Cheeseburger Macaroni

This recipe was not a hit with the family. D doesn’t like meat. Berto doesn’t like cheese. The Hubs doesn’t like ground meat or cheddar cheese. Sigh. This meal, to me, was wonderful! I do believe, though, it had less to do with the actual meal than with the fact this dish is true comfort food and it’s been over 100 degrees here in Cali. Maybe dinner would have been more successful had I just served ice cream. Hmmm, things to ponder . . .

Ingredients:

1 Lb ground beef (I Texas Longhorn beef from the farmer’s market and it cooked up similar to ground turkey, but still had a wonderful beef flavor)
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 cups milk
2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni (or whatever you have on hand, I used penne)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I can see any number of types of cheese being used and it being wonderful)

Seasonings:

1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
3 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preparation:

Heat a large skillet to meidum high and brown meat. Once cooked, drain any fat that remains.

While meat browns, mix together seasonings in a small bowl. When drained, return meat to skillet and add seasonings, stirring to combine. Pour in hot water, milk, and pasta. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until pasta is cooked.

Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes until sauce thickens.

Serve immediately with melty garlic bread and a crisp salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions (because no matter the dish, we always need wine)

Barbera
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 6

Total time: 25 minutes


*Derived from FoodFanatic


Easy Sweet & Savory Korean BBQ Grilled Beef Short Ribs

My husband and daughter love sushi. Toyo Sushi is our local haunt where D always orders the salmon nigiri and The Hubs gets the Grace roll. They know us so well that, when I’m ordering and I leave something out, they ask me about it. My son and I, however, aren’t wild about sushi. For me it’s a texture thing. For my son, it’s probably that his sister enjoys it so much. I have found one dish, though, that Berto loves; the grilled beef short ribs. He enjoys them so much that on a recent trip to the market, where the butcher had them on display, I bought several pounds. I almost skipped all the way home with excitement! They were perfect! The only thing left was to find the right recipe. Thanks to Food.com, I did just that and the ribs were a huge hit at our Labor Day BBQ. Oh, and if I forgot to mention how ridiculously easy they are to make, let me say it now. Crazy easy! These were so tasty, so good, our friends were convinced we had ordered in, until I showed them the evidence of my cooking.

Ingredients:

3 Lbs beef short ribs (Flanken style or Korean style)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce (I always opt or low sodium)
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced (I used 1 cup diced white onion that I had from a previous meal)
4 cloves of garlic, minced (while nothing beats fresh garlic, Spice Island makes an amazing substitute of a jarred minced garlic)

Preparation:

In a gallon ziplock bag (or whatever you like to marinate in) combine the sugar, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, and garlic. Dissolve the sugar as much as possible, though it will likely not completly dissolve.

Completely submerge the ribs and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight. Keep in mind, the longer you marinate the better the flavor of the meat.

On medium heat, grill the ribs 5-7 minutes on each side.  Open your mind to all serving options, over rice, on skewers, with traditional BBQ sides. The options are endless!

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Beaujolais
Cabernet Franc
Grenache
Merlot

Serves 10 small portions

Total time: about 40 minutes

*From Food.com


Meatballs in Beef Gravy

I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl.  And gravy, well, that just puts it over the top for me!  Gravy makes everything that much better. Like bacon, or something being deep fried. You hear gravy and you just have to go with that option!  This is no exception to the rule. And sorry my friends, this just isn’t one of those healthy dishes. But I know you weren’t expecting that, what with “meatballs” and “gravy” in the name. So, let’s all sit back, ignore the calorie / fat content and just enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1 small chopped onion (time saver: use frozen or pre-chopped in the produce section)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (time saver: buy the pre-sliced mushrooms in the produce section. Go with your favorite.)
5 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 pinch cayenne (I omitted because my kids are still getting used to spicy heat)
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce (this ingredient adds such a rich flavor to almost everything, even Checks mix!)
3 Tbs ketchup
2-4 tsp beef bouillon powder (I didn’t have the powder, so I used the jarred “Better than Bouillon”, you’ll want to go with the least amount as it tends to get salty)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
kosher salt (option and to taste)

For Meatballs:

1 lb ground beef (mix what you like, chicken, turkey, pork)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs minced garlic (time saver: buy the jarred minced garlic)
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup dried bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned to add more flavor)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (or more, you can never have too much cheese)
1 1/2 tsp season salt (I use Lawry’s)
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley flakes (such as Litehouse)

Preparation:

Mix all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Shape mixture into 1″ balls.

Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat (be sure to use a deep skillet to hold in the gravy with the meatballs). Add meatballs in two batches and brown until just about cooked through, turning frequently for even browning.

To skillet, with about 3 tbs of fat remaining, add onion and saute until softened, scrape any brown bits that have accumulated in the skillet.  Add mushrooms and cooking, stirring until softened.  Add flour, stir 1 minute.

Slowly add beef broth, bring to a boil whisking constantly until smooth, bubbly, and thickened. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and black pepper; bring to a simmer.  Add beef bouillon powder or ‘Better than Bouillon’ and ketchup (can add more if desired).

Add meatballs and simmer, uncovered, 20-25 minutes.  Stir frequently. Season with salt to taste if needed.

At the end of cooking, stir in sour cream until combined and heated through.  Serve over mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves 4 medium portions

Total time: 1 hour

Serves4

Derived from: Kittencalskitchen / Food.com

Mexican Lasagna

I seem to be having a problem with life / work / blog balance lately. While I’m still cooking up a storm, it’s been tough to find the time to post about it.  This, however, REQUIRED me to get it up as soon as possible!  Not only did the entire family give it 3 very enthusiastic thumbs up, but 2 of my fab girl friends did, too!  When the Mexican hubs is this excited about a dish, I know it’s  not only a keeper, but should be a repeater, too. You see it served in the photo below with my baked tortilla chips. Oh, and It’s just as good the next day, and the next, for lunch!  ¡Buen provecho!

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef (can easily sub chicken or turkey)
1 cup water
2 Tbs Tajin (go easy on Tajin, it quickly becomes too salty)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ cups sour cream, divided
1 tsp Mexican paprika
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbs cornmeal
10 flour tortillas, 6 inches (mine were much larger, so I cut them in half)
1 cup salsa (such as Herdez)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet heated to medium, cook beef until no longer pink, drain.  Stir in water, Tajin, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream and Mexican paprika.  Set aside.  Sprinkle cornmeal into a greased 13×9″ baking dish.

Arrange five tortillas, overlapping, in the bottom of the prepared dish.  Spread ½ cup salsa, add ½ of the meat mixture and ½ of each cheese.  Repeat layers.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Corona (ok, admittedly not wine, but come on!  This is all the flavors of Mexican food!)
Cabernet Franc
Sangiovese
Beaujolais
Chianti

Serves 8 (large servings)

Prep time: 25 – 30 minutes; Bake & standing time: 50 minutes

Mexican Lasagna & Baked Tortilla Chips

Mexican Lasagna & Baked Tortilla Chips

*Derived from Taste of Home


Enchirritos

What is your first thought when you hear the word Enchirritos??  GO!!  For me it is Taco Bell.  I had never even heard of them before Taco Bell.  Unfortunately, like most fast food, Taco Bell left a horrible taste in my mouth.  Luckily, over time, my palette and budget has drastically improved.  And thanks to my Mexican husband, so has my understanding of Mexican food.  Now  a pet peeve of mine is when someone calls a burrito with sauce an enchilada.  If it’s a flour tortilla, it’s not an enchilada.  And that is what I love about this enchirrito.  It’s not pretending to be something it’s not. This enchirrito is no resting on the hard work of its parent to define it as either a burrito or an enchilada.  This enchirrito is standing proud, telling everyone it is of a mixed “race”.  Part enchilada, part buritto.  Embracing both of its cultures.  All hale the Enchirrito!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups water
3 Tbs Mexican Blend Seasoning (Morton & Bassett)
1 tsp garlic salt
1 lb ground beef (I always buy the lowest fat; but you can also sub chicken or turkey)
1 lb ground sausage
1/4 cup chopped onion (Look at the pre-chopped in the produce aisle.  It looks expensive until you calculate the value of your time chopping it.)
1 cup refried beans (I used Rosarita Traditional)
8 flour tortillas (8 inches) warmed (the best way to warm tortillas, no matter what anyone says, is with a skillet. Warm the first one on medium high and as you fill it, warn the next one, be sure to turn over at least once)
3 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend from the dairy aisle)
Optional toppings: shredded lettuce; diced tomatoes, sour cream

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Melt butter in a large sauce pan.  Sir in flour until smooth.  Slowly add water.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring until thickened (about 1 minute).  Stir in Mexican Blend Seasoning and garlic salt. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef, sausage, and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in beans; heat through.

