Fish Casserole

I baked a beautiful halibut fillet yesterday but it was too much for just me. I’ve had a craving for tuna casserole for several weeks now so decided to mix the leftover halibut in with the tuna and wow, what a delicious, warm, comforting bite. I grew up on things like tuna casserole since my mother worked as a teacher and I began helping her cook meals when I was about ten. This was always a quick and easy meal to put together, but of course, we used canned soup and tuna along with frozen peas and regular pasta. Nothing I use today except the canned tuna and frozen peas. I find having grown up on it and not having fresh tuna until I was well into my 20s, that I prefer the canned stuff even though it’s not politically correct these days to use it. Feel free to use fresh if your family prefers it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish (I found that my 12″ deep skillet made just enough to fill my 9x9x3″ baking dish). Put 3 quarts of water on to boil in a large pot. Chop either by hand or in a food processor:

1 small onion

4-5 stalks celery

8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms

2 medium carrots

Over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12″ skillet with deep sides. Add the chopped vegetables along with:

1 cup frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dry thyme

Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and carrot is softened, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, add one box (4 servings) to the boiling water of:

gluten-free pasta (I used a mixture of the heart of palm linguini which I love and some brown rice pasta)

Cook per package instructions. When the vegetables are ready, add:

2 cans tuna (I use the Safe Catch, low mercury brand that you don’t drain)

about 1/2 pound cooked white fish (such as halibut, haddock, cod), flaked

1 cup chicken stock (another 1 cup below for a total of 2 cups of chicken stock or fish stock if you have it)

In a small bowl, combine:

1 cup chicken stock

2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

Combine with a whisk until smooth before adding to the vegetables. Stir constantly until mixture is thickened. Add the strained pasta and place in the prepared baking dish. Top with a bread crumb mixture or French fried onions if desired. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Serves 4.

Creamed Salmon with Pasta Casserole

It’s one of those day when the snow is falling and I don’t want to go anywhere. Unfortunately, I neglected to get anything out to cook so what do I do now? Well, I had a can of salmon in the pantry so I pulled it out and mixed up this casserole. I added peas but asparagus or any other vegetable you like would also work.

Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large (4-6 quart) pot with water and bring it to a boil to cook the pasta. In a separate 1-2 quart pot, heat over medium high:

1/2 cup oil or melted margarine

Whisk in:

1/2 cup (more or less) all-purpose, gluten-free flour (I find I use several tablespoons more flour than fat)

Cook the roue for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour before whisking in:

1 3/4 cups non-dairy milk (anything EXCEPT soy)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon brown mustard

Reduce heat to medium. If the water is boiling add:

2-3 servings dry pasta (I used the Thai Brown Rice noodles)

1/2 to 1 cup peas

Cook according to package directions. Continue whisking the sauce until it thickens, more milk may be necessary to get the right consistency (thick enough to stick to the pasta but not gloppy!), reduce heat to simmer and add:

16 ounces of salmon (freshly cooked or canned, skin removed)

When cooked and drained, stir in the pasta and peas. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and slightly browned on the top.

Seafood Capellini with Lemon Sauce

Bought some beautiful scallops the other day and wondered what I could do with them. I also had a jar of crabmeat in the refrigerator and since I’ve been carving some seafood pasta, I decided to try something a little different. Generally, one can’t mix lemon juice with dairy since it curdles the milk. However, we don’t use dairy milk but plant-based milks so that doesn’t apply here. Basically, I made a white sauce with oat milk, grated in the rind of one lemon and stirred in the lemon juice, added the seafood and voila! Feel free to use whatever pasta and seafood your family enjoys.

First, put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to box instructions. Also in a small pot, boil (or steam):

1 cup frozen green peas

Next, in a medium saute pan, heat over medium high:

1/4 cup olive oil

When the oil is very hot add:

8-10 sea scallops (dried thoroughly)

Reduce heat to medium and saute on each side for approximately 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the scallops. Remove from the heat, reduce heat to medium low and stir in:

1/4 to 1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

Stir to combine the two, the flour should absorb all the oil. Stir while it cooks for 1-2 minutes. Add:

Grated rind of one lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (NOT soy)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk to combine and continue whisking over low medium heat until the mixture thickens. Stir in the seared scallops and whatever other seafood your family likes. Add cooked pasta and strained peas. Serve immediately.

Curried Ground Turkey with potatoes and peas

Another way to make curry! And so good but be sure to adjust the curry to meet your family’s tastes. It comes together quite quickly and has very little prep time – just dicing the onion and grating a little ginger.

In a high-sided skillet over medium high heat, heat until shimmering:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil (depending on the fat content of your ground turkey)

When the oil is hot add:

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Heat the spices just until fragrant (10-30 seconds) before adding:

1 pound ground turkey

Cook, breaking up the meat until the turkey is browned and no pink remains. Add:

1 medium onion, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Mix to combine, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in:

2 cups diced potatoes (or if like me you prefer them, sweet potatoes)

1 small can mild diced chiles

1/2 cup water

Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Add:

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the peas are cooked. Serves 4. Serve with either chopped parsley or, as I like, with wedges of fresh lemon for people to squeeze over their curry.

