Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cowboy Casserole: Paleo or Not, Your Choice

Since this past weekend was the long Labor Day weekend we decided to head down to the lake for some sunning, boating and a little general r&r. Saturday kicked off college football season and I knew there would be a lot of TV watching and heavy snacking so I had planned on taking some (tons of) nibbles with us.  We were having company Sunday and they were going to spend the night and be there Monday.  I really wanted to concentrate on the good food for them, which left only Friday night as my wildcard meal.  After packing for the weekend and driving to the lake I like to keep our lakeside meal prep  to a minimum and really like it if most of it is done before I ever leave the house. (How did we ever function without ziploc bags?)

This easy to prepare, simple supper can be made either paleo or not, the only difference would be the topping.  For a tasty non paleo dinner I would use cornbread* instead of the coconut/almond meal topping, but either way would be delicious.

Cowboy Casserole: Paleo or Non Paleo
You Decide What Works for You

For the filling:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons coconut aminos (paleo) or Worcestershire sauce (non-paleo)
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
salt and pepper to taste ( start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and adjust to your liking)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (non-paleo)

Brown the ground beef in a pan and remove it from the pan reserving the drippings.  Saute' the onion, onion, garlic, green pepper, and carrots in the beef fat until it is well wilted, but not browned. (If you have extremely lean ground beef you might need to add a little olive oil.  I found none was needed with  80/20 ground beef) Put the beef back into the pan mixing the veggies well.  Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes.  Plop in all the seasonings stir very well and cook on a medium low heat about 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and all the flavors are legally married.

If you are taking this to another location let the mixture cool and put it in a ziploc bag and straight into an iced cooler.  If you are just making this for supper spread the mix in a 9x9 greased deep baking dish.  I used coconut oil to grease mine, but I am trying very hard to be paleo compliant.  If you are not, use whatever product suits your fancy, either in spray form or any rubbed in fat you choose.  For those on a non-paleo plan sprinkle the cheese over the beef mixture. (All paleo people drool not at the thought of that melty cheese you/we can't have)

Add the topping of your choice and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve.  It is a hot, comforting meal that only requires a salad of some sort to be a complete meal.

I used the paleo topping and none of the non-paleo people eating it complained at all.  I thought it was delicious and they even thought it was very good, but truthfully both said they would rather have regular cornbread as their topping because no matter how you bake it, coconut flour always leaves a slightly sweet coconut flavor. If grain breads are not in your wheelhouse the coconut flour bread is more than delicious.  If you eat grains you would probably opt for cornbread.  When I make this again I will portion out 1/3 of the beef mixture and make me a personal casserole using the paleo topping and I will whip up a small cornbread batch for theirs.  That way I will be compliant and they will be even happier.

Paleo Bread Topping
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, room temperature, beaten
2 tablespoons melted ghee
2 tablespoons melted bacon fat (can use melted coconut oil, but why?)
1/4 cup almond milk

Mix all the dry ingredients well.  Mix together the eggs and the fats.  Slowly add the almond milk while beating.  Add to the dry ingredients, stir to blend well and spread an even thickness over the beef mixture.

Non-Paleo Cornbread Topping
1 1/2 cups medium grind corn meal
3/4 cup flour
2 12 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup  buttermilk

Mix the dry ingredients together, add the egg and buttermilk and stir until  it is smooth. Spread over the beef  and cheese mixture and bake for about 30 minutes.

This is great for dinner and delicious nuked and served as a leftover meal.  Enjoy whichever way you choose.  Of course until something chocolate and irresistible comes along I am Team Paleo.


  1. Oh how I LOVE nibbles!!!!!!
    Sorry I have been out lately, its been crazy at my house. Hmmm, I seem to say that a lot.

  2. Nibbles are fantastic, paleo nibbles not so great. Life is getting much more complicated and crazy!

  3. That looks good! I think I'm going to have to make that soon. My husband is not a big casserole fan but we're going on 14 years of marriage now so he can eat what I make or not, haha!

    1. The deal here is you eat what is made or fend for yourself. Since TheHub can only make grits and grilled cheese sandwiches he eats whatever is cooked and never complains but will occasionally say we can wait a lot of months before we have some things again. My only issue with him is his aversion to leftovers, so I reform and reshape them and he thinks he is eating new food.

  4. I'm not doing Paleo, so I definitely vote for cornbread.

  5. I secretly vote cornbread also, but make the paleo topping anyway

  6. Glad you had a great time at the lake! I love one pot meals. Can't wait for it to get chilly enough for chili.

    1. Me either, Brandi! Chili and sweater weather is the best!