Tag Archives: casserole

Ranch Hand Potatoes

Ok, this is quite possibly my favorite side dish to bring to any potluck, tailgate party, picnic or just a side for a dinner at home when my husband smokes a brisket…yummmm.  This WILL feed a crowd and your crowd will leave nothing behind!

There are a few variations of similar recipes, but personally, they tend to be quite bland and have zero texture.  This doctored up version has many depths of flavors, yet is still mild enough for any palate with the bacon, chiles and that good, ol’ fashioned ranch flavor!  Plus it’s sooooo easy!  Basically, it’s a “dump & stir” side, bake and walk away!

The Starting Lineup

  • 6-7 russet potatoes
  • 1 package bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 (4-oz) can of green chiles
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of chicken
  • 1 (10.5-oz) cream of poblano soup (*You can use another can of cream of chicken to substitute – 2 cans total)
  • 1 (16-oz) container of sour cream
  • 1 (1-oz) packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (*I use Kraft Sharp Cheddar)
  • Green onions (scallions), sliced for garnish after baking

Let’s start with the simple “prep work”:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook up your bacon, drain/pat dry the grease, chop up.
  3. Clean the russet potatoes, cut in half and boil in salted water till just fork tender.  You do not want to over boil, as you’re not making mashed potatoes and want a bit of texture.  *I prefer to leave the skins on for visual appearance and, again, texture.  Drain into a colander and once cool enough to touch, cut into rough bite size pieces, similar to a potato salad.

For potlucks, I prefer to use a deep dish (disposable if possible) 11×9 foil pan.  By all means, you can use your handy 9×13 too.  Layer your par-cooked potatoes into your serving dish in an even layer.

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the cooked bacon, poblano peppers, green chiles, cream of chicken/poblano soups, sour cream, ranch seasoning and shredded cheese.

Pour over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Transfer, uncovered, to your preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Top with the scallions and enjoy!!

RanchhandPotatoes

 

 

Smokey Gnocchi Toscana 

Who doesn’t love Olive Garden’s famous “Zuppa Toscana”?  It’s a delicious blend of sausage, kale and potatoes in a creamy broth…my only small problem with the soup (more so my family’s problem) is it will not fill my hearty boys and husband’s appetite up!  Nope, soup in general just won’t cut it!

Now since I was craving a big bowl of Toscana comfort, I had to figure out a way to change it into something a bit more substantial if it were to be mine.  I have to say, it came pretty easy to me..thank goodness.  How about we make the broth into a rich, more flavor packed cheese sauce and amp up the potato texture by using those fluffy pillows from heaven, otherwise known as gnocchi.  Hey, gnocchi’s are in fact made from potato flour..I do have a little bit of genius left in me.  My boys tend to suck it out of me at times.  I also made sure it was chocked full of (not too) spicy sausage and healthy kale.  Yep, with all those Italian flavors going on, even my boys will slurp up the greens!

Last, but not least, I topped it all off with some crispy, crumbled bacon for another layer of smokey flavor…drooling…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 package Gnocchi 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4+ cups Kale (a Kale/Spinach blend would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk, plus more to thin cheese sauce if needed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped for garnish


First and ALWAYS foremost is prepping your ingredients to have at the ready!!  Chop and mince the garlic and shred the cheese if it hasn’t already been done for you.  I’ll be taking sous chef applications soon 😉

Now onto the cooking part my multi-tasking friends!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and on a foil lined baking sheet, lay out the bacon and cook till slightly crisp (about 15 minutes, rotating once in the oven).  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Keep the oven on, but drop the temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of salted water up to a boil (for the Gnocchi) and in a separate large pan, heat up the olive oil to medium heat and begin browning the sausage, chopping up with a spoon as you go.

Water boiling: add in Gnocchi and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top.  Drain and set aside.

Sausage: once cooked through and slightly crumbled, remove from pan and drain the grease slightly.  *leave about a tablespoon of grease please.

In the same pan that the sausage cooked in add in the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the kale and garlic and allow to wilt down.  Once quickly wilted, add the sausage back in along with the Gnocchi.  Remove from heat.

