Tag Archives: Beef

Almost-Chili Taco Soup.

Now that Mini-Munchkin is nearly three months, I probably have to stop using the “I have a newborn” excuse & start posting a little more regularly.

With that, here’s the first of what will likely be many quick-prep meals for those nights when you have literally 5 minutes in the kitchen.

A friend of mine from my local chapter of the National MOMS Club brought this dish over after I had the Mini-Munchkin. This thick, hearty, almost-chili soup was an instant hit, so I asked her for the recipe. It was so easy she was actually embarrassed to give it to me! But I love easy, so I’m not embarrassed at all to share this with you.

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 2 cans black beans, undrained
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, etc., for serving

*or however much your particular taco seasoning calls for

  1. Brown the ground beef. Drain.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add taco seasoning & water. Stir.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Stir.
  4. Cover; simmer until heated through or as long as you want.

That’s it! Yum!

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Beef with Broccoli (& Carrots).

I do my grocery shopping on Wednesdays. It’s the day before the new circular comes out, so the store is always empty. (Honestly though, I didn’t learn that until we’d been going for several weeks out of necessity because it was the only day we didn’t have something else scheduled; it’s a nice perk.) So this means that Tuesday night after The Munchkin goes to sleep I’m up racking my brain about what to make for dinner that week. I’d been in a rut for weeks — maybe months.

Then I read about one food blogger’s method for organizing recipes. Now, honestly, I’ve been looking everywhere & can’t find the post anymore, so I think it may have just been a Facebook post or something, otherwise I’d send you there in a millisecond. But the gist of it was that she has a Word document (or you could use an Excel spreadsheet) of all the dinner recipes she likes to use, with either the link (if it’s from a blog) or the title of the cookbook, so she can find it quickly. Keeping it on the computer makes it easy to add to & modify the list, & you could organize it by cuisine (Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc.) or food type (beef, chicken, vegetarian, etc.), & it’s so much quicker than my old method of printing off the recipe & sticking it in my overstuffed binder of recipes. So that’s my goal.

Another way to streamline weekly meal planning is to assign “theme nights.” I actually read in this month’s Parents magazine that theme nights can get kids excited about sitting down with the family for dinner & can help them assume a larger role in meal prep. But on the practical side, if I know that Thursday night is going to be Mexican night, I can go to my handy-dandy “Mexican” category & have fewer meals to have to choose from.

So why am I saying all this? Because I’m trying to expand my repertoire to include more international foods for said “theme nights.” For Asian night, meet Beef with Broccoli (original recipe here).

  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 lb.+ stir-fry beef
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • Sauce, below
  • hot cooked rice

Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  1. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Set aside.
  2.  In a shallow bowl, combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, & garlic powder; stir until smooth. Toss beef in mixture until well coated.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in wok on medium-high heat. Stir-fry beef until done. Remove & keep warm.
  4. Stir-fry vegetables in remaining oil 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. (I like to cover the wok to allow the veggies to steam.)
  5. Return beef to wok & add sauce. Cook 2 minutes.
  6. Serve over rice.

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Italian Steak with Zucchini & Pasta.

My Husband The Breadwinner doesn’t cook much anymore: 1) he doesn’t need to with me around, except when it comes to pancakes, & 2) he doesn’t get home from work in time anyway. But this meal is evidence that he can find his way around the kitchen if the occasion calls for it. It’s his mom’s recipe, but he made it for me for my birthday a couple years ago & it was delicious & memorable enough to have me craving it this week.

In my own carnivorous opinion, the steak is really the star of this meal, but if you’d rather go the vegetarian route, it’d taste great with marinated portobellos, or even just by itself! It also heats up fabulously for leftovers.

