Friday, April 16, 2010

Ground Beef, It's What's For Dinner

This goes along with my post from yesterday (dedicated to beef of the non-ground beef variety).

When I was a kid, I HATED ground beef. This was due to a combination of reasons. I hated the texture and I hated how it made my hands smell if you had to handle it raw.

However, taste buds change over time. Now, I really enjoy ground beef and it is a great everyday cooking staple to keep on hand (I usually buy a four pound package, divide it into fourths, put it in freezer bags and keep it in my freezer).

The first recipe is a calzone recipe. It has very few ingredients, but you'll be surprised by how flavorful it is. Plus, it has my favorite requirement: it's quick and easy. The second recipe is for shepherd's pie. I never liked shepherd's pie until I found this recipe. Sadly, it's not really quick to make (though it is easy). But trust me, it's worth it!

Meaty Calzones

Pictures above topped with our basic Marinara Sauce)

Prep: 7 minutes
Cook: 21 minutes

Prepare the pizza dough rectangles while the beef mixutre cooks so that you can spoon hot beef directly form the skillet onto the dough.


1/2 pound ground round
3/4 cup frozen chopped onion
1 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (10 oz) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella or reduced fat Cheddar cheese
Cooking spray
1 1/3 cups pasta sauce


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook beef, onion and garlic in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Drain. Return to pan and add Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Unroll pizza crust onto an ungreased baking sheet. Cut dough into 4 squares. Press each square into a 6 x 5 inch rectangle. Spoon beef mixture evenly into the center of each rectangle; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bring opposite corners of rectangles together, pinching seams together to seal. Coat tops of calzones with cooking spray.

Bake at 400 degrees for 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Place pasta sauce in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at high 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve calzones with warm pasta sauce on top.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 calzone and 1/3 cup pasta sauce).

Calories 374; Fat 9.5 g; Protein 26 g; Carb 43.8 g; Fiber 2.9 g; Chol 45 mg; Iron 3.9 mg; Sodium 994 mg; Calc. 176 mg.

Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 3 lean meat.

Source: Cooking Light Superfast cookbook

Notes: These calzones are freezer friendly. You can either cook them and then freeze them and first defrost them and then reheat them in the microwave. Or, you can freeze them prior to baking the calzones (freeze individually on a foil-lined cookie sheet for a few hours. Then, wrap each in aluminum foil and place in a freezer friendly container or zip top freezer bag). When you are ready to use them, put the frozen calzones in the oven on a foil lined cookie sheet and cover them with foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Then, remove foil and continue to bake for an additional 10-20 minutes (or until the tops are nicely browned).

Shepherd's Pie


Shepherd’s Pie

2 pounds freshly ground lamb or beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tsp-1 tbsp garlic salt (to taste)
4 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
10 ounces frozen peas, thawed

Potato Topping:

2-½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter


Shepherd's Pie:

Preheat oven to 425°. Heat a large skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook lamb or beef until no longer pink, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb/beef to a colander set in a bowl; let fat drain off and discard.

Add ¼ cup water to the skillet, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add flour; cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add Worcestershire sauce, 2 cups water, and lamb/beef. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste). Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 1 minute. Divide among eight 8-ounce ramekins or two 9-inch glass pie dishes.

Meanwhile, make potato topping. Spread over pies; use a fork to make peaks. Bake on a baking sheet until tops are browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly; serve.

Note: If you would like to save some time, use instant mashed potatoes. I have done this a number of times and it still makes for a very tasty shepherd's pie!

Source: Martha Stewart website, Everyday Food section.

Notes: This dish is also freezer friendly. Layer casserole in a freezer friendly aluminum or glass casserole dish. Prior to freezing, allow casserole to cool. Cover in aluminum foil and label and date it. When you are ready to use, defrost in fridge overnight or put frozen casserole in the preheated oven (keep it covered) for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 25-30 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly and the potatoes are nicely browned. Adjust the cooking times accordingly depending on whether you cook it from frozen or defrosted.

Cheese-Garlic Biscuits


2 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp garlic powder


Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Stir Bisquick mix, milk, and cheese until soft dough forms. Drop dough by 9 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir together butter and garlic powder and brush over warm biscuits.

Big-Batch Cheese-Garlic Biscuits


8 cups Bisquick
2 2/3 cup milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder


Heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix Bisquick, milk, and cheese until soft dough forms. Beat 30 seconds.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by 40-48 spoonfuls about 2 inches apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl, mix butter and garlic powder; brush on warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheets. Serve warm.

Source: Betty Crocker website.

Notes: I like to add garlic powder, to taste when I am mixing the dough. I like more of a garlic flavor in these biscuits. These biscuits can also be bought in packages. All you do is add water, mix, and bake. They are so easy. The mixes are great too. So, whether you take a little more time and make them from scratch or use the mix, it is a fast and easy bread to serve on the side!

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