Chili Tortellini

Chili Tortellini

I love Halloween. Not the super scary, gory side of things, but more the “oh look how cute the kids are!” side of things. I love watching my boys get so excited to pick out costumes, and the anticipation of trick-or-treating. This year my oldest settled on Iron Man (after an excruciating 20 minute debate in Target) and my youngest excitedly and quickly chose Cookie Monster. They were spoiled this year in that they got to go trick-or-treating three times. Our last trick-or-treating adventure was on Halloween and, as luck would have it, while the weather was unusually warm, it was also terribly rainy and windy. The husband took our oldest around the neighborhood with some friends, but I hung back with the youngest and my mother-in-law to stay dry (he’s 2…he had more fun handing out candy in his Cookie Monster costume!).

While the husband took our oldest around the neighborhood, I whipped up this FANTASTIC chili tortellini. I’ve made this several times before, and I knew it would be the perfect comfort food after a wet trick-or-treating mission. As usual, all three of my guys gobbled this up, and I did too! This recipe makes a large amount, which makes it great for feeding a crowd, or feeding your family for several days. As with most chili and soup recipes, the leftovers are even better! I suspect we’ll be eating this a lot this fall and winter.

1 pound dry tortellini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
32 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth
two 15 ounce cans beans, I used black and red beans, whatever you prefer
15 ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes MILD version
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Heat olive oil into a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes then brown beef until browned.  Drain if necessary.  Add broth, tomatoes, beans, cumin, chili powder and cilantro.  Add cooked tortellini and heat for 10 minutes or until hot.  Reduce heat to a low simmer until ready to serve.

Source:  Picky Palate

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Slow Cooker Shredded Beef for Tacos

Shredded Beef

As I mentioned in my last post, things have been crazy around here the last several months.  And of course once things started calming down toward the end of summer and we got used to the slower pace of life, my oldest started school and a week later started swim classes that run four nights week.  Oh, and the husband started traveling every single week, which is outside the norm for his job.  The first few weeks of our new schedule, it was all I could do to get ANY food on the table for my boys, and what I could get on the table wasn’t all that great.

I finally sat down one Sunday evening and started meal planning again.  I’ve found that taking that bit of time to figure out what to feed my zoo crew each night made my weeks run much more smoothly.  I take the very little free time I have during the day to prep as much as possible to make getting dinner on the table relatively easy.  One of the tools I’ve utilized the most recently is my slow cooker.  There is nothing better than throwing a bunch of food in that sucker first thing in the morning, and have a great dinner on the table by 5:00.

It’s no secret that we love Mexican food.  I could seriously eat some form of it every night and never tire of it.  Combining my new favorite kitchen tool with my family’s favorite food?  Now that makes for a great weeknight!  This shredded beef tastes great in tacos, burrito bowls (see above), quesadillas, and heck, even on it’s own!  With just a few minutes of prep work in the morning, you can have this delicious meal on the table by dinner time.  I’ve already made this several times, and it’s on my meal plan again this week.  It’s that good.

1 (2 lb.) boneless beef roast
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. chili powder
1.5 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat, and add the oil. Sprinkle the beef roast liberally with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, add the roast to the pan and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Place in the crock pot.

To the pan, add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes before stirring in garlic and tomato paste. After another minute, stir in the beef broth and spices. Scrape up any browned bits, and then pour the seasoned broth and onions over the top of the roast.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred with two forks and allow to cook for a few minutes longer. (To soak up any extra liquid, you can turn the crock pot to high for a little bit after shredding the beef.)

Source:  Elly Says Opa

Mongolian Beef

I must be on a major Chinese food kick lately, because this is the second of three “take-out fake-out” recipes I’ve tried in the last week or so (stay tuned for a fabulous sweet and sour chicken recipe later this week!).  I’m a sucker for Chinese take-out, as are the husband and tiny man, and we’ve had more than our fair share since the baby made his debut.  As much as we enjoy that take-out, it’s really not that great for you, and so I’m continually on the lookout for a healthier alternative.  Enter this unbelievably good Mongolian Beef. 

Though I’ve never had the restaurant version of this before, I can imagine this is a much tastier, and most certainly healthier, version.  The sauce had a nice flavor with a good kick from the red pepper flakes, and it took me less than 15 minutes to get on the table.  The husband has already requested that I make this again very, very soon, and I’m sure I can oblige that request!  The only change I made was using sirloin instead of flank steak because that’s what I had, and I also didn’t use the green onions as the ones I bought met an unfortunate demise in my refrigerator (I’ll spare you the details).

Mongolian Beef

1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar (measured, not packed)
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large green onion, sliced thinly

Pat steak slices dry and add to a bowl with corn starch. Toss to ensure all pieces are just coated. Shake off excess corn starch using a strainer.

Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in a large wok or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stir until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

Turn the heat to high and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Pour the sauce back into the wok and cook until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Add the green onions (a pinch reserved for garnish), stir, and remove from heat. Plate, top with remaining onions, and serve.

Source:  Confections of a Foodie Bride, orginially from Pink Bites

Enchilada Pie

So, the beginnings of this post have been sitting in my drafts folder since May 19th, and it dawned on me today that I hadn’t actually posted it yet!  Which is a shame, because this is one of the better recipes I’ve made in a long time.  Unfortunately, I don’t have much commentary on this since we ate it almost 2 months ago, but trust me when I say it is absolutely fantastic, and relatively healthy (and tastes even better as leftovers!).  I will be adding this to our meal rotation again here soon!

