Poblanos and Beef Casserole Keto Meal

I’m writing this recipe down so I can remember how to make it again. It began with the idea to make stuffed poblano peppers, but I decided to layer them in a casserole dish. These are not hot peppers. They are flavorful and relatively cheap to buy.

poblano peppers
Poblano peppers add flavor without heat

I seldom follow a recipe exactly, but the beef and peppers sounded good, so I began there. I bought Florida grown peppers and used ground beef from the local meat market. I also decided to add leftover stew beef (from cooking my broth) along with mushrooms, onions and garlic.

I’d cooked a spaghetti squash the day before and figured the two would work together. No pasta for me, and not for anyone on a Keto diet plan. But this meal would be delicious served over pasta as well.

spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash

Making the Meal

Slice poblanos in half and remove seeds. Roast both sides of the peppers in oiled / ghee pan – cast iron. (It may not be necessary to roast the peppers, but I did it.) Place in the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish. The peppers added a wonderful flavor to this dish, so don’t skip them.

Cook ground beef and add chopped onion and garlic when the meat is nearly cooked. After cooking, remove meat and create a layer over the peppers.

Slice a whole container of mushrooms and cook with more onions and some garlic. When done, stir in one can of organic tomato sauce. Add a spoonful of sugar (coconut sugar next time?) to cut the acidity. Dash of spices, such as parsley, basil and oregano. Scoop this out and layer over the meat in the casserole dish.

Shred mozzarella cheese and sprinkle over the top. Bake (covered for part of the time – my cheese dried out) at 350 for 20- 30 minutes until bubbly.

Carbs in this meal, approximately

I estimate that there are approximately 46 grams of carbs in this entire casserole, which means a portion (1/8 of the dish) would contain around 6 grams total. Plus add in a cup of squash = 16 grams or so per serving. I could be off a little bit, but you get the general idea. This is a Keto friendly meal.

  • Ground beef – no carbs, 19 g protein
  • Mushrooms – yes, good for Keto
  • Poblano Peppers – 1 net gram in one pepper
  • Onions -have some carbs, 14 g in one onion – I used only a few slices
  • Garlic – 1 clove, .9 grams
  • Tomato sauce – Organic, 6 g in 1/4 cup
  • Mozzarella cheese – 1 gram or less per serving size
  • Spaghetti squash – 8-10 g, 1 cup
Keto ground beef casserole
This had excellent flavor

Because I am following a time restricted eating program, I only eat two meals a day. This one would be around a total of 22 grams of carbs. If I eat well at breakfast, I can stay under the 50 grams or less recommended for a Keto diet plan.

Photo credit for the squash and peppers goes to Pixabay.

Ratatouille Recipe

This is my (easier and quicker) version of the original online Ratatouille recipe found at Tasty. I made a few changes.

Although it seems like you will be slicing and layering forever, this recipe does not take many vegetables at all so slicing was minimal. I used 2 very small summer squash, 1.5 small zucchini, 2 medium size tomatoes, and half (or less) of a large eggplant. I thought about digging out my mandarin slicer, but I really didn’t need it.

Most cooks used a large pan of some sort to create this dish. I decided to use three small round pans (about 6 inches across) because I am the only one who will eat it and I can freeze one of the servings.

What is Ratatouille?

The word “ratatouille” brings to mind that Disney cartoon about the mouse in the French kitchen helping a new young chef learn to cook. The dish for which the movie is named, is made of vegetables, usually the type that are harvested at around the same time in summer. This could mean all sorts of vegetables were used, and way back when, they probably used whatever was in abundance in the backyard garden.

I don’t know about the old original ratatouille recipes, but these days you see the dish as sliced and layered colorful vegetables. Because of this, all the various veggie flavors mingle while they bake. I was very happy with the outcome and ate it with some leftover noodles.

Ratatouille recipe
I sprinkled spices on before covering and baking

My own homemade sauce is my favorite, but this time I used store bought, low sodium, organic spaghetti sauce to save time. One medium size jar worked well to divide up between three small pans. I did sprinkle a little sugar on top of the sauce because the store bought sauce was not sweet enough for my taste.

I oiled the pans, then divided the sauce into each of the three pans. The sliced vegetables were layered on a plate (a few at a time) and then plunked into the pan. Once the pans were full, I tucked the remaining slices into the center and to fill in around the edge.

Vegetables to Use

The eggplant I bought was huge, so I cut each slice into fourths for layering. First I salted the slices and let them sit in my colander for about 20 minutes. This gets the bitterness out. Rinse the salt off before using. A Japanese eggplant, which is long and skinny, would probably work better.

