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Easy does it

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    Hamburger Casserole has it all: meat, veggies, even dairy. It's also easy to make and delicious.
Published December 04. 2013 05:00PM

As of today we are just three weeks away from Christmas, and if you are anything like me (and just about everyone else I know), you're pretty busy about now.

There's decorating to do, as well as shopping, gift wrapping, writing Christmas cards, grocery shopping, meal planning, cookie baking and maybe even a party or two.

I'm exhausted just writing that.

But wait; in addition to all that extra work, you still have a hungry family sitting around the table, waiting for dinner.

Not to worry. I've got you covered.

Here are three recipes that will easily feed a family of four. In addition they can be doubled to provide enough for a larger family or leftovers. The chili and barbecue can also be frozen for a quick meal later in the month.

I made everything in less than an hour, and you want to know the best part? All three dinners cost me less than $35.

I don't recommend eating ground beef every night, but if you plan ahead and make these meals and freeze them, you can defrost one on a night you are extra busy, and you can still serve an inexpensive, home-cooked dinner.

You could also switch out the ground beef for ground turkey.

The Hamburger Casserole recipe comes from TIMES NEWS editor Marta Gouger. My husband enjoyed it so much, he ate more than his share. The chili recipe is one of my all-time favorites, and really not a chili at all.

My mother made it for years, and for me, it really is what comfort food is all about -- a dish served with love.

The Hamburger BBQ is a recipe I adapted from an old firehouse cookbook from 20+ years ago. It's only gotten better with time.

If you're looking for more simple meals, check out more Comfort & Joy recipes at



1 pound ground beef

One-half onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

One-half bag frozen vegetables

1 jar ranch dressing

Milk, if needed, to thin to desired consistency

2 cans sliced potatoes

1 cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon dried parsley

Brown ground beef with onion and garlic; drain. Stir in vegetables, ranch dressing, and milk if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top with sliced potatoes, cheese and parsley. Cook until cheese is melted.



1 pound ground beef

1 onion chopped

4 16-ounce cans pork 'n beans or Heinz vegetarian beans

2 cans tomato soup

Salt and pepper

White rice or cooked spaghetti

Brown ground beef with onion. Cook until onion is soft and translucent; drain if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in tomato soup and beans.

Simmer for about 15 minutes until heated through.

Serve over rice or spaghetti.



1 and one-half pounds ground beef or turkey

1 and one-half cups of ketchup

1 cup onions

2 tablespoons mustard

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Hamburger buns

Brown ground beef or turkey and drain. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about a half-hour until cooked through.

Serve on hamburger buns.

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