Category Archives: Ground Beef

Stuffed Acorn Squash

With their beautiful presentation, these Acorn squash are hearty enough to be a meal or an impressive side dish.

As the weather begins to cool and the leaves start to turn to their golds and reds, I am so happy to change my recipes from salsa’s and summer salads to the flavors of Autumn. Rich and fragrant foods now begin to emerge from my kitchen, my much ignored oven has once again become a comforting source of heat as the chilly breezes begin to wash around us. Oh the smell of Fall in Michigan. Now, the Acorn Squash are ready in Ma’s garden and she was happy to share.

During her visit the other day, my mom confided to me that she just cannot get Dad interested in eating squash. I’ve been thinking about how to make this perfect food, full of nutritional goodness more appealing to the “non-squash lovers”. I knew I wanted to stuff these naturally pretty packages. My first attempt, was okay, but not recipe worthy. After my second attempt, I knew I had a winner!

Apples, dried cranberries, pecans, fresh sage and thyme are the stars of this dish. Sweet and savory, it’s the perfect side dish or quite frankly, a meal in itself! I hope this can change the opinions of non-squash fans, but it will surely make lovers of our fall produce very happy!

Recipe yields 4 small squash

Ingredients:

4 Small Acorn Squash (about 4-inches in diameter) tops cut off and seeds scooped out.
1 Package Stuffing mix any flavor
1/4 lb butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
1 3/4 cup Apple Cider
1/2 Cup roughly chopped Pecans
1 stalk celery sliced thinly
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup peeled and diced apple ( I recommend Granny smith or other tart apple)
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries (golden raisins could be substituted)
1 Heaping TBS fresh chopped Sage
1 Heaping TBS fresh Thyme removed from woody stems
1 Heaping TBS fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp Cinnamon
Salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops of squash off, as if cutting the top of a pumpkin you will be carving, reserve tops. Slice bottom of squash if needed to let it set upright, careful not to cut too deep into cavity, leaving a hole. If this does happen, remove a bit of flesh from the top to fill the bottom. Lightly salt the inside of the squash. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, saute in 2 TBS of butter your onions and celery until just beginning to soften. Melt the remaining butter and add Apple cider until cider is warm and butter is melted. Add dried cranberries, diced apples, cinnamon, and fresh herbs. Mix gently, contents of stuffing mix and pecans. When mixture is completely coated, scoop into squash with a spoon. Mixture can be gently packed in to add more. Stuff squash about 1/2 inch over the top and place the tops of the squash to cover stuffing. There should be a small space between the bottom and top of squash exposing a small amount of the stuffing mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until squash is tender.
Remove from oven, let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!

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Easy Baked Meatballs

 

Roll mixture into 1 inch balls

How many times have you been at a potluck where there is a crock-pot of frozen meatballs in BBQ sauce? For me, too many times! They don’t taste right to me, I’m not even sure there is real meat in there! My children really enjoy spaghetti and meatballs. I have, in the past, made complicated mixtures that are fried, turned often and leave me a slave to the stove for at least 30 minutes. Relief at last! I have an easy solution to your meatball fears! Let’s just mix and bake. Toss them with your favorite pasta sauce, I recommend Roasted Tomato and Green Pepper Pasta Sauce or add to a BBQ. Even better, put on a skewer and quickly grill with pineapple, green peppers and onion basted with BBQ sauce. 

Note: Make extra and freeze. Can be quickly defrosted, save yourself some time on another night!  

Recipe yields about 24 meatballs 

Ingredients: 

1 lb of lean ground beef
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp dried parsley ( 1 TBS if using fresh)
1 tsp dried chives (better yet, fresh, then 1 TBS)
1 Egg
3 splashes Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste 

Mix all ingredients by hand and make into 1 inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and place into a pre-heated 425 degree oven. Bake for 10 minutes, turn meatballs, cook an additional 8-10 minutes. Toss with your favorite sauce or eat plain. Yummy!

Ma’s Meatloaf – Revised

Sometimes, you just want real home-style comfort food. You crave real mashed potatoes, a side of veggies, and of course, Mom’s meatloaf.

People seem to have mixed feelings about Mom’s meatloaf, either it was wonderful, or it was dreaded. I am in the first group. My mother’s meatloaf was always favored and quickly devoured. It’s obviously an American favorite since, Banquet has made a TV dinner out of it,complete with instant mashed potatoes and corn. Consumers craving a bit of home purchase this frozen dinner hoping to experience their childhood memories of comfort and family to be sadly disappointed that the meatloaf doesn’t even have baked ketchup on top! Not to mention, the potatoes are wet with water! I am here to propose a new attitude about our “old school” meatloaf and make it more appealing to the current generation. Please note, I will not leave out the beloved Ketchup on top!
My mom used to make meatloaf as did most of our mothers. She did a good job, it was very well liked and Dad always enjoyed Meatloaf sandwiches the next day (assuming there were leftovers). This was among the first meals my mother taught me after omelets, oatmeal, salads and I think scalloped potatoes and pork chops. To this day, I usually make my meatloaf like mom did, and my family has always loved it. Tonight, I wanted to veer away from the usual, using the concept of incorporating more vegetables into my children’s diets, not to mention mine. So tonight I experimented and to my surprise, an amazing success! Take my advice and make 2 and freeze one, since you are chopping your veggies and got the ingredients out, save time for another night.This is how I tricked my family into eating lots of hidden veggies in one of their favorite dishes.

Ingredients for 1 meatloaf – double if freezing another

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped bread ( I used Jimmy Johns leftover french bread)
1 med red onion (finely diced)
1 stalk celery (finely diced)
2 mushrooms (finely diced)
1 large carrot grated
2 big squirts of ketchup
2 squirts of Dijon Mustard
1 egg
2 Healthy dashes of Garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Herbs from My Ma’s Garden (improvise if your Mom does not have a green thumb)
1 TBS finely chopped Fresh Sage
1 TBS finely chopped Fresh Parsley
1 TBS finely chopped Fresh Rosemary
3 sprigs of Fresh Thyme removed from woody stem.
Extra Ketchup for topping the meatloaf

Blend all ingredients in a medium bowl with hands and shape into a loaf form. Place into a bread pan, pour ketchup over the top to cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let rest for five minutes, slice and serve.