Put It Away - Organization at Work or Home
 
Easy Meals Using Hamburger
 
Okay everyone, some recipes are hard, but these are NOT. These are the meals I use when life is going crazy, I don't have money to buy pizza (or I do not WANT to eat something frozen or fast).
 
Also you need to understand that you can make most of these in about the same time it would take you to go get something (or have it delivered). These meals are cheaper and 10 times healthier!!
 
First of all, I always have a supply of CHEAP canned goods on hand. I try to buy canned--
 
  • corn
  • cut carrots
  • diced and/or sliced potatoes
  • mixed vegetables
  • kidney beans
  • pinto beans
  • black beans
  • diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • peas
  • green beans
  • and anything else that YOUR family is fond of.
 
When I say cheap, I mean cheap.  In the Oklahoma City area, the store with the cheapest canned goods is Save-a-lot. They are off brands and usually 2 or 3 cans per $1. If they are on sale somewhere else...I go there.
 
A lot of people (including my husband) want to buy all fresh veggies when they go grocery shopping. My experience has been that most of it goes bad before we use it, because I usually am in a hurry to get dinner done, or I just got home from work and only have so much time before I have to take a child someplace and to be honest...I do NOT have time to wash, peel, cut, chop, blanche....so on and on.
 
Therefore, the canned veggies are great (I also buy chopped dehydrated onion and bell pepper). That way I just add stuff and it saves time and it is still nutritionally superior to fast food or frozen food.
 
I also can my own salsa from our garden veggies each year so I always have salsa on hand and you also need to have spaghetti sauce on hand. Personally, I like and use Ragú Old World Style® Traditional. I have tried other brands and other flavors, but the Traditional goes well with the other spices I use.
 
I also use Sazón Goya. On their web site they say, "Inside this box you'll find the secret to creating the authentic flavors of Latino cuisine. Goya Sazón’s special blend of seasonings makes every dish it graces taste truly exceptional. Just one packet makes a world of difference. For those watching their sodium intake, try Sazón Natural & Complete for the same great Sazón flavor and only a fraction of the salt."
These are the different types of flavor packets:
•Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (Orange)
•Sazón with Azafrán (Yellow)
•Sazón with Tomato and Coriander (Green)
•Sazón with Garlic and Onion
•Sazón-It
•Sazón Natural and Complete
 
Now don't think I am trying to just market these products, but they are crucial to making many of the dishes taste just right. Also, to be honest...they are fast and easy. Instead of making sauces by scratch and spending hours letting the spices cook in (not to count the time it takes to prepare the herbs, measure, grate...blah, blah, blah.
 
If you want Julia and Julia type cooking...you are at the wrong web site. I am an American mom who married a Spanish guy from El Salvador because I not only fell in love with him, but I fell in love with the food, music, and culture.
 
HOWEVER, and that is a big however, I am not the Spanish mama type that wants to spend 3 hours a day in the kitchen. I cook good, fast, and inexpensive food!!
 
One of the first things about my cooking is I use meat sparingly. But think about it...when you go to your favorite Mexican Restaurant you have rice, beans, guacamole, etc. on your plate and then a dish such as enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas....items that really don't have that much meat. The chips, salsa, rice, and beans help fill you up so you do not need too much meat.
 
And guess what!! Salsa, chips, rice, and beans are CHEAP to make. And I will show you how!
 
Cooking Hamburger
 
Okay. I buy 5.5 lbs. of Hamburger (it is the largest package) and I always buy 93/7. Less fat. It doesn't make sense to me to buy the cheaper meat (and the meat is the same price, they just put more fat in so you are paying less per pound). But then you have to drain off all the fat and throw it away so why mess with it in the first place? When I get home, I divide the 5.5 lbs. into 3 freezer bags.
 
When I am ready to cook, I grab a bag, tear it open and put the chunk of frozen meat in a big skillet that has a tight lid. I add probably 3-4 cups of water. 2 tablespoons of dehydrated onion, salt and pepper. Leave it covered, cook it on High, and turn it over about every 5 minutes, breaking the meat apart with 2 forks and scraping the cooked meat off the frozen lump.
 
Of course, if I were Wonder Mom, I might actually plan ahead and even have the meat thawed out, but that has happened only a few times in the 26 years of our marriage.
 
