Kicked Up Beef Noodle Casserole. Comfort Food, How we love Thee!

In case you didn’t get the memo, you are supposed to be eating delicious comfort food during the pandemic. Here is an easy recipe that’s relatively inexpensive, too.

Warning: This recipe isn’t keto friendly; this recipe isn’t low-carb; this recipe isn’t low fat; this recipe isn’t loaded with vegetables and it doesn’t pack a huge nutritional punch. Haven’t you heard? We are in the middle of a pandemic and the best food to eat in a pandemic is COMFORT FOOD!

This dish is so simple to make I put it together from start to finish in less than thirty minutes. If you have children, I am certain they will love this. What’s not to love?

Since I am pretty certain most of you know how to chop veggies, brown ground beef and mix things in a bowl, I am sparing you photos of all of that. Instead, here is what your layers will look like.

Bottom layer:

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Middle layer:

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Next layer:

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Top it with the Cheese:

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Here it is out of the oven garnished with basil:

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Now IF you really wanted to, you could add some extra veggies to the meat mixture. Spinach and mushrooms would be great in there–even frozen peas. Use your imagination.

We served ours up with a drizzle of Sriracha and some more fresh herbs. I think a healthy dollop of sour cream (and even a little salsa) would be delightful as well.

 


Kicked up Beef Noodle Casserole (ala: Bahbah)

(Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:
8 oz. package egg noodles
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 ½ Lb. ground beef (can substitute ground chicken, turkey or pork)
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
(1) 15 oz. can tomato sauce
(1) 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced (more if you are a garlic freak like me)
2-3 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
2-3 Tbsp. Fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
S & P to taste
8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 Cups Mozzarella, grated (don’t be lazy, do it yourself)
1-2 Cups sharp cheddar, grated (see above)

 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Over medium heat, brown the ground beef in skillet with 2 Tbsp. Olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, 1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning and garlic.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta according to package directions.

In a bowl, mix together soften cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese, 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, salt & pepper and a pinch of Italian seasoning.

When the meat has browned, add in the onions and peppers and cook about five minutes until softened. Then mix in the drained diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add another Tbsp. of Italian seasoning and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Simmer 2-3 minutes.

Remove meat mixture from heat and add in the drained pasta and 2 Tbsp. fresh basil. Stir well to incorporate.

Grease a 9 x 13” baking dish, add half of the meat and noodle mixture to the bottom as the first layer. Spread the cheese evenly over the layer, then add the rest of the meat and noodles over it.

Top with the remaining Mozzarella and Cheddar cheeses.

Bake 20-25 minutes until brown and bubbly. Garnish with the remaining fresh Basil.

Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving. (Tastes GREAT the second day and it freezes well too!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreamy Creamy Cauliflower Casserole

I wasn’t prepared to love this as much as I did. Try it. You will see for yourself!

Yesterday, I started over on my keto program. I had been doing it in earnest all the way through Lent and then poof, I fell off the wagon. I could blame it on the fact that I am a potato chip addict and every time I visit my mother she insists on putting out bowl after bowl of junk food. Every Thursday she puts out a bowl of chips, a bowl of Cheetos, a bowl of Doritos, etc. Then she chides me until I humor her and eat some. (Anyone else have a person like this around?) In her defense, she’s in her mid-eighties and she’s hard-wired like this. Plus, I should have better will power.

I like to start my projects on Mondays, so yesterday was the day to re-invest in the keto lifestyle. Sunday night I planned out my weekly menu and last night was the night to try the cauliflower casserole! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to turn out as delicious as it did! Charlie and I both got up this morning talking about how great it was and how neither of us felt hungry for breakfast.

The instructions and the ingredients are very basic, so here you will see only the last steps. This is what it looked like all mixed together prior to adding the cheese and bacon toppings. I could have just baked it like this and it would have been great.

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Add the remainder of the cheese on top:

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Then add the last of the bacon. Don’t skip this step. The extra bacon makes the house smell divine and it adds a little bit more of a smokey flavor to the dish.

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Here it is freshly out of the oven. I didn’t wait for it to get really brown.

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Dreamy Creamy Cauliflower Casserole (serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 head fresh cauliflower
8 oz. cheddar cheese, freshly grated, divided
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated, divided
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup full fat cream
2 bunches green onion, chopped
6 pieces of bacon, cooked
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Place in a microwave safe bowl with a half cup of water and cover. Microwave on high 4-5 minutes until cauliflower is steamed through. (I took mine out at about 4 minutes because I wanted it to still have a bite to it. Keep in mind, it is still going to be baked.) Drain into a colander.

Cook the bacon (I used the microwave for mine), chop it up and set it aside.

In a separate bowl, combine 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 6 oz. each of the cheddar and Jack cheeses, salt and pepper, and garlic. Add the cream a little bit at a time until the mixture is combined. Add the bacon (reserve 1 ½ Tablespoons for the top) and green onion; then add it all to the cauliflower. Stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish.

Smooth the surface with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and bacon over the top.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

PS- If you don’t feel like grating your own cheese, you may substitute with pre-shredded. Keep in mind that pre-shredded cheese never has the same flavor as freshly grated.


Nutrition information:

1 serving is 1/8th of the casserole.

Calories: 379, Fat: 27g, Net carbs: 8, Total carbs: 10, Protein: 23g,Fiber: 2g


Here is another cauliflower recipe that I adore.


Seriously, does anyone else out there have a person who is constantly trying to sabotage your eating plan? How do you handle it?

 

 

Gimmee that Bacon Roasted Tortellini!

A lot of times I adapt recipes that I have made at home in order to serve for a large crowd. This tortellini casserole is a showstopper every time!

 

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By day, I do the finances for a very large, beautiful Baptist church here in Louisville. (Not that it matters, but hubs and I are Catholic and we joke with the members of this church all the time that, “We are the heathen Catholic couple!”) Every Wednesday afternoon I knock off at 1:30 to meet Charlie at the door and walk down to the church kitchen where together, we prepare their Wednesday Night Fellowship meal. This is our fifth year of doing that walk.

I think it’s worth noting here that I haven’t always been a good cook, let alone someone who was trained in feeding the masses!  Raising my daughter alone, I remember a very limited scope of what I actually made from scratch. There for a while, we ate almost all of our meals out at Applebee’s. (Yes, it’s true. If I could do that over, I certainly would.) When Charlie came along ten years ago, he came with the experience of not only being a retired Firefighter, but his firehouse’s cook. Soon enough, he was preparing all of our meals.

That is, until we moved to a new condo that had a wonderful kitchen. It was there, two years prior to my being hired at the church, that I discovered my absolute love of cooking. Turns out, I not only love cooking, I’m told my food is worth eating! (That’s a total plus!)

Just after I was hired, I learned of an opening to aid in the Wednesday Fellowship Meal prep. I am ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS on the hunt for side job experiences, so I immediately signed us up! (Poor Charlie. He’s sooo stuck with “a joiner”.)

Long story short, after the first season, we ended up taking over the entire meal preparation. That means we decide what to make, we shop for our ingredients, we prepare the food, we help to serve the food and do the dishes and it’s darned hard work. I joke all the time that,”It’s ALWAYS Wednesday in our life”. I feel like it’s true! It’s also true that it’s like planning a huge party once a week and for this reason, I adore it!

A lot of times, I adapt recipes that Charlie and I make at home in order to share with the church. This tortellini casserole is something I saw on TV long ago. It seemed so easy. I made it for us and we loved it, so I figured out an easier way to make if for the church.

I will give you the original recipe and then I will tell you how to tweak it for a crowd! But first, meet my hubs, Charlie Alfredo! LOL!

Charlie Tortellini


Bacon Roasted Chicken Tortellini

Makes 8-10 servings.
Ingredients:

½-20 oz. pkg.  Hardwood Smoked Bacon

1 pkg. Chicken Breast (about 1 ¾ lb.)

½ tsp. Kosher Salt

½ tsp. Garlic Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp. Dried basil

¼ tsp.  Coarse Ground Black Pepper

2-19 oz. pkgs. Frozen Cheese Tortellini (I always go for the tri-color variety. It’s just prettier)

1-12 oz. pkg. Frozen Peas

2-16.9 oz. pkgs. Alfredo Sauce (at home, I make my own, but use jarred if you are scared!)

6 slices Provolone Cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° & lightly spray a 9″X13″ casserole dish with pan release.

Layout bacon on a baking sheet & bake until crisp (about 15 minutes or so).

Remove bacon from baking sheet & move onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Do not discard the grease from the baking sheet.

Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt, Italian seasoning & black pepper. Place directly on the already hot baking sheet. Flip chicken so that bacon grease is now on both sides of the chicken. Roast chicken for 10 minutes & then flip. Roast another 10 minutes & check for doneness. The chicken should read 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven & let rest on your cutting board for 3-5 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sliced chicken, uncooked, frozen tortellini, frozen peas & both jars of Alfredo. Crumbled the bacon over top & toss well to combine.

Pour mixture into your prepared casserole dish. Cover top with sliced provolone cheese. Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil & then 10 minutes uncovered. The casserole should be hot, bubbly, and browned on top.

Tortellini casserole

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Yeah okay, that’s how we made it at home.

For church (or a large group), skip frying the bacon and doing the chicken in the bacon fat. Instead, go to the market and buy prepared chicken. You can find frozen chopped chicken as well OR buy a rotisserie chicken OR boil some chicken tenders. AND for the bacon, buy frozen, chopped bacon OR buy already prepared bacon and chop it up. Skip the entire part about cooking all this stuff and just add it in with the other ingredients.

THE BEST part about this recipe is that you NEVER have to cook the tortellini; just dump it in as is. Oh and…it’s DELICIOUS,too!!!

PS- Tomorrow’s recipe will be “Zucchini Leak Pie”! Don’t miss it!

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