  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite house Italian dressing
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 med. zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (or to taste) diced onion
  • 2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • parmesan, to taste
  • chiffonade fresh basil, to taste
  1. Marinate the steak 6-8 hours or overnight in the dressing with one of the cloves of garlic, minced.
  2. Prepare the pasta as directed.
  3. Meanwhile, rub the pepper into both sides of the steak & cook it in a skillet on medium heat, 5-6 minutes a side or until desired doneness.
  4. Meanwhile meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium pot on medium heat & saute the other clove of garlic, minced, & the onion for a couple minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini, tomato sauce, & red pepper, then salt to taste. Cook another 2 minutes, then cover & let simmer on low another 2-3 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
  6. Toss pasta with sauce & zucchini, then place in serving bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan & basil, then spread sliced steak on top.

Picky (or at least skeptical) eater pleaser: Take out some of the pasta before tossing it with the sauce & place it in a section of one of those nifty partitioned plates & a little of the sauce & some zucchini slices in another. Cut the steak into small pieces & place them in a third. The Munchkin preferred to dip her pasta in the sauce rather than having it coated in it already, & even tried a slice of zucchini! As for the steak, it was gone before we knew it. I’d call that a success.



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Steaks & rolls on a weeknight? Oh yes, I did! (& you can too!)

I wish I could say there was some inspired reason for breaking the Sunday Dinner mold like this. But to be honest, the steak was the first thing I saw when I opened the freezer to decide what to make for dinner tonight.

The rolls? Rhodes Bake-N-Serv rolls. Just pull as many as you want out of the freezer, & 3 hours later you have hot, fresh rolls straight out of the oven! If you’re coming home from work/soccer/Brownies/etc., they even have a quick 1.5-hour way! They really are a miracle. & they’re tasty too. We get them at Target.

Once the rolls are out of the oven, I follow the Frugal Flambe’s method for Grilling Without a Grill. I’ve mentioned it before, but I really can’t get enough of it!

Stick your cast-iron grill pan in the oven & turn it up to 500 degrees. Then take your room-temperature steak & season it how you like. He suggests salt, seasoned salt, onion salt, garlic salt, & pepper. I just kind of play with it; tonight I used garlic pepper, lemon herb seasoning, garlic salt, & this yummy potlatch seasoning.

Once the oven reaches 500 degrees, pull your grill pan out onto a medium-high burner. Splash both sides of your steaks with some Worcestershire & a spritz of PAM canola oil to keep them from sticking to the pan. Sear them for 1-2 minutes on each side, then USE YOUR OVEN MITT (not speaking from experience or anything) to put the pan, steaks & all, back in the oven for 8 minutes.

Finally, pull it back out, cover it loosely with foil for a few minutes to tenderize, & treat yourself & your family to a fancy dinner on a weeknight!

This could be a great idea for someone’s weeknight birthday or other special occasion, or just because that’s what was in the freezer!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

What’s Cooking Wednesday

Cast Party Wednesday

36th Avenue

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Slow-cooked roast with carrots.

I may or may not still be avoiding using my oven. So here’s another slow cooker recipe for you!

I saw this recipe months ago over at Talkin’ Chow, Playin’ House, but never found a roast on sale enough to merit trying it.

Until now!

Now, this is definitely comfort food, so I wouldn’t blame you for waiting to try this until it cools off. It definitely seemed odd to me, seeing this out my window (we have a nature preserve right behind us, & it’s so humid that the windows fog up every morning) & then tossing a big, hearty roast into the Crock Pot. It’s a jungle out there! Literally! But oven vendettas are stronger than heat & humidity.

Whenever you do decide to give it a try, I promise you that you won’t be sorry. My only suggestion would be to season your roast more generously than the Martha recipe suggests (Yes! Even she isn’t perfect sometimes! There is hope for the rest of us!), because the beef tasted bland in comparison to the AWESOME carrots.

