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Beefy Lemon-Spinach Rollups

Beefy Lemon-Spinach Rollup

Beefy Lemon-Spinach RollupI have a wonderful meatball recipe that is just a mess to make. It is delicious but hardly worth the effort unless you need a wow dish for guests or pot lucks. This recipe is a simplification of the original and designed to be a “Cook for One” recipe.  How ever many lasagna noodles are in the box is the number of servings the recipe will make, usually between 14 to 16 servings.

Beefy Lemon-Spinach Rollups

1 pound ground beef (browned, drained and crumbled)
1 medium to large onion (about 2 cups diced)
10 ounce package frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
16 ounces of Ricotta or Cottage Cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 4 cloves fresh
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 eggs
1 box lasagna noodles
2, 14 1/2 ounce cans beef broth
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Brown, drain and crumble the ground beef. Sauté the diced onion. Thaw and squeeze dry the spinach. Combine the beef, onions, spinach, cheese, garlic, pepper and eggs. Let the filling rest in refrigerator while preparing the noodles.

Published: July 12, 2011

Stuffed Pork Chops for One

Just because you are cooking for one doesn’t mean you have to have instant stuffing (the kind you cook on the stove). Dressing up a regular stuffing mix (the kind that comes in bags) is easy.  You will need some seasoning vegetables, and soup gravy.

Seasoning vegetables are nothing more than diced up vegetables used to flavor a variety of dishes. They should always include onions and bell peppers and, depending on your taste, celery, green onions, carrots, or hot peppers. Dice up the veggies of choice into roughly 1/4-inch pieces, mix together, and freeze in a freezer bag. These are a wonderful way to add flavor to omelets, casseroles, soups as well as stuffing.

Soup gravy couldn’t be easier. Any of the “Cream of” soups will do. I like either Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Celery the best. Mix the soup with 1/2 the amount of the recommended liquid. The extra I save in frozen 1/4 cup amounts. There is a snack-size zipper bag that would be perfect but I use regular fold-over sandwich bags. I put 1/4 cup of the gravy in each bag and freeze. To make sure the bags stay upright while freezing, I place them in a small plastic container. After they are frozen solid I collect them together in a zippered bag. When I need a serving of gravy I take out one package—very nice over rice or potatoes.

Stuffed Pork Chops for One

1 pork chop
1/2 cup stuffing mix
1/4 water
1/8 cup seasoning vegetables
1/4 cup soup gravy

In a small bowl, mix the stuffing, water, and seasoning vegetables. If you like, you may also add raisins and or nuts—I like slivered almonds—to the stuffing.

Cut a piece of aluminum foil long enough to wrap around the pork chop. Spray it with a little cooking spray or oil it with a bit of oil (this will keep the food from sticking). Put the pork chop on the foil, the stuffing on top of the pork chop and the gravy on top of the stuffing. Seal the foil into a package and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Open the foil and return to the oven for 15 minutes to top brown. Let rest 5 minutes.

To complete the dinner, place 1 cup of the frozen vegetable of your choice—spinach, green beans, peas, broccoli, etc.—on a dinner plate. I like to put a tablespoon or so of olive oil vinaigrette over the vegetables. While the pork chop is resting, microwave the vegetables on high for 5 minutes. Transfer the pork chop to the plate. Dinner is served.

Published: January 12, 2011

All Purpose Meat Sauce

Some things just can’t be done in 20 minutes or in small quantities. This sauce does freeze very well and can be packaged in single portions.

My first introduction to true Italian cooking was as a teenager. My friend’s father fixed a sauce for Sunday dinner each week. He started on Wednesday. He always started with fresh tomatoes, seeded and skinned, which he reduced into a tomato sauce base. To this he added Italian sausages, both sweet and hot, pepperoni, a whole cut up chicken with the skin, and meatballs. Vegetables included in the sauce were onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic. He served the sauce over pasta and let each person choose the meats they most liked. Needless to say this was a hearty dish.

By today’s standards there is way too much fat in this dish, the sausages and chicken contributing most of it.

Over the years, I have developed a quicker version of his sauce. This is not a 20-minute quickie but the sauce does freeze well and can be used not only as a pasta sauce but whenever a tomato meat sauce is called for, such as french bread pizzas or lasagna. The commercial manufacturer’s of pasta sauces websites have recipes available.

Like all home cooks, my recipes are done to my taste. I prefer that salt be added at the table. If you prefer that your dishes be salted in the pot, then add ½ tablespoon of salt to the sauce or alternatively 4 stalks of finely chopped celery (sauté them with the rest of the veggies). Celery has a high sodium content.

I’m not fond of sweet entrees so there is no sugar in my recipe. Also, I like to see what I’m eating so the vegetables are rough chopped, by that I mean slices about ¼-inch wide. No harm will be done if you prefer diced veggies or a bit of sugar in your sauce.1 soup ladle make one serving of sauce—that is about 1/2 of a cup. The sauce can be frozen by itself in plastic containers or in zippered freezer bags (cool the sauce before packaging in freezer bags).

For individual frozen dinners, prepare the pasta of your choice according to package directions to the al dente stage, drain and rinse. (It will cook more during the reheating process.) My daughter reminds me that if you use a long pasta like spaghetti or vermicelli to break the pasta in half before cooking. Toss the pasta with a bit of oil, olive oil preferably, to keep it from clumping.

Gladware makes a small snack size container (9 oz). It is the perfect single portion. Don’t be fooled, it may look too small but it is just right—if you’re still hungry you can always fix a second helping.

Check the pasta package and divide the pasta into the right number of containers, ladle sauce on top (approximately 1 soup ladle— 1/2 cup), cover and freeze. Reheat in microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir and return for 2 minutes on high. Enjoy.

Kalei’s All Purpose Meat Sauce

1 lb hot pork sausage roll
1 lb ground beef
1 large white onion
1 large bell pepper
1 package of mushrooms
2 tablespoon butter
2 12-oz cans tomato paste
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
4 12-oz cans red wine or water
1 tablespoon dry basil
1 tablespoon dry parsley
1 tablespoon dry diced garlic
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
6 teaspoons or cubes chicken bullion
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon powdered curry
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 bay leaves

Mix sausage and ground beef together and brown, breaking up any clumps. While the meat mixture is cooking, rough chop onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. When the meat mixture is cooked through, drain the off the excess fat with a colander. Be careful not to put this grease down your drain as it could clog your pipes. I catch mine in a bowl and transfer it to a zippered bag to go out with the trash.

Melt butter in the pan and sauté the vegetables until the onions are translucent. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, wine or water, spices, and meat mixture back to the pan.

Turn down the heat and simmer 2 hours. Makes 19 servings. Approximately 200 calories when using water water.

Published: January 8, 2011