Showing posts with label Ground Meat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ground Meat. Show all posts

Friday, January 18, 2013

Homemade Sloppy Joe #Dinner/Faster #Blogher

Some weeks are busier than others in my family. With kids in school, my husband and I working, dance lessons, swimming, and life in general, we are busy. Because we both work from home, and we home school our youngest daughter, there is a misconception among family and friends that we have lots of time.

Needless to say, there is never enough time to get it all done. I hear this from many of my friends, so I know it is a common thought for most families. Quick and fast meals are necessary when you are plowing ahead at full steam.

When I think of quick and fast dinners I am reminded of my childhood. My idea of what is quick and fast is very different from the way I grew up. For my mom, it meant a can or a box, and involved the microwave. For me, it means homemade and less processed.

This is the tricky part when you want something fast. How do you achieve speed without sacrificing good, wholesome food?

A few years ago, while living in Utah, I belonged to a dinner group. Our group of four ladies met once a month, and on that day we cooked and cooked and cooked. During our long day of prepping, preparing, and packaging, we laughed and got ourselves caught up on each other's lives. It was time to bond and forge friendships in an environment that we loved, the kitchen.

Our group's goal was to make 20 freezer meals in one day for each family, for a total of 80 meals. I know it sounds impossible, but we were organized and prepared to start early, knowing that our day would be long, but at the end we would have 20 fast and easy dinners for our families to enjoy for the month.

On a side note, what I loved about these meals in my freezer, is that if a friend was in need, I had something ready that I could drop off for them to enjoy. Usually it was the birth of a baby, or a family with the flu, but every once in a while they were for a family enduring the loss of a loved one.

The recipes included: spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, chimichangas, potato casseroles, chili and sloppy joes, just to name a few.

I enjoy the Sloppy Joe recipe because it was a family favorite, made from scratch, and incorporates lots of veggies. My kids love the homemade version better than the one served in a can. It is not as sweet and I think they prefer that too. I know I do.

I won't lie, this recipe makes a ton! For this reason, it is a great meal to make for a large crowd, or to store in the freezer in smaller portions for the weekend, busy school nights, or lunch at the office. And don't forget, Sloppy Joes are messy!

This recipe can be made in about 30 minutes, but to absorb the liquid and allow the flavors to come together, it should be allowed to simmer for about an hour, but remember you will have 3-5 easy dinners, lunches, or snacks for the next few months.

Freezing meals is a quick way to achieve a fast dinner in our busy lives. Many recipes can be frozen with great success. You also don't have to make 20 meals at one time. Start off small and prepare a few each week. Plan your menu, buy a few extra ingredients while shopping, purchase the containers, and have a permanent marker available to label. When labeling your freezer meals, you should write the name, date prepared( with year) and approximate portions of each item. This makes it easier down the road as you are sorting through containers in the freezer to know what you have and to keep them rotated properly.

Recipe: Homemade Sloppy Joe's
Makes 20 individual servings

2 lbs ground hamburger, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced carrots, small pieces
1 cup of diced celery
1 jar of roasted red peppers (7 oz), diced
1 can of crushed tomato's (14.5 oz)
1 can of tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
1 cup of ketchup
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey (add more if you want a sweeter flavor)
1 cup of cooked white rice
1 cup of chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add oil. Once oil is hot, add the cut celery, onion, and carrots. Cook until tender.

Add the remaining ingredients.

The temperature should be set to medium-high to allow the mix to reach a boil. Once the bubbles appear, turn the temperature down to medium-low and allow mix to simmer until much of the liquid is gone-roughly 45 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediately or package for later use. If stored in the freezer, recommended shelf life is 3 months.

This post is part of BlogHer's Dinner, Faster editorial series, made possible by Land o' Lakes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lasagna Cups

I am always on the look out for easy recipes to make for my family.  This is one recipe that I have seen a lot recently and thought to give it a try.

I write for a local magazine and for January my task was to come up with conventional recipes that have been given a make-over.  I thought this fit the tab perfectly.  When I think of lasagna I automatically see a huge 9X13 inch pan loaded with cheese, meat, sauce and noodles.  These little cups, baked in a muffin pan, give this already popular dish a sleek new look.

I don't have an original source to link this recipe to.  If anyone has that information leave it in the comments and I will give full credit to that person.  UPDATE: I was contacted by Connie from Smitten Foodie that she had made these cute lasagna cups toward the beginning of the year (THANK YOU for letting me know).  Please visit her site and see how she created her cups.  The ingredients that she used are different then mine so you will have two recipes to use the wonton wrappers for.

