Tag Archives: Ground Meat

Tortellini and Ground Beef…who knew?


We tried a new recipe at our house this week and it was a winner.  It has the two characteristics of a recipe that I love: fast and easy!  Then it has two more loves for us…tortellini AND ground beef, I never would have thought to put them together.

Our life here in the Smith house has been going a little fast too….not so much easy but not too difficult.  I have had many thoughts of blog entries to write and share with you, but things just are moving too fast to sit down and write at this point.  Meals at our house have not been to creative either as my schedule has been very full.  But I did finally try something new this week and since everyone liked it at our table, I thought I would share it with you.

I first found the recipe and pinned it to  Pinterest and then when we made it had to change a few things to fit the ingredients we had in the house.   So here is my version:

Baked Tortellini Casserole

In a large skillet or chicken fryer pan:

  • Brown 1 lb of lean ground beef

Add to the beef before it is totally browned:

  • 1 small, onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • pepper to taste

While the beef is browning, prepare according to package instructions:

  • 1 large (12 oz) bag of dried tortellini (We had cheese and spinach tortellini in the pantry.  I cooked it on the shortest end of the cooking time so that the tortellini would finish cooking in the oven.)

tortellini bag

Once the beef is thoroughly cooked through and drained, stir in:

  • 2, 14-oz cans of diced or petite diced tomatoes (could use crushed tomatoes too)
  • 1, 8-oz can of tomato sauce

Stir into the beef mixture:

  • prepared tortellini
  • 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese (we mixed mozzarella and Parmesan)

Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes

Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of Italian cheese of your choice over the top and serve!









Cheeseburger Soup


January is National Soup Month and man has it been cold enough for soup this year or what?!?!

Baby it's cold outside!

Baby it’s cold outside!

Even the south has had to pull out their sweaters and heavy coats this year.  I love soups and could have a different one almost everyday of the week.  My family, on the other hand, prefers to limit the soup meals to about one…maybe two a week.

Last night we tried this one.  It was a cold, rainy Friday night and perfect for it.  Now this isn’t a “fix it and forget it” recipe but it does pull together quickly.  I had dinner done within an hour of starting it. A friend posted the link the recipe on facebook: http://therecipecritic.com/2012/12/cheeseburger-soup/  I’ve tried some other cheesburger soup recipes, but this one wins the taste race.

So enjoy this comfort food soup that my eleven year old said was like “dinner in a cup”

Cheeseburger Soup

Brown in a soup pot (5 quart dutch oven or chili pot)

  • 1 pound of ground beef

Drain the beef and set aside

In the same pot, add and then saute until tender: (you could chop up all of this the night before and have it waiting in the refrigerator for you when ready to make dinner after work which would speed the preparation)

  • 1 T butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Add to the pot and bring to a boil:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups peeled and diced potatoes (dice them nice and small)

Once the soup is boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In a small skillet melt

  • 3 T of butter

Add to the melted butter and cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until it starts to get bubbly:

  • 1/4 cup flour

Add the flour mixture to the soup and bring to a boil.

Cook and stir for 2 minutes and then reduce heat to low.

Stir into the soup:

  • 2 cups (16 oz) of Velveeta, cubed…you can use 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese too
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook and stir until cheese melts.

Remove from heat and blend in:

  • 1/4 cup of sour cream


I enjoy my burgers with Worcestershire sauce on them, so I put a few dashes of Lea & Perrins in my soup and mixed it around.  I thought it was great.  Emily wondered about putting ketchup in it, but no one tried it.

Looking for some other soup recipes I’ve tried?  Click here

A Great and Easy combination: Inside-Out Stuffed Peppers and Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread


A few months ago, at the Moms4Moms group I attend at Faith Community Church one of the specials was on kids helping in the kitchen.  A recipe on the handout was Inside-Out Stuffed Peppers, it is a great one to have in your menu plan and my girls have each helped make it.  I’ve even taken the recipe on the road and shared it with my Mom and one of my Aunts and Uncles when I was in Texas recently–they loved it too.  The only catch to the recipe is that it takes an hour in the oven.  So you have to plan a little in advance.

Then a friend posted a recipe for what looked like a delicious, easy bread from The Virtuous Wife on his facebook page and I thought….hmmm….that might be good with the Inside-Out Stuffed Peppers.

So this weekend, I tried them together and Y-U-M.  I served some fruit and it was an easy meal that pleased everyone at the table.

Inside-Out Stuffed Peppers

In a skillet brown and then drain:

  • 1 lb ground beef

Add to the browned and drained ground beef:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can chopped stewed tomatoes (or diced if that is all you have…but stewed is a better flavor.  I chop them right in the can using kitchen shears.)
  • 1 large green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice (I prefer Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Transfer to a greased 2 quart casserole dish

Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour or until the rice is tender

Uncover and sprinkle with

  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever kind of cheese you have on hand…mozzarella would be good, Italian blend or even colby-jack)

Return to the oven until cheese melts.

(This is a recipe you could prep the night before or even earlier in the day and then pop into the oven when you get home.  It could take a bit longer to warm but not too much.)


Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (but if you are cooking the Inside-Out Stuffed Peppers your oven is already at 350°!)

Place in a bundt pan:

  • 1/2 stick of butter

Put bundt pan in oven and let it melt.

