Category Archives: beef

“Tater tot” casserole

I had a craving for this dish from my childhood, only to learn that all tater tots have wheat in/on them. At the same time, I also learned that the cheese soup we’d always used was also off limits (I’m living gluten free). Thus, I set out to make a gluten-free version of this fun easy meal.

“Tater tot” casserole
scant 2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cans french-cut green beans
1.5 pounds Velveeta
1 1/2 cups milk
1 2-pound bag gluten-free southern-style hash browns

In a large skillet, brown the hamburger; drain if necessary. Add the onion, chopped; cook until transparent. Meanwhile, chunk the Velveeta and place in a microwave-safe container and cook, stirring frequently, until melted. Stir in the milk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread this meat mixture in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. On top of this, layer the green beans, drained. Spread the hash browns atop the green beans. Pour cheese mixture evenly over the casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the hash browns are cooked and beginning to brown.


A new spicy potato soup

While recipes for spicy potato soups abound, this one is quite different than any I’ve tried before.

Thrown together based on what we had in the kitchen, this meal morphed while it was being made. I started with the idea of doing potato soup, except with ground beef. Well, P and I decided that for that to seem right, we’d need to season the meat in such a way as to make it more like sausage. That seemed like a lot of work, so instead we ended up with this, sort of a cross between potato soup and tortilla soup.

Spicy Verde Potato Soup
1.5 pounds extra lean ground beef
2 med-large onions
10 or so medium potatoes
6 stalks celery
1 16-oz jar salsa verde
1 7-oz can of green chilies
2 cups or so milk
cumin (1 tablespoon+?)
black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
granulated garlic (1-2 teaspoons)
salt (1 tablespoon+)

Brown ground beef in large stockpot. Chop onions and add to pot, cooking until onions are transparent. Scrub potatoes and chop to small-bite size. Throw those in, along with water, up to about an inch from covering the food. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook 8 minutes. While that’s cooking chop celery. Add to the cooking mixture. Allow to simmer another 10 minutes, or until potatoes and celery are done. Add salsa verde, green chilies, milk, and spices, to taste.

Good served with co-jack cheese atop it, and with tortilla chips.

Spaghetti with meat sauce

This is my own recipe, I’ve never followed a recipe and it feels like I’ve made this all my life. Today we had it with penne.

Spaghetti sauce
Brown 1.5 pounds lean ground beef in a large skillet, over medium(-high) heat. Chop and add 1.5 onions. Add 4 teaspoons of minced garlic. When onions are transparent and meat is cooked, add 3 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce and 1 can of diced tomatoes. This time I also threw in a small amount of leftover marinara sauce from the freezer. Add 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed, and 2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed. Add red pepper, black pepper and salt to taste. Simmer until ready to serve. Serve with pasta of choice.

Shepherd’s pie

The recipe I follow for this dish is actually titled Hamburger Pie, but I grew up calling it shepherd’s pie, and Wikipedia supports my name for it.

Shepherd's pie

The recipe I use is adapted here from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but I couldn’t find the same version online, so I’ll reproduce it here rather than link. The ones I was finding at Better Homes and Gardens all had condensed tomato soup in it. Ew.

Shepherd’s pie
Bake time: 20 minutes

2 cups mashed potatoes (or more)
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
9 ounces frozen green beans or 2 cups loose-pack frozen mixed veggies (I like peas and carrots)
scant 1/4 cup water
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon-ish of dried oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
shredded cheese to top

Make the mashed potatoes. Set aside. In a large skillet cook ground beef and onion until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender. Drain if necessary.

Stir beans or mixed vegetables and water into beef mixture. Cook, covered, for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, garlic and pepper. Bring to boiling. Transfer the mixture to a 2.5-quart casserole.

Drop mashed potatoes in mounds atop hot mixture and spread to nearly cover. If desired, sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake in a 375° oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Makes 4 servings.

I grew up having this as a way to use up instant mashed potatoes. Now I wouldn’t make it without real potatoes. Traditionally, I think of it having peas and carrots, but I make it with green beans at this point in life.

Beef stroganoff, variation on the theme

Last night I was late getting home, so P was cooking. When I called saying I was beginning the 45-minute journey home, he said he was making beef stroganoff — without the mushrooms. He dislikes mushrooms, but whenver I’ve made beef stroganoff, he just has to pick them out. For me, it’s hard to call a dish beef stroganoff if it lacks mushrooms. Per Wikipedia, though, mushrooms apparently aren’t a requirement. I responded, that he was also making it without sour cream? He said yes, as if he wasn’t aware it was generally used. The aforementioned article states that sour cream was part of the initial iteration of this Russian dish.

Regardless, he at the least made a variation on the theme of beef stroganoff. It tasted remarkably like the dish I’m used to. Another substitution he made, this time quite intentionally, I’m sure, was to use frozen egg noodles instead of the traditional dried egg noodles. Clearly this changed the texture of the dish.

Chop two onions, 1 1/3 pound stew meat in skillet, covered, let cook 30 minutes. Cook two packages of the noodles according to package directions. Drain juice off meat and onions, remove meat and onions from skillet and return juice to pan to use for roux. Add 3 tablespoons butter, 1/3-ish cup flour, and 4 cups milk and 1/2 cup cream, along with 1 cup of shredded cheese and salt and pepper and cook to thicken. Combine the meat, noodles and sauce in a large bowl. Serve.

Doh! There’s also garlic in the sauce, of course.

Minestrone/vegetable beef stew

Vegetable beef soup

We still had cabbage left, so I made another pot of soup. I started with the minestrone recipe as my basis. This time, though, I added 1.5 pounds of stew meat, cut into smaller pieces. I omitted the pasta. I used more of most of the veggies (carrots, celery, cabbage). I skipped the broth and just used water. Because the stew meat is generally tough, I started it early and let just that simmer for about an hour before I really started assembling the stew. I added a couple dashes of worchestershire sauce at the end, too. I also made sure to add enough water so the final product wasn’t too dry.

In the end, it seemed to have more tomatoes than the minestrone, although I added the exact same amount and made a fuller pot of stew.

I still have half a cabbage left! I’m thinking southern-style coleslaw, for P.

Vegetable Beef Stew

I started with a pound of ground beef and some potatoes and onions. When I began, I wasn’t sure if this would end up being a broth-based soup or a creamy, cheesy entree.

I was, in part, inspired by Paul’s Potato and Leek Soup of a couple weeks prior — by that and the dropping temperatures.

Vegetable Beef Stew

The funny thing is, the final result isn’t an experiment, it’s something I’ve made with semi-regularity. Even though I hadn’t considered making Vegetable Beef Stew (I really wanted to use the meat but didn’t think my self-imposed limit of 1 pound would be meaty enough to qualify as Vegetable Beef), it’s what needed to be made.

In the past, the veggies have been more varied than they were this go ’round, which was dictated by what we had in the fridge.

I started by browning the meat, adding 2.5 smallish onions, chopped, and maybe 3 tablespoons of garlic. I let that cook until the beef was browned and the onions were transparent — working in my large soup pot, of course. Then I scrubbed and chopped 10 smallish potatoes and threw them in. I added a long 2 cups of water at this point. I sliced maybe a scant pound of baby carrots and added that. Next came the celery. We had celery hearts, which are shorter stalks, for some reason. I used all we had, again; maybe 12 stalks? It was half the package.

Once I was done chopping, I gave it a stir, tossed some coarse-ground black pepper and some kosher salt on the top, and added another 2 cups of agua.

Put the lid on and let it cook, turning it down as necessary, for 20-30 minutes.

When I came back, I decided it needed the tomatoes, not milk and cheese. I added a 14-ounce can of diced and a 4-ounce can of sauce, and then shook in a couple tablespoons, maybe, of worchestershire sauce. Taste: needs something. I added a little more salt, and a couple good shakes of cayenne pepper. Stir, replace cover and let simmer.

It was a hit!

Note: In the past I’ve used green beans, of course, and probably some other vegetables, too.