Cooking · Food · Recipe of the Month

Kitchen Building Blocks: Ground Beef Mix

I learned to make this handy mix years ago. It is the basis for pasta sauces, meatloaves, meat balls, or hamburgers. The ingredients are simple and probably have a place in your pantry.

I’ve been known to make batches and put them in the freezer for later use. This is especially helpful when there is a sale on at the market.

All Purpose Ground Beef Mix

This is the House Mix. It has all the basics mixed in so all I have to do is add any extras for recipes.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Author Janet

Equipment

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Freezer Containers

Ingredients

  • 2 pound ground beef or ground chuck The lower the fat content the milder the flavor.
  • 1 pound sausage meat remove any casings
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg beaten

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, add egg, salt, pepper, onion, and garlic powder. Beat to combine. Add meats and mix only until fully combined – do not over mix.
  • If freezing, separate into portions and add to containers. Don't forget to label the containers with the contents and the date prepared. Freeze.
  • When you are ready to use, take the container out of the freezer the day before and defrost in the refrigerator.

Notes

This is a base recipe. You can multiply it for larger quantities of ground beef.
For example, if you had 5 pounds of ground beef you would add 2 1/2 pounds of ground sausage and multiply the seasonings to taste.
If you want to check the seasonings, fry a small piece of the mixture.  Do not eat raw meat.
You can also use fresh onion, garlic or any other flavoring in place of the powdered version. Onion, celery, green peppers, and garlic can be chopped to the size you desire and added to the meat mixture in place of the dried seasonings. When I do this, I chop as finely as possible as I do not like to chew on pieces of vegetable. 🙂
Cooking · Dining · Food · Recipe of the Month

Vintage Food: Waldorf Salad

For those of us who grew up in the 1960s, the Waldorf Salad was part of the holiday menu. It was one of those ‘kept for special’ recipes that were brought out along with the other holiday staples like roast turkey, candied sweet potatoes and the like.

I recently found myself thinking about this almost forgotten favorite when I purchased some chicken salad for sandwiches. It came with shredded cooked chicken, and pecans, cranberries mixed with mayo. Delicious!

As I said, I got to remembering the Original Waldorf Salad recipe and thought I’d look it up. As you can see from the link, at the very beginning, the salad was simple, elegant and easy to prepare. It was also easy to update.

Adding sliced grapes, shredded chicken, maybe some bleu cheese changes the flavor profile and adds a bit more interest. You literally can gussie this one up in a variety of ways to make it more modern, but why? Really, the original is light, flavorful and has a nice combination of textures that will work well alongside a menu including roast chicken. I would think it might also be a nice side with a roast beef. I’d probably shy away from a roast pork as the meat might be a bit too rich. Then again, maybe not.

If you have never tried the Waldorf Salad, in any of its forms, I urge you to check the link above for the original recipe and see what you think. It might just become a part of your regular rotation – if not your holiday menu.

Let me know what you think!

Cooking · Food · Musings

This Made My Heart Smile

I’ve long been a fan / admirer / pupil of Jacques Pepin. I enjoy spending time with him in the kitchen. Any kitchen. What he brings to the table is not only a wide knowledge of food and technique, but an ingrained frugality. There is rarely any frivolity in his menus.

That is not to say that there isn’t a touch of whimsy floating about. If you watch any of his cookery shows for very long, you will no doubt catch bits and pieces of his humor, his cheekiness, his love of the kitchen – and people.

Chef Pepin’s menus encompass using the best of what is available and wasting very, very little. It comes from his background in France growing up during World War II when food, among everything else, was exceptionally scarce.

As a result, he learned how to stretch the proverbial penny until it squeaked, making meals out of what might seem nothing into something rich, satisfying, comforting, delicious.

I encourage you to spend some time with Chef in his kitchen. Listen carefully and learn as much as you can. He is eager to teach you, help you, mentor you so you, too, can make wonderful food for those you love.

Truly, Happy Cooking!

Food

My Favorite Kitchen Tools: The Food Processor

I admit I don’t use mine nearly enough. I know some folks who have never used one and aren’t really sure if they need one. I know some folks only pull it out during the holidays.

It truly has become a work horse in the kitchen, tackling chores that used to be done by hand or maybe with other machines.