When the meat is cooked and is now in tiny pieces, you can now do about 20 different things to it. I would guess that if I am using about 2 lbs for 10 people that the average family would use 3/4 to 1 lbs. Believe me. It doesn't take a lot of meat...these are restaurant secrets...how to stretch your meat. ***(I went to the store yesterday and realized that what I thought was a 10 lb pkg was really a 5.5 pound package. Soooo...if I get 3 meals from 5.5 pounds which usually costs about $18 because it is the lean stuff. And I am feeding 10 people. The average family should be able to get 6 meals from the same package...which comes to 3/4 to 1 pound per dinner. So the average cost per meal would be about $3 for the meat plus .75 for pasta, $3 for canned goods and sauce, then .50 for spices, etc...so lets say about $7 for a meal that feeds 5 people. And if you buy the items in bulk your price will be even less).
 
Cooking Pasta
 
Add 4 Quarts of water into a medium saucepan. (You will learn quickly how much water you need so you will not have to measure each time...a quart equals 4 cups).
 
Add a T. of Vegetable Oil. Bring the water to a rolling boil. (T in cooking lingo is Tablespoon, t is teaspoon. Big T is big spoon, little t is little spoon as I tell my children).
 
Add in the 16 ounces. (1 LB.) of Elbow Macaroni Noodles.
 
Return the water to a rolling boil again. (Rolling means lots of bubbles...*Tip* : Keep the water at a continuous boil stirring frequently. This will keep your macaroni from feeling slimy or sticky).
 
If the water is about to boil over. Lift pan away from heat carefully.
 
If water begins to boil over the side of the pot, carefully lift the pot away from the heat source and turn the heat down to a lower setting. You might have to do this a few times before the burner cools down enough. This is why its best to start out on a medium heat setting instead of high. (As you learn how your own stove works, you will get to the point where you will know exactly how much to lower your stove dial and you will not have to watch it so carefully...but then you will be like me and totally forget you are cooking and turn the pasta to slime or burn it. HA!)
 
Cook uncovered, stirring frequently for about 8 to 10 minutes.
 
Taste test the pasta to check for desired tenderness at least one minute before the pasta should be finished cooking.
 
Drain it in a drainer.
 
 
Tammy's Goulash
 
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 to 1 pound ground sirloin or extra lean ground beef (ground turkey may be used)
  • 1 T diced dehydrated onion
  • 2 t minced garlic (more or less to taste)
  • 1 t Italian Spices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 10 oz.) Ragu® (I buy the large jars of Ragu at Sam's so I usually am just guessing the amount as I add. I usually add some, stir it in, if too dry, I add more).
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (the cheap stuff in the bottle)
  • Grated or shredded Mozzarella cheese/Cheddar cheese. (As I buy my cheese from Sam's as it is almost half the cost...I do the same as with the hamburger. When I get home I divide it up and put it into plastic bags.  I would guess you need 1-2 lbs of cheese to make it cheesy. You know how your family likes it!)
 
Preparation:
Cook ground meat with the onion, pepper and garlic, salt, and pepper as I explained above.
 
Cook Macaroni while cooking meat.
 
When cooked add together in 9x18 baking dish. (I also buy the disposable aluminum baking pans at Sam's as I usually double or 4 times the recipe. That way, I can freeze some to have for another time or to give away). Add Ragu. Stir all together until mixed well. Add more Ragu if too dry. You don't just want a little sauce, but enough to make it juicy. Sprinkle grated Parmesan on top. Then add grated Mozzarella and Cheddar on top.
 
Bake in oven on 350 until cheese is bubbly.
 
VARIATIONS:
 
Add a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies if you want it spicier.
 
Add a can of corn.
 
Add a can of black beans.
 
Add all three of above for Spanish taco taste.
 
Do you like peas? Add some...try new things...yes sometimes it ends up that the chickens get more scraps, but sometimes you will amaze yourself with what a great cook you are becoming.
 
 
Tammy's Taco Pile-ons
 
  • 3/4 to 1 pound ground sirloin or extra lean ground beef (ground turkey may be used)
  • 1 T diced dehydrated onion
  • 2 t minced garlic (more or less to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 pkg. Sazon Goya with Coriander and Annatto (Orange) (Remember that there are different flavors of Sazon Goya and sometimes I use different ones to change this up).
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans (drained)(if it is not 15 ounces, don't worry...it doesn't matter. Sometime when you buy off brands it's 14.5 ounces or other...don't sweat the small stuff...make do with what you have!!)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) corn (drained)
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 10 oz.) Ragu® Traditional
 
Preparation:
In a large Dutch oven or big stew pot, cook the ground beef with 2-3 cups of water and spices. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat until the water cooks off and it is thicker or leave it juicier, whatever you like.
 
We eat this with tortilla chips and put cheese sauce, salsa, grated cheddar cheese, diced fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce out so you can "pile on" your plate what you want. We also serve rice and beans with this.
 
