Category Archives: Beef

Beef Teriyaki Burgers

teriyaki burger

When we go to the Japanese store, Mitsuwa, in New Jersey, Jamie and I always share a Hamburg plate (Hamburger with sauce served with rice and soup) in the food court.  The flavors always bring me back to my brief time in Japan many years ago.  The other night, I decided to make similar Japanese style burgers based on this recipe, which I posted several years ago.  Instead of ground turkey, though, I used beef, and made them bigger, more like the Mitsuwa ones we love.

The sauce is thin, but is so delicious, and so much better than the sickeningly sweet kind you might find in the store.  Mirin is a rice wine similar to sake, but with a higher sugar content. It can be found in Asian markets.  You may have extra sauce which can be stored in the fridge and used in a pinch to season broiled salmon or other meat.  It is also good served over plain hot Japanese rice!

teriyaki burger 2

Teriyaki Burgers

½ slice of bread, finely minced

2 tablespoons milk

1/3 cup finely minced onion

1 clove garlic pushed through a garlic press

pinch of kosher salt

pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 tablespoon oil

Teriyaki sauce for serving

Teriyaki Sauce:

1/2  cup mirin

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1.  Soak bread with milk in a large bowl for about 10 minutes.

2.  Add onions, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce to mixture.  Then add ground beef.  Stir it lightly with a fork.  Then gently form into six large patties and place on plate.

3.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Heat oil in an oven safe skillet on the stove.  Cook burgers on each side until browned, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Place skillet in oven, and continue cooking burgers for about five to ten minutes, depending how well done you like them.

4.  To make Teriyaki Sauce, heat mirin and soy sauce in a small saucepan on low heat for about 1-2 minutes.  Add sugar, stir to dissolve, and let simmer for about 1-2 minutes.  Serve sauce over burgers and rice.

 

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Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad for Cinco de Mayo

steak salad 2

After a very long winter here on the east coast, things are finally warming up!  We celebrated by buying flowers at a neighborhood plant sale and planting them in our garden.

flower

Then Denis whipped up the grill.  With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I thought I would share a Mexican inspired steak salad recipe. It’s loosely based around my Asian one, which was a finalist in the 2006 Cooking Light Magazine Reader Recipe Contest and appears in the 2008  Cooking Light Annual Recipe Cookbook.

I first prepared the flank steak by rubbing it with an Ancho Chili Spice mix that I made and let the steak sit at room temperature for about an hour.  I scored the surface of the flank steak diagonally, making a diamond pattern.  This is to prevent the met from curling when it’s exposed to high heat.  Then I inserted garlic slivers in the cuts.

raw steak

While the meat was resting, I made a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and put together the salad.

Denis grilled the Ancho Rubbed steak on each side for about 4 minutes on a very hot grill, then 5 minutes over indirect heat.  This is for medium well.  If you want it to be more rare, cook in less time, and keep checking the resistance of the meat to touch.

charred top2

After tenting the steak for about five minutes to let the juices redistribute, I sliced it on the bias and served with the salad and drizzled the vinaigrette on top.

cut meatGarnished with a bit of Cojito cheese and more cilantro, this healthy salad was the perfect meal to celebrate more warm, sunny days to come!

For more healthy recipes and inspiration similar to this salad, check out Aloha’s healthy recipes. I’ve been drooling over the recipes there!

steak salad 1

 

 

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad

For steak:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (if you can’t find this, regular chili powder would work)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1.  Mix salt, brown sugar, chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprika together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Score diagonal lines across both sides of flank steak.  Rub with spice mixture on each side.  Insert garlic slivers in cuts.   Let rest for 30-60 minutes.

3.  While meat is resting, prepare grill with the coals on one side.  Brush one side of meat with olive oil.  Sear  about 4 minutes over direct heat.  Flip and brush with more oil. Sear for another 4 minutes then move to the indirect heat side and let cook for about three to five minutes, depending on how cooked you like your meat.

4.  Tent meat and let rest for five to ten minutes.  Slice on the bias and serve.

charred top

For the dressing:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 clove)

1 teaspoon lime zest (from one lime)

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup heaping tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1/4 cup tablespoons olive oil

1.  Mix garlic, zest, lime juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, and cilantro together.  Slowly add olive oil to mixture while stirring.  Set aside

For Salad:

8 cups mesclun greens

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cubed

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup steamed frozen corn kernals

cilantro for garnish

1/2 cup crumbled cojito cheese

Ancho Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak, sliced thinly on the bias

1.  Toss greens, onion, avocado, tomatoes, black beans and corn together.  Top with sliced grilled steak.  Garnish with more cilantro and crumbled cojito cheese.

