Monthly Archives: July 2016

Salisbury Steak Bake

If you’re like me, you’re getting really tired of summer by now.  That heat can see its way out!  That being said, I’ve been dreaming of cooler weather, leaves changing, pumpkin everything, football and hearty, stick to your ribs kind of meals.  

Even as a child I’ve always been a fan of Salisbury steak, but as an adult I’ve graduated from eating the frozen dinner version.   Now I definitely have made the handmade patties and floured, seasoned and seared up, but THIS recipe is actually even easier than before!  I’ve turned the individual “steak” patties into a baked casserole dish!  An entire MEAL in one!

*If you’re in a super hurry, you can of course use a couple cans of drained green beans and quickly whip up some instant potatoes.  No harm in that at all.  

*If using fresh green beans, just rinse and chop to your desired size.  There is no need to cook these before adding to the casserole mix.  They will cook while in the oven, but still keep a nice bit of crunch.  Texture to the dish = thumbs up! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups Green beans, fresh or canned 
  • 1 pckg mushroom, halved
  • 1 packet au jus gravy mix
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1/4 cup panko + 1/4 cup flour (or you can use all flour)
  • 26oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • *Mashed potatoes (you can use real or instant)

As a great cook always does, begin by prepping the vegetables so that everything is ready to go!  Also, if you’re making your own mashed potatoes, you can begin that now.  *Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Heat a large pan with a tbsp of oil (evoo, vegetable) over medium heat,  add the onions and sauté for 5-6 minutes.  Once soft and translucent, you can then add in the ground beef, dry onion soup mix and season with pepper to taste. *salt isn’t necessary, as the gravy will have enough flavor to it.  After the meat has been cooked through, drain any excess grease, leaving about a tablespoon in pan.


Next you can fold in the panko/flour.  This helps to “tighten” up the mixture.


The vegetables!  Carefully mix in the mushrooms and green beans, as your pan is going to be pretty full by now.  Also, in a bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, au jus gravy packet and the 1/4 cup of water.


Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Pour the meat and veggie mix into it.  Then carefully mix in the creamy soup to combine.


Finally, top this off with the prepared mashed potatoes and pop into your preheated 350 degree oven, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.  The last few minutes, switch to “broil” to brown the top and create a crust.  Just make sure to watch carefully as not to burn.


There you have it!  Family comfort food at its finest!  If desired sprinkle on some chopped parsley for color and added brightness and dig in!  Enjoy!!

Carne Guisada

The best way I can describe the delicious dish of Carne Guisada is that it’s like a thick, hearty Mexican beef stew.  As a matter of fact, I believe that the word guisada translates to “stewed meat”.  The variable on this slow-cooked recipe is that some stew with tomatoes, bell peppers, etc while others just use water and spices.  I have to say that every way I’ve had it across the giant state of Texas has been delightful!

This makes for awesome tacos and burritos, great over eggs and chips for breakfast or just ladled into a bowl!  I am so glad that I found out about this Mexican classic, as it’s become one of my top faves!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Serrano pepper, chopped (seeded)
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt & pepper, each
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • A pinch of chipotle powder (optional for added heat)

As always, begin by prepping all of the vegetables and having everything ready at hand.  


In a large bowl, dredge the cubed meat in the flour. Toss to coat evenly.  Next, in a Dutch oven, heat up the oil to med-high heat.  Add in the dredged, cubed meat a brown on all sides (do not cook through).  Once browned, remove from the Dutch oven and set aside.  *I do this in batches so that the meat doesn’t steam, but seared.


Now that the meat has browned and been set aside, add in the onions and bell pepper and sauté (while picking up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan) for about 4-5 minutes; add in the garlic for that last minute. 

Now you can add the seared meat back into the Dutch oven along with the tomatoes, cilantro, Serrano and spices.  Give a good stir.

Finally pour in the beef broth and water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 2-3+ hours or until the beef is tender and the sauce has reduced into a thick “gravy”.  *Stir occasionally.


Serve alongside warm tortillas, chips, beans, roasted potatoes, sour cream, lime wedges, etc.  Ejoy!!

King Ranch Mac n’ Cheese

King Ranch Casserole is as Texas comfort food as chicken fried steak and gravy.  The difference is, if you’ve never been to this giant state, you may of never heard of it.  Legend has it that the name comes from the “King Ranch”, one of the largest ranches in the United States…now no one knows the truth and every family and restaurant recipe varies, but they’re generally all made with the same few ingredients: chicken, diced tomatoes, onion, bell pepper and a creamy soup.  

