Wednesday, July 23, 2014

365 Easy One-Dish Recipes: Weird Beef Stuff (aka Easy Meat 'n Potatoes)




I don't usually ask for Dennis' opinion on dinner.  It's not that he doesn't have a say -- I just tend to be the one who plans the menu in 2-week chunks.  I know what he likes to eat and doesn't like to eat, and I take that and just sort of come up with stuff.  It's generally successful.  Generally.

For this recipe, though, I had to have a consult first.

"Does this sound too weird?" I asked Dennis.  I read him the ingredients.  He thought about it.

"No, it sounds really good, actually."

"But...it sounds weird."

"I think it sounds OK."

So I put it on the list.  And I made it.  And it's weirdly good.  It's a little addictive, as we ate the better part of 3/4 of the pan.  (Kelly had a serving, but basically just picked the cheese out of it, and that was it.)

This sounds weird.  It is weird.  Try it anyway.

(I changed the name of it because I've never referred to it as anything except the Weird Beef Stuff.)


Weird Beef Stuff
Serves 6 (Or Dennis and Myself)
From "Easy Meat 'n Potatoes" - 365 Easy One-Dish Recipes for Everyday Family Meals



Ingredients



1 pound ground beef
1 10-oz. can Sloppy Joe sauce
1 can nacho cheese soup (if you like spicy, try Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup)
1 32-oz. package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed on the counter
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar.)


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Brown the beef in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain.  Add sauce and soup to the beef and mix well.

Spray a 9x13" casserole dish with olive oil or cooking spray.  Add hash browns.  (It's going to look like it's not going to fit.  If you use a 9x13", I promise it will.)

Top hash browns with beef mixture and sprinkle with cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil.  

(Related:  What happened here?)


Bake for another 10 minutes.


So weird.  So good.



Friday, July 18, 2014

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: Mexican Rice Casserole



This is the newest on Dennis' list of Best Things I've Ever Made.  I don't know why.  I thought it was pretty good, but for whatever reason, it really blew him over.  Maybe it's the Secret Ingredient Cumin like it was last time?

Regardless, this is another super, super easy recipe, the leftovers are good, and it doesn't have a lot of crazy weird ingredients.

(I may have gone a little overboard with the cheese, but what's a little excess cheese between friends?)



Mexican Rice Casserole
Serves 4
From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook


Ingredients



1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup white rice
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add the rice, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Brown the beef in a large skillet and drain the excess fat.  Return the beef to the skillet and add 1/2 cup water, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powders, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Combine the beef and sauce with the rice in a baking dish.  (8x8 works best.)  Top with cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese melts.





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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: Taco Macaroni and Cheese



This recipe is another really good one out of this cookbook!  Super easy, and the best part of it, if you can believe it, is the cumin.  The flavor that the cumin adds to this particular recipe is just fantastic, and it takes it from what would probably be a meh recipe, into one that you're kind of surprised how good it is.  (Sorry for the last picture.  I was in a hurry!)


Taco Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4
From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook



Ingredients



16 oz. elbow macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can tomato sauce
1 can Rotel
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Cook the macaroni according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook the beer with the onion and garlic until brown, then drain the excess fat.

Return the beef mixture to the pan and add the tomato sauce, Rotel, and milk.  Stir well.

Stir in the cumin and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and mix to combine.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the mixture and allow to melt before serving.





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Monday, July 14, 2014

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: Sloppy Chicken Joes



I like making complicated meals.  Since I didn't start cooking, really cooking, until I was about 22, I feel like I'm kind of making up for it by learning how to make things like pork tenderloin and Russian Borscht and beer-glazed salmon and the like.  I like the effort that goes into making a meal that people say, "Wow, you made this yourself?  It must have taken forever.

That being said, using this cookbook was like a marathoner running a 5k Fun Run.  It was still cooking, but holy crap was my life easier.  All three recipes I made were good, and they took minimal time.  One of them, later in the week, was Dennis' new Best Thing I've Ever Made.  And most importantly, all three of them were eaten by a 10-year-old with no complaining.  I call that a successful cookbook.

The ingredient combination on this one is probably going to sound really weird, but, as I always say, you're going to have to trust me.


Sloppy Chicken Joes
Makes 4-6
From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook


Ingredients




1 1/2 lb. package boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)  (I didn't use these, but would have if it would have been just D and me)
4 to 6 hamburger buns


Dice the chicken into 1/2 inch pieces.  (I diced mine a little too big, but it all tasted the same.)

In a large pan, whisk together the tomato sauce, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, pepper, and salt.  Add the chicken and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

(A note here:  When I saw 8-10 minutes for cooking in the recipe, I thought there was no way the chicken would cook that fast, so I used my meat thermometer to measure, and sure enough, about 8 minutes in, the chicken was cooked through.  Weird.)

Dole out the mixture amongst your rolls and serve.




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Friday, July 4, 2014

InterCourses: Capellini with Rosemary



Happy 4th of July, you guys!  Have fun, watch fireworks, and char the heck out of some meat to celebrate!

So this ends our Sexy Food Tour.  It's had some ups and downs, sure, but all in all, I think it was a success.

This isn't really a weird recipe, and I've already told my elementary school sexy cookbook story, so I'll just leave you with this recipe with little fanfare.  It's pretty tasty, and if you don't have capellini, just use regular spaghetti.  (I used spaghetti, but left capellini in the title because, you know, sexy.)

