beef

Enchilada Meatball Sub

When a Turkey and Swiss just won’t cut it…I give you THIS!  Now, like most sane adults, I’m a sucker for a meatball sub, hoagie, grinder..whatever.  They’re gooood no matter what you call your sandwich!  The last time I played around with the ever popular recipe, I tweaked it with a cheddar and barbeque flair (try that one too please….ughhh sooo good).  However, THIS TIME, I’m giving it that TexMex flavor and turning the great state of Texas’ favorite enchilada into a handheld vessel.  Genius you say?  Yes.  Yes it is.

Now, you do not have to use the enchilada flavored meatballs to make only a sub sandwich.  By all means, use them on their own with a plate of rice, refried beans, warm tortillas or chips…wrap them in a large flour tortilla with extra enchilada sauce and beans or place them on a platter alongside toothpicks for a great appetizer!  No disappointment will follow.

* I used Oaxaca Cheese for my meatballs (Mexico’s version of mozzarella), but feel free to use any of your favorite melty cheese! I.e. Monterey Jack, mozzarella, cheddar blend, Pepper Jack, etc.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef
  • 15 ounce can enchilada sauce, divided
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (I kept seeds in on for mine)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, rough chop
  • 2 tsp each: cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Oaxaca cheese), to top

If making into sub sandwiches:

  • Bakery roll or Torta bread
  • Avocado/guacamole
  • Pickled onion
  • Jalapenos, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, panko, eggs, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro and spices until just incorporated.  I just use my good ol’ hands for this and no need to overwork.

Using an ice cream scooper or again, your hands as I did, make about 2″ balls and place into the 9×13 dish.  *Try to make them relatively the same size for even cooking.  You can always add/take away the meat mixture to make even.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce overtop all of the meatballs and cover with foil.  Bake in your 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and add the cheese overtop, bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes more.

Serve warm straight from pan with a side of rice, beans and tortillas OR turn into a monster sub sandwich with Mexican inspired toppings of your choice!  Enjoy!

EnchiladaMeatballs

Oaxacan Steak Quesadillas

Oaxaca (wha-ha-ka) cheese is a delightful semi-soft, stringy, cows-milk white cheese that could be best compared to mozzarella!  The Oaxaca cheese is a stretched, curd cheese that is formed into a ball, often resembling a softball in size, that you can shred for the gooiest of dishes.

All of the quick info above being said, why not make a quesadilla inspired by the southern Mexico state!  To keep with the flavors of the real SOUTH of the border, I have decided to incorporate other commonly used ingredients from Oaxaca while infusing it with a couple of my own.  Plus, I just really NEED steak in my life, but by all means, make this a veggie’dilla if you wish!

*I LOVE these marindes and always have them on hand for many dishes!https://www.goya.com/en/products/cooking-bases-sauces-and-marinades/ready-to-use-marinades

 

The Starting Lineup

STEAK (& marinade)

  • 2-3 lbs flank steak (or pounded skirt steak)
  • 1/2 cup of GOYA Marinade Naranja Agria 
  • 1/2 cup of GOYA Marinade Mojo Criollo 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped with stems
  • 1 tsp cumin

QUESADILLA

  • Tortillas (fresh corn to be authentic, but flour will work and taste fust fine too)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano/or jalapeño, finely chopped (seeding optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves (or a few chopped Epazote leaves if possible)
  • 2 tsp kosher
  • 1 cup Oaxaca cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cheddar-jack cheese, shredded

OPTIONAL (fillers and garnish)

  • Avocado slices
  • Squash blossoms (though hard to find)
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Cilantro
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Chopped cabbage/carrot slaw
  • Queso Fresco or Cotija cheese crumbles
  • Salsa/hot sauce

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STEAK:  In a gallon zip lock bag or baking dish/bowl, combine the meat with the marinade ingredients; toss and massage to coat.  Zip up or cover and let sit for 30 minutes on the counter or 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready to eat, remove the steak from fridge about 20-30 minutes prior to cooking.

Cook the steak (medium-high heat on the grill or cast iron pan on stove) till desired doneness.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes or more.  Cut across the grain into thin slices.

QUESADILLA:  Heat the canola oil and butter in a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. When melted and butter is slightly browned, add in the onion and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the serrano (or jalapeno) and chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, for about a minute.

Next add in the sliced mushrooms and let cook down for 3-5 minutes, letting the juices come out, which will in turn allow them to dry out.  Follow that with the fresh spinach leaves and salt.  Continue to stir and sauté until mushrooms and spinach have wilted and the mixture is not too wet, but not too dry.

ASSEMBLY:  Again, whether grill or stove top pan, heat to medium and place a tortilla into a dry pan and warm/char (30 seconds).

