Creamy Tomato & Beef Noodle Casserole

I love it when a plan comes together. Or, more appropriately in this instance, I love it when a meal comes together. Especially when I walked into the kitchen at 5:00 with no idea what was going to be dinner. Not one piece of meat defrosted. Not a clue in sight. Nothing. Nada, Zip. What I did have, however, were ingredients. Ingredients that were waiting in freezer and pantry for their rightful place on the dinner table. I’d say they found it.

Ingredients:

8 oz Penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 cup frozen (or fresh) chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 whole clove)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream (change it up and use prepared alfredo sauce, pesto, heavy cream)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or mozzarella; just about any cheese you like)

Preparation:

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown beef with onion, garlic, oregano, and salt. Add tomato sauce, water, and sour cream. Stir to combine and allow sauce to bubble.

Drain pasta and return to pan, add meat and sauce mixture. Stir together. When completely mixed, add to a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with cheese. Bake about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly. Serve with warm French bread and salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Grenache
Sangiovese

Serves 6 to 8

Total time: 30 minutes

Featured image

Creamy Tomato & Beef Noodle Casserole

*Original Serves4 Recipe


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

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

Quick Beef Stroganoff

I love beef stroganoff, and it seems that there are so many different recipes out there with the smallest change making a huge change if flavor.  What attracted me, though, to this recipe from Gimme Some Oven was it’s 30-Minute timeframe.  While this did take me a little longer than 30 minutes, it was so worth it!  And between you and me, I think the reason it took longer was completely my scattered fault.  I just can’t seem to get my ducks in a row, and if I finally get them in a row, they certainly don’t stay that way!  There were some substitutions I made to make it a little healthier or I was missing an ingredient.  There are also many ways you can make this healthier, instead of steak, you can use sliced chicken or turkey.  Or, if you are vegetarian, sub mushrooms and use vegetable broth.  All in all, a wonderful weeknight dish!

Ingredients:

1 lb wide egg noodles
4 Tbs butter, divided
1 ½ lb thinly sliced steak (I bought the fajita sliced steak in the meat department.  They also have super thin carne asada style)
1 white or yellow onion thinly sliced (I used a small one, the size depends on your enjoyment of onions)
4 cloves garlic minced (As always, I used the pre-minced from Spice World)
1 lb sliced mushrooms (You can use a mixture of different kinds of added flavor)
½ cup dry white wine (or you can just use more beef broth.  I had the wine, but it fell into my mouth . . . )
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (thanks to the kids experimenting, I didn’t have any.  I used A-1 instead and it brought a very nice, unique flavor)
3 Tbs flour
½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt (or you can use light sour cream, the yogurt added a different flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, as optional garnish

Preparation:

Cook egg noodles in boiling water according to package directions (Gimme Some Oven recommends actually adding the egg noodles to the water at the same time that the beef broth is added, and this is a perfect recommendation for timing!)

As pasta water is coming to a boil, melt 2 Tbs of butter in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add steak in a single layer and season with salt and pepper, let it cook for 3 minutes without turning to get a good sear.  Remove the steak from pan with slotted spoon, transfer to a separate dish.  Discard the cooked butter from the pan.

Return pan to heat and add remaining 2 Tbs butter.  Once melted, add onions and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms, stir to combine.  Continue sauteing an additional 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms have through and onions are soft.  Add white wine (or broth) and deglaze pan.  Let mixture cook down an additional 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together beef broth, Worcestershire (or A-1) sauce, and flour until smooth.  Pour the broth mixture into the pan and stir to combine.  Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, stir in Greek yogurt (or sour cream) until combined.  Finally, stir in cooked steak.

