Updating Old Standbys

I sat across from my husband at the dinner table looking at my meatloaf; this was my mother’s recipe. My husband looked out his plate … then up at me. He struggled to grin and said, “Meatloaf, yum?” I knew then that I needed to update this meal. So I did.

Biscuit Meatloaf

For the Meatloaf:
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • Canola oil
  • 1 lb. 80% lean hamburger
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
For the Biscuit Top:
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold shortening
  • 1 cup milk

In a large skillet, pour enough oil to slightly cover the bottom. Dice onion finely; add onion to skillet and heat on medium to low heat. Stir often. While you are cooking the onion, peel and dice the potatoes. Add them to the onion and stir until potatoes are cooked. TIP: the smaller the diced potato pieces are, the faster they will cook. Remove potatoes and onion from heat and pour into a medium size bowl and save for later. Add the hamburger to the skillet and cook until all the red is gone. Pour out any grease produced by the hamburger. Add the potato and onion mixture to the hamburger. While heating the mixture, add the egg and milk. Stir until the mixture starts to stick together. Place the mixture in a casserole dish.

Sift the dry ingredients for the topping together and cut in the shortening. TIP: make sure the shortening is cold; the dry ingredients will not stick together properly if you do not. Add milk. Mix together. When ingredients are mixed, drop on top of the hamburger mixture with a tablespoon. Preheat oven 450 degrees. Bake the casserole until the biscuit mixture is lightly brown, about 15 minutes.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

A few nights later, I did not know what to make that was quick and easy. We both had a busy day, but we didn’t want to eat out or call for pizza. My husband suggested that I make Shepard’s Pie. Now growing up, we had Shepard’s Pie all the time. To be honest, it is a boring dish. My husband said that he had a hankering for it. So I pleased both of us by jazzing it up a little bit.

Hamburger ‘n Cheese Casserole

  • 1 lb. 80% lean hamburger
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8-10 potatoes diced (small)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon hamburger spice
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 1 can cream corn or 2 ½ cups frozen corn, cooked
  • 4 to 5 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese or the combination of Monterey Jack and New York Reserve

Cook the hamburger in a skillet. Add spices and onion. Cook the potatoes in a saucepan with water that just covers potatoes and, if using frozen corn, cook corn in water that just covers corn. Do this all at the same time so that you have them done roughly at the same time. While this is cooking, grate your cheese (to save time, buy pre-grated cheese). The hamburger is done when all the red is gone; the potatoes are done when you can stick a fork in the potatoes and it goes right through and potato falls apart and corn is done when water has boiled for approximately 10 minutes.

Mash the potatoes with butter/margarine and milk. When potatoes are mashed, take your casserole dish and half the potatoes. Spread the potatoes on the bottom. Next put the hamburger mixture in, and then put either cooked corn or the can of cream corn. Add 3/4 of the grated cheese, then spread potatoes on top and put the remaining cheese on top of the potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Check frequently. Place a cookie sheet under casserole dish in case of spillovers.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30-40 minutes

What makes these two recipes so great is that they can be made ahead and frozen if need be. If frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator. It should only take a day or two to thaw. Bake as the recipe indicates. I hope that you enjoy these updated easy meals that are less fattening than their traditional counterparts. If you want to reduce more fat, use low-fat milk and reduced-fat cheese. Use canola oil or another healthy oil. You can also use ground turkey instead of hamburger. Experiment for yourself! Enjoy!

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