Bulk Cooking–Part 1

Evening everyone, goodness this has been a busy day. School went longer than expected and I wasn’t able to get started on our bulk cooking project till after 2pm. Much later than I wanted but that’s how life is at times.

Mom and teamed up and set to figuring out what we wanted to do with nearly ten pounds of ground beef. We decided on three meatloaves, meatballs, and two casseroles. Yes, A LOT of cooking and baking! But it was worth it in the end, we were able to create seven meals out of that ten pounds of meat and the savings are through the roof!!

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Meet Chubby. Chubby’s ancestors and my family go way back 😉 We’ve made many a meals off these fellas! I can hear you now, Amanda Gayle that is a ton of meat! You’re right, it is, but don’t let that intimidate you. Chubby is just one of many tubes of meat that can be purchased at Sam’s Club. If you figure up the cost per meal and per family member you’re actually saving money per month instead of wasting it.

The first thing I wanted to get going was my homemade chunky spaghetti sauce. It’s meaty and thick, a perfect blend of seasonings and spices.

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Since I was doing a double batch of sauce I needed to double up my veggies. My Dad bought a bag of red onions a week ago, it was all he could find that looked decent. You can use yellow onion or whatever you have on hand. Chop them up. Remember the green bell peppers I chopped up a couple of weeks ago? Yep, I used two bags.

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Now, I normally use fresh mushrooms and prefer them. But in a pinch canned mushrooms are ok. I went a step further to chop them up even more.

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Here’s all my lovely veggies ready to be cooked up. Once on the stove I added a couple of healthy pinches of salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of olive oil. Cover with a lid and cook on medium heat.

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BEHOLD! The tower of beef!!! Weighing in at a mere four pounds…

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Once the beef and veggies cooked down and I drained off most of the liquid I added two cans of tomato sauce and two cans of diced tomatoes. Purty, purty, purty!

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You can use your favorite Italian seasoning or just use dried oregano and basil to taste. In the first photo I was adding in one tablespoon of our homemade Italian seasoning and in the second photo I added two teaspoons of sugar. Eventually I had to add a touch more Italian seasoning and salt to help balance out the sweetness. To help tighten it up a bit I added a little tomato paste, reduced the heat and let the sauce cook down. At some point I do believe my Mom added in a few bay leaves…I love cooking with her 🙂

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With the sauce cooling down, I set about making the cheesy filling of the casserole. This is similar to the stuffed shells cheese filling that my Mom makes. It’s simple to throw together! Cream cheese, Ricotta cheese, Cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella cheese, eggs, heavy cream, some black pepper, and parsley for color.

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Into two pans dole out some of the meat to cover the bottom. On top of the meat layer spoon on the cheese filling and top with remaining meat. You can add noodles into the meat if you want or use lasagna noodles. I chose to leave out the noodles to help cut the carbs for the family. When it comes time to bake this up I can make them some Dreamfield’s pasta on the side.

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Before covering with foil sprinkle more Mozzarella cheese over the top; spread out evenly. Cover with a heavy duty foil and label accordingly along with date.

Cheesy Italian Casserole

(To make one casserole)

2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained

1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces mushrooms, canned or fresh, chopped

1 can tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

1–2 ounces tomato paste

2 Bay leaves

Italian Seasoning, Salt and Pepper to taste

7 ounces Ricotta cheese (or more if you like)

8 ounces Cottage cheese

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 c Mozzarella cheese

1 egg

1/4 c heavy cream

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 Tblsp dried parsley

Mozzarella cheese

1 pound noodles, optional

Brown ground beef with onion, bell pepper, garlic, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook until onions are transparent. Add in tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, season with your favorite Italian seasoning, salt and pepper (trust me you’ll need to reseason) and bay leaves. Stir in tomato paste and let sauce cook on low to thicken without lid. Stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl combine Ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella cheese, egg, cream, black pepper and dried parsley.

If you are using noodles, cook according to directions. Either stir into meat mixture or layer within the casserole.

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with just enough meat mixture, followed by cheesy filling, top with more meat, and finish with Mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25–30 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly around the edges. Serve with favorite garlic bread and salad.

Doubling this recipe is a cinch and should you decide to make an extra casserole reheating instructions are the same as above. Just be sure to completely thaw the casserole first. Hope you enjoy!!

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