Hearty Pork Stew

I cooked a pork roast the other day and we only ate half of it so today I cut it up intending to make a hash with some sweet potato, onions and carrots. After I cooked the roast, I left the roasting pan out and it was cold when I decided to make some gravy to go with the rest of the roast when I reheated it. Threw in some cold chicken stock and all the fat congealed and I was able to spoon it out of the pan before I put it on the heat to get all the sticky parts off the bottom of the pan – made such a delicious gravy! So my hash turned into a stew, rich, succulent and soul warming on this single digit day in Minnesota! Let it be 9 degrees outside, I’m toasty warm in here with this stew in me.

In a high sided skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering add:

1 small onion diced

1/2 cup shredded or chopped carrots

1 cup frozen peas

Stir to combine and cover. Cook over medium low heat until onions are sweated and carrots are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add:

2 cups sweet potato (or white if preferred), diced and cooked

2 cups diced cooked pork

1 medium pear, cored and diced

Again, stir to combine, cover and heat until the pear is softened and pork and potatoes are reheated, about 3-4 minutes. Add:

2 cups gravy (see recipe for gluten-free gravy under sauces)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6. Some crusty bread would be great with it to mop up the gravy!

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

I know, you don’t have to say it! Another chicken recipe. This one can be fairly quick and easy. It’s a chicken stew with mashed potatoes (or in my case, mashed celery root and parsnips) on top with a few French-fried onions on top, baked for an hour (less if the stew is already hot). Again, like many of my recipes, feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand that your family prefers.

Grease or spray a casserole dish large enough to hold the stew and toppings. This will depend on the amount you need for your family, for me, I made a 4-serving size so used a 2-quart casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, add:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering hot add:

12 ounces of chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chicken turning after about 2 minutes to brown on the other side(s). When chicken is fully browned, but not necessarily fully cooked, remove from the skillet and add to the skillet:

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup carrot slices

1/2 cup green beans

1/2 cup peas

1 teaspoon dried thyme (or parsley, or herb of choice [I really like sage in my chicken dishes]).

Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are transparent, reduce the heat and cover for 5 minutes or until the green beans and carrots are tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Whisk into the remaining fat:

2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour or enough to absorb all the fat in the pan

Cook the flour for several minutes and then add:

3/4 cup chicken stock

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (anything EXCEPT soy)

Whisk to combine with the flour and get out the lumps and then stir frequently until gravy comes to a bowl and thickens. If it’s too thick, add a little more stock or milk. If it’s too thin, make a slurry of another tablespoon of flour and a little milk and add to the gravy.

Mix in the chicken and vegetables. Top the casserole with:

2 cups mashed potato (or 2 cups celery root puree (see recipe under side dishes)

Sprinkle the top with French-fried onions or paprika. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-60 minutes depending on if you bake it immediately or put it together to bake later as I did.

Easy Creamy Chicken Pasta Casserole

I do love chicken and I especially like creamed chicken. I find it a very satisfying dish, probably because of the combination of cream sauce, vegetables, and tender chicken. This recipe can be made with any type of pasta you like – from lentil spirals to egg noodles, spaghetti or heart of palm linguini like I used.

Grease an 8 cup (10x8x5″minimum) casserole dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a high-sided pan, over medium heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot (shimmering) add:

3 medium shallots, sliced

4-6 ounces of mushrooms, sliced (any type will work, I used shitake)

Salt, garlic powder and pepper to taste (about 2 shakes of salt and garlic powder and one dash of pepper)

Cook until mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add:

8 ounces of boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces (approximately)

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste (as above)

Cook, stirring frequently until chicken is well browned, about 3 minutes. Stir into the pan:

1 tablespoon all-purpose, gluten-free flour

If there is still oil showing, add a little more so that all the oil is absorbed. Cook stirring for about 1 minute to cook the flour taste out of the mixture. Add:

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup non-dairy milk (any EXCEPT soy)

Stir constantly until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through, depending on how cold the liquids are, 3-6 minutes. Add:

1/2 cup frozen peas

2 cups cooked pasta

1/2 cup grated non-dairy parmesan cheese*

When peas are heated through, transfer mixture to the casserole dish. Sprinkle top with mixture of:

1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons grated non-dairy parmesan cheese

Be sure to mix the oil and bread crumbs together before adding to the top of the casserole. Bake uncovered 20 minutes or until topping is browned (broil for 2-3 minutes if preferred). Serves 4.

*Any non-dairy cheese that your family enjoys will work in the recipe such as provolone or cheddar.