What is it? The food processor.

I bought my first one years ago after watching one of the PBS chefs use it to make biscuits and pie dough. I figured if she could do it, so could I. I’ll be honest, I have yet to try either one in my machine but knowing it can be done lends an air of possibility.

Not sure what you can do with one? Check this out:

Possibilities!

If you are looking for an excellent book filled with tips, tricks and recipes, check out The Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz. The 30th anniversary edition is available on Amazon, among other places.

America’s Test Kitchen has compiled a book of their tips, tricks, and recipes in addition to what to look for and consider when buying a food processor. You can find “Food Processor Perfection: 75 Amazing Ways to Use the Most Powerful Tool in Your Kitchen” on Amazon.

Why Have One?

I love to cook, but there are some tasks that I simply do not like. For example: Grating anything. Every grater I’ve ever owned has rusted, taken more of my skin than is reasonably necessary and basically made the job more of a hassle than it is worth. Solution: The grating discs that come with the machine make grating everything easier. Cheese, vegetables, you name it. Simple.

The slicing blade makes prepping potatoes for fries easy, tomatoes might be a bit more difficult – depends upon the ripeness of the fruit and the sharpness of the blade.

Food for Thought

If you aren’t sure about spending a lot of cash on a machine you might not use a lot, do what I did. Once the first machine left the kitchen, I picked up a much less expensive model that I am quite happy with. I don’t use it a lot, but it has all the same features as the more expensive models and is the same size (11 cup) bowl so I have a lot of flexibility. Should I decide I need to move up once again to a higher end model, I can do that, but for now, I’m happy with what I’ve got.

While you might be tempted to go the less expensive route, I do suggest you consider what you might be using yours for. If you are thinking bread or cookie doughs check the reviews Very Carefully. Some machines simply can not handle them.

Also, I would caution to not go for a smaller machine. The standard 11 cup machine allows you a lot of flexibility where a smaller one just doesn’t have the capacity. You end up working harder, which defeats the purpose of the machine, right?

If you want to make meal prep easier and faster, the food processor is the machine to consider. You will be amazed at the range of foods you can prepare in the machine, too.

  • Slicing, chopping or shredding fruits or vegetables
  • Grinding meat
  • Making pie or biscuit dough
  • Making cakes
  • Pureeing fruits or vegetables
  • Making breads
  • Making sorbets or soups

I hope this has helped if you are considering a machine. If you are a user, I’d love to know what you use yours for.

Around the House · Crafting · Food · Media · Musings

When Was The Last Time You

Thanks to a comment by Jackie Bolhuis recently, I replaced my stamp pads which brought me up to date and allowed me to get rid of old, well used pads. This got me to thinking about all the other things that tend to get put off until ‘later’.

Quilters / Sewers
  • Changed the needle in your machine
  • Gathered all your notions and put them in their assigned spots.
  • Sharpened scissors
  • Replaced blades on rotary cutters
  • Checked your UFOs and decided which to work on and which to discard
Cooks
  • Updated your inventory
    • What needs to be used in the freezer or fridge?
    • What needs to be replaced?
  • Checked the expiration dates on your spices
  • Reviewed those recipes you’ve saved ‘until later’
Media Review
  • Reset your modem
  • Reviewed the streaming channels you subscribe to
  • Checked those subscriptions you have but might not keep up with
  • Reviewed your calendar(s). What needs to be changed or removed and what can be added?
Holiday Preparation

Hard as it might be to imagine, now is the time to start thinking and planning for the Winter Holidays. Some projects that a lot of time while others might be managed at the last minute. Things to think about:

  • Sewing or Quilting Projects
    • Gather patterns, fabrics and notions
  • Paper Crafting
    • Holiday papers and inks are starting to appear
  • Homemade Gifts
    • Collect the recipes and put together a shopping list
    • Start collecting the necessary dry goods now
    • If you are planning on making fruitcakes, now might be a good time to start them.
Have I missed anything?

Let me know!

If this has been helpful, please let me know by clicking on the “Like” button! Thanks!

Food

The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes

I love to bake from scratch and I’ve been a fan of The Great British Baking Show. When I discovered the following it was a match made in Heaven.

