Stuff and Nonsense: beef

Showing posts with label beef. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beef. Show all posts


Mom's Stuffed Peppers

Everyone, I'm sure, has dishes they most associate with "home" and these stuffed peppers are one of mine. I remember coming home from school and the whole house would smell so distractingly delicious that it would be difficult to concentrate on whatever new novel I was currently devouring.

When I hear talk now about getting kids to help out in the kitchen to make them more conscious eaters and give them the skills they'll need to make good food choices as adults, I'm always a little amused (and surprised), because that's how I grew up and it just seemed like the "normal" thing to me (although I recognize that due to contemporary constraints on time and family member availability, I am probably wrong).

I'm sure my mother never thought twice about putting me to work in her kitchen as there was no reason a clever child such as myself couldn't peel vegetables, mash potatoes, empty the compost bin, and set and clear the table. None of these were particularly difficult or strenuous activities -- although I strenuously objected to emptying the (gross!) compost bin -- and I managed to do them with a certain amount of competency considering my brain was almost always only half-concentrating on the task at hand.

I did not actually learn how to cook from my mother -- oh, how I resisted what I thought of as "girlification" -- but I was aware that the foods I ate at home were frequently "better for me" and more "real" than food I saw on the tables of friends and relatives. This awareness has, no doubt, served me well as an adult, but caused some resentment in my childhood when I realized my cousins did not view pizza or fruit roll-ups as once-a-blue-moon treats!

Admittedly, my parents didn't have a lot of disposable income so my mother's restriction on junk food might have been more fiscal than nutritional. And that is probably also why we ate a lot of things like meatloaf, roast turkey, stuffed cabbage, and stuffed peppers -- cheap, filling, and good for leftovers.

Regardless, I am grateful I had a mother who cooked (and who shared her recipes with me).

Mom's Stuffed Peppers

Yield: 6


  • 6 large green bell peppers, topped & seeded
  • 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350F°.
  2. Parboil peppers in salted water for 5 minutes or until bright green and slightly tender. Drain. Cook beef and onions in a sauté pan until browned. Add salt and pepper, garlic powder, rice, and 1 cup of sauce. Mix well.
  3. Lightly stuff meat mixture into peppers. Stand peppers up in a greased pan about as deep as the peppers are tall. Top peppers with remaining sauce. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.
  4. Serve with mashed potatoes and a tossed salad.

I will admit that, as much as I have fond memories Mom's stuffed peppers, I tend to tweak the recipe when I make it -- increasing the chopped onion and seasonings. Mom herself probably used more garlic powder and onion than her written recipe lists as she definitely a "more garlic is better" cook.


#ImprovCooking: Steak & Potatoes

I don’t know about you, but I love all types of roasted vegetables. I feel quite strongly that roasting vegetables is one of the tastiest and easiest ways to prepare them and it's very much my go-to for weeknight cooking. Roasted potatoes are The Husband's favorite, but mushrooms, peppers, and onions are pretty popular with him, too.

When I set about drafting February's Improv Cooking recipe, I thought it best to stick to a combination of flavors I knew we would both like, because I'd also be cooking steak and -- while I believe in packing really nice work lunches for myself -- making steak just for myself seemed pretty mean.

Roasting green beans is a pretty new experience for me and I've found the haricot verts work best as they are thinner and more tender to start with. If you can't find haricot verts, you can use regular string beans but you'll probably want to blanch them first or bump up the overall roasting time if you don't want crunchy beans.

Obviously, YMMV as cooking times will vary depending upon the temperature of the steaks before grilling, the kind and thickness of the steaks, and the cooking temperature of the pan. Just keep an eye on your steaks and have your meat thermometer handy.