Flip tortilla over and start to layer the 2 cheeses, the sliced steak and the mushroom-spinach mixture over half of the tortilla (I also added a bit of sliced avocado to this), fold in half and cook a couple minutes until golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side till browned and cheese is gooey!

SERVE:  Place on a platter and cut into wedges (pizza cutter!!); serve with your choice of accompaniments.  I chose pico de gallo, a crunchy cabbage slaw, cilantro, Mexican crema and salsa!  Enjoy!!

OaxacanSteakQuesadilla

 

Thai Basil Beef Salad

Branching out our taste-bud’s this week with a meal that actually just took under 20 minutes to prepare and left my family full AND healthy!  All sorts of “wins” there!

This meal really is low in calories (less than 300) and high in protein!  Plus, more importantly to me, is it is soooo full of flavor that I didn’t mind giving up my normal TexMex comfort food!  You can mix and match a few ingredients to meet your family’s palates as well.  This is definitely worth a try my friends….

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb flat iron steak (can also use sirloin, hanger or even ground beef!)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • Hefty pinch of black pepper

*Serve with cooked, long-grain jasmine rice and lime wedges!  I actually like to add fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro to my fluffed rice as well.

**Optional ingredients to add to dish are julienned carrots, Thai hot chili’s, cilantro, red bell pepper slices.

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Dressing: whisk together the rice wine vinegar, oil, Sriracha, soy sauce, and garlic and in a bowl.  Toss the basil, cucumbers and tomato with dressing. Cover and set aside.

Season beef with a hefty amount of pepper and a bit of the canola oil, then sear in a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat 5 minutes per side; add green onions, cook briefly then remove from heat to rest for 5 minutes. *yields medium-rare.

Spoon rice into bowls and top with the dressed vegetables.  Slice beef against the grain, and place overtop.  Serve with extra soy sauce, Sriracha, hot chili’s and cilantro if desired.

ThaiBasilBeefSalad

 

Green Chile Albondigas Alfredo

MMmmm….meatballs!  Yes, for those of y’all that are not “in the know”, meatballs translated in Spanish is: albondigas.  The more you know.

These said albondigas just so happen to pair beautifully with green chiles and creamy alfredo sauce…they almost cancel each other out to flow beautifully together.  Not too spicy, not too bland.

I like to serve ours with a bit more cheese and chopped roasted peppers, but however you do it, you’ve made yourself a more elegant, Mexican-inspired meal.  Move over Taco Tuesday!

*You can make your own albondigas (your typical meatball recipe but combined with more Mexican spices: cumin, salsa, carrots, cilantro, Mexican oregano, etc) or you can use a bag of frozen Italian meatballs, both delicious.

*If gets too thick/not to the creaminess you prefer, you can add a splash of milk or heavy cream.

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz meatballs (homemade or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 10.5oz can Cream of Jalapeno soup (can sub chicken broth or cream of chicken + seeded/diced jalapenos)
  • 8oz block cream cheese (1/3 fat-Neufchatel is fine), cubed
  • 1 cup water (or chicken broth)
  • 8oz penne pasta noodles
  • 4oz can of green chilies, hot
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste.

Garnish

  • Flat leaf parsley, rough chop
  • Roasted peppers (i.e.. jalapeno, poblano-seeded), finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese

GreenChileAlfredo.jpeg

1.  Begin by heating a 10″-12″ pan to medium high heat.  (I actually love my cast iron for this, a bit of scraping is needed, but it creates almost a ‘crust’ on the noodles.  Though a non-stick would leave you an equally delightful super creamy version).

2.  To that hot pan, pour in the oil and followed by the meatballs to sear all over, 5-10 minutes.  (I used straight from frozen/fully cooked and work just fine!).

3.  To the seared meatballs, add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes.

4.  Once the onions are just translucent in color, whisk in the cubed cream cheese and can of soup.  Whisk, whisk, whisk!

5.  Next pour in the water/or broth, your 8oz of noodles and can of hot green chiles with juices.  Bring to a quick boil, stir.  Cover and allow to simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

6.  Finally, uncover, and toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Simmer on low, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Serve:  either individually or family style, top with a bit more parmesan, roasted peppers and chopped flat-leaf parsley.  Enjoy!

GreenChileAlfredo4.jpeg

Texas Bowl o’ Red

True chili, by Texas standards, contains NO beans, which you probably already knew.  It ALSO means no tomatoes and generally no chili powder either…  The famous bowl of red actually gets its vibrant hue and deep smoky, sweet and spicy flavor from a homemade chili paste you can easily prepare.  *Find the dried chiles in your grocers Hispanic section, the spice aisle or the produce sectionThe best dried chiles are not crunchy hard, but still a bit pliable if possible.

Now more often than not, I strictly use just a quite large beef chuck roast…keep with traditions, ya know?  However, I did include the possibility of also adding a thicker ground beef/brisket to the mix.  I say this because it stretches the chili a bit further for large crowds and your beef loving friends.  Plus, using a thicker-grind on your meat, keeps with and plays off of the texture you already have from the cubed chuck roast.