The cups were easy to throw together, even the kids could get in on the action and the best part was they were easy to eat.  

I went the route of using my leftover meat in the fridge and using an organic premade sauce.  If you want to make a simple marinara from scratch, I have this recipe that is delicious.  GO HERE.

If you would like to make gluten free wonton wrappers, this is a great recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoe String.  GO HERE for recipe.

Better Batter Gluten Free mix has a recipe too, go HERE.

Here is a video I found on the internet to show you how to make the a different gluten free wonton wrapper.  See below:

My kids don't have to eat gluten free, even though they do most of the time, so this is something I made when they had friends come over last weekend.

Sometimes it is  just nice to have options, and I like this option.

Recipe:  Lasagna Cups
Adapted from Smitten Foodie

Makes 12 cups

1/2 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1 cup marinara sauce or your favorite tomato based sauce
1 cup of mozzarella cheese, grated +1 cup for topping (see below)
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
24 wonton wrappers (link for gluten free wonton wrappers is above)

Topping: 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray your muffin tin with Pam.

Line the muffin tin with 12 wrappers.

In a small bowl combine the three cheeses and mix.  You can combine the meat and sauce too if you would like, I did not and they turned out great.

I used a small cookie scoop and added a scoop of the cheese mixture to the bottom of each wrapper.

Add a small spoonful of meat and then sauce.  Added the second wonton wrapper.

Repeat with cheese scoop, meat and then sauce. You should have two layers in each cup.

I topped each of my cups with more shredded mozzarella cheese.

Baked for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and wontons are brown.

Remove from oven and let set for a few minutes, run a plastic knife around the cup and remove to a serving plate.

See pictures below:

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cheesy Meat Casserole

I have had lasagna made with some pretty unique ingredients.

I love how people have their own interpretations on food dishes.  The combinations that I remember the most and are quite good but very different are: one made with Velveeta and one made with pepperoni.

Mr. Thompson always made his lasagna with slices of pepperoni and I thought it was super good.  The pepperoni added a bit of spiciness to the dish and it was quite the conversation piece when everyone figured out what his secret ingredient was.

The second unique lasagna that I remember is the one Cory's Mom used to make.  It was super easy and simple.  The secret ingredients were chopped black olives and Velveeta Cheese.

Every once in a great while I will buy a small brick of Velveeta Cheese.  We try very hard to stay away from overly processed foods and this one just screams processed to me.

I asked on my fan page if anyone had ever made the "From Scratch" version that is floating around on Pinterest.  Several had with varying results.

Most of the comments were recommendations of the types of cheese that I could use to get the same creamy cheesy texture of the dish.

I took their suggestions and headed to Whole Foods to chat with the cheese man.  I actually think he was a boy (lol, kids are looking younger and younger to me). He also recommended the same types of cheese.

I decided to go with the recommendations and this amazing dish was created at home.

OH WOW…the cheese combination is so good!

The three cheeses that were suggested and used are: gruyere, triple cream and fontina.  I will tell you that these three cheeses can be purchased in a wide range of prices.  WIDE…like ultra cheep to super expensive.

I went for the mid priced range and spent, are you ready….$20.00 on cheese.

I know, too much?  Never!  The cheese is what makes the dish so delicious.  If you want a top product you must be willing to spend the money for the result you want.

Will this dish get made often in my home? Probably not. I am thinking twice a year.  Twice a year I can spend the extra money to have a delicious in-my-home meal.

For those that want to try the Velveeta version, I have added the amount needed.  I will tell you that the cheese makes the dish a bit soupy right out of the oven (this never bothered me) so you may want it to sit for a few extra minutes.

I also don't have gluten free lasagna noodles so I used a whole box of wide rice noodles and it worked great.

This dish makes great left overs and a perfect casserole to share with neighbors that may be in need of an easy dinner.


Recipe:  Cheesy Meat Casserole

1 pound of hamburger, browned
3 cups of homemade spaghetti style sauce  RECIPE HERE
1 box of rice noodles or 6-8 wide lasagna noodles, cooked according to package
1 small can of sliced black olives, drained
1.5 cups of gruyere, grated
1 small wedge of triple cream cheese (similar to Brie), sliced with mold removed
1.5 cups of fontina cheese

NOTE: If using Velveeta, use enough cheese, sliced in thin slices, to cover two layers.

Have your meat browned, cheese grated or sliced and noodles cooked.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl add sauce to meat and stir.  You don't want you sauce to be too runny.

In a rectangular baking dish (9X13) start layering ingredients.

I did meat on the bottom, olives sprinkled, cheese, noodles and repeat.  I topped my dish with a final sprinkle of cheese. I also mixed the cheese's up on each layer (this is your choice).

Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Let rest for 10 minutes once removed from oven.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Shepherd's Pie (lamb) or Cottage Pie (beef)

Hello my pretty (see picture above)!

Yes, another all-in-one dish to end our week of yummy casserole style dishes.

I must interject a quick snippet of information here.  I grew up eating this version under the guise that THIS was Shepherds Pie, what I was actually eating was Cottage Pie.  So what is the difference?  That would be the meat.  A traditional Shepherd's Pie is made with ground lamb and a Cottage Pie is made with ground beef (the picture above).

I grew up eating this shepherds pie and to say it was my least favorite dish is an understatement.  As a kid I did not like my stuff touching each other and the thought of eating a cooked carrot was enough to make me gag, and gag and then gag some more.

I am sure my parents thought I was pretending, but I was not.  Carrots that had been cooked in my mind was like cryptonite to superman, they zapped my powers.

Fortunately my taste buds and sensitivity to cooked carrots changed as I became an adult.  Maybe I cook them different or the fact that I use fresh carrots and not frozen or canned helps too.

I decided to make this dish for my family when school started.  I desperately needed a few things in the fridge that the kids could grab and warmup in the microwave.  The problem is that when I made it they ate the whole thing…LOL

There were no leftovers.  The combination of mashed potatoes and ground beef kept them coming back for more.

This recipe is a general style of what you will find if you google the dish, but I like to add a bit of ranch to my mashed potatoes and I leave out the peas.  I know some recipes call for corn and next time I plan on trying that.

You can make this in a 9X13 casserole dish or use a stoneware bowl to cook the shepherds pie in.  I think this recipe would also make great individualized cups if you have the ramekins on hand.

Rachael Ray Stoneware 9x13 lasagna baker -white (Google Affiliate Ad)

Share with me your thoughts on how you prepare shepherds pie, I know there are a lot of variations to the recipe.


Recipe:  Shepherd's Pie

2 tablespoons of butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 pounds of ground beef OR ground lamb
4 tablespoons flour (I use brown rice flour for a gluten free version)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups of chicken broth
1/4 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups of shredded fresh carrots


2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of cream cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan ranch dressing (recipe below) or plain ranch

In a large stock pot, add salt and diced potatoes.  Cook until tender.

While potatoes are boiling, make meat sauce.

Melt butter, add onion and garlic. Cook 3 minutes.  Add meat and brown.  Add flour and tomato paste and cook 2 minutes.  Sauce should be dark in color.

Add broth, cream, worcestershire sauce and simmer over medium heat.  Simmer until ground beef mixture starts to thicken (6-8 minutes).  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 425.

When potatoes are done boiling, drain and add butter, cream cheese and ranch.  Using a potato masher, mash until potatoes are smooth.  Small pieces are okay, my family likes it this way better.

NOTE:  I do not cook my shredded carrots, they turn out just fine by adding them raw to the dish and having them bake.  You can also use drained canned or frozen carrots.

In a 9X13 dish, add meat mixture, a layer of carrots and finally the mashed potato topping.

Cover with foil.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  If you would like the topping to be dark brown, remove foil and broil for a few minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Recipe:  Parmesan Ranch Dressing

1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of finely chopped green onion
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt
dash of pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.

NOTE:  If you wish to make this thinner, add a small amount of milk or buttermilk.  Shake or stir really well.

I have not tried substituting yogurt for the sourcream or mayonnaise, but this is an option if you are trying to reduce fat.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hamburger and Zucchini Patties

Summer's in Maryland are beautiful except for one thing.  BUGS.

They are everywhere and combined with the humidity it can become quite uncomfortable outside.

Our first summer we stayed inside for most of it.  This year I had to find a way to allow us to be outside.  I can handle the hot and even a bit of the humidity, but the bugs are a force to be reckoned with.

It is not uncommon for me to go and shoot a few images, be gone for about 5 minutes and come back inside with 10 mosquito bites.

This is the reason for one picture of our hamburgers with zucchini.  I wish I had taken more, but you only really need one to see how the zucchini mixed with the hamburger creates a juicy thick patty.

To help us with our summer and enjoying the great outside in our yard, I made us a haven.

It's small, but so quaint.  We have strung lights in a variety of sizes and colors around the tent.  I placed potted plants at the entrance and embellished the chairs with cushions and quilts.

It is our little retreat from the phone, our computers and sometimes, the kids.  LOL

Inside we can enjoy a glass of wine, discuss the events of the day, read our favorite magazine or just sit in silence.

I love the simplicity that a simple camping tent in our back yard provides us on busy days.

