Tag Archives: Ground Beef

Home Made Spaghetti Sauce

Have you ever looked at the labels on commercial Spaghetti Sauce?   Next time you’re out shopping, pick up a can or jar of it and read the label.    Notice the presence of sugar in there, whether it’s in the form of sugar or high fructose corn syrup or something else that means sugar.    I don’t know about you, but I try not to buy anything with HFCS in it and quite frankly, why do you need so much sugar in something that is basically just tomatoes and herbs?

I started making my own spaghetti sauce years ago and we like it much better than any of the commercial brands out there.    I also use it as a base for lasagna, so when I make sauce, I make a lot.   I figure if I’m going to be spending time in the kitchen, I am going to make it count for something.     If you have your own home canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste, I applaud you, I don’t so I go to the store and buy tomatoes in several different forms.

As you can see from the picture, I open cans, and then add it to the browned meat, and after that, correct for seasonings.   And I only use the No Salt added tomato products.   We don’t need the salt and certainly don’t miss it either in this recipe.    Check out how much sodium is in those other cans of tomatoes.

I’m waiting.      Surprised?

Now add that to the sugar in prepared sauce, yuck, right?

Begin by chopping up a large onion, I like a fairly fine dice.   Throw it in the pan with some olive oil and cook it till it just starts to change color, then add a couple or three crushed and chopped cloves of garlic.  Put in as much garlic as you like here.   Cook for just a minute or so, and then remove from heat, and reserve in a separate dish.  If using fresh mushrooms, throw them in the pan and just let them cook just for a minute before you add your meat to the pan, brown it and cook until it is no longer pink.   Break it up a little with your spatula and then add the onions and garlic to the meat, let it cook for a few minutes more, then add the Italian herbs to the meat mixture.

Sorry, blurry picture, but you get the drift.

I just found a great product called Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs blend. Check the link out here, http://www.gourmetgarden.com/us/  It comes in a tube and you can find it in the refrigerated section of the veggie section in your grocery store.   It is a little pricey, but well worth it for the fresh taste.     Or you can add some dried Italian seasoning to the meat as you’re browning it, this seems to help open up the flavour of the dried herbs.     While the meat is browning open up those cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste.   If using canned mushrooms, go ahead and add them with the tomatoes.  Dump the tomatoes into a large pot, mix it up with your spoon until the tomato paste is incorporated and when the meat is ready, add it to the pot.   Taste it here to help correct the seasoning, and if necessary add more herbs.  You can also add a rich full bodied red wine at this point, just a cup or two.   Add a few tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese and then simmer for about an hour over low heat, stirring from time to time.     Cook up your favourite pasta, whether it be spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair and serve the sauce over the pasta or however you like to serve it.    And it makes a lot.

I freeze the remainder and pull it out when we’re in the mood for Spaghetti or Lasagna.

HINT: If using plastic dishes to freeze in, line them with some plastic wrap, this keeps the sauce from staining, plus when it’s frozen, throw that block into a plastic bag, and save the plastic container for something else.  Or just spoon the sauce into a ziploc bag, squeeze out the excess air and freeze flat.
If I’m making Lasagna, I add an additional can of diced tomatoes and then layer it with cheeses and noodles.

This is also a very company friendly dish.  You can stretch it with a couple cans more of tomatoes, a tad more seasoning, cook up lots of spaghetti and serve with a green salad and a loaf or two of garlic bread.

Here’s the recipe;

1lb. lean ground beef (feel free to use Ground Turkey instead)
1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 lg. onion, diced
2-5 cloves garlic, minced (to your taste)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or 2 small cans mushrooms
3  16 oz. cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
2-3  6 oz. cans tomato sauce, or 1 lg. can, no salt added kind
3 cans regular tomato paste
1 can tomato paste with Italian herbs added
1/4 tsp. (or more) red pepper flakes to taste.
3-4 tbsp.  Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs, or 1-2 tsp.  dried Italian Seasoning.
1-2  tbsp.  Amore Double Concentrated Tomato Paste 
2-4 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Olive oil for browning.

You can also add a couple of cups of a good red wine to the sauce, my DH doesn’t care for the taste, but it does add a richness that can’t be beat.

Hamburger Steak

One of the dishes my fellow cook makes for the Senior’s lunch on Thursdays is Hamburger Steak.   When she makes this, we get a lot of compliments and people tend to lick their plates, when no one’s looking,  that is.     I love Salisbury Steak myself, but really hadn’t gotten into adding a lot of stuff to the meat.  I usually just season the meat with some seasoned salt and pepper and then cook them.
Last night I thought I would try making Robin’s recipe for Hamburger Steak at home.   And it was good, but I have to say, not as good as when she makes it.   But I still thought it was tasty.   Enough so that I’m going to share it with you.