Pesto cheese sauce: in a medium sauce pan melt the butter and then whisk in the flour till it makes a rue (paste).  Now you will whisk in the milk for about 3 minutes till starts to thicken.  Add in the pesto, 1/2 of each the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and a pinch of salt and pepper.  *It may get a little thick here, so just thin by whisking another couple tablespoons of milk in at a time until you reach your desired consistency.



You’re at the finish line now!  In a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, spoon in the Gnocchi, sausage and kale mix.  Pour that super cheesy pesto sauce ALL over and top with the remaining cheeses.  Cover with foil and place in the 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  

Bump up the oven to 425 degrees and pull the foil off, allowing to bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheesy top gets nice and brown.  Remove from oven and relish in the “it smells soooooo good in here” praises!  Make sure to top it all off with the crumbled bacon..NEVER forget the bacon!  *Let rest for 5 minutes before serving..remember it’s going to be hot!  

Serve with a simple salad, warm bread sticks and you have yourself a hit!  

Mexican Tater Tot Casserole

Some parts call this a casserole, others call it a hot-dish..but I simply call it goodness!  Growing up we ate many a meal where you would add meat, a cream of something soup, cheese and vegetables mixed in and it was always good.  However, it was always the same.  Same, same, same.  So now that we live in a more foodie inspired world (I know, the word “foodie” would gasp to hear her name in regards to a casserole), I thought we could take the standard, cream of mushroom tater tot casserole, up a notch or 5!

Like always, feel free to tweak to your likeness.  Swap out the beef for ground turkey or chicken, the pinto beans for black beans and corn, or change up the cheese a bit!  Just don’t change it too much or you will no longer have that comforting classic we all grew up with and loved!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb ground beef, lean
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 pckg Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 1 pckg tater tots, enough to cover evenly

Spices (You can also easily use a taco seasoning packet)

  • I used a mix of cumin, chili powder, coriander, mexican oregano, salt, chipotle chili powder and whisked together.

Garnish (optional)

  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeños
  • Black olives
  • Green onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Salsa



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking dish (9×13 or similar) with non-stick spray.  Place on top of a baking sheet to catch any sauce drippings or melty cheese!
Next, bring a large skillet to medium/medium-high heat and add in the ground beef, chopped onion and the seasoning packet/spices, followed by the minced garlic for the last minute.  If necessary drain the grease from here.  I, however, used a very lean beef to avoid this one extra step. 😉  Cook through.

To that same skillet with the now cooked ground beef, add in the pinto beans, green chiles, half of the cheese and half of the enchilada sauce.  Stir to combine and then carefully pour into the casserole dish. Top with them taters!

Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce overtop the taters and place in the oven (uncovered to get crispy) for 40-45 minutes.

Time is up, so sprinkle on that last bit of cheese overtop and allow to melt in the oven, about 3-5 minutes.  You can even broil it if you like that extra crispness!  

Once to your liking remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes…this thing is HOT!!!

Finally top with the garnishes of your choice and serve up!  Enjoy!  **I recommend the sour cream once served as it’s quite hot and will melt quick! 😉 

Salisbury Steak Bake

If you’re like me, you’re getting really tired of summer by now.  That heat can see its way out!  That being said, I’ve been dreaming of cooler weather, leaves changing, pumpkin everything, football and hearty, stick to your ribs kind of meals.  

Even as a child I’ve always been a fan of Salisbury steak, but as an adult I’ve graduated from eating the frozen dinner version.   Now I definitely have made the handmade patties and floured, seasoned and seared up, but THIS recipe is actually even easier than before!  I’ve turned the individual “steak” patties into a baked casserole dish!  An entire MEAL in one!

*If you’re in a super hurry, you can of course use a couple cans of drained green beans and quickly whip up some instant potatoes.  No harm in that at all.  

