Category Archives: hamburger

Mix-and-Match Skillet Meals


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


The following recipe is one I prepare regularly to use up leftovers or clear out the cupboards. I keep a copy of this taped to the inside of my pantry door at all times.

This recipe is adapted from my book, Mix-n-Match Recipes (now out-of-print). I’m always amazed at the meals I can create from these simple, basic formulas. I also save money by choosing ingredients I have on hand. Sometimes I even surprise myself with a delicious nearly-gourmet combination or two!

Also an excellent way to use up leftover turkey or ham from your holiday dinners.  🙂 Continue reading

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Filed under budget, budget meals, casseroles, cooking, dinner, food, frugality, ground beef, ham, hamburger, kitchen ideas, leftovers, lunch, meal planning, pasta

All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix

One of the easiest ways to save money on your family’s grocery bill is by purchasing foods in bulk when they go on sale. When ground meat goes on sale, rather than just stocking up to store in the freezer “as is,” many cooks find it helpful to prepare meat mixes for using later in their favorite family recipes.

By preparing this recipe for All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix, you’ll be ready to fix any number of tasty ground meat recipes without needing to brown the meat, onions and spices each time you cook. Not only will this technique save you money, it saves time too.

The following recipe is from the book Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month by Deborah Taylor-Hough (SourceBooks).

All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix
(Makes about 12 cups)

This is a basic ground meat mix that can be used in many casseroles and recipes.

5 pounds ground meat (beef or turkey)
2 cups celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Brown meat in a large pot. Drain. Stir in celery, garlic, onion, green pepper, salt and pepper; cover and simmer about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender but not soft. You can use this mixture immediately during your cooking session or freeze in two-cup portions for later use.

Suggested Uses (be creative):

Tacos:
Add one package taco seasoning to two cups All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix (follow package directions for amount of water). Freeze. To serve: thaw and heat taco mixture; prepare tacos as you would normally.

Taco Potatoes:
Follow instructions for taco mixture (above), but serve the mixture over baked potatoes instead of tortillas or taco shells. Top with grated cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, sliced green onions, sliced black olives and salsa.

Easy Taco Salads:
Follow instructions for taco mixture; place a layer of corn chips or tortilla chips on plate; spoon taco mixture over chips; add layer of shredded lettuce; add diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, sliced black olives, sour cream and salsa.

Sloppy Joes:
In a large skillet, place two cups Ground Meat Mix, one (10 3/4 ounce) can tomato soup, two tablespoons brown sugar, and one teaspoon prepared mustard. Stir. Cover and simmer ten minutes. Serve ladled onto hamburger buns.

The All-Purpose Ground Meat Mix can also be used for: stuffed peppers, chili, spaghetti, and baked ziti (further recipes can be found in the Frozen Assets book).


Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at: thesimplemom.wordpress.com

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Top Ten Tips to Building a Better Burger

Summer’s almost here and if you’re anything like me, you’ve already made that annual trip to the store to refill the propane tank on your backyard grill.

One thing I often hear from guests is that my barbequed burgers actually taste good … rather than just being hard and dry as hockey pucks like so many of those traditional family reunion barbequed hamburgers we’ve all endured from time to time.

In honor of the hallowed summertime tradition of outdoor cooking, here are some of my favorite tips for finding your way to Hamburger Heaven in your own backyard.

1.) Don’t build your burger from low fat meat.  Get a package of ground beef with an 80/20 or even a 70/30 ratio of meat to fat.  The fat keeps it moist and flavorful and drains off during the cooking process so the calorie count ultimately isn’t much higher than the lower fat varieties … but the flavor is so much better.  Be aware, though, that the higher the fat content in your meat, the more the patty will shrink while cooking.  So plan accordingly.

2.) For additional flavor, try mixing ground beef with other ground meats like pork, sausage or lamb.  A good ratio is two parts beef to one part other meat.  Also, if you use ground turkey to save money, keep in mind that turkey is probably one of the least stable burger materials you can find, so mix it 50/50 with ground beef to keep those burgers in one piece on the grill.

3.) When forming burgers, mix the ingredients together gently, handle your burger patties as little as possible, and don’t fully compress the meat … remember, you’re not making meatloaf or meatballs.  If you form the raw beef into patties with wet hands, the grease won’t stick to your skin nearly as much.

4.) If you like adding extra things to your ground beef before making patties, make sure to keep the pieces small.  Large chunks of onion or garlic make the patty unstable and more apt to fall apart while cooking.  Be sure to finely chop or grate all added veggies.

5.) Some particularly tasty additions to the burger mix are: freshly ground pepper, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce, grated carrot, crushed vinegar & salt potato chips, or soy sauce.  I’ve discovered that burger purists tend to insist on top-of-the-line ground beef (Sirloin) with nothing added but salt and pepper (after grilling).  Honestly, I love a good, pure burger … but sometimes it’s fun to add the extras for variety. Also, if you add steak sauce or applesauce to your burger patties, try mixing in some dry bread crumbs, quick-cooking oats, or beaten eggs to help stabilize the burgers.

6.) Cook over a medium flame rather than a high one.  You want to cook the patties just slow enough to cook all the way through.  You don’t want them charred on the outside and a raw mess on the inside.

7.) Don’t press down on the cooking burger patties with your spatula or flip the burger using tongs that squeeze the burger.  You’ll just be squeezing out all the delicious juiciness and leaving behind a much dryer and tougher finished product.  Make an indentation with your thumb in the center of each burger before cooking to help keep them flat without squishing them under the spatula.

8.) Never — I repeat, “Never!” — poke your cooking burger patties with a fork or other pointy object.  It’s a guaranteed trip to Hockey Puck Hamburger Land when all those delicious juices pour out through that hole.

9.) The less you move the burgers around on the grill, the better looking the grill marks.  Ideally, you only want to turn the burger once, but be sure to focus on safety and full cooking more than making the prettiest burgers on the block.  You’ll hear mixed messages from burger aficionados about what temperature to cook the burgers and how often to flip them, but I tend to not worry about the perfect grill marks and have found that frequent flipping tends to keep the juices in the burger a bit better.

10.) Let the burgers rest for a minute or two before serving to give a chance for the juices to settle.  Serving too soon may cause the burgers to dry out.  Rather than melting cheese onto the burgers during the grilling process, I like to set the cheese slices on top of the finished burgers while they’re “resting.”  The cheese melts without dripping off the burger onto the grill.  When the cheese is done melting, the burgers are done resting and ready to serve.

Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
–Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer and mother of three) is the author of several popular books including Frugal Living For Dummies(R) and Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month. To subscribe to her free email newsletter, Simple Times, send an email to: subscribe-simple-times@hub.thedollarstretcher.com

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