unfair how little teachers are given, considering I see everyday how they are treated by some students!
    Thanks for brining it out into the light 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

    Choc Chip Uru

    March 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    • Awww thanks 🙂 I wish the subject got the attention it deserves. I thought maybe tuna casserole would give it some oomph. Maybe I’ll try chocolate next time? I’m sure you could assist with that!

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      March 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      • I will always be there for the teachers with 3 different chocolate baking blocks in my hand 😉

        Choc Chip Uru

        Choc Chip Uru

        March 30, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  4. I have never made a casserole but have always wanted to try! What makes a casserole a good casserole? I also really like that I don’t see cream, cream cheese, and butter in your ingredients, which I see in most recipes. Since I hardly ever have any cream or cream cheese on hand, this is perfect for me to try!


    March 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    • What I should really be asking is: “what makes a casserole a casserole?”


      March 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      • Haha I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that, but I bet it would provoke some discussion… I s’pose every casserole I’ve ever made is a mishmash of veggies and/or meat with a binding agent- usually the creams you mentioned. Typically you’ll find a “cream of” soup and some cheese, often a crunchy topping like crackers or almonds, and it all gets baked in a casserole dish. But what makes a GOOD casserole? I think what makes it most fun is that you can really play with it and adjust according to what you like!

        Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

        March 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    • I left the creamy stuff out on purpose… I was going for a little lighter fare. Lowfat milk and lowfat cheese work just as well for me as the full-fat versions, and taste just as good. Casseroles are super, cause you can’t mess them up! Hope you’ll try this out 🙂

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      March 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      • That’s not necessarily true – there was one I tried which had mayo in the ingredients. It tasted really odd (easy to get sick of it in a few bites), so I don’t count it as a real casserole!


        March 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

  5. Lots of asparagus this time of year and I love them added to everything! Yummy casserole!

    I’m with you Heather, priorities are out of whack! How much do professional athletes make, again?! @-@!! My daughter will be entering the teaching profession and although she’ll make an excellent teacher, it makes me nervous that she’s going into that system!!

    • Hey Sandra! Thanks! Lots of luck to your daughter. I know for my sister there are always a handful of kids that totally make it all worth it. The political headache is a gamble.
      On another note, for some reason, all your comments get directed to my spam box and I have to “not spam” them and then “approve”. Idk if it’s confused by your sender address or what? But if you don’t see your comments post right away, that’s why! I am getting them, though… in a roundabout way 🙂

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      March 31, 2012 at 9:26 am

  6. Asparagus are abundant this time of year and I love them.

    I’m with you Heather, priorities are definitely out of whack! How much do professional athletes make?!! @-@ !! Ahhhh!!

  7. Yum! Reminds me of tuna casserole from when I was small, and I loved teacher work days!


    March 31, 2012 at 2:14 am

  8. OMG! I am in the process of making a casserole myself. Chicken casserole, not tuna, but a casserole none the less. Your tuna cass- we are friends enough that I can shorten words now, right? Anyway, your tuna cass looks great. On the real though, I believe that teachers don’t make enough money for what they do, especially considering the education that you need to do it.


    March 31, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    • Yes. Shortening words and conversational verbage is completely acceptable. Mmmmm chicken casserole. Seriously this tuna asparagus cass saved me earlier this week when soccer practice was lurking just around the corner and I had no time to do anything. What’s happenin with your chicken cass? Ingredients? Photos puh-leez?

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      April 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

      • Oh, I am a huge fan of casserole. Helps me clean out the fridge. I had a bunch of celery and bellpepper that I needed to use up. I also bought some brocolli, so that went in. Of course lots of cheese and I used panko bread crumbs but I don’t think I’ll do that again. They didn’t brown up very pretty. I’ll post it pretty soon with pictures.


        April 1, 2012 at 11:15 am

  9. As someone who can’t get through her only child’s homework I agree that your sister is a superstar. How can one chase after other people’s children? It impresses me to no end!

    Hope you are having a great weekend so far!


    April 1, 2012 at 11:41 am

    • I am completely responsible for directing all annoying math homework to my 11 (almost 12) year old son Andrew. I have no idea how my sister (or any other teachers) do it! Hope your weekend has been great as well!

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      April 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm

  10. Teachers do not get the compensation they deserve but thank God for the many who genuinely care about children because it’s mostly their care and concern that keeps them going. The pittance of a salary they gets is hardly an incentive to put up with all the mess they do.

    Wonderful recipe Heather. I’ve never eaten or made a tuna casserole. I may have to change that soon.

    Simply Tia

    April 2, 2012 at 5:42 am

  11. I would’ve spilled my coffee too, and teachers in South-Africa is complaining each year yet they get a raise! School till 4:15 poor children! Ok I need to stop now….focus on the Tuna, focus on the Tuna.
    It looks delicious! never would’ve thought of having this combination, I must try it.

    Daily Dose of Fresh

    April 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm

  12. […] little boys were home with me Friday for a teacher workday, and they didn’t eat me out of house and home. I took them to the library where Andrew hacked […]

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