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch (a little more if you want a thicker gravy at the end)
  • 2 Tbsp. cold water (or stock, if you’ve got a container already open; I used chicken broth)
  • 2 lbs. carrots, peeled & cut into thirds
  • 2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 3-lb. beef chuck or rump roast, fat trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp. (plus a splash) Worcestershire
  • salt & pepper, or seasoning of choice (I think a Steakhouse Seasoning grinder would do a fabulous job)
  1. Stir together cornstarch & water (or stock) in bottom of slow cooker until smooth, using a non-scratching utensil.
  2. Add carrots & onion to slow cooker. Season with salt & pepper; toss to combine.
  3. Season both sides of roast generously. Place on top of vegetables. Drizzle with Worcestershire.
  4. Cook on high 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
  5. When finished, slice thinly against the grain. (If you can! Mine was so tender it just shredded. Not the worst problem to have, right?)
  6. Place meat & veggies in a serving dish, then drizzle with the gravy & serve. Or serve the gravy on the side. (I found there wasn’t enough of it for the latter.) Yum!

Get Your Craft On Tuesdays

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Slow-cooker fajitas.

We’re back online! It feels so good to have Internet again. We’re still getting settled in, & I’m having a hard time finding places to fit everything inside my tiny kitchen (I may or may not be keeping my spices in a cardboard box for the moment & some of my baking dishes in a linen closet; how ironic that our NJ kitchen was larger!), so no kitchen or craft experimentation just yet, but I do have one recipe that I photographed in our old kitchen & didn’t have time to post before we rushed down here.

When The Munchkin was tiny, she was really tiny. Nursing was a two-handed job just because she was so small, so my long list of books to read while nursing turned into countless hours of DVR’d movies & TV shows in the middle of the night. I barely left the living room sofa. My daytime lineup included several cooking shows, like Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. This recipe is adapted from one of hers. In addition to being wonderfully easy, this is a great recipe for picky eaters who have a hard time with texture; the veggies get nice & soft in the slow cooker.

Slow-Cooker Fajitas

  •  2 lbs. beef round steak, sliced thin (I just buy the pre-sliced stir-fry beef)
  • 2 pkts. fajita seasoning
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green peppers, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup plus a splash of apple juice
  • whole-wheat tortillas
  • sour cream, cheese, etc., for serving

(I make a half recipe for us, so that’s why one of the peppers is missing.)

To slice your peppers without getting the seeds everywhere, use Ina Garten’s method (which I also learned from my nursing days in front of the TV): Hold your pepper with the stem up on your cutting board, then cut around the core using a large chef’s knife. Discard the core, seeds, & all, when you’re done. No mess!

  1. Add sliced veggies to the slow cooker; toss with 1 packet of seasoning.
  2. Add steak slices on top, seasoning those with the other packet as you go to make sure that the beef is relatively evenly coated. I don’t use the whole packet; it’s plenty seasoned with less. But you can choose how much to put on.
  3. Pour the apple juice over the top.
  4. Cook on low 8-10 hours.
  5. To serve, warm tortillas in the microwave, then use metal tongs or a slotted spoon to add meat & veggies. Top with sour cream, cheese, & whatever else sounds tasty!

works for me wednesday at we are that family
Cast Party Wednesday

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Barbecue Beef Sandwiches.

Happy Memorial Day! How do you celebrate? It seems to me that most Americans celebrate with MEAT — usually between two buns, & most often eaten outside.

The Munchkin participating in the family tradition 1 year ago

My husband’s family goes out to his Grandma’s house in Grantsville, Utah, & puts mums on the graves of their ancestors, then has a big delicious meal afterwards. I first took part in this tradition when we’d been dating for four months. I started recognizing last names on several of the graves, so I asked if they were descended from the same Clark I was (Clark, after all, isn’t an uncommon name, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if we weren’t). Turns out we’re fifth cousins. Awkward! Especially finding this out when you haven’t been dating for very long! But we laughed about it & later got married anyway… & got a big scare when we had to sign our marriage license, certifying that we were “not related within and not including the fifth degree of consanguinity” (neither of us had heard that last word before). Turns out it just means you’re not second cousins. Phew! In the clear! We’ve had a lot of laughs about that one as well.

She's probably going to kill me for posting this picture, but it's the most recent one I have of her!