While the butter melts, cut into quarters:

  • 1 can of refrigerated Grands biscuits (each biscuit will be cut into 4ths)

Toss the biscuit quarters in a bowl mixed with:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

Once the butter is melted, add the biscuit mixture, sprinkling with any cheese and garlic that gets left behind in the bowl.

Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes until golden brown.

Turn out on a dish (you may need to run a knife down the sides a bit) and enjoy!

It was light and fluffy and even warmed up well when we had leftovers.

Mexican Casserole


It was a dark and stormy night…perfect for a warm, filling meal like Mexican Casserole!  This is a recipe that my mother-in-law wrote down in a cookbook she gave to us for our wedding.  So we have been eating this one for 18 years!  It doesn’t really fit with my “lean and healthy” recipes that I’ve been trying to make more of lately but the day was just screaming for something in our comfort food genre.  I had all the ingredients on hand.

Mexican Casserole

Brown in a skillet:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped

Drain off fat and return to the skillet.

Add to the meat mixture:

  • 1 can Ranch Style beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can Ro-Tel
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Stir and then simmer for 10 minutes.

Layer in a greased 3 quart casserole dish

  • Tortilla chips
  • meat mixture
  • grated cheddar cheese

Repeat layers.

Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes in a 300° oven.

We like to serve it with salsa, pico and/or sour cream.

If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line it might be hard to find the Ranch Style Beans.  KMart often carries them so try there.  I am thankful to my SIL who supplies me with them via the “if it fits it ships” boxes from the USPS.

Chili Mac- quick and easy


Thursday nights at our house are just the girls and I for dinner.  Often times ( I must confess) I simply open up their favorite cans of dinner and heat and serve….yes the dreaded Chef Boyardee and Spaghettios.  OK, I said it—confession is good for the soul.

But this week, even though I had the cans in the pantry, I decided to make something for dinner.  I had a Chili Mac recipe that I’ve made before but I didn’t really follow it.  Here is what I did instead (these items are almost always in my pantry/refrigerator so this works for a good “throw down” meal)

Chili Mac

In a large skillet cook over medium heat:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 c chopped onion

Drain off fat from beef

Stir into meat and onions:

  • 1 can of Ro-Tel
  • chopped green bell pepper (I put about 3/4 cup in)
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 of the tomato sauce can of water…so I guess that would be 4 oz!
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup dried elbow macaroni

Bring all of that to a boil

Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

I cut up some strawberries and put out some raw mini-carrots and voila! dinner is served.

Enjoy 🙂

Easy Meaty Ziti


I prepared this recently and it made the house smell divine and it was devoured at dinner.

Easy Meaty Ziti (with Spinach)

Don’t forget to defrost your 9 oz package of frozen, creamed spinach.  I always hate to get to the middle of the recipe and realize that something was to be defrosted already!!!


Boil water in a large pot to cook 8 oz ziti to al dente

  • once water is boiling, add ziti and cook it half-way (for me that is about 6 minutes)
  • drain once it is done

Cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to break up the lumps:

  • 1 lb ground beef

Stir into the beef just before it finishes browning:

  • 2 to 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Stir into the meat

  • 1 large (24-26 oz) jar of marinara sauce
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce

Spoon 1 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass/ceramic pan.

Arrange on top of the sauce in an even layer:

  • 8 oz ziti (you have already prepped this)

Pour remaining meat sauce over the ziti

Spread evenly over the top:

  • 9 oz package of creamed spinach

Make sure all the ziti is covered and happy in the sauce.

Cover the baking dish with foil

(You can make this dish 1 day ahead up to this point and then just refrigerate it until you are ready to bake)

Bake at 375, covered for about 30-45 minutes.  (I usually do close to 45)

Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the foil.

Scatter over the top of the ziti:

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian cheese blend

Recover with foil (spray it with cooking spray if you are afraid the foil will stick to the cheese)

Bake for about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and let it rest until all the cheese has melted…about 5 minutes more.

Serve it nice and hot!



Porcupine Meatballs


This one is a fast one to whip together.  How do I know that?  Let me share….

Today I was up at the church sorting through some different curriculum things and craft items just minding my own business.  I glanced at my watch and saw that it was just 1:40 and thought, “Wow, I’m making good time.  I’ll go over to the other building and work on some things there.”  Later I happened to glance at a clock in one of the classrooms and it said 2:20.  NO, it can’t be….who set that clock ahead?  I looked at my watch and it still said 1:40 and I noticed the second hand was no longer moving….ugh.  Now I needed to get home, make dinner and be in the car line at school by 3:10.

Well, I made it.  Dinner was in the fridge and the prep work was all cleaned up by the time I left for the school.  So this recipe can be assembled quickly but it does take one hour to bake (45 covered and 15 uncovered).  I think we will have to start doubling the recipe though as everyone loves them and we have none leftover.  It feeds us all (four) nicely but as soon as one of my girls hits a growth spurt it won’t!

Porcupine Meatballs

Mix together:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup uncooked, regular rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (I like to chop them small)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into balls.

Place meatballs into an ungreased baking dish.

Sprinkle over the meatballs:  (This isn’t in my original recipe..it is just my addition that I like!)

  • Worcestershire sauce

Stir together:

  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Pour the sauce over the meatballs.

Cover with aluminum foil

Place in oven, preheated to 350 degrees.

Bake 45 minutes covered.

Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.