Archive for Beef

Tater Tot Casserole

If you’re looking for a stick-to-your-ribs comfort dish, this one is it.  Tater tots, seasoned ground beef and cheese sauce are all baked into a casserole that will make your tummy and taste buds happy, happy, happy.

My complete recipe is located at the bottom of this post.  Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Tater Tot Casserole

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Although the name of this dish is “Tater Tot Casserole,” the real star is the cheese sauce that ties it all together.  If you do an online search, you’ll find that quite a few tater tot casserole recipes call for cream of mushroom or chicken soup.

While I do like the canned condensed soup, I thought I’d make my own for this recipe, and I’m glad I did.  Not only can you control the quality of ingredients that go into the dish, you can also control the amount of sodium as well.

Start by placing vegetable broth into a large pot.  You’ll use this same pot to eventually make the cheese sauce, so make sure your pot is big enough to fit the sauce base and all of the cheese and other delicious ingredients that go into it.

Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat.

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Add chopped mushrooms, Dashida, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, and thyme to the pot.  Stir to combine, then place a lid on the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mixture returns to a boil.

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While the broth is simmering, whisk some flour and milk together.

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Pour the flour mixture into the boiling liquid, whisking as you pour so as to prevent lumps from forming.

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Turn the heat down to medium-low.  Cook for a couple of minutes to allow the base to thicken.  See, doesn’t this look better than the canned condensed soup?

It tastes better too. 🙂

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Once you’ve got the base done, you can finish up the cheese sauce.

Whisk in some milk.

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Add shredded cheese and sour cream to the pot.  Stir the mixture until the cheese melts.  Turn the heat off and place a lid on the pot.  Set the cheese sauce aside for now while you cook the ground beef.

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Brown lean ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic powder and Dashida; cook for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

imagePreheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place a layer of frozen tater tots in the bottom of a DEEP baking dish.  A deep roasting pan works well.

Pack those babies in there!

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I don’t show it here, but add half of the cheese sauce to the pan, on top of the tater tots.

Add all of the ground beef to the pan, on top of the cheese sauce.

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Pour the remaining cheese sauce over the ground beef.

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Top with more tater tots.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tater tots are golden brown and crispy on top and the sauce is bubbly.

Serve and ENJOY!

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Tater Tot Casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Delicious comfort food combining the childhood favorite, Tater Tots, with seasoned ground beef and a creamy, cheesy sauce.
Author:
Recipe type: One Dish Meal
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
Ingredients
Meat and Potato Filling:
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Dashida (Korean beef flavored seasoning)
  • 1 large bag Tater Tots
Sauce Base:
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons Dashida
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup flour
Cheese Sauce:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 16 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (I like to use a Mexican cheese blend)
  • 1 cup sour cream
Instructions
Prepare the Sauce Base:
  1. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the mushrooms, Dashida, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder and thyme. Return the mixture to a boil.
  3. Whisk the milk and flour in a small cup or bowl. Pour the mixture into the boiling liquid, whisking as you pour to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for a couple of minutes to thicken the base.
Make the Cheese Sauce:
  1. Whisk the remaining milk into the sauce base.
  2. Stir in the shredded cheese and sour cream. Set the sauce aside.
Brown the Meat:
  1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and Dashida. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
Layer the Casserole:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a DEEP DISH pan, layer the casserole as follows:
  3. ~ Tater tots, half the cheese sauce, meat, remaining sauce, then tater tots.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top layer of tater tots are golden brown and crispy and the cheese sauce is bubbly.
Serve and ENJOY!

 

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Thai Beef Salad

This popular Thai beef salad can serve as an appetizer or a meal.  It’s quick and easy to prepare so you can have it on your table in just a few minutes.  Toss your favorite salad greens together then add thinly sliced grilled beef and a drizzle of my delicious Thai-style dressing for a perfect side salad, quick lunch or light dinner meal.

My complete recipe is located at the bottom of this post.  Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Thai Beef Salad

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Prepare the salad dressing.  Place all of the dressing ingredients into a small mixing cup, whisking together until you dissolve the sugar.  Set aside.