Makes 4 servings, with extra dressing.

steak salad 3

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Filed under Beef, Dinner, Vegetables

Slow Cooker Tomato Beef Sauce and Quickie Baked Pasta

beef pasta 1


I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m still crazy busy and haven’t had time to cook or bake anything very exciting!  Unfortunately since I’ve been working on client work, rather than personal pieces, I can’t show anything (until it’s published).  Here’s a peek at a sketch I did that will appear as part of a story in Highlight’s magazine for babies, Hello!  I also did the cover for that issue.

I had a lot of fun painting this little on and her mom!

I had a lot of fun painting this little one and her mom!

I’m also working on another Hidden Picture for a Let’s Play Hidden Pictures book, and working another Anne Rockwell story as well as several other projects.

 

The slow cooker has been my friend still, and last week, I threw together a baked pasta with an active prep time of about 15 minutes.  Here’s what I did:  In the late morning I threw a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker (no pre-sauteing or anything! I also didn’t measure –the recipe is an estimate) and cooked it on low for about six hours.   Then 30 minutes before dinner, I preheated the oven to 350, boiled some water and cooked some rotini pasta. Next I assembled the pasta dish with the sauce and parmesan, and topped it with some shredded mozzarella  and baked it until it melted — about 10 minutes.  That’s it– dinner done.  I didn’t even add oil at the start, as I figured the meat and liquids would be sufficient, and they were.  The meat was moist and juicy, and the sauce was delicious.  It was a bit hit with my son, who had seconds. 🙂

I’ve also been (quickly) experimenting with cauliflower flat bread (see my previous version here) and chia pudding in my attempt to eat more whole foods even in the midst of stress and work.

cauliflower pizza with caramelized onions

 

I’ll post more on that later!  In the meantime, enjoy this easy, fast, and delicious beef pasta dish!

beef pasta 2

 

Easy Beef Pasta in Slow Cooker

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small can of tomato paste

1 small can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

kosher salt

pepper

1/3 cup red wine

1/2 lb. dried pasta of choice

1/2 lb. shredded mozarella (I used smoky)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Put beef through red wine into slow cooker.  Cook on low for about six hours, stirring every two hours or so.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain.
3.  Return cooked pasta to pot and pour in beef sauce and grated parmesan.  Mix thoroughly.

4.  Pour pasta mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

 

 

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Filed under Art Related, Beef, Slow Cooker

Valentine’s Day Steak Sandwich

Steak Sandwich with Cheese and Onions

Steak Sandwich with Cheese and Onions

 

Tomorrow’s V-day will be a family affair here on Shelter Island.  It’s a winter wonderland today, so we are all hunkered down in coziness preparing to stay inside for awhile.  This morning, though, J and I played in the snow and rain (unfortunately the snow turned to rain pretty quickly) until we were soaking wet.

Soggy Jamie

Soggy Jamie

He had an early Valentine’s day and exchanged gifts with his friend before we came out.  It was very sweet because it was the first time he ever did this before.  His card to her expressly said, “This is not a Valentine’s gift”  — very romantic, no?  Luckily she knows him well and was not offended in the slightest.

I did this piece, inspired by them (however not shown to them!) as a sample of older kids for my rep, Chris Tugeau– I have a gaping hole in my portfolio in this area, as all of my books are for the very young.  I think I would do it differently now– I’m not sure I like the crisp lines…  But it was fun, and it illustrates perfectly their relationship:

Ipad and Nexus tablet users

Ipad and Nexus tablet users          Copyright Melissa Iwai 2014

The Steak Sandwich recipe is based on this NY Time’s recipe for Italian Peppery Steak.  I don’t use as much pepper, because J doesn’t like it, and no rosemary, because D doesn’t like it.  It is all done in the oven and is so easy, because the most time consuming part is just waiting for the meat to marinate and preheating the oven!  I cut our meat thin and layered it with havarti and sauteed onions and used a baguette to make delicious steak sandwiches.

My hand lettering assignment that I did for Mary Kate McDevitt’s Skill Share Lettering class was the inspiration. 🙂  (By the way, they are having a Presidents’ Day sale there for 25% off — use code PRESIDENT — also if you want to sign up for a class, email me, and I will refer you for $10 off — no I do not work for them, I just love their classes!)

