Sloppy Joes

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef (breaking it into small bits as it cooks), onion, bell pepper until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the salt, pepper, cayenne, ketchup, mustard, pickle juice, brown sugar, and water; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes until most of the liquid has disappeared. Serve warm on buns with chips and pickles on the side.

NOTES

Perfect weeknight meal: simple, family pleasing, quick. One of Steve’s all-time old-fashioned favorites. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, obviously, but I am quite pleased to have tweaked this into something that better suits our tastes – i.e., less sweet, more zing than typical recipes. And I love my addition of pickle juice – mixing it in with ketchup and mustard to make it like the “Braum’s sauce” we so enjoy on our burgers or for dipping fries. It really gives it something special.

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

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Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb bulk Mexican chorizo (I use my homemade version)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (preferably fresh)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced (plus 1/4 cup minced, for garnish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pinch off about 1.5 tablespoons of filling and roll it into a ball about 1 inch in diameter. Repeat until you have made about 30 meatballs. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until cooked through and sizzling.

Remove from oven. Serve over Spanish rice.

NOTES

Pretty much every time Steve and I ate my Albondigas Soup, one or both of us would say “you know, at some point, we should just have these meatballs by themselves over Spanish rice.” Obvkious yet brilliant. So I finally did it and oh man, what an awesome little meal. Proud of this one.

Spanish Rice

img_3461Spanish Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

Method

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the rice and saute until golden brown. Add the onion, garlic, and seasonings and continue to saute for a couple more minutes. Add the water/broth and the tomato sauce. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until rice is cooked.

Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes, still covered, then fluff rice with a fork. Serve.

NOTES

For some reason, since moving back to Texas in 2011, I have had major Spanish rice problems. I made it fine for years in California but could not get it to work here. Most of the time, it came out undercooked and on the rare occasions when I didn’t, it was a big pan of soft mush.

But recently, through a lot of trial and error, weighing my ingredients, deleting another ingredient, and paying close attention to the browning process, I finally – FINALLY – have a Spanish rice recipe that works consistently again. I seriously cannot express how happy this makes me. A years-long kitchen fail and I conquered it. Yeah baby.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Ingredients

1 oreo pie crust

Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Optional decoration:

  • Chopped peanuts
  • Chocolate curls

Method

To make the filling: Using a stand or hand mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and 1/4 cup sugar until blended. Whip the 3/4 cup heavy cream into very soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Spoon filling into the cookie crust.

To make the topping: In a pan, combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Lower heat immediately and simmer, without stirring, 4-5 minutes until slightly thick and pale yellow. Remove from heat and stir in butter and chocolate until melted. Let chocolate mixture cool slightly.

Pour the topping over pie and spread to cover completely and evenly. Chill, uncovered, about 1 hour until firm.

Optional decorations: For the peanuts: immediately after pouring the topping over the pie, before it sets, add chopped peanuts in a 1-inch circle around the edge. For the chocolate curls: run a vegetable peeler along the length of the flat side of a bar of chocolate at room temperature.

NOTES

This is a crazy quick and easy pie, but so intensely delicious and such a crowd pleaser, it’s become a go-to dessert for guests in my house since 2010. And after all these years, I am finally getting a blog post down. It’s a miracle! Ha. Seriously though. Make this. Way too easy for such a big flavor payoff.

 

Chipotle Cheddar Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

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Chipotle Cheddar Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
with recipe inspiration from Thyme for Cocktails

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 lb broccoli florets
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chipotle peppers, minced
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz medium shells
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Method

Heat oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, sauté 2-3 minutes. Mix in garlic, chipotle peppers, adobe sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook for another minute.

Stir in stock and pasta, bring to a boil and simmer 7-8 minutes. Add broccoli and water, then cover and simmer for another 3-4 minutes, until broccoli is tender. Uncover, reduce heat to low. Mix in half and half and cheese, and stir until melted. Stir in reserved chicken. Serve.

NOTES

Sooooo proud of this one. I came up with the meal idea on my own (with inspiration from a tumblr friend who posted about the evol brand chipotle mac and cheese) and, with very few reference points to start from on the internet, made a one-pot wonder that combined this gal’s Chipotle Chicken Mac and Cheese Skillet flavors with the methods and ratios of my tried and true Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Pasta.

The result is SPECTACULAR. Saucy, spicy, cheesy goodness, without at all being too heavy. Another recipe I will be making for life.

 

Tuna Noodle Skillet

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces white or brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups stock or water
  • 12-ounce package uncooked medium egg noodles
  • 4 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Method 

Melt butter in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrot, and mushrooms and season with salt, thyme, and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the mushrooms release their water and are brown.

Sprinkle the flour over everything, then add the milk and stock. Stir to combine. Add the noodles. Adjust the heat to a moderate simmer and cook, stirring often, until the noodles are tender and the liquid almost absorbed, about 8 minutes.

Reduce heat to low; add in the tuna, peas, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

NOTES

Another delicious, easy, healthier Helper at home meal (see also: Cheeseburger Macaroni, Skillet Chili Mac, and One Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff). It’s funny: Steve and I lived off those when we were first married (er, longer than that) and honestly, I never thought one day I would be the cook I turned out to be nor would it have ever occurred to me at the time to try making those boxed meals from scratch. I’m glad times have changed, to say the least.

One Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff

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One Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 12 oz. egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Method

Heat large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon as it cooks, until it is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onion, mushrooms, and salt and cook until the mushrooms are tender and the onion is translucent, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Sprinkle the paprika, thyme, and pepper over the top and stir to combine.

Pour in the broth and scrape up any bits stuck to the pan. Add the pasta. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Return the reserved ground beef to the pan and stir through until warm, about a minute. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and parsley. Serve immediately.

NOTES

I was going to say that this is a great weeknight alternative to traditional beef stroganoff, but it really doesn’t need that kind of justification. It’s a fantastic dish all on its own. Pictures don’t even do it justice, like, at all. SO GOOD. I’ve had this on my “to-do” list forever and I can’t believe it took me so long to get to it. It is so right up my alley – simple, one-pot, DELICIOUS. Permanent rotation.