VARIATIONS:
 
Oh my goodness! This is my easiest and most common meal. I do a variation of this weekly. This is what I take to pot lucks or use for fund raisers. You can start with 10 lbs. of hamburger and just keep adding stuff (I use the big #5 can of pinto beans, etc. and voila...now you can feed 80 people or more!) I will eventually have a fund raiser section in the recipes.
 
Instead of the beans add:
 
  • 1/4 teaspoon leaf oregano
  • 1 can (15 ounces) mixed vegetables (drained)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) corn (drained)
 
 
Or add:
  • 4 cans (15 ounces) mixed vegetables (drained)
 
 
Or add: 
  • 1 small can (4 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies peppers
 
 
Or add:
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) diced potatoes(drained)
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) sliced carrots (drained)
 
 
Or add:
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) diced potatoes(drained)
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) sliced carrots (drained)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) corn (drained)
 
 
Or add:
  • 4 cans (15 ounces) pinto beans (drained)
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can (4 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies peppers
 
 
Or add:
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) black beans (drained)
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) corn (drained)
  • 1 small can (4 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies peppers
 
 
I guess you get the point...do you want Chili? or a Soup? add more water, some chicken bullion or 2-3 packets of any of the Sazon Goya and you are good to go. Also REMEMBER that if you want soup or chili do NOT drain the cans...just add it all...or you can add it all anytime and just cook it longer to thicken it and not lose the nutrients that are in the liquid which is what I do if I have time.
 
 
Tammy's Beef Stroganoff
 
  • 3/4 to 1 pound ground sirloin or extra lean ground beef (ground turkey may be used)
  • 1 T diced dehydrated onion
  • 2 t minced garlic (more or less to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (16 ounce) package egg noodles
 
Preparation:
Cook ground meat with the onion, pepper and garlic, salt, and pepper as I explained above. After the meat is cooked and all the water is cooked off add the can of soup and water (or broth) as needed.
 
Cook Macaroni while cooking meat.
 
When cooked mix together in dish. (I always mix the pasta in with the meat...with spaghetti, too, or the children will eat all the meat and not as much pasta and as I am using the pasta to stretch out the meal.... just mix it together...also, if you end up with too much pasta just add more soup or a little chicken/beef broth to keep it moist and tasty.) By the way, I always have chicken and beef bullion in the cabinet to use when needed. many times if a meal needs just a little something.
 
Variations:
 
Use 1 pound sirloin steak, cut into bite size strips instead of the hamburger.
 
Add:
 
Grated Parmesan cheese (the cheap stuff in the bottle)
1  cup fat free sour cream
 
Add:
 
1 Pkg of the Sazon Goya (Personally, I like the yellow pkg...it  gives it a yellow color and gives it a Spanish twist..
 
(As you can see, my recipe above is VERY simple and perhaps rather bland, but that is what most children like. However, my husband and daughter do like a more Alfredo taste which would require the use of Parmesan cheese and sour cream. So I always make it like above and then set out the two items and they can put them on their own plate of food.)
 
 
Tammy's Spaghetti
 
  • 3/4 to 1 pound ground sirloin or extra lean ground beef (ground turkey may be used)
  • 1 T diced dehydrated onion
  • 2 t minced garlic (more or less to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 10 oz.) Ragu® Traditional
  • 1 (16 ounce) Spaghetti
 
Preparation:
Cook ground meat with the onion, pepper and garlic, salt, and pepper as I explained above. After the meat is cooked and all the water is cooked off add the Ragu.
 
Cook spaghetti while cooking meat.
 
When spaghetti cooked mix together in dish. (I always mix the pasta in with the meat...with spaghetti, too, or the children will eat all the meat and not as much pasta and as I am using the pasta to stretch out the meal.... just mix it together...also, if you end up with too much pasta just add more Ragu or a little chicken/beef broth to keep it moist and tasty.) By the way, I always have chicken and beef bullion in the cabinet to use when needed. Many times... if a meal needs just a little something.
 
Variations:
 
Use 1 pound chicken, cut into bite size strips instead of the hamburger.
 
Add:
 
Grated Parmesan cheese (the cheap stuff in the bottle)
1  cup fat free sour cream
 
My husband's favorite variation is:
 
Tammy's Chicken Spaghetti
 
  • 1 pound chicken, cut into bite size pieces.
  • 1 T diced dehydrated onion
  • 2 t minced garlic (more or less to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Ragu® Traditional
  • 1 pkg Sazon Goya (Orange is best, but you can try others...)
 
Add all the above with two cups of water and cook. When the chicken is done, add:
 
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (the cheap stuff in the bottle) to taste
  • 1  cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 small can (4 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies peppers
 
Cook spaghetti while cooking meat.
 
  • 1 (16 ounce) package of Spaghetti
 
When spaghetti cooked mix together in dish.
 
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