Tag-Archive for ◊ beef ◊

30 Nov 2010 Gringo Grandma’s Chili

Gingo Grandma’s chili!  That’s me!  This is my chili!  You’ve probably guessed that this is NOT serious cook-off chili.  This is big pot, throw-it-all-together, family friendly, low-budget chili. Chili that everyone likes.  Chili with ground meat =:0 and beans =:0. A recipe that makes enough for a crowd or for three days of leftovers. A chili that reheats and freezes well. Rainy-day comfort food.  Game Day staple food. Chili Dog party food.  Must have camping food.

This is an easy recipe to remember, too.  Think threes!  Three cans of pinto beans, three cans of diced tomatoes, 3 lbs of meat, three onions.  I found the original recipe in The San Jose Mercury News food section years and years and years ago.  I’ve adjusted the quantities of ingredients a bit and changed the name to fit the dish…and made it mine.  I hope you make it yours. too.

Gringo Grandma’s Chili

3 16 oz. cans pinto beans

3 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes

3 onions, chopped

1 -2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 lbs ground meat (2 lbs. ground beef, 1 lb. ground sausage)

1/4 cups chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 – 3 cups chicken broth (or water)

Pour canned pinto beans (with liquid) and chopped tomatoes into a large soup pot over a medium high heat. Bring to a light simmer.  Meanwhile, in another pan, saute chopped onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add onions and garlic to bean and  tomato mixture.  To the same pan, now emptied of onion, brown ground beef and sausage, about 15 minutes.  Drain fat from meat. Stir drained meat into the bean-tomato-onion mixture.  add  in chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. If desired, stir in one to three cups of chicken broth or water until the chili meets your desired preference (some people like it thicker or soupier than others).  Simmer chili for 1 1/2  hours, covered.  Uncover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve hot in deep bowls, in front of the TV, on a cold day…  I like to serve with grated cheddar cheese and corn muffins, but sliced green onions and sour cream would also be good toppings.  I think this chili is best the second day, and leftovers (or even the whole batch) freeze very, very well.

Makes approx. 16 cups, that’s one gallon of family friendly, easy to eat, chili.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Now remind me to post the recipe for corn muffins, they’re stellar!

24 Oct 2010 French Onion Soup

As a newlywed, wed to a man who owned a copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking“, French Onion Soup was one of the first things I learned how to make well, thank you Julia Child, and one of the first things I got high praise for. I first made this soup in 1981. It seems everyone loves French Onion Soup, and since it’s getting harder and harder to find a good French Onion Soup at a restaurant, there is  always an appreciative fan base.  French Onion Soup isn’t hard to make, it’s just a bit time consuming to finely slice 5 cups of onions and then  caramelize them, but once that is over it’s smooth sailing.

I remember the first time I had the so-called French Onion Soup at Marie Callender’s.  I was so disappointed, it was the worst; sliced onions boiled in beef stock topped with a crouton and too much cheese.  Shame, Marie, shame.

Here’s the first tip for French Onion Soup, the onions need to be caramelized, Julia’s method is the best I’ve found.  Tip number two, the better your beef broth, the better your French Onion Soup.  For years I used canned beef broth, and was happy with it (just go easy on the salt elsewhere in the dish).  The new “Better than Bouillon” bases would probably work, too, but again, watch the salt.  I’ve just now started to make my own beef broth.  It’s not as intuitive as chicken broth.  Basically I buy two packages of meat from the market, approximately one pound of stew beef, and two pounds of beef bones (often beef ribs).  I throw them in a pot, along with with some onions, carrots, and celery, a bit of garlic, a grind of pepper, and a bay leaf, cover with water and simmer for 2-4 hours.  Then I strain, refrigerate overnight, remove the hardened fat, strain again, and then use in the recipe.  It’s a bit of a bother, but I feel good about the broth,  it’s real food, with no additives or preservatives., and it’s no more expensive than buying cans of processed beef broth.

French Onion Soup is a bit of a bother to make, but it’s worth it.  Larger bowls, with two croutons, are satisfying as a meal (as long as there is a nice dessert!  Ohhhh…, some people might want a sandwich or a baked potato or a slice of quiche, too), and it’s very elegant in small bowls, with one crouton, served as a starter.  Most people swoon over French Onion Soup, so it’s usually a safe dish to make for company.

French Onion Soup

5 cups thinly sliced yellow/brown onions (slice into rings, or half rings)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 quarts hot beef broth (canned, or make your own)
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons of Cognac (approximately)
6 slices of a good quality French baguette
approx. 2 cups grated Swiss cheese

Melt butter, stir in olive oil to blend, then stir in sliced onions.  Cover and saute for 15 minutes.  Uncover, stir in salt and sugar, and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes.

In another pan, heat the beef broth to simmer.

Stir 3 tablespoons flour into the onion mixture over medium heat.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes, then remove from heat.

Immediately stir in one scoop hot beef broth.  When broth has totally been incorporated into the flour, gradually stir in the rest of the broth.  Add wine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Partially cover pan and simmer (not boil) for 40 minutes.

