Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

img_7161Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole
with thanks to The Saucy Southerner

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thick bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups frozen tater tots, thawed (I weigh out about 6 servings from the bag)

Method

Heat oven to 400°F. Prepare a small casserole dish with a light coat of cooking spray.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels. Drain bacon fat from skillet.

In same skillet, add the beef, onion, and garlic and cook over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain if necessary.

Stir in ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, salt, pepper, 1/4 of the crumbled bacon and 3/4 of the cheese.

Spoon into prepared casserole. Top with tater tots.

Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until bubbly around edges and potatoes are golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and crumbled bacon.

Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

NOTES

When I saw this, I knew immediately Steve would go crazy for it, and he did. I’ve made it three times in the last five weeks and don’t plan on putting it off the menu anytime soon. So easy, so good!

Note: the original recipe was exactly double mine, but since I only needed four servings, I cut it right in half. It scales perfectly.

 

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Beef Tacos

img_7025Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Beef Tacos
(courtesy of Belly Full, serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 jar (16 ounce) salsa verde
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed

For serving:

  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado, diced
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Limes, sliced

Method

Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high. Season the beef with the cumin, salt, and pepper. Add to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, per side, to a nice golden brown.

Transfer meat to the slow cooker; add the salsa, onion, and garlic. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred the meat with 2 forks and stir with the liquid.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place some of the meat in each tortilla, topped with some cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

NOTES

Amazing tacos with just a few ingredients and a few minutes of effort. I was genuinely blown away by how good these were. Totally going in my back pocket for future party menus!

Beef Pho

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Beef Pho
Serves 4
with thanks to The Woks of Life

Ingredients

  • 2 (3-inch) pieces ginger, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 onions, peeled, cut in half
  • 5 pounds beef marrow or knuckle bones
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into two 1-pound pieces
  • 4 scallions, cut into 4-inch lengths
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 2-1/2 ounces palm sugar (can sub rock sugar or granulated sugar)
  • 8 star anise
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound fresh pho noodles
  • 1/3 pound beef sirloin, slightly frozen, then sliced paper-thin against the grain

Garnishes:

  • Sliced jalapeno peppers
  • Thinly sliced onion
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Thai basil
  • Lime wedges

Method

  1. Start by charring your ginger and onions. You can do this by a) using tongs to hold the ginger and onions over an open flame; b) place the vegetables directly on an electric burner; or c) putting the vegetables on a sheet pan under the oven broiler. Turn until they’re lightly blackened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Rinse away any blackened skins and set aside.
  1. Place the bones and beef chuck in large stockpot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and thoroughly clean the stockpot. This process will give you a much cleaner broth.
  1. Add 5 quarts fresh water back to the stockpot and bring to a boil. Transfer the bones and meat back to the pot, along with the charred/cleaned ginger and onions. Add the scallions, fish sauce and sugar. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beef chuck is tender, about 40 minutes. Skim the surface often to remove any foam and fat.
  1. Remove one piece of the chuck and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Transfer the beef to a container and refrigerate. Leave the other piece of chuck in the pot.
  1. Now toast the spices (star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds) in a dry pan over medium low heat for about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Use kitchen string to tie up the spices in a piece of cheesecloth, and add it to the broth.
  1. Continue simmering for another 8 hours – minimum – adding bits of water to maintain liquid level as needed. Add the salt and continue to simmer, skimming as necessary, until you’re ready to assemble the rest of the dish. Taste broth and adjust seasoning by adding more salt, sugar, and/or fish sauce as needed. Strain, if desired (see notes).
  1. To serve, add noodles to each bowl. Place a few slices of the beef chuck and the raw sirloin on the noodles. Bring the broth to a rolling boil and ladle it into each bowl. The hot broth will cook the beef. Garnish with your toppings, and be sure to squeeze a lot of fresh lime juice over the top!

NOTES

I barely know what to say. I never ever dreamed that I would make pho at home that tasted this perfect, flawless, the broth as good as any Vietnamese restaurant I ate at in SoCal. Seriously, THAT GOOD. I almost cried. Yep.

Not gonna lie. The initial stages take a bit of effort. But it’s a labor of love. And once you get to the point of leaving it to simmer, it pretty much takes care of itself after that. I did add a cup of water nearly ever hour to keep it from simmering away too much (my stove runs hot, even on low), and in the end I strained the broth to make it easier to serve, though you certainly don’t have to if you’d like to skip another step. I wouldn’t blame you one bit.

I can’t wait to eat this again.

Spicy Beef Taquitos

img_2513img_4519Spicy Beef Taquitos

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large jalapeno, stemmed and seeded ,very finely diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chunky salsa
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 4 ounces roasted hatch chiles, finely chopped (or sub 4-oz can diced green chiles)
  • 3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 small flour tortillas
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Method

Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and then lightly mist it with cooking spray and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking into very small chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Add jalapeno, onion, and garlic to the pan and cook until jalapeno and onion are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add spices, salsa, sour cream, and hatch chiles. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the shredded cheese. Stir to combine.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until they are warm and pliable. Distribute filling, roll, place on baking sheet. Spray the tops of the taquitos lightly with cooking spray. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until tortillas are dark golden and crispy.

NOTES

I made these two weeks in a row and am probably going for a third. Steve says I need to put them on the weekly menu from now to infinity. Seriously, they are that good. Contemplating trying them with pulled pork or shredded chicken next.

Sloppy Joes

IMG_0491.JPGSloppy Joes

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.

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.