So…with the now cool to quite cold weather, football season still in full swing and wanting that pot of heartiness on your stovetop all afternoon, I suggest you give this a try.  Yes, feel free to tweak to your hearts content, aka tastes, but remember….NOOOO beans!!!..or tomatoes 😉

**Now I am one to add quite a bit more chiles than even my recipe calls for, but I’m a hot-head (not in personality, just tastes ;).  That being said, do your research on what dried chiles you’d prefer if you have a mild palate or just reach for the “smoky or sweeter” flavored peppers.  If you make quite a bit of chili paste, reserve, as you can always stir in more to the pot and/or drizzle over top your served bowl….or just make as instructed below!! 🙂

***Masa Harina: is basically finely ground corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales etc.  Now this ingredient is kind-of-optional, but not only does it help to thicken and tighten up your chili, it also provides an earthy flavor to the mix.  If you do not have any on hand or do not want to purchase a small bag, you can omit it.  You can also easily thicken with a flour or cornstarch paste as well.  It’s just a bit less Tejas that way, ok?

The Starting Lineup

  • 2-3 lbs beef chuck, boneless, cut in 1/2″-1″ chunks
  • 1 lb “chili-grind”, ground beef/brisket (it’s a much thicker texture grind), optional
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle Shiner Bock beer 
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp each ground pepper and kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp El Caldo de Pollo (low sodium chicken bouillon) 
  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil, (or lard if on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp masa harina
  • 8-10+ whole dried chiles  – a mix from either Ancho, de Arbol, New Mexico, Guajillo, Pasilla, etc.  

Garnish

  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapenos
  • Shredded cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Warmed tortillas
  • Cheese enchiladas….yes, I said that, two cheesy ones right on top baby!

Place the chiles in a large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes per side. Do NOT let them burn or they’ll turn bitter. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with almost boiling water.  Cover tightly with plastic-wrap and soak until soft, 15 to 30 minutes.

Remove the softened chiles from the water (reserve that “chile-water“), halve them and remove stems and seeds. Place the seeded chiles in a blender and add the chicken bouillon, cumin, mexican oregano, black pepper, salt and 1/4-1/2 cup of the chile water.  Purée, adding more water as needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the blender), until a smooth, slightly fluid paste forms.

Pour this now liquid chile mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside, removing any skin from the peppers.  Feel free to taste for seasoning (salt)…careful as it MAY be spicy/wash hands thoroughly.  *Tip:  The soaked chiles and chile water are likely still hot in temperature when you begin to blend.  So place a kitchen towel over the lid on your blender, hand holding down, as the warmth will make it expand and want to pop that lid off…no one wants hot, spicy chiles all over them and their kitchen.

In a large heavy bottomed pot/dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the oil or lard. When it begins to slightly smoke, add in half of the cubed beef.  Brown, about 4 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat begins to burn. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of oil/lard and the remaining beef.  *Same with the large grind ground beef (cooked through), if using.

Now over medium-low heat add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil/lard in the skillet if necessary; add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour the Shiner Bock beer in, scraping up all of the brown bits at the bottom of your bot..flavor!!!

Next, add the beef stock plus 1 cup water and gradually whisk in the masa harina to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste (again, taste for it’s spicy level prior) and then add the reserved, seared beef (and any and all juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to the barest possible simmer (just a few bubbles breaking the surface) and cover, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender but still somewhat firm and sauce has thickened a bit…can easily simmer for 2-3 hours.

Finally, you will thoroughly stir in the brown sugar and add more salt to taste; gently simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes.  Now, it may still look like there is excess sauce, so turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet, leaving the meat bathed in a thick, somewhat fluid sauce. Stir in additional broth or water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, allow it to simmer a bit more.  As always, it’s a must to taste as you go for salt and seasoning.

Serve by large ladle full into a bowl and top with your standard sour cream, cheese, onions, lime wedges, tortillas…or as I mentioned, make tray of super cheesy enchiladas and lay a couple bad boys right on top!  Enjoy with your remaining Shiner Bocks!!

TexasChili

 

 

 

French Onion Chicken Poutine

What kind of comfort-food-sort-of-blogger would I be without a plate full of hot salted fries, topped with a rich gravy and melty cheese chunks?  Not one that I would like to know…

Now here in the states, we fondly know of this dish as Disco Fries (main difference being the variety of cheese overtop), but it’s more commonly known everywhere as “Poutine” thanks to our friends north of the border, eh Canada?  That main difference, again, is the use of real cheese curds…and please choose the white variety for more authenticity.

Now myself, I find the cheese curds in the gourmet cheese/deli section, but if you just cannot track them down, you can substitute torn full-fat mozzarella chunks (NOT the fresh mozzarella you’d make a pizza with) as you actually do not want these cheese chunks to completely melt.

