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Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

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A fun, naturally GF dinner with a Mexican flare. Easily made to suit your tastes with any salsa flavor you like!

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My introduction to chilaquiles was when we were in Mexico on our honeymoon. We were at one of those all inclusive resorts so there was food everywhere. Everywhere! You could go up to a bar while in the pool and order food or drink.

Yeah, there was also alcohol everywhere. And we are not really into drinking much. Actually, we don’t drink at all. Neither of us really likes the taste of alcohol in the first place, and being celiac my options are limited. I may have a glass of wine here or there. Sounds so weird, but it’s true. Two adults who legitimately dislike alcoholic beverages.

We tried a variety of drinks in Mexico, wanting to have fun and make the most of all you can eat and drink atmosphere, but we just didn’t like anything. So, we had to make up for our lack of drinking alcohol with eating food. Some nights we had two dinners. I was getting fancy coffees a few times a day. It was great.

There was a huge room service menu, and one of the breakfast options was “chilaquiles”. I had no idea what it was. We ordered it, along with a bunch of other things (after all, it was all already paid for), and the next morning this plate that looked kind of like nachos arrived with our breakfast. The chilaquiles were good! Lots of flavors, some crunch, and a bit of spice. Honestly, I’m not sure why it is a breakfast dish, but I was a fan.

So, when a Chicken Chilaquiles Recipe and a Homemade Tortilla Chip recipe appeared within days of each other, I just had to try it all out! Savoring the last “cool” (if 80s counts as cool) days before summer hits, I turned this into a casserole to get in some final uses of my oven before it’s too hot to even think of turning on. Gotta love casseroles!

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Rather than using store bought, fried tortillas chips I made my own using this guide from the Kitchn. It was so simple. I got out a few tortillas, sprayed them with olive oil (using a misto), sprinkled with salt, cut into wedges, and baked at 350° F for 15 minutes. My chips took a little longer than the guide said. Just check yours frequently so you can take them out when the reach that perfect level of crispness, and not when they are burnt! The tortillas chips turned out great and it took a lot of willpower to not eat them all before they went into the casserole.

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I always tend to have some leftover shredded chicken around, so this was a great way to use that up. Any other meat or bean would be good in this casserole. If you’d put it on a taco or burrito, then you can throw it in this casserole! I’d honestly meant to throw in some additional diced tomatoes and then totally forgot! It was good anyway. Just have fun with this – make it to suit your tastes!

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Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

Recipe Inspiration from The Mother Huddle and the Kitchn.
Serves 3 -4 (and the leftovers are good, too!)
 
Ingredients
  • 8 corn tortillas, made into chips (or total of 64 GF corn tortillas chips)
  • 10 oz shredded chicken (from about 2 small or 1 large chicken breast, approximate amount is fine)
  • 12 oz black beans
  • 1 c salsa
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 3 Tbs plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c shredded cheese (I used colby jack, choose any variety you like).
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a saucepan, stir together the salsa and chicken broth.
  3. Add the chicken and black beans and bring to simmer. Add the greek yogurt and stir to combine.
  4. Prepare a baking dish (I used a 10 x 6 glass baking dish) by spraying it with cooking spray (I use misto). Put a layer of chips on the bottom of the pan, then spread half of the chicken mixture on top of it.
  5. Repeat the layers, leaving a handful of chips remaining.
  6. Top with cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with remaining chips, or place them on the top of the baked casserole for an extra crunch.
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Bangers & Mash Casserole

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This is a healthy casserole. It sounds like it should be unhealthy, it tastes like it should be unhealthy, but it is actually good for you.

Bangers and Mash is a delicious British dish made of sausage and mashed potatoes. Whenever I’ve seen it at restaurants its been very simple; a few sausages on top of a bed of mashed potatoes. There may be some gravy poured over it or a side of veggies, but nothing much different from that.  Bangers and Mash is actually a pretty good meal option for someone on a gluten free diet because most mashed potatoes and sausage are naturally gluten free. I’ve even been surprised at the number of restaurants that make all of their gravies with cornstarch, making that naturally gluten free, too.

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Sausage and mashed potatoes are not exactly the healthiest foods in the world so I made a few swaps to get this casserole up to a more healthy level. For the sausage, I used all natural chicken sausage. Both Al Fresco and Aidells have a full line of flavors in their natural chicken sausages. I’ve tried a few flavor varieties and the best results have been with a cajun flavored sausage. The spicy sausage against the smooth and creamy mash is a great combination. Of course, with all of the sausage flavor options out there I am sure that there are some other great combinations. I just happen to be a fan of spicy foods.