Sorry, I digress. Back to Memorial Day. My family celebrates with a big cookout with friends. My mom is an amazing cook & lives all the way across the country in California, so this Memorial Day — which is also her birthday — I’m remembering her. Happy Birthday, Mom! I don’t want this to become a Mother’s Day post, rather than a Memorial Day one, so I’ll just say that how she’s able to do it all stumps me completely. She’s an amazing cook, gardens so well she practically has an orchard in the middle of LA County (& we always enjoyed the fruits of it — literally — at meals growing up), went to all of our concerts & band competitions & was a “band mom” for many years… & works full-time as an attorney downtown. I hope I can do half that without a demanding job! In short, she’s incredible, & so are her barbecue beef sandwiches. Since we don’t have a grill, this has become my big summer “cookout” dish. If you’re an apartment dweller like me, they can be yours too!

Syd’s Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

  • 3 1/2 lb. pot roast
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • a few Tbsp. oil
  • 1+ cup water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. vinegar (I use cider vinegar)
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce — not salsa (the best is “Homade” — actually spelled that way — sweet chili sauce in a squat glass jar, but I’ve only been able to find it out west, so I use the Heinz version plus a pinch of chili powder. Not perfect, but still good.)
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 dash (or 2) cinnamon
  • 1 dash (or 2) cloves
  • 1 dash garlic salt
  1. Brown both sides of the pot roast in a large pot (I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven) in hot oil with the garlic & 1/4 of the onion. Add salt & pepper to taste & enough water to cover, then cover & braise on low 2-3 hours or until tender. (Slow cooker: After browning, transfer everything to slow cooker, add 1 cup water, & cook on  high 2-3 hours or low for 5.)
  2. Remove roast & shred, then return to pot or slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients, cover & simmer about 3 hours (slow cooker: high for about 2, low for about 4).
  3. Serve over rolls of choice at your next big get-together this summer!

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Sweet-n-Savory Meatballs.

This recipe is a copycat from The Lion House, a restaurant & historic site on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I have very fond memories of visiting there with my Grandma & filling up on their delicious rolls, but always saving room for the chocolate silk pie!

My friend Mandy gave me this recipe, & she got it from somewhere else before that, but the first couple of times I made it, it didn’t taste quite the same as I remembered at The Lion House. So I’ve adjusted it a little; hopefully it’s a little closer to the real thing, which you should definitely try (or anything on their delicious menu) if you’re in the neighborhood.

For the meatballs:

  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (not quick)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • scant 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • a few shakes or grinds pepper

Combine ingredients in mixer bowl. Mix until well blended, but do not over-mix or the meat will get tough. Form into 24 or more balls, each about 1 1/2 inches, & place in baking dish. (For a family of 3-4, you can split the recipe in half: put half the meatballs in a foil pan, add the sauce [below], cover with foil, place in a Ziploc freezer bag, & freeze for later. Just put the foil pan in the fridge 24 hours before cooking to defrost, then cook as usual [below].)

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (not hickory)
  • 2 tsp. worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients in large saucepan & bring to a boil while mixing well. (Mustard may not incorporate entirely.) Pour over meatballs in pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

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Hamburger Vegetable Soup.

We’re sick. It’s raining. This calls for soup.

We’re not a big chicken soup family, so this is my go-to when we’re feeling crummy. It’s quick (less than 30 min.), delicious, & uses ingredients that I almost always have on hand. Plus, it has chicken broth in it, which is feeling great on my raw throat right now, but doesn’t have that chicken soup taste that reminds me of months of morningsickness.

My good friend Wendy found this on AllRecipes & brought it to us when I wasn’t feeling well. I asked for the recipe & then adjusted it to fit our tastes & family size a little better, & she actually prefers this version! This will serve 4; double it if you have a larger family.

