Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Topping

I think gluten-free versions of “cream of anything” soups are like unicorns. Very expensive unicorns. I’ve heard rumors of companies like Progresso making GF cream of mushroom soup, but haven’t found it at my local store. And I use soups like this so infrequently, it doesn’t make sense to order from my usual sources.

Luckily, I stumbled across a great Smitten Kitchen version of a green bean casserole with homemade mushroom sauce that was easily (easily!) converted to gluten-free. Add crispy fried onions, and you’ve got yourself that most traditional of Thanksgiving dishes — one nobody will ever know is GF. Though they will know it’s incredibly delicious!

Risotto with Peas, Ricotta, and Lemon

Once upon a time, I was scared of weeknight risotto. Everyone said it required too much time, too much stirring, too much attention. The latter, alas, is true. As is the stirring part. But you can whip out an excellent risotto in under 45 minutes.

This recipe reminds me of Spring.  The peas — fresh or frozen — add a lovely flavor. And the lemon adds freshness. Plus, if you can think of a better way to use up leftover ricotta, I am eager to hear your secret recipes!

Final note: I love me some bacon (or, prosciutto), but just omit it for a vegetarian option. Or serve the crumbled salty pork on the side. Also, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock for a truly vegetarian meal.

Traditional Lasagna

I’m not a huge tomato sauce person, but lasagna is one of my weaknesses. How could I resist? Gooey cheese, layers of meat and noodles, that sauce pulling the whole thing together. And because I couldn’t find gluten-free lasagna noodles ahead of time, I bought 12 boxes from Amazon. That’s a whole lotta lasagna.

The way I figure it, I have enough noodles to last me several years!*

It takes about five minutes of Internet research to discover that everyone has a favorite lasagna recipe, ranging from quick to laborious. Or, there is no wrong way to make a lasagna. Take what works for you and don’t worry too much about doing it “right” — as long as it’s tasty, you’re good.

This recipe involves making your own Bolognese sauce, so it will take some time (think of a terrific sauce simmering on the stove all afternoon, that’s what we’re doing here). Letting the sauce simmer develops a rich flavor — one I find hard to replicate with store-bought sauces (which, of course, I use when time is working against me).

As you will see in the notes, you can skip steps 1 − 6 if you are pressed for time.

* — Okay, truth: those noodles will be gone in no time since I’m testing different lasagna styles.

Chili con Carne

When the craving for chili hits, you gotta go with it. Otherwise, it haunts you. There’s nothing in the world that can be substituted.

The process of making chili ranges from complex to very simple. My recipe is in the moderate range. Do a little work upfront, then let it simmer for a while. It’s very customizable (see the Notes and Meal Suggestions). This recipe calls for beef, but you can go with ground turkey (or shredded turkey). You can use pork. You can use chicken. Don’t want beans? Don’t have to have ‘em.

In fact, there is only one, unbreakable rule when it comes to chili-making: do not skimp on the cumin! You can adjust this seasoning, that ingredient, but the cumin is essential.

Once we were at a friend’s for a Super Bowl party. I took one sniff of his chili and knew it would be good. The cumin was right there. He seemed surprised that I knew about the cumin rule. I think he doesn’t get out enough.

A note about heat. My husband loves his food very spicy. I am more of a medium, and this recipe reflects my tastes. As you review the list of ingredients, take your personal tastes into consideration. You can always start on the careful side and adjust the seasonings as you go.

Everything Gumbo

For the gluten-free eater, gumbo is one of those foods we will likely never enjoy in a restaurant. At the heart of this dish is the classic New Orleans-style roux — a mix of flour and oil cooked until it is a rich, deep brown. Roux is synonymous with gumbo.

But I love gumbo, and knew I could make an excellent dish using gluten-free flour, specifically, in my case, Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF flour. I also borrowed a trick from Alton Brown, using my oven to build my roux. This allowed me to do all my prep work while the roux turned a gorgeous shade of chocolate brown.

You can make chicken gumbo, shrimp gumbo, vegetarian gumbo, gumbo with okra, without okra. It’s your gumbo. This recipe has everything but the okra (which I prefer served on the side, lightly fried rather than in the stew itself). As a bonus, gumbo served over steamed rice makes an impressive they’ll-never-guess-it’s-GF party dish!

Chicken with Sour Cream Sauce

Yeah, I know. Another chicken and sauce recipe. What can I say? I love dressing up plain chicken to make it special. Particularly chicken breasts. Of course, this recipe can be made with any type of boneless, skinless cut of chicken. Which is great because the grocery stores of the world have just realized that customers adore chicken thighs!

Chicken with Vinegar Sauce

I love chicken. I love vinegar. I love chicken and vinegar together. I love it so much that when I cleaned out my recipe clippings a few weeks ago, I had, in addition to my own recipe, three others from various publications. Clearly I’m not alone in my love of this flavor combination.

This meal packs a lot of flavor and adds a note of elegance to a weeknight or weekend meal. Make sure you plan for leftovers!

As with all my recipes, adjust the proportions to suit your needs, but you probably won’t need to increase the amount of vinegar — one cup is the maximum you’ll need for most meals. And the chicken stock and heavy cream are about right as well…unless you are feeding a small crowd.

If you love garlic (and who doesn’t?), the cloves come out of the pot soft and a bit pickled, so don’t be afraid to add some extra.