I used 2 small yellow squash and only 1 and 1/2 zucchini. Since I only had small tomatoes, but not Roma, I cut the slices (from 2 small tomatoes) in half. The large eggplant slices I cut into fourths but only used about half the large eggplant.

Other vegetables that would work are thinly sliced bell pepper and onion.

Topping the Veggies

The original recipe I found said to add the herbs and oil after baking, but I sprinkled herbs over my slices before I covered them with foil to bake. It didn’t make sense to me to add all that nice flavor later on. Once the food was baked, I added nothing except a tiny bit of salt (because I add no salt when baking).

My Baking Time Was Reduced For the Smaller Size Pans

I used three small, round baking pans and baked them at 375 for 30 minutes, not 40. (They are covered with foil for the first baking sequence.) Once they were uncovered I baked them for an additional 10-15, which is less time than the 20 minutes suggested. My pans were small, so that makes sense. Just watch your baking time if you use smaller dishes.

Ratatouille recipe
Ready to cover and bake.

If you have a garden and can grow all these vegetables, your meal will be super cheap, and fresher than most. No wonder peasants were known for creating this dish! I wonder if they waited all year looking forward to tasting the first Ratatouille of summer?

I’ve seen some Ratatouille recipes baked in cast iron, but with the acidic tomatoes and sauce, I would use something other than cast iron. This recipe would work nicely in a pretty covered casserole dish. Or individual serving dishes / small cake pans like I used.

What to Serve With Your Ratatouille

Ideas for serving and eating the finished vegetable dish.

  • Serve over rice or noodles as a vegetarian dish.
  • Cook ground beef to combine with the tomato sauce to use as the base.
  • Make garlic bread (softened butter, minced garlic, parmesan cheese mixed and spread on bread and broiled to golden brown). Bread and ratatouille would make a perfect meal!
  • Serve Ratatouille as a side dish to any type of meat / fish, or in addition to a salad or other vegetable.
  • It’s awesome with macaroni and cheese! I liked it so much that the second time I made this recipe I put mac and cheese in the bottom of the pans, then the sauce, and vegetable layer.
Baked ratatouille is ready to eat
Bon Appetit

Ever since I found Ingrid’s Produce just down the street I have been a veggie cooking fool. Over the weekend I made a scrumptious tomato soup with fresh ingredients.

Thanksgiving Approaches and Here’s Our Dinner Plan

The image above is not from my dinner table but it contains all the necessary items for a decent Thanksgiving meal, in my humble opinion.

My son smokes the turkey on the grill. He just bought his favorite Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips which are made from old oak barrels that once held whiskey. The turkey was delicious last year, so I am leaving it up to him. 

This will be our second year together for the holidays and the guest count total is three!  Yes, it’s a small gathering.  So the focus is on the food.

Our dinner planning has begun. Turkey, stuffing and gravy are a given.  It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.  Also high on the list is mashed potatoes, Acorn squash and rolls.  I don’t eat much bread these days, so I will most likely skip adding the rolls to my plate.

Personally I can’t eat any of it without cranberry sauce as an accompaniment.   Last year I made my own cranberry sauce and I will do so again this year.  I added the recipe to this blog so I would remember how to do it.

cranberry sauce
Boiling the cranberries

Another new thing I did last year was to make my own broth. I used the turkey innards / gizzards or whatever all that extra stuff is called that is packed inside a big frozen bird. The broth is used in place of water in gravy and stuffing. And boy does it make a difference in flavor! Any leftover would make an excellent soup stock too.

turkey stock broth
Making Stock

Many people already know to do all of this, but I didn’t grow up with a mother who was a good cook. Most of my life I had to make most of the Thanksgiving meal myself, for my husband and kids. We never had much family around. After all the cooking, serving and eating, I had the clean up.

Thanksgiving meals of old, back when I was growing up and tables had to be pushed together to seat all fo us, the menu was larger. Aunts and grandmothers slaved for days to bring their homemade specialties to the table. Boiled onions, turnips, carrots, homemade breads, and many pies and desserts we included. My grandmother made cookies called monkey faces. There were so many before-dinner appetizers I had to be careful not to fill up.

Our simple menu will also include apple pie which I will make.

I need to find some recipes for after Thanksgiving. Usually sandwiches and soup use up the leftovers nicely. This year we have a new refrigerator which means plenty of room for keeping the carcass until I can use it to make soup stock the next day.

Have a wonderful holiday!