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Help! Have run out of ideas...need recipe ideas for tonight's dinner

Here's the issue...have 1lb. of ground buffalo defrosting but not sure if it will be done in time for tonights dinner. Also don't know what to do with it.... and if not that then there's frozen salmon I could quickly defrost...or I could go out and get a protein...

I want a NICE dinner...cheap, warm, satisfying...here are the things:

1. No oven...house gets too hot with the oven on (stove is ok) even though it's 18 degrees outside (house is small!)
2. No pork, no beef
3. No crazy amounts of cheese (high cholesterol)
4. No ingredients that i either couldn't buy inexpensively or that I wouldn't have in my pantry.

I must sound seriously difficult...anyway besides all that I'm open to anything :) Kind of hoping for a protein, nice veggie and minimal starch...or maybe a one-pot meal?

Help! Thanks! :-)

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  1. Build a fire in the yard and cook up a stew in a dutch oven.
    If you don't have a dutch oven, hang strips of meat vertically on a rack alongside the open fire and roast it there with a few potatoes and some vegetables wrapped in foil tucked into the coals.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      That would be a neat trick, hanging strips of GROUND meat.

    2. When I have ground beef I make stuffed peppers. Brown the meat. Mix in some cooked rice, a little ketchup to moisten, some seasonings, some cheese if you want (I use parmesean or cheddar). Fill steamed pepper halves and top with a little more chez or a breadcrumb/butter topping. Then (since everything is already cooked) I just top brown under broiler. Serve with a salad and slice of bread (I use rye).

      1. Put the ground buff in a ziploc, squeeze out the air, seal, and submerge in cold water. It will defrost quickly. Even if it's still partly frozen, you can brown itand it will be fine.

        Make a nice chili with or without beans (onion and garlic, diced, green pepper (opt.) sweated, buffalo browned, add canned tomatoes, chili powder, canned beans, cayenne (opt.) ) and let it simmer all day or make it in a crockpot.. You don't say how many you have to feed, but this should be enough for up to four. Add a dollop of sour cream and/or sprinkle a little cheese on top. Serve with warm flour tortillas.

        Anything you can do with ground beef, you can do with ground buffalo. Burgers or meat loaf or meatballs would be good too, but remember that buffalo is leaner than beef. Add something to hold moisture.

        1. Put your meat in a ziploc bag and weight it down to submerge it in a pot of cold water - keep the seal above water, just in case. This will defrost your meat quickly and safely.

          Chili is always a good cold-weather meal, with rice or cornbread. My chili is mild and non-authentic, with just ground meat, tomato paste, bell pepper, canned kidney beans, onion, garlic, and chili powder, so I cannot suggest a particular recipe.

          1. First thing that I would make is a checken stew or chicken and dumplings. Easier than you think and in expensive. Also I make a great creamed chicken over rice. Using wildrice makes it much healthier. And you don't need heavy cream. One pot or maybe two but great food. I'll post in two so it isn't that long. First is my chicken stew.

            Chicken Stew

            You can use dark meat, a combo or leftovers from a rotisserie chicken even chopped
            chicken breasts. Whatever you have. Use approximately 3 cups.
            2 Strips of bacon (if you have, optional)
            Veggies, Anything goes in this. My favorites, 5 or so ed potatoes skin on and quartered,
            2-3 carrots, 3 onions quartered, frozen peas, 1 sweet potatoes diced, celery 2 stalks
            chopped, 1 cup peas, 10 or so crimini button mushrooms cut in half, or anything
            else. Green beans, rutabager, parsnips, anything you like.
            1 box of chicken broth
            1 teaspoon garlic minced (or 1 clove)
            2 bay leafs
            Salt and pepper to taste
            1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
            1 tablespoon fresh parsley or dried is ok
            3/4 cup white wine or sherry if you have it if not don't worry
            1 tablespoon olive oil to saute vegetables
            Corn starch, flour or instant potatoes (to thicken slightly)

