Category: Make Your Own


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Ground meat is one of the best buys around for reasonable priced meals for your family.  I buy in bulk when there’s a sale and prepare stuff ahead as much as possible.   Meatballs are baked and then frozen.  Meatloaf is frozen to defrost the day ahead of being made.  Ground meat seasoned with salt and pepper is cooked, crumbled and drained and then frozen.  Burgers are made and then frozen.  This past week Aldi had a sale on 5 lbs. of ground beef  for $9.95.  Another market had ground turkey on a BOGO sale so it ended up being $2.20 per pound.  One of these days, I’m going to experiment with grinding my own meat.  Ironically I bought a meat grinder to make veggie burgers, but it’s sitting in my pantry gathering dust.

First, let’s talk about meatballs.  I used to buy the frozen, precooked variety until my kids rebelled and said only mine would do, claiming the others are like little rubber balls.  I see their point.  The only way I can make this happen, though, is to cook them ahead and freeze them.  I make rather large batches, so I have at least enough for two meals when I’m done.

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3-4 lb. ground meats (use a blend of at least two – beef, turkey, chicken, and pork are all great)  Keep in mind, though, that beef really throws off a lot of grease, whereas the others are leaner and less greasy.  For that reason, I try to use less beef.

2 eggs

1/ 2 or so seasoned bread crumbs (in a pinch, I’ve used oatmeal, instant grits, and leftover quinoa)

2 heaping Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

16 oz. cottage cheese (or ricotta if you don’t have any cottage cheese)

Optional add ins:

Pesto, seasoning packets from Rice-A-Roni (ha ha – when I make prepared foods like that I always use 1 packet per two boxes to reduce the sodium, and keep the spare packet around for future use)

Prepare two 13 x 9 baking dishes by spraying with coconut oil.

Mix meats and wet ingredients by hand, gradually adding in the bread crumbs/oatmeal/whatever, so that you can form meatballs that do not fall apart.  Add sparingly, as you can always add in more, but you can’t take them out once you’ve put them in!  Sometimes when using ground chicken, the meat is impossibly sticky.  Using the grab and roll method with flour on your hands, and rolling the meatballs in a  little seasoned flour takes care of that!

Scoop meat mixture using an ice cream or cookie dough scoop if it’s not too sticky and place meatballs in baking dishes.  If there is no beef, drizzle with a little olive oil.  If there is beef, skip this step.

Bake at 375 F for approximately 40 minutes (depending on meatball size) or until golden and the internal temperature is at least 160 F.

Allow to cool, and place in containers to freeze for future use.

I defrost them overnight the night before I am going to make them for dinner.

Meatballs are so versatile.  Some variations we have enjoyed are:

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/buffalo-meatball-and-potato-casserole/

Ground meat 1 Buffalo meatball and potato casserole

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/stroganoff-style-meatballs/

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/meatball-sub-casserole-from-tasty/

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/coconut-curry-meatballs-using-imagine-thai-coconut-curry-sauce/

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/chinese-chicken-meatballs-adapted-from-guy-fieris-general-guys-chicken/

ground meat 3 gen tso meatballs

 

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/barbecue-ranch-chicken-meatballs-2/

barbecue ranch meatballs

Or simply bake them with your favorite spaghetti sauce topped with cheese!

Sometimes I make them big, like little mini meatloafs.  You can even cook them in a muffin pan.

The recipe for crock pot meatloaf follows much the same recipe as my basic meatballs.  Cooking it in the crock pot is by far the easiest way to make a moist, delicious meatloaf.

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/crock-pot-meatloaf/

Crock pot meatloaf

You can stuff uncooked jumbo shells or manicotti with meatloaf mixtures, too, or add in a little sausage to give it a zing.

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/stuffed-shells-using-uncooked-pasta-and-meatballs-for-another-night-or-two/

Stuffed shells

The recipe I use for burgers is more or less the same.  I put them in a Tupperware and freeze them until the night before we’re having them.  I cook them on a baking sheet, rather than standing at the stove flipping burgers.