Steak With Roasted Vegetables

Yield: 2-4, depending on how famished you are


  • 8 oz small fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz haricot verts (thin young green beans)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2 1-inch thick 10 oz boneless rib eye steaks
  • Sea salt, as desired
  • Penzeys salt-free California Style Seasoned Pepper or similar, as desired


  1. Allow steaks sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a half-sheet pan with foil.
  3. Place the potatoes, peppers, and mushrooms on the foil-lined half sheet pan, drizzle with oil, season as needed, toss, then roast for 20 mins.
  4. Add the beans and garlic, toss, then roast for another 10 mins.
  5. Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season generously.
  6. Heat a nonstick grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add steaks and grill 5 mins on one side.
  7. Turn steaks over and cook for 5 minutes more or until the steaks are between 130°F and 135°F for medium rare, or until done to your liking.
  8. Remove the steaks from the pan, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the roasted vegetables.

The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.You can also read more about the event on our our home page.

If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.


Steak in the Oven, OMG

It's been waylongtime since I made my mom's "Oven-Fried Paprika Potatoes" but I'd picked some nice potatoes up at the farm stand and already had two really lovely strip steaks on hand, so ... it was Time To Revisit The Potatoes.

According to my blog post, the last time I made steak and oven fries, I cooked the steak at 400°F and the potatoes at 450°F. This confuses me, because the potatoes would have gone in first at 450°F and then ... what? When they were done, I let the oven cool down to 400°F and cooked the steak?

Way too much effort.

This time, everything cooked at 450°F. Obviously, the potatoes need 50 minutes so they still went in first. About 20 minutes before the potatoes were due out of the oven, I took the steaks out of the fridge rub, patted them dry with a paper towel and then rubbed them with Just Cook Foods' Ancho Chicken rub (despite its name, this rub works very well with beef and pork). Then I just left them alone.

As the potatoes finished, I seared the steak in a cast iron skillet and then popped the skillet into the oven. Cooked the steaks for 2 minutes on each side, let them rest for 5, and ended up with two beautiful, perfectly cooked steaks with minimal fuss or bother. This is definitely a method I need to use more often!

(We also had mushrooms with the steaks, of course. Just a foil pack of sliced mushrooms, red onion, a little butter, salt, pepper, and herbs, tossed in the oven just as the potatoes came out).


Slow Cooker Beef Stew

It may have been 61°F today, but I still went ahead and made a slow cooker beef stew. It had come out pretty well when I threw it together last week so I'd stuck it on this week's menu plan (along with the fire-roasted tomato and white bean soup), completely disregarding the forecast spring-in-December weather.

Anyway, this was a good stew. Rich, hearty, and filling without being stodgy. The meat was meltingly tender, but the vegetables weren't mushy at all and had kept their own flavors, rather than becoming muddled and tasting generically stewy. You know how sometimes you make a slow cooker dish and after eight hours, all the ingredients in the pot have kind of muddled together and don't really taste like themselves anymore? "Is that squishy orange blob a carrot? Don't know. Just tastes like stew." That didn't happen here.


I served the stew in bowls I'd made from leftover Pillsbury Grands! (Why the exclamation mark? Is it not enough to simply be grand?) biscuits. I followed the instructions provided in the "Grands!® Biscuit Bowls with Chili" recipe. As a technique, it works pretty well, but I'm not sure it is superior to simply hollowing out a bakery-bought sourdough boule. Certainly, I don't think I'd go out and buy a biscuit tube just to make them ... but I had two raw biscuits leftover from the waffled grilled cheese and biscuit bowls sounded like a fun experiment.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Yield: 6


  • 1 lb stew beef, cut into small cubes
  • 12 oz chopped white potatoes (peel or don't ... the power is yours)
  • 3 oz chopped carrot (ditto about peeling)
  • 3 oz chopped celery
  • 3 oz chopped yellow onion
  • 4 oz sliced white mushrooms
  • 14½ oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 Tbsp Penzeys beef soup base
  • 1½ tsp Worcestershire
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup white whole wheat flour


  1. Layer potatoes, carrot, celery, onion, and mushrooms at bottom of slow cooker insert. Add beef. Top with fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic.
  2. Whisk together hot water, soup base, Worcestershire, pepper, and flour. Pour over tomatoes.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hrs. Stir well before serving.

I know one cup of stock doesn't seem like enough liquid but trust me -- the vegetables and meat will release a lot of liquid as they cook. Anyway, we want a thick stew and not a brothy soup, right?