            First if using bacon, chop and sautee in the olive oil, then add the vegetables. If not using bacon don't worry. It adds a great flavor but not necessary. Then just saute the onions, garlic and celery first in olive oil, then add the carrots, potatoes and any other vegetables. If using peas and beans add them toward the end of cooking. I like my chicken cooked for this but if not. You can either roast it and cut it up, use pre cooked or even just saute the chicken first and set to the side and cut it up. Even do that before the bacon if you want. This is one but, lets do it easy. If you want you can even add whole pieces but I like pieces cut up personally, Just my preference. After all the chicken and vegetables have been added, add the broth, a little water or wine to cover. Add the seasoning, salt and pepper, reduce and cook. Usually about 1- 1/2 hrs stove top. Right at the end I mix a little cornstarch with the broth add add to the pot to thicken the sauce. You can also add instant potatoes they work very well, or mix flour with some of the broth to thicken the sauce. Thicken it as much as you want. Some people add a little cream to this ... I don't think it is necessary. I just like it thick like a stew. Serve in a nice bowl. It is a great simple flavor, hearty. I serve with a simple wedge of iceberg lettuce, some balsamic vinaigrette and some fresh tomatoes or blue cheese is equally as good and a good slice of hearty bread. I like it soft to soak up the juices. It is pretty in expensive, healthy with all the veggies and serves 8 and it wonderful as leftovers for a lunch or dinner.


            3 Replies
            1. re: kchurchill5

              Thanks for all the great ideas...think it will be chili...will have to check out past posts to find a good recipie (I need exact everything as I am not quite the best cook yet!) - kchurchill this chicken stew sounds delicious! Will try this during the week after we get a rotissere chicken...could you also post the recipie for your chicken and dumplings? I haven't had that in ages! (as an aside did I see somewhere you just got married? Congrats! :-)

              edit - sorry k - I just read you were going to post it after...

              1. re: lovessushi

                BTW does anyone know if I make chili can I leave out the green peper? I really don't feel like going out anymore! I have a jalepeno, some frozen adobo with chili, onion, garlic and diced tomatoes. Will I miss the pepper? Should I just suck it up and get one? :) Feeding me and my bf by the way...

                1. re: lovessushi

                  I hereby give you permission to leave out the green pepper. Adobo would be a nice addition - but next time you're at the store grab some of those 4 oz. cans of green chiles. They're nice to have on hand.

            2. My apologies .. half of your post came through, I wondered but didn't question it .... It started with I want a nice dinner. The whole top part didn't post, then when I posted mine and went your entire post was there. Sorry. Well the chicken is still good. Salmon, I have endless recipes. Lots just stove top and I love roasted veggies, but that is hard without the oven. This is one I enjoy it is a fish stew, hearty served with fresh bread and warming and one pot on the stove. I add lots of potatoes and veggies and let it cook a while. Also adding some shrimp makes this really good or clams and mussels if cheap at the market. Or just fish is fine.

              Fish Stew

              I used 1 cup each of 3-4 of your favorite root vegetables. Carrots, squash, rutabager, I
              love mushrooms whatever you enjoy or have on hand. Me, carrots, celery, mushrooms,
              and parsnips, but anything works for this. I like some peas but don't add till the end.
              1 lb any tomatoes, I like just a good beefeater chopped, if no fresh use 2 cans of diced
              1 lb potatoes, I like the red skin. Leave skin on and cut in bite size pieces, peel if u want
              3 cups chicken broth or a mix of veggie and chicken
              3 lbs salmon or a mix of salmon and other seafood, also add chicken or ham
              3 medium onions rough chopped
              1 cup white wine
              2 cloves garlic minced
              3 tablespoons flour to thicken the stew
              Olive oil to saute vegetables
              Salt and pepper to taste
              1 bay leaf
              I like 1 teaspoon Old Bay or you can use any all purpose seasoning

              In olive oil begin to saute your vegetables. Not the peas, cook until slightly soft, add the white wine, if not water will work, but wine adds great flavor. then add the tomatoes, broth, seasoning, herbs and cook. Cook 30 minutes until vegetables are soft then add your salmon, I like to add the whole piece, when it cooks it will naturally bread up or add chicken, halibut is good, cod, shrimp, ham, anything or mix and match. It is a good hearty stew. Serve with a nice bread to soak up juices. I enjoy a nice crunchy Italian bread.

              1. I agree with the suggestion to thaw submerged in cold water with water running at a trickle. It works really fast and is a safe way to defrost. Just make sure it's protected by a good ziptop bag and it will probably be thawed within the hour.

                I have lots of ideas for ground buffalo, but most require oven time. Can you just crack a window? Stuffed peppers would be perfect.

                Most of the stove-top ideas do have do have starch. Spaghetti and meat sauce. Picadillo. How about doing a nice chili? Load it up with beans, peppers. You could make it really healthy. You could also do a veggie and ground meat soup (google for hamburger soup).

                12 Replies
                  1. re: avgolemona

                    Thanks again - and kchurchill thanks for the chili suggestions - I also like the idea of spaghetti and meatsauce...