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/burgers-cooked-in-the-oven/

burger cooked in the oven

There are a load of recipes you can make with precooked and frozen ground meat or sausage:

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/stuffed-poblano-pepper-casserole/

Stuffed Poblano Pepper Casserole

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/stuffed-bell-peppers-with-polenta/

Stuffed peppers

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/cabbage-rolls-deconstructed-casserole/

cabbage rolls casserole.jpg

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/cheeseburger-casserole/

Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/hawaiian-crock-pot-delight/

Hawaiian crock pot dish.jpg

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/shepherds-pie-using-leftover-meatloaf/

shepherds pie

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/gluten-free-sloppy-joe-cornbread-casserole/

sloppy joe

 

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/lazy-day-casserole/

Lazy day casserole

Baked Chicken Quesadilla

I was on my way home from the funeral of a dear friend and decided to do some therapy grocery shopping.  Tortillas were buy one get one free, and I had some leftover chicken, rice, vegetable, bean soup in the fridge.  My son, Donnie, has been asking for Quesadillas.  It was meant to be.

1 package soft flour tortillas

2-3 c. leftover chicken soup (liquid drained out)

1 package shredded Mexican cheese

Salsa, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Olives, etc. for garnish.

Cover two baking sheets with foil and spray with coconut oil.

Lay out as many tortillas as fit on the baking sheets (I had three each).

Place leftover soup, minus the liquid,  into a food process and pulse until the consistency of tuna salad.

Layer chicken on each of the tortillas.

Top with cheese.

Place another tortilla on top like a lid.

Spray tops with coconut oil.

Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes or until golden, rotating halfway through.

These were a huge hit, and easy and quick to make.  No wasted leftovers either!!

 

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1 pouch Imagine Thai Coconut Curry Sauce (OMG Yummy!!)

2 lb. fresh sausage (I used turkey kielbasa)

2 Tbsp. olive oil blend

1 can garbanzo beans

Leftover veggies (red pepper, zucchini, kale) for color and texture

1. Cut sausage into small slices using kitchen shears.

2.  Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat in the olive oil blend until cooked through.

3.  Add in remaining ingredients until heated through.

4.  Transfer to crockpot to keep warm until everyone is ready to eat.

Serve over rice.  (I used a brown and red rice mixture of Lundberg rice I had on hand)

We loved this!  The Thai Coconut Curry Sauce is one of our favorites.  I buy it in bulk (6 at a time) online.  Same with the Lundberg rice that we love!

 

coconut curry

 

I cooked a bunch of chicken the other night that I had marinated in Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco Sauce (Frontera is Rick Bayless’ brand – the best!) along with yellow rice and black beans.  Less folks for dinner, so a boatload of leftovers – enter meal two – Burritos!

Burrito and Salad

4 c. leftover chicken breasts – baked in Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco sauce for 45 minutes at 350 F

frontera key lime shrimp sauce

3 c. cooked leftover yellow rice

1 c. leftover black beans

2 c. Mexican shredded cheese

20 flour tortillas

Oil for brushing

2 prepared large baking sheets – covered in foil and sprayed with coconut oil.

Preheat oven to 350F

1.  Put leftover cubed chicken in food processor and process until finely shredded.  Add a little salsa, if too dry.

2.  Mix chicken, rice, beans, and cheese using your hands like you’re making a meatloaf.

Leftover chicken and rice for burritos

3.  Place 1/2 to 3/4 c. mixture onto each tortilla, and fold envelope style.

4.  Place on prepared baking sheets.

5.  Brush with oil.

6.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until golden.

So good, the kids said to make the same meal over again specifically to have leftovers to recreate the burritos!!

I served the burritos with salad.

I kept the lettuce and watercress separate from the tomatoes and cucumbers and let everyone assemble their own salads, to save salad stuff for tonight’s dinner consisting of chicken marinated and cooked in papaya poppy seed dressing, cooked at 350F for 40-45 minutes.  Another yummy, healthy dinner.