Recipe:  Hamburger and Zucchini Patties

1 pound of grass fed burger meat
1 medium size zucchini, shredded
1/4 cup of red onion, diced small
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/2 cup of uncooked oatmeal
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce

Set your BBQ to 350 and preheat.

Combine all of the above ingredients.

Shape into patties.

Cook until desired doneness.  I try to only flip my burgers once on each side.  This gives them great grill marks and keeps them from possibly falling apart.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Patty Melt Sandwiches

Grilled onions, cheese, hamburger and rye bread.

Quite simply one of the best sandwiches.  The flavors are perfect together in my opinion.

Now don't get me wrong, I did say ONE of the best sandwiches.  I have many favorites but this is one that I have not had in a long time…like many, many years…a long time.

Growing up in the restaurant business this was a staple on our menu.  You don't see it very often now a days.  I wanted to introduce my family to something that was part of my school days as a teenager.

This and fresh cut french fries…OH boy those were the days of eating endless amounts of fried foods and greasy burgers.  LOL

I don't do that anymore and my kids don't regularly eat this way either, but every once in a while I am okay with it.

I love this recipe because it's a great use of simple ingredients.  I did not flavor the meat other than salt and pepper.  I wanted the onion, cheese and rye bread to be the star of the night.

I used two different types of cheese on my version to add a gourmet flair to the sandwich.  It looks amazing in the presentation and the combination of cheese's left you thinking about the sandwich well past dinner time.

ENJOY an old classic my friends, I know I did.

Recipe:  Patty Melt Sandwich

1.25 pounds of hamburger, enough for 5-6 patties depending on how thick you make them
2 whole onions, sliced
sliced cheese, I used provolone and cheddar
loaf of rye bread, two slices needed per sandwich
olive oil, for sautéing the onions

Combine your meat, salt and pepper.  Form into patties and set aside.

In a medium size saute pan, add olive oil and sliced onions.  Cook the onions until they are brown and reduced in size.  One onion only makes about 3/4 of a cup and this is not enough to do all of the sandwiches.  It will look like a lot of onion, but trust me, you do not want to skimp on the onion.

Set onions to the side.  Prepare cheese, sliced into thin sheets.

In a frying pan, add your bread that has been buttered, lay a piece of cheese on each side.  Add onions and then the meat patty.

Grill toast and combine the two slices of bread to form a sandwich.

Presto magic, you have a patty melt.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mini Meatloaves and Grilled Asparagus

Meatloaf was a staple in my home.  I remember eating it often.  I think it was an inexpensive dish that could feed a family and the meat could be stretched with the added ingredients of oatmeal and veggies.

I am not complaining.  I really like meatloaf.  I feel that as cooks we have come a long way with this dish.  I have seen meatloaf draped in bacon, served on sandwiches and filled with all types of cheese.

Sounds good to me!

This recipe is pretty basic and simple though.  I kept it that way because I have kids that get tired of all the "fancy" foods we eat and this is a good peace offering…LOL

I think that you could easily change a few things and have an adult version in no time.  Some options would be to cover the top with BBQ sauce, you could add more herbs and you could use a sharper flavored cheese.  I prefer using blue cheese but my kids don't like that as much.

This is a quick meal, one that can be prepared the day before and even frozen for a later date.  ENJOY!

Recipe:  Mini Meatloaf's and Grilled Asparagus, makes 15 

2 lbs of meat ( You can use just hamburger or a combination of Pork/beef/veal)
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 red onion, diced small
1 cup of oatmeal
1/2 can of diced red tomatoes
1/2 cup of ketchup
2 eggs
1 tsp. each of fresh Rosemary and Thyme

Mozzarella cheese sticks or the mini cheese balls
Ketchup for the top

Preheat your oven to 375.  You will need your cupcake pans.  A liner is not needed.

If you are using the cheese sticks, cut them into thirds and set aside.

Mix all of the ingredients until well combined.

I used a spoon and put the meat in my palm and shoved the cheese stick into the middle and then shaped it into a ball.  The little meatloaf's should stick up above the pan just a little.  They will shrink a bit when cooked.

Once you pan is filled, squirt some ketchup on top of each one.  I used a pastry brush to spread the ketchup around.

Bake the mini meatloaf's for 30 minutes.  Let them sit in the pan for a few minutes before removing them.  You want them to absorb the juices so that they are moist and not dry.

 For the grilled asparagus I used skewers to cook them on the BBQ.  I found this to be so much faster instead of turning each one individually.  Cook them for a few minutes on each side and then serve with butter or your favorite sauce.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1.  Share  this pos...

Popular Posts