                    Of course in the end bf decided he just wanted rotisserie chicken and is not in the mood for chili today! So we'll have something with the chicken and maybe some homemade fried rice. And then by tomorrow meat will be defrosted and I'm thinking the spagetti and meatsauce.. any good recipies? Whenever I make it it's sort of weird and icky and no-one else likes it. My mom use to make it with a bottle of ragu, a pound of meat and garlic powder so I dont' really have a good model to go by :-)

                    1. re: lovessushi

                      Me, a pretty simple gal. I saute some garlic... I like garlic :) 1 tablespoon or so, Also 1 small onion sort of fine chopped, 1 can of tomato puree and I used some tomato sauce about 2 tablespoons, depth of flavor. It works, I also use a pinch of sugar, equalizes the acidity of the tomatoes. If any red wine around I add 1/2 cup for flavor. Also use some Italian seasoning 1 teaspoon and some fresh parsley 1 teaspoon and salt and pepper to taste. My sauce. I don't let anything cook just add it all and let simmer. Always works and everyone loves it. Some times I will add 1/4 cup parm mixed in. You will never know it is there but adds great flavor. You can freeze that in baggies for months. Add meat if you want, sausage, seafood and your favorite pasta. Also add grated parm at the end if you enjoy. A pretty simple sauce. I let it simmer 15-20 minutes tops, longer is better, but sometimes hey ... we just don't have time.

                      ENJOY! Sorry I didn't post the first time. Don't know all the rules yet, lol

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        lol - thanks! Sounds good! I will def. make this this week...ok not to sound stupid but when you say a can of tomato puree is that a 28oz. can or a smaller one? I am so clueless when it comes to cooking...!

                        edit - and on that note the tomato sauce is the one in the small can? Or could I just use jarred sauce and add 2tb. of that?

                        Sorry...so clueless!!! :-)

                        1. re: lovessushi

                          I use the 14.5 oz of 15 oz can, like a normal size can of tomatoes. Also for the sauce I usually use paste, I was jst gonna reply to you. I miss typed it. My apologies. Just a small tube a small can only 2 tablespoons of the paste. Sometimes people like to add a bit more flavor but 2 is plenty to me. Apologies for the typo. I like the deep concentration of the paste, but by all means I improvise many times. Sometimes no sauce or just diced, sometimes no paste so I add some ketchup .... don't sweat the small stuff. 90% of the time if you have most ingredients it will be fine. Canned sauce or jarred will work great as an addition. Don't worry about little things. I cook by taste not recipes. I use them as a reference, but use my sense of taste more. Baking, that is a whole different story, lol. Enjoy!

                          And FYI, not clueless, we all are at times!!

                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            I would just make some buffalo burgers (although I prefer mine with cheese, blu especially), and call it a night. 1 lb of ground meat should not take that long to thaw under cold water, or defrost it in the microwave.

                            1. re: Whosyerkitty

                              lol - thanks kchurchill!

                              Buffalo burgers sound great...except I already have them frozen in the freezer!!! Good emergency meal I find but for some reason not wanting them lately...though I want ground buffalo in a different way...go figure...

                              1. re: lovessushi

                                How about a goulash, still has some cheese and some starch, but lots of celery onions, mushrooms, carrots, peppers some pasta, a tomato base. Lots of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce as the base. Ok elbow or ziti like and a combo of some blue, cheddar and monterey jack just crumbled and tossed with the goulash. Great way to use the beef.

                                I would make buffalo and ricotta ravioli with a current port wine sauce. Raviolis in wontons which are the easiest thing in the world to use Serve with a nice salad and some quick cooking risotta. PERFECT!!

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  Never made goulash...that sounds good...

                                  However the buffalo and ricotta ravioli sound incredible!!! You cook the buffalo first, then add the ricotta? what about spices,etc.? That sounds SOO good!!! (I love ricotta!) .... and bf would go nuts over this...

                                  You are like an endless fountain of into k...

                                  1. re: lovessushi

                                    I will send recipe in am, too late tonight, it is simple just the meat, shallots, spices and ricotta, some cheese and sauce, but will send recipe, promise, check tomorrow. Too much wine and no sleep, heading off soon. Thanks it is really good.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      Thanks so much - will be back on tomorrow after work - heading off to sleep here too (though sadly enough no wine!)...bf wants to know why I am not sleeping if I am complaining I am so tired!!! Looking forward to the recipe - :-)

                                      1. re: lovessushi

                                        I treat buffalo I have had like any ground meat. If not ground ... use your food processor. This is a basic sausage ravioli but great flavor. I do use short cuts as I tend to make these on the weekend and freeze bags of them. They freeze great. Just thaw, boil and serve with your favorite sauce. For me a traditional sauce is perfect for this. But pansauteed with butter and some fresh parm is great or even a parm or peccerino romano cheese sauce too. Just depends on your taste. Lets just saying working single mom. I try to do fresh, tasteful and quick. I use short cuts but still use fresh ingredients. This is my ravioli.