Perfect Pot Roast (It's Beer Wot Does It)

This pot roast is my easy-peasy, totally not fancy but fabulously delicious go-to recipe. I've been making it for years, but never bothered to blog about it properly because it seemed ... too easy. Too not-special-enough for the interwebs. And yet. I've made this pot roast nearly a dozen times now, which means it must be good and good is always worth sharing, right?

This pot roast always cooks up delicious. Sweet and tender. Beefy and rich. Quite definitely the best pot roast I have ever made and I think the mildness of the beer had a lot to do with it. Previously, I always used bottles of Heineken in this recipe because Heineken's what I had on hand. Except, this time, we were all out of Heineken and I ended up using one of the pint bottles of Bud Light Platinum one of The Husband's poker buddies left behind. It's a mild, innocuous beer which is exactly what I want in this pot roast. Combined with the meat juices and the vegetables, the beer creates a mouth-watering smell which always leaves me desperate to lick the oven door long before the roast is ready.

Perfect Pot Roast

Serves 6


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 lb beef chuck underblade pot roast
  • Garlic powder, salt, and pepper, as desired
  • 1 bottle pale lager beer
  • 8 small potatoes, halved (I used a mixture of red and yellow)
  • 1 large red onion, cut into large chunks
  • 5 carrots, cut into large chunks (peel if you're fussy)
  • 4 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
  • Penzeys Tuscan Sunset or McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning (or similar salt-free seasoning), as needed


  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Heat olive oil in bottom of French/Dutch oven. Liberally season roast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sear all sides of beef roast. Turn off burner.

  • Put carrots, celery, and potatoes around beef. Scatter onions over beef. Pour a bottle of beer over it all. Sprinkle liberally with your favorite salt-free seasoning.

  • Cover tightly and bake for 3 hours. Serve with pan juices or make a gravy from them.

Before I owned a fancy pot, I used to make this in a broiler pan tightly covered in foil, so don't worry if you don't own a French/Dutch oven. An oven-safe covered casserole would work fine, too, if you have one.


Meatballs With Flax & Almond Flour

I found this recipe for Healthy Baked Meatballs over at Stay At Home Chef ages ago, but I never remembered to buy either the wheat germ or the wheat bran so have had to keep putting off making them. But, with the change in seasons, I've been craving pasta with meatballs. So I just said to myself "Self, you can make do with what you have!" and I did. And I made some pretty nice meatballs! (Although I still fully intend to make these the proper way one day soon).

While these meatballs are firm on the outside, they're still tender on the inside and definitely not at all stodgy. You know sometimes you eat meatballs and they're so dense and heavy that they sit in your stomach like meaty boulders? These are not those balls.

Using my tablespoon-cookie scoop, I managed to get 26 meatballs from the meat mixture and we each ate five for supper the first night with mushroom gravy over buttered noodles. This quick "gravy" was made by adding canned mushrooms, garlic powder, and more salt-free Italian seasoning blend to hot beef stock and then thickening it all with (a little too much) cornstarch. The Husband did not like the gravy, by the way, as he thought it was too much like traditional brown meatloaf gravy ... which he doesn't like. I should have remembered that, right? And thawed some tomato sauce, right? Sixteen years of marriage and I still can't remember these things!

Meatballs With Flax & Almond Flour

Yield: 26 meatballs


  • ½ large red onion
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 lb 85% lean grass fed ground beef
  • ½ cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp almond flour [Bob's Red Mill]
  • ¼ cup + Tbsp flax meal [Bob's Red Mill]
  • 2 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Penzeys Tuscan Sunset]
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire, as desired [Bourbon Barrel Foods]
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened almond coconut milk blend


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush a half sheet pan (13"x18") with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Add garlic and onion to food processor's work bowl and process until finely chopped.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to work bowl and process until ingredients are evenly distributed.
  1. Use a tablespoon cookie scoop to shape the meat mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet.
  1. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned, turning over after about 12 minutes of baking to ensure even browning.


