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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dinner in a Hurry

Sometimes there is just not enough time at the end of the day to cook supper. One way to cut down on kitchen time is to cook a meat mixture ahead of time and freeze it in one-meal portions. That way you can cook when you have time and cut down on cook time when you're in a hurry. Here is an idea for a meat mixture that can be used in a variety of meals.

You will need:
10 lbs ground beef
10 cups total chopped onion, peppers, and celery
2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

You can use any combination of vegetables to get ten cups total. I generally use 2 cups peppers and 4 cups each of celery and onions.

Cook the ground beef. Buying a ten pound package is generally 40 cents a pound cheaper than buying a smaller package. You will need 2 large pans to cook this much at one time.

When the meat is done, add the chopped vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender,
but still somewhat crisp, 8-10 minutes.

Label your freezer bags. Use 10 bags if you want 1 pound of meat in each.

Fill with meat mixture. One pound ends up being 2 1/2 to 3 cups per bag. I used extra lean ground beef, which leaves more meat when cooked.

Freeze these bags until needed. This whole process, including chopping and frying, took less than 30 minutes. Of course I didn't have small children underfoot!
With the addition of a few simple ingredients you can now create fast and tasty meals. The meat mixture is easily defrosted in your microwave or on your stove top.

Some suggested uses:
Tacos: Add taco seasoning to a bag of meat mixture. Use for tacos or taco salad.

Baked potatoes: Bake a potato in the microwave. Cut open, top with meat mixture and cheese and heat in the oven or microwave till cheese is melted.

Stroganoff: Heat meat mixture on stove top, add 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons flour, can of mushrooms, can of cream of mushroom soup, simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in one cup sour cream and warm, serve over rice, noodles, or potatoes.

Sloppy Joes: Combine one bag meat mixture, one can tomato soup, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, one teaspoon prepared mustard. Warm through and serve on hamburger buns.

Or: Add to spaghetti sauce, lasagna, chili, or any recipe that calls for ground beef.
Or: Combine with rice or pasta, add a can of soup, and top with cheese, crushed chips, or fried onions from a can and bake in the oven till hot.

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