Meatball and Gnocchi Casserole

I wanted to make a quick yet tasty casserole for when the boys got home after work, and after looking through my cupboards and freezer, I decided to make a meatball and gnocchi bake. I’d stocked up on shelf-stable gnocchi when I’d gone to the city because our small-town grocery store doesn’t carry it, and I can only eat the chicken and gnocchi soup so many times in a month, so I wanted to use them in a different way. This recipe was the ticket.

I used frozen Italian-style meatballs in this recipe, and I know it would be absolutely fabulous with homemade meatballs too. I just didn’t have the time to make homemade meatballs tonight, not that they take all that long to make, but I basically needed a dump-and-go casserole for a quick dinner. Since the meatballs I used were fully cooked, I simply browned them in the skillet, but if you’re making homemade meatballs, make sure you cook them in the skillet until they’re fully cooked through to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (about 6 minutes or so). You can saute the vegetables at the same time the gnocchi is boiling, and that really is the longest part of this recipe. From the time the gnocchi drops in the boiling water to the time you’re putting the casserole in the oven, prep time is about 10 to 15 minutes. Baking time is 30 minutes, and then you’ve got a delicious meal on the table in less than an hour. Win-win in our house 🙂


meatball gnocchi casserole 2


meatball gnocchi casserole plated

Meatball and Gnocchi Casserole

1 16-ounce package of gnocchi

1 1/2 cup pasta sauce

1 package (26 count) Italian-style fully cooked meatballs (or use your favorite homemade meatball recipe)

Extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 medium green pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion (1 small onion)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the pasta sauce, and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat about 2 teaspoons of the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat, about 2 to 3 swirls of the bottle around the skillet. Add the mushrooms, green pepper and sliced onions. Saute for about 7 minutes, or until soft. Add the vegetables to the gnocchi in the bowl.

In the same skillet, add another 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Lightly brown the meatballs on all sides. Drain and add meatballs to the bowl with the gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.

Pour the meatball and gnocchi mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the casserole, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.


Taste of Seasons Goodie Box

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Sesame Chicken Thighs and Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

Sometimes a home cook needs a little help getting dinner on the table. Since I work from home, I’m always looking for quick recipes and dishes that allow me to make something homemade for my family that don’t take too much time to prepare. And sometimes work gets in the way, and I need a little help speeding up the process.


While I definitely prefer to make everything from scratch, sometimes time doesn’t always allow me to do so, and I turn to ready-made sauces from the store. Shortcuts I’ve found that my family likes are the cooking sauces from Campbell’s. Yes, I know I could make these sauces from scratch, but when you’re pressed for time but you still want a home-cooked meals, these sauces have been a real time-saver for me. We’ve tried the slow cooker Tavern Style Pot Roast and the slow cooker Apple Bourbon Pulled Pork, and we really like both of these. Last night I tried the skillet Sesame Chicken sauce, and instead of cooking the chicken on the stove, I used the sauce as a baking sauce. It was pretty good. The family said they liked it and would eat it again. I think I’ll kick it up a notch in the spice category next time, but overall, it was a win for dinner.

sesame chicken thighs 2


Baked Sesame Chicken Thighs

1 package Campbell’s Skillet Sauces Sesame Chicken

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken thighs in the dish, and cover the thighs completely with the sesame chicken sauce. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 50 minutes until the juices run clear, or until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving to let the juices return to the meat.


I did, however, make a homemade veggie casserole to go with the sesame chicken. I decided it was time to start working on the frozen veggies that I put up last summer to make some room for what I hope will be a successful gardening season this year. We try to grow broccoli and cauliflower each year, and I had a few packages left in the freezer that needed using. Cheese goes great with just about any vegetable, and this is a casserole I often make when I’m craving broccoli or cauliflower. Of course, you can use just one or the other, but I like to combine them. You can omit or adjust the mustard powder if you wish (or substitute a little prepared horseradish) if you don’t like the spice, but I like a cheese sauce with a little bit of kick, and the mustard powder provides this.

cheesy broccoli and cauliflower casserole



Cheesy Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole

2 packages of frozen mixed broccoli and cauliflower

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

Salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add the frozen vegetables to the baking dish.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the flour to the saucepan, and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes to make a light colored (tan) roux. This will help thicken your sauce. Once you’ve reached a tan-colored roux, add the milk, cheese and mustard powder to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and cauliflower.

Bake casserole at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 50 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is nice and bubbly.