Five-Spice Beef & Vegetables

Bought a container of Trader Joe's Healthy 8 vegetable blend -- a mix of chopped cabbages, carrots, broccoli, jicama, bell peppers, radishes, and celery -- last week on a whim (when will I learn to stick to the list?) and was definitely at a loss as to what to do with it once I got it home.

As the blend is full of high-fiber vegetables, I didn't want to just toss it in a salad because that way was bound to lead to gastric upset and self-recrimination. After too many wandering thoughts, followed by an angry moment of "ohmygodjustdoSOMETHINGwithitalreadyitsJUSTFOOD," I ended up sautéing half the container in splodge of bacon fat until tender and then added in a pound of browned grass-fed ground beef and two cups of garlicky, home-made tomato sauce. It was a surprisingly tasty combination, but I didn't want to make it again with the other half of the Healthy 8 blend, because repetition breeds indifference and, the second time around, I was likely to go "meh" and leave it to moulder in the fridge.

So I made this. Which kinda-sorta has the flavors of a stir-fry, but isn't actually a stir-fry. Whatever it is, it's definitely tasty! While I cooked the vegetables until fork-tender so that none of my delicate flower insides could take issue with it, you normal types with fully-functional digestive systems might prefer to leave your vegetables a bit on the crunchy side. Lucky so-and-so's that you are.

Five-Spice Beef & Vegetables

Yield: 4


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ container Trader Joe's Healthy 8 vegetable blend


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  2. Add ground beef and cook until beef is no longer pink. (Feel free to drain any fat from the pan at this point).
  3. Add 5-spice powder, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Healthy 8. Cook, stirring regularly, until vegetables are to your liking. Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve.

If you're not using lean beef, you may need to drain the fat from the pan before adding the seasonings and Healthy 8. The grass-fed beef I've been buying from Trader Joe's is lean enough that it doesn't leave much fat behind and so I haven't been draining it after browning.


Quick, Convenient Burritos

I'd cooked a pound of ground beef ahead of time for slow cooker recipe, but it turned out I didn't have quite all the ingredients on hand to make ... so I ended up making something completely different! The cooked beef went in the fridge, with the idea I would use it for tacos, and then it seemed we had suddenly the end of the week, I was driving home from work, and realized I owned neither taco shells nor tortillas. A quick detour to the grocery store and ...

Behold, burrito fixings! These burritos were so easy to make, reasonably healthy (or, at least, healthier than delivery) and full of flavor. The Husband took no issue with the filling which, thanks to the Birds Eye blend, contained things like lentils and whole grains. (Quite probably, considering the amount of cheese and sour cream involved, he couldn't even taste them).

I heated up the Protein Blend and then mixed it with the ground beef and about 4 oz of shredded Cabot light pepper jack cheese.

Warmed up some tortillas and spooned a half cup down the middle of each before folding them up into little bundles.

Spritzed them with a little cooking spray and baked them at 375°F until they were golden brown on top.

Served them with shredded lettuce, sour cream, and salsa. Yum!

I imagine these would be equally good with chopped grilled chicken, instead of beef, or no meat at all. My "recipe" made a lot and I don't know how well these would freeze, but they keep fine in fridge for the two days it took us to finish them. I reheated them by wrapping them individually in foil and tossing them, as needed, in a 375°F oven for about 20 minutes or until heated through.


Slow Cooker Salsa Swiss Steak

Sometimes, I basically just type the contents of my kitchen into "the Google" and see what I get. This week, I got Betty Crocker's delicious "Slow-Cooker Salsa Swiss Steak."

I used a bag of frozen sliced peppers and onions instead of fresh, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T with pretty tasty results. The meat was as tender as pot roast and the sauce was rich and flavorful ... but, I admit, it could have used a couple cloves of garlic. What isn't improved by a little garlic, though?


Improv Challenge: Coffee & Cream

Here's a not-so-secret secret: I don't like coffee. Love the smell of it, but the taste! Nah-ah. No way. So February's Improv Challenge, focusing as it did on coffee and cream, really was a challenge for me. While I didn't want to take the coward's way out and simply skip February, I also knew that in order to succeed I was going to have to make something that didn't taste strongly of coffee.