Toast the baguette slices.

To serve: ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. Stir in 1/2 tablespoon Cognac.  Top with a toasted crouton and approx 1/3 cup of cheese. Broil until the cheese melts.  Then serve. Makes six servings.

Now you too can make better French Onion Soup than any restaurant. I guarantee it. Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.

24 Sep 2010 Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Who eats jarred spaghetti sauce?  I hope no one.  I don’t. Not ever.  Well, I’ve had a spoonful here and there, so I do know how bad it is.  Too much vinegar.  I like wine, tomatoes, onions, fresh mushrooms and fresh meat in my spaghetti sauce.  I’ve never used a recipe.  I learned from watching my Dad, who learned from watching the Galloping Gourmet (I think he also got permission to drink during the day from the Galloping Gourmet, but that’s a whole other story.)

My daughter, Abby, has asked me to write down my “recipe” for Spaghetti Sauce.  I put the word recipe in quotes because when I make spaghetti sauce, I just go for it.  It’s never really the same twice, but it always works out  (I’m not Italian, so I make no claims to an authentic Italian sauce).   Last week, when I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce, I carefully wrote down what I did so Abby can make her own spaghetti sauce while she is away at college.

If you haven’t made spaghetti sauce before, perhaps this “recipe” can be your starting point. Use this as a guide to add and subtract ingredients to suit your tastes. Over the years the amount of meat in my sauce has decreased.  I’d like to cut it my 1/3 more, but my son would get upset.  We all like mushrooms, so I use a good amount.  I don’t like green or red peppers, so I leave them out completely.  One thing I wouldn’t change is the “Super Six”, the must-haves for seasoning spaghetti sauce:  sautéed onions, garlic, celery, parsley, basil and oregano.

After the sauce is made, I let is sit overnight and then we usually have it for dinner. And, if I give in to the pleading of my older daughter, I’ll make a tray of lasagna, too, and then we’ll eat that for the next few days.  The remaining sauce I freeze in 3 or 4 cup batches.  This recipe will makes 10-12 cups of sauce.

I hope you never buy jarred sauce again.  Nasty stuff.  Too many preservatives.  Not enough flavor. This is so much better, so much better.

My Mom Polly’s Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil, as needed for sauteing
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup minced parsley
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (recently I have use the “Muir Glen” brand, but for years I used whatever was on sale at the grocery store.  If you have them, use blanched, chopped tomatoes from your garden.  If you don’t like  chunky spaghetti sauce, then substitute the same amount of tomato sauce.)
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (add more later if needed)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ lbs to 2 lbs of ground beef (or a mixture of your choice of ground beef, sausage, pork, veal.  Use at least 50% ground beef.  I have used ground turkey before, and don’t recommend it. I found the flavor to be too mild for this robust sauce)
1 lb sliced mushrooms
2 cups red wine (any robust red wine), optional, of course

Heat about 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet.  Stir in chopped onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Stir in chopped celery and sauté for another 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and sauté for another minute.  Do not let the garlic brown or burn.  Pour mixture into a large stock pot, and turn on heat to medium.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 -60 minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer the simmer, the richer the sauce). Meanwhile, in the skillet, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to the tomato sauce after the sauce has simmered at least 30 minutes.  In the same skillet that browned the onions and the mushrooms, add the ground meat.  Brown the meat, and then drain the fat off (to drain put the cooked meat in a colander over a bowl).  Stir drained, cooked meat into the tomato sauce, along with 2 cups of red wine, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Taste, and more salt, pepper and brown sugar if needed. Serve immediately over hot noodles and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, or let cool, refrigerate, and chill overnight. Warm up only as much sauce as needed for your next meal.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, I always like it when you stop by!  Leave a comment and say HI!

18 Sep 2010 Meatball Beef Stroganoff

Ex-husbands can be real %#$!!s. At least mine can.  After he let loose, and then hung up on me, I decided to go for a pedicure.  Unfortunately my nail salon is not known for having the most recent magazines with the biggest pictures, so I stopped on the way to treat myself to a glossy dose of gossip.  Wouldn’t you know I would walk by the cookbook section on the way to the magazines?  And there, on the discount table, jumping up and down was The Meatball Cookbook Bible, with a price LESS than that of most magazines.  What was I to do? I walked out with the 512 page cookbook.  (It was on sale for $4.99!)  My day was looking up!

The nail ladies seemed a bit befuddled by my reading material. I think they discussed it between themselves in Vietnamese.  You’d think I was the only person EVER to read a $4.99 Meatball Bible while getting a pedicure…

The Meatball Bible has turned out to be well worth the $4.99 investment.  I’ve made five recipes so far, and all five have been winners.  How often does that happen?   Now let’s get to the disclaimers. I am not talking gourmet cuisine here.  Each recipe is based on some sort of ground meat, noodles, and pantry staples.  The pantry staples, meat, spices and extras are well chosen and harmonious. These recipes work and the results are family-friendly, comfort food and there’s nothing wrong with that, is there? There’s a lot good with that, actually.  A lot of good.