The Great British Baking Show: The Big Book of Amazing Cakes by The Baking Show Team

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As a long-time fan of the show, I have been looking for something like this book for years. The recipes are well written – and converted for us non-Brits who have issues using their processes. My absolute favorite thing about the book, however, is that several base recipes are set up with different measurements depending upon the size of the bake you want to make. This means if you want to make a different size version, the measurements are provided for you. Genius!

From what I’ve seen, no matter your skill level there is something in the book you can make.





View all my reviews

Around the House · Cooking · Crafting

Getting Creative With What You Have Part Two

Cathy Hay – How To Finish What You Start

This might seem to be a bit of a side track to being creative with what you have, but I think Cathy’s comments about getting the job(s) done make sense no matter what the job might be.

How many of us take on a new hobby or a project only to feel overwhelmed and defeated but not knowing exactly why? As Cathy stated about her embroidery project and her cookery issues, it came down to tools.

You might be surprised to learn that sometimes the apparent roadblocks to success can be overcome with some very simple solutions.

I mentioned that I am often slow to jump into some projects but once I’ve made up my mind on what I want, in I go not always certain of how it will turn out. For me, the idea of failure (it isn’t perfect) is not an issue. I can fix it to suit myself and, should I be creating a gift, as long as the issue isn’t excruciatingly obvious, I’m okay with that. That mindset provides a lot of freedom.

As Maymay says: “It’s only paper!” The point is simply to be happy with the end result or start over. There is no Quilt Police, Card Police or whatever. And, as someone has said, if recipient is going to be picky about a handmade gift, they won’t be getting one from me anytime soon.

All that being said, we often find ourselves creating our own speed bumps. Check out Cathy’s video:

Sometimes solutions are as simple as taking a moment to look at what the problem really is and then working to correct it. Sometimes the solution might be that you are so intimidated by the project that you are not ready to tackle it. As one who has taken years to resolve certain projects, I think that is fine. I will also go further and say that if you have taken on something that doesn’t work for you don’t be afraid to leave it behind.

I can not knit to save my life. However, I do enjoy crocheting, but I do it so infrequently <cough> I end up re-learning it every time. I have a particular liquid embroidery project that I started years ago but put it down because, frankly, I’d painted a portion of the design that intimidated me and I ended up not picking it up for a year or two later. In the end, it is a beautiful wall hanging but it was not a quick and easy project because of me.

There is no shame in deciding that you are no longer interested in doing something, but there is also no shame in taking the time you need to find out how to overcome completing something you do want to do.

What do you think?

Around the House · Cooking · Crafting

Getting Creative With What You Have Part One

Rachel’s Basement Project

I’m always interested in seeing how other people make use of their space. Some do it well while others seem to struggle. And, to be clear, I get the struggle. I really do. As friends will tell you, I can take my merry time (years at times) to make up my mind and continue on a particular project.

For me, it is a matter of being certain of what I want and how I want it to be without having to redo a lot. I am basically a lazy person so the idea of putting in extra work where more thought and less actual work is necessary appeals to me. I’m also the person who, once the mind is made up, jumps in with both feet not always being certain that where I’m jumping actually has a ‘floor’ if you will.

Rachel Maksy’s Basement Makeover is an interesting experience of knowing what needs to be done, having ideas (plans) for changes, gaining the courage and the where-with-it-all to actually jump in and – Voila! – enjoying the end of project thrill of it being better than anticipated, happy with how it turned out and, more importantly, learning new skills while gaining trust that you really can do it. Check it out:

Rachel has done a great job and learned a lot about herself in the process. She also has a great workspace that will cost her a lot less than the original plan. Added bonus? Without the need to leave the house to get to a studio, she’s removed a hurdle that could keep her from creating her amazing creations. Sounds like a win/win to me!

What do you think?

Check back next week for Part 2 of this Getting Creative series.

If you like what you’ve read, please let me know.

Food · Recipe of the Month

Cookbooks In My Collection

Or, I might have gone a bit overboard

You might recall that I embarked on an adventure of cataloging my library last summer. This is a project I do every few years or so when the inspiration hits me. There are a few years when I hit back, but not last year. <shrug>

I discovered quite a few things. One, in particular, was a bit surprising. I own quite a few Bisquick cookbooks. Like, maybe, eight of them. Yeah, it surprised me, too.

