Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Easy Beef Ranch Stroganoff with elbow macaroni and Dill Succotash

I have heard that sometimes the greatest inventions were by accident.  I'll have to agree with that.  I was wondering what to  make for dinner last night with the ground beef I had.  No, to Taco's, hamburgers, hamburger steak, meatballs, and all the other usual ideas.  I wanted something different.  I remember having a delicious ground beef dish with elbow macaroni.  I didn't quite remember the ingredients, but I thought it had cheese in it.  How hard could this be? 
As I was getting the ingredients out, I had a brilliant idea.  Why not use a packet of Ranch Dressing mix?  We love Ranch Dressing, so why not use it to spice up the hamburger?  I had, left over shredded Mozzarella cheese, from pizza night last night.  Ok, it's coming together.  I said a quick prayer that it would taste good and got to cooking. I kind of flew-by-the-seat-of-my-pants on this one.  After the meat was cooked, I added the cheese and ranch dressing mix.  It needed liquid.  I didn't have cream (that would have been amazing I'm sure) so I used whole milk.  I added a little at a time until it was a nice thick consistency.  I tasted it, and Whalah, it tasted just like Beef Stroganoff!! What a wonderful surprise.  I love Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, which was probably what my room mate was making, now that I think of it.  It has a crazy amount of sodium in it, so I don't make it any more. Now, I can make this anytime I want and it's much healthier.  I didn't add one bit of salt to the entire dish.  You can use 2% cheese, and milk, what a great meal.  Quick and easy. 
I always boil my hamburger meat.  I take the lump of ground beef out of the package, add it to a sauce pan or skillet, add water about 1/4 way up the meat and boil.  I also add lots of garlic, onions and pepper.  I think it flavors the meat as it boils.  I learned this little trick in college, from a room mate of mine.  Four of us shared a house, and we alternated weeks for cooking and cleaning the kitchen.  One of my room mates was making something with hamburger meat, and boiled it.  I asked why in the world a person would do this.  I was told, and found to be true, that it makes it easier to drain the grease from the meat.  We all know, from basic science, that oil and water do not mix.  So, by boiling the meat, the grease rises to the top of the water, which can then be easily poured off with the water.  No more paper towels, no more precious meat going into the trash along with the grease, no more greasy yuck tasting meat.  Just cooked hamburger with a very nice flavor. 
After the meat is boiled, I pour off the water and grease, then break it up into small pieces and fry a little bit longer to make sure it's cooked through.  Most times, I'll cut the hamburger in half to make sure it is cooked enough before I pour the water/grease off.  This is such a neat trick, time saving too!  Warning, don't boil too long or you'll end up with a hamburger baseball. 

Beef Ranch Stroganoff

1 lb Ground Beef
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 packet Ranch Dressing mix
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
1 TB spoon minced onion
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
whole milk, or cream, or 2% milk
Elbow macaroni

Add ground beef to a large sauce pan, pour in enough water to cover 1/4 way up the meat.  Leave the ground beef whole, do not break it into pieces yet.
Add to the ground beef and water, garlic, minced onion and pepper, bring to a boil
Cook until nearly well done
Pour off water and then break the beef up into smaller pieces
Add the ranch dressing, cheese and stir.
Slowly add milk until it reaches a medium thick consistency
Allow this to simmer together while you make the macaroni

Elbow Macaroni:
Cook as per package instructions, use about 1/2 a box

Dill Succotash:
Frozen Succotash vegetables
1 TB spoon butter
1 tsp dill

Allow the vegetables to cook, add the butter once the veggies are done, then add the dill while the water/butter is boiling.  Take off the heat, drain and serve.

Once the macaroni is cooked, pour off most of the water, then add to the ground beef mixture, stir, serve and enjoy. 

I have some leftover, which means a delicious lunch tomorrow.  It will probably be even better tomorrow once all the flavors blend, or marry.  Ummmm, Yummy, I hope you enjoy!

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