Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

meal ideas ~ casseroles... love them

Next to the crock-pot stews and other goodies, I love casseroles because you can make them when have some time, and then reheat and eat. Often they taste even better when you make it a day ahead and it sits. Casseroles are one-dish wonders that are easy to make and can be full of nutritious food combinations.  Here are two on my to-make soon list.

Gnocchi Meatball Bake
Steve, my best friend and husband, loves gnocchi’s. I haven’t made this for him yet, but it will be one of the first on my list when I get back to CA. This potato gnocchi and meatball casserole is the ultimate when it comes to Italian comfort food. Each bite is even more comforting when you know a serving  is a healthy choice.

Nonstick cooking spray
 1 16 - ounce package shelf-stable potato gnocchi
 1 1/2 cups light tomato-base pasta sauce
 12 ounces extra-lean ground beef
 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
 1 egg, lightly beaten
 2 tablespoons fine dry whole wheat bread crumbs
 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
 2 teaspoons olive oil
 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
 1 medium green sweet pepper, seeded, and cut into strips
 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
 2 teaspoons olive oil
 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pasta sauce; set aside.

 Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ground beef, the chopped onion, egg, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and fennel seeds. Shape meat mixture into 24 equal balls.

 In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, sweet pepper, and the sliced onion; cook about 7 minutes or until tender. Add vegetables to bowl with gnocchi.

 In the same large skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, about 6 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F), turning occasionally. Transfer meatballs to bowl with gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.

 Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

To Make-Ahead: Prepare Gnocchi and Meatball Bake as directed through Step 4. Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes; stir. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 217 cal., 6 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 31 mg chol., 577 mg sodium, 25 g carb. (2 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 15 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Lean Meat (d.e): 2; Starch (d.e): 1.5; Mark as Free Exchange (d.e): 0

Pork Stew with Amaranth Biscuit Topper
A fun take on a classic, this pork stew will be your go-to dinner recipe for deliciously guilt-free comfort. The hearty stew is topped with biscuits made from amaranth, a protein powerhouse that's packed with cholesterol-lowering vitamins and minerals.

1/2 cup whole grain amaranth
 Nonstick cooking spray
 1 1/2 pounds lean pork shoulder, trimmed, cut in 1"pieces
 1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
 1 teaspoon olive oil
 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
 2 cloves garlic, minced
 2 cups cubed sweet potato
 1 tablespoon cornstarch
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
 1/2 cup light butter

 Place amaranth in a small bowl. Stir in 1 cup boiling water. Cover and let stand for at least 1 hour.

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. 

Sprinkle pork with sage and toss to coat. In a large nonstick skillet brown pork in hot oil over medium-high heat. Transfer pork to the prepared baking dish. 

 Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the same skillet. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Stir in sweet potato cubes and 1 cup water. Bring to boiling. In a small bowl stir together 1/4 cup cold water, the cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; stir into mixture in skillet. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Pour into baking dish over pork. (Sweet potatoes will not be done yet.)

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.   Add biscuit topper.

 For biscuit topper, in a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, thyme, black pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in light butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add soaked amaranth and any liquid remaining in the bowl. Stir until combined.  Using a large spoon, drop biscuit topper into eight mounds (about 1/4 cup each) onto pork stew.
 Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a biscuit comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:  363 cal., 13 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 66 mg chol., 447 mg sodium, 40 g carb. (3 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 22 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Medium-Fat Meat (d.e): 2.5; Starch (d.e): 2.5

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