Mac-O-Lantern

Mac O Lantern not baked

It’s almost Halloween. I thought I’d share an easy and fun recipe to make with the kids or to make for the kids at heart. The unbaked peppers look so cute, but the baked ones look perfectly scary for Halloween with their shrinking skins and their (unintentional) burnt tops. Feel free to stuff your peppers with rice, quinoa and other vegetables if you want to go vegetarian. I just thought the macaroni and cheese resembled the pumpkin innards which made this more fun.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 pounds of lean ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
  • 1/2 of a red onion. diced
  • 1/2 a cup of spaghetti or tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 box (7.25 ounces) Kraft macaroni and cheese (or any other brand)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 6 orange bell peppers

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Foil line a small baking sheet.
  3. In a large skillet, brown the ground meat over medium high heat. Drain excess fat.
  4. Add onions and cook until almost translucent.
  5. Add spaghetti/tomato sauce, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Stir until well mixed and turn off heat.
  6. Prepare macaroni and cheese according to package using the butter and milk.
  7. Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers into jack-o-lanterns. Discard the seeds and white membranes. Be sure to leave enough of the top to use as a lid. I like to make sure there is enough opening in the mouths I carve so you can see the noodle mixture coming out like pumpkin guts.
  8. Once your macaroni and cheese is ready, combine in your large skillet with your meat mixture. Mix well.
  9. Stuff your peppers with the noodle and meat mixture. Put them on your prepared foil lined baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until bell peppers are tender.

Mac O Lantern

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Meatballs in Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada Meatballs 5

Ever find yourself making the same foods over and over? I do that all the time. Rotating the same recipes every week. So for a little change of pace I tried making these meatballs in enchilada sauce.  Yes, I needed something different to try, plus I didn’t have any tortillas on hand to make enchiladas. You can serve these meatballs as appetizers. Or make these into a meal and serve with rice and beans or inside a tortilla if you have them on hand.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumim
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced
  • 1 28 ounce can red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup Mexican shredded cheese
  • 1 avocado, sliced for garnish
  • sour cream for garnish(optional)
  • corn tortillas for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl add crushed tortilla chips and milk. Set aside and let soak  for a few minutes, while you are preparing meatball mix.
  2. In a large bowl combine: ground beef, egg, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, onion, and jalapeno.
  3. Next mix in the crushed tortilla chips soaked in milk. Combine until thoroughly mixed. Enchilada Meatballs 1
  4. Form 1 1/2 -2 inch meatballs by hand or use cookie scoop. I was able to make 21 meatballs with my mix.Enchilada Meatballs 2
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. When olive oil begins to ripple, add meatballs carefully into skillet.
  6. Cook meatballs until seared on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Drain excess fat when meatballs are browned. Enchilada Meatballs 3
  7. Add enchilada sauce to skillet with meatballs. Toss the meatballs with the sauce to make sure each meatball gets covered.  (I added leftover corn kernels to my sauce)Enchilada Meatballs 4
  8. Add shredded cheese to the tops of each meatball. Cover skillet. Lower heat to medium. Let cheese melt and meatballs cook through for 10 minutes.
  9. Garnish skillet with more cilantro and avocado slices.
  10. Serve as appetizers with avocado slices or sour cream or put into mini corn tortillas. Enchilada Meatballs 6

Japanese Curry Beef

Japanese Curry Beef (1)

Tired of the same old beef stew recipe? Then change it up by making Japanese curry beef instead. It’s basically a beef stew with a curry kick. I stuck with the medium hot S&B Golden Curry brand. If I had brought home the “hot” level one, my son would have protested. Japanese curry roux is not all that spicy compared to the Indian curry powders I have used in my chicken curry.  For my vegetarian friends like Sue T., skip the beef and just add more potatoes, carrots and onions to make a hearty vegetable curry. Serve with a side of rice and your tummy will be thanking you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound beef (cut for stew)
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 box curry roux (4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

Japanese Curry Beef 3

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut vegetables into bite size pieces. (About the same size as your beef stew meat.)
  2. Heat oil and brown meat in a Dutch Oven or large lidded pot over high heat. Take meat out when the sides of the beef are seared, but not cooked through.
  3. In the same pot, lower heat to medium high and fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes, then the beef.
  4. Add water to the pot. After the water boils, skim the fat and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 45-50 minutes until the meat becomes tender.
  5. Now add the curry roux blocks into the pot. Stir well so the pieces of the roux dissolves.
  6. Once the roux has dissolved, stir in apricot jam, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire  sauce and optional curry powder.
  7. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve with a side of rice.

This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Japanese Curry Beef 2

 

Asparagus Beef in Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Asparagus beef in black bean and garlic sauce

