Poor Man’s

So, anyone whose followed me for awhile knows I like to cook.  Actually, I kinda love it.

But I love it when I have time for it, when I can put my tunes on and Juke and Jive to some Motown, 70s Rock or  Vintage Elvis.  I love it when I have time to putz and taste and simmer and stir and have everyone come in and out and ask … “just what is that, man that smells sooo good!”

During the week, I’d say I’m a functional cook.  I get in – get it done – and get out.

Working full time as I do, I’ve always had my list of “go-to” meals.  My preference is to cook up a bunch of chicken and a few sides and fix a big, hearty salad. Yep, I can eat a salad and chicken all week long. Hubbs, well let’s just say he’s a man and he needs some soul-filling foods.  You know, meat, potatoes, a bit of green thrown in for good measure.  And brownies. Or cookies, too.

So, many moons ago, when we met and fell in love, my list of “go-to” meals was considerably different.  Why? Well, at that time, it was me & a five year old.  Chicken, mac & cheese, soup, sandwiches, a bit of a roast here & there and we were good.

Not so with Mr. Man.

Being a Midwesterner, he came to the marriage with a hearty share of experience in the casserole department.  A list as long as his arm.   And, over time, he kept talking about this one dish his Mom used to make and his eyes would get all deep and dreamy and stuff and I remember thinking, “I just have to know what’s behind that look.”

So I asked her.  GM Jan, as we called her (she’d been a seamstress for General Motors; she was feisty and fun, a skinny smoker with a beehive and a closet full of shoes, but I digress.)

Pleased as punch, she shared her recipe with me.


The only in-law who, so far, wasn’t an out-law. And I made it, and adapted it, and well, here we are.

I made it last night for Hubbs and you would’ve thought I gave him the keys to the kingdom. His eyes lit up like a kids the night before the fair comes to town.  Rubbing his hands together he excitedly checked the bread and butter supply before announcing gleefully, “That’s perfect! I’ll have that for lunch tomorrow and maybe for dinner, too!”

And with that, my friends, I give you Poor Man’s:  Poor Man’s Chop Suey.

Who knows the calorie or fat content? Who cares?  All I know is this: every time I make it, the twinkle in his eye grows to a gleam and I might just as well be a star on “Top Chef.”

** MJ’s (and Jan’s)  Poor Man’s Chop Suey **

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Soy sauce
  • 2 cans cream soup – I used 1 cream of mushroom and 1 cream of celery
  • 1 can of water (just over a cup)
  • 1 cup of “Shredds” (shredded vegetables – carrots, broccoli, cabbage – found in the produce department)
  • 1 cup (or so) of cooked rice, any kind
  • Seasonings to taste
  • Optional: add slivered celery, mushrooms, water chestnuts, onion or almonds.


Brown beef, drain off fat and season liberally with Mrs. Dash, dried Onion, Rosemary and Pepper.  Pour in 1/4 cup of Soya Sauce (or more, to taste).  In a separate bowl, mix soups & water then pour into beef mixture.  Add veggie shreds and rice, mix well, tumble the whole hearty mixture into a 13×9 pan and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until bubbly.  The rice will absorb the sauce as it stands.   Should serve 4 people but, in my house, this serves one grinning and delighted man for oh – 1-2 days :).

Poor Man's Chop Suey

Poor Man’s Chop Suey

Were you raised on casseroles?  Is there a dish you make for others but don’t crave yourself? Is there one you love but everyone else thinks is weird? (Mine is “Holpchi,” better known as cabbage rolls).

*This dish was Frankie’s favorite leftover; it’s been a month now and I miss that old grey-faced dog, especially when I cook.

To visit my Recipe vault, just click on the links below:

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Food, Grief, Home, Joy, Life, Men, Recipes, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “Poor Man’s

  1. Your recipes are always delicious – and I know because I have tried them. And I love a good casserole. My mother makes a one-pot spaghetti that is so wonderful. Maybe I’ll get that recipe from her and share. I think you’d like it.

    • Thank you, Renee! I only share what I know works and is good. I don’t tend to make a lot of casseroles but a good one will go in my vault 🙂 Please share your Mom’s one-pot Spaghetti with us! Bests, MJ

  2. Oh, MJ, I smile to think of you dancing and cooking in your kitchen! (Would love to be a little fly on the wall to see that.) How sweet of you to make this dish for your hubby.
    I don’t think my mom ever made a casserole…but she fried many a chicken for Sunday “dinner” – the meal after church (we didn’t have “lunch” back in those days!).

