Posts Tagged ‘beef’

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As a Mom of two rambunctious kids I know full well that “camping” means work for me and fun for them.  But Moms already know that it takes a lot more effort to go our there and have fun than to sit at home.  These days I’m so busy with day-to-day life, it was refreshing to turn off the phone and not bring any electronics to Inks Lake State Park.  The trip was a Scout Pack activity but everyone in the family is welcome, and most of the parents were Moms!

Camping did have me a little worried.  Little Sister likes to play in the dirt, with bugs, and chases butterflies.  She could easily get lost!  All the families kept an eye on the heard of kids as they explored our piece of heaven.  I went to the rescue of a boy while taking pictures of this flowering cactus, he fell on to the very same species I was admiring.  My trusty multi-tool with pliers came in handy as I played field EMT removing thorns and pins.  I was thankful it wasn’t one of my kids.  Sure enough though, Big Brother took a spill and scratched up his knee.  I could tell it was him by the yelp through the trees.  Can’t have fun without someone getting hurt.


I prepared some beef carnitas the night before we left, froze them and carried it in the cooler.  Wrapped in two layers of foil they sat on the coals until heated through.  On the side, a mixture of potatoes, sweet onion, and tomatoes cooked in foil.  A very satisfying meal.


Campfire Carnitas

  • 1 pound skirt or flank steak
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3-4 chilies in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce

Sear the beef on both sides, remove to a plate to rest.  Sauté the carrot and onion in the pan with olive oil.  Add the garlic powder, chilies and marinara sauce.  Slice the meat against the grain and return to the pan.  Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about another 10 minutes.  Cool and pour into a ziptop bag, freeze overnight.

Remove the carnitas from the bag.  Double wrap the mixture (it can be frozen) in foil.  Heat over medium coals until bubbling hot again.  Serve with tortillas and your favorite toppings like avocado, pico de gallo, or cilantro.



Breakfast was fruit salad (mango, banana, pear).  I was still stuffed with s’mores from last night.  The kids had cereal and milk, as well as some of my fruit.

The park was unbelievably beautiful.  Real toilets with showers, albeit a short hike away, were nice since we were tenting.

For more ideas on food outdoors, check out the Texas Parks Picnicking Page.  I’ll leave you with a slideshow of the trip.

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One of my worst fears has come to pass for local families, and at the worst time of the year.  Early today an apartment complex caught fire, several families with children lost everything.  Can you join me in making a donation or spreading the word to those who can make a donation to help save Christmas for these families?  One of the schools affected, Forest North Elementary PTA is taking donations of any kind but for those not in the area who want to help can do so on their website.  Alternatively, contact the Austin Disaster  Relief Network – 512-331-2600 or donate online.  News story is here.

I realize you probably have every charity in the world contacting you for help.  My dear readers, if you can spare anything for these kids I would be very grateful for any assistance you can give to our neighbors.  Thank you and have a blessed holiday season!

Now a recipe for you and your family on this chilly Austin day…


The fall back plan in my kitchen is pasta.  I can make fresh or dried pasta and any little stragglers of food in the fridge can be used to dress it up.  Even if there’s no tomato sauce, like today, I use some canned diced tomato and tomato paste instead.  Look for tomato paste infused with roasted garlic, whatever you make from the pantry with it will be pleased.

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 15oz can petite diced tomato
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (with roasted garlic)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Greek Seasoning (Victorian Epicure)
  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry rubbed sage

Start with the pasta.  Brown the meat in a large skillet and break apart as it cooks.  Season the meat well with salt and pepper.  Add the onion and carrot, garlic and herbs.  Stir to distribute and pick up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomato, paste and about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to dissolve the paste.  Cover and simmer gently until ready to serve and the pasta is al denté.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.   Remove from heat.

Serve with Pizza Toasts and a side salad for a comforting meal with your family.

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Spicy Beef

  • Marinate beef slices in soy sauce
  • spring onions
  • 2 grated carrots
  • soy sauce and orange ginger marmalade
  • (optional) orange segments

Mixed Vegetables

  • cauliflower florets
  • broccoli florets
  • red bell pepper (or green)
  • celery
  • soy sauce to taste

Make rice.

Steam and fry the vegetables in the wok first.  Remove and keep warm.

Then heat the oil and flavorings for the beef: ginger, garlic, orange rinds, and chili pods.  Stir-fry the meat, add the onion and carrot for the last minute.

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Emperor Steak

Emperor Steak

thin steak seared to perfection

colby jack cheese

slice of ham

fried egg


on a bed of lettuce


This little number was inspired by our trip to Miami last summer.  This is what Hubby ordered but didn’t get (they brought two Emperor sandwiches instead of one sandwich and one platter).  Not for the faint of heart.

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Grandma’s brown bread made an excellent vessel for my home-made Panini.  Roast beef, Munster cheese, and big slices of tomato were squished between buttered slices of bread.  I used a small pot to press the sandwich in the pan.  It turned out so well that I had to make another round for us.

Also, on the side was a macaroni salad inspired by one of the catered salads I’ve had.  Here’s what I made:

Macaroni Salad

  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 1/3 cups dry pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • fresh basil leaves (mine were tiny sprouts from the garden, no need to chop)
  • 1 fresh mint leaf, chopped fine
  • balsamic vinegar
  • grainy mustard
  • olive oil
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • white pepper (to taste)

In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, pour in some vinegar and equal part mustard.  Add tow to three times this amount of oil and a pinch of salt.  Put on the lid and shake until it emulsifies.  Set aside.