Papaya Poppy Chicken

 

 

 

I made quiche about a week ago because I had a few frozen pie crusts on hand, and wanted to make the kids breakfast.  It was a huge hit compared to the last time I remember making it.  Maybe their tastebuds are grown up, or maybe I’ve gotten better at it.  Then, I bought Immaculate pie crust the other day to make a lemon pie for Uncle Bob (with a recipe from Molly the Baker which I will post, even though I failed to take a picture of mine)  I had one pie crust left, so I decided to make another quiche this morning.  The Immaculate crust is soooooo good, I don’t think I’ll ever make my own pie crust again or use any other brand!

quiche

1 ready-to-bake pie crust (I used Immaculate and will NEVER use the others again!)

immaculate pie crust

7 eggs

1/4 c. sour cream

1 lb. sausage, crumbled, cooked, drained (I used Jimmy Dean  fully cooked turkey crumbles)

turkey sausage

1 c. shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

  1.  Bake crust at 400 F for 5 minutes or so, just until slightly golden.  Remember to either pierce it with a fork or use pie weights, so it doesn’t lift up.  When you pull  the crust out of the oven, immediately turn oven temp down to 300 F.
  2. Meanwhile, mix eggs and sour cream until well blended.  I didn’t even add salt or pepper, which you could, of course, but I figured the sausage would bring the salt to the party (it did).
  3. Stir in sausage crumbles and cheese.
  4. Bake quiche at 300 F for 50-55 minutes, until set.  (check for doneness by inserting a sharp knife in the center – it should come out clean

This can easily be made ahead, and keeps well for a few days!  Add in onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, other meats.  Switching up the cheese will really change things too.  I’m thinking of trying a brie and apple version next week.

I didn’t actually get a picture of this one, but instead put pictures of two previously posted “Empty the Fridge Chowders”  Making a chowder or chili is one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers.

4-5 c. leftover meat and starch (I had about 4 or 5 cups of some delicious boneless lemon pepper chicken thighs and brown rice and black beans that weren’t getting eaten fast enough.  I chopped the chicken up into smaller pieces)

1 bag Dole Chopped salad (I save the salad toppings and dressings from the chopped salad for future use).  Broccoli slaw would also work well as the fresh add-in.

 

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Combine the leftovers with the greens from the Chopped salad, and place in crock pot.

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Add in:

1 jar salsa (I used Muir Glen organic that was on sale)

3 Tbsp. bacon jam

1 Tbsp. dehydrated minced onion

2 C. chicken broth

Any leftover meat and starch will do.  I sometime even freeze leftovers I know will work well in a chowder or chili.  Make sure you label them, though.  They are often unrecognizable when you look at them in a container in the freezer.

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To the chicken, rice, bean, and chop salad mixture, I then added salsa, bacon jam, dehydrated minced onion, and chicken broth.

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Cook on low in the crock pot for 8 hours.

Optional toppings:  Shredded cheese, nuts, sour cream, crushed chips, etc.

Optional add-ins:  Any leftover veggies or starches.

 

 

Naan Pizza

Stonefire Naan Bread – I used whole wheat bought on sale (can be frozen for future use)

Sauce of Choice (I had leftover from spaghetti night that I froze for future use)

Italian bread crumbs (to thicken the sauce)

Meat of Choice (I cooked Italian sausage and froze it when it was on sale)

Pesto (to stretch what turned out to be not quite enough leftover sauce!)

Peppers (chopped and frozen when on sale)

Shredded cheese (Italian six cheese – you guessed it – bought on sale – also freezes well)

Naan pizza is a great way to use up leftovers!  It’s also a great way to throw together stuff that you can easily keep in the freezer.  Quick weeknights were made for dinners like this!