This is a Cervantes quote which I hand lettered and illustrated

This is a Cervantes quote which I hand lettered and illustrated

Another art related venture is that the bunny card and wrapping paper design from the last post is now in a Valentine’s Day Challenge Contest.

Remember these guys:
cardwrapping paperex

Please do me a favor and vote for my design here!  (I’m choice E)  Thanks, people! 🙂

Here is the recipe for the sandwich:

front of steak sandwich

Steak Sandwich

For Steak:

About 2 pounds flank steak (or other steak — I’ve used London Broil before)

Kosher Salt

Ground Pepper

Couple cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For Sandwich:

Cooked steak

Sliced onions

Cheese

Baguette, cut in half vertically and then horizontally into sandwich sizes

  1. Lay flank steak on a baking sheet or plate and season on both sides with salt and pepper. You may have to cut the steak in half so it will fit.  Sprinkle meat evenly with garlic slices. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil, then massage meat with your hands, and press garlic into its surface. Leave at room temperature for an hour (or refrigerate for several hours and bring to room temperature before proceeding).
  2.  30 minutes after prepping meat, turn on oven to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron skillet large enough to hold the steak (or a heavy roasting pan) on the upper rack. Let skillet heat for at least 30 minutes.  You may have to cook steak in two batches if your skillet is not large enough.
  3. While skillet is heating in oven, saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil on the stove until softened.  Set aside.
  4. Place flank steak in the oven heated cast iron pan and return to oven. After 5 minutes, flip the steak (it should be well browned on the bottom) and cook just until juices appear on surface of steak, 3 to 4 minutes more for medium-rare meat. Remove steak and let rest on a carving board for 10 minutes.  Continue to do the same with the other piece of meat if you had to cut it into two pieces.
  5. Cut meat on a diagonal, against grain, into thin slices. Arrange sliced meat on the bottom slice of a baguette.  Top with sauteed onions and havarti and top slice of baguette.  Return to hot oven and warm until cheese melts, about 3-5 minutes.
YIELD
4 to 6 servings

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Filed under Art Related, Beef

Roasted Acorn Squash and Moroccan Beef Inspired Stuffing

stuffed acorn squash 2


Acorn squash is in season again!  Have you seen them appearing in your markets?  I love roasted acorn squash and did a post last year about how to make it, as well as how to roast the seeds.

Roasted Acorn Squash wedge with butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon

Roasted Acorn Squash wedge with butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon

Roasted Acorn Seeds

Roasted Acorn Seeds

This time, I tossed the seeds in oil and seasoned with cinnamon and sugar and roasted them in our Cuisinart toaster oven before making the stuffed squash.   I served them on our salads with dinner.  So yummy!

roasted seeds salad

As for the stuffed squash, first you have to prep the halves by removing the seeds, then cutting off a little sliver on the bottom so they can sit upright without being a Weeble (70s reference to show my age).


prepared acorn sqush

Brush squash halves with oil and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Place face down in a pan, cover with foil and roast in oven.  While they roast, prepare the stuffing.    I wanted something hearty so I used beef and onions.  And thinking of how well acorn squash goes with cinnamon and sweet flavors, I thought it would be great to make a sweet and savory dish.  Moroccan recipes often call for cinnamon, ginger, allspice with meats, so I looked at a bunch of recipes which inspired me to choose spices for this dish.  I also added some cooked brown rice for chewy texture and nuttiness and added golden raisins for another layer of sweetness.
stuffed acorn squash side

I usually don’t hit it the first time I invent a recipe.  I often go back and tweak it and make it several times.  But this one was great in round one, so I thought I’d share it.  Even Denis loved it, and that is saying a lot!  Jamie doesn’t like acorn squash (I know, he’s crazy).  I used the beef filling wrapped in a flour tortilla and made him a Moroccan Burrito, which he ate with relish.  Crisis averted.
stuffed acorn squash 1Hope you like this sweet and savory fall dish!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Beef and Rice Stuffing

1 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

1/2 white onion, diced–about 1 cup

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste

2 cloves of minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon curmin

1 cup cooked rice

1/4 cup golden raisins

2 teaspoons butter

maple syrup to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Cut sliver off bottom of both acorn halves so that it doesn’t wobble when resting upright. Brush cut sides of squash with oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and place cavity side down on a baking.  Cover with foil and bake for about 45 to 50  minutes, until tender when pierced.

2.  In large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion for 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 more minute.