Cat and Mo’s Enchilada Pie

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt
1 cup light sour cream
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 Tbsp pure chile powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cups broken tortilla chips (about the size of corn chips)
2 cups grated light cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the beef, onion, and garlic until the vegetables are soft and the beef is just slightly pink, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add the enchilada sauce and black beans, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Taste adn add salt if you like.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, blend the sour cream, green chiles, cilantro, salsa, chile powder, and cumin until smooth. 

Spoon half of the meat-bean mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan or large casserole dish.  Top with 1 1/2 cups of the smallest broken chips and 1 cup of the cheese.  Cover the chips and cheese with the remaining meat-bean mixture.  Spoon on the sour cream mixture and gently spread it to cover the meat in an even layer.  Top with the remaining 1 1/2 cups chips and remaining 1 cup cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

Source:  Adapted from Cat Cora’s Classics with a Twist, page 151

Grilled Steaks with Balsamic Teriyaki

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated the blog with actual recipes and not just meal plans!  It’s been a hectic few weeks, and I actually have about four posts from the last several weeks.  Hopefully I can get caught up this week!

I’ve mentioned before that the husband and I are big fans of Asian cuisine, and are often ordering Chinese take-out (it’s been one of my big pregnancy cravings!).  I’m always on the look out for good Asian recipes that are similar to the take-out we get, but much better for you.  That’s when, after seeing plenty of great recommendations, I bought The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair.  I have a good number of recipes flagged to try, but this recipe jumped out at us as something we wanted to try, and soon.  As I expected, it did not disappoint.  The marinade was very flavorful and had the great Asian flavors we love, along with the delicious flavor of balsamic vinegar.  It was very easy to throw together…the only mistake I made was not reading the recipe and didn’t allot enough marinade time, but we just postponed this to another night and let it marinate for 24 hours.  So good!

Grilled Steaks with Balsamic Teriyaki

1 lb skirt steak (or other steak of your choice – we used sirloin)

Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine)

To make the Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce, add the butter to a saucepot and set over medium-low heat.  When the butter just starts to bubble, add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until the aromatics are soft.  Watch to make sure you don’t burn the shallots or garlic.

Pour the balsamic vinegar in and bring to a boil.  When boiling, immediately turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until reduced by half.  The balsamic should be thick, glossy and coat the back of a spoon.  Add the sugar, stock, soy sauce and mirin.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  When it reaches a boil, immediately turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Let cool and reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce for marinating and the remaining 1/4 cup for serving.

If you’re marinating the steak before grilling it, place the steak and just 1/2 cup of sauce in a large sealable plastic bag.  Marinate 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.  Thirty minutes prior grilling, remove steak from refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature.  Discard the marinade and pat the steak very dry.

Preheat the grill for direct grilling over hight heat.  Add the steak to the hot grill.  The pieces should not be touching.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare.  Skirt steak varies in thickness, so you might want to add the thicker pieces to the grill first and give them an extra minute head start. 

Let the grilled steak rest for 5 minutes, then cut ACROSS the grain for ultimate tenderness.  Pour the remaining 1/4 cup Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce over the meat.

Source:  From The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair, page 90

CEiMB: Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup

This week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe was my choice!  I had a hard time choosing as there are so many fantastic looking recipes in Ellie’s cookbooks.  I decided to choose this recipe for Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup as it sounded like a nice, warm, hearty soup to start of the new year, and it brings back fond memories of high school.  My best friend and I had this soup (school cafeteria style, so not nearly as delicious!) almost everyday while in high school, along with some grapefruit.  Kind of random, but we enjoyed it! 

While we enjoyed the school version of this soup, Ellie’s version is so much better!  Even my mushroom hating husband ate two bowls of this, as did the toddler.  The hardest part of this soup was locating barley in my grocery store!  Once that was taken care of, the rest was easy.  I really, really enjoyed this and will definitely make it again and again.  I followed Ellie’s recipe except I omitted the celery (I hate celery!!), and I forgot to add the parsley at the end.  Thanks to all of the other CEiMB cooks for cooking along with me this week…I hope you all enjoyed this recipe as much as we did!

Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup
Source: From The Food You Crave by Ellie Kreiger, page 89

4 tsp olive oil
3/4 pound beef stew meat (preferably from the shank), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces button mushrooms, coarsley chopped
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup) (I OMITTED)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
6 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt added diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 cup hulled or pearled barley
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried (I used dried)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I OMITTED)

In a large soup pot, heat 2 tsp of the oil over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the meat with the salt and pepper.  Add the meat to the pot and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total.  Transfer the meat to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tsp oil to the pot.  Add the onions and mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat, stirrign, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  Add the broth, tomatoes, browned meat, barley, and thyme adn bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the barley is cooked and the meat is tender, about 50 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish each serving with a sprinkling of parsley.

CEiMB: Beef Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing

I am not a big salad eater, but I am a huge fan of taco salad, so I was excited about this week’s CEiMB recipe for Beef Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing.  Let me tell you, we really enjoyed this!  Even the toddler ate this, and he’s never eaten salad before (although he is a tomato junkie, so he mostly ate it because of all the tomatoes).  The only thing I was nervous about was the dressing, but the lime vinagrette with the tomatoes was fantastic, and complemented the flavor of the beef nicely.  We will definitely have this again, especially since I had dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.  Quick, tasty, and healthy…you can’t beat that!

A big thanks to Peggy of Pantry Revisted for picking another great Ellie recipe.  You can find this recipe on page 77 of Ellie Krieger’s So Easy or on Peggy’s blog.  You can check out the CEiMB blogroll to see how everyone else enjoed this one. Up next week, Baked Beans with Ham.