Note….I am on leftovers now.  I have plenty of meatballs and noodles, but I am out of sauce.  Next time, I’ll make more sauce.  Upping the sauce by 50% would probably be perfect.

Meatball Beef Stroganoff

1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk (whole milk, preferred)
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 lbs ground beef (80% lean)

salt and pepper to taste
Pam, or some other sort of vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 – 1 lb sliced mushrooms (optional)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock, heated in microwave to very hot

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream (not non-fat)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

To serve:  1 lb. broad curly egg noodles, cooked according to package directions (or any other pasta)

Combine egg and milk in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in breadcrumbs.  Mix well. Set aside to soak.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Sir in garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

Add half of the onion mixture, and the ground beef to the breadcrumb mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Blend meatball mixture together by tossing gently.  Do not compress mixture, toss.  Form meat mixture into approx. 2 inch meatballs.  Roll balls lightly between palms.  Place formed meatballs on a foil covered, rimmed baking sheet.  (If desired, meat mixture or meatballs can be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight–be sure to remove remaining onion mixture from the pan and refrigerate that, too.)

Preheat broiler.  Spray meatballs with vegetable oil (Pam, or something similar). Broil meatballs for approx 6 minutes.  Shake pan, or turn meatballs half way through the cooking time.  While meatballs are browning, finish the sauce.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to frying pan with onions.  Turn on heat to melt butter. If desired, add some sliced mushrooms to the onion mixture and saute for 3 minutes.    Sprinkle flour over onion-mushroom mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 3 minutes.  Turn heat off.

Working quickly, add hot beef broth to mixture in frying pan in 3 additions:  add approx 3/4 cup stock, stir until sauce is smooth, then add another 3/4 cup and stir until smooth, then finish with remaining stock, stirring until smooth.

Turn heat back on under the frying pan.  Whisk in the tomato paste and mustard.  Bring mixture to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Taste sauce.  Add salt and pepper, if needed. Add hot meatballs to simmering sauce.  Continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat, stir in sour cream and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Heat sauce, but do not bring sauce back to boil, or the sour cream with curdle.

Serve sauce and meatballs over drained hot noodles. Makes four yummy, family friendly servings.

BTW  I haven’t tested this, but the book says that this dish can be made up one to two days ahead and then reheated in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, which makes this a great dish to make for the mom with a new baby (and a toddler or two), or the lady down the block with the right broken ankle (right ankle, can’t drive), doesn’t it?

Enjoy supper with your family tonight. There should be smiles all around.

10 Jul 2010 Hamburgers Italiano

The boy child cooks again! He likes all things sausage. So I gave him this recipe to try, a twist on the basic hamburger. It’s a pretty darn good burger, a very nice blend of beef and sausage accented with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. I taught him how to make his own “bun”, too, which often tastes better than those sesame covered packages ones. Toast two slices of good bread (in our case sourdough from Le Boulanger, although I love Trader Joe’s Cornbread Rye). Cut toast to fit the size and shape of the hamburger patty, slip the patty between the two slices of toast, and he was all set–after loading up on ketchup. I had him use a hamburger mold to form the patties. It’s a good tool for a beginner cook. I’ll have to add that to the growing list of kitchen essentials. I had him use a timer to cook the patties, too. It’s a skill to cook a patty all the way through. A timer helps.

Hamburgers Italiano

3/4 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Break beef and sausage into small pieces in a large bowl. Add cheese, basil, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Using a fork, lightly mix ingredients together. Divide meat into 4 or 6 portions (we make 6, about 4.5 oz. each) and flatten to 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Place on hot grill. Grill for 2-4 minutes on first side, and 3-4 minutes on second side. Drain on paper towel if you want, then place on bun, or toast cut to fit the burger, or a toasted English muffin. Add condiments and veggies as desired.

Thanks for visiting the kitchen today!

10 Jul 2010 Bacon Cheeseburgers

Once again, I forgot to take a picture of this recipe…, so I lifted this image off the Internet. To make you hungry!

We’ve eaten a lot of burgers this week (I hope my iron count went up, and my cholesterol was unaffected…) Each one of the three recipes I have posted makes a very different tasting burger. They are all good! This is an easy way to make a bacon cheeseburger. I like bacon cheeseburgers!

Enough burgers now though. My kids have passed Hamburgers 101. They have the basics. They know what can be done. I hope they have fun creating their own signature burger one day. I wonder what they will come up with. I can’t wait until they invite me over for a backyard BBQ one day… Ah, the sweetness of a mom’s daydreams!

All-in-the-patty Bacon Cheeseburgers

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped finely
4 tsp. yellow mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Break beef into small pieces into a large bowl. Add cheese, bacon, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Using a fork, lightly mix ingredients together. Divide meat into 4 or 6 portions and flatten to 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Place on hot grill. Grill for 2-4 minutes on first side, and 3-4 minutes on second side.