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Volume III
May 11, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

"Gravel"-Based Impossible Pies - Will Save You HOURS in the Kitchen!

By Alice Osborne

It's likely you already know about Bisquick's Impossible Pies. But what with the demands on time that warmer weather brings (yard and garden work, etc.) and just the typical hustle and bustle of life, and in the off-chance any of you have forgotten about this super time-saving resource, I thought it would be good to go over the idea again.

I found a treasure trove of these recipes in one of my Aunt Annie's recipe boxes and have tried every one of them. By the way, if I may digress - it has been so satisfying copying her recipes into my Cook'n Recipe Software (version 10). I created a chapter, "Aunt Annie's Favorites," and even have some of them in her own handwriting. This is such a great way to preserve family heritage!

OK, back on track: Here are three fast and easy Impossible Pie meals for you, but remember, the speed and ease at which you can put these together is predicated on having "gravels" on hand - they will save you about a month's worth of time over an entire year - so don't cook without them anymore.

First, let's do a "gravel" review. Gravels are freezer-prepped foods - basic ingredients many casseroles and other one-dish recipes traditionally call for. They are spread in thin layers on cookie sheets for flash freezing, then crumbled and placed in freezer containers. Here's a short list of items that work well as gravels:

•  Cooked ground beef and sausage (with the fat drained off)
•  Cooked and shredded chicken
•  Cooked and shredded roast beef
•  Chopped onions, celery, bell peppers
•  Shredded cheeses
•  Grated citrus rinds (otherwise known as "zests")
•  Grated or shredded carrots, tossed in lemon juice so they don't turn quite so brown
•  Bread and cracker crumbs
•  Etc. The choices are limited only to your imagination.

I take one day a month and prep large quantities of these, in amounts my recipes tend to call for, and store them in quality freezer containers. Each container is labeled according to its contents, date it was prepared, and what its intended use is.

Now on to Impossible Pies: Several of them (Impossible Taco Pie and Impossible Lasagne Pie, for instance) convert well to vegetarian dishes. Just substitute black beans for the ground beef in the Taco Pie and substitute finely diced tomatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, etc. for the ground beef in the Lasagne Pie. The idea is to fill the freezer with as much pre-prepped ingredients as you can NOW so you don't have to do it later.

Impossible Taco Pie

Serves 6-8

1 lb ground beef ("gravel", remember "gravel")
1/2 C chopped onion ("gravel", remember "gravel")
1 pkg (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies, drained
1 1/4 C milk
3/4 C biscuit mix (this is a Bisquick recipe, so they hope you'll use theirs)
3 eggs
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 C shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese ("gravels", remember "gravels")

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 10 inch quiche dish or a 10 x 1 1/2 inch pie plate. If you're not using "gravels" (shame on you), then cook and stir beef and onion over medium heat until beef is brown; drain. Stir in seasoning mix. Spread in plate; sprinkle with chilies. Beat milk, biscuit mix and eggs until smooth, 15 sec. in blender on high or 1 min. with hand beater. Pour over ground beef mixture. Bake 25 min. Remove from oven and top with tomatoes; sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake another 8 min. or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean. Cool 5 min. Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce if desired. Really good.

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Impossible Lasagne Pie

Serves 6-8

1 lb ground beef (you're using "gravel", right?)
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese (it's less expensive to buy the ball, shred your own, and freeze--"gravel", remember?)
1/2 C small curd creamed cottage cheese
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese (the dried works great)
1 C milk
2/3 C biscuit mix
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp - 1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 10 x 1 1/2 inch pie plate. If you're not using "gravel" (more shame on you), then cook and stir beef over medium heat until brown; drain. Stir in oregano, basil, tomato paste and 1/2 C of the mozzarella cheese. Layer cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese in plate. Spoon beef mixture over top. Beat milk, biscuit mix, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth, 15 sec. in blender on high or 1 min. with hand beater. Pour evenly over ingredients in plate. Bake 30-35 min. or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cool 5 min.

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NO-Crust Spinach Pie

Serves 6
The fat is reduced in this easy recipe and topped with creamy yogurt instead--it's delicious and nutritious! (Make this ahead of time and refrigerate - it'll hold for two or three days.)

1/2 C shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (2 things: remember "gravel" and any Cheddar works fine)
2 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 eggs
1 container (24 oz) 1% low-fat cottage cheese
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/8-1/4 tsp pepper
1 container (8 oz) plain low-fat yogurt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray. Reserve 1 Tbsp shredded Cheddar cheese for topping.

In large bowl, mix spinach, next 6 ingredients, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, and remaining Cheddar cheese until blended; spoon into pie plate.

In small bowl, combine yogurt and 1 Tbsp cornstarch until well blended; spread over spinach mixture to cover. Sprinkle with reserved Cheddar cheese. Bake 1 hr or until set. Let stand 10 min. for easier slicing.

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