Monday, September 15, 2008

Where's the beef?

I have been planning for close to a week now to make a pan of my lasagna, but I just haven't had an afternoon open up lately that has allowed me the time to stand at the stove for the time it takes to put it together. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow during Jack's MDO I'll be able to manage it! (By the way, keep your eyes peeled for another Go-To Tuesday recipe tomorrow. :)

Anyway, the lasagna requires a bit of ground beef, so I had that on hand last week. And when the lasagna didn't pan out, I was reminded of how many options are open for an impromptu supper when all you have on hand is ground beef! I was able to put together these two yummy dinners, and all at lightning speed. I thought I'd share my "recipes" with you, although you'll have to bear with the loosey-goosey nature of these directions since I usually prepare these off the cuff. I hope they will inspire you to see what a delicious and economical dinner option ground beef can be. Enjoy!

Chopped Steaks with Easy Onion Gravy
1 lb. ground beef
Approx. 1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1 egg
1 tsp. Cavender's Greek seasoning*
Salt & Pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. Canola Oil, divided use
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups beef broth (I always make my own with beef base that I keep on hand)
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. dried thyme or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Mix ground beef and bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, egg, Cavender's, salt and pepper by hand in a large bowl. Form into four patties, as you would for hamburgers.

Heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add patties and saute until deeply browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove beef from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add wine to pan and stir to scrape up browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Simmer wine/onion mixture until thickened and bubbly, and then add the beef broth, whisking briskly to incorporate.

In a small bowl, blend the butter and flour into a smooth paste. Whisk mixture into simmering onion/wine/broth mixture until smooth, and bring back up to a simmer. Stir in soy sauce and thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add steaks back to sauce, coating the steaks on each side with the sauce. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, or until steaks are cooked through and sauce is thickened. I like to serve these with a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes and some English peas.

*If you've never used this before, you really should try it! This is a terrific blend of herbs and spices with flavors of oregano and garlic, and it is a great substitute for poultry seasoning or seasoned salt. It is actually made here in Arkansas, of all places!

* * * * * *

Now, in this second recipe, I am going to urge you to try something new! I know for many of us, tacos are a go-to meal when we're too tired to prepare anything else. We brown the meat and keep the folks at Old El Paso quite happy by tearing open a packet of their seasoning mixture. It dawned on me one night as I was reading the back of that handy-dandy packet (which, by the way, is laden with sodium and lots of not-so-healthy additives) that I have spent a veritable fortune to stock my spice cabinet with the same spices included in taco seasoning, so why on earth was I not making my very own at a fraction of the cost? And as a much healthier option, to boot!

Amy's Taco Beef

Brown and drain 1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

Then add 1 recipe taco seasoning mix:
2 tsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1-1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp.onion powder
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne

And stir in:
1/3 to 1/2 cup water

Bring to a boil; cover and simmer over medium-low heat until your desired consistency.

The taco seasoning mix can be made beforehand and stored in an air-tight container until ready to use if you are a stickler for having things pre-prepped. Around here, we always have taco salad in lieu of tacos. Have you seen the tortilla bowl makers? Everyone needs a set of these! They make ordinary tortillas into crispy taco bowls, and without any added fat. They are perfect! To make my taco salad mixture, I take a prepared recipe of my taco beef and add a drained can of mexicorn and a drained can of seasoned black beans. I chop up a head of iceberg lettuce, and then layer the lettuce and then the meat in the the taco bowls. Topped with your choice of cheese, sour cream, salsa, and/or avocados, this is a delicious meal that is actually not so bad for you!

I hope y'all enjoy these easy weeknight meals. You'll have to let me know what you think!

1 comment:

Stacy said...

Do you have a brand of wine that you cook with on a regular basis? I haven't cooked much with wine, but I would love to start.