Easy Farmhouse Chicken Casserole

I know, again with the chicken! But there are just so many delicious ways to cook chicken and here’s another one. Easy and quick to make with pre-cooked chicken, this casserole covers all the bases with protein, starch and vegetables all in one mouth-watering package. So if you have some chicken (thighs, drums, breasts whatever) or leftover rotisserie chicken, this is a great way to use it up that your family will enjoy.

Make sure your oven rack is in the upper half of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9×13 casserole (or spray with non-stick spray). Over medium high heat, heat a medium sized Dutch oven and add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 slices of bacon, diced

Cook bacon until it’s crisp. If you don’t want to eat the bacon fat, drain it before adding:

1 tablespoon olive oil (3 tablespoons if you drained the bacon fat off)

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 celery stalks, diced

1 cup thinly sliced carrots (or shredded)

1 cup frozen peas

Reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables are softened. Stir into the vegetables:

1/4 cup gluten-free, all-purpose flour (I had to use 1/3 cup to absorb all the oil)

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup non-dairy milk (anything EXCEPT soy)*

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Stir, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all those wonderful drippings from the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently until sauce is thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add:

3 cups diced or shredded chicken

3 cups diced and cooked potatoes (I used a mix of sweet and Russet potatoes)

Turn off heat. Pour (or ladle like I had to) the chicken mixture into the prepared casserole dish. In a medium bowl combine:

1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

2 tablespoons avocado oil

Using a fork, mix thoroughly so that the bread crumbs are combined with the oil. Add:

1 cup gluten-free French-fried onions (or forget the bread crumbs and just use onions, oh so tasty!)

Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Serves 6-8 generously.

*The original recipe called for cream. Silk now makes a non-dairy cream which you could use in place of the non-dairy milk for a richer sauce. The Silk cream is coconut based.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Vegetables

Chicken is one of my staple proteins. I had some chicken breasts in my fridge that needed to be used but I didn’t have time today to do a lot with it. Chicken soup I thought! Quick, easy, not too much work. Then I thought about the lemon beurre blanc sauce I made a few nights ago to go with some fish and thought I love chicken and lemon. It won’t be too hard to put them together. This soup is the outcome of that thought process. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

First, heat a small Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it gets hot, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add:

1 small onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup shredded carrots

3-4 ounces sliced mushrooms (any kind you like)

Stir to combine and let cook reducing heat to medium until the vegetables begin to soften. Add:

6-8 ounces white meat chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Stir so the chicken goes to the bottom of the pot, or as much as possible. When chicken is browned, add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

approximately 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of one large lemon)

3 cups chicken stock

8 ounces of small pasta like elbows (I used green lentil safari)

8 ounces whole chickpeas

Stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium low so that the stock is on a low boil to cook the chicken and pasta, about 12-15 minutes. While it’s cooking combine in a small bowl (2 cups):

1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from one large lemon)

1/2 cup oat milk

2-3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

Whisk to combine the flour. When the pasta and chicken are cooked, add:

1/2 to 1 cup frozen peas

Cook for 3-5 minutes longer to cook the peas before adding the milk mixture. If necessary pour the milk mixture through a small sieve to keep any flour lumps out of the soup. Stir the soup to mix in the flour and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes while the stock thickens and the flour cooks. Stir in:

2 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4.

Of course you can add any vegetables your family likes. Asparagus would work very well in this soup as it goes great with lemon. And rice would work as well as pasta depending on taste.

Thai “Peanut” Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

My obsession with eggplant has been demolished and replaced with spaghetti squash. Such a versatile vegetable, low in carbs, and good either as a “spaghetti” type vegetable or as a mashed squash. In this instance, it’s used as a spaghetti. And of course, I’ve left out the peanuts and substituted tahini but really any seed or nut butter will work in this recipe. And feel free to adjust the last four ingredients in the sauce to meet your family’s tastes. I used a lot more of the red curry paste because I just didn’t taste it at the prescribed amount.

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut in half:

1 small to medium spaghetti squash (size depending on how many you want to feed)

Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and place face down on a baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted into the skin side of the squash. Baking time will depend on the size of the squash. When tender, set aside to cool while you make the sauce.

In a medium size saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (if you can have coconut milk, it would work well here)

2/3 cup tahini, sunflower, pepita, or other seed or nut butter

1/4 cup date sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy substitute for vegans)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons red curry paste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

Whisk to combine thoroughly although some heat may be needed to break down the seed or nut butter. Cook over medium high heat until it reaches a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cover and cook until the carrots and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Using a fork, scrap the flesh from the inside of the spaghetti squash from end to end. Add to the skillet with the other vegetables along with 1/2 to 1 cup of the sauce. At this point, add:

1/4 cup chopped parsley (OPTIONAL)

Toss and cook for 2-3 minutes until squash is heated through. Serve with chopped nuts or seeds (I used roasted pumpkin seeds, delicious!). With a small squash as a side dish, serves 4.

This recipe makes about 3 times as much sauce as is needed for the dish. I spooned the remainder into 1 cup canning jars and put them in the freezer.