  1.  Spray large sheet pan with coconut oil.
  2. Place naan bread on pan and spray tops with coconut oil. Obviously olive oil spray would also work well.  I didn’t have any on hand.
  3. Separate leftover sauce over all of the breads to make sure you have enough.  My sauce was a little watery, so I mixed in some Italian style bread crumbs to thicken it.  I’m glad I did this, because I realized I was a little short, and added a little pesto to each before spreading.  I then took some of the fat from the sausage that came out while it was defrosting and shook it in the pesto jar and spread that around the edge of each of the breads.
  4. Grind up sausage in chopper until crumbly, or cut it by hand if you like bigger pieces.
  5. Spread sausage evenly over all the breads.
  6. Top with defrosted peppers – or any other veggies you have on hand!  I can’t wait to try this with broccoli, cauliflower, beets, mushrooms, whatever!
  7. Sprinkle cheese evenly over toppings.
  8. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!  I’m running to the store while the naan is still on sale and stocking my freezer for future experiments.

 

 

 

3 lb. ground turkey

1 package Chop Salad (any kind – keep the dressing and toppings for another time)

1 package frozen seasoning vegetables (onions, peppers, celery, and parsley)

1 can black beans

1 can white corn

2 pouches Frontera Lime Cilantro sauce – this is our favorite Rick Bayless sauce – all natural ingredients you can pronounce!

2 pouches Minute Multi-grain medley (uncooked)

Optional toppings:  Lettuce, tomato, avocado, red pepper, shredded cheese, black bean dip, etc.!

Brown meat.  Add veggies chop salad and seasoning and cook until softened.  Add sauce and cook in the crock pot 6-8 hours on low.  About 30 minutes before serving, turn crock pot to high and add in multi-grain.  It will absorb the extra liquid.  Heat tortillas and let everyone make their own burritos!

I had some leftover London Broil and wanted to make something different.  I shredded it up and made quesadilla with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese.  Yummy!!

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2-3 c. shredded beef

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1/2 each green, red, yellow, and orange peppers, chopped

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. butter

2 c. Mexican shredded cheese

Flour tortillas (I used fajita style)

Saute onion, peppers, and mushrooms seasoned with salt and pepper to taste in olive oil until softened.

Add garlic and butter.  Cook about 1 minute.

Add in beef and toss until heated through.

Keep warm over low heat.

Heat tortillas in oven or microwave.

Heat large saute pan over medium high heat.

Place one tortilla in pan and heat for one minute.  Flip.

Top cheese and then with meat and veggie mixture.  Sprinkle with  a little more cheese, and top with another tortilla.  Heat for about a minute, and carefully flip over to brown the second side.

Cut with pizza cutter and serve with lots of greens!

 

potstickers

1 lb. sausage

1 Tbsp. oil to cook veggies

1 package cole slaw mix

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 Tbsp. finely minced ginger

1 package wonton wrappers

1 small bowl water (to seal potstickers)

Cook veggies in oil and salt to soften and remove excess moisture.  Transfer to plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess moisture and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil and egg.  Add in uncooked sausage, ginger, and softened veggies.  Using your hands, combine until well blended.

On a dry clean surface, lay out a couple of wrappers.  Work quickly so they don’t dry up.  Keep unused wrappers under a damp paper towel.

Spoon filling into the center of each wrap.  Dip finger in water and moisten the edge of the wrap to seal, forming a half moon shape.  Place on baking sheet lined with parchment pinched side up.  Gently press to flatten bottom.  Keep covered with plastic wrap while forming the rest.

Use a large skillet with lid.  Over medium high, add 3 Tbsp. oil.  Arrange pot stickers fitting them tightly in the pan until bottoms are golden brown.  Add ½ c. water and cover with lid and cook 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove lid and cook 2 minutes more until most of the water is gone.

I prepared a pan lined with parchment and covered with plastic wrap to keep the potstickers moist until I cooked them.

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Mix sausage, cooked veggies, salt, soy sauce, oil, egg, and ginger.

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I worked using a paper plate and damp paper towels to keep the unused wrappers moist.

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I laid them out on damp paper towels working three at a time.

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They look more like ravioli because the wrappers were the small ones (by mistake).

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I had leftover filling, so I made meatballs and baked them.  Yummmmm.

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