Archive for the 'Beef' Category


Dangerous Hanukkah Dinner, Oy!

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Lasagna with Sauteed Broccolini

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Ginormous Rib Roasts and Smashed Senatorial Cakes: Favorite Food Memories

This month’s Real Simple has an article from my favorite food blogger from the Washington Post, Kim O’Donnel.  She writes about “10 things cooking has taught me about life” and tells the stories that taught her these life lessons.  I wish I could link to it, but it’s in the hard copy of the magazine only.  Highly recommend checking it out (and it’s a great issue all around — lots of good holiday tips).  This got me thinking about my favorite food-and-cooking related memories.  I don’t have any pithy anecdotes to convey life lessons, but it is fun to think back to good times with food.  These are some of my favorite memories in no particular order, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this list:

  • My grandmother Mama Grande buying a rib roast so huge she had to saw it in half to fit it in the oven.  The next time we visited her, did she buy a smaller rib roast?  No, she had installed a humongous industrial size oven.  The look on her face in this photo is priceless.  She prevailed over that rib roast, but it was close.


  • My grandmother Murr’s chicken fried steak.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a piece of steak pounded flat, breaded and fried kind of like fried chicken.  I have lots of fond memories of holidays at her house when she would make this for us with white gravy, slices of white bread and green beans.  What a meal.  I think I need to recreate that at some point in the near future.
  • My mom making homemade cinnamon rolls and sausage links on Christmas morning, always eaten well after we reveled in what Santa brought us for a couple of hours.
  • My dad making chile con queso before having people over at the house.  This is part of the getting-ready ritual, just like cleaning the house.  Only my dad can make this chile con queso with that certain something that makes it addictive.  I can see that old yellow crock pot sitting on the counter with a big bag of tostadas — about half the batch would be devoured by our family before the guests arrived.
  • This Thanksgiving, cooking with my mother-in-law to get food ready to take to the family gathering. I love holiday mornings when everyone is just lounging around relaxing. We did our cooking, a lot of food actually, but it was a really relaxed morning and just fun hanging out time.

So, here’s to fun food memories over the holidays.  I know we will make many more.

PS — Just remembered another funny one, more of a mishap.  When I was a young Senate staffer, my office sent me to pick up the Senator’s birthday cake from the fancy bakery that had iced his grinning mug on the front of the cake.  Well, the box slid off my passenger seat and half the cake and the Senior Senator’s face were smashed in by the time I got it to the office.  WHOOPS.  Talk about mortification.  We used some toothpicks and plastic spoons to perform reconstructive surgery before the guest of honor arrived.  Somehow I survived that one and managed to stay there another seven years.  Good thing the power-that-be had a sense of humor.


Steak Diablo with Rice, Roasted Peppers and Guacamole


Steak Diablo from Real Simple

This spicy steak recipe marinated in roasted garlic salsa is supposed to use skirt steak or hanger steak.  Because Lund’s had neither (big shocker), I used sirloin.  The steak turned out well with the marinade.  I made sauce from the marinade once I took the meat out.  I brought the marinade to a boil in a saucepan and cooked it down for about 10 minutes and added about a tablespoon of soy sauce.  This made a nice smoky sauce to top the steak and rice.


For the peppers, I cut red, yellow and orange bell peppers into wide slices and tossed them with olive oil and Lawry’s seasoned salt.  They went on the grill at the same time as the meat and that was the perfect amount of time, about 10 minutes, turning once.


The guacamole was mighty tasty if I do say so myself.  I used one avocado, 1/2 yellow heirloom tomato finely diced, one small minced garlic clove, a couple tablespoons finely minced onion, a couple tablespoons Sadie’s salsa, a squeeze of lime and a dash of salt.



Dad’s Quick Chile con Carne with Homemade Fries and Flour Tortillas


My dad sent me this great recipe today and I had to give it a try.  It’s getting cold here in Minnesota, so some hot New-Mexico-style cooking was just what we needed.  This is a quick and easy recipe that you can throw together without a lot of cooking time.  Thanks, Dad!

In New Mexico, what we call “chile con carne” (chile with meat) is basically the same as what a lot of people just call “chili.”  Just trying to clarify, not trying to start a “chili war.”