Now to add my weird twist on the forever popular dish, I made a classic French onion soup combined with chicken (my boys always HAVE to have their protein) and turned it into a poutine.  So whether you prefer to eat this with your hands or a fork, you will NOT be unsatisfied!  It’s also equally great as leftovers!!

 

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2-4 (about 1lb) chicken breast or thighs, skinless/boneless
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons beef broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Cheese curds
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped, for topping (optional)

French Fries

  • Frozen bagged fries are fine or….
  • 4 very large russet potatoes, skin on, cut into 1″ wide fries
  • Vegetable/ or Canola oil, to fil a large skillet/pot 2″ (or deep fryer)
  • Kosher salt

Begin by cleaning and cutting your potatoes, if making homemade fries.  Add the cut potatoes to a large bowl of ice water and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  This helps to remove the starch, resulting in a crispier fry.  *Completely pat dry before frying.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large oven-safe skillet, over low heat, melt butter. Add onions and 4 tablespoons of the beef broth; sauté onions till a buttery brown in shade and are rich and caramelized, about 20+ minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

While onions are cooking, prepare the chicken by drizzling with oil, then seasoning with salt & pepper and the Italian seasonings. Once onions have finished cooking and are removed from the pan, cook chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat (don’t clean out the pan between the onions and chicken) until browned on both sides. (Chicken may not be fully cooked through yet, that is okay).  Remove from pan.

To the skillet, pour in the beef broth over medium-high heat to deglaze and stir while scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Next, turn down to medium-low heat and whisk in the flour thoroughly for 5-6 minutes until smooth; taste for seasoning.  Add the sautéed onions and browned chicken back in.  Cover the chicken with the Swiss cheese slices and transfer, uncovered, to the oven for 10 minutes, till cheese is melted and bubbly.

*Meanwhile, pat dry (between two towels) and fry up the sliced potatoes.  Salt and keep warm. **After you fry, transfer each batch to a paper towel/baking rack lined baking sheet and straight into a 225 degrees preheated oven.

Remove the skillet of your French Onion Chicken from the oven and either shred or slice the chicken in pan.  Ladle the rich gravy and chicken over your fries and top with the fresh, chopped parsley and cheese curds!  Enjoy!…because I so know you will!!

Poutine

 

BBQ Bacon Ranch Meatball Subs

Frozen meatballs are always a staple in my freezer for easy & quick last-minute dinner or appetizer ideas.  However, most of my friends and family get stuck in the rut of only using them for Italian flavored meals, which is great, but let’s change it up just a bit!

Awhile back when trying to think creatively, something struck me when my 6-year-old son asked for BBQ (we do live in Texas and a giant smoker owns our back porch) for dinner.  Well, I hadn’t made my weekly grocery run yet but I did have meatballs in the freezer, a slow-cooker and a few jars of barbecue sauce in the pantry…change my thinking and the standard marinara sopped hoagie was about to receive a southern twist!  After a few ingredients were added and the smells were filtering through my house (did you see there’s bacon too??), I just KNEW I had a winner on my hands!  Boy did I ever!

*You can leave the bacon in strips or chopped.  Ill often do simple crispy strips for my husband and I, but the chopped is easy for lil mouths.

*I also go back and forth with sliced cheese or shredded…sliced is gooey’er but shredded works in a pinch!  I still say cheddar is best here!

*If you’d like this as more of an appetizer you can make them into sliders or just pour onto a serving dish, sprinkle with bacon, cheese and green onions.  Keep toothpicks & cocktail napkins handy!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package frozen fully cooked home-style meatballs 
  • 2 jars of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet
  • 1 onion, rough chop
  • 1 package bacon, rough chopped and cooked
  • Sliced or shredded cheese (i.e. Cheddar, Jack, Colby)
  • Sub/hoagie rolls, lightly toasted

BBQRanchMeatball1.jpeg

Simple, simple, simple!  First, lightly spray your slow cooker with a non-stick spray and then add in the chopped onions.  Next, add in the frozen meatballs, sprinkle on the ranch dressing dry mix and pour the bbq sauce over top.  Toss to coat.  Cover and set on low for 4-6 hours.  Yep, you’re done until it’s time to assemble the subs!

Fast forward to dinner time…….this is how I serve ours:

I preheat my broiler and line a baking sheet with foil.  I first halve the hoagie buns lengthwise and give a light toast under the broiler (watch veryyyyy carefully as it goes quick!).  Then, buns still on baking sheet, I scoop on about 4-5 of the meatballs along with extra bbq sauce onto the toasted rolls from the slow cooker.  Finally, top with the crunchy cooked bacon and then copious amounts of cheese.  Place back under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly…enjoy!!

BBQMeatballSub4

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