Category Archives: ground beef

Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That’s us!!
Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn’t get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren’t big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

You can use packaged dressing and taco seasonings if you want. I make my own now so I have them on hand to use. Here is the link to my Homemade Italian Dressing Mix. I will post the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom (I don’t have a post for that yet).
Quick and Easy Taco Salad
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package low sodium taco seasoning or 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning (see below for ingredients)
1 bag of chopped romaine hearts
1 to 2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or 2 tablespoons of my Homemade Italian Seasoning Mix
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce, optional
Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown the ground beef/turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small bits. Add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. You can add a splash of water here if needed. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocado, and cheese. Toss to combine. 
In a shaker bottle, or medium bowl, combine the dressing mix, olive oils, vinegar, and water. Shake or whisk to combine well. 
Add the taco meat to the salad mix, toss, add salad dressing (as much or as little as you want), toss. Crush up several handfuls of tortilla chips and toss with the salad. Dish up into bowl and top with hot sauce if desired!
Serves 4 to 6
ENJOY!

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Mexican Lasagna

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This is one of those recipes that I have had pretty much as long as I have been cooking. However, I am embarrassed to tell you how I first made it. If you have read my bio you know I admittedly did NOT cook well at all for many many years. I was the Hamburger Helper Queen! That is how this recipe came to be. My desire to “tweek” Hamburger Helper (hanging head in shame). I used packaged taco seasoning, cheeseburger macaroni Hamburger Helper, cheese, and tortillas and just layer them all up. Talk about carb overload!!! Macaroni AND tortillas? WOW

After I lost all of the weight and was just beginning to actually cook real food, my kids actually requested that old awful Hamburger Helper dish. I wanted to make it for them but NOT the old way so that is when I came up with this. I got rid of the packaged taco seasoning to try to cut down some sodium. Of course dropped the Hamburger Helper with the macaroni, added some veggies and low fat cheese, and felt a bit better about serving this to my family.

What is funny is that Kevin and I have been together for 3 1/2 years now and I had never made this for him before last night. I couldn’t believe it. I guess it is just that I have been trying so hard to work on new recipes with lots of “flash” and have left some of my kids comfort food recipes on the back burner so to speak. This recipe is a fun simple meal that my kids will request for birthdays over and over. No steaks, roasts, shrimp on a skewer, fish en papillote for them, they want chili mac or Mexican lasagna!

All layered up and ready to go into the oven.
Mexican Lasagna 

2 pounds lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package flour tortillas
1 can fat free refried beans
4 cups low fat jack or cheddar cheese (or a combo of both), shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water, plus a bit to thin out the beans
A good handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped and reserve a small amount for garnish
Low fat or fat free sour cream
Your favorite taco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large skillet add the meat, onions, jalapeno, and garlic, breaking up the ground beef or turkey until it is an small bits and brown well. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Stir to combine and then add the water. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cilantro and stir.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot, heat the refried beans over medium-high heat, adding enough water to thin the beans out.
Tear tortillas in triangle shaped pieces and places one layer of them in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan or medium casserole dish. Pour half of the beans over the first layer of tortillas and then top with some of the shredded cheese. Add another layer of tortillas and then top with half of the meat mixture, sprinkle more cheese over the top. Repeat the process with the other half of the beans and meat mixture. Top off with another layer of tortillas and then sprinkle the top with some of the shredded cheese.
Place dish on a baking sheet and bake in the over for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle cilantro on top. Garnish with sour cream and taco sauce (optional).

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

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This recipe is one that I have used for a few different things. It was actually one of the first recipes I ever wrote to my own liking. I combined 3 different recipes to get it. It was kind of confusing. No wait……did I already list that?…..no I need to double that?……how many people will this feed?…..holy crap what was I thinking??? Ya, that is pretty much how it went. When I first started out I got confused very easily. HA who am I kidding? I STILL get confused, it is just part of my charm.

I was really excited to dust this bad boy off. I have never made it for Kevin and it is a nice comfort food kind of home cooked meal. Lately I have been more about trying to cook healthier and eating more fish and chicken. Don’t get me wrong, you can make this healthier, and I probably should have off the bat. But I wanted Kevin to taste the original before I started changing it up on him I guess.

This was also a recipe that I knew everyone would eat. My Dad is not a big fish lover, well actually he just flat out doesn’t like fish. But remember I got him to TRY the Crabby Mac so at least he gives a bit or rather a bite once in a while. HE was very happy to see this meal. I mean Italian right? You know he was a happy camper!

Like I said, you can “healthify” this meal fairly easily. Substitute lean turkey for the ground beef and low fat or fat free ricotta. Also if you can find the shredded mozzarella in low fat that will help too.