Serve over egg noodles, garnished with parsley if desired.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Pinot Noire
Sangiovese

Total time: About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Quick Beef Stroganoff

Quick Beef Stroganoff

 *Derived from Gimme Some Oven

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

Do you ever feel like, when you are working away, that you are just going to topple over onto your desk in a heap, asleep so fast that as your head makes contact a dribble of spittle has already appeared?  That is how the last month to month and a half has been for me.  We’ve had major construction going on in the 2nd most important area of our house, the family room.  This was due to a large flood on Christmas morning (Yeah!  Merry Christmas!!).  So we’ve been dealing with that, in a small part, since then.  But when the construction finally started, well, it’s just been tiresome.  While our general contractor has been amazing at keeping everyone on schedule, I’m just over it, you know.  I’m ready to have that room opened to the rest of the house again.  I’m ready to have a laundry room again (something I’d never in my life thought I’d be excited about, a new laundry room).  I’m ready to have that 3rd bath available downstairs, as opposed to a 5 and 6 year old trying to race upstairs to pee when they’ve been outside playing with ladybugs and refused to “listen to their bodies”.  And at the tail end of this endeavor has been . . . dun, dun, dun . . . daylight savings.  “Come everyone, let’s Spring Forward!” I can clearly hear a very cheery Mother Nature shouting.  I want to shout back, not so cheerily, “Let’s all put our freakin’ happy faces on as our internal clocks get all screwed up!”  Sorry, I’m a grump today.  This is the perfect dinner for a grump to make.  It comes together quickly and painlessly.  And none of it would have been possible without my little sous chef!

My Sous Chef!

My Sous Chef!

 

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti
1 Tbs olive oil (go easy on olive oil because the sausage will have plenty of oil when cooked)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning (or any favorite herb, oregano, thyme, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth (can sub with chicken)
2 cups pureed tomato
1 lb sausage meat (you can buy sausage links and remove the casings, luckily I found a package of bulk sausage meat prepared by the butcher)
Parmesan
1 bunch fresh basil (optional, I didn’t have on hand so I omitted)

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil for spaghetti.  While spaghetti cooks, prepare sauce.

Add 1 Tbs olive oil to large pan heated over medium-high.  When oil is hot, add onions and garlic, stirring to coat.  Add Italian seasoning.  Stir in salt to taste.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.  While onions cook, use sausage meat and form small balls.

Add stock, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.  Add tomato puree and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.    Add meatballs into tomato sauce and simmer until fully cooked, about 10 – 12 additional minutes.

Serve over spaghetti and top with fresh grated Parmesan and a handful of torn basil.  Serve with hot crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Busy Mom's Spaghetti & Meatballs

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

 


Orzo “Paella”

There is something about orzo.  The texture.  The size. It’s just the most amazing little cross between rice and pasta.  A rice / pasta cross-over!  This recipe calls itself a “paella” and it makes for a wonderful “when I grow up I want to be a paella” dish.  The flavors come together really nicely and are a great compliment to each other.  I was able to use left over chicken, which is always a plus for me, and it had shrimp.  As most people know, we are a big shrimp eating family.  The peas were a “no go” for the kiddos, but that was no surprise.  This got a big thumps-up and was wonderfully quick to make!

Ingredients:

¾ lb large frozen shrimp; cleaned, shelled, thawed with tails on (I used what I had in the freezer, which were medium, and they worked just fine)
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil
3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
¼ tsp turmeric
1 lb orzo (can sub whole wheat for a healthier meal)
½ cup frozen peas
½ small onion, finely chopped (time-saving tip: buy pre-chopped either in the freezer section or fresh in produce)
2-4 cooked chicken thighs cut into 1″ chunks
¼ cup roasted red pepper, cut into thin strips (I bought the jarred version, though you could roast your own)
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place first four ingredients and 1 tbs of olive oil in large zip-lock bag.  In medium pot, bring chicken broth and 2 cups water to boil.  Add turmeric and orzo; boil for 6 minutes.  Drain, reserving ¾ cup of cooking liquid.  Place frozen peas in the broth and let sit.

Heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil in a large pan.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes; flip halfway through.  Add chicken thighs; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add drained orzo to pan.  Pour peas and reserved liquid over orzo and stir.  Finally, stir in red pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Top with parsley and serve.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Beaujolais
Chianti
Garmay
Grüner Veltliner
Sangiovese

Serves 6 (and probably some left for lunch)

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 22 minutes

Orzo "Paella

Orzo “Paella

*Derived from Fitness Magazine