Peperoncini Beef

This is a crock pot recipe that could not be any easier!  It has a very minimal ingredient list, it slow cooks all day, and you have a delicious meal ready when you get home.  Although it does call for an entire jar of peppers, don’t be afraid that it will be too spicy.  Its really not.  Just a little tangy!

Peperoncini Beef

Source – adapted from Crock Pot 365

1 beef roast – any cut that is roughly 2 pounds {I think mine was a rump roast}

1 jar {approximately 16 oz} peperoncini peppers, liquid and peppers {mild to hot is your choice}

1 package of dry ranch dressing mix {can substitute onion soup mix or just seasoned salt and pepper}

Place everything in the crock.  The meat can even be frozen!  Turn it to low and cook for 8 hours.

Shred the meat before serving.  The peppers are edible, just watch out for the stems.

Serve on deli rolls or toasted buns with cheese if you wish.

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Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

I love my husband and the way he surprises me out of the blue sometimes.  He noticed that we had a butternut squash sitting on the counter for quite some time and he took it totally upon himself to find a recipe to use it up.  He called me over to his computer, showed me this recipe and said he would like me to make it. 🙂  I was so surprised by his research that I was happy to comply.

The only major change that I made was using a can of stewed tomatoes in place of the sun-dried tomatoes.  I’m assuming the stewed tomatoes resulted in a more mild tomato flavor than the sun-dried ones.  At least I have always found sun-dried tomatoes to be pretty intense, but it was still delicious allowed the beef and squash to be the stars of the dish.

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

Source:  Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary {I used dried}
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme {I used dried}
  • 2 pounds stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Marsala wine {I just used whatever red wine I had open from the night before}
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes {I used one can of stewed tomatoes}
  • 3 to 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Directions

In a large soup pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme.  Saute until the onions are tender, about 2 minutes. Toss the beef cubes in salt and pepper and flour. Turn up the heat to med-high and add the beef to the pot. Cook until the beef is browned and golden around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the squash and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine.  Add enough beef broth to just cover the beef and squash. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.  Serve with crusty bread alongside.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This meal was heavenly!  It really hit the spot for us on a chilly fall night.  I absolutely loved it and will dream about when I can make it again!  Although it is a very common meal, I had never made a version where the meatballs are cooked right in the sauce.    It was definitely worth the extra time too.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Source:  adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, also seen at Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped {I used a white onion}

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree {I used whole tomatoes}

1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup of water (or more)

For the meatballs:

1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. dried parsley

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese {I used Parm}

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 lb. lean ground beef

For serving:
Freshly cooked spaghetti
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Minced fresh basil

Directions:
To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and saute until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, paste, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for as long as possible {I went with about 1 hour}.  Since I used canned whole tomatoes, I needed to puree my sauce with my immersion blender right before adding the meatballs.

To make the meatballs, in a medium mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs with the milk.  Let the bread crumbs soak for 10 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Form the mixture into meatballs {I had 21 meatballs).  Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce will be finished cooking.  Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 45 minutes.

So, my sauce simmered for 1 hour before I added the meatballs and then another 45 minutes with the meatballs.

Transfer freshly cooked pasta to serving dishes.  Top each serving with sauce and meatballs.  Garnish with shredded Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.

Taco Stuffed Shells

I was planning on making my Beef Taco Bake one night, but at the very last second I decided to use pasta shells instead of hard tacos shells.  It was a good decision!  But, I totally confused Tim.  He had asked earlier in the day what was for dinner and I told him the taco bake and when I served him the stuffed shells, he was very confused.  Anyway, we enjoyed them very much and I stashed 1/2 in the freezer for a night when I’m short on time.

Just a note about freezing meals that is probably common knowledge already but oh well.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and write the date, item name, and baking directions directly on the plastic wrap with a sharpie, then cover with a layer of foil and place in the freezer.  That way, the directions are on the meal and you don’t have to guess about the baking instructions in a few months when you (or your husband 😉 ) pull it out to prepare for the night.

Just one note on something I’ll change next time.  I thought it could have been just a little saucier, so I’ll add some salsa (maybe 1/2 cup) to the mixture before stuffing the shells next time.

Taco Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 can refried beans

1 can whole black beans

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 small onion, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, minced – optional (can sub one green bell pepper)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can Mexi-corn, drained

1/2 can black olives, drained and coarsely chopped

1 pack (1/4 cup) taco seasoning mix & water that it calls for

1 pound lean ground beef

1 package large pasta shells

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

For serving:

lettuce

sour cream

scallions

salsa

Directions:

1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine refried beans, black beans, and hot sauce in a bowl.  Spread evenly in two 8 or 9- inch square baking dishes (0ne for now and one for the freezer).  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese per baking dish.