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus a bit for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups (2 16-ounce containers) ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley flakes, chopped
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 box, 12 ounces, Jumbo Shells
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the water and add the pasta. Cook just shy of al Dente (a couple minutes short of what the package says). Drain pasta and drizzle with olive oil to prevent the shells from sticking together.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the 2 tablespoons of EVOO, eyeball it. Add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon into small bits, cook till brown. Add the onions, and garlic and cook until the onions begin to become translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir into meat, then add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a bubble then turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pan.
In a bowl mix the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, and salt to taste. Stir until mixed. 
Spoon half of the meat sauce into a 13 x 9 casserole dish, spread it evenly across the bottom. 1 at a time carefully spoon a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into a shell and place on top of the meat mixture in the casserole dish. 
Once the shells are filled top them with the remaining meat sauce, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. 
Place shells in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and browning. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4 to 6

Rachael Ray Wednesday – Christmas Pasta

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No, I have not lost my mind. I know it isn’t Christmas time. Although I wish it was since Christmas is my favorite time of year.

The reason this recipe is called Christmas pasta is, in Rachael’s words, “For Italians, after all those fishes on Christmas Eve, this dish, with four different meats in it, is especially nice on Christmas Night”.

Kevin did the same thing that I am sure many of you did when you first read the recipe title…

K: But it’s not Christmas.
B: Yes, yes, I know honey, this isn’t JUST for Christmas, it is just the name of the recipe.
K: Well if it isn’t JUST for Christmas why is it called Christmas Pasta.
B: Rachael explains in the recipe that it was just her way of getting “meat” in a meal after all the fish Italians eat on Christmas Eve.
K: Well I still think she should have named it something else.
B: Maybe you are right….now can we cook?

When you first look at this recipe it seems like a lot of ingredients and well, it is a lot of ingredients,  but not a big hassle to make. Rachael mentions that she has used this recipe in several of her books and is constantly redoing it to make it quicker and easier. I think it is just fine the way it is.

Oh and Kevin decided he loved this. He is the one that looks at a meal I might be making and the first thing he asks “Is there meat?”. I will never sneak vegetarian food in on him that is for sure. I am walking a fine line when I make Pasta Carbonara! He still doesn’t like the name of the recipe though. Oh well, as long as they eat it right?

I am not Italian,  but I can tell you that this was a BIG bowl of Merry Christmas to ME!

The picture does not do this meal justice, I am sorry!
Christmas Pasta

Salt
1 pound rigatoni2 tablespoons EVOO
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1/4 pound bulk hot Italian sausage (No bulk? Split a link open)
1/4 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 teaspoon allspice, eyeball it in your palm
Course black pepper
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dry red wine, a couple of glugs
1 cup beef stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (a generous handful), finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at the table
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, with a bite to it.
While the water and pasta work, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, the sausage, both hot and sweet, to the other. Break up the sausage into bits and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and cook together another minute of so. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO, then the beef and veal. Brown and crumble all of the meat into tiny bits and season with allspice, salt, and pepper. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes to soften the vegetables, then add the sausage and pancetta back into the pan. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes. Check the seasoning. Simmer over low heat until ready to serve, at least 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta and add back to the hot pot. Ladle a few spoonfuls of the sauce over the pasta, and add a couple of handfuls of cheese to the pot. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Transfer to a large serving dish or individual bowls and top with the remaining sauce and parsley. Pass plenty of extra cheese at the table.
Serves 6

Shepherd’s Pie

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I wanted to post one that is for one of the favorite holidays in our house, St Patty’s Day! Everything from green beer to green feather boas, shamrock glasses, and blinking pins and jewelry will be found here. Actually you never know WHAT you will find in my house on St Patty’s Day, BUT I can guarantee you will find some awesome Irish inspired food!!

Ingredients

  • Potato Topping:
  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Pie Filling:
  • 6 slices bacon chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 soft ball sized sweet onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, (or Lamb for a more traditional pie)
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3/4 cups frozen peas
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 can/bottle Guinness
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheddar, (Gruyere or Swiss can be substituted)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions

  1. In a large pot bring the potatoes and garlic to a boil reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 min. Drain and return to the pot. Add the sour cream, 1/4 cup of broth, butter, salt and pepper, and mash until the potatoes are light and fluffy. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup broth. Cover and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch round baking dish with nonstick spray.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and almost crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate, set aside.
  4. Add the oil to the drippings in the skillet and over medium heat add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 min. Sprinkle in the sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize, about 5 min. Stir in the beef and cook, until the beef begins to brown. Add the carrots, peas, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 min. Stir in the tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, until well blended. Add the beer, bring to a boil for 3 min. Using a wooden spoon scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cooked bacon, the broth, rosemary, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 min.
  5. Spoon the filling into the baking dish. Spread the potatoes evenly over the beef mixture. Bake until the topping is lightly browned, about 35 min. Remove from the oven, top with cheese and bake for 10 min. Remove from oven let rest for 10 min. Top with parsley, serve.
The Best Shepherd's Pie! on Foodista