Now here’s my tweak on it, instead of the normal layering of torn corn tortillas (lasagna style), I amped up the comfort level and made it into a ooey, gooey mac n’ cheese!!  Sooooo good and still Texas approved!

*A rotisserie chicken from your local grocer would work great for this as well.

**You can use a casserole dish to bake if you do not have an oven proof pan.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb chicken, cooked and chopped (2-3 cups)
  • 8oz macaroni noodles
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (I like spicy)
  • 8oz block velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 8oz container sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if cooking your own chicken)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho/new mexico chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded 

Garnish

  • Tortilla chips (I fried up my own, but I’m crazy like that)
  • Cilantro, fresh   

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

If you’re cooking your own chicken (not a store bought rotisserie), heat a 10″ oven proof pan to medium heat and add in the olive oil.  Once hot, add in the chicken and cook through.  *Since I made my own, I seasoned with a bit of cumin, salt & pepper.  

 Meanwhile, in a large stockpot of salted boiling water, cook your noodles.  Boil for about 2 minutes less than package directions, strain and set aside.  Also, prep the vegetables! 

  

After the chicken is cooked through, set aside.  Once cooled you can chop up into 1″ pieces.

In that same pan that you cooked the chicken in, melt the 2 Tbsp’s of butter and add in the onion, garlic & bell pepper and saute for a few minutes. 

 Next add in the can of diced green-chili tomatoes and cubed Velveeta cheese.  Stir till creamy.  

 Now whisk in the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, chili powder, cumin.  Add in the chopped, cooked chicken.  

 Finally, carefully fold in the cooked pasta noodles and then top with the shredded cheese.  

   Move to the preheated oven and let bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbly.  *If you do not have an oven safe pan, here is where you can pour into a casserole dish, top with cheese and then bake.  **Make sure to place a foil lined baking-sheet on the bottom rack to catch any oozey cheese!

Remove and top with the cilantro and crushed tortilla chips.  

  

  

  

 

Coconutty Pancakes w/ Pineapple Honey Syrup

I don’t know a soul that doesn’t crave something “tropical” during the summer months.  Not one.  So one morning, as I was doing just that, I realized I had no rum in the house (plus it was super early..) so I couldn’t whip up a mai-tai or pina coloda..poor me.  Instead, I thought I would treat the entire family to a delish breakfast that would transport us to an idyllic island!  Now I’m not sure if my kids fell for that part, but I sure imagined me and that mai-tai and they had no problem cleaning their plates!  Win!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted (plus more for pan)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup milk (buttermilk works great too!)
  • 1 egg

Syrup

  • 1 6oz can pineapple juice (I used a can of Dole juice)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pineapple chunks (optional)

Garnish

  • walnuts or macadamia nuts 
  • shredded coconut  

Begin this breakfast delight by starting the Pineapple-Honey Syrup.  In a small saucepan, simply combine the pineapple juice and the honey (plus the pineapple chunks if desired) and bring to a low boil while whisking.  Once combined turn to low and set aside. 

 Next, start the melting of the tbsp of butter in a small bowl in the microwave, remove and let cool slightly while you mix the dry ingredients.  *if the butter is too hot, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs..no good.

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients, including the 1/4 cup sweetened coconut. 

 

In the small bowl of now cooled melted butter, whisk in the coconut milk, regular milk and egg.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir till just together.  You do not want to overwork, lumps are a-ok!! 

 

Finally heat up your pan, skillet, griddle, what-have-you, along with another Tbsp of glorious butter.  Ladle about 1/3 cup of batter down and cook each side to your desired golden brown color. 

 

Let’s serve these pancakes!!  Pour the warm Pineapple-Honey Syrup over each stack and top with your choice of chopped nuts and more coconut!!  Enjoy! 

*Serve alongside some crispy bacon and eggs for a hearty, savory breakfast!

 

Pierogi Pea Salad w/ Grilled Kielbasa

Here you have it… A simple, hearty meal that you can prep, cook, enjoy and clean up within an hour!  Hey, what’s not to enjoy about that??  Perfect for a weeknight family dinner!

It’s honestly a very nice pairing and balance of flavors too.  The rich sausage and onions are offset by the bright freshness with the dill, chives and bit of sour cream.  Plus the warm potatoey-cheddar filling against the cool dressing is an added bonus!  Again, what’s not to love about that?!

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz pckg pierogis (I used frozen potato-cheddar filled)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 Tbsp mayonaisse
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp chives, fresh and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dill, fresh and chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • kielbasa sausage, quartered (I used two packages)
  • 1 yellow onion, thick sliced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter    

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, chopped chives and dill and the dijon mustard.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. 