Drain the pasta well in a colander, then run a little cool water to stop the macaroni from cooking.  Pour the macaroni in a large bowl.  Add the tomato, basil, mint, salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing from the jar over the salad and toss to coat.  Keep covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

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Chile Rellenos, or stuffed peppers, originated in Central Mexico.  The common peppers found in the Federal district of Puebla were named after the capitol city, Puebla (akin to New York, NY), as Poblano chiles.  These peppers are used to make chile rellenos.  Two types of filling can be used: minced meat with spices and vegetables, or cheese.  During Lent, the meat is omitted.  Grandma likes to stuff her Poblano peppers with ground beef, carrot, potato, onion, tomato, garlic, and cumin.  We forgot the onion in this batch, but it didn’t seem to matter in the end.

Earlier in the morning, Grandpa prepared the chiles by rubbing them with oil and warming them in a covered pan.  The point is to remove the skins and leave the chiles whole, stem and all. The seeds should be removed as they can be bitter and spicy.

I helped grate the Chihuahua cheese.  This cheese is similar to a white Cheddar or a Monterrey Jack.  When the stuffed chile is cooked it slowly melts and stays inside the pepper.  I feared it would run out into the pan and we would have empty shells.  The best way to describe it is thick.

Eggs are beaten in stages.  First the whites with some cream of tartar and salt.  Beat until stiff then add the yolks and beat until stiff again.  Use 1 egg per chile plus 1 or 2 more to be sure you have enough batter to cover every chile.

The mise en place is ready.  A plate of seasoned flour.  The egg batter. The stuffed chiles.  We are warming a pan with canola oil, about a 1/4 cup, to fry the stuffed and battered chiles.  Half the peppers are meat & veggie, the other half are Chihuahua cheese.

Here we go!  Dust a stuffed pepper with the seasoned flour.  Dunk this in the egg batter and gently scoop the foamy eggs over the pepper, be careful to keep the “seam” side up, this will reduce the chance of the filling ending up in the eggs or the oil in the pan.

A flat, straight-sided pan is not the ideal shape for this process.  Grandma was looking for a concave pan, like a small wok, to make the flipping and turning part easier.  We had to work with the pans I had in the kitchen.  It doesn’t take long to fry each facet of the chile relleno.  Transfer the finished chile to paper to drain.  Repeat with the remaining peppers.

I tried my own chile relleno, sans batter and frying.

I roasted two pobalno peppers in the oven (350ºF for about 20 minutes, turning half way), then peeled off the skins.  The filling was ground beef, onion, garlic, carrot, potato, cumin, and tomato sauce.  Monterrey Jack cheese was used with the meat filling, then returned to the oven to melt the cheese.

A combination of both flavours Grandma made.  Dare I say the merger was even tastier than the original separate stuffings?  Yes.  Yes, it was.

Peppers are good vessels for all sorts of stuffings.  Use leftover rice, beans, breadcrumbs, or other vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and taste buds.

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A cumulative effort (mostly cooked by Hubby) resulted in a delicious traditional Mexican favorite: Guisado Tacos.

Traditional guisado does not include carrots but they were an unexpected twist that worked to balance out the spicy tomatillo salsa served on the side.

Guisado is a meat and potato dish, often flavoured with cumin, garlic and onion.  Hot chili peppers usually pep up this dish but we tend to leave them out because of the kids.  Beef cuts were braised with potato and carrot pieces.  I shredded some colby jack cheese and warmed the corn tortillas.

Together we built a quick and easy dinner.  It’s great to have a partner in the kitchen.   Now if i could only get the kids to do the dishes for me.

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Beef Vegetable Soup

A one pot wonder.

beef vegetable soup

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • baby carrots, cut in half
  • about 1 pound of lean beef, cubed
  • 1 ear of corn, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon, 4 cups hot water
  • 1 russet potato, cut in eighths

Sauté the onion and garlic with salt.  Add the carrots.  Dissolve the cubes in the water and add to the pot.  Toss in the bay leaf, potato, corn and beef.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Serves 4.

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Big Brother is officially a student and is off and running in his first week of Kindergarten.  That means there really is a bedtime now, no two ways about it.  I feel rushed and Big Brother is still learning how to tell time, he is trying at least.  There is a way to be on time for dinner though, get out your crock-pot!  If yours is anything like mine, it was housed in the bottom of a cupboard and is missing its lid.

Apologize to your topless crock-pot and fit it with another lid.  Tin foil and a large kitchen towel may be substituted if needed.

Before you go to sleep tonight, fill up the crock-pot.  Option 1) Cover and refrigerate until morning, then put it on LOW whilst you work, or 2) Turn the crock-pot on LOW now so you can turn it off before it burns dinner, then refrigerate just before leaving for work.

I’m going with option 2.

Carne Guisada (before)

A certain someone likes mushrooms, so those are the extra special ingredient which would not normally appear in a traditional Carne Guisada.  Be your own chef, right?  Well that’s what I intend to do…

Midnitechef’s Carne Guisada (via Crock-pot)

  • 1 pkg Carne Guisada seasoned beef (approx. 1.5 lbs)
  • 1/2 onion, large dice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, large dice
  • 1 roasted Poblano pepper, seeded peeled and diced
  • 1 15oz canned tomato + 2 cans water
  • 1 cup sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 baby carrots, sliced crosswise

Combine everything but the beef in the pot, mix to distribute.  Add the beef and stir slightly, add more water to just cover.  Set the crock-pot to LOW and cook for 6-8 hours.

Serve with rice, tortillas, avocado, lime wedges, and a tall glass of <insert your favorite beverage here>!

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