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Easy Mexican Meals for Busy Days – Guest Post

So we’re basically the laziest bloggers ever! After not posting for more than a month, what’s one of the first things we do? Put up a guest post! But Allison has been waiting patiently for so long now, we just had to post one! We really like the topic, too, because really, who doesn’t like Mexican food? We’re sure your family will love her recipes too! Take it away, Allison!

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I love Mexican food. Tex-Mex really. Since I am a native Texan it only makes sense that I

would love those flavors. However it is not just the taste of Mexican food that I love. I also love

it because it is so easy and quick to put together. Not only that but Mexican food is infinitely

customizable. From vegetarian versions to kid friendly meal ideas, Mexican food is great for any

occasion. Here are a few easy Mexican meals you can make in a snap:

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Tacos

Tacos are a family get-together favorite because they are so adaptable. No matter what taste you

have or what veggies you like you can be sure to load up a taco that is to your liking. Kids love

to use just the basic meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato combo but you can spice it up with salsa,

add some smooth guacamole and more. Here is a basic recipe that your family is sure to love:

Ingredients:

10 Small Corn Tortillas (Taco Shells) Soft or Hard

1 lb.Ground Beef (or Turkey or Refried Beans or Ground Chickpeas)

1 pkg.Taco Seasoning or 2 tbsp. Flour(Optional)

2 cups Shredded Cheese

1 jar Salsa (or Pico de Gallo)

1 cup Diced Tomatoes

2 cups Shredded Lettuce

½ cup Sliced Mushrooms

¼ cup Sliced Ripe (Black) Olives

1 cup Diced Onion

¼ cup Diced Green Bell Pepper

½ cup Sour Cream

½ cup Guacamole (or Avocado Slices)

Directions:

Tacos are easy because they are so versatile. You can assemble them ahead of time or allow

everyone to create their own. First you start with the meat. Ground chuck has the best flavor for

tacos. If you do not wish to use meat you can also use refried beans or ground chickpeas. Brown

the meat and pour off the grease. For a strong Mexican flavor add taco seasoning. For a less

spicy flavor add the flour. Make sure the flour is stirred into the meat well before serving. You

can also do without either. Next you need to prepare the shells. Crunchy shells can be purchased

next to the salsa in the international aisle. They need to be baked until crispy. Soft shells can be

purchased near the bread and must be fried before serving. Using a non-stick skillet spray the

pan with oil and cook each side until lightly brown. Shells will start to bubble when cooked. Let

everyone assemble their own flavor combinations. Or if you want to you can pre-make the tacos

by taking the uncooked crunchy shells, filling them with meat and cheese, and then baking ,

closely packed, in a casserole dish.

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Burritos

I love the chunky, crispy goodness of a burrito. A great meal to eat on the go it is also a tasty

dinner treat that you can whip up in no time flat. Although this recipe is able to feed up to ten

people, you can cut down the ingredients and just make one or two. You can even turn it into a

fun party meal by letting everyone make up their own and then baking them all together.

Ingredients:

10 Large Flour Tortillas

1 can Refried Beans or Ground Chickpeas

2 cups Spanish Rice

1 lb. Ground Beef (or Ground Turkey or Shredded Chicken)

1 pkg. Taco Seasoning or 2 tbsp. Flour (Optional)

2 cups Shredded Cheese

1 can Whole Kernel Corn (Drained Well)

½ cup Roughly Chopped Tomatoes

½ cup Roughly Chopped Mushrooms

¼ cup Whole Ripe (Black) Olives

1 cup Roughly Chopped Onion

¼ cup Roughly Chopped Green Bell Pepper

½ cup Sour Cream

½ cup Guacamole (or Avocado Slices)

1 jar Salsa (or Pico de Gallo)

2 cups Shredded Lettuce

Directions:

Burritos are both similar and different than tacos. First of all, after you cook the meat (following

the directions for the taco meat) you do not cook the shells. Flour tortillas for burritos are larger

than taco shells, about the size of a large dinner plate. Burritos are cooked fully assembled.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take the flour shell and start in the middle. Make sure you

leave room on the ends and sides. Do not overfill. Spread the bean paste first and then top with

meat and rice. Sprinkle on a thin layer of cheese and add the vegetables, excluding the lettuce.

