Category Archives: Beef

Shepherd’s Pie

I have a confession to make. Before cooking this recipe, I had never had shepherd’s pie before. It just goes against what I believe in, I’m a firm member of the Foods Don’t Touch club. And here you have your meat touching your carrots and mashed potatoes. It’s madness!! Sidenote: Thanksgiving dinner can be a NIGHTMARE for those of us in the Foods Don’t Touch Club!

Anyway, my mom wanted me to try this recipe and so did my husband so I took one for the team and made it. Like most Cook’s Illustrated recipes, it is more involved than the average shepherd’s pie recipe. But trust me, follow the recipe because they test things so many times and they have this down pat. I followed the recipe exactly and guess what? Not only did I LIKE it, but I went back for a small spoon of seconds. ūüôā The gravy-like sauce on the meat is just to die for! The mashed potatoes were just okay, if you have an easier way of doing mashed potatoes for the top, I won’t blame you. Or judge you. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie
Recipe slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

1.5 lbs. 93% lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp baking soda
2.5 lbs. russet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg yolk
8 green onions, green only, sliced thinly
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 oz. white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ruby port
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup beef broth
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cornstarch


In a medium-sized bowl, toss beef with 2 tbsp water, 1 tsp salt, baking soda and 1/4 tsp pepper until thoroughly combined, then set aside for about twenty minutes while you prepare the rest.

While that’s sitting, place potatoes in a pan and cover with one inch water and 1 tbsp salt. ¬†Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes are soft enough for a knife to easily stick in. ¬†Drain, then return to the pan and cook, shaking the pot occasionally for a minute while the surface moisture has evaporated. ¬†Remove from heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. ¬†Stir in the melted butter then whisk the milk and egg yolk together and stir in. ¬†Add the green onions and season to taste with salt and pepper. ¬†Cover and set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add the onion, mushrooms, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Cook until vegetables are softened and dark bits are forming on bottom, stirring occasionally.  Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook about two minutes, until the bottom of the skillet is turning a dark brown.  Add the port and using the spatula, scrape the browned bits from the bottom, until the port has evaporated.  Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, then add the broth, carrots, Worcestershire, thyme sprigs and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits again.  Reduce heat and add beef in 2-inch chunks and bring to a gentle simmer.  Cover and cook until the beef is cooked through.  Halfway through cooking, break up the beef chunks into small pieces.  Stir together the cornstarch and water and stir this into the beef mixture and allow to simmer for 30 seconds.  Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and season to taste.

Spray a pie dish with nonstick spray and transfer the meat mixture to the dish, spreading evenly.  Spoon the potato mixture into a large Ziploc bag and snip off a large corner.  Pipe onto the top of the meat mixture, then use a spoon to spread it evenly over the top.  Using the tines of a fork, create ridges over the surface of the potatoes.  Place under the broiler on HIGH for a few minutes, watching carefully, until the potatoes turn golden on the ridges.  Allow to sit for five minutes before serving.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie


No Peek Beef Tips

I know some people who know me really well will be shocked by this, but I love beef tips!  I generally do NOT like rice and gravy but for some reason, I cannot get enough of this.  Our church has Parish suppers on Wednesday nights and if it is beef tip night, you will see me there!

I saw a recipe on Pinterest but I was skeptical.¬† Could this really be as good as those little old ladies cook?¬† I just didn’t know.¬† But there was only one way to find out.¬† I added a few ingredients, and will include that in my adapted version, but they are totally optional.¬† This cooks low and slow and makes your house smell fantastic and guess what?¬† It was amazing!¬† The meat was so tender and the flavor was JUST like the one at Parish supper!¬† And you can’t deny how simple this was to make!¬† Definitely going to be making this again.¬† Soon.

No Peek Beef Tips

No Peek Beef Tips

No Peek Beef Tips
Recipe adapted from Mommys Kitchen

2 lbs. beef stew meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet Lipton Beefy Onion soup mix
1 packet dry brown gravy mix
1 4 oz. can mushrooms
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup red wine (you can omit the wine and just use water if desired)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.¬† Spray a 9×13 casserole with nonstick spray and place stew meat inside.¬† In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.¬† Pour over the beef, making sure all gets covered.¬† Cover with foil and bake 3 hours.¬† Do not peek.¬† Serve over rice, potatoes or pasta.


Cajun Cabbage with Rice

Earlier this week I asked my Facebook friends if anyone had a good recipe for cabbage.¬† I had gotten some from the farmers market and didn’t feel like making my same old smothered cabbage or egg rolls.¬† I had a lot of responses and ended up going with my friend Amy’s suggestion.¬† She and I seem to have similar tastes so I figured I’d like it.

This recipe was basically like a deconstructed cabbage roll, made into a casserole.¬†I messed up and forgot to cover it while baking, so it didn’t look pretty at all – I didn’t even take a picture of it.¬† I somehow miraculously got my four-year old to taste it, she was not a fan though I think it was because it was too spicy for her – it does have some heat.¬† My husband and I were huge fans though and will definitely be making this more often!

Cajun Cabbage with Rice
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I forgot to buy one and it was fine without)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can Rotel/diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup long grain rice, uncooked
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 small head cabbage, chopped
2 cups shredded Colby cheese (it called for one cup, I wanted more!)


Heat the oven to 350.

In a nonstick pan, heat the oil and add the ground beef.  Cook until brown, breaking up into small bits.  Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic, cook until soft.  Once the vegetables are soft, add the Rotel, tomato sauce and seasonings, then stir in the rice.