It’s asparagus season here in California. I find myself buying asparagus every shopping trip now. But instead of  making my usual grilled asparagus as a side dish, I wanted to add it into the main dish. If you love making quick dinners like I do then you are going to love this.  Also, this recipe only requires a few ingredients which makes this even simpler.  I have another variation of this dish ( Asparagus Beef ) where you make your own sauce, however this one is using a premade black bean garlic sauce which cuts the time in half and does the work for you.  This serves 2-4 depending on your portions.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounce sirloin or flank steak, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking, separated into 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 pound of asparagus, sliced into thirds
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons black bean and garlic sauce (found at local grocery stores in your international aisle or Asian markets)  Black bean and garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (this offsets the sharpness of the black bean sauce)
  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add beef strips to a bowl. Then add cornstarch, grated garlic and ginger. Mix well and set aside. Asparagus beef in black bean sauce 1
  2. Heat up wok or skillet on high heat.  Swirl in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to coat wok or skillet.
  3. Quickly spread the beef slices around the pan in an even layer. Let it sear for 15-30 seconds without stirring. Then give it a quick stir to sear the other side. The meat should be browned and no sticking should happen if you got the pan hot enough. Take the meat out of the pan and set aside.
  4. Keep the wok/skillet on high heat and add one tablespoon oil.
  5. Add in asparagus and onions.
  6. Stir for about 10 seconds and cover, leaving the heat on high. Let it cook for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the cover. Add the beef back to the pan.
  7. Add the black bean and garlic sauce paste, sugar and beef stock. Stir to mix well.
  8. Let beef and vegetables continue to cook with the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until asparagus is cooked tender. Asparagus beef in black bean sauce 10
  9. Plate with jasmine rice and serve immediately.

Asparagus beef in black bean sauce

 

 

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

Mexican Cornbread Casserole platedHappy Cinco de Mayo! This recipe is like a mash up of my Mexican Casserole and a tamale pie recipe I’ve tried in the past. And for my fellow home cooks who like quick recipes, the 35 minutes baking time is the longest you have to wait.  I love shortcuts, so if you do not have all the required spices in your cupboards you can also use a packet of taco seasoning. Since there is only two of us at home to eat this, I used half the meat and only one box of the Jiffy cornbread mix and an 8×8 baking pan. Otherwise I used the same amount of all the other ingredients. For my vegetarian friends, omit the ground beef and add pinto beans.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (8.5 ounce) boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend; separated into 1/2 cup and 1 cup
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounce)
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced black olives
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (10 ounce) Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 1 1/2 cup chunky salsa

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile in a large bowl, prepare Jiffy cornbread mix by combining mix, eggs and milk. Stir well then add 1/2 cup grated Mexican cheese blend. Set aside. (If you like some extra spice, add a small can of diced green chilies to the cornbread mixture.)
  2. In a skillet add olive oil and cook ground beef over medium high heat until cooked through. Drain any grease. Add onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the meat mixture in skillet. Mix well and remove from heat.
  4. In a 9X13 baking pan, add meat and vegetable mixture. Top with 1 cup grated Mexican blend cheese.
  5. Add prepared cornbread mixture on top of cheese layer. Be sure to spread out evenly.
  6. Bake in oven for 33-35 minutes or until cornbread turns golden.  Enjoy with your favorite beverage.

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

Asparagus Beef

Asparagus BeefWho needs take-out when you can make it yourself? I’m always finding myself looking at various dishes at restaurants thinking I could probably make it. And if you have been following my blog, you know I’m all about quick and easy recipes.  For my vegetarian friends, just omit the beef and you should have a tasty vegetable stir fry dish.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounce sirloin or flank steak, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking, separated into 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pound of asparagus, sliced in an angle into thirds
  • 1 small bell pepper, sliced into small strips
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oyster flavored sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a bowl mix together marinade ingredients and add beef strips. Set aside.
  2. In another small bowl prepare the sauce by combining sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and the chicken stock. Mix well. Set aside.
  3. Heat up wok or skillet on high heat.  Swirl in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to coat wok or skillet.
  4. Quickly spread the beef slices around the pan in an even layer. Let it sear for 15-30 seconds without stirring. Then give it a quick stir to sear the other side. The meat should be browned and no sticking should happen if you got the pan hot enough. Take the meat out of the pan and set aside.
  5. Keep the wok/skillet on high heat and add one tablespoon oil.
  6. Add in asparagus, bell peppers, onions and minced garlic.
  7. Stir for about 10 seconds and add the shaoxing wine. Cover, leaving the heat on high. Let it cook for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the cover. Add the beef back to the pan.
  8. Add the sauce mixture. Stir vigorously and let the liquid bubble up.
  9. Stir up your cornstarch slurry to make sure the starch is dissolved and pour in about half of it. Stir for a few seconds. If the sauce is still thin, add more slurry. If it’s too thick, add a little water or stock.
  10. Plate with rice and serve immediately!

Oven Roasted Tri Tip

tri-tip-doneOkay meat lovers, don’t hate me. I know a lot of the beef eaters out there are literally having a cow (teehee, get it?) seeing my roast not at red rare or medium rare state. But for some reason, any beef cooked under medium does not agree with my tummy. So here you get my pinkish medium to medium well tri tip roast. No worries I will tell you how to cook it to your desired doneness. Best of all, this is a simple recipe that you can make year round especially if you do not have a grill.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 pound tri tip roast
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • garlic powder
  • dried crushed rosemary
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • olive oil
  • 2 small onions

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a glass baking dish big enough to hold your roast, season both sides of your tri tip with with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, onion soup mix, worcestershire sauce and olive oil. I did not give measurements for any because I just generally season by sight and it depends on the size of your roast as well. Just make sure your tri tip is well covered in seasonings and sauce and oil.
  2. Peel and cut onions into quarters and add to baking dish.tri-tip-prep
  3. Let meat marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Take tri tip out of refrigerator 30 minutes before putting into oven. Make sure fatty side is on top.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees.
  5. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes to brown.
  6. Lower oven temperature to 350 F degrees. Cook 15 minutes for every pound for medium rare doneness. Cook 17 minutes per pound for medium doneness.
  7. Take cooked tri tip out of oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.tri-tip-oven