    • Oh, I do it all the time. The kids are used to it, although I’m sure they wonder if I’m cracked. Last night I 2-stepped, by myself, to Elvis’ Gospel “Milky White Way.” My kitchen, my rules 🙂

      My Grandma used to fry chicken, oh it was oh-so-good! Wouldn’t you just love a piece of that now? I would, MJ

      • YES! That – and some of Mama’s potato salad. And her cornbread dressing…..

      • oh all of it … and a slice of my Grandmother’s Sour Cream Raisin pie (sounds dreadful but it’s not, it’s a carmelly gooey sweet custard pie… heaven) MJ

  3. My daddy used to make SOS, an army staple. I’ve never been able to get it quite right… family favorites bring back floods of memories 🙂

    • Hubbs love SOS 🙂 HA!! I haven’t perfected it, because the recipe is unclear, but he sure does appreciate the effort.

  4. You are lucky that he likes something so simple and cheap! Like you my cooking expanded considerably when I got married. I love veggies and starch with an occasional meat thrown in. Hubs loves meat and more meat with an occasional veggie thrown in (but not the weird ones like brussel sprouts or sweet potatoes). My Mom was a great Austrian cook and her great dish (in my opinion) was strudel — any kind of strudel. I’m not too big on casseroles (except lasagna — that’s a cass isn’t it?) but if the meat ratio is high enough the Hubs loves it.

  5. You made me laugh with your description of your husband at the dinner table “checking the bread and butter supply.” Let’s just say that it hit close to home. 😉

    • Somehow I knew you’d pick up on that one, RR. Yes, he was racing around, rubbing his hands together and grinning like a kid on Halloween night. Funny stuff. He had a heaping plate of it last night for supper, and there’s about 1/3 of it left now. Cheers! MJ

  6. I wonder if the casserole was a generational thing–and I suppose we had our fair share of them. Glad hubby was happy. I could live on bread alone, I’m afraid. My Sara needs REAL meals, as well.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I kinda think it was generational; I don’t mind them, and there are a few childhood favorites that I still make: Lazy Man’s Cabbage Rolls and 7-layer-dinner are 2. We always had fresh bread (homemade) and real butter at the table. That helped stretch the meal for 5 kids and 2 parents 🙂 Happy day to you in Ecuador my friend !! MJ

  7. Bookmarking this one. Looks yummy.

  8. I love me some casseroles… or as we are more likely to call them in this house… hot dishes! We have a couple of them similar to the one you’ve posted here. Some are as simple as 4 or 5 ingredients and some have names like “Aunt Shirley’s Hot Dish.”

    I think our parents learned how to stretch their grocery dollars by serving up casseroles/hot dishes. We kids didn’t know they were being thrifty and now we just associate these dishes with home and family.

    • You know, I have heard the term “hot dishes” but wasn’t sure if that was the same thing — and you’re right, our parents stretched those grocery dollars with casseroles & bread/butter! This is the time of year when hot dishes/casseroles make their appearance!! MJ

  9. Johnny Marzetti : is the casserole that was popular in the 60’s in my family. My mom added black olives to this recipe…probably haven’t had it in 30 years. The one we still eat is King Ranch Casserole. Famous in Texas, to Texans…

    • I don’t know the Johnny Marzetti but I think that’s also a line of spices? I have had that King Ranch Casserole — when I lived in Texas. It was great, I better find a recipe again!! …. MJ

  10. My mom was not creative in the kitchen and was a “basics” cook. It was mostly a meat, a veggie, and a starch, with carrot sticks and a salad. She’d switch it up with a casserole now and then. Feeding my family is a challenge, because my son has a limited food vocabulary (sensory issues), I can’t eat any dairy and don’t like seafood, and my husband stopped eating red meat and pork after his mother died from colon cancer. So, we don’t eat red meat or pork. I don’t eat seafood or dairy. And the kid would live on mac and cheese, fried chicken, and cornbread if he could. Like I said, it’s a challenge, but we definitely eat well.

    • That is a lot of challenges to deal with but it sounds like you make it work! And, while I’m not a huge fan of casseroles, I make this one just because of the joy it brings Mr. Man.

      Cheers! MJ

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