  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (1 oz.) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 small (8 oz.) can tomato sauce (if doubling, just use a 15-oz. can)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (we ran out; pretend there’s celery in my picture)
  • (I omit the onion it calls for because it’s plenty oniony with the soup mix. So that was on purpose, in case you’re looking at the original recipe & wondering.)
  • 8 to 12 oz. frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup pasta (I used rotini & farfalle tonight, but our favorite is the Ronzoni kind with a full serving of veggies in every ounce. If you’re using smaller pasta, like elbow macaroni, use less.)
  1. Bring all but the last two ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot. This takes awhile, so that’s why I start it first.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef in a saute pan. Season it well (I love this Garlic Pepper Seasoning) & drain it.
  3. When the soup is boiling, add the ground beef & pasta, then simmer until the pasta is al dente.

What do you make when The Plague takes over your house? Anyone else out there have a pregnancy-induced soup aversion?

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Cheesy Beefy Stuffed Shells.

Sorry, no Martha pictures yet… My friend Halley took all the photos (she’s a professional, so I knew they’d turn out better than if I took them), so when she gets them to me, you’ll be the first to know! But I will tell you that we showed up for the 999th show (missed the big 1000 by ONE DAY!) & Jason Priestly was the guest, if you’re looking for it on Hallmark Channel. More details to come later!

The following recipe is probably my most-requested by dinner guests. It’s also one of The Munchkin’s favorite dinners, if not her absolute favorite, & one of my husband’s favorites too.

Oddly enough, it came out of a Pillsbury cookbook mini-magazine — you know, the ones in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. (It happened to be the only worthwhile recipe in the whole $3.99 thing, but it was worth it.)

You see, when I was first married, I was the queen of semi-homemade. Not like Sandra Lee — I didn’t even know who she was back then — but as a full-time student, part-time employee, & new wife, my version of cooking a balanced meal was adding a chicken breast & some frozen broccoli to a box of Pasta-Roni. (I think we’re all glad those days are over.) Fortunately for everyone involved, this semi-homemade recipe has enough different flavors that it doesn’t taste like you opened a jar of this & a box of that & mixed it all together.

These shells freeze well, reheat well for leftovers, & are just a great comfort-food dish that looks like you put more work into it than you did! I also like taking it, unbaked, in foil pans, with cooking instructions, to new moms so they can just heat it up when they want.

  • 24+ jumbo pasta shells (in case of breakage, add a couple more. Also, some brands of “jumbo” shells are less “jumbo” than others. You may need as many as 30-32 if you’re shopping at, say, Kroger in, say, Indiana. Just saying.)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 jar (26 oz.) chunky pasta sauce (I like the Ragu tomato & basil)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 container (8 oz.) chive & onion cream cheese spread
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook shells, as directed on package, to al dente. A couple minutes before they’re done, add a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Rinse shells with cold water & drain (you may need to do this a couple times) to stop cooking & make them cool enough to handle.
  2. While shells are cooking, brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season with a little garlic salt & Italian seasoning. Drain & let cool slightly.
  3. Pour a little of the pasta sauce (about down to the top of the label on the jar) into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. (I usually split the recipe in half, using a smaller dish for the half I’m making now & using foil cake pans for the half I’m freezing until later.) Add a little of the water & spread it evenly on the bottom of the dish. Add the rest of the water to the jar, screw the lid back on, & shake to incorporate.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine cheese spread, 1 cup of the mozzarella, the parmesan, egg, & cooked ground beef.
  5. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the mixture (I actually use a table spoon, like from your silverware set) into each shell & arrange the shells over the sauce in the baking dish. (This is the most time-consuming part.)
  6. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells, making sure to cover the shells completely.
  7. Cover with foil & bake 40 minutes or until bubbly & filling is set. Remove foil; sprinkle shells with remaining mozzarella. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

If you choose to freeze part of your batch, use the foil pans for easy cleanup, cover with foil, & put the whole thing in a freezer storage Ziploc bag. Store it flat in the freezer. The night before you’re planning on making it, put the whole thing, bag & all, into the fridge to defrost. Then bake as usual (you may need to add 5 minutes). The filling will be a little less firm than the fresh batch, but otherwise, it tastes the same & you only had to do the work once for two meals!

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