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Friday, October 10, 2014

Tasty Trio of Ground Beef Recipes...

The first time Jordan and I spent apart was when we'd been married almost two years.  We were living in Nashville, TN at the time and I was pregnant with our first {Peter}.  Back then I was just living my little dream, playing house and dreaming of the soon-to-be day when I could start dressing up little babies and changing little diapers, and all those fun things I pictured motherhood would be like.  I thought I was just an all-star house wife, working hard to wash our two mesely little plates after every meal and vacuum our little apartment {that was like what 8x10}.  It's funny to think back and see how time changes our perspective of things.  I swear we ate cabbage rolls about 3 times a week because I only knew how to cook about three things {not to knock cabbage rolls, because they are still one of my all time faves}.  Anyway, that summer we were living in Nashville, my parents came out to visit, and after they left, they were headed up to Virginia to visit my two brothers who were living there at the time.  I decided I'd tag along with them, since Jordan was at work 6 days a week anyways, and I clearly had the time to spare.  So, being the good little domestic wifey that I saw myself as, I made my dear husband a huge croc-pot full of chilli for while I was away.  I can still remember how proud I was, and I still remember how excited he was.  He was just so thrilled to have a good little wife to take care of him.  He bragged to all his co-workers about my thoughtfulness, and we parted just so pleased with the whole situation.  Well...a few days away shocked us both into reality when we learned that a strictly chilli diet isn't a great thing to follow for even one full day, let alone five, and it ended up not being nearly as enjoyable as we both imagined it would be.

We like to bring this story up from time to time and have a good laugh, and to this day, Jordan isn't a big chilli fan.  I've really expanded on the cooking front since those early days of marriage, as well as been jolted into reality of what being a wife and mother of 4 is really all about.  It doesn't mean I love it any less, just saying that it's not all sunshine and rainbows like I imagined.  Luckily, it's even better than sunshine and rainbows, and way more rewarding than I could ever have imagined, even if it did prove to be a bit more of a challenge.  After all, I'm always up for a challenge.  

So, speaking of challenges, I have made it a point ever since that first time apart to do a bit better every time I'm away...and because of that little personal vendetta, I was a very busy lady last Friday, prepping my soon-to-be bachelor husband for our time apart.  He's a bit spoiled, and I love to show him that I love him, so I stocked up the freezer with 22 individual meals; a lunch and a dinner for each of the 11 days we would be apart { romantic}.  I know I'm a little cheesy, but I also know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so I'm okay with cheesy.  Here's what the end result looked like...

22 meals, fit for a King, complete with a 9 oz beautifully marbled steak for Thanksgiving Day 
{he hates turkey}

And then of course a little love note to go along with each meal, so he remembers all the reasons that I love him while I'm gone.

You may think I'm a little corny, but I can live that.  He was beyond thrilled and he's loving every meal so far.  Jordan is not crazy about chicken dishes, so I made his three favourite dinners with ground beef, divided them up, and spread them out over the 11 days.  Here's the three beef recipes I put together and what I'm sharing with you today...

1. Super Deluxe Hot Dish
2. Taste-Bud Tantalizing Beef Enchiladas 
    {with bonus Cilantro-Lime Rice Recipe}
3. Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

First off...

Super Deluxe Hot Dish:

1 lb ground beef
1 med. onion
1 1/2 c. celery
1/2 c. raw rice
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 c. water
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 c. frozen peas
1 can mushrooms
2 cups cheese

1. Brown ground beef...add in onion and celery...sauté. 
2. Add the rice, soups and water.
3. Stir well.  Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add in frozen peas and mushrooms, and stir.
5. Place mixture in a 9x13 inch casserole dish.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs.
6. During the last 1/2 hour, top with grated cheese and return to oven.

This dish may not look like much, but it is our family's all time favourite.  It is SOOOO good, trust me! I never cover mine with tinfoil, because we love the crispies around the edges, but if you're not into the crispy sides, a little tinfoil solves that for ya.

Next up...

Taste-Bud Tantalizing Beef Enchiladas:

2 t. vegetable oil
1 med. onion
2 t. minced garlic
1 lb. ground beef
1 med. orange pepper
1 c. mild salsa
1/3 c. chopped cilantro

1 1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 c. water 
1 t. chicken bouillon
3 1/2 T. flour
1 t. dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

6 large flour tortillas
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 T. cilantro

1. Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until onions are translucent.
2. Add ground beef and brown.
3. Add orange pepper and sauté for a few more minutes.
4. Add salsa.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add cilantro and set filling aside.
5. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine evaporated milk and water.
6. Add chicken bouillon, flour, mustard, salt and pepper.
7.  Whisk together over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
8. Add cheese.
9. Whisk together until melted and creamy.  Pour half the sauce over the filling.
10. Evenly divide filling/sauce mixture between 6 flour tortillas.
11. Roll up tortillas and place seam-side down in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.
12. Pour remaining sauce over rolled up enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.  
Bake @ 425 degrees for 15 mins.  Top with cilantro and serve!

{This is my all-time favourite salsa.  It's runny and authentic tasting, just like in the restaurants.}

Here's a quick little something extra to go along with your enchiladas...

{Cilantro-Lime Rice}
Place the following ingredients into your rice cooker:

1 c. long grain white rice
2 T. butter
2 c. water
1 t. chicken bouillon
2 T. lime juice
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Press Start!  Fluff with a fork and voila!

My third Beef Recipe for the day is...

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb ground beef
4 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 c. water
1 can {680 ml} original pasta sauce

1. Brown ground beef.
2. Add carrots, celery and onions.
3. Add water.
4. Cover and steam until water has mostly evaporated and veggies are tender 
{about 10-15 mins)
5. Add can of pasta sauce.
6. Stir and serve over spaghetti!

{This is my favourite pasta sauce.  I always choose the simplest looking, no-name brand sauce, with no cheese, and no competing flavours, to be sure the finished spaghetti sauce can speak for itself.}

So after all the meals were done, I made up some more little love notes and riddles for him to find throughout the week.  I put a few little bags of candy along with some little notes inside his shoe, in his sock drawer, beside his watch collection etc...I also hid a package of nibs in the console of his truck and a bag of Chicago Mix on the bed.

{Chicago Mix...mmm}

Lastly, I made sure the freezer was good and stocked with baking, made a few more loaves of bread and some more Monkey Poop Cookies and Pizza Buns!  

I'm thinking not only will he not go hungry, but we may need to start an exercise program the day after I get back...

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