Tag Archives: ground beef

Swedish Meatballs (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

This recipe helps to dispel that myth that certain comfort foods are gone forever when one gives up gluten and dairy. Remember swedish meatballs? That creamy, silky sauce, coating delicious meatballs and a way-too-large plate of wide noodles? I do, although before I made this recipe, I hadn’t tasted swedish meatballs in several years – well before I went gluten-free. Even at their worst, (a.k.a. the “before I knew how to cook” swedish meatballs – processed powder in an envelope that you mixed together with the meat and some milk to make sauce) swedish meatballs still hold some nostalgia for me. My husband also loves the dish. So when I saw that Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut used cashews and lemon in place of sour cream in a dish (chicken paprika), immediately light bulbs went off. I knew I could make swedish meatballs. And so I made it happen the following night.

I soaked cashews before I left for work, and came home to start the sauce. I did add a non-traditional ingredient in the sauce – mushrooms – because I thought it would enhance the flavor. I had a leftover grilled portobello in the fridge, so why not? Since I pureed the mushrooms in the sauce, no one was any the wiser. It’s an optional addition, but personally, I loved the boost of flavor.

Once I had the sauce pureed and tweaked so that it tasted right, I worked on the meatballs. In the spirit of simplicity, I opted to bake them rather than cook them on the stovetop in batches. (The recipe already requires several steps – no need to complicate it further!) This allowed me time to make the pasta and warm the sauce, and then everything was ready to go. What I wasn’t prepared for was how good the result would be.

The sauce was excellent. Creamy, satisfying, and full of flavor. I had to double-check with my husband for authenticity. (Since it’s been so long since I’ve eaten certain gluten and/or dairy-filled dishes, my brain tends to somewhat forget what the original tasted like.) He said the sauce was lighter than the usual sour cream version, but that this wasn’t a bad thing. (I promise you, it’s still plenty creamy.) We both fell in love with it a little bit more with each bite.

This was one of those dishes where you wouldn’t find someone saying “This is pretty good for gluten/dairy-free” or “It’s different. Good, but different.” (I know we’ve all heard those statements once or twice before!) All our tastebuds knew was this was good eating.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Swedish Meatballs

For the cashew “sour cream”:

½ c cashews

Juice from 1 lemon

1 portobello mushroom, cooked and roughly chopped

2 t nutritional yeast flakes

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground lamb

1/3 c almond flour

1 egg

1 T flaxseed meal

1 t allspice

1/8 t cardamom

1 T onion powder

1 t salt

1 t ground black pepper

For the rest:

2 T ghee (or grapeseed oil – ghee is casein-free, but if you strictly avoid dairy, another oil will be a fine substitute)

2 T arrowroot powder

2 c beef stock

1 c vegetable stock

1 T onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1/8 t ground nutmeg

¼ c chopped fresh parsley

Soak cashews in enough water to cover overnight or around 8 hours. Drain and place in a blender. Add lemon juice and start blender to puree cashews. Gradually add about ¼ cup additional water and continue to blend until consistency is about that of thick sour cream. (Stop to scrape down sides of blender as necessary.) Add mushroom and nutritional yeast flakes and blend again until smooth. Set aside.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine ground beef, lamb, almond flour, egg, flaxseed, allspice, cardamom, onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until well-combined. If desired, check seasoning by making a tiny meatball and cooking on a skillet – taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Use a tablespoon to scoop out meat and form into meatballs with your hands. Place on baking sheet. You should get around 50 meatballs.

Bake meatballs for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat ghee or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add arrowroot powder and whisk until combined. Add beef stock and vegetable stock and continue to whisk until boiling. Scrape the cashew cream from the blender into your skillet and whisk in. Turn heat to medium-low and heat until warmed through. Add onion powder and salt and pepper to taste. When meatballs are finished, add to sauce and stir to coat. If sauce is too thick, add additional stock and stir in as needed.

Once everything is thoroughly heated, sprinkle nutmeg over. Serve on top of gluten-free noodles and garnish with parsley.

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Filed under Beef, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pasta

Daring Cooks: Ceviche and Papas Rellenas

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau, and Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I’ve enjoyed ceviche many times in Mexican restaurants, but never Peruvian ceviche, and never in my own kitchen. And as for papas rellenas? Nope – never tried them. I love ceviche – it’s cool, clean, and light. Which is a good thing when paired with papas rellenas, as they are definitely NOT light. Papas rellenas are stuffed potatoes that are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Potatoes and deep-fried are two words that rarely, if ever, appear in the same sentence when it comes to our kitchen.  This was definitely uncharted territory for me, but I was up for it!

I started with the ceviche. I found some large sea scallops that I decided would be perfect for it. (In the interest of full disclosure, they were flash frozen. Not optimal, but I’m land-locked and super-fresh scallops are just not that readily available.) As I went through the process of making it, I wondered why I’d never made it before. It was simple – just a quick whisk of garlic, chile, cilantro, and lime, toss in the seafood, top with onion, and a brief stay in the refrigerator to “cook”, and I had a lovely appetizer worthy of company. The ceviche was lovely – it was light, with just a touch of bite from the chiles, and a fresh lime flavor. If I closed my eyes, I could just about imagine being on a beach somewhere. This was definitely a recipe to keep in my back pocket when I need to entertain.

The papas rellenas weren’t as simple, but that’s not to say that they were difficult. They did take time, however – definitely not a weeknight recipe. I made the mistake of using large russet potatoes, which took a long while to boil. And then there’s the whole frying thing, which once the oil is heated, only takes a few minutes, but frying is still “special occasion” for me, because it uses so much oil and requires a good deal of clean-up. All in all, the filling was wonderful. I opted to use an all-natural beef breakfast sausage I’d purchased from a local rancher instead of the ground beef called for in the recipe, just to boost the flavor. The addition of chiles, olives, raisins, and garlic truly brought the flavors together. I could eat that filling by itself.

The finished papas rellenas were not my favorite – they seemed heavy to me. Of course, I’m not a huge potato fan, and we’d enjoyed a big lunch already that day, so I was really not in the mood for something so filling. Brittany, who was with us for dinner, enjoyed them a great deal. I served them with a jarred chipotle salsa (Is that cheating, when it comes to Daring Cooks? If so, whoops, and pretend you never read that!), which complimented the flavors well.

A big kudos to Kathlyn for this challenge, and for giving us a bit of insight into Peruvian cuisine. This was a good challenge!

Scallop Ceviche

2 lbs sea scallops, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I cut mine into quarters)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 c freshly squeezed lime juice

1 T fresh cilantro, chopped

1 red onion, thinly sliced

Place the scallops in a large non-reactive bowl (glass is great for this). Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Whisk together the garlic, jalapeno, lime, and cilantro and pour over scallops. Toss well to evenly coat. Top with red onions. Refrigerate for 10 minutes up to 8 hours, or until desired “doneness” is reached. (I marinated for about 30 minutes) Remove from lime juice and place in dishes, topping with a few onions for garnish.

Serves 6 as an appetizer.

Gluten-Free Papas Rellenas

For the dough:

2¼ lb russet potatoes

1 large egg

For the filling:

2 T of a light flavored oil

½ lb ground (minced) beef (I used beef sausage)

6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)

3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped

1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)

½ cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced

1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)

2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)

1 t ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)

½ t sweet paprika

¼ c white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing

Salt and pepper to taste

For the final preparation:

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 cup soy flour, 1/3 cup tapioca starch, and 1/3 cup brown rice flour, whisked together

Dash cayenne pepper

Dash salt

1 cup dry gluten-free bread crumbs (I dried out some slices of gluten-free bread in the oven, then processed in the food processor)

Oil for frying (enough for 2” in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.

Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool. Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred). Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

While the potatoes are cooling, gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes) in a large skillet. Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add ground beef and brown. Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds). Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add olives and cook for a few moments longer. Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling. Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).

Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 – 190°C). Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs. Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides. Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

Kids in the Kitchen: “Texas Red” Chili

I love chili. As I should – I’m a Texan. It’s practically mandatory to be passionate about chili. While I’m not as strict on what “is” and “is not” a chili as some (as evidenced by my turkey chili recipe, a chili that includes both beef and beans, and the vegetarian bean and pumpkin chili that made it into the Foodista Best of Foodblogs cookbook), I do truly appreciate what most consider a “real” chili around these parts; commonly known as “Texas Red.”

“Texas Red” has no beans. It has no tomatoes. It is most commonly made with beef, and it’s spicy, but in a good chili, the dried chiles add more than just heat - they add such a depth of flavor that nothing compares. For this reason, I try to stock up on a large variety of dried chiles. Some are sweet, some are smoky, and some are indeed hot enough to burn your tongue right off, if you eat too much. But blend them just right, and you have spicy, delicious Texas love in a bowl.

Brittany’s eyes shined when I mentioned chili, as it was her time to cook. (A girl after my own heart!) Originally, we were going to have some guests over this past weekend, and chili was on the menu. But when our guests cancelled, Brittany insisted we still make plans to cook chili. She loves it. So in spite of the bit of work, the spicy fingers, and the long wait, she happily prepared chili with me.

Spicy fingers? Why, yes. Of course, if I planned ahead, I’d have plastic gloves (shame on me!), but we seeded and toasted those dried chiles, and in spite of washing, a bit of the heat remained on our hands. But we didn’t mind, because the aroma of the chili bubbling away filled the house all afternoon. We left (leaving the boys to make sure our chili didn’t burn on the stove) with the chili at a low temperature, and took Brittany to her drill team performance at a middle school football game. As we returned to the house, and the last rays of sun were leaving the sky, we were welcomed again to that enticing aroma. We baked a bit of cornbread as fast as we could, and sat down to eat.

And eat we did! I think we were more than stuffed (it’s hard to put down your spoon!) when we finished. Fall had officially arrived in our home, because there was chili.

Gluten-Free Texas Red

note: If you can’t find the varieties of chiles shown here, don’t fret. Any combination of chiles will work, but mind the heat – some chiles are hotter than others!

8 dried anchos

5 dried guajillos

4 New Mexico chile peppers

2 dried chipotles

2 T beef tallow, lard, or bacon grease

5 lbs chuck roast, cubed into ¼ inch dice

1 large onion, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 c brewed coffee

1 12 oz bottle GF beer (or beef broth)

2 c water

½ t cinnamon

½ t ground cloves

½ t ground allspice

1 t ground coriander

½ t cayenne

2 T cumin

3 chipotles in adobo

1/3 tablet Mexican chocolate (such as Abuelita)

Salt to taste

Chopped onion, cilantro, and cheese (or Daiya for dairy-free) for garnish

Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Heat a dry cast iron skillet to medium heat and toast the chiles until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cover with water and bring to a boil briefly. Reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer while you work on the rest of the chili.

In a large stockpot, heat beef tallow, lard, or bacon grease over medium high heat. Add beef (you might have to do this in batches) and brown, stirring occasionally. Remove and repeat with other batches. Remove and set aside. Add onions and garlic to the stockpot and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add back the beef, and add the coffee, beer, water, and spices. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

By now, your chiles should have softened. Drain the chiles, and add them to a blender along with 1-2 cups of water. Add the chipotle chiles. Puree in the blender until smooth. Add the chile puree and the Mexican chocolate to the stockpot and stir in.

Allow chili to simmer for 4-5 hours, adding salt, checking seasoning and adjusting as needed. Add more water if it becomes too thick. When ready to serve, check seasoning once more, and serve with desired garnishes.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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Filed under Beef, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Soups

Lamb Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash or Zucchini

 

I love stuffed vegetables. I think it’s because of the whole meal-in-one-package appeal. Or maybe it’s like a surprise is hiding inside an already delicious vegetable. Or maybe the real truth is that the flavors meld and do wonderful things in the oven, and the results are greater than the sum of their parts. Whatever the reason, I felt that it was worth turning the oven on in the middle of July so I could enjoy the lovely mix of fresh flavors in this dish.

We’ve been eating a lot of lamb again lately. In May, we purchased another whole, organically raised, grass-fed lamb from Good Earth Organic Farm. This has to be the best lamb my husband and I have ever tasted. I’m sorry to say that I have not really shared a lot of recipes that I’ve made with it. That’s not on purpose, I promise. There are just days when the camera doesn’t seem to make its way to a plate of food before the food is eaten at our house – especially when lamb chops are involved. And many times, I neglect to write down the recipe as I go. Before the chops are gone, though, I will promise you that I will share my no-fail way to make perfect lamb chops. It’s simple, easy, and delicious.

Anyway, today, we’re not talking about lamb chops. We’re talking about the ground lamb I used for the eight-ball zucchini found at the farmer’s market. I love to embrace the flavor of lamb by adding fresh, bright flavors – herbs work well here. I am growing lemon thyme in my garden this year, and it pairs beautifully with lamb. If you don’t have lemon thyme, regular thyme or rosemary also work well. I went with my instinct on the rest of the seasonings, feeling that a bit of Mediterranean flair would work in my favor. I incorporated za’atar (a spice blend of sumac and sesame seeds) and a touch of cinnamon. The result was bursting with flavor, and without the addition of cheese (a popular ingredient in many stuffed vegetables), it was light – perfect for a summer meal.

If you can’t find eight-ball squash, don’t despair. Making boats out of zucchini would work well, or you could also use bell peppers, or even tomatoes. When winter squashes start appearing in the coming months, I can imagine this stuffing in an acorn squash would also be amazing (that’s when fresh rosemary would really play well). Yum. I’m hungry again just talking about this!

Lamb-Stuffed Eight-Ball Squash

4 eight-ball squash

1 T olive oil

¼ c red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, chopped

½ t lemon thyme leaves

6 oz ground lamb

1/2 t za’atar

½ t ground cumin

1/8 t cinnamon

Pinch crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 c cooked brown rice

½ t lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

1 T parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tops off of the squash and with a paring knife and/or a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the squash, leaving about ½ inch of flesh in tact. Chop the insides and set aside. Place the squash on a microwave safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Remove and place squash in a baking pan (I used an 8X8 inch glass baking dish). Season the insides with salt. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the tomato and chopped squash “insides” and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until tomatoes start to break down. Remove and set aside. Season the ground lamb with za’atar, ground cumin, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Wipe the skillet clean and add ground lamb. (if your lamb is really lean, you might need to add additional oil to the pan first.) Saute until meat is no longer pink. Add the sautéed vegetables and the rice to the pan and stir. Add lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Turn off the heat and stir in parsley.

Spoon the filling into the squash. Top with the squash “lids”, if desired. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Serves 4.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Lamb, Main Dishes, Rice, Vegetables

Kids in the Kitchen: Shepherd’s Pie

shepherd's pieAfter Matthew’s hard work at making lasagna, our family gathered together and discussed changing up “Kids in the Kitchen” just a little. In an effort to learn more about cuisines from various cultures, we wrote the names of countries on slips of paper, and the kids each drew a country. They each had the option of making whatever dish they desired, as long as it was a traditional dish eaten in the country they selected. Brittany drew England, so we immediately began researching traditional British foods. After sifting through Yorkshire puddings, recipes for bubble and squeak, and countless roast beef recipes, we settled on one delicious choice: Shepherd’s Pie.

I’ve posted a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie before, but it has been a long while since we’ve prepared this family favorite. This is a dish that our kids devour. With a ground meat base that’s bursting with flavor, plus a delicious, creamy mashed potato topping, how could you go wrong? Brittany was loving every bite, and Matthew couldn’t help but utter “Nom, nom nom!” over and over again.

Brittany using the potato ricer

Brittany using the potato ricer

This recipe originates from Gordon Ramsay, and I’ve stuck pretty closely to the original. My big change, other than doubling the recipe, was utilizing a food processor to mince the onion, carrot, and garlic until it was nearly a paste. This allowed the vegetables to become part of the sauce, rather than being detectable (read: the kids can’t tell there are carrots in the dish). I also used half beef and half lamb. I love (and prefer) lamb, but I wanted a milder flavor in order to please the whole family. Although this recipe does take longer to prepare than some alternatives, the results are well worth it. Reducing the wine and the broth allows the flavors to concentrate into the sauce, which seasons the meat and sauce in a manner that you just can’t duplicate with a quick shake of spices. I hope that as the temperatures drop with the coming of autumn, that this dish will find its way to your supper table, and will have you, too, uttering “nom, nom, nom!”

Shepherd’s Pie, adapted from Gordon Ramsay

1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 cloves garlic, peeled

3 T olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground lamb

3 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T tomato paste

5-6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked

1 large sprig rosemary, needles chopped finely

2 c red wine (I used a nice bottle of cabernet)

3 c chicken stock

4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 T butter

4 egg yolks

6 T freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic together in the food processor and “blitz” until the vegetables are finely minced and nearly resemble a paste. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the ground beef and lamb with salt and pepper and add to the oil, and brown for 2-3 minutes, breaking into small bits with a spatula. Add the onion, carrot and garlic, and stir to cook for another minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and herbs, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring nearly constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until nearly evaporated (this may take up to 20 minutes). Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced. (this may take another 15-20 minutes) The sauce should be thickened, but not completely evaporated.

pizza and shepherd's pie 028

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes, and pass them through a potato ricer. (Don’t have a potato ricer? You can opt to use a hand mixer and beat the potatoes until smooth. I do recommend a potato ricer, as it results in a nice, light, fluffy mash.) Beat in the egg yolks, butter, and about 4 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan. Check for seasoning, and add salt if necessary.

Spoon the meat mixture into the bottom of a 13X9 inch baking dish. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Fluff up the mashed potato with a fork to make rough peaks. (Alternatively, you can do as I did here, and use a icing bag and pipe the mash into little “Hershey’s kissed-shaped mounds” to make it look pretty.) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

Serves 6-8.

shepherd's pie 02

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Filed under Beef, Gluten-Free, Lamb, Main Dishes

My First Blogiversary and Surprise #7

crumble and surprise #7 020

Tasty Eats At Home turns 1 year old today! I cannot believe how much my blog has changed in the past year. When I decided to start this blog in 2008, it was a rather impulsive decision. I was rapidly becoming passionate about food and cooking at the time, reading anything and everything “food-related” that I could. I recently had become aware of Elise’s blog at Simply Recipes (the only food blog I was aware of at the time), and was impressed by her vast collection of recipes, mostly from her family. I thought to myself “What a great idea. I could share my recipes with my family and friends!” And with that, Tasty Eats At Home was born. Little did I know of the vast food blogging community that existed!

Since Tasty Eats At Home’s birth, I have created 84 posts (this will be #85). But more than mere numbers, these posts represent a lot of things to me. I debated a few weeks ago on whether or not to keep all of my posts. Some of the earliest recipes I am no longer terribly fond of, and some are without photos. Of those early posts that do have photos, they are not exceptional by any stretch. But after some consideration, (and some tweeting about it on Twitter!) I have decided to keep them all. Each post represents a moment in my life, and together, they represent the growth in my cooking abilities, my photography, and most of all, my writing. As frustrated as I can be at times when the photography just won’t work for me, or the right words just won’t come, I can look back and realize that Tasty Eats At Home is in a continual state of growth, and for that, I am proud.

Of course, Tasty Eats At Home would not be what it is, if it weren’t for the amazing support I have received. My husband constantly brags about Tasty Eats At Home to everyone he encounters, and that warms my heart. He is also my #1 critic of the dishes I prepare, helping me to grow and stay focused. My family is more than happy to help eat the dishes whenever they can as well, and critique accordingly! And to all of my fellow food bloggers – I can’t thank you enough for all the advice, recipes, and ideas we’ve shared!

But lest you all think I’ve gotten a big head, I wanted to share with you a recipe that in my mind and heart, brings everything back down to earth and close to home. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you: Surprise #7.

What is Surprise #7?

From what I can recall, there was a time when I was a child when we didn’t have much. My parents had to figure out how to feed three kids on a very limited budget. In addition, there were times my Mom was unavailable to make dinner, so the responsibility fell to my Dad. Dad was trying out various creations, only to have several of them fail to impress the kids. Determined, he created yet another budget-friendly dish: a concoction of rice, beans, ground beef, tomatoes and spices. This dish unanimously passed the “kid approval” test. We pondered what to call it…and after settling on “Surprise #7″, it was written down, and appeared on the menu on a regular basis. (Why Surprise #7? I don’t really know. I don’t recall Surprises #1-6…maybe they were the bad ones?)

Last night, I re-created this dish for our family. It is a very adaptable recipe. My version added frozen corn, and I used tomato puree rather than Dad’s choice of chopped tomatoes (I have some picky eaters in my household that will not eat tomato chunks). I also substituted brown rice for Dad’s white rice. It’s a tasty, no-frills, comforting dish that is quite kid-friendly, and with a few pantry staples on hand, can be thrown together in very little time. Perfect for feeding a hungry family on a budget – no wonder Dad created it!

Sometimes, re-visiting a dish from your childhood can invoke a lot of thoughts and feelings. Surprise #7 caused me to really think about Tasty Eats At Home and what cooking and food means to me, and so many of us. Cooking is an art, an expression, if you will. We all need food to nourish our bodies, but cooking allows food to become more than just a requirement – it morphs into an enjoyable, pleasureable experience. So we share the joy of cooking with others, with our friends, with our families, and it becomes a form of togetherness, and a way of connecting with one another. Creating Tasty Eats At Home has given me a way to more deeply connect with the joy that cooking brings to me and my family.

 Surprise #7 (adapted from my Dad)

1 T olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb lean ground beef

14-oz can tomato puree (I used El Pato Tomato Sauce – it’s a tomato sauce with chiles, garlic and onion)

2 T chili powder

1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained

1 c frozen corn

2 T pickle juice

3 c steamed brown rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onions, and saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add ground beef, breaking into small crumbles with your spoon or spatula, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add tomato sauce and chili powder, and stir. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, and add beans and corn. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes more or until everything is hot and your corn is cooked through. Add pickle juice and rice, and stir to incorporate. Salt and pepper to your liking. Optional: serve with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 5-6, or maybe only 4 if you have hungry teenage boys.

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Filed under Beef, Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Rice

Sloppy Joes

food-1330As much as I am a huge fan of fresh produce, all natural ingredients, and healthy, balanced meals, on occasion, I really need a tasty, easy comfort food that is easy to get everyone to eat. Because after all, there are some nights I’m just not feeling up to negotiating how much of the meal one must finish in order to get a piece of their Easter candy for dessert. And sometimes, even I need a comfort food treat.

For as long as I can remember, sloppy joes were one of those “easy” meals moms made for their kids. After all, isn’t that how Manwich became so popular? But although I have been known in my past to resort to a can of Manwich, tonight I wanted to at least provide a “home-cooked” version of this traditional delight. And these sloppy joes were delightful indeed – the flavors were complex and satisfying, with just enough heat to keep it interesting. The heat comes from – what else? Chipotle! Chipotle peppers are one of my favorite peppers to use, I love their sweet and smoky heat. Chipotles are smoked, dried jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to get ahold of them is in canned form. You can find these in the Latin section of most groceries. Below is just one of several brands available. food-1332

With a few oven fries on the side, this was a comforting meal indeed, perfect for a Friday night. Yum!

2 T olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

2 lbs ground beef

Salt and pepper

2 c crushed tomatoes

2/3 c ketchup

2 t Worcestershire sauce

 

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot (but not smoking), add onion and celery. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add chipotle peppers and stir.

 

Increase heat to medium-high and add ground beef. Crumble ground beef as it cooks. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Lower heat back to medium and add the crushed tomatoes, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring, until liquid is reduced and mixture is thick, about 20 minutes.

 

Check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve on hamburger buns.

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Filed under Beef, Budget-Friendly, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy