Growing up, I remember my mother making batches of simple but good food like goulash and potato soup. Believe it or not, I liked them. When I became a 24/7 mom, I wanted to come up with my own simple but good recipes that my kid would eat. This predicament sent me to my pantry and refrigerator more than once, wondering what I could throw together. At times, I called family or friends for culinary insights if I was drawing a blank. The Pinwheel and Stroganoff recipes were my older sister’s ideas; I just tweaked them a bit. I came up with Potato Surprise by throwing leftovers together. This was before I knew other dishes like it already existed, like Shepherd’s Pie. I guess necessity is the mother of invention. If you are like me, not really a cook but can follow instructions, boil water, measure ingredients, and cook meat thoroughly while not overcooking (most the time) pasta, rice, potatoes, or vegetables, then the following three recipes may be just right for you and your family.
4 oz. package plain cream cheese
2 “12” tortillas
1 small can mild diced green chilies
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced black olives
Diced or shredded ham
This recipe makes enough for a family of two or three to enjoy. This is not dinner; it is an appetizer or a quick snack. If you want more or making pinwheels for a party, double or triple the recipe.
Mix cream cheese and green chilies in a small bowl. Spread the creamy green mixture onto tortillas, evenly, and out to the sides, not just in the middle. Sprinkle with meat, cheese, and olives. Roll tortillas. Cut off ends, then slice remaining roll and serve or chill up to 3 hrs.
Substitutes can be made for all ingredients except the cream cheese and tortillas. Fill the tortillas with any meat, cheese, spice, olive, or vegetable you like or have on hand. Try different combinations your family might enjoy. Ask them for ideas.
Ground Beef or Turkey Stroganoff
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
4oz-6 oz. container of sour cream
10.5 oz. cream of chicken soup
10.5 oz. cream of mushroom soup
16 oz. bag or box of pasta
2 quarts water
Brown ground beef or turkey in medium sized skillet while 2 quarts water, in a large saucepan, is coming to a boil. When water boils, add pasta and stir, occasionally. Cook for 7 minutes or until tender. Drain meat after cooking, if necessary. Leave meat in skillet and add cream of mushroom and chicken soups. Use one can to add ½ can of water. Mix well. Add sour cream and mix again. Season mixture to taste.
Use a strainer to drain cooked pasta in sink. Return pasta to saucepan. Pour meat, soup, and sour cream mixture over pasta in saucepan. Mix well. Sample flavor and season to taste again.
Pasta recommendations for this dish are shells, elbow macaroni, rigatoni, or something similar. Do not use spaghetti noodles unless that is all you have and you cannot make a store run. Best side dishes are garlic bread and/or a green salad.
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
Instant mashed potatoes
¼ cup onion diced
Frozen corn, peas, carrots, or green beans
1 cup shredded cheese
Garlic salt with dried parsley flakes
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Brown meat and onions in med skillet. Season to taste.
Follow instructions for instant mashed potatoes or make them anyway you like, if you know how. Season to taste.
Steam, boil, or microwave frozen vegetables. Follow instructions on the bag. Season to taste.
Transfer meat, onions, and vegetables to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pile on the mashed potatoes, spread evenly over other ingredients. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
Remember when seasoning, all ingredients will be piled on top of each other so don’t overdo it.
This dish can be made from leftovers and can include or exclude certain ingredients like meat, vegetables, onion, or cheese. As long as you have potatoes and one other ingredient, like a meat or a vegetable, it is a done deal.
I hope you try these recipes if you don’t have something similar and that your family, especially the kids, love them. I know for me and my son, these dishes made and bring back fond memories of dinner and quality time spent together talking, playing games, or hanging out with friends. He even calls me from time to time to remind him how to make them.