Easy Weeknight Dinner Series: Potato & Beef Skillet with Simple Salad

Hamburger Potato and Simple Salad

Using 2 bags of the frozen cut-up potatoes (as per my previous article), I was able to relax in the kitchen and prepare something quick for dinner. I have not posted my dinners lately because they are not really anything that I feel would are really article worthy. However, I realized that some of these dinner ideas might be valuable for that are just now embarking on an ingredient-restricted diet. I sometimes forget how reliant I once was on wheat and how I was not used to making meals without wheat or dairy or other ingredients. So, I hope these ideas help. Recipes like this are straightforward, nutritionally balanced, taste good and accomplishes the goal of being both budget-friendly and top-8 allergen free.

I will refrain from adding exact measurements of ingredients in this article because I think it is important to learn the art of seasoning your food to your individual tastes. However, I will add measurements for known quantities (such as 1 lb. of beef, 1 onion, etc.). Also remember that a good cook taste tests their creations often. There is a reason that top chefs insists on this practice. If you don’t know what it tastes like, you don’t know how to adjust the seasoning.

A good cook is constantly tasting.

That said, seasoning things directly from the spice rack can be overwhelming. Indeed, it is not terribly intuitive the first year (or few years) of cooking to know exactly how spices complement foods and other spices. So, don’t fret, you will get there and will be cooking like an old pro in  no time. I will give measurements when I know what they are, but as for other items, definitely taste to determine your preference for how much garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc. that you’d like. Or maybe you want to try a new spice or spice combination? That’s always fun. And you’d be surprised at how hard it is to mess things up with different kinds of spices.

You can do this.

Potato & Beef Skillet with Simple Salad

4 cups frozen cut-up potatoes, boil for 10 minutes, drain and set aside

1 lb. ground beef (if you can, try to get grass-fed / humanely-raised beef) or use another protein

1 yellow onion, diced

1 large cloves of garlic, minced

salt, pepper, garlic powder and italian seasoning to taste

Saute’ onions and beef in a skillet, then add potatoes and seasoning. Add garlic at the end and turn the heat low to keep warm while you make the salad.

Simple Salad

Baby spinach or other lettuce of choice

Other veggies that you like.

Toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cracked sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

That’s it. Dinner is finished. My son likes ketchup on this. Enjoy!

Sanity Saver Series: “Potato Night” (Plus Ideas for Meals)

cut up potatoes graphic

When you are diagnosed with a food related condition your life changes and you are faced with a lot more cooking than you have ever done before. No longer can you have pizza or stir fry delivered to your door. No longer can you swing through your favorite fast food place on the way home. No longer can you just buy the frozen potato products in the freezer section because of all of the added ingredients, or even frozen dinners for that matter. No longer can you just go out to eat. It’s a bummer but…

You have to have a good attitude about this or you will go nuts.

Think of yourself as a chef and your kitchen as the world’s best restaurant.

Before long, the things you make at home will be far tastier and better than what you can get out to eat.

I know that cooking from scratch all the time really seems overwhelming, but I promise that it gets to be like old hat after a while. This is what chefs have to do to prepare for a busy night of serving clientele, so it’s not a new trick. You’ll get to a point where this becomes standard routine.

This is where a little prep can save your sanity and thus I begin an article series called “Sanity Savers.”

First, I’ll start with potatoes. These are NOT a quick weeknight sort of ingredient. Potatoes are one of the most time-consuming, prep-intensive ingredients ever. But they are one of the most delicious, satisfying and tolerable foods. French fries and mashed potatoes are wildly popular for a reason.

So, here’s the strategy. Pick one night to do your potato prep work. It is what I like to call:

“Potato Night”

When you do your grocery shopping, buy one, two or three 10-lb. bags of potatoes. Russet, baking, red… whatever kind of potatoes are your favorite.

Have gluten-free sandwiches or scrambled eggs for dinner on this prep night to reduce your stress.

Or, do this prep work in the middle of cooking dinner, or after cooking dinner, or just before…however you can fit in this prep work.

Then, cut up a whole bunch of potatoes, any size you want:

Cut some in french fry shape, dice some really small for hash, slice some for scalloped potatoes or casseroles. You can even grate some by hand or in a food processor to be used for hash browns or potato latkes or potato pancakes. However you want to do it and however you think you’ll like cooking the potatoes. Just remember that the smaller the size you cut them, the faster they will cook.

Put them in freezer bags and freeze.

That’s it.

Now you’re ready for having potatoes on your regular weeknight cooking.

Ideas for Meals using Prepped Potatoes

Crock Pot Roast or Stew: Add meat, potatoes, 1 diced onion and baby carrots to your crock pot. Fill with water to almost the top of ingredients. Add salt, pepper and a generous amount of garlic powder and onion powder (about 2 tablespoons each). Cook on low all day.

Casserole: Add potatoes to a casserole dish with beans or chicken, veggies, spices, and a little water. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees F for an hour.

Roasted Potatoes: While you’re grilling or sauteing your protein, roast the potatoes in the oven: toss 1-2 bags of frozen potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, sea salt and pepper (and/or add a little dijon mustard) and roast at 475 degrees F for 15 minutes, stir, 15 minutes more. (make sure you have enough oil or they will stick to the pan)

Mashed Potatoes. Boil water, add frozen potatoes and cook until fork tender. Drain most of the water. Mash with a little of the potato water and add salt and onion powder. For a cheesier flavor, add nutritional yeast flakes and a little olive oil or nondairy milk.  Perfect topping for a quick shepherd’s pie, too.

French Fries: Add oil to skillet, bring to medium high heat. Add a bag of fry-cut potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and add salt and pepper.

German Potato Salad: Boil water, add 2 bags frozen potatoes and cook until *just* fork tender. Drain and set aside. In a separate skillet, cook 1 diced onion until tender, set aside. Cook 6 slices of bacon. Set aside. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup vegetable or olive oil with 1/4 cup dijon mustard and 1/4 cup of vinegar (you can use cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or white vinegar but DO NOT USE MALT VINEGAR because malt contains gluten). Mix all ingredients together and serve with sandwiches or scrambled eggs or as a side dish to your meal.

Soups: This is probably the easiest way to use these potatoes. Add to your pot of lentils or chicken broth. Or add the potatoes to water with the addition of non-dairy milk, leeks, salt, pepper, onions and garlic for a delicious and simple potato leek soup. Or use mushrooms instead of leeks. Or, if you have neither on hand, just have plain potato soup. Sometimes the most simple dishes are the best dishes.

If you have any more ideas for how to use these prepped potatoes, feel free to add them to the comments. I really hope this time-saver tip works for you!