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 :).
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: