Spiced Beef Patties with Couscous

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My daughter picked out this recipe from a library magazine. My intention was to have her make it, however she was putting away laundry so I went ahead alone. The beauty of a kid-picked recipe was that the weight of new-recipe-trying was completely off my shoulders—hoorah! As it turns out, this recipe is simple and DELICIOUS. A total win, and perhaps one of the best flavors of burgers my husband has eaten. 

2 carrots, finely grated
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 C couscous (10 oz)
1/2 C plain yogurt
1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 t hot paprika
1 1/2 lb ground beef chuck
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground cinnamon

1. Combine 2 C water, half of grated carrots, 2 T olive oil, dried apricots, 1/4 t salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add couscous; cover and remove from heat. Set aside until ready to serve.

2. Meanwhile, mix the yogurt, half the cilantro, 1 t paprika and a large pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Combine the ground beef, scallions, cumin, cinnamon, 1 t salt, remaining grated carrot, and 1 t paprika in a large bowl. Mix with hands until just combined. Form into four 3/4 inch thick oval patties.

4. Heat the remaining 1 T olive oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in remaining cilantro. Serve the patties with the couscous and yogurt sauce.

Yaksoba

I’ve been meaning to put this recipe up for a long, long time. It’s an oldie but goodie from More with Less. I didn’t make it for a long time because I had in my head that Jason didn’t like cabbage. It seems that’s still true, but he does make an exception for this recipe.

Jason and I are doing another Whole 30 this month, so we left out the noodles (I guess that essentially makes this “Yak,” since “soba” refers to the noodles) and when serving passed the coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup thin noodles (leftover noodles or spaghetti may be used; skip for Whole 30)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1–1 1/2 pounds beef sliced very thin (I buy what’s on sale)
  • 2 medium onions, cut in thin wedges
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thin
  • 1/4 head cabbage, sliced in strips
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts (or 1 cup canned bean sprouts, drained; I sometimes use green beans instead of bean sprouts)

Directions:

1. Cook and noodles according to package directions.

2. Heat oil in skillet.

3. Brown meat.

4. Add vegetables in order given, stir-frying each a few minutes and adding salt and pepper with each addition. Vegetables should be crisp-tender.

5. Add noodles last and cook just long enough to heat through.

6. Serve on rice (not on Whole 30) or alone. Pass soy sauce (or coconut aminos).

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

I pinned this recipe ages ago, and it’s a favorite at our house. So I’m putting it here for easier access

The recipe is versatile: add more vegetables, use what you have on hand, use soy sauce if you don’t have Worcestershire (or skip it altogether). You get the idea.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • butter (you’re going to be putting it in mashed potatoes, so lots or a little, your choice)
  • splash or more of milk (again, for the mashed potatoes, your choice)
  • more butter (2–4 tablespoons)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cups chopped vegetables (carrots, celery, peas, corn, green beans; whatever you have really: cauliflower is a surprisingly good addition)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (sometimes I do with less, closer to 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the potatoes in a medium-sized pot, cover the potatoes with water, and boil for 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 6–10 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables according to their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked with the onions because they take as long as the onions, but peas and corn should be added after the meat starts to cook, as they take very little time.
  3. Add ground beef to the pan with the vegetables. Cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broth and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth if necesary to keep the meat from drying out.
  4. When the potatoes are done cooking, make mashed potatoes of them (using your preferred method and adding what you like).
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Spread the meat and vegetables in a 9×13 pan. Layer the mashed potatoes on top of the beef and vegetables.
  7. Bake until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Beef with Broccoli

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An easy meal that is pretty much what you see is what you get. Also, it’s really tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1-2 pounds beef, cut into 1″ cubes (I buy what is on sale)
  • 4-6 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat sesame oil in a wok or skill over high heat.
  2. Add garlic and ginger to wok, and saute for 2 minutes until oil is infused.
  3. Add steak, stirring until browned on all sides.
  4. Once steak is seared, add broccoli. Continue to saute over high heat.
  5. Add green onion, and an extra tablespoon of oil if needed.
  6. Add coconut aminos and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  7. Continue to saute another 2-3 minutes, until all the flavors are combined.
  8. Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds to serve.

Beef Lo Mein

In the grocery store recently, Ian spotted chow mein noodles and asked if we could try the “dried worms . . . someday.” I am nothing if not susceptible to suggestions, and I have been craving Chinese food ever since. This simple recipe from an old Weight Watchers cookbook hit the spot.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound fresh lo mein noodles or spaghetti
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup sake or rice wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian (dark) sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound beef top round, cut into thin strips (I actually used bottom round, which the butcher told me was essentially the same and cost 70 cents less per pound)
  • 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • chow mein noodles for garnish (to please the 5 and under set, mainly)

Directions:

  1. Cook the noodles or spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Combine the broth, sake or rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat a nonstick wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Swirl in 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, then add the beef. Stir-fry until just cooked through, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Swirl in the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil, then add the mushrooms, green onions, and garlic. Stir-fry until softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the broth mixture to the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the beef and noodles. Cook, tossing frequently until heated through, about 1 minute.
  7. Garnish with chow mein noodles (optional).

 

Spaghetti and Meatball Casserole with Basil Cream

Today was the second time I made this casserole, and to be honest, I had forgotten how many steps there are. Don’t necessarily let that scare you off, though — if you don’t have cranky, clingy kids underfoot, the 25 minutes of “hands-on time” that Clean Living Magazine claims may be more accurate for you than it was for me. The steps are actually very similar to making a lasagna. In any case, it’s really good and definitely worth it — the basil cream sauce makes it memorable, and I keep trying to think of other uses for the delicious (and easy!) addition. (And, yes, this is the second time I’ve made a creamy basil-y sauce today.)

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated, divided (I used more than twice this amount, family preference)
  • 1/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 6 ounces extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water and drain again; set aside.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, add garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Add basil and pulse again until finely chopped. Add oil and half of Parmesan and pulse until well blended. Remove 1 tablespoon basil mixture and reserve in a medium bowl. Add cottage cheese to food processor and process until smooth and blended.
  3. Add beef, wheat germ, and milk to bowl with reserved basil mixture and mix gently until blended. Form mixture into rounded teaspoon-size meatballs (about 24 total). Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium -high heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray and add meatballs and onion. Cook, turning occasionally, until meatballs are browned and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaf to skillet, reduce heat to medium and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup tomato-meatball mixture into bottom of prepared casserole dish. Toss spaghetti with remaining tomato-meatball mixture and transfer half of spaghetti mixture to casserole dish. Dot tops of noodles in dish with half of basil mixture then cover with remaining spaghetti mixture. Dot top layer of noodles with remaining basil mixture and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake in oven until bubbling, about 10 minutes. Then remove foil and continue to cook until top is browned, about 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Winter Beef Stew

I found this recipe on an old Kraft calendar. It was called “Perfect Winter Beef Stew,” but I can’t verify the “perfect” yet. It’s simmering on the stove, and it does smell pretty good. Also, Jason asked me to omit the bacon (what?!?!), so I don’t think my version will be perfect anyway because everything is better with bacon (except, according to Jason only, soup).

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped (apparently optional)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth

Directions

  1. Place dressing and meat in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate 30 minutes (or more) to marinate.
  2. Cook bacon until crisp; drain.
  3. In a large saucepan, cook onions and mushrooms on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until soft.
  4. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade.
  5. Add meat, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes with their liquid, broth, and bacon to saucepan and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 75 minutes.
  7. Simmer uncovered 15 more minutes, or until meat is tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.