Lots of googling showed me I could use coffee in a rub for meat, so that's what I decided to do -- I'd make a coffee rubbed roast and serve it with a creamy coffee-infused pan sauce. And, hopefully, it wouldn't be gross. I used an eye of round roast, because it were on sale and if I was going to ruin a perfectly nice piece of meat then it might as well be a cheap one!

Coffee & Cocoa Rubbed Beef Roast

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 3± lb eye round roast
  • 1 Tbsp espresso powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder (baking, not drinking)
  • ½ Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 500°F. While oven preheats, combine coffee, cocoa, paprika, pepper, and salt. Rub thoroughly all over roast.

  2. Place the roast, fat-side up, in an oven-safe skillet in the oven. Reduce temperature to 475°F. Roast for 7 minutes per pound. Turn off the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2½ hours. (Seriously, just leave it alone in there. It will be okay).

  3. Remove roast from pan, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest while you make the sauce.

The roast turned out pretty well. The coffee and cocoa flavors were rather negligible, even the crusty ends were just ... beefy. And that was okay, really, as the beef was perfectly roasted. I used my mom's high-heat start, long-rest roasting method where she starts the beef with a blast of heat and then lets it rest in the slowly cooling oven for hours. It sounds like a foolhardy experiment in food poisoning, but her Christmas roasts are always thing of beauty.

Coffee-Infused Creamy Pan Sauce


  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • ½ cup Malbec [or whatever red you're drinking]
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • browning sauce, if desired.


  1. Whisk the espresso powder into the wine and set aside.
  2. Heat the skillet over medium-high. Add in the wine mixture and cook, scraping up any crispy bits from the bottom of the skillet, until the wine is reduced to a thin layer liquid.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the heavy cream and return the pan to the heat. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until it is thickened.
  4. Whisk in the mustard and, tablespoon by tablespoon, the butter. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Darken with a little browning sauce, if the sauce is too milky-looking for your liking.

The sauce definitely tasted of coffee, but it balanced nicely with the wine. It was quite thick and I'm thinking I'd reduce the wine mixture a bit less next time. Yes, there will probably be a next time as, to my surprise, The Husband really liked the roast and its sauce! I thought, at the very least, he'd think the sauce was too strongly flavored, but he sopped up every last splodge of it with his beef. You think you know someone!


Easy Meat Sauce With Mushrooms

I promised The Husband bolognese for supper, but came home too tired and hungry to follow through by preparing my favorite, albeit time-consuming, bolognese recipe. While the mushroom and meat sauce I ended up with is not a proper bolognese by any stretch of the imagination, it is pretty darn tasty and will certainly do it a pinch.

Most importantly, The Husband enjoyed it!

Easy Meat Sauce With Mushrooms

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 25 mins.
Cook time: 30 mins.
Total time: 55 mins.


  • 8 oz sliced button mushrooms
  • 8 oz grass fed ground beef [Nature's Promise Organic]
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 14.5 oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 tsp beef stock base [Penzeys]
  • ½ cup Cabernet Sauvignon [Jacob's Creek]
  • ¼ grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Penzeys]


  1. Spray large French/Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, beef and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is no longer pink. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, beef base, Italian seasoning and cheese. Bring pan to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve over spaghetti with additional parmesan.

Obviously, use whatever red wine you enjoy cooking with! The Jacob's Creek was leftover from Thanksgiving and needed using up.


Feta & Tomato Beef Patties

Sunday was the day of "OH MY GOD THANKSGIVING IS UPON US! Why aren't these household projects done yet!? People are coming to our house!!" so cooking took a backburner. Which is not to say I didn't cook, but that it was just something I threw together so we would be properly fortified to do battle against The Dread Wall-Mounted Toilet Paper Holder and its friends The Pictures That Have Yet To Be Hung.

So I made this:

And it was yummy. And took 30 minutes at most. Huzzah. (Yeah, I know they're more ball-shaped than patty-like, but that's because they shrink and plump up a bit in the oven).

Feta & Tomato Beef Patties

Yield: 5 patties
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: 20 mins.
Total time: 30 mins.


