a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Make 5 Great Meals with Only Two Pounds of Ground Beef

Healthy, free-range cows give us healthy and tasty meals

In the following recipes the meat is rare---in portion,  not in degree of "doneness."                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
The reduction of meat does no harm to the taste, unless you are strictly a raised-on-cattle-ranch or  child-of-butcher beef eater! These are also very good "bare cupboard" recipes for when there is more month left than money.

Choose your meal possibilities from the ones that follow or adapt your own favorite recipes. You will soon learn to judge how much, or rather how little, meat needs to be included with the other ingredients to create a taste as satisfying as when you used larger portions. Feel free to make your own adjustments, adding and subtracting the quantity of ingredients to fit the needs of your family---both nutritionally and financially.

I make the most of my time by preparing approximately five meals at once using two pounds of ground meat.

Brown the meat, season lightly, and pour off any grease. Each pound of high quality, lean ground meat will yield approximately two cups of browned meat. Divide the meat into portions to make several main dishes. Use those that are "fragile" first, saving the hardy ones for later in the week.

The following recipes are listed according to quantity of meat used, from the largest to the smallest.

Lesli's Quick (and wonderful ) Soup
1-1/2 cups browned meat
1 onion, chopped
2 cans cream of something soup (celery, chicken, mushroom, or the make-your-own soup base recipe                                                          included here.)
1 46 oz can tomato juice
3 cups water
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. marjoram (do not omit---I don't know why but trust me on this!)
2 bay leaves
Combine the meat and onion in a large pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. Stir in the undiluted cream soup. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Makes approximately four quarts.

Our daughter Heidi has created a stick-to-the ribs variation by adding frozen mixed vegetables, frozen "fancy mix" (like California or winter, etc.) mixed vegetables and a can of kidney beans. She tops it with grated cheese just before serving.  More nutrition plus several more servings! Pasta is also a filing addition.

Place one cup of browned meat in a large pot. Stir in one package burrito seasoning mix (I like Lawry's) and 1-1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer. Stir in four 15-ounce cans refried beans (or as many as needed for your family) and heat through. Spread on flour tortillas. Top with grated cheese, salsa, sour cream, sliced black olives, chopped green chilies, etc. as desired. Heat in microwave for approximately 45 seconds each. Add chopped tomatoes and chopped lettuce, roll up and serve. Or, smother your burrito by rolling the tortilla with only the heated beans and cheese, place it on a plate and cover with with the remaining ingredients, as desired.

Watch for my recipes for from-scratch refried beans, flour tortillas and fresh salsa. They are all very easy to do----and of course, cheap!

Taco Crunch --- A Family Favorite
Empty four 15 ounce cans of Mexican chili beans (or, again, as many as needed for your family) into a crock pot. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup browned meat and some dried or chopped onion if desired. Cook on low three to four hours. (Or you can heat mixture on top of the stove if you prefer.) Serve "buffet style" so each can make it to their choosing. Start with a mound of corn chips. Top with bean mixture. Add grated cheese, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, ranch or Italian salad dressing and salsa, as desired, forming a "pyramid." We are to the point we fix this without any meat at all like it every bit as well.

Potatoes and Gravy
When browning the meat, leave drippings in the pan with approximately one cup of the meat. Stir flour into the meat to absorb the drippings. Stir until lightly browned. Add milk, stirring until gravy comes to a slow boil. Continue stirring until desired thickness is reached, adding more milk or a little more flour as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over well-seasoned mashed potatoes as a main dish.

You can also use this method with 4 to 8 ounces sausage and serve over biscuits.

Italian Sauce
Heat one jar spaghetti sauce. Stir in olives, mushrooms, etc. if desired, and no more than one cup of browned meat. Serve over cooked spaghetti. Or. . . Serve over a variety of cooked macaroni shapes. Top with slivered pepperoni. Put the mushrooms and olives on top rather than in the sauce, top with grated mozzarella cheese and you have a popular pizza shop speciality dish.

Vegetable Nacho Platter
On low setting of crock pot or over very low heat, watching carefully, melt a two pound block of Velveeta-type cheese, 1/2 cup medium or mild salsa, and 1/4 cup milk. Stir in 1/2 to 3/4 cup browned meat.
Provide a variety of vegetables on each plate---baked potatoes, sliced tomatoes, cooked broccoli, etc. and corn chips. Top with the cheese sauce. Garnish, if desired with sour cream, sliced green onions, olives, etc.

"Doctored" Macaroni and Cheese
Mothers and grandmothers have reported back, after attending my presentations and tasting the samples, that this is a big hit with the little ones.  The big ones like it much better than plain boxed mac and cheese, also.
Prepare one package macaroni and cheese according to package directions. Stir in one 8 ounce can tomato sauce and approximately 1/2 cup browned meat.

Cream Soup Base
(makes 7 to 8 portions of condensed soup substitute)
2 cups non-fat dry milk powder
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon granules
2 T. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed (optional)
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed (optional)
1/2 tsp. pepper
Combine above and mix well. Store in airtight container. To use as a substitute for one can of condensed soup, combine 1/3 cup mix with 1-1/4 cups water in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Cook one minute more, until thickened. If desired, add 1 T. margarine.

While not as good as the "real stuff" but it is surprisingly not bad, and as canned soups continue to go up in price, this continues to go up in appeal--- a real money-saver.

'til we eat again,
            Simply, Gail

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