The Inspired Cook

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Craving hearty casseroles

I don’t know about you, but when the weather turns cooler in the fall, I crave hearty casseroles. You know the type that’s practically a meal in itself. Not only are these dishes easy to prepare, but also they eliminate a lot of meal planning, which can sometimes causes mental stress especially if there are picky eaters in your family.

With these casseroles, there’s no need to rack your brain about what sides to prepare that would complement your entrée. All you really need is a green salad or maybe a piece of cornbread or a roll, and you’re done.

Today I’m sharing two of my original recipes inspired by my love of hearty casseroles and the cooler weather of fall. While formulating these dishes, I incorporated my substitute recipes, which I shared with you during the last few weeks.

In my sloppy joe casserole, I used my substitute for a popular corn-muffin mix while I used my cream-soup replacement in my turkey-green chili stroganoff. If you missed seeing my recipes for these substitutes and want them, you can email me at hattiekirkwoodkemp@, and I will send them to you. Otherwise, you can use a box of corn-muffin mix and a can of cream of chicken soup instead.

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Crust Ingredients:

                In a Jiffy Substitute for Corn Muffin Mix or an 8.5-oz. box of corn-muffin mix

                1/3 c. milk

                I egg

                2 T. organic grapeseed oil or preferred oil

                1 (14.75-oz.) can creamed corn

                1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

Sloppy Joe Filling Ingredients:

                2 T. organic grapeseed oil or preferred oil

1 1/4 lbs. ground beef

2 (8-oz.) cans tomato sauce (I used the no-salt type.)

2 T. double-strength tomato paste (It’s packaged in a tube.)

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 c. yellow onion, diced

1/2 c. red bell pepper, diced

1/4 c. green bell pepper, diced

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 t. prepared yellow mustard

1 t. finely-ground sea salt

1 t. minced garlic, fresh or jarred

1 T. organic apple-cider vinegar

2 1/2 t. Montreal steak seasoning

1/2 c. water

2-3 sliced scallions for garnish, optional


                Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

                Prepare the sauce by combining the tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, salt, and Montreal steak seasoning in a large mixing bowl. Whisk well; set aside.

                Into a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the substitute for corn-muffin mix, milk, egg, oil, corn, and cheese. Stir just until the ingredients come together. Do not over-stir.

                Set the batter aside and prepare the sloppy joe sauce filling. Into a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

                When the oil is hot, add the onion and bell peppers, sautéing until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

                Add the beef and crumble it with a spatula. Cook and stir it until no pink remains; drain.

                At this point, lightly stir the cornbread batter and spread it into the prepared pan. Place it into the oven and bake for about 12-14 minutes or until it is barely set in the middle.

                While the cornbread crust is baking, add the sauce mixture to the meat mixture. Stir it and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and simmer it for 10 minutes.

                When the crust is done, remove the pan and pour the sloppy joe filling over the top of the crust. Spread the filling evenly over the surface.

                Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. When it’s done, remove the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting it into squares to serve.

                Garnish each serving with sliced scallions, if desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Turkey-Green Chili Stroganoff


                Homemade cream of chicken-soup replacement or 1 can of soup

                1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped

                1/4 c. butter

                1 lb. ground turkey (Ground beef and chicken work great, too.)

                1 t. minced garlic, fresh or jarred

                2 T. flour

                1 t. finely-ground sea salt

                1/4 t. black pepper

                1 (7-oz.) can chopped green chilies

                1 c. sour cream (Low-fat and fat-free types work great, too.)

                1-2 T. chopped cilantro, fresh or dehydrated, for garnish if desired


                If using a soup replacement, prepare it according to my recipe. When it’s done, set it aside.

                In a large nonstick skillet, place the butter and melt it over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until it is translucent. Add the turkey and crumble it using a spatula. Cook it until no pink remains, stirring constantly.

Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly. Blend in the flour, salt, and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the chilies and soup, stirring to combine. When the mixture returns to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Thoroughly stir in the sour cream and heat. Do not boil it. Remove from the heat and serve over rice, noodles, toast, or biscuits. Then, garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Note: As you can see in my photo, I served it over white rice, of which I prepared one and a half cups of converted rice.

Yield: 4-6 servings