Tag Archives: Beef

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!

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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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Simple Seven-Ingredient Stir-Fry.

In case the several-day lapse between posts wasn’t a dead giveaway, I’ve been letting a few things slide this week. The Munchkin decided that sleeping past 6:30 was overrated, & who needs naps? Oh, Mommy, but who’s counting, really? Added to my exhaustion were the two city trips we took (one to the Central Park Zoo on a Saturday — holy crowds, Batman!) just to wear her out enough to get her to sleep at night.

So I really needed something fresh & easy for dinner the other day. & delicious.

Oh, & did I mention, beautiful? Look at those colors! Wow!

Thank you, Kikkoman Preservative-Free Low-Sodium Stir-Fry Sauce, for thoughtfully printing the delicious product-placement recipe on the back of the bottle that inspired this Simple Seven-Ingredient Stir-Fry.

  • 1-2 cups uncooked rice
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 lb. stir-fry beef (or cut sirloin into thin strips)
  • 2 Tbsp. oil, divided (NOT EVOO — you need something with a higher smoke point. Sesame oil works best; I used regular old vegetable oil.)
  • 1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies (we like the Great Value Sugar Snap Stir-Fry variety)
  • 1/2 cup stir-fry sauce
  1. Prepare rice as directed.
  2. Combine cornstarch & soy sauce in a shallow bowl. Coat beef strips in mixture.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add beef; stir-fry 2 minutes. You want a good sear, but don’t want to overcook the beef or it’ll get tough. Remove beef.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-high. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil, then add still-frozen veggies. Stir-fry 5 minutes or until done through.
  5. Add sauce & beef; stir 1 minute or until well coated in sauce.
  6. Serve over rice.


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Miracle stew.

 This stew, originally from Betty Crocker, then tweaked & handed down by my sister-in-law Lisa, then tweaked again by me, is delicious. It’s the kind of stew you eat with a fork. We love it.

But as great as it is, this stew isn’t the miracle. The miracle is what happened a couple months ago when I planned to make it for Sunday dinner.

We were having a couple people over, so I planned to make the stew with a little extra meat (they were guys who were coming, after all), some Rhodes rolls (Haven’t heard of them? Go to your freezer section & thank me later.), & oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert. You can make this stew in either the Crock Pot or on the stove, but we were in a hurry to get to church that morning, so I elected to go the stovetop route & start when we got home. Dinner was to be at 5:30. Our church ends at 1. The stew takes about 3 1/2 hours. No problem!

Problem. My husband had a meeting after church that went until well after 2. We live 20 minutes away from the church & only have 1 car, so I was sitting there in the foyer with a hungry & nap-overdue Munchkin, checking my watch every 12 seconds. Plus, the family that was supposed to have the missionaries over for dinner that night had to cancel at the last minute, so rather than force them to resort to ramen on the one night a week that they get a homecooked meal, I volunteered to pinch-hit. That made two more hungry male dinner guests around the table.

All afternoon I worried, stressed, & prayed. I don’t generally pray over my food apart from blessing it before we eat it, but that day I did. Please let it turn out okay even though I’m baking it at a higher temp & fudging the ingredient ratios. Please let it come out on time. Please let there be enough. I didn’t know how I was going to feed everyone, on time, with the ingredients I had purchased. But here’s the miracle: I did. Dinner was only about 15 minutes late, & we had the exact right amount of stew — everyone ate their fill, & there was only one bit of onion left. That’s the miracle.

So with a good Betty Crocker recipe and a whole lot of divine intervention, I fed 5 grown men, myself, & my Munchkin on this amazing stew. I can’t promise that miracles will occur when you make this, but here’s the recipe in case you want to give it a try. Definitely let me know if something miraculous does happen to you when you make it!

  • 1 lb.+ (I usually use 1.5) stew beef, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bag baby carrots, or 1/2 lb. carrots, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • (1 can diced tomatoes, undrained — I don’t use this because we like it thick)
  • scant 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper, or more to taste (we use more)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. small red potatoes, quartered
  1. Heat oven to 325.
  2. Mix all ingredients except potatoes in a Dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot.
  3. Cover & bake 2 hours; stir.
  4. Stir in potatoes.
  5. Cover & bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Crock Pot directions: Increase flour to 1/2 cup & decrease tomato sauce by half. Mix ingredients except beef (it helps to mix the liquid ingredients with the flour first so that you don’t get lumps) in bottom of slow cooker. Add beef on top. Cook on low 8-9 hours.

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