Let’s face it, many times it seems that there is just never enough time to fix a nice dinner. Even with the kids out of school for the summer there are always three or four things going on every day. But we know that fast food is not good for us on a regular basis and, advertising aside, those quick, microwave meals just can’t match a real, homemade one. So, today I thought I’d share with you how you can have both: homemade and quick. It will take some pre-planning, but the results are worth it.
I start by setting aside one day as my cooking day. That is when I prepare one or two large batches of dinner entries that I portion into meal-sized, freezer containers. Then when I need something for dinner all I have to do is heat and eat. This way we can have a quick meal that is also healthy and homemade.
Beef stroganoff is one of my favorite set-aside meals, and I’ve tweaked this recipe to cut costs without sacrificing taste. It freezes well and goes good with rice or noodles. When you re-heat it you can add a vegetable, salad, and/or starch of your choice. I will list the seasonings that I use but leave the quantities up to your taste. I generally just add what looks good using the “eyeball” method.
- 1 1/2 pounds of ground round
- sour cream, 2 or 3 cups
- onions, 2 or 3
- mushrooms, 1 pound
- celery, 4 or 5 stalks
- garlic, 4 or 5 cloves
- elephant garlic, 2 large cloves
- whole wheat flour
- wheat bran
- 3 cans cream of chicken soup, low sodium
- olive oil, extra virgin
- butter, salt-free
- cayenne pepper
- garlic powder
- Mrs. Dash seasoning
Place the ground beef in a large bowl and add the following: 20 tablespoons whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup wheat bran, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and thyme. Combine well. Split into two batches, form each into a rectangle no more than 1 1/2 inches high. Place on a roasting pan that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the meat mixture over. Return to the oven and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
While the meat is cooking place the soup into a large dutch oven, and heat on low. Chop and sweat (cook just till tender) the onions, celery, garlic, and elephant garlic. I generally season these with the Mrs. Dash while they are cooking. Add the vegetables to the soup. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan you just cooked the vegetables in along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, cook till tender, and add them to the pot with the soup and vegetables.
When the meat is cooked allow it to rest for ten minutes, then cut it into 1″ cubes. Add the cubed meat to the pot with the soup and vegetables. Turn the heat up to medium and heat the mixture until it just starts to bubble. Turn the temperature down to low and add the sour cream. Cook at low for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful, this stuff will stick to the bottom of the pan if you’re not careful!
Let the stroganoff cool and then portion into freezer-ready containers. Plan on from 1 to 1 1/2 cups per serving. You can re-heat the stroganoff in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave.