Category Archives: Beef

Kids in the Kitchen: Spaghetti and (Gluten-Free) Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballsTonight was Matt’s night in the kitchen. Matt has somewhat picky tastes, but he’ll eat just about anything if it involves pasta or wrapped in a tortilla. So it was no surprise to any of us that spaghetti and meatballs was his first choice. He could eat spaghetti every day, if allowed. So spaghetti it was.

Of course, with my recent decision to go gluten-free, I knew that I would have to make some modifications. Gluten-free spaghetti is easy – Glutino sells some brown rice pasta. (Of course, brown rice works just as well in a pinch.) However, my usual meatball recipe calls for bread crumbs. I could omit them, but I was afraid the meatballs would be soggy and dense. I had some Glutino Flax Seed Bread, (which makes really good toast!) so I figured, why not make bread crumbs from this? Blitzed 4 slices in the food processor, and ta-da, gluten-free bread crumbs! We were in business.

Matt was a fast learner in the kitchen. Good thing, because his dish called for more ingredients than the dishes his siblings prepared. His favorite part, obviously, was making the meatballs. (He kept rolling HUGE meatballs, and telling his brother that they were his “dream” meatballs.) With the laughing and joking around, the preparation went by rather quickly. We had those meatballs in the oven in what seemed like a matter of minutes.

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Matt mixing the meat for meatballs

Speaking of a matter of minutes, this tomato sauce recipe takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. Who needs 15-plus ingredients and a long simmer time to make a great tomato sauce? As I’ve found out recently, not I! This sauce is so tasty and bright, with a good kick from the red pepper, and only uses 7 ingredients (if you count salt as an ingredient).

All in all, this turned out to be a satisfying meal. After tonight, the first round of “Kids in the Kitchen” is complete. I couldn’t be more pleased. I think we’re beginning something that will continue to be a source of fun and education for a long while to come.


Gluten-Free Meatballs (adapted from Cuisine At Home)

1 1/2 c gluten-free breadcrumbs

3/4 c parmesan cheese, finely grated

1/2 c milk

1/2 c vegetable broth

1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

2 T dried oregano

1 T garlic, minced

1 1/2 t salt

1 T ground black pepper

2 t dried basil

1 t crushed red pepper flakes

pinch nutmeg

2 lbs lean ground beef

1 c vegetable or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Stir together first 13 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large mixing bowl. Add ground beef and mix together thoroughly. (We used our hands – clean, of course.) Take a portion of meat (about 1 1/2 oz each, or nearly 2 inches in diameter) and roll into a ball with your palms. (Alternatively, you can use a portioning scoop or two spoons.) Place the meatballs on a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, evenly spaced.

chicken curry 042

Cover the bottom of the pan wiht the remaining 1 cup of broth. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, you can prepare the pasta according to package directions, and start the sauce.

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

3 T olive oil

2 t crushed red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-0z cans crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

2 T basil leaves, julienned

1 t oregano leaves, chopped

Combine olive oil, red pepper and garlic in cold saucepan. Heat to medium, stirring while heating. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir to heat. Add salt to taste, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in basil and oregano, and add meatballs (once baked).

Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Serves 6.

Kids in the Kitchen: Steak with Parsley Garlic Herb Butter


This week, it was Brandan’s turn to cook dinner. The excitement building, Brandan has changed his mind a few times over the past few weeks on what to prepare. Lasagna? Steak? Lobster? Steak AND lobster? (Okay, so I vetoed the lobster. Gotta keep these “Kids in the Kitchen” things under budget!) After deliberation, (and explaining why we couldn’t do lobster) we finally agreed on a simple, but satisfying meal of grilled steak, baked potatoes, and green beans.

Honestly, I don’t usually prepare a lot of steak for the kids. Two of them are not big steak fans, so we end up having leftovers. (To me, leftover steak just is never as good as it was the first time.) Besides, good steak is usually pretty pricey. However, I was lucky to find some decent T-bone steaks on sale. Brandan, needless to say, was excited. So was I. After a late-night soccer game, (I play amateur indoor soccer, and this Friday night our game was at 12:30 am. Yes, 12: 30 AM. Guess that’s technically no longer Friday night.) and working for a few hours Saturday, I was tired. This meal was simple. So simple, in fact, it hardly needs a recipe. Good choice, Brandan!

Lately, I have been making a lot of herb butter. My most common creation involves parsley, not only because it is versatile, but also because my garden is overrun by it at the moment. Butter, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper – it’s as straighforward as that. The best part of taking a few moments to create an herb butter? It adds another dimension of flavor to your dish, without over-complicating it. Whether it tops your steak, your baked potato, (Brandan and I chose to use it for both!) or anything else, it imparts a fresh “summery” taste that’s sure to please.

To prepare our steak dinner, we simply baked the potatoes. Rubbed a little olive oil and salt on the skin first – makes it nice and crispy. (Brandan loved getting his hands oily!) Next, we went out to the garden to gather a little parsley for our herb butter (recipe below). Once that was in the refrigerator, it was time for the steaks.

It has taken me a while to properly grill a steak. (Yes, I’ve charred a few steaks in my day!) Now, I can generally grill a steak without much stress or worry, and that’s even on an aging gas grill with its fair share of hot spots. Of course, every grill cook has their methods – here is what I stick to:

Bring steak to room temperature before grilling. (This allows you to more accurately feel how “done” the steak is without a thermometer – see below.) Season with your favorite rub or seasoning blend. (I prefer seasoning with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.)


Heat the grill to high heat. Add steaks, and grill for about 3 minutes, and flip. Turn heat down to medium or medium-low (if steak is really thick) and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until steak is cooked to the temperature you desire. Rather than cutting into the steak, or poking it multiple times with a meat thermometer, I have an alternate method of testing the “doneness” of my steaks, courtesy of Gordon Ramsay. With your index finger, press your cheek lightly. That’s what rare feels like, if you were to press the steak. Press your chin lightly for medium, and your forehead for well done. Once your steaks are done, remove from grill.

Slice the herb butter into rounds, and add a pat or two of herb butter to the top of each steak. Tent with foil, and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, allowing the juices to return to the center of the steak.

Brandan’s favorite part to eat, undoubtedly, was the steak. He finished off his steak, plus a bit of his brother’s.

Herb Butter:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 c flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 small clove garlic, minced

Pinch of salt and crushed black pepper

 Mix butter, garlic, and parsley together until well blended. Add salt and pepper and mix. Using plastic wrap, roll herb butter into a log (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) and refrigerate until firm.

Brandan chopping parsley for the herb butter

Brandan chopping parsley for the herb butter

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.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

corned-beef-and-cabbageI am not Irish, but I appreciate the simplicity (and inexpensive nature) of this dish. So, I’ll pretend I’m Irish for a day, and prepare an Irish dinner, since St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner and all. Actually, much of what I have read has stated that corned beef and cabbage, although it is eaten in Ireland from time to time, is not nearly as popular there as it is here in the United States around this time of year. Well, perhaps it’s not an “Irish National Dish”, but it’s still enjoyable to me. An added bonus: it is easy to make. Relatively little preparation or stand-up time in the kitchen makes this a good meal to serve when you have other weekend chores to attend to, or just want to relax a bit.

What is corned beef, exactly? Corned beef is a beef brisket that has been “corned”, meaning that it has been cured or pickled with a seasoned brine. The “corning” means that it has coarse grains of salt and peppercorns on it. This curing process will make for a yummy broth.

3-4 lb corned beef

7-8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks, divided

1 large onion, quartered

1 t dry mustard

1 large sprig fresh thyme and 3-4 parsley stalks, tied together

1 turnip, peeled and cut into chunks

6-7 small Yukon gold or red potatoes, scrubbed

1 cabbage, cored and cut into 8 wedges

Freshly ground black pepper



Place the corned beef, half of the carrots, the onion, dry mustard, the herbs and dry mustard in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.


Add the remaining carrots, turnip, potatoes, and cabbage. Add additional water to cover if necessary. Cook for another 45 minutes to an hour or until the meat and vegetables are tender.


Serve the corned beef in slices, surrounded by the vegetables and cooking liquid. Serve with coarse-grained mustard.


food-6231I’m sure a lot of people out there have a chili recipe. I’ve grown up in Texas, around here there are chili cook-offs held in just about every city from Laredo to Amarillo. And everyone has their own version. Some make “Texas Red”, which is never made with beans, some add coffee or chocolate, some add bell peppers, and up in Cincinnati, they serve it over spaghetti. (Which doesn’t seem like chili to me, but hey, who am I to judge?) Mine is somewhere close to a Texas Red…only I did break the rules. I added beans. Because, frankly, meat has gotten expensive. Personally, I enjoy the texture beans add to the dish…and they’re healthy, so why not?

Anyway, this has been a recipe that has been tweaked for years. It’s relatively hot, but not burn-the-pants-off-ya hot. And if you wish to make it gluten-free, use a gluten-free beer (such as Redbridge), or use additional chicken broth (or beef broth, even). (Note: Several of my family members are celiac, and the Redbridge, which is supposedly wheat and barley-free, has even caused issues. If this is an issue for you, please use broth instead of the beer.) And as for the dried chiles, feel free to substitute. Just be aware, if you substitute with a hotter chile, just use less. Or don’t…but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Enjoy this chili with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and diced onions.

8-9 dried guajillo peppers, stems and seeds removed

5-6 dried chipotle peppers, stems and seeds removed

3 lbs lean ground beef

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

3 T minced garlic

1 7 oz can green chiles

3 T chili powder, preferably New Mexico Hot (you can use mild if you want milder chili)

4 T ground cumin

2 t salt

2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 small can tomato paste

1 c chicken broth

2 c water

1 c beer

3 cans beans (kidney and/or white northern), with liquid

1 ½ T maple syrup, or to taste


Put the dried peppers in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes. Put peppers and 1 c of the water into blender and blend until smooth. Set chili paste aside.


Brown ground beef in a large stockpot or saucepan over medium heat, stirring until crumbly; drain the excess drippings. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes more, until the onions are translucent.


Add the green chiles, regular chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper and mix well. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking, to blend the flavors.


Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, ¾ c of the chili paste and 2 cups water. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Cook, covered for 1 hour.


Add beans with liquid, and add beer. Stir. Cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour, until of desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the amount of the chili paste and other seasonings as necessary. Add maple syrup and cook for 5-10 minutes more.

Gringo Chipotle Enchiladas

food-0501First, a disclaimer. These are not “chef-y” enchiladas. They are not likely something you will ever find at a fancy-schmancy restaurant. They are also not anywhere near authentic Mexican food.

That being said, they are a household favorite. In their history, there have been a lot of variations, but this most recent version has been one of the best. Feel free to substitute the meat for chopped up chicken or turkey. (great way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!) Feel free to adjust the chili powder, chipotle chili powder, or other seasonings as you desire. The way I have written this recipe makes for a pretty spicy sauce, so beware. But ultimately, be prepared for a cheesy, melty, comfort-food style enchilada dish. It may not be the most eloquent dish you will ever prepare, but I hope it will become a favorite at your house as well!


1 T oil, preferably vegetable or peanut

½ onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced tomatoes

1-2 T Chipotle powder

2-3 T chili powder

½ T cumin powder


½ c to a cup of water or broth



1 lb ground beef

1 t chili powder

1 T cumin powder

1 T garlic powder

Salt and pepper

4 oz Cream cheese


12 flour tortillas

About 2 c Grated cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350.


Coat a large skillet with oil, heat to medium and sauté onions until translucent, about 3-4 minutes, add garlic, sauté a minute longer. Put onion, garlic, and tomatoes into blender (I use a hand blender, makes it easier) and puree. Pour back into skillet and simmer. Add chipotle powder and chili powder, tasting until you like the flavor. For me, it was 2 T of the chipotle powder and 2 T of chili powder, but I like it pretty spicy. Use less chipotle powder for a milder sauce. Dilute sauce as it simmers with water. Add salt to taste. Simmer about 30 minutes.


As sauce is cooking, heat another pan and brown ground beef. Season with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Once meat is browned, add a little sauce (about ½ cup), about ¾ c grated cheese, and 4 oz cream cheese. Mix until melted.


Assemble the enchiladas by laying the tortilla flat in one hand, and using a spatula or spoon, placing a thick strip of filling down the middle. Roll the enchilada and place it in a 13X9 inch baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas.


Pour sauce over enchiladas, and top with shredded cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.


Top with sour cream and/or cilantro, if desired.


Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie)

Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional English dish, and is quite simple. It is essentially minced or ground meat topped with mashed potatoes. The term “shepherd’s pie” usually refers to the use of minced lamb, the term “cottage pie” refers to minced beef. This dish is the ultimate in comfort food, and wonderful on a cold winter’s day. My version is adopted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe, with a few changes. I usually use beef (lamb tends to be pricey), and I use less onions.  I’m also probably a bit heavy-handed with the parmesan, but I can’t help it! If you’ve had shepherd’s pie before that was bland, this one will definitely change your mind. My entire family (my husband and I, and the three kids) devoured a doubled recipe of this dish!

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb minced lean lamb or ground beef
  • ½ of a large onion, finely minced
  • 1 large carrot, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Handful of thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, needles chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 ¼ lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Parmesan, for grating
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan until hot. Season the mince and fry in the oil over moderate to high heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir the onions and carrot into the mince then grate the garlic in as well. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and herbs and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened

3. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain then return to the hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly. Pass them through a potato ricer then beat in the egg yolks and butter, followed by about 2 tbsp grated Parmesan. Check for seasoning

4. Spoon the mince into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top of the mince, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle. Grate some extra Parmesan over and season. Fluff up the mash potato with a fork to make rough peaks. (alternatively, you can put the mash potato into a icing bag and pipe the mash into little “hershey’s kisses-shaped” mounds, which looks pretty) Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.