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Marinate or microwave

By Angie Sutton


I love analogies. They are a way to take a complex thought process and make it simple to understand. Marinate or microwave really has nothing to do with food, but rather it’s an analogy to contemplate your personality and how you go about your daily decision making.

I am a microwave kind of gal. Perhaps because I grew up in the 1980s when microwave cooking gave us power, pun intended, to quickly cook ingredients, get it done and move on. My husband, however, is a marinate kind-of guy. He likes to take his time and ponder a concept before deciding and moving on. Perhaps this is why we are a good decision-making team.

We are in the process of selling a house and buying a house in a new town. That means a lot of decisions to make. Add to that the physical stress of packing and moving a household of seven people’s things. I’ve implemented a sort of triage for our personal belongings. If you haven’t used it in six years, it doesn’t make the cut.

We are T-minus three weeks until the move and I’ve begun packing the lesser used items. I’m working on the kitchen the next two weeks so I pulled out my go-to easy ground beef recipes which are a hit with the kids. These dishes are quick to prepare and make fantastic left overs for lunch the next day. Most are easily adaptable to swap out ingredients with what you might have handy or to make life even easier with pre-cut frozen vegetable mixes.

Stuffed Roast Red Pepper Soup

Source: Angie Sutton

I’ve seen similar recipes and a variety of ingredient combinations, but this is the one that works for us. A simple shortcut is purchasing the pre-cut frozen peppers.

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 c. water
8 beef bouillon cubes
2 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 c. cooked rice
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
3 yellow, green or sweet red peppers, seeded and chopped

In a large Dutch oven, brown ground beef and onion until the meat is brown and the onion is translucent; drain. Add bouillon cubes, tomatoes, rice and seasonings; mix well. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add chopped peppers; cook, uncovered, 15 minutes longer or until peppers are tender.

Vegetable Soup with Ground Beef

Source: Angie Sutton

Healthy, quick and a good belly warmer after a cold Friday night in the stands at a football game. Sometimes we add the cabbage and sometimes not. Often I grab a big can or frozen bag of cut vegetables to save time.

1 lb. ground beef
1 c. yellow onion, chopped
1 c. diced peeled potatoes
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. shredded cabbage
1 c. sliced celery
2 cans (16 oz. each) diced tomatoes, with liquid
1/4 c. uncooked long-grain rice
3 c. water
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf

In a large soup kettle, brown ground beef and onion until the meat is brown and the onion is translucent; drain. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Pizza Soup

Source: Angie Sutton

This is another soup that morphed from the original which was scrawled on a piece of notebook paper and stuck in a recipe book several years ago. I like it because you can easily tweak it with a few different ingredients based on what you have or what your family likes. This recipe makes 6 cups.

1 lb. ground beef
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 c. beef broth
1 cup sliced or mini pepperoni
1 tsp. basil
Shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large saucepan, cook beef, onion, mushrooms and green pepper until meat is browned and vegetables are crisp tender. Stir in tomatoes, broth, pepperoni and basil. Simmer until heated through. Top individual servings with mozzarella cheese and microwave until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Beef and French Fry Squares

So simple and one of the kids’ favorites! I like to serve this with carrot and celery sticks!

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 c. dry bread crumbs or crushed croutons
1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen shoestring French fries

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; mix well, set aside. Place half the French fries in the bottom of a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Spread all of the meat mixture evenly over the potatoes. Firmly pat the remaining French fries on evenly on top. Bake, uncovered, at 400 F. for 35 minutes or until meat is cooked through and potatoes are lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes, cut into squares and serve with ketchup.

Beef Curly Noodle Dinner

Source: Angie Sutton

I like to break up the noodles before I cook it but the kids prefer I leave them longer. This is easy to double!

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (3 oz.) beef-flavored Ramen noodles
1 can (14.5 oz.) stewed tomatoes, with liquid
1 can (8.5 oz.) whole kernel sweet corn, drained

In a skillet, brown ground beef, drain if needed. Stir in noodles and seasoning packet, tomatoes and corn, stir until combined. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the noodles are tender.

Beef Fried Rice

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. carrots, finely grated
1 c. celery, finely chopped
1/2 c. yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 c. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
5 c. cooked long-grain white rice
2 eggs, scrambled and chopped
1/4 c. soy sauce

In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Add garlic, carrots, celery and onion and stir fry until crisp tender. Add mushrooms and peas; cook until vegetables are tender. Add basil, ginger, salt, pepper, rice and eggs stirring until combined. Add soy sauce and heat through.

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