3.  Mix in ground beef, salt, remaining stirring to break up beef. Add rest of cinnamon (1 teaspoon), allspice, and cumin and stir to coat meat.   Cook until beef is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

4.  Stir in cooked rice and raisins and sauté until heated through.

5.  Dot acorn squash cavities with butter and press in with a fork.  Drizzle with maple syrup.  Fill cavities with beef stuffing.  You may have a little leftover stuffing.  I made my son a burrito with the leftover filling and he loved it!

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The Hungry Artists’ Recipes

recipe header

Ok, I’ve had this blog for what, going on 3 years here, and I have never compiled a recipes page.  Major head slap.  People often ask me for recipes on the blog, and my feeble response is to “do a search”.   Really lame.

I guess when I began the blog, I didn’t know it would grow this big.  I should have had a recipes page on day one.  I realized this fact a couple of months ago, and the prospect of going back and linking everything and getting it all in ship shape paralyzed me.  I realized it is never going to happen unless I start NOW.  So, I am currently building it, but it will take time.  I have over a 100 recipes on the site to categorize and link.  And now is not the best time in terms of my book and illustration projects (though when is it ever, right?) I am currently involved in.

I just want to say that the recipe page is a work in progress.  It has been really enjoyable to go back and look at older recipes though.  Some I haven’t made in awhile, and I will definitely have to.  Especially the soup recipes!  As some of you might know, the impetus for starting this little blog was the publication of Soup Day, which I wrote and illustrated and came out with Henry Holt in 2010.

Here are the categories I came up with, and here is the recipe page for the whole collection (so far).  Also, there is now a RECIPES link on the header of every page and post! Thanks for your patience and hope you try out some old favorites!

appetizers

green-harvest-soup

chicken

Pork

beef

salmon roll up close

eggs

vegetarian

Sides

breakfast

lighter peanut butter chocolate popcorn

dessert

cookies

beverages

sauces

seasonal

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Filed under Appetizers, Beef, Beverages, Breakfast, chicken, Children

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

steak 1

Sorry for the absence — I was in Oregon last week!  More on that in a future post…

I had planned on posting this before I left, but alas, packing was a priority.  I am going to date myself, but I have vivid memories of eating Swanson’s TV frozen dinners during my childhood.  Not often, mind you– maybe only a handful of times.  Perhaps the rarity is part of why these occasions stick out in my mind.  My favorite frozen dinner was the Salisbury Steak.  It came with mashed potatoes and green beans, and I think a little (overly sweetened) fruit pie too, but I might be making this part up…  I loved that each item was in its own compartment in the aluminum tray dish.  The whole experience was tinged with fantasy:  We could pretend we were on an airplane eating a meal (yes, in those days, even in economy, meals were served on planes with silverware!)  And it looked like pretend food.  I know I had plastic doll food that was “served” in a similar type of divided plate.  And the “steak” wasn’t steak at all, but gooey meat product shaped into an oblong oval.  The TV dinner eating experience was, for my 7-year old self, the epitome of gastronomical excitement and comfort.

I added mushrooms for more flavor -- the TV dinners didn't have them if I remember correctly...

I added mushrooms for more flavor — the TV dinners didn’t have them if I remember correctly…

Flash forward some decades later.  I’m a mom now, and frozen dinners have never made an appearance on our dinner table.  I’m not against them — they seem to be healthier these days.  I just don’t care to spend the money, I like to cook, and I think I know my adult experience of them just wouldn’t be the same.  I had a hankering for Salisbury Steak a couple weeks ago though, so I decided to make it instead.

I researched several recipes online, and used bits and pieces of them to create my own.  I added mushrooms to the gravy and served the steak with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Jamie loved it– but I felt a pang of wistfulness that I couldn’t give him the same “magical” experience I remember… In fact, he said he’d prefer the Salisbury Steak and gravy with white rice instead — not something one would ever find in the frozen food section here in the U.S.

I, on the other hand, swooned over the flavors and textures that  brought me back to my childhood.

steak with potatoes

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

1/2 cup minced onion, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko

2 teaspoons ketchup

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 pound ground sirloin

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 teaspoons butter, divided

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

13 oz. beef broth, about 1 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1.  Combine 1/3 cup onion, salt, garlic, bread crumbs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and beef.  Shape into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) oval patties.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and 1 teaspoon of butter.  When butter is melted, swirl to coat  pan.  Add patties.  Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove to plate and set aside.