Sexiness on a scale of 1 to 10:  9


Capellini with Rosemary
Serves 2
From InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook




Ingredients




4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped rosemary
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1'2 cup chopped chives
3 tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 pound capellini (or spaghetti)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan, optional


Heat 3/4 of the garlic in 1/4 cup of olive oil in a skillet until fragrant.  Stir in the herbs, saute for 2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Combine tomatoes with remaining garlic, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and vinegar in a small bowl.  Set aside to marinade.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, and toss with the herb mixture.

Fold in the tomato mixture.  Top with Parmesan before serving, if you'd like.




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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

InterCourses: Asparagus-Prosciutto Rolls



Happy July to everyone!

Rolling on with the InterCourses cookbook.  This book made me think of something really funny/not so funny that happened when I was 8 or so.

The back story here is that I've always been a voracious reader.  Stacks of books checked out from the library, halfway through one before we got home from the library -- I was that kid.

My mom, for her part, never told me that there were books I "couldn't" read.  It's such a foreign concept to me when people say, "Yeah, I wasn't allowed to read that series when I was a kid."

What?  Why?  I don't get it.  I turned out OK, and was allowed to read "adult" books when I was a kid.  I digress.

Anyway, there was one tiny amendment to that rule when I was roughly in second grade.

Back then (and even now, actually), I liked to read cookbooks.  So when I left the library one day with a cookbook with a heart on the cover, I thought, "Oh, how nice.  Food and love!"  (Or something.  I don't actually remember my thought process here.)

What I do remember is sitting in the car, heading home, reading my cookbook with the pretty heart on it.  At a stoplight, Mom glanced over and said, "What...are you reading?"

I held up the book.  It was this one:


It should be noted here that despite being allowed to read whatever I wanted (until this particular day), I had no idea what foreplay was.  And somehow, after this incident, I still didn't know what it was for many years afterward.

Mom blinked.  One of those slow blinks, you know the ones.  And she said, "You...shouldn't be reading that.  That's a little old for you."

I guess the fact that I didn't argue the fact is why she wasn't forced to explain why it was so bad.  (Well, "bad.")  She just tossed the book in the backseat, and, presumably, returned it to the library soon after.  To this day, I wonder what the lady at the desk at the library thought, having this kid check this book out.

I'm turning 30 this year, and at the time this happened, my mother was about 35.  I'm getting to the ages now where I look back at how old my parents were when stuff happened, and I can't even imagine.  I just can't.

So on to the food!

These little appetizers are super tasty.  

Yet again, I asked Dennis, "Was it sexy food?" and his response was, "I don't know.  All I could think about was how much each bite probably cost."

(Prosciutto is weirdly expensive, you guys!  But this is a really tasty recipe.)

Sexiness on a scale of 1 to 10:  6 (You have to eat it with your hands!)


Asparagus-Prosciutto Rolls
Makes enough for 2, roughly


Ingredients 




1/4 cup olive oil, plus some for sauteing
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tbsp. minced chives
Salt and pepper to taste
3 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half
3 Tbsp. cream cheese, divided
18 stalks asparagus

(NOTE:  Yes, I realized I took this picture without the Stupidly Expensive Prosciutto™.  When I realized that, I wasn't pleased.  But here you go:

)


Saute the asparagus in some olive oil over medium high heat for a very short period of time.  Literally like 2 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a bowl and whisk together well.  Stir in the chives, salt, and pepper.

Spread each piece of prosciutto with 1/2 Tbsp. of the cream cheese. 

Roll 3 stalks of asparagus in each half of the prosciutto.

Top with vinaigrette, and serve at room temperature.




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Monday, June 30, 2014

InterCourses: Strawberry Pasta



So Strawberry Pasta happened.

First of all, though, I don't know why I have this week's book.

OK, no.  That's  not entirely true.  I have this book because I saw it at the book sale last year and thought for some reason it was hysterically funny.  I mean...come on.  It's called INTERCOURSES!

But then I realized I'd actually have to blog this book, since I'm doing all the cookbooks in my collection, and I didn't want to skip it, and I promise I will do my best to make this as least awkward as possible.  (Is that bad grammar?  I just don't know.

So this cookbook is all about...sexy food, I guess.  I saw this strawberry pasta and thought, huh, that's interesting.

And interesting it was.  It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong.  But it was weird.

Poor Dennis.  He ate it, but I'm pretty sure he still, over a week later, doesn't really know how to feel about it.

"Is it sexy pasta?" I asked him while we were eating.

He had to think.

"It's...like a trip to Disneyland with people you don't like," he said.  "It's like 'this is awesome, but I have to ride this ride with you.'"

The more he ate, and the more he thought about it, the more things he had to say about it.  (And I literally wrote them down as he said them, so these are verbatim.)

-- "It makes me want to go eat a buffalo."

-- "I should have gotten high first."

-- "I kind of feel like I want a shower.  It was that weird of a visit."

-- "It's like walking away from an encounter, feeling glad you didn't leave your phone number with them."

-- "It's just...so damn twisted."

So there you have it.  Do with that what you will.  As for me, it wasn't bad, but most likely, I won't make it again.

Sexiness on a scale of 1 to 10:  -50


Strawberry Pasta
Serves 2
From InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook


Ingredients



1 pint strawberries
1/2 lb. spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Mint sprigs for garnish


Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor, and strain the liquid to remove seeds.

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

Once cooked, drain the spaghetti and toss with the cheese.

Heat the butter and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Mix well.

Move the pasta to a serving bowl, add the strawberries, then the butter sauce.  Toss well.

Serve with additional cheese and garnish with mint, if you want.  (Weirdly, the mint improves on this stuff)

Eat, and be vaguely weirded out.

It looks like brains.  Braaaaains!

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