The thing is, I love cooking with Bisquick. It is a staple in my pantry alongside flour, sugar and all the rest. The ease and versatility of it is amazing and the biscuits and pancakes it makes is – dare I say it – wonderful.

Now, that is not to say that fully from scratch versions aren’t possibly better, but my scratch biscuits could be used to pave the driveway.

A Lifelong Partnership

I don’t remember when I first used the product, but I would have to say it was in the mid-60s when I was just learning to cook. Over the years I’ve picked up the occasional cookbook and added at least one recipe to my collection from each of them. Their Impossibly Easy Pies are game-changers. I am a huge fan of their French Apple pie; it is easy, tasty, and versatile. And, if you are like me and pie pastry challenged, this is easy!

A recent foray over on Amazon netted me a copy of the Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies book published in 2004. Click HERE for a look.

If you have never tried an Impossibly Easy Pie recipe, I’m including one of my very favorites as this month’s Recipe of the Month.

Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie


Courses: Main Dish
Categories: Beef, Bisquick, Casserole
Serving size: 6
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins

Ingredients

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup Original Bisquick™ mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.

2. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt. Spread in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

3. In small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork or wire whisk until blended. Pour into pie plate.

4. Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Nutrition

Amount per serving
Serving size: 1 Serving
Calories: 325
Total Fat: 1g
Saturated Fat: 10g
Cholesterol: 135mg
Sodium: 530mg
Total Carbohydrate: 11g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
Protein: 23g

Let me know what you think. Are you a fan of these easy recipes or are you new to the genre?

If this post has been interesting or helpful, please click the “Like” button to let me know.


Food · Musings · YouTube

Food Freedom – A Few Thoughts

When Alyssia Sheikh over at Mind Over Munch on YouTube announced her Food Freedom course back in December, I was intrigued. I’ve followed her for quite a while as she talked about food prep, grocery hauls, and a variety of diet and food plans.

Note: As of this writing there is less than one week left of the course. Check out Alyssia’s website for more information. The course is free with the additional course materials sent via email.

If you’ve been around here for long, you know I don’t follow ‘diets’ and I avoid fake food as much as Humanly possible. I have several decades of experience trying different food plans and have seen the damage caused by corporations who promote their ‘plans’ to ‘help you get healthy’ only to find that they provide just enough information to get you hooked (i.e. spend $) and make sure you are dependent long enough to make a profit.

There are some plans that are actually sound, but the reality for most people is that nothing will work if the person using the plan isn’t connected, and committed, to actually engaging in the plan.

The problem is, many people have no education on how to actually engage and utilize all the information and options available so they can make the choices that will actually help them toward their goals.

Alyssia has shared her journey to heal her relationship with food and included sound research and experience to help us reconnect with ourselves.

The information is interesting and thought provoking. The tools are helpful and useful. Will they all work for everyone? Probably not, but here’s the thing: One Size Does Not Fit All. Or, take what you need and leave the rest.

Years ago a major health carrier’s advertising was based on the idea that ‘you know your body better than we do’. When you stop and think about that simple statement, it is very profound. And, for some folks, damn scary.

Personally, I’m a stress eater. Things get a bit tense and I head for the chips. Or the bread. Or the chocolate. Or the [ fill in the blank ]. I also enjoy food. I like eating good food and I can go really simple or really complicated. Couple this will a love of cooking and you get the makings of a potential disaster. Except…

I prefer simple meals made with food that I get as close to the farm as possible. I avoid chemicals and long distance hauling of produce.

Understanding that I have triggers that can goad me into putting on the pounds and learning how to deal with those triggers helped me maintain and not over eat.

Learning how to cook helped me control what I ate and more importantly gave me an arsenal to combat the convenience food quicksand that not only threatened my health but my bank account.

I’ve watched all the videos to date and found lots of food for thought that has been helpful not only in learning to handle the Mind-Body Connection, but in developing a life style, not a diet, that I can live with and benefits me.

If you are tired of the diet roller coaster, if you want to find tools that will help you actually achieve your goals rather than feed someone else’s pocket, I suggest you check out the information on the website. The videos are there along with additional information that will help you.

And, best of all, it is free.