All in all, dinner was pretty good last night 🙂

sesame chicken and broccoli casserole plated

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Baked Mexican Goulash

Are you the kind of cook that looks through your pantry and wonders what could I make with these ingredients? If you are, you’ll appreciate this recipe for Mexican Goulash. I’d been working hard writing and editing, but I still had to put something on the table for dinner. I knew I had ground meat. I knew I had dried pasta. My pantry is full of seasonings and canned goodies. But I had no ideas running through my head.

When I get like this, I usually do one of two things: Italian or Mexican. Since I had more Mexican-themed ingredients on hand, including home-canned chili beans, that’s the way I went. The ingredients can obviously be changed to include things you have on hand in your pantry, and amounts are approximate. This is a throw-it-together-quick casserole that comes together quick for those busy nights, and you can top each serving with shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole or taco sauce if you prefer.


mexican goulash


Baked Mexican Goulash

1 box dried macaroni or rotini pasta

1 pound ground beef

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1 pint chili beans

1/2 cup salsa

1 small can sliced black olives

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and taco sauce (optional)


Cook dried pasta according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef until no longer pink; drain. Return the browned beef to the skillet, and add the package of taco seasoning according to the package instructions. Cook for a few minutes to incorporate the seasoning into the meat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, ground beef mixture, tomatoes, chili beans and salsa. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour pasta mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Evenly spread the sliced olives over the top of the pasta. Top the casserole with the shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely brown on top and the casserole is bubbly. Top each serving with shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and taco sauce if desired.

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

Visit Canning and Cooking Iowa Style’s profile on Pinterest.

Italian Chicken, Spinach and Pasta Bake

Normally I cook using ingredients I have on hand, whether it’s something I have growing in the garden or that I’ve canned/frozen during harvest. I do collect recipes, but I mainly get ideas from them (rather than follow them exactly), and I usually put my own twist on the recipes I see.

For tonight’s dinner, I had chicken breasts and bow tie pasta on hand, so I went searching for something different to make. I decided to do an Italian-style casserole because I love casseroles, and a casserole plus a salad and freshly baked bread usually feeds my hungry family – and when you have two young men (21 and 17) plus a husband with healthy appetites, you quickly learn to make large portions. While I used bow tie pasta, any small-shaped pasta works well with this recipe.



Italian Chicken, Spinach and Pasta Bake

1 box (12 ounces) bow tie-shaped pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 chicken breasts, diced into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Half a small onion, about 1/4 cup, diced
Garlic-infused olive oil
Salt and black pepper
10 ounces chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess water
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped (or use canned mushrooms)
1 jar good quality spaghetti or marinara sauce (or use homemade)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package instructions; set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with the Italian seasoning, combining to coat the pieces well. In a large skillet, drizzle a few tablespoons of the garlic-infused olive oil, and cook the chicken pieces and diced onion over medium-high heat until the chicken is nicely browned and the onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain any excess oil, and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, thawed chopped spinach, mushrooms, cooked pasta and cream cheese. Stir to combine. Add the spaghetti sauce, and stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated.

Pour the chicken and pasta mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top the casserole with the 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely browned and the casserole is bubbling. To serve, grate fresh Parmesan over the top of each serving.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Scalloped potatoes are a favorite in our house, and when you add ham to the dish, you have a meal ready to go in just about an hour. Casseroles are a good dinnertime option in our house, as I can prepare everything ahead of time, refrigerate if needed, and pop the dish in the oven once they guys get home from work.



Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

4 cups sliced potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick (peeled or unpeeled – your choice)
2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup diced onion
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place sliced potatoes and diced ham in the baking dish.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat, and cook the onions until they are translucent. Add the flour, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the flour begins to turn a light brown color, stirring constantly to form a roux. Add the half and half (or milk) and the cheddar cheese, and stir until the mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the cheese mixture over the potatoes and ham, and bake in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for approximately 60 to 70 minutes, or until the potatoes test done, and the casserole is browned and bubbly.

Days of Casseroles: Day 10 – Loaded Mashed Potato Bake

I found today’s recipe at Mom on Timeout, and I’m using the picture from that website as well, mostly because I mixed everything in with the mashed potatoes, and her picture is so much prettier than mine! No matter the looks, it tastes wonderful and pairs nicely with the roast beef we had with it.


This is mine 🙂


Loaded Mashed Potato Bake

9 or 10 medium-sized potatoes
8 slices of bacon
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Cook or bake bacon, and chop into small pieces.

Peel and cube potatoes. Place potatoes in a large pot, and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the water, and return the potatoes to the pot. Mash potatoes with butter, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, onion powder and garlic powder.