To healthify the mash part of the casserole I swapped the potatoes for cauliflower. Cauliflower is much healthier than potatoes and mashes up to be just as smooth and creamy in texture. There’s a bit of a taste difference between the two, but with all of the other flavors going on in this casserole any flavor from the cauliflower is overpowered.

If the cauliflower wasn’t healthy enough for you, there’s also a quiche layer on the very bottom of the casserole filled with eggs, spinach, and onions. Sure, there’s a little mozzarella cheese in there, too, but what would a casserole be without just a little cheese?!

Surprisingly, with three layers, this casserole won’t take all day to prepare. While the cauliflower is boiling you’ll whip up the quiche layer and brown the sauages. Once those are laid out in the casserole pan you drain and mash the cauliflower, spread it on top, and pop the whole dish in the oven.

Bangers and Mash Casserole

Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 Tbs plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 fully cooked, cajun flavored chicken sausage
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs all purpose GF flour
  • 2 c chopped spinach
  • 3/4 c shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 c green onions, sliced
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in the large pot of water. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until very soft.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking whisk the eggs together. When the eggs are combined whisk in the baking powder, salt (3/4 tsp), and flour. Stir in the spinach, mozzarella and green onions.
  4. Spray a 2 qt. baking dish with cooking spray and pour the eggs mixture on the bottom.
  5. Cut each of the sausages in half length-wise. If desired, cook the sausages for a few minutes on each side over medium-high heat, until they are lightly browned on each side (Since sausage is already fully cooked, this step isn’t necessary).
  6. Place the sausage in a row on top of the egg mixture. They may sink down into the eggs – this is okay.
  7. When the cauliflower is soft drain it and then return it to the pan. Using an immersion blender or beaters, whip the cauliflower until it is very smooth. Add the greek yogurt and salt and whip again until the yogurt is totally mixed in. Spread the cauliflower on top of the sausages.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bottom quiche layer is cooked through.

Chicken, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole

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I love casseroles, but (at least for me) they are always a guilty pleasure type of meal. Usually casseroles are so creamy, cheesy, and delicious, but also so unhealthy. My favorite GF casserole is seriously irresistible, but it doesn’t really have much nutritional value. This casserole is like magic. It tastes so bad, but is really so good!

The major components in this casserole are whole foods: just some pan seared chicken, quinoa, and steamed broccoli. Sounds boring, but then it’s all topped with a creamy cheesy topping. And, get this, rather than just dumping on some sour cream or cream cheese, this sauce is made from scratch from milk and parmesan. All together = yum!

Obviously, we thoroughly enjoyed this casserole because at the end of the meal this was all that was left:

There’s a got bit of prep work involved in this casserole because everything is fully cooked before it is combined and put in the oven. This makes for a great make ahead of freezer meal. My instructions here are for prep immediately followed by baking. If you do prepare this ahead of time, or freeze it, just increase the bake time until the casserole is heated through. If you have questions about the cooking process let me know and I’ll help you out!

Happy healthy eating! And happy beginning of October!

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Chicken, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole

 
Ingredients
  • 3/4c dry quinoa
  • 1 1/4c water
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 large chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs salted butter
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbs all purpose GF flour
  • 3/4c milk (I’ve used almond milk and skim milk)
  • 3/4c chicken stock
  • 3/4c shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4c basil, finely chopped
Cooking Directions

Quinoa & Broccoli

  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. When the water, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, steam the broccoli florets. (My steaming method: Fill a large saucepan with about an inch of water. Place a steamer basket in the pan and fill it with the broccoli. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling (which will happen in just a couple of minutes), reduce heat to a simmer. When broccoli is soft, after about 5 minutes, depending on how large the florets are, remove from heat and drain it).
  3. Roughly chop the cooked broccoli and combine with the cooked quinoa

Chicken

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces to the pan.
  2. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

Cheese Sauce

  1. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the shallots to the melted butter and cook for a few minutes, until shallots have softened.
  2. Stir the flour into the butter/shallot mix.
  3. Very slowly, add the milk and chicken stock into the pan while stirring. Start with just a tablespoon of liquid at a time, making sure it is entirely absorbed before you add more. As the mixture looks more liquid-y than solid you can add more and more liquid.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It probably take between 5 and 10 minutes. When the mixture is thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, garlic powder, and basil

Bake Casserole

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Place chicken in the bottom of a large casserole dish (or use several smaller dishes – great for freezing). Top with quinoa and broccoli, and finally with the cheese sauce.
  3. Cook for about 10 minutes to let everything heat through (or longer, if baking from refrigerator or oven. In this case, put the baking dish in the oven while it is preheating, also).

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.

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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!

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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.
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