  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • ½ cup minced sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend, divided [Penzeys Tuscan Sunset]
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste [Amore]
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil


  1. Add beef, feta, tomatoes, minced red onion, and half the seasoning blend to a large bowl. Mix well to combine.
  2. Shape into five similarly-sized patties (a half cup measure is useful for this).
  3. Place patties on a small rimmed baking tray and bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. While patties cook, sauté the mushrooms, peppers, and onions in olive oil until tender. Stir in tomato paste and remaining Tuscan Sunset seasoning blend.
  5. Serve patties topped with pepper mix.

When I make the black bean and beef patties, the recipe yields six patties ... but this recipe only yielded five. Same amount of beef. Wouldn't expect the feta and tomatoes to squish down more than the beans. I don't know. They were delicious, anyway.


Black Bean & Beef Burgers

The first time I made these black bean and beef patties, I made them for my work lunches because I wasn't sure if they were "good enough" to inflect upon The Husband. I ate them with steamed spinach and Side Mates' quinoa with rice, black beans, and corn. It was all very good -- even of the third day, I was all smugly "yum! what a clever cook I was to throw this deliciousness together!"

Work lunches all "neatly" packed in EasyLunchboxes

I've made these twice now and still not tested them out on The Husband ... because I'm enjoying them too much to share!

Black Bean & Beef Burgers

Yield: 6 patties
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: 15 mins.
Total time: 25 mins.


  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 Tbsp Penzeys Arizona Dreaming
  • ½ tsp salt


  1. Mash beans in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients. Mix to combine.
  2. Shape into six similarly-sized patties (a half cup measure is useful for this).
  3. Place burgers on a small rimmed baking tray and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

I used Nature's Promise low-sodium organic black beans and organic grass-fed beef for these burgers. Nature's Promise is Stop and Shop/Giant's natural and organic house brand. I buy a lot of the Nature's Promise organic products because the quality and price are good. No-one's paying me to promote Nature's Promise, I just know that many of us are trying to eat "better" and buy good quality ingredients while still minding our pennies and ... this is how I do it, anyway.


A Soggy Saturday Means Soup

This soup is based on a Taste of Home recipe for "Stuffed Pepper Soup" that went a little awry. First, I intended to simply halve the original recipe. Then, I thought it needed additional seasoning. Then, I realized the original recipe wanted cooked rice instead of raw. So mine is a very rice-y soup. But still yummy!

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Yield: 6 generous servings


  • 1 lb ground beef [Nature's Promise Organics]
  • 1 small red onion, chopped [Farmers Market]
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped [Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival]
  • 2 32 oz containers beef stock [Nature's Promise Organics]
  • 28 oz crushed fire-roasted tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 cup medium grain rice
  • 1 large chopped green pepper [Farmers Market]
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher flake salt
  • 1 Tbsp parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend [Penzeys]


  1. Heat olive oil in a French oven. Add onions, garlic, and beef and cook until beef is no longer pink.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and gently simmer for 30-40 minutes or until rice is cooked the way you like it.
Medium-grain rice became my white rice standard in 2010 when The Husband bought a bag by mistake. Medium-grain rice is, unsuprisingly, shorter and plumper than long-grain rice. In my experience, it's also a little bit stickier. I find that I prefer it's flavor and texture and now use it wherever I would use long-grain white rice.


Weekday Comfort Food: Salisbury Steak

Monday night, I'd put a frozen brick of grass-fed ground beef in the fridge to thaw ... only to realize on Thursday morning that it was still in the fridge, very thawed and in need of cooking up before it became a health hazard. I'd had plans for it on Monday, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

As I had a package of sliced crimini mushrooms and lots of red onion on hand, I decided to try my hand at Salisbury steak. It couldn't be too difficult, I imagined, as the dish is basically mini meatloaves drenched in mushroom gravy. Or, at least, that's how I remember it from my childhood.

And that's what I made. It turned out surprisingly well for thrown-together dish -- the gravy was a touch salty and in need of a glug of wine or two, but the beef patties were so very tender and good. It's worth making again, but perhaps with a from-scratch gravy.

Hamburg Steak With Mushrooms & Brown Gravy

1 pound pkg 85/15 Grass-Fed Angus Beef [Trader Joe's]
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire
[Bourbon Barrel Foods]
½ Tbsp parsley flakes
1 large egg
¼ cup panko
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large red onion, halved and sliced thinly
8 oz pkg sliced crimini mushrooms
1 pkt brown gravy mix [McCormick]
Water as needed for gravy mix

If possible, turn your oven to "Warm." Whisk the gravy mix into whatever amount of water the gravy packet calls for and set aside.

To a large mixing bowl add the beef, pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire, parsley, panko, and egg. Mix it together gently with your hands so that the seasonings are well distributed but do not overmix. Shape into four similarly-sized patties.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add meat patties to skillet and brown on both sides for about 4 minutes each. Remove from skillet and pop into a shallow (soup) bowl in the oven.

Add the sliced onion and mushrooms to the buttery bits in the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions turn translucent and the mushrooms have shrunk.

Return the patties (and any accumulated juices) to the skillet. Pour the gravy mix over the meat and mushrooms and let cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the gravy is thickened and the patties reach 160°F when you jab them with a meat thermometer.

We ate the hamburg steak with my default summer side -- diced cucumbers and tomatoes tossed with white wine vinegar, olive oil, and a few grinds of Boxed Goodes' Allium Salt (a blend of sea salt, onion, shallots, and chives) and pepper. I'd made this side with various bottled Italian vinaigrettes for years and was quite happy with the results, but I've recently found I prefer it this way.


Week Day Comfort Food: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Terrible hankering for pot roast when I was planning out this week's menu -- blame the turning leaves and cooler breezes -- but I couldn't quite figure out which pot roast recipe to use. And then I decided "To heck with it! I can't go wrong chucking random roastie ingredients in the slow cooker!" So that's what I did. And it was turned out pretty darn fabulous.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Serve 2, with lots of leftovers for soup or whathaveyou

3 lb boneless chuck roast
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
4 oz sliced white button mushrooms
2 Tbsp tomato paste
[Amore Tomato Paste Double Concentrated Tube]
1 envelope onion soup mix [Lipton]
1 bottle stout [Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout]
As many chopped carrots and baby potatoes as will line the bottom of your slow cooker insert

Arrange carrots and potatoes at bottom of slow cooker insert.

Add with roast. Top with mushrooms, onions, and garlic.

Whisk stout, onion soup mix, and tomato paste together and pour over everything.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hrs.

Remove meat and vegetables to a warm oven. Whisk cornstarch and water together to make a slurry and whisk into the juices at the bottom of the slow cooker. Cook on High for 10 minutes or until thickened. Serve.

This roast made more than enough for two for supper so I shredded the remaining meat (we ate all the veg) and made a really tasty beef barley soup with frozen mixed vegetable blend, frozen pearl onions, more mushrooms, quick-cooking barley, leftover gravy, broth, bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.


The Last Freezer Steak (Finally?)

Last year, I used a couple Amazon Local vouchers to buy grass-fed organic steak samplers from the American Farmers Network ... and we've only just finished them off. It's not as if the samplers were enormous -- although they were a good size for two people -- so much as we don't eat steak at home that often, because we are not very good Cookers of Steak. Until the last six months or so, anyway. It's as if, unconsciously, I decided it was finally time to buckle down and master steak. And so I did. Mostly. Sometimes the steaks are a bit chewy and better-than-shoe-leather-but-still-a-far-cry-from-Ruth's-Chris, but mostly they're pretty darn good.

Grilled filet mignon with mushrooms. (Photographed in my living room, because that's where the light was).

Anyway, Sunday I grilled up the last filet mignon!

About thirty minutes before I started the grill, I took the filets out of the fridge, patted them dry, rubbed them with a little olive oil, and let them sit on the kitchen side so they could warm up a bit.

I heated the grill up to 400°F, brushed the rack with canola oil, put the filets down, grilled them for 4 minutes, flipped them over, grilled them for 4 minutes, flipped them again and grilled them for 3 more. Then I remove the filets from the grill, covered them loosely with foil and let them rest for 10 minutes.

They were fantastic. Melting. Tender. Flavorful. Beautiful.


Hello, Leftovers: Shredded Beef Taco Salad

I'd intended to make quesadillas with the leftover slow cooker shredded beef, but then realized taco salad was an even better idea. I do love me some taco salad, after all, and the temperature was supposed to rise up to 49°F today suggesting Salad Season was on its way, so ...

Taco Salad

Shredded Beef Taco Salad

2 small flour tortillas
Olive oil, as needed
1 cup leftover shredded beef
red onion, chopped
cilantro, chopped
romaine, chopped
cheddar, shredded
[Cabot Seriously Sharp, of course]

Preheat oven to 425°F. (If you have a pizza stone, preheat it with the oven. Otherwise, get out a sheet pan).

Lightly brush tortillas with a little olive oil and place on preheated pizza stone (or place on sheet pan and put in oven). Bake for 4-5 minutes, depending on desired brownness.

Baked Tortillas

Remove tortillas from oven and plate. Microwave beef until heated through. Divide meat between tortillas. Garnish with cheddar, romaine, red onion, salsa, guacamole, and cilantro. Eat.


(My shredded beef already had corn and black beans mixed in so I didn't add any to my salad, but would certainly recommend it if yours doesn't).


Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

Ages ago I received a package of Campbell's Slow Cooker Mexican Red Chili Taco Sauce and, time and again, I've meant to use it ... only to change my mind as some shiny new recipe popped up on Pinterest (curse you, Pinterest). But beef roasts were on sale last week so I bought one specifically to make the slow cooker tacos.

Shredded Beef Taco

I prepared the beef as directed, using a piece of well-trimmed chuck. I did add in a small chopped red onion and about a quarter of a cup of Penzeys red and green bell pepper flakes for extra flavor. I was a little worried the peppers would absorb a lot of liquid while they rehydrated during the cooking process, but I needn't have as the beef was swimming in a sea of liquid when I checked it nine hours later. I took the beef out at that point and shredded it using two forks and then dumped it back into the slow cooker insert with a cup of black beans and a cup of thawed Trader Joe's fire-roasted corn.

We ate the shredded beef on warm flour tortillas with guacamole, salsa fresca, and cilantro. They were pretty good, but a bit messy from all the juices (I should have drained some off before returning the beef to the insert) and the flour tortillas would have been better toasted in a skillet rather than warmed in the oven.

Anyway, it was an easy and reasonably healthy weekday supper. Would I buy another Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauce? Probably not. Not because there was anything wrong with the product -- the finished dish was really quite tasty -- but because it just felt as if I could have done something very similar from scratch with tomato sauce and canned chipotle peppers in adobo, etc.

There's a ton of meat leftover, so we'll be having shredded beef quesadillas for supper on Friday and then ... I don't know. I might freeze what's left until I can come up with a decent idea. Could the meat be used as the base for a beef-barley soup? Hmmm.


Meat & Veg. Who Needs More On A Wednesday?

I'm mostly recovered from last week's creeping crud -- although I still sound like a languishing Dickensian consumptive when I cough -- but am still not up to running amok in the kitchen, faffing about with complicated recipes. Happily, there's nothing easier than roasting a chunk of meat and pile of veg. Especially when the meat's prep has already been done by Trader Joe's.

Lazy Wednesday Supper
I was "nice" and ate all the yummy courgettes, leaving the carrots to The Husband.

I plopped one of Trader Joe's Steakhouse Seasoned Beef Filet Mignon Roast in a pan and surrounded it with chopped carrots, red onion, and baby courgettes (zucchini) I'd tossed with olive oil, garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper. Everything went in the preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes, then I gave the vegetables a stir and let everything cook for another 20.

Lazy Wednesday Supper
I should have tied the meat, because it split while roasting. Oops.
And that was supper -- easy, reasonably healthful, and enough leftover for tomorrow's (probable) snow day sandwiches.