Stir in 1 cup of cheese and half of the bacon pieces.

Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Transfer mashed potato mixture to the dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bacon.

Place dish in a preheated oven, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted. Sprinkle with chives before serving.

Days of Casseroles: Day 9 – Pineapple Casserole

We’ve gotten a bit more garden put in the past few days. Kevin already had lettuce, radishes and peas in, and I planted 2 short rows of spinach yesterday. I’m starving for fresh greens for salads, so hopefully we can get a little rain this week to help these seeds pop out of the ground. In about a week or so we can hopefully put out our plants. We’ve started cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, ground cherries, peppers and tomato plants. I still need to find some Brussels sprouts, but then it will be the end of May for the rest of the garden. I discovered that my 3 granddaughters loved the mock zucchini pineapple I made last year, so I need to save room in the lower garden for another zucchini patch….so good to see them enjoying a healthy snack 🙂

Today’s casserole is a side dish, as the guys wanted brats, and I needed something that would complement them. I found this pineapple casserole on Tasty Kitchen. I’d tasted something similar at a family potluck, so I thought I’d give this recipe a whirl.



Pineapple Casserole

1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
20 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
12 tablespoons Ritz crackers
8 tablespoons butter

Mix sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Add the pineapple and cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Crush the Ritz crackers, and add the melted butter to them. Sprinkle this mixture over the pineapple and cheese mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Days of Casseroles: Day 8 – Sauerkraut and Pork Chops Casserole

We love pork chops, and we love sauerkraut, especially our homemade kraut that we make about every other year. Since we plant huge late-Dutch flat cabbages, we usually make a batch of kraut that lasts us 2 years. When I saw this recipe on Taste of Home, I knew I had to try it and give us another way of using up all that kraut.


Sauerkraut and Pork Chops

3 cups sauerkraut, well drained (I used home-canned kraut)
2 cups applesauce
1/2 cup chicken broth (I used Wildtree’s chicken broth)
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional if your kraut is fairly salty)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 pork chops, 1-inch thick (about 7 ounces each)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika

In a large bowl, combine the sauerkraut, applesauce, broth, bacon, brown sugar and seasonings. Spoon into an ungreased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil; drain. Place chops over sauerkraut mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yield:  6 servings

I admit to liking a Bavarian-style sauerkraut, which is a little sweeter than traditional kraut. My family, however, does not. This recipe definitely tastes like a Bavarian kraut, so keep that in mind if your family prefers a tangy, sour sauerkraut.

Days of Casseroles: Day 7 – Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

One of the recipes I found on Pinterest that I’ve been wanting to try is from Jo and Sue, a chicken cordon bleu casserole. I absolutely love chicken cordon bleu, but to make it the “traditional” way takes too much time for me these days. But I love the flavors, and when I saw this recipe on their blog, I knew I had to add it to my list of recipes to try during our experiment. And I was right – the family loved this and wants me to make it again 🙂




Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

6 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 1/2 cups cooked ham, diced
8 slices Swiss cheese
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 1/2 tablespoons flour
3 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
6 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken and ham evenly in the dish. Cover with Swiss cheese slices.

Melt the 4 1/2 tablespoons butter in a large pot. Add the flour to form a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken, which takes about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over the casserole.

For the topping, combine the Panko bread crumbs, 6 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, seasoning salt and parsley. Sprinkle over the casserole.

Bake uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Days of Casseroles: Day 6 – Sausage Egg Breakfast Casserole

My stepdaughter Jill and her three daughters were coming for a visit, and I decided to do a brunch-type casserole when they were here. It’s a traditional breakfast casserole that can be made the night before and popped in the oven when you’re ready to eat. This is a recipe from Trisha Yearwood on Food Network, although I added the onion because I like onions with my sausage dishes. 🙂


Sausage Breakfast Casserole

1/2 loaf white bread (I used leftover homemade white bread)
1 pound sage-flavored pork sausage
1/2 onion, chopped
10 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, slightly beaten

Cut the bread into 1/2-inch pieces, and layer them in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In a medium skillet, cook the sausage and chopped onion until the sausage is no longer pink. Drain the fat from the sausage, and place the meat over the bread cubes in the pan. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese over the meat.

In a separate bowl, mix together the half-and-half, dry mustard, salt and the eggs. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture over the cheese. Cover the casserole with foil, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the covered casserole for 50 minutes, or until set and slightly golden. Remove from the oven, and allow the casserole to set for approximately 15 minutes before serving.

Yield:  12 servings

1 2