 Next bring a large stockpot of water to a boil, while you sauté the sliced onion in the extra virgin olive oil and butter over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Add in the quartered kielbasa sausage and sear to warm through.  Turn down to low to keep warm while you finish up the pierogi salad. 

   Cook the pierogi’s to the package directions (boil for 4-5 minutes) and then add the cup of frozen peas to that same boiling pot for the last minute.

Drain the peas and pierogis, rinse and pat dry.  Add both to the dressing you made earlier and gently toss to coat. 

   Serve with the kielbasa, onions and a side of spicy mustard, enjoy! 

 

German Potato Salad

Lesser known fact, in Germany they serve potato salad one of two ways.  If you live in the northern part, it will have mayo (similar to here in America), but if you’re in the southern region it will not.  So in honor of my German heritage I’m preparing it MY favorite way..the southern!

Now we grew up with this side dish staple at, I’d say, every single family get together ever, of all time, of eternity…and it was then and now always a hit with us and the newbies to try it.  However, much to my mom, aunts, grandmas and great-grandmas dismay I steered away from the northernn variety due to my distaste for mayo.  Given I love bacon, cider vinegar and mustard, this authentic style fits the bill for me!

*This is fantastic for a warm day grill-out with the family, as it has no mayo and won’t spoil nearly as fast!

*You can add a 1/2-1 cup of mayonnaise if you just MUST have it that way 😉  It will still be just delicious and no need to  tweak anything else!  You’ll just be eating northern Germany style!

The Starting Lineup

  • 3lbs potatoes
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • Green onion, sliced
  • Parsely, fresh, chopped  

In a large stockpot, add in the scrubbed potatoes (I like to quarter mine for faster cooking/no need to peel) and cover 1-inch over with water.  Add a liberal amount of salt and bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, cover and reduce the heat a bit and let sit for roughly 20 minutes, until just fork tender.  Drain and set aside to cool slightly.  Once cool enough to touch, the skins will easily come off and chop the potoes into bite size chunks.  *Personally, I like just a tad bit of the skins still.

Meanwhile, chop up the bacon and place in a pan, cook till crispy.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon (when done to your likeness) to the bowl of warm potatoes.  You want all that glorious bacon grease to remain! 

 

While the bacon is cooking is when you can chop up the veggies. 

 

Transfer the sliced and diced up celery and red onion the the hot bacon grease and saute for 3-4 minutes.   


Once softened, add in the apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard and cook for 2-3 more minutes. 

Finally, whisk in the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.  Pour this hot dressing directly over the warm potatoes and cooked bacon pieces.  Toss together careful not to smush the potatoes too much. 


Lastly, fold in the green onion, parsely and season again with a bit more kosher salt & ground pepper to taste.  (remember potatoes can benefit from salt).  Enjoy friends! 

   

Southwest Goulash

Growing up in Arizona I know what southwest flavors are…if you’ve ever been to the beautiful city of Sedona then you really know!  Also growing up, we ate lots of goulash, like LOTS.  It’s a yummy and inexpensive meal that feeds a family, right?  So I decided to combine the two and give that extra bit of flavor from home into my new home of the equally beautiful Texas.  It really didn’t disappoint..even the leftovers are gone!  Score!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 cup (8oz) macaroni noodles
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup corn, from frozen
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can diced Mexican-style tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 packet taco seasoning 
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra Virginia olive oil

Garnish (optional)

  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Jalapeño slices    

Start this one pot meal by adding a tbsp of olive oil to a large pan or dutch oven on medium heat.  Add in the ground beef and stir occasionaly to brown and cook through. 

Meanwhile, chop up the veggies, rinse the beans, etc. 🙂

 

Now that the meat it cooked, skim off excess grease and then add in the onions, jalapeńo, garlic, cumin and the taco seasoning packet.  Sauté and stir often for 3-4 minutes (or until onions are slightly soft).


Next add in the corn, beans, canned and chopped tomatoes  (salt & pepper to taste) and give a toss.

 

Directly after, add in the uncooked pasta noodles and 1 1/2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 15-20 minutes, till noodles are slightly tender. 

 

While the noodles are cooking in your one-pot wonder, you can get the garnish’s ready!  Again, we like cheddar cheese, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, etc.. 


Now that it’s done (quick right??), spoon a good helping into a bowl and add on your favorite toppings!  Enjoy!! 

  

  

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