*If using fresh green beans, just rinse and chop to your desired size.  There is no need to cook these before adding to the casserole mix.  They will cook while in the oven, but still keep a nice bit of crunch.  Texture to the dish = thumbs up! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups Green beans, fresh or canned 
  • 1 pckg mushroom, halved
  • 1 packet au jus gravy mix
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1/4 cup panko + 1/4 cup flour (or you can use all flour)
  • 26oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • *Mashed potatoes (you can use real or instant)

As a great cook always does, begin by prepping the vegetables so that everything is ready to go!  Also, if you’re making your own mashed potatoes, you can begin that now.  *Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Heat a large pan with a tbsp of oil (evoo, vegetable) over medium heat,  add the onions and sauté for 5-6 minutes.  Once soft and translucent, you can then add in the ground beef, dry onion soup mix and season with pepper to taste. *salt isn’t necessary, as the gravy will have enough flavor to it.  After the meat has been cooked through, drain any excess grease, leaving about a tablespoon in pan.


Next you can fold in the panko/flour.  This helps to “tighten” up the mixture.


The vegetables!  Carefully mix in the mushrooms and green beans, as your pan is going to be pretty full by now.  Also, in a bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, au jus gravy packet and the 1/4 cup of water.


Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Pour the meat and veggie mix into it.  Then carefully mix in the creamy soup to combine.


Finally, top this off with the prepared mashed potatoes and pop into your preheated 350 degree oven, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.  The last few minutes, switch to “broil” to brown the top and create a crust.  Just make sure to watch carefully as not to burn.


There you have it!  Family comfort food at its finest!  If desired sprinkle on some chopped parsley for color and added brightness and dig in!  Enjoy!!

King Ranch Mac n’ Cheese

King Ranch Casserole is as Texas comfort food as chicken fried steak and gravy.  The difference is, if you’ve never been to this giant state, you may of never heard of it.  Legend has it that the name comes from the “King Ranch”, one of the largest ranches in the United States…now no one knows the truth and every family and restaurant recipe varies, but they’re generally all made with the same few ingredients: chicken, diced tomatoes, onion, bell pepper and a creamy soup.  

Now here’s my tweak on it, instead of the normal layering of torn corn tortillas (lasagna style), I amped up the comfort level and made it into a ooey, gooey mac n’ cheese!!  Sooooo good and still Texas approved!

*A rotisserie chicken from your local grocer would work great for this as well.

**You can use a casserole dish to bake if you do not have an oven proof pan.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb chicken, cooked and chopped (2-3 cups)
  • 8oz macaroni noodles
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (I like spicy)
  • 8oz block velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 8oz container sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if cooking your own chicken)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho/new mexico chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded 

Garnish

  • Tortilla chips (I fried up my own, but I’m crazy like that)
  • Cilantro, fresh   

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If you’re cooking your own chicken (not a store bought rotisserie), heat a 10″ oven proof pan to medium heat and add in the olive oil.  Once hot, add in the chicken and cook through.  *Since I made my own, I seasoned with a bit of cumin, salt & pepper.  

 Meanwhile, in a large stockpot of salted boiling water, cook your noodles.  Boil for about 2 minutes less than package directions, strain and set aside.  Also, prep the vegetables! 

  

After the chicken is cooked through, set aside.  Once cooled you can chop up into 1″ pieces.

In that same pan that you cooked the chicken in, melt the 2 Tbsp’s of butter and add in the onion, garlic & bell pepper and saute for a few minutes. 

 Next add in the can of diced green-chili tomatoes and cubed Velveeta cheese.  Stir till creamy.  

 Now whisk in the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, chili powder, cumin.  Add in the chopped, cooked chicken.  

 Finally, carefully fold in the cooked pasta noodles and then top with the shredded cheese.  

   Move to the preheated oven and let bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbly.  *If you do not have an oven safe pan, here is where you can pour into a casserole dish, top with cheese and then bake.  **Make sure to place a foil lined baking-sheet on the bottom rack to catch any oozey cheese!

Remove and top with the cilantro and crushed tortilla chips.  

  

  

  

 

Cowboy Meatloaf

Hey, believe it or not..I’ve never been a fan of traditional meatloaf and don’t even get me started on that nonsense ketchup topping  (bleh!!).  Maybe it is because I had it all too often growing up or …well, I’m just not sure, but THIS is a winner!! (yes, I do like my Cowboy & Italian meatloaf.  I must be a bit biased ;))

This meal has all the great flavors of the West, without being overpowered by any ingredient!  The ground beef PLUS sausage is ideal, BBQ sauce for some depth & tang, combined with crunchy bacon & fried onions, potatoes and gooey, melted cheese!  Now you tell me what’s wrong with this??  Nothing!