2.  Melt remaining butter in pan.  Add mushrooms and rest of onions; saute 4 minutes.  Sprinkle flour on top and stir continuously to brown flour a bit.  Slowly add  broth to pan while whisking and bring to a boil.  Cook 5 minutes or until thick.  Add patties and vinegar to pan; cook 2 minutes to heat through.

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Filed under Beef, Dinner

Everybody Eats Lunch

Everybody Eats Lunch Cover72

Before the crazy holiday season began, I was given the opportunity to review Everybody Eats Lunch  by Cricket Azima with pictures by Titus V. Thomas.    I wanted to test out some of the recipes  before reviewing so I could give you a better idea of what the book has to offer.  🙂

This wonderful children’s cookbook, which is charmingly shaped like a lunchbox,  cleverly touches upon concepts of cooking, geography, time, language, AND has great, easy recipes.

Five kids from around the world (Mexico, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, and Jamaica) share with the reader what a  typical lunch from their country is like– what it is called in their language, what time they eat lunch, and what kinds of dishes might be in their lunch.

The book is constructed out of sturdy cardboard and at the beginning, there is a map of the world and lift-the-flaps which also show each character in their respective countries.  It’s a nice way to connect the place with each child that we meet later in the book.

map

The contents of the lunch are laid out on one side of each spread, and each part can be removed to reveal a recipe behind it. So cute!

mexico

Jamie and I loved exploring Everybody Eats Lunch and learning about the  different lunches in each of the cultures.

I decided to try making three recipes in no particular order.  First up was the “Beef Patty” (it really looks like a sort of filled bread pocket, like an empanada, rather than a beef patty) from Jamaica.

beef patty blue 1

The recipe is simple — you just saute beef with onions and spices, then fill crescent roll dough pieces with the filling and bake.  The only thing I changed was to reduce the amount of oil because I used a non-stick pan to saute it in.  I also drained some of the fat after browning because I used 80/20% beef — not the leanest choice for ground beef!

beef patty blue front

The verdict:  They were heavenly!

The second dish I made was the Brazilian style rice and beans.  I had some extra chicken stock in the fridge that I had to use up, so I used that in place of the water.  I have to say that this dish will become a regular in our house.  It was so delicious and comforting!  We had it the next evening with quesadillas.

rice and beans 1
Since the first two dishes that I tried out were savory, I decided to make a sweet one for the third slot.  Jamie wanted me to make the Caramel Sandwiches from Mexico (graham crackers filled with dulce de leche).  I’m sure they are amazing!  But with all the holiday indulgences we’ve been partaking in, I decided to go with something less decadent, and I made the South African rusks.  I’d never heard of these, but apparently they are quite popular.

rusks

They are kind of cross between a biscuit, crunchy scone, and fat biscotti.  They would also be great at breakfast and perfect for dipping into hot chocolate or coffee.  They are not too sweet — but delicious with a hint of cinnamon and almond extract.  This one was another winner!

I’m excited to make more of the recipes in the book with Jamie since they all seem interesting, easy to make, and most importantly, flavorful!

Check out Everybody Eats Lunch for yourself at Glitterati Incorporated.  You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Here are the recipes reproduced with permission of the publisher:

Jamaican Beef Patty

beef patty blue side

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 white onion, diced

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup bread crumbs

2/3 cup beef stock

1 8-ounce package crescent rolls

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon tumeric

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2.  In large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion for 5 minutes.

3.  Mix in ground beef, thyme, curry powder, salt and pepper, stirring to break up beef.  Cook until beef is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

4.  Add breadcrumbs and stock, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes.

5.  Place crescent roll triangles on ungreased baking sheet.  Place generous tablespoon of beef mixture in center of each and fold over.  Seal edges with fork.

6.  In small bowl, combine egg and turmeric.  Brush tops of each patty with egg mixture.

7.  Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Serves 4

beef patty cut

Yum!
Note:  I did have extra filling leftover.  This wasn’t a problem, however — it was good plain!

rice and beans 2
Brazilian Rice and Beans 

1/4 pound bacon, diced

1 onion, diced

1 15.5-ounce can pinto or red beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 bay leaves

2 cups rice

4 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

1.  In large saucepan, cook bacon and onion over medium-high heat until browned, about 8 minutes.

2.  Stir in beans, garlic, bay leaves, rice and water nad bring to boil.  reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

3.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Serves 4

Note:  I halved this recipe and still had leftovers.  Also, I used brown rice, so I had to add in more liquid and cook it longer.

rusk square

South African Rusks

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg, beaten,

1/4 cup melted butter (note: this is about 3/4 stick of butter)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  In large bowl, combine both flours, sugar, wheat germ, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3.  In separate bowl, mix buttermilk, egg, butter, vanilla and almond extract.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Shape into log about 4 inches by 8 inches, and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, and cut into 1/2-inch slices.

5.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange slices cut-side down on baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes per side, or until lightly golden.

Makes 12 rusks.

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Filed under Beef, Books, Children, Lunch, Vegetables

Easy Weeknight Baked Pasta with Meat and Veggies


Trying to get some vegetables into your diet?  (Sneaking in more vegetables in your kids’ diet also counts!)

Here is an easy weeknight dish that accomplishes that, and even meat eaters will approve.
I think it was in Mark Bittman’s Food Matters that I first read about the benefits of stretching meat centric dishes with vegetables and/or grains.  It’s a nice compromise, because you are not cutting out meat completely–if you are an omnivore–but just reducing the amount and bulking up on vegetables and grains.  This accomplishes a lot of great things at once:

From a health standpoint, eating less saturated fats and more healthy fats from plants is always a good thing.

From an environmental standpoint, eating less meat and more plants is also a good thing.

From your pocket book’s standpoint, it is a lot cheaper to maintain a diet heavier on plants (especially if you grow a lot of them–something I, unfortunately, haven’t had to luck of doing) rather than on meats.

My husband is a meat person — I’ve mentioned before he only used to eat brown food (think bacon, beef, chicken, potatoes, peanut butter, bread, etc.) for a lot of his life before we got together!  I’m not going to force him to become a vegetarian — it would never work anyway.  And I eat meat also — just not so much red meat.

This is a simple, fast weeknight dish that you can adapt to suit your preference.  If you like more meat, add more.  No meat, omit it.  You can swap ground turkey or chicken for the beef.  Use whatever vegetable you like.  Since zucchini is a family favorite, I use it.  But I think this dish would also be great with eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, even fall friendly vegetables like butternut or acorn squash.  The more variety of colors, the better!  Just be sure to cut the pieces into similar sizes.

Fiori pasta is so cute.

 

I used Fiori pasta because I had a package in the pantry, but any bite sized pasta would work well.

Make a meat and vegetable sauce.

Béchamel sauce cooking.

Make a Béchamel sauce if you’d like an extra layer of flavor and richness.

Pasta topped with Béchamel sauce,

Yum!

Topped with grated mozzarella.

Top with mozzarella — note:  Freeze the mozzarella about 30-60 minutes before grating, so it is easier to grate!

Spotted from some broiler action.

Throw in the broiler for a quick melt and you’re done!

Easy Weeknight Baked Pasta with Meat and Veggies (based on Rachel Ray’s Baked Ziti)

Lb. pasta of your choice (I used Fiori)

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion (one whole small onion)

½ lb. ground meat (I used lean beef)

3 cups chopped vegetable (I used one large zucchini)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 28 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes

pepper to taste

For Béchamel Sauce (optional):

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup milk

grated nutmeg to taste

nonstick spray

¼ cup grated parmesan

4 oz. grated mozzarella

  1. Bring large pot of water to boil.  Season with salt.
  2. While waiting for water to boil, put mozzarella in freezer to firm up.  Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
  3. Sauté onions and beef until beef is no longer pink.  Add garlic and let cook until fragrant.  Add zucchini or other vegetable.  Sauté until softened slightly.  Add canned tomatoes.  Turn heat down to low, cover, and let simmer, stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. If using, make béchamel sauce.  Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add flour and quickly whisk with butter to prevent from clumping.  Sauté for a minute.  Gradually add a little bit of milk while whisking.  Don’t add it too fast, or the sauce will become lumpy.  Add just enough at a time to smooth it out.  When it is the consistency of a smooth, liquid paste, add the rest of milk, while whisking.  Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.  Let simmer and thicken about five minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.  Set aside.
  6. Preheat broiler.  Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with spray or olive oil.  Set aside.
  7. Assemble baked pasta. Combine cooked pasta and cooked sauce in the large pot you used to cook the pasta in.  Add grated parmesan. Stir to combine.  Transfer to baking dish.  Top with a layer of béchamel sauce.  Cover with grated mozzarella.  Broil in oven until cheese is melted and is starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

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Filed under Beef, Dinner, Pasta, Vegetables