The veggies should be rather large so that they will not get too soft in the baking process. Wrap

the burritos by folding in the top and bottom first and then wrapping the sides. Hold closed with

a toothpick. In a large casserole dish, place the burritos so that they are touching but not packed

too close. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for twenty minutes. Take off the foil and bake for

five to ten more minutes or until the shells turn golden brown. Serve with lettuce, sour cream,

avocado, and salsa.

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Corn Bread Casserole

This is another great meal for big crowds or hungry teens. This one is a hit and so simple to

throw together. With only a few ingredients you can make this up in minutes and have dinner on

the table. It is also very affordable and filling for those days that you need to stretch the budget.

Feel free to add in more veggies if you would like, but remember that salsa has lots of veggies in

it too!

Ingredients:

2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (2 Eggs and 2/3 cup Milk)

1 can Creamed Corn

1.5 lbs. Ground Beef (or Turkey)

1 cup Diced Onion

½ cup Diced Carrots

1 16 oz jar of Salsa

4 cups Shredded Cheese

Directions:

This tasty casserole makes enough for a crowd! It is very easy to make too. Preheat your oven to

350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 13 casserole dish. Prepare the Jiffy as directed and then stir in the can

of creamed corn. Set aside. Brown the meat, onions and carrots until cooked through. Drain off

grease. Add the jar of salsa and mix well. Pour meat mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle on half

the cheese. Over that, pour half the Jiffy mix and spread until the meat mixture is well covered.

Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and then pour on the rest of the Jiffy mix. Spread until Jiffy

mix reaches edges of pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the cornbread is fully cooked.

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Mexican Casserole

Also known as Mexican lasagna, this tasty recipe can easily be supplemented by extra veggies

depending on what flavors your family likes. I love it because it is a great one pot meal that

freezes well too. Make a couple of batches of this and freeze one for later. You won’t regret it!

Ingredients:

1 lb. Ground Beef (or Turkey)

1 cup Chopped Onion

2 tbs. Taco Seasoning (Optional)

2 ½ cups Salsa

1 canBlack Beans or Red Kidney Beans(Rinsed and Drained)

¼ cup Italian Salad Dressing

1 can of Whole Kernel Corn (Drained)

¾ cup Sour Cream

6 Small (8 inches) Flour Tortillas

2 cups Shredded Cheese

1 cup Shredded Lettuce

½ cup Chopped Tomato

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 by 13 casserole dish. In a large skillet brown the

meat and onion until cooked through. Drain off the grease and add the taco seasoning if desired.

Stir in the salsa, beans, corn, sour cream, and dressing until well mixed. Pour 1/3 of the meat

mixture into the casserole dish and spread thin. Take two flour tortillas and tear into bit sized

pieces or leave whole and spread over the meat layer. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat

until all layers are complete. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Serve with lettuce and tomatoes.

These tasty Tex-Mex recipes are sure to become a hit with your family. Why not try out

something new and see how easy it is to have a great meal on the table in minutes!

Author Byline:

Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it

allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering

her writing career with http://www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail

allison.nannyclassifieds@gmail.com.

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Thanks so much Allison! We hope you all enjoy her recipes as much as we did!

~twosaucysisters

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Challenges, Triumphs and Beef

Hey 2SS readers!

So today’s post is going to be a bit different, because we are sharing with you the blog post that volunteered to write for our Food Product Development class. We explain the class and the major assignment in the post, so we won’t say too much about it. The post will also be appearing on Canada Beef’s blog, so whether you read it here or there, be sure to check it out! 🙂

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Challenges, Triumphs, and Beef

In University, it isn’t very often that students get the opportunity to take the information they learn in class and apply it to a real-world situation while still in their undergrad. This term, however, that is exactly what we got to do as students in Professor Gladys Ylimaki’s Product Development class at Brescia University.

With the class being a relatively new addition to the course offerings as part of the Foods and Nutrition program, none of us really had a clear idea of what exactly we were signing up for when we enrolled in the class.  In fact, we didn’t even know that we were going to be working with Canada Beef until the first day of classes!  You can imagine our excitement when we discovered that we would be partnering with such a well-known and reputable organization. Most of us, having little experience with product and recipe development, were also a little nervous- you could call it fear of the unknown- but anxious to get started.  Little did we know the exciting roller-coaster ride we were about to get on!

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Samples ready to be tasted!

In a nut shell, our job was to create recipes that matched already-existing photos given to us by Canada Beef that didn’t have recipes to go with them.  There were 14 photos in total, each one showcasing a different cut of beef.  Not only did we have to come up with a recipe to match the photo, but we also had to provide a couple variations of our recipe, changing up the sides or using different flavour combinations to show the versatility of each cut.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  That’s what we thought, too, until we got started! First we had a lot of learning to do.  We had to understand who our target market was and identify their wants and needs.  Then we had to research current food trends to find out what is up and coming in the marketplace and food industry.  Next we had to learn about the actual process of developing a product, in our case a recipe, such as brainstorming, how to properly test (and re-test!) a product, and how to conduct a proper sensory evaluation.

Phew!  Tired yet? And we haven’t even gotten into the kitchen!

Sampling a recipe

Sampling a recipe

After all of this pre-development work, you can be sure that we were all very excited to finally get

into the kitchen to start cooking!  This stage, the actual creation of our recipes, was the most fun and yet by far the most challenging aspect of the project.  It was also the most rewarding!

Like we said, there were many challenges that presented themselves during this part of the project. Save for a few individuals, most of us had not had extensive experience in the kitchen, and more specifically, the majority had a limited knowledge of beef.  Being that beef is a much more complex product than say chicken or fish, there was a much steeper learning curve at the start. Understanding our cut of beef and how to prepare it in a way that brings out its best qualities was

Samples ready to be tested

Samples ready to be tested

our first hurdle. Some beef needs to be marinated, some doesn’t. Certain cuts can be cooked in five minutes, while others take hours. Once we had determined what our specific cut required, it was time to get experimenting! But we couldn’t just throw on a chef’s hat and start playing around with ingredients. We had to make sure that our recipes followed the guidelines that Canada Beef had set out for us. The recipes had to be healthy, cost-effective, easy to prepare and most importantly – delicious! This had an impact on what we could and couldn’t use in our recipes. We couldn’t go across town to that obscureS ethnic foods market to pick up a vegetable that no one has ever heard of before, nor could be spend $20 buying some expensive spice. Of course, we also had to steer clear of ingredients that contained copious amounts of fat, sugar and salt. Not so simple anymore, is it? We wanted our recipes to be healthy, but still taste good, be simple, yet still interesting, all the while still matching the picture, too!

Un-stuffed cabbage rolls hot out of the oven

Un-stuffed cabbage rolls hot out of the oven

 The actual testing of our recipes was difficult as well. We had to test one method or ingredient, and if that didn’t achieve our desired outcome, try another. Once we found what worked, we had to test it again to make sure that we could consistently produce the same product. Then of course we had to cross test our recipes and have others in the class sample them to make sure they tasted good.

Cooking up a storm

Cooking up a storm

 “The biggest difficulty we encountered was ensuring that our brown rice was fully cooked.  It took several cooking attempts to realize that we needed to use a rice that would cook fast and absorb the right amount of liquid.” – Kirstie and Jileesa, Un-stuffed Cabbage Rolls

As you can see, the process of developing a recipe is long, tedious, and requires a great amount of trial and error. But no matter how frustrating it sometimes was, we really enjoyed the whole experience. Not only did we learn a lot about cooking with all the different cuts of beef, but this project opened our eyes to its amazing versatility and removed much of the negative stigma that surrounds it. Before this class, many of us thought that beef was less healthy and more expensive than other protein sources, not to mention much more finicky and difficult to work with. Thanks to Canada Beef and this project, we now know that beef can be just as healthy as any other form of protein, can fit into a budget, and is much easier to use than most people think! This project also taught us a lot about recipe development and sensory evaluation, knowledge that we can take with us into our future careers.

Having some fun in the Kitchen

This was a great experience from start to finish. We really liked developing – and of course tasting – the recipes, and being behind the     scenes of recipe development was very exciting.

“[Creating] a new take on a classic recipe made us re-discover the food all over again!”- Meatloaf

Smiling in lab

While most assignments that are given in University have very strict guidelines and rules to follow, this project was much more open-ended, with plenty of room for creativity, which was a refreshing change for all of us. It provided us with a unique, real-life experience that doesn’t come around too often during your undergraduate degree. Best of all, this project has become a source of pride for all of us. The recipes that we created are our own, something that brings us much more satisfaction than just a good grade. They are something we can share with everyone and anyone, and give us the opportunity to also share even just a bit of our new-found knowledge.

One thing is for certain, if there’s anything we learned from this experience, it’s that:

We love Canadian Beef

Untidy Samuels

Do you have any random memories that have absolutely no significant impact on your life but for some reason the image has been burned into your memory and it remains there as clear as if it just happened yesterday?

We have lots of those.

We both seem to have impeccable memories for random things that happened in our childhood.  Remembering what time we work at tomorrow?  No, we should probably check the schedule.  Remembering to call and book a hair cut? We think the fact that we both haven’t had a hair cut in 6 months speaks for itself (don’t judge…).  But remembering that random and insignificant line from that movie that we don’t even know the name of from when we were 7 years old?  Of course!

We won’t get into the details of the film (although you know we could…), but the scene that sticks in our memories went like this:

A little British boy and girl are playing in the nursery in the mansion in which they reside, when their also English-speaking butler comes into the room and announces that dinner is ready.

“Sloppy Sams?!?” they both exclaim (hmmm… the British version of sloppy Joes?)

In his most proper manner, the butler replies, “We will refer to them as ‘Untidy Samuels'”.

As a couple of 7-year-olds, we thought this was the most hilarious thing we had ever heard.  Laughter ensued for serveral minutes, and “Untidy Samuels” were requested for dinner that night.

Sloppy Joes were always a favourite meal of ours growing up.  It was one of those meals that our mom could make for the entire family and be completely confident that she would get no complaints from anyone.  And this holds true to this day.  We love anything that’s sloppy and oh-so-saucy ;), and the rest of our family have not outgrown their love for the messy, meaty dish.

So in the spirit of random childhood memories, guess what we made for dinner last night?

Untidy Samuels!

With a hearty dose of veggies and the addition of cooked brown lentils, these are the more grown-up version of our childhood favourite.  And over a bed of steamed zucchini noodles, we both agree that these are classy enough to be termed “Untidy Samuels”.

And because everything tastes better in a bowl…

Using lean (or extra-lean!) ground beef, and adding a hearty dose of veggies into the mix boost the nutrition of this meal, but what takes it to the next level are the lentils.  1 cup of lentils have only 1 gram of fat and 4 mg of sodium, and boast 16 grams of fibre and 18 grams of protein.  They also contribute a great source of iron, folate, and thiamin, as well as a host of other nutrients. (source)

And if you’re like us and have giant zucchinis comin’ out the ying-yang, then you should definitely consider serving this meal over steamed zucchini noodles, because it’s a great way to use up a lot of the tasty summer staple.

Which, conveniently, is the theme of this month’s What I Ate WednesdaySummer Staples!

Up until now, we have not participated in What I Ate Wednesdays, but we have been considering it for quite some time.  And what a better time to start?  Like so many of you, we also have zucchinis bursting out of our garden and taking over the produce drawer.  We really can’t think of more of a summer staple than the tasty summer squash!

Often when people have an excess of zucchini the first instinct is to hide it in bread or cake, but we ask why?  Why hide it?  Not that we have anything against zucchini bread (we love it, actually) but we think that zucchini deserves the chance to shine.

So tonight go make you and your family some sloppy… er, unitdy Joesephs!

Beef and Lentil Sloppy Joes

Total time: 25min

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs lean ground beef

1/2 c. brown lentils + 1 c. water

3/4 c. peas

3/4 c. corn

2 mushrooms, sliced

1/2 c. bell peppers, chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 c. tomato paste

1/4 c. molasses

1/4 c. apple cidar vinegar

1/4 c. worchestershire sauce

1 tsp. ground mustard

1/2 tsp EACH turmeric and paprika

1 tsp steak spice

pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp of chives

1 large and 1 medium zucchini, sliced into match-stick thin “noodles”

Directions:

Add lentils and water to a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20min

Add ground beef to a skillet and cook until browned, drain.

Put zucchini noodles in steaming basket and steam until tender, about 15min.

Add all other veggies and saute for 2-3min.

Add all other ingredients, excluding the chives. Cook over medium heat for 7-8 min, or until heated through.

Add chives and serve over zucchini noodles.

– twosaucysisters

P.s. A huge congrats goes out to the Men’s 8 for winning the silver medal, our Canadian women’s gymnastics team for a phenomenal showing in yesterday’s team competition, the women’s 4X200m freestyle for advancing to the finals, and to our 3m springboard divers for doing well despite their obstacles in this past 3 months! So proud to be Canadian! 🙂

Did you love sloppy Joe’s as a kid? What meals instantly bring you back to your childhood?

A Burger by Any Other Name

I am not a crazy red meat person.  I enjoy a good steak on occasion, and am learning to appreciate more and more the uniqueness of bison and elk, but it’s not something I would typically order at a restaurant or really ever make at home. Once or twice in the summer, tops. But there is one way in which I crave beef, and I’m talking mouth watering, day dreaming, nothing else will satisfy it.

Burgers.

I adore them! There are so many things you can do with burgers, so many topping options, bun options, flavours, cheese or no cheese- the list is endless! With summer now upon us, and Food Buzz’s Flavour of the Month being burgers, Brit and I decided we had better get to burger making!

We didn’t, however, want to make an ordinary, ‘normal’ flavoured burger (though those are delicious!), we wanted to be a bit more creative. After turning over a few ideas, we settled on and East-indian/ Trinidad and Tobago influence – Curry!

And you know what? It was a damn good idea! They were so juicy and loaded with flavour! In the past, we have struggled with creating a recipe in which the patties would actually hold together when put on the BBQ, but we came up with a sure-fire method that will guarantee non-crumbly burger! The trick? Whipping half your beef mixture around in the food processor – it turns into a “glue” as my dad so aptly named it, but by adding the other half in manually afterwards keeps that same delicious burger texture!

Of course, one can’t simply throw any old toppings on a curry-infused beef patty and call it a burger! We knew to make this a winner, we had to put together something that would compliment the burger while not taking away from the flavour of the burger itself. We decided on two: A savoury/fruity chutney (fruit in a savoury dish=best!) and a coconut-lime yogurt spread. Finish off with a crisp leaf or two of lettuce and darlin’, you’ve got yourself a home-run!

*The chutney you will definitely want to make ahead, as it takes a couple hours and has to chill afterwards, as well. There are a few different methods that can be used to make it, but each still takes time to allow the flavours to fully develop.

Paired with a light sweet n’ sour cabbage salad (recipe tomorrow!), this is the perfect meal at the end of a hot summer day. Or any day. 😉

And with that I leave you with not one, not two, but THREE recipes! Go crazy!

Juicy Curry Burgers

Prep time: 20min

Cook time: 20min (ish)

Servings: 10 4oz. patties

Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef, divided (it’s best to use beef that hasn’t been frozen, or allowed to thaw fully in the fridge)

1/2 c. greek yogurt

1/2 c. bread crumbs, divided

1 clove garlic

1/8th of an onion

1 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. ground mustard

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

black pepper

Directions:

Put one pound of the beef in the food processor along with 1/4 c. of the bread crumbs, yogurt, onion, garlic and spices. Blend until a smooth, mashed-potato like texture. Transfer to large bowl and mix remaining beef and bread crumbs. Shape into patties, 4oz each. Grill on low to medium heat, flipping occasionally, until burgers are cooked through (71 C/160 F). Take you whole grain bun, start with lettuce on the bottom, followed by chutney (recipe below) and the burger placed on top. On the top half of the bun, spread yogurt (recipe also below!).

Peachy-Tomato Chutney

Total Time: 2-3 hours

Makes: 3-4c.

Ingredients:

1 28oz. can no-salt added tomatoes (we used whole and cut them into chunks)

2 c. canned or fresh peaches, chopped

1/3 c. honey

2 tsbp Arrow root flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. mustard seed

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 c. red onion

Directions:

Bread Maker Method: If you have a bread maker, simply put all the ingredients into the machene, select the “preserves” setting and let er’ go! Once finish, transfer to a container and allow to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Stove-top Method: Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer forone hour. Transfer to another container and allow to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Slow-cooker Method: Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for one hour or so, then transfer to another container and allow to cool in the fridge for at least an hour.

Coconut-Lime Yogurt Spread

Total time: 5 min

Ingredients:

2/3 c. greek yogurt

1-2 tsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. coconut extract

Directions:

Combine and enjoy!

– Julie

Do you like burgers?

What’s your favourite burger combination?