Plus the mashed potatoes go right on top!  Not only is this kind of “fun”, but while it’s broiling, you can quickly clean up your kitchen, making for little to no cleanup afterwards!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb ground beef (lean)
  • 1lb ground sausage
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning (i.e Hidden Valley)
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 lbs potatoes (plus milk, butter, S&P), OR prepackaged potatoes fine too
  • 1/2 cup fried onions (i.e Frenches)
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • Non-stick spray

Garnish (optional)

  • Green onions, sliced
  • Bacon, crumbles
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Jalapeno, slices
  • Fried onions, (i.e Frenches)
  • BBQ sauce  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef & sausage, chopped onion, the packet of ranch seasoning, bbq sauce, breadcrumbs, chili powder, pepper and the 2 beaten eggs.  *I use my hands here..your best tools!  

   Bake this meatloaf (uncovered) in the preheated oven for 30 minutes/until cooked through.  There may be a bit of extra fat/grease once finished, so simply spoon a bit out of dish.  If there’s a bit left, that is A-ok!

**While the meatloaf is baking, now is when you’ll be preparing the mashed potatoes (whether from a packet or homemade) and you’ll also have the bacon crisping away, then crumble.** 

   The meatloaf should be done now, set aside for a quick second.  

Next, add the crumbled bacon (reserve a bit for topping) and the fried onions (reserve a bit for topping) to your mashed potatoes.  Top the cooked meatloaf with a good layer of these badboys and the shredded cheddar cheese.  Place this now back into your oven, set ON BROIL (baking sheet 6″ under broiler) for 4-6 minutes, until browned. 

         Once the cheesy-potato topping is browned and crisp to your liking, remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Yes..it’s quite hot!! 

 Cut and serve big square wedges topped with the garnish of your choice…pair with a crisp salad and my easy dressing, Redneck Ranch – Railroad Wife in Texas ENJOY!! 

 

Chicken Broccoli Parmesan Bake

Here is an easy comforting dish for these cool months that are approaching fast!  The creaminess, that crunch…oh my!  I do not know one person that does not like the combination of chicken, cheese and broccoli together..and if you stumble upon such a creature..run away!!

This meal can be on your family’s table in less than an hour and it WILL fill everyones belly.  Assured!  

IF you have any leftovers (it does make a bit afterall), just cover and store in the refridgerator.  The next meal, pop this back in the oven (now covered) for 25 minutes and then uncover for the last 5-10 to regain that great crunchy top!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs (4 breasts) chicken, cooked
  • 16oz bag frozen broccoli, slightly defrosted
  • 2 cans cream of chicken (‘with herbs’ if possible *Campbells)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio/sauvagnon blanc)
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened/melted
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded & divided (1/2 cup-1/2 cup)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste

Garnish

  • I like to serve ours either alone or overtop rice or rotini pasta.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Assuming your chicken is cooked and shredded or cubed (I prefer either a roasted chicken or Ill just quickly poach the breasts myself, which I did above) and that your broccoli is slightly thawed (I’ll pour it into a microwave safe covered dish, hit defrost for a few minutes and then drain any excess water through a collander) you can now begin assembling. 

 In a buttered 9×13 casserole dish, layer the broccoli down first, followed by the cooked and shredded chicken. 

 In a seperate bowl, combine the 2 cans of soup, sour cream, mayo, dijon mustard, cheddar cheese, white wine and salt & pepper to taste.  Give this creamy mixture a good stir. 

   Now you will simply pour this directly over your chicken and broccoli..use a rubber spatula to create an even layer and then sprinkle about 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese over top. 

   In a second bowl you will combine the Panko breadcrumbs, butter, remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and a pinch of cayenne.  Mix this together until the panko is coated in butter, cheese and spice and then evenly sprinkle over the top of your casserole. 

     Now that is ready to go, pop in your oven (uncovered) for about 30-45 minutes, until that top coating gets a beautiful crunchy, brown! 

 Let rest on the counter for 5 minutes and then serve, enjoy! 

 

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