Take a pound of hamburger meat, season with some Cavender’s Greek seasoning.   I used about 1/2 teaspoonful, one minced onion, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, one egg, 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs.   Mix together and form into 4 good-sized patties.

Use your finger and make a dimple in the middle of each patty and then go ahead and fry them in a lightly greased pan.   (the reason for making a dimple in the middle of each patty is so that it cooks evenly.  Otherwise the meat plumps up in the middle and oftentimes the middle is rarer than the outer edges.   And it cooks faster as well)

Cook til the internal temperature is about 160 degrees.

With the egg in there, you don’t want to be eating them medium or rare.  After the patties have finished cooking, remove to a separate platter and keep warm.  Drain most of the fat out of the pan, reserving about 2 tablespoons.   Deglaze the pan with some water, I like to use the water potatoes have cooked in, about a cup or so, then thicken with some flour or cornstarch.   You can also make a packaged brown gravy and add it to the pan juice instead of the flour.
Serve with some lovely sauteed onions and mushrooms

Gotta have those on my meat.

Then just plate the Hamburger Steak with some potatoes, maybe some fresh corn or your choice of vegetables.

‘Faux’ Roasted Garlic and a couple of other tips

I need to clarify here, it’s really not fake garlic, but a faux ‘roasted’ garlic.   That didn’t come out right either.   So it’s real garlic cloves, but they’re not roasted in the oven for an hour, but instead are cooked in Olive Oil on top of the stove, til they’re soft and a little bit browned.   And so darn yummy.    I’ve actually been making them this way for years.   I was given the tip by a woman at a day old bakery outlet during a conversation about garlic bread.   She told me she used to work in an Italian restaurant and they would go through a lot of garlic, but the owner would ‘boil’ the garlic cloves in oil, on top of the stove over low heat, and then use the softened, very flavourful garlic for his garlic bread, or wherever he needed garlic.   And with the summer heat upon us, well, in this area at least, it makes sense to make garlic this way and not have the oven on for an hour.   And really, this takes very little time on top of the stove.   Another added benefit, you have some lovely garlic infused oil you can use to drizzle over spaghetti, add to some butter for garlic bread, or anyplace you want a hint or touch of garlic flavour.

I like to have a whole bulb of garlic done this way, then I just place the leftover garlic cloves into an empty glass bottle, (washed out of course), cover them with the oil and place it in the fridge to use later on.  Empty spice bottles are great for this, or just a small glass jar.   They will keep for about a month, if they last  that long.   The olive oil will solidify, but it only takes a few minutes on the countertop to liquify again, and you are good to go.

And since I’m just full of tips today, how about making some chicken stock and freezing it in ice cube trays, I know I’ve talked about this before, but really, having  a cube of frozen chicken stock you can add to some packaged gravy to amp up the flavour, so much better.   I was making some rice the other night and wanted to get another layer of flavour so I grabbed a cube of my home made chicken stock, (which I’d frozen in ice cube trays), and added it to the rice.   So easy and quick.   If you’re in the habit of buying rotisserie chickens for an occasional quick meal, then cover the bones that are left with some water, add a carrot or onion, then just let it simmer for an hour.  Cool it down and strain the stock and VOILA!!!! you have some home made chicken stock.    I find most commercial stock is way too salty for my taste, so I do make my own.   It really doesn’t take that long.   I’ve even been known to keep a chicken carcass or turkey carcass in my freezer and then cook up a big pot of stock from that.   And here’s another hint, those leftover chicken bones, roast them in the oven with a couple of onions and carrots til they brown a little, then add them to pot with some water, lots more flavour that way.  Oh and if you have any of the ‘roasted’ garlic in your fridge add a couple of cloves.

And last but not least, if you purchase ground beef in those large trays, and divide up the ground beef for separate meals, freeze the meat in a freezer bag, and flatten it, it will thaw much faster.   Better yet, if you’re browning meat for one meal, brown enough for two meals and freeze the remainder.   You can always add it to spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, make taco’s, or whatever you use ground meat for.    Why not make it easier to get a meal on the table on those days when you are rushed anyway.   I’ve been able to get a meal on the table within half an hour using my pre-cooked ground beef and just adding some taco seasoning  and we’re good to go.