Spread 1/4 cup of the in a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Spread 1 Tbs sauce in the center of a tortilla and spread around  Place 2/3 cup meat mixture down center of tortilla.  Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese.  Roll up and place seam side down  Once all tortillas are complete, pour remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (add a handful if you need to, no one will judge.)  Bake uncovered 18-22 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Franc
Gamay
Grenache
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6 big servings

Total time: 50 minutes

*Derived from Mandy’s Recipe Box
Enchirritos

Enchirritos


Another Weeknight Pasta

I know, I can hear everyone now, “Another weeknight pasta?!  How many weeknight pastas does one needs?  Aren’t they really all the same??”  Like Sugar Skulls, I can never have to many weeknight pasta recipes.  Somehow, there is always a little twist.  And quite frankly, everyone has those, “Oh man, I don’t want to make dinner, nor do I know what to make for dinner” moments.  Weeknight pasta is the perfect solution and it’s simple!  I don’t like simple – said no one ever.

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked pasta (any small shape that you’d like, I used a mix of what I had on hand)
1 Tbs olive oil (such as my new fave, garlic extra virgin olive oil by Sciabica’s)
1 lb lean ground beef (I use 90%, but 80% is great, too.  Or sub with chicken)
1/2 onion, minced
2 tsp dried oregano (if you haven’t tried LiteHouse freeze-dried herbs, I urge you to.  Run, don’t walk, to your local market and check out all of the options they have)
1 tsp minced garlic (as always, pre-minced, such as Spice Island)
28 oz crushed tomatoes (I love Cento)
2 cups beef broth (helps boost that meaty flavor)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste (yes, you finally get to use the WHOLE can!!)
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese for topping.

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium high.  Add beef, onion, and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add crushed tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and sugar.  Stir well.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 – 25 minutes.  Drain pasta and add back to the pot.  When sauce is done, slowly add sauce to pasta, stirring to mix thoroughly.  Top with pasta and serve with warm, crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Total time:  About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Another Weeknight Pasta

Another Weeknight Pasta

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Rustic Italian Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

I know, I was just going on and on about grilled steak and not wanting to give up summer.  Then what do I do?  Mix it up with a rich, hearty comfort food that would be perfect for winter.  I can’t explain it, I just goes with what speaks to me as I’m coming up with the weekly menu, then factor in time and schedules.  The beauty of this is that the braised ribs were done in a slow cooker. Believe me, I’m shocked too.  And, I was able to do the major prep work the night before. This is an incredible meal for sitting down with your family, and it would be equally appealing for guests.  I’m already planning my next dinner party!  (PS – Cheesy Polenta to follow in another post)  Update my friends – The short ribs reheated fabulously for lunch!  Polenta, not so much.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onion
10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I’m sorry, as a working mom. I just don’t have time for this.  I subbed minced garlic [by Spice Island] and no one ran from the table covering their mouths)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional, especially if you have a 6 & 7-year-old that will act as if you are trying to perform some ancient ritualistic punishment)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
4 (10 oz) boneless beef short ribs (definitely go boneless.  The meat is fall off the bone, so the bones, well, just become a problem)
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered fresh basil, to taste

Preparation:

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 8-9 hours.  Less time?  5-6 hours on high is just as good.

Transfer short ribs to serving dish and tent with foil.  Strain sauce into fat separator, reserving  tomatoes, and let stand 5 minutes.  Add reserved tomatoes back to empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with a wooden spoon (I used a square face potato masher and it worked just fine!). Stir in defatted sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over short ribs and sprinkle with basil.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Bordeaux
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes; Inactive time: 9 hours

Braised Short Ribs

*From America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution