This is a guest post by longtime reader Ellie. Thanks go to Diane who pointed out Ellie’s passion for food and suggested she share her own recipes!
I’ll start with a comfort food that works well all year and is also kid friendly, plus it’s a one dish meal! My kids would eat it as often as I was willing to fix it, so that’s always a good indicator. It’s also economical! We always just called it “Hamburger Goop” (that’s kid speak!). This recipe doesn’t need to be exact. That’s what “goops” are all about. (I usually make this in an electric skillet, but it could also be made in a large skillet on the stove top.)
1-2 Tbsp. garlic oil (I make this with half olive and half canola oils, plus 3 or 4 smashed cloves garlic, and keep it in the fridge to be used for sauteing, adding to recipes, etc. I even use it when making omelets or frittatas, or even scrambled eggs. Oils with fresh garlic cloves must be kept in the refrigerator.)
1 med./lg. onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef, or a combo of ground turkey and ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or chicken, celery, asparagus…whatever you prefer)
1/4 soup can of white wine (optional) + 3/4 can water (+ additional liquid, as needed)
(If wine is omitted, substitute water in its place.)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. marjoram or 1 tsp. thyme (or a combo of both, to taste)
1/4 c. steak sauce (such as A-1)
russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2 to 1 potato per person, depending on appetites)
Heat skillet, then add garlic oil. When the oil shimmers, saute the onion until opaque. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, one or two minutes. Add the ground meat, and cook until it loses color. While meat is cooking, mix all liquid ingredients and spices in a pitcher or bowl to combine flavors and make a smooth “sauce.” Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I go easy on the salt, as it can always be added later if needed, plus I like to keep sodium content to a minimum. To this day my sons do not like overly-salted food, which is a good thing.) Add cubed potatoes and stir into meat. Pour liquid mixture over all, and mix again. Cover and cook on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are cooked through and tender.
Add sliced or button mushrooms if your family likes them. Increase the amount of steak sauce for a more pronounced flavor. This dish is truly adaptable to individual tastes and preferences. You can use only ground turkey if your family doesn’t eat beef. There is a product called Dawn Fresh Mushroom Steak Sauce that I used to include with the liquid “sauce,” as my kids would eat that, but didn’t really care for whole or sliced mushrooms when they were young. This is an easy dish to make when you feel like letting your creativity take over. Go easy on trying herbs and spices you’re unfamiliar with, as they can easily overpower any dish. Serve with a side salad, if desired.
Tossed green salad (you all know how to make that)
Grapefruit/Avocado Salad (great in winter time, when tomatoes are horrible)
Peel 2 red grapefruits, making sure to cut off all the white pithy part. Section grapefruit into a bowl, squeezing all the juice from the remaining part of the grapefruit. Peel and seed 1 medium to large avocado. (You can also just cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, then score the meat into cubes with the tip of a knife, and spoon the meat into the same bowl with the grapefruit.) Gently toss the grapefruit and avocado, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will let the two blend, and will also produce enough “oil” to coat the lettuce. Coarsely chop either iceberg or romaine lettuce, place in a salad bowl, and pour the grapefruit and avocado mixture over the lettuce. Toss and serve. No vinegar or oil or S&P needed.