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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Top Ten Ground Meat Dinners

Jules here-

Now that we are all done celebrating Em's FANTASTIC news.... let's get back to what's really important: food.  One of my friends, who will not be mentioned, may be a tad challenged in the "every day meals" department.  She called asking if I could shoot her an email with my favorite, easy, and delicious meals for my family.  Instead, I plan on writing a blog post series on different categories of my favorite go-to meals.

When I head to the grocery store, my meal planning is based on the meat (or fish) that is on sale that week.  If it is less than $1.99 a pound... we're pretty much eating it.  Some of the meals I shall mention are quite obvious, but it's always good to have a quick reference list of things you can do with a certain cut/style of meat.  So this post will focus on: The top ten GROUND meat meals (most recipes can use ground beef, turkey or pork depending on how picky your family is...):

10.  Chili
Typically I don't make Chili in the summer, but it is a fantastic fall & winter dish that is easily freezable and the leftovers last days.  I like to eat chili dogs and even make some yummy corn bread on the side.  I make mine with ground turkey typically and I have also made it on the stove as well as the crockpot.  Here's my go-to recipe:

Julia's Healthful Turkey Chili

  • 1 1/2# (about) ground turkey
  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped green/red pepper
  • 2 cans ro-tel tomatoes with chili peppers (mild) undrained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, plain, undrained
  • 2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 tsp each: oregano, garlic salt, and basil
  • Cheddar Cheese/Hot dogs: optional


1. Brown ground turkey with 1/2 cup of chopped onion. Drain.
2. Place all ingredients into crock pot, stirring initially.
3. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
4. Serve in crocks with melted cheddar on top

9. Enchiladas
 I love Mexican food, and anything that can use ground meat AND leftover rice works for me too.  This recipe is easy to double and freeze. Great to give away as a "new baby" dinner for family too!

Cheddar *Turkey* Enchiladas
 Cheddar *Turkey* Enchiladas photo
  • 1 pound ground turkey (or beef, but I prefer turkey)
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I use brown)
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 10 (8 inch) (whole wheat works great) flour tortillas
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1. In a large skillet, cook turkey over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in rice. Cook and stir until liquid is evaporated. Spread about 2 tablespoons of refried beans, 1/4 cup beef mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese down the center of each tortilla; roll up. Place seam side down in two greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dishes.
2. Combine salsa and soup; pour down the center of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake one casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Cover and freeze remaining casserole for up to 3 months.

For Frozen Dish:
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.

8. Baked Spaghetti
Having company? Need a meal to make for a friend? This is your recipe. Ems gave me this recipe a few years ago and it is so much heartier and yummier than you think.  Seriously, it's fantastic.

 Em's Baked Spaghetti
 Baked Spaghetti photo
  • 1 package (16 oz) spaghetti
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jar (26 oz) meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 T. butter, melted
  • 2 cups (16 oz) small-curd cottage cheese
  • 4 cups (16 oz) mozzarella cheese
1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and seasoned salt; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs., Parmesan cheese and butter. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat.
3. Place half of the spaghetti mixture in a greased 13x9 in baking dish. Top with half of the cottage cheese, meat sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.  Can freeze as well.

7.  Crescent Beef Stroganoff
 This dish does taste better with beef, but I have made it with turkey before.  You need a can of crescent rolls and it is YUMMY!!

Crescent Beef Stroganoff

  • 1 package (8 oz) refrigerator crescent rolls
  • 1 lb ground beef, lean
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 to 1 cup mild cheddar
Unroll crescent roll dough; press into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9 inch baking pan to form a thin crust. In a skillet, brown beef with onion and mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and paprika. Stir in sour cream; spoon into the baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheese. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until crust is baked. Cut into squares.

6. Cheeseburger Pie
I have mentioned how I love bisquick "impossibly easy" recipes before; this one is a simple, under 30-minute recipe that is scrumptious for the whole family.  Recipe courtesy of
Recipe Link Click Here

5. Spaghetti & Meatballs (or meat sauce)
I know this is a simple one-- but kids love it, it can be healthful, and it's super quick.  If you don't have time to shape/cook meatballs, just add the ground beef/turkey/pork in a pan and add sauce for a speedy meal over pasta.

 No Frills Meatballs
1# Ground meat
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Italian Seasoned Bread crumbs
1 large egg

1. Mix all ingredients together until well-blended.
2. Shape into 1" diameter meatballs.
3. Either pan fry them or bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

4. Hamburgers
As you may know, I am a BURGER CHAMPION now! Even if you don't have fantastic ingredients on hand, buy a couple of extras: bacon, avocado, tomato, etc. They can make an ordinary burger extraordinarily delicious. 

3.  Lasagna
This is the classic ground-meat dish that has sooo many variations. From homemade sauce to a can of Ragu, you can make this as simple or complex as you want.  Freezes well, tastes even better the next day, and great for company.  Here's my healthful version:

 Julia's Healthful Lasagna

Julia’s Healthful Meat Lasagna photo
  • 12-15 Whole Wheat lasagna noodles
  • 1 large jar of tomato sauce (I like chunky ones)
  • 1# Italian seasoned ground turkey (you can add 1 TBS of each basil and oregano if you do not have seasoned)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Cups part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1. In large skillet, brown ground turkey, drain excess fat and then return to stove. Add 3/4 jar of tomato sauce and turn off heat.
2. In small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 8 oz of ricotta, and one egg.
3. In 9 x 13 pan, cover bottom with noodles. Spread with spatula the cheese mixture over the noodles. Pour sauce/meat mixture on top to coat. Continue until meat mixture is gone.
4. Put remaining noodles on top, add remaining 1/4 jar of sauce to coat. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
5. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes in 350° oven. You can freeze it too!
Add chopped Italian sausage to the ground turkey for a zippy alternative. For even healthier sauce, puree fresh peppers, tomatoes, and yellow squash and add them to the mix--no one will know!

2. Beef Fried Rice
Ems taught me this one a few years ago and it a delicious, Asian-inspired meal that is heartier than you'd expect. 
Em's Beef Fried Rice

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • Dash pepper
  • 3 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 cups cold cooked long grain rice
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
1. In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. In a large bowl, beat eggs and pepper. In skillet, heat 1 T oil over medium-high heat. Pour eggs into skillet. As eggs set, lift edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath.
2. When eggs are completely cooked, remove from the skillet; cut into strips. Return to pan. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook and stir over medium low heat in remaining oil for 5 minutes or until heated through.

1. Tacos
This is my go-to Mexican meal that everyone loves.  Hard shell, soft shell, taco salad-- all delicious, easy... and you can follow the directions on the packet of seasoning (or make your own).  Dinner is ready in less than 15 minutes and kids are happy!!

 Hope you enjoy some yummy ground-meat dinners!  Next up-- probably chicken dishes.....

Easy Rule #579- Dinner doesn't have to be expensive and time-consuming to fill up your family!

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