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The Best Gluten Free Casserole

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I’m calling this “The Best Gluten Free Casserole”, but we refer to it as “GF Casserole”. As if there is only one GF Casserole. Well, once you eat this, you may very well never need another casserole recipe in your life. It’s that amazing.

GF Casserole

There are a lot of flavors and textures – something I am not usually a fan of (I call myself a “purist” because I like to keep my food separate). There’s a pasta layer, a tomato-y ground beef layer, a smooth and creamy sour cream and onion layer, all topped with cheese. Everything melts together and somehow the mess on your plate is the best tasting casserole you’ve ever had.

This is the mess I was talking about . . .

This is the mess I was talking about . . .

If you’re anything like me you probably noticed that description sounds anything but healthy. Usually, I run from any recipe that calls for an ingredient with “cream” in the name, or at least find a way to creatively skip it or replace it. I try to avoid carb heavy meals and always include a sufficient serving of vegetables. So, yes, this casserole doesn’t fit into my usual meal requirements. It’s also not the worst meal choice I could make. I mean, there’s always ice cream for dinner. Or something fried. Its just impossible to eat perfectly all the time, though. This is definitely one of my favorite food splurges.

GF Casserole 2

In addition to its tastiness, this can be a super convenient meal. It takes a little bit of work to make it, but you can get a lot of meals out of that effort. Any leftovers you have will reheat so well in the microwave you will think its fresh out of the oven. You may want to make more than you need just so that you are sure to have leftovers! For the same effort as making one casserole you can also make a double batch and freeze the second one after it is all assembled. Yay for having a quick, delicious meal ready to just be throw in the oven on a busy day!

One more thing to mention before I give you the recipe. This is not an original recipe of mine, and I don’t know what the source is. I remember my father making this shortly after I was diagnosed with celiac and I have the recipe with our notes in one of my recipe binders. I know I’ve seen very similar casseroles in cookbooks and on Pinterest. I’m posting my version today to hopefully spread the deliciousness to even more people!

GF Casserole 4

The Best Gluten Free Casserole

 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1c sour cream
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 3/4c shredded cheddar cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef in a large skillet.
  3. Add tomato sauce to the ground beef, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Spread pasta in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. I spray the dish with olive oil or cooking spray before putting the pasta in.  I find the dish to be too heavy if I use all of the pasta, so I cover the bottom of the baking dish with pasta and then save whatever is left for something else.
  5. Top the pasta with the meat and sauce mixture. Spread it out evenly over top of the pasta.
  6. Put the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat it for about 20 seconds. This will make it easier to stir.
  7. Mix the sour cream and green onions with the heated cream cheese, and spread this on top of the meat mixture.
  8. Finally, sprinkle the top with cheese.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 25 – 30 minutes.

Not Pad Thai Noodles

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This is not Pad Thai. I’m not sure what it is! I created this meal out of a concoction of several other recipes, mainly to satisfy my cravings for both soft and spicy foods. Each time I make it, though, my husband refers to it as Pad Thai. While this dish does have some of the same flavors as Pad Thai, a few of the important ingredients in Pad Thai are missing; peanut and bean sprouts. So, I’ve named it “NOT Pad Thai”. At least if I don’t know what it is I can tell you what it is not.

Similar to Pad Thai or other Thai noodle dishes, this recipe suits rice noodles very well. If you’ve ever cooked with rice noodles before you know that they do not behave like any normal wheat pasta. They tend to stick together immediately once they have finished cooking and are drained. The sauce and the butter are really the key ingredients to making this recipe a success. Combined, they have a smooth, slippery texture that coats all of the noodles and meat evenly and easily. No piles of rice noodles stuck to each other (I happen to love noodles stuck together, actually, especially fettuccine!) or tasteless portions of food. Another way I combat the sticky noodles is by breaking the noodles up before cooking them. This makes it much easier to stir in the sauce.

 

Now, a warning about this sauce. It is yummy, but IT’S SPICY, clear out your sinuses spicy! I’ve included the measurements I use when I make this and a toned back version. The key players in the spiciness are the crushed red pepper and sriracha, so just start with a bit of each of these if you are nervous about the heat level. You can always add more, but you can’t take spice out!

I’ve also written this recipe to include beef. Chicken works, too! Or try the noodles alone! If you want to get closer to that Pad Thai taste, try adding some chopped peanuts or serving with bean sprouts. I think you will find that whatever the heck this noodle stir fry is, you’ll get your fill of spice without sacrificing on taste.

 

Not Pad Thai Noodles

 

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Ingredients
  • 1/3lb wide rice noodles broken into pieces
  • 3/4 lb thin sliced beef in 1 inch strips 
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (1/4 tsp or less for toned down version)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbs brown sugar 
  • 3 tbs soy sauce/Bragg’s Amino Acids (2 tsp for toned down version)
  • 2.5 tbs sriracha (2 tbs for toned down version)
  • 1/4c chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped
Cooking Directions
  1. Make the sauce by mixing brown sugar, soy sauce, and sriracha.
  2. Boil water for noodles in a medium pot. Cook noodles until al dente (check often – the noodles will get soggy easily).
  3. When the water nears boiling, heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat.
  4. When oil in skillet is hot and rippling and beef strips. Cook, stirring often, until no pink is visible.
  5. Remove beef to a plate and melt butter in the skillet the beef was in.
  6. When butter is melted, add the crushed red pepper.
  7. Add the eggs into the pan and scramble them. A few stirs is all it will take.
  8. When everything is done – eggs, beef, and noodles – combine it all in the skillet with the eggs. Add the sauce and stir to coat. This may take a few minutes.
  9. Top with cilantro and green onions.
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