The Present clan went to BJs today to spend our rebate before it expired. We caught a pretty good deal on ground beef–but the sell by date was tomorrow and I try not to push my luck with meats so I needed to cook/freeze it right away. Six pounds of ground beef.
I’ve wasted a LOT of money over the years by freezing uncooked meat and never touching it again until I’m tossing it in the trash. It finally dawned on me that if I freeze it cooked or ready to cook, it’s easier to use when I’m ready to use it, and I’m actually more likely to use it. There’s just something about raw thawed meat that I have a hard time with…it’s one thing to throw a frozen meat brick in the crock pot, but it’s completely different trying to squeeze quasi-thawed raw ground chuck into a pan to cook it.
We usually buy 3-4 pounds of ground beef, not 6. When it’s only 3-4 pounds it’s fairly easy to cook a double recipe and freeze half, but I wanted a little more variety than making a triple or quadruple recipe. After putzing around pinterest for a bit, I decided upon Beef Enchiladas for dinner using a recipe from To Be Thode. Now, because I’m horrible with planning ahead, and meal planning in general, I naturally did not have all of the ingredients on hand. Namely enchilada sauce. That’s not important at all for making enchiladas, right? No worries, back to pinterest I go! I prefer homemade sauces/seasonings/ingredients to store bought any day, then I know what’s in it and can pronounce all of the ingredients…I chose a recipe for red enchilada sauce from Gimme Some Oven. I figured I’d split my 6 pounds of ground beef in half, and cook 3 pounds of taco meat. Whatever I didn’t use for enchiladas would go right into a zippy bag for dinner another night. Yay, halfway there! I decided I’d deal with the other half of the ground beef while the enchiladas were in the oven.
Enchiladas and Sauce
I dumped my three pounds of ground beef in a pan to brown and got started on the enchilada sauce. Bad idea. I dove right in to the enchilada sauce and didn’t measure everything out first. Worse idea. I should know by now I don’t work as fast in the kitchen as someone more experienced does, or anyone really. Multitasking without prep never ends well. I burned the flour and oil and then all the spices after. I poured in the chicken stock–for what reason I still don’t know because I knew everything else had burned. I suppose I thought perhaps I could salvage it, but not so much. It’s a good thing I had decided to use the last box of store bought stock I had found tucked away in the cabinet; I had exactly enough to start over. I probably would have cried had that been my homemade stock…
I’m not big on an abundance of pictures (or at least that’s my excuse for not taking pictures while cooking, perhaps you could tell I wasn’t doing so hot at this stage of the game? I’m slow enough in cooking as it is, if I stopped to take pictures I would never finish, and probably burn a whole lot more than my first batch of sauce. I really don’t know how food bloggers do it! I also did not inherit my mother’s amazing photography skills.) so I do not have any pictures of black chicken stock with flecks and chunks to share. That’s probably for the best. I started take two, measuring everything out and setting it right next to the stove before starting. The end result was a little smokier than I had anticipated, and I’m not sure whether this was me still not moving fast enough, or if it’s the particular chili powder I used. I added a little ketchup and it turned out great. If I have to do that in the future I would likely choose tomato sauce over ketchup though–but that is what was on hand.
By now my taco meat was browned and seasoned, as I had finished that up while letting the sauce simmer. I used the last of my homemade taco seasoning too, darn! I quickly assembled my enchiladas and tossed them into the oven so I could tackle the remaining ground beef and refill my homemade taco seasoning. Before moving on, I set the remaining taco meat in a bowl on some paper towels to drain a bit before packaging up to freeze. I put the leftover sauce in two half-pint mason jars for freezing as well.
Meatloaf and Meatballs, for freezing
I didn’t feel like browning any more meat so decided upon meatloaf since that is a Present favorite. I do still have one in the freezer though, so instead of making two meatloaves I made one and used the rest of my meatloaf mixture for meatballs. I didn’t use a recipe for these, just kind of randomly put stuff together:
– 3 lbs. ground beef
– 1 cup homemade breadcrumbs (from freezer)
– 1 cup chopped onion (from freezer, I like to get all my chopping done at once then freeze for later use)
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp. oregano
– 1 tsp. thyme
– 2 tsp. salt
– 1/2 tsp. pepper
I should have made a “meatduck” for my dad in honor of his birthday. I was thinking of our “meatbricks” and “meatducks” we used to make while I was putting this together! Unfortunately, I don’t think a “meatduck” would be very freezer-friendly though :-P.
I didn’t have my tablet handy to look up the recipe I usually use for my homemade taco seasoning, but I had recently pinned a page that had recipes for taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, and onion soup mix I’d wanted to try so I pulled out my phone and went back to pinterest. I used the taco seasoning recipe from Self-Reliance by Jamie to refill my jar.
Because her recipe yields more than more normal one, I used a pint jar to measure the ingredients and shake them up. I didn’t have any onion powder so I substituted with minced onion (I usually do, for some reason I just never end up buying onion powder…), it works perfectly fine :-). I transferred back to my half-pint jar because it takes up less space in the freezer. Even though all of the ingredients are shelf-stable, I read somewhere that freezing helps keep it fresher. No idea whether or not this is valid, but it certainly hasn’t hurt the flavor as far as I can tell.
The Finished Dinner
By the time I wrapped all of this up I still had time to clean up after myself a bit before the enchiladas were done. I love it, makes me feel productive to have accomplished so much during one dinner! Of course, I ran out of my homemade shredded Mexican cheese blend so I topped the enchiladas with some of my Italian blend too. I would have preferred to absolutely SMOTHER the enchiladas in cheese, but I didn’t feel like breaking out the kitchen aid and lengthening my already long to-do list while making dinner. I also should have added more sauce, but my stepson is a picky eater and has apparently never had enchiladas before, so I went light in hopes he’d eat it more burrito style–he loves burritos. I topped with a little bit of sour cream and green onions, and served refried beans on the side. These are canned, but I can’t wait to try a homemade recipe from soaked dry beans using the ajwain I just got!
So what would you do with six pounds of ground beef? Chili? Spaghetti Sauce? Shepherds Pie? Casserole?