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Super simple ground beef main dishes

Story and photos by Angie Sutton


The final bell is ringing in schools and kids and teachers alike are ready for summer break. For many kids, softball and baseball practice has already started and the swimming pools will soon be opening. My summer calendar is starting to look busier than it normally does during the school year.

Summer begins innocently enough. I am thrilled to not have a routine. I don’t have to drag everyone from their beds, force them to eat breakfast, beg them to get dressed or badger them to brush their teeth and hair. I won’t be packing any lunches or backpacks. There is no mad rush to try to get to school before the bell announces that your kids are in fact late once again.

A few weeks into summer those lazy days come to a screeching halt for this mommy. Once again we are up early heading to tennis camp loaded down with rackets, balls, water bottles, sunscreen and a sack lunch. Repeat that process for swim lessons, zoo camp, softball, vacation Bible school, and dance camp. Living the dream, right?

While it seems that there is an endless “to-do” list and “catching up” is mommy’s summer camp, I really do relish the craziness. My oldest is headed to New York City with her class, without mom. She’s headed to a week-long cheerleading camp, without mom. She’s headed to Nashville for a school activity, without mom. She’s headed into her senior year of high school. A year from now we will be celebrating her graduation and packing her up for college.

So for today, I will smile when I “get to” do the laundry instead of “have to” do the laundry. It’s all about perspective. I have the privilege of being a mom to five very active kids and I “get to” be a part of that. All too soon those kids will be packing their own bags and heading to a house or an apartment of their own. But wait, did I pack the sunscreen?

I’ve been talking with quite a few readers and they requested I share some simple dishes that are kid approved for summer lunches and last-minute dinners. This is a collection of ground beef-based dishes because I like to buy the beef in bulk, fry about 10 pounds and freeze it. This kick-starts the recipes and is a real time saver. I keep chopped onions, celery and peppers in my freezer as well.

Pour a glass of iced tea and add some fresh mint leaves and a slice of lemon. Sit for just a moment on the patio and listen to the birds singing and a mower running in the distance. Time is a precious resource and one that we never seem to have enough of. Put this five-minute activity on your task list.

Keep these super-simple, family-favorite recipes in mind and check out more ideas at www.mothersapronstrings.com this summer.

Beef Fried Rice

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. finely chopped carrots
1 c. finely chopped celery
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
3/4 c. fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
5 c. cooked long grain rice
2 eggs, scrambled
1/4 c. soy sauce

In a large skillet, brown beef. Drain and reserve 2 Tbsp. fat. Set beef aside. Stir fry garlic, carrots, celery and onion. Add mushrooms and peas; cook until all vegetables are crisp tender. Add browned beef, parsley, basil, ginger, salt and pepper, rice and eggs; stir until combined. Add soy sauce and heat through.

Chop Suey

1 lb. ground beef
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 c. water, divided
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 (28 oz) can chop suey vegetables, drained
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Cooked rice
Chow Mein Noodles

In a skillet, brown beef; drain. Dissolve bouillon in 1 1/2 c. boiling water; add to skillet. Combine remaining water with corn starch; stir into beef mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Add vegetables and soy sauce; stir and cook about 15 minutes. Serve over rice; sprinkle with chow mein noodles.

Beef and Cheese HayStacks

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Cheese Sauce:

4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. milk
1 (11 oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
1/2 lb. process cheese, cubed
Corn chips, cooked rice, shredded lettuce, picante sauce, sour cream

In a skillet, cook beef with onion until beef is browned and the onion is tender; drain. Stir in tomato soup, chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper; simmer until heated through. For cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour; cook and stir until a smooth paste forms. Gradually add milk; cook and stir until thickened. Stir in cheese soup. Add process cheese cubes only until it melts. To serve: prepare individual corn chip “nests;” layer each with meat mixture, rice and lettuce. Top with cheese sauce and picante sauce. Dot with a dollop of sour cream.

Tater-Tot Nachos

4 c. frozen tater tots
1 lb. ground beef
1 envelop taco seasoning
2/3 c. water
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar or taco blend cheese
1/4 c. sliced black olives
2 c. shredded lettuce
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 c. taco sauce
1/2 c. sour cream

Bake tater tots according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown ground beef; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil and stir for 2 minutes. To serve, layer tater tots on a plate and top with remaining ingredients.

Giant Empanadas

1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped green pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can whole tomatoes with liquid, cut up
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 unbaked 9-inch pie pastries
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. tap water
Sour cream, chopped fresh tomatoes, shredded cheese and lettuce.

In a skillet, brown beef with onion and green pepper; drain. Stir in tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Place pie pastries on a baking sheet. Divide filling; spoon half of the filling on one half of each pastry. Spread to 1-inch of edges. Fold other half of pastry over filling and press edges to seal. Beat egg yolk with water and brush over pastry tops. Bake at 400 F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with toppings. Cut into wedges to serve. Double the recipe if you’re feeding hungry teenagers.


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