Hello, Winnie Griggs here. The other day I was going through my old recipe files as I’m gradually digitizing them. Some of these were handed down from my mom, slipped to me by friends or relatives, or developed by me over time. Just reading through the creased and food-stained notes had me reminiscing over my childhood an early married life – I’d never realized how foods could be so deeply associated with comforting memories.
Today I thought I share one of those with you – a hearty, perfect-for-Fall recipe called Meal-In-A-Loaf.
First of all, since most of these rcipes are more than twenty years old, they come from a time when I was a working mother with four youngsters and a 45 minute commute to and from the office. In those days time was always at a premium (but isn’t it always!). So when it came to meals I took advantage of the weekends and my great big freezer. I’d cook up meals like soups, gumbos, and one-dish casseroles in double or triple sized batches so I could freeze part of it to prepare for a future meal. I would also cook large batches of what I called my meat base.
Ground beef dishes – whether cooked up in a casserole, tacos, chili or spaghetti – were big hits around my house – not only with the diners but with this cook. However, I’ve always found having to deal with browning and draining the meat itself to be time consuming and something of a hassle. So I got in the habit of getting that prep work out of the way ahead of time, during one of my not-too-frequent down times.
This is how I do that .
- Place 5 lbs of lean ground beef and 1 lb of ground pork in a large pot and cook until browned
- Drain then return to pot with a little water or stock
- Add seasonings such as chopped onions, green onions, peppers and celery – this varies based on what I have on hand and what mood I’m in. Sometimes I just use Sloppy Joe mix.
- Continue cooking, adding liquid as needed, until seasonings are tender and flavors are well blended.
- If I haven’t used Sloppy Joe mix, I’ll add some tomato sauce and cook a little longer
- Remove from heat and allow to cool
- Then I separate the batch into six individual one pound portions and freeze them until I’m ready to use one or more in a favorite recipe
Now, on to the recipe I promised you
- 1 large unsliced French or Italian bread loaf
- 1 pound meat mixture, thawed
- 1 can condensed tomato soup, undiluted (Note: I will sometimes take a can of Rotel tomatoes and chili peppers, drained and substitute it in for half of the soup)
- A large dollop of sour cream (I don’t measure, I just plop it in)
- 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese, shredded
- Heat meat and soup together in a saucepan. Just before you remove it from the stove, stir in the sour cream, mixing well
- Slice the bread loaf lengthwise, making sure the bottom portion is slightly larger than the one on top
- Scoop out both halves of the sliced loaf, leaving a roughly 1/2 – 3/4 inch shell
- Break about 1/2 of scooped-out bread into bite-sized portions and stir into warm meat mixture.
- Spoon meat and bread mixture into the bottom portion of the hollowed loaf, allowing it to ‘mound’ above the top of the bowl
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top
- Cover with the top portion of the bread shell
- Wrap loosely in foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes
To serve, unwrap the loaf and cut it into serving-sized slices. This will make 8-10 servings, depending on the size of loaf and thickness of slices.
NOTE: I sometimes stir in taco seasoning to change it up a bit
That’s it – Enjoy!
Do you have any meal prep or planning shortcuts of your own to offer? And if you have any quick and easy recipes of your own, especially one that would utilize this pre-cooked meat mix, share!
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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.