Next, grill your favorite cut of beef.  I like to use flank steak.  It only takes a few minutes to cook this cut of meat to what I consider perfection — slightly pink on the inside.  You can fire up the grill for this, but I usually use a grill pan and cook it on top of the stove over medium heat.  Season both sides of the meat with some salt and pepper.  Sprinkle some oil in the hot pan then cook the meat for 10 minutes on each side.  Once you place the meat onto the grill pan, LEAVE IT ALONE to cook.  Do not stab or poke at it.  The only time your utensils touch the meat is when you flip it.

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See how nicely browned it got? 🙂

Don’t worry about the sides not being browned.

Don’t slice the meat right away or all the juices will run out and leave the meat dry.  Once done, remove the meat from the pan and let it rest while you prepare the vegetables for the salad.

imageIt’s time to layer the vegetables. Place the cucumbers at the bottom.  I do it this way so that the salad dressing can start to pickle the cucumbers.

One note about my photos.  As you can see, I’m making individual servings for packed lunches for my husband, daughter and me.

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Add the leafy greens next.  I like using hearts of romaine, but any mixed leafy greens will do.

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I like adding pre-sliced carrots to add some color and crunch.  Pre-sliced carrots cost a little more but it saves a lot of time in the kitchen too.  My older daughter loves to cook, and I’m still quite leery about letting her use a sharp knife to cut thin slivers of carrots. Pre-cut carrots saves me from worrying about her losing some fingers!

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The cilantro leaves get added to the salad next; add as much or as little as you like.  Cilantro is one of those herbs that you either love or hate.  I happen to love it so my salad gets a healthy handful of cilantro. 😉

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Thinly slice the red onions and add them to the salad.  I didn’t have any red onions on hand when I made these, so I added sliced green onions instead.

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The beef rested long enough by now.  Use a sharp knife to cut thin slices of beef, being sure to cut across the grain.
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Add the sliced beef to the top of the salad.

ENJOY!
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Thai Beef Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Fresh salad with a spicy and savory salad dressing. Serve with sliced beef for a complete meal.
Author:
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4
Ingredients
SALAD DRESSING
  • The juice of 2 medium limes
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (I like the Three Crabs brand)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if the fish sauce is salty enough for you)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 hot chili peppers, diced, optional
SALAD GREENS
  • 1½ pound flank steak
  • Salt and pepper, to season the steak
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, for the grill pan
  • 2 English cucumbers, sliced
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 small carrots, julienned
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Any other salad vegetables you like
Instructions
Make the Dressing
  1. Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
Grill the Meat
  1. Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a grill pan over medium heat. Add the oil to the heated pan then cook the meat for 10 minutes on each side. Once the meat is done, set it aside to rest before slicing. After resting for about 15 minutes, thinly slice the meat against the grain.
Make the Salad
  1. Layer the cucumbers, salad greens, carrots, cilantro, and any other vegetables you like in a small salad bowl or plate.
  2. Add the thinly sliced beef to the top of the salad.
  3. Drizzle some salad dressing over the beef and salad greens.
Serve and enjoy!

 

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Corned Beef with Cabbage and Onions

This is another classic Chamorro comfort dish.  Most Chamorros grew up eating corned beef, maybe because it used to be inexpensive.  Now, it’s become something our family eats only once in a while since a can of corned beef has become quite pricey!

Made with canned corned beef, sliced cabbage and onions (and a few seasonings), this is another one of those quick and easy dishes that you can prepare and serve within minutes.

Feel free to substitute the cabbage with (or add) your favorite vegetables.  I like sliced eggplant and fresh green beans in this dish in addition to the cabbage.

Comment below to let me know how you like my recipe, or let me know your favorite way to prepare canned corned beef. 😉

Corned Beef with Cabbage and Onions

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cans corned beef
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dashida seasoning (or you can use salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small head cabbage, sliced

Directions:

1.  Sauté the corned beef in a large pan over medium high heat.

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2.  Add the onions, garlic, Dashida, and black pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until the onions become translucent.

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3.  Add the sliced cabbage to the pan.  Cook over medium heat until the cabbage wilts and softens enough to your liking, about 10 minutes.

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4.  Serve with hot white rice and enjoy!

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Smoked Beef Brisket – A slightly sweet, smoky version

I love a good BBQ.  It’s rare that I use a dry rub when we BBQ at our house, especially since my daughter makes excellent marinades.  However, when it comes to brisket, I prefer using a dry rub.

I like to experiment with different spice combinations when coming up with recipes for dry rubs.  This one contains an unusual combination of espresso powder, brown sugar and cumin, among other things.  The sweetness of the sugar goes really well with the smokiness of the espresso and cumin.

I also save some of the dry rub mixture to make a mop sauce to baste the brisket as it smokes.  All that’s needed to make the mop sauce is to mix a bottle of your favorite beer (ale works well with this recipe) with about 1/2 cup of the dry rub mixture.  Don’t worry–the alcohol cooks out by the time the brisket is done.

I own a smoker/grill, which is what I used to smoke my brisket.  You don’t need a smoker to make this, however.  You can bake this long and slow in your oven.  The result will still be finger-licking-good.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Smoked Brisket

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • A nicely marbled brisket, about 7-8 pounds, with a nice layer of fat on one side
  • 1 bottle beer (I used a 12-ounce bottle of Alaskan ale)

Directions:

1.  In a small measuring cup, mix together the brown sugar, cumin, espresso powder, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

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2.  Save 1/2 cup of the dry rub to make the mop sauce.  Spread the rest of the rub evenly over both sides of the brisket.

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3.  Mix the beer with the remaining 1/2 cup of the dry rub mixture.  Set this aside.

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4.  If you own a smoker, place the brisket on the grill, fat-side facing up.  Smoke the brisket for one hour, then turn the temperature to 225 degrees to cook for the remaining time.  You’ll smoke/cook the brisket for a total of 6 hours.  Generously baste the brisket once every hour.

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5.  Mid-way through the cooking time, after about 3 hours or so, flip the brisket over so that the fat is on the bottom.  Continue basting every hour; stop basting one hour prior to the brisket being done.

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6.  When the brisket is done (after it’s been smoking/cooking for about 6 hours), remove it from the grill or oven.  Wrap the brisket in aluminum foil and let the brisket rest for 30 minutes.

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7.  After 30 minutes of resting, unwrap the brisket.

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8.  Thinly slice the brisket, ensuring you cut across the grain of the meat.

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Serve and ENJOY!

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Our mini-poodle is waiting patiently for his share! 🙂

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No Tomato Chili

My family loves chili. Chili with rice, chili dogs, chili with Frito’s corn chips, or Chili with Doritos chips — you name it, we love it.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that I get heartburn when I eat foods that contain too much tomatoes, and most chili recipes (mine included) are tomato-based.

I created this recipe for two specific reasons. First, I wanted to create a tomato-less chili recipe to keep the heartburn at bay. Second, as you’ll read below, I wanted to create a healthier recipe that is right in line with my attempt at eating “cleaner”.

You’ll see my basic recipe below, but scroll down a bit for some ingredient substitutions that make this a better choice when you feel like indulging in this, a typically UNhealthy (but oh-so-delicious) menu option.

Give my recipe a try, and if you can, swap out the usual ingredients for the healthier options. I think you’ll like it, and your body will thank you for it too. 😉

No Tomato Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef *(see note 1 below)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 roasted poblano chilies, diced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour *(see note 2 below)
  • 1 box (32 ounces) chicken stock *(see note 3 below)
  • 3 cans (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed *(see note 4 below)
  • 3/4 cup tomatillo salsa
  • Optional:  2 smoked chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • Optional:  1 tablespoon chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce
  • Optional:  1/4 cup sour cream *(see note 5 below)

*Ingredient Substitutions for a Healthy Version of my Chili Recipe:

Note 1:  Instead of ground beef, opt for ground turkey, or boneless, skinless chicken breast. Look for free-range chickens (and turkeys too, for that matter) if you can find it (read more about this below).

If you have a husband like mine who prefers ground beef chili, buy good quality beef that’s relatively low in fat.

An even better choice is to buy grass-fed beef, if you can find any in your grocery store. Cows that are NOT grass-fed are typically fed a mixture of grains and animal byproducts. Now what cows do you know of that naturally feeds on animals? The photo below shows an example of a label for grass-fed beef. There is a stamp on the label that states it was inspected and passed by the USDA.  You should also look for a USDA Organic stamp on the label. Most importantly, in addition to seeing “Grass Fed” on the label, you should also see that there are no antibiotics, hormones or preservatives in the meat.

Note 2:  I’m not gluten-intolerant, but for the next few weeks, I’m going gluten-free AND corn-free. If you recall my recipe for Beer Chili, I add crushed corn tortilla chips to serve as both a flavoring as well as a thickening agent.  I had to figure out what type of non-wheat or non-corn flour would serve the purpose of thickening the chili without adding contrasting/offending flavors. 

This substitution nixes the all-purpose flour and tortilla chips and uses stone-ground rice flour instead.  The rice flour thickens the chili nicely without masking the traditional chili flavors.

Note 3: The best chicken stock in my view is homemade stock…if you have the time to make some, that is. I’m usually looking for time-savers in the kitchen, so I buy chicken stock most of the time. This substitution calls for organic chicken stock made from free-range chickens. Like grass-fed beef, free-range chickens are just that–chickens allowed to roam free and eat what they naturally eat, not a feed mixture that also usually contains animal byproducts, hormones and antibiotics.

Look for broth that is low in sodium. You also want to see that USDA Ogranic stamp on the packaging.

I’m a big fan of reading ingredient labels too. Not all organic and free-range broths are all that healthy. Most contain added sugar (to compensate for the decreased sodium). I’ve also found several brands that claim to be organic, but when you read the ingredient list, there is not one (or very few) ingredient that is organic! This is what you should see when you turn the box over and read the ingredient list. Organic…organic…organic…and no sugar added.

Note 4:  Now there’s not much you can do to substitute pinto beans, aside from choosing to soak and cook dry beans or buying canned beans. Remember when I stated earlier that I’m all for saving time in the kitchen? Well, that means soaking and cooking dried beans are out–I buy canned beans all the time.

The substitution I’m advocating for here is to look for cans that claim to have a Non-BPA lining. This photo shows what I’m talking about.

BPA is the common acronym for the industrial chemical, bisphenol A, found in thousands of commercial products. BPA has been linked with reproductive problems, brain impairments, cancer, obesity and more. Eliminating exposure to BPA is probably not possible, but you can take measures to reduce your exposure.

For example, rinse food (like canned beans) from cans before eating or cooking. Choose ceramic, glass or other microwave-friendly dishes, instead of plastic. Don’t use plastic containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 (look on the bottom of the container for the number) and look for (and don’t use) plastic bottles with scratches on them.

 

Note 5:  Adding sour cream is completely optional in this recipe.  I do like the tang that you get by adding sour cream.  To go (cow) dairy free, substitute with sheep’s milk plain yogurt, or omit the sour cream altogether.

 

I hope I didn’t scare you off trying my recipe. It’s really delicious even if you DON’T make these substitutions, I promise!

With these 5 simple substitutions, you can turn this recipe into a healthy version of traditional chili.  At the risk of being repetitively redundant (get it? 🙂 ), give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

 

Directions:

1.  Place a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken pieces).

2.  Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, sea salt and black pepper to the pot.

3.  Stir well; cook until the meat is browned.

4.  Add the onions to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.

5.  Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic to the pot; stir to combine the ingredients.  Cook for about a minute.

6.  Add the flour to the pot.  Stir to thoroughly mix the flour into the meat mixture.

7.  Pour the chicken stock into the pot, stirring the mixture as you add the liquid.  Turn the heat up to high.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks.

8.  While the chili is cooking, roast the poblano chilies.  I just place the peppers over one of the burners on my gas stove.

9.  Rotate the pepper as it grills to ensure even cooking.

***Don’t do what I did and forget to peel off the charred skin! Or, you can forget, like I did, but then you’ll be fishing blackened pepper skin out of your chili. 😉

To remove the charred skin, let the peppers cool slightly.  After the peppers cool, use a damp paper towel to rub the charred skin off the peppers.

10.  Cut the peppers in strips, lengthwise, then dice them into small pieces.

11.  Add the peppers to the pot.  If you want to add the optional chipotle peppers and chipotle Tabasco, add them to the pot now.

12.  Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot.

13.  Stir in the tomatillo salsa.

Note:  I bought a jar of organic tomatillo salsa for this recipe, but you can make your own from scratch.

14.  Place a lid on the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.

15.  The chili should be nice and thick by now.  Stir in the optional sour cream (note that I did NOT add any sour cream to the chile pictured in this recipe).  Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings and salt to your liking.

Serve with rice (I opted for brown rice) or chips and ENJOY!

 

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