                                        I will give you the amounts, but if you are cooking more. Brown the meat and freeze to use for next time or make all the ravioli and freeze them. That would be my choice. This makes a ton ... Hint is you have some lasagna noodles. Use this same filling in a single lasagna noodle roll and put 2-3 in a small tupperwear or ziplock container and top with a simple tomato sauce and cheese (mozzarella and parmesan) bake and it is amazing. Simple lasagna. I make these all the time with tons of leftovers. 20 minutes in the oven after thawing and a perfect dinner. I use Ziploc containers and put 3 per container ... 2 makes a great dinner for 2 or 3 with a salad. So, too much filling ... keep and freeze. Four weeks later, make lasagna my way. Just some sauce, cheese and bake.

                                        About 1 lb buffalo, sauted and browned
                                        3 cups ricotta
                                        2 cups mozzarella
                                        2 cups parmesan
                                        2 tablespoons parsley
                                        1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
                                        1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
                                        4 roasted red peppers diced
                                        1 shallot diced
                                        2 strips bacon chopped and sauted
                                        1 tablespoon garlic
                                        Salt and pepper to taste
                                        1 package wonton wrappers (found in my produce aisle or your Asian aisle .... depends)
                                        Olive oil if needed.

                                        Saute chopped bacon until crisp and browned, then add the buffalo and cook until brown. Drain. Keep a little of the drippings (1 tablespoons) to cook the shallot and garlic, cook 3-4 minutes until lightly soft, add the bacon and beef back in to combine. Add the roasted red peppers and remove from the heat. Cool before adding the cheese. Add the ricotta, cheeses, any seasoning and set aside. Now the ravioli. Set the wonts out on a cutting board. Keep the other wontons covered with a wet paper towel to keep moist. I put 1 teaspoon of the mixture on each wonton skin, wet each edge of the wonton with some water with your finger, this will help it stick. fold on a diagnole so it forms a triangle. press the sides and press around the center so no air bubbles are left. Transfer to a cookie sheet or pan lined with parchment or waxed paper so they don't stick. They will dry then before freezing them. When ready to cook ... Boil in a medium NOT roiling boil for 2-3 minute and serve this with a perfect sauce. Red sauce.
                                        NOTE: Add just a few to the boiling water not too many don't crowd. When they begin to float they are done, remove and cool. Just cover with foil to keep warm.

                                        2 cans of diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
                                        1 teaspoon garlic
                                        1 small onion diced
                                        1/2 cup red wine
                                        1 teaspoon fresh basil
                                        Salt and pepper to taste
                                        2 tablespoons fresh parsley as a garnish
                                        1/2 cup grated parmesan as a garnish

                                        Saute onion and garlic, add tomato, wine and seasoning. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve over the ravioli. This can easily be made as the ravioli are boiling.

                                        Any questions, please feel free to contact me. kchurchill5@comcast.net


                1. My family LOVES Joe's Special, but our version is a bit different from a restaurant's. At any rate, Brown your burger, leaving it in bite-sized chunks, add a chunked onion and some minced garlic about halfway through, then add either fresh or frozen broccoli or spinach (both are good) just before onion is done, at the same time add Worcestershire sauce, lower to a simmer and put lid on, let simmer/steam until broccoli or spinach is done. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top just before serving. If using frozen veggies, thaw first and drain. (Tradition Joe's Special uses spinach, and has beaten eggs poured over the top, then set with lid on over low heat. We prefer it without.)

                  Another hint for the spaghetti sauce someone else mentioned - just recently I started making my own sauce. I had tried before, but couldn't get it to something we all just couldn't live without. Well, I recently tried that Once A Month cooking thing (It is a book you can buy, look it up on Amazon if interested), and they had a spaghetti sauce recipe that is to die for! It is almost identical to what kchurchill5 was saying, except it calls for crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, and you use 2 parts burger and 1 part sausage for the meat, plus minced onion and bell pepper, and simmer for 2 hours. I triple the recipe hoping to get to freeze some, and I never get around to it - we just eat Italian food for a few days!
                  Happy cooking...