What’s for dinner?

Does that question send shivers down your spine?  My goodness it does me these days.  Seems like I have even talked about this before Here, guess that plan did not work for me.

I cannot seem to bring myself to buy any substantial amount of meat (watch Food INC if you do not understand) and therefore, building a dinner around, well, nothing is tough.  We used to have a veggie co-op that provided the bulk of our fruit and vegetables and that was great, I build our meals around those veggies.  Now I seem to be stuck.

But I am going to get myself out eventually.  I know that in a few short weeks we will have a cow in our freezer!  WooHoo!  That means we can have meat, and I do not have to go buy it feeling like I am submitting my children to a slow death by toxins.  This cow will be grass fed and local.  I cannot wait.  The freezer it will be in arrives tomorrow.  The cow, well I hope it arrives by Nov 1st. 

The chickens are on the near horizon too.  Because buying chicken meat is a bit easier, is not without some guilt too.  So we hope to get some cooking chickens started soon so we can get them in the freezer about 16 weeks after they arrive.  Crazy – huh?  In about 4 months from birth they are ready to eat, well be eaten.

So anyway, back to dinner tonight.  I finally sat down and came up with a plan for a couple weeks anyway.  Tonight we are enjoying Home-Style Chicken and Sausage (I had everything is calls for, and yes, I am doubling it) and next week we are going to try BBQed Steelhead Trout, this week I  am also going to get a few things out of the freezer 1)Mexican Bowtie Pasta (a family favorite see recipe below) and 2) Lentil soup – so that will make some space and offer some easy meals that I only have to defrost & heat!  We try to have beans & rice weekly (cheap & we do like it) and that allows for a meal of left-over creations – burritos, Mexican mountains, tostadas, whatever we feel like.  So I feel so much better now, thanks for facebook inspiring friends, and a few moments to plan some meals.  I need to get something cooking now!

Here is that recipe – we love it.  You can use brisket, left over shredded beef, left over shredded pork, or even ground beef.  Enjoy!

MEXICAN-STYLE PENNE

8oz Penne (or whatever pasta you have on hand. Bowties are nice, too.)

8oz lean Ground Beef (venison or shredded beef work well, too.)

½ tsp. Ground Cumin

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1 15.5oz can Pinto Beans

1 15.5oz can Whole Kernel Corn

1 15.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes

1 small Diced Green Bell Pepper (optional)

½ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

½ Cup Sliced Green Onions (optional)

1 Cup Sour Cream (low fat works great)

½ Cup Salsa

½ Cup Broken Tortilla Chips (optional)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. If you will be freezing this meal, cook pasta only ½ done.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Add beans, cumin and chili powder; heat through. In a large bowl, combine pasta, meat mixture, tomatoes and corn. Pour into a gallon sized zip-lock freezer bag. Measure and package in individual, snack-sized zip-locks, the green pepper, cheese, onions and salsa. Place these inside the gallon-sized bag with your meal; press the filled, gallon-sized bag flat, squeezing out as much air as possible. FREEZE YOUR MEAL (WITH THE EXTRAS) AT THIS POINT. You will need to provide only the chips and sour cream on serving day.

Preparing this meal from the freezer

Cooking Instructions: You will need the following on cooking day (not included): 1 Cup Sour Cream, ½ Cup Broken Tortilla Chips (Optional), ½ Cup Sliced Green Onions (Optional.)

Thaw package overnight in the refrigerator. Remove Salsa and Cheese packets; rinse off and set aside. Place remaining mixture in a large skillet; heat, stirring often, until heated through. (Check pasta for doneness part way through; if needed, add a bit of water.) Remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, salsa and green pepper; fold into the skillet mixture. Serve topped with cheese, broken tortilla chips and green onions.

I like to serve this with a side spinach salad, tossed with 1 clove pressed garlic, ½ cup rice wine vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Per serving: 353 calories, 11g fat, 17g protein, 48g carbohydrates, 7g dietary fiber, 31mg cholesterol, 503mg sodium.

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