Dad’s Quick Chile con Carne

¾-1 pound 90% lean ground beef (Certified Hereford Beef recommended)
2 cans plain, unseasoned pinto beans (or make your own, but that defeats the quickness of this recipe)
1 small can diced tomatoes
10-12 roasted green chilies, peeled, cleaned and chopped (medium-hot recommended such as Joe Parker or Big Jim)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 can beef broth (or substitute the juice from a good pot roast or prime rib roast)
2 cups of your favorite salsa (El Pinto or Sadie’s, both from New Mexico, are great for this)
Suggested seasonings:  Garlic salt such as California blend, Lawry’s seasoned salt or Great American Land & Cattle Steak & Meat Seasoning, Hot Shot Red and Black Pepper Blend, Bueno Chile Shakers New Mexico Seasoning, freshly ground black pepper.

In a medium skillet (cast iron is good for this), coat with olive oil, shake in a good amount of garlic salt, and lightly brown the ground beef.  Season the meat with more garlic salt, seasoning salt such as Lawry’s, and a generous amount of Hot Shot Red & Black Pepper Blend.

In a large pot, combine pinto beans, diced tomatoes, green chilies, garlic, beef broth and salsa. Pour in the browned ground beef and put the pot on medium heat and allow to boil slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Seasoned to taste with more garlic salt, Hot Shot, Bueno Chile Shakers New Mexico Seasoning & Rub, and freshly-ground black pepper.


Serve with hot buttered flour tortillas or quesadillas, or with good hot whole wheat rolls.  It’s pretty hard to beat on a cold, windy day, or watching football.

I served this with another favorite from home – homemade fries. I just let the chile con carne simmer along the whole time I was making the fries – probably 20-30 minutes or so.  The chile con carne has enough liquid, so it would take a long time to overcook it, and you can reduce it down to the consistency you want.

I heated the oven to 350 and threw some flour tortillas in a piece of foil and warmed them while everything else was cooking.  I was impressed with the flour tortillas I found at Cub here in Minneapolis.  This was the first time I’d tried Ibarra’s — they were nice and soft and pliable.  If you are ambitious enough to make your own, a fellow New Mexican’s blog called The Joe Review has a recipe for Grandma’s Homemade Flour Tortillas.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks pretty good.



Beef and Cheese Taco Bowls


It’s guilty pleasure time.  You’ll hear no claims from me that this is a healthy meal, but it’s great for something quick to serve to a football watching crowd or when you just have a nacho or taco craving.  The following quantities make two large or three small servings.

Three large handfuls Tostitos or your favorite tortilla chips
½ pound ground beef
4 Tbsp. salsa plus more for serving
¼ cup chopped onion or shallot
Seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
½ cup shredded Mexican cheese
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Saute the onions in the oil in a skillet.  Add the ground beef.  Season with Lawry’s.  When meat is nearing doneness, add four tablespoons salsa and mix together.  Finish browning meat.  Put one handful of tortilla chips in the bottom of each bowl to be served.  Spoon ground beef over chips.  Top with shredded cheese and melt the cheese.  Serve with more salsa on the side to be added to taste.


Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

Yet another great Jacques Pepin recipe from Food and Wine.  All in all, the recipe was fantastic, came out very flavorful and rich.

I had to modify the recipe slightly because Lund’s grocery store surprisingly didn’t have a couple of the items I needed:  flatiron steak and pancetta. Here are the ingredient changes I made:

-Substituted sirloin for flatiron steak.
-Substituted thick-cut bacon for pancetta.

Following are the process changes I made:

-Cooked the meat in the wine in the oven for one hour instead of 1.5.  Still, it came out drier than I would have hoped.

-Cooked the bacon in the pan for the vegetables, then added the vegetables to the bacon when it was crispy.  Relied on the grease from the bacon drippings rather than adding olive oil.

I served this over white rice with crusty Italian peasant bread on the side, and garnished it with thyme sprigs.  One other thing – my husband hates mushrooms and I love them, so I kept them in the recipe and just didn’t put any on his plate. They do add a lot of flavor.  The wine I used in the stew was La Playa 2006 Merlot from the Colchagua Valley of Chile.

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