2. Cook pasta.

3. Meanwhile, cook beef in large skillet until no longer pink with onion, peppers, and garlic.  Pour off fat.  Then stir in taco seasoning and water.  Simmer over low heat until thickened.  Then stir in Mexi-corn and olives and turn off the heat.

4. Spoon the beef mixture into the cooked and drained pasta.  Arrange in the baking dishes.  Cover with with foil, and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Remove foil, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with scallions and/or shredded lettuce and serve with sour cream on the side.

Stuffed Peppers

I had stuffed peppers on my mind after seeing a post from Chloe the other day, so when I had a few leftovers in the fridge suitable for filling the peppers I gave them a try.  I’m not really going to list specific measurements for everything because I was just using what I had in the fridge.  I also ended up with a little extra filling, but it was tasty eaten plain.  The sun-dried tomatoes added a nice chewy texture and a subtly sweet flavor {similar to raisins} to the dish and the chickpeas remained a little crunchy, so overall the balance of textures was really nice.

Stuffed Peppers

Inspired by:  Valuable, but Small Life

Ingredients:

1 red bell pepper

1/2 yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup cooked rice

1/4 cup leftover ground beef cooked with onions and jalapenos and seasoned with taco seasoning

1/2 of a can of chickpeas, coarsely mashed {could substitute black beans}

sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1-2 Tbsp tomato paste

chicken broth or water

Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Wash peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the stems, seeds and white membrane. Place the peppers cut-side down in a microwave safe dish. Add half an inch of water, cover and microwave on high for 9 minutes, or just until softened. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly mash chickpeas with a fork or pastry blender, leaving some whole.  Reconstitute the sun-dried tomatoes if necessary, or drain if they have been packed in oil, and chop.

Warm up the rice and beef, in a saucepan and then add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, mashed chickpeas, and tomato paste.  Stir everything together and add some broth, a little at a time, to bind it together.  Just cook until everything is heated through.

Divide the filling among the steamed pepper halves.  Sprinkle each pepper with the Parmesan.

Place on a baking sheet or broiler pan and broil for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Enjoy with a dash of hot sauce!

Beef Taco Bake

This is something I love to make when we’re in the mood for tacos but want something a little different than our usual soft shell tacos.  It also takes a little more time than traditional tacos, so I have to plan accordingly.  But it’s really good and never disappoints!  Leftovers are not ideal (they get a little chewy), but not horrible either.

I realized I was out of cans of refried beans, so I just took a can of seasoned black beans, lightly drained them and then buzzed ’em up in the food processor until mostly smooth.  Worked great!

Beef Taco Bake

source:  Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2007

Ingredients:

2 (10 oz.) cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained but reserve 1/2 cup juice

1 (16 oz) can refried beans {or use my trick mentioned above}

1 tablespoon hot sauce {such as Tabasco}

1/4 cup chopped cilantro – I omitted

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 pack (1/4 cup) taco seasoning mix

12 hard shell tacos

1 pound lean ground beef

3 scallions, sliced

additional toppings if you like – lettuce, black olives, sour cream, etc…

Directions:

1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Combine beans, hot sauce, half of the drained tomatoes, and cilantro in a bowl.  Spread evenly in a 13×9 – inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.

2. Cook beef in large skillet until no longer pink.  Pour off fat.  Then stir in taco seasoning, remaining tomatoes and reserved 1/2 cup of tomato juice.  Simmer over low heat until thickened.

3. Spoon one tablespoon of shredded cheese into each hard shell and top with beef.  Arrange tacos upright in bean mixture, cover with foil, and bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes.  Remove foil, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 4 or 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Before baking.

After, topped with sliced green onions.

Meatloaf

This my standard meatloaf recipe and there’s not a lot to say about it.  It is just so hearty and good.   You can easily switch up or add other vegetables to it if you want to sneak them into a meal.  Chopped spinach and shredded carrots are some suggestions that come to mind.  Just saute them with the onion and peppers.

The only tip I have to add is that it is imperative to chop the onion, peppers, and garlic as fine as you possibly can.  If you leave them as big chunks, the loaf will have the tendency to fall apart, especially while slicing.  So, the smaller mince/chop the better to have it hold together.

Meatloaf:

1 tsp oil

1 small onion, finely chopped or grated

1/2 green bell pepper, very finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup {+/-} bread crumbs {or one sleeve of crackers such as Ritz, finely crushed}

1 egg

salt and lots of cracked black pepper

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce or more to taste

glaze:

1/4 cup ketchup

1.5 tablespoons honey

splash Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp {or less} Sriracha hot sauce

Directions

In a skillet, saute the onions, peppers, and garlic in the oil until tender.  Set aside to cool.

Mix the glaze together and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, egg, s & p, ketchup, bread crumbs, and Worcestershire sauce together.  Then add the cooled sautéed veggies.  Once, thoroughly combined, shape into loaf in a baking dish.  Cover with glaze.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until done.  Let Rest 10 minutes before slicing.

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