Empty into a greased 9×12 casserole, spreading evenly.¬† Top with the shredded cabbage, then the shredded cheese and cover.¬† Bake for 65 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Steak Fingers and Gravy

My husband and I just celebrated ten years as a couple and I can’t tell you how many times in the last ten years how much he LOVES the steak fingers basket at Dairy Queen.¬† I had never had them, so I didn’t get it.¬† Then I made friends with Tiffani and she would talk about how much she loves the steak fingers basket at Dairy Queen.¬† I still haven’t tried it.

But I did make it on my own.¬† I wanted to make something the hubby would like, he deserved a treat.¬† He deserves more treats than he gets, he’s a hard working guy.¬† I googled the almighty steak fingers recipe and saw Pioneer Woman had one.¬† She is kind of up there with Paula Deen in unhealthy food, but honestly?¬† That’s probably what makes this dish so great.¬† It’s NOT healthy.¬† Not even a little.¬† Not even if you squint.¬† But good?¬† Yep.

My gravy came out a little lackluster, but people that know me well know gravy just ain’t my thing.¬†¬†Oh well.¬† James was a big fan of this dish!

Steak Fingers and Gravy

Steak Fingers and Gravy
Recipe from Pioneer Woman

2 lbs. tenderized round steak or cube steak, cut into 1 inch strips
1 cup flour
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 whole eggs
1 cup milk
oil and butter for frying
an additional 2 cups milk
salt and pepper, to taste


Combine the flour and the seasonings (you could just use 2 tsp Creole seasoning), keep in a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs and 1 cup milk, set aside.  Heat a skillet with oil and 2 tbsp butter over medium heat.  Dredge the strips through the flour, then the egg liquid, then once again in the flour until well-coated.  Place four or five strips in the skillet and cook until golden, turning halfway through.  Remove to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.

To make the gravy, pour out all but 1/4 cup grease from the pan.  To the remaining grease, sprinkle in 2-4 tbsp of the leftover flour and whisk until it becomes a paste and cook until it becomes a deep golden brown.  Add the milk, whisking constantly until the gravy is well mixed and thickened to your liking.  Season to taste and serve with steak fingers.

Christen’s Spaghetti & Meatballs, Slow-Cooker Style!

One of my favorite foods is spaghetti with red sauce.  I could eat it every day and probably not get tired of it.  But I know James would so I try to limit my cooking it to once a month or so!

As you know I have a deep love for my crockpot, so I figured why not try to make my spaghetti in there?¬† When I make meatballs, I like them to cook in the gravy a long time, that way they aren’t all tough like they are if you cook them in a skillet first.¬† A slow-cooker seemed the perfect solution for this, and it worked great.¬† You simply dump all the ingredients into the slow cooker and mix it up well, assemble your meatballs and plop them into the sauce and let it cook.¬† Couldn’t be easier.¬† I’m thinking this would be easily assembled the night before even.¬† I’ll definitely be cooking them this way more often (well as often as he lets me!).

Slow-Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

Slow-Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs
My own recipe

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 small cans tomato sauce
2 small cans tomato paste
A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1 tsp white granulated sugar
4-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1-2 tsp dried Italian seasonings)
2-3 fresh stems of thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
seasonings to taste:¬† Tony’s, garlic and onion powders, salt, red pepper flakes
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

spaghetti noodles for serving


Spray the crockpot dish with nonstick spray.  Add all of the sauce ingredients to the dish, mix well.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the meatball ingredients just till mixed.¬† Don’t over mix, or they’ll be tough.¬† Place them into the crockpot, sinking them down into the sauce.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  When done, taste for seasoning, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs, then serve over pasta.


Enchilada Casserole with Spicy Black Beans

Well it’s that time of year again.¬† Everyone is health conscious, everywhere you look are ads for weight loss items and the gym parking lot is full.¬† New Years Resolutions.¬† Every year my goal is to lose weight, and as I’m getting older the desire is much stronger.¬† And it’s much harder.

It’s extra hard since I love to cook and I love food.¬† Luckily these days there are many tasty recipes that are on the lower-cal side of the spectrum.¬† One of my favorite sources for tasty healthier recipes is Cooking Light.¬† Almost everything I’ve ever cooked from that magazine has been delicious and this recipe is no different.¬† It really doesn’t even TASTE like it’s lighter.¬†¬†The portions were large also, so it didn’t leave you hungry.¬† If you’re a fan of Mexican food you’re sure to love this.

Enchilada Casserole with Spicy Black Beans
Recipe from Cooking Light magazine, January/February 2012
Serves 4

1 lb lean ground beef (ground turkey would work fine too)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
1.5 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup lower- sodium beef broth
1 tbsp taco seasoning (it called for less-sodium but I used spicy)
1 (8 oz) can salt-free tomato sauce
4 (8-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, brown beef and crumble with your spoon.¬† Add onion and cook until tender.
  • In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.¬† Add the garlic, saute for a minute then sprinkle with flour and cook an additional thirty seconds, stirring constantly.¬† Add in the broth, taco seasoning and tomato sauce and stir in well.¬† Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally for two minutes.¬† Add 1.5 cups of this mixture to the browned beef, reserving 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture for later use.
  • Spray a pie plate with nonstick spray and place one tortilla in the bottom.¬† Top with one cup of beef mixture, then repeat the layers, ending with a tortilla.¬† Spread the reserved tomato mixture over the top, then sprinkle on the cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.¬† Cool slightly and cut into four wedges.

Spicy Black Beans

2 tsp canola oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 minced jalapeno pepper
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro


  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  • Add the red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and saute for four minutes.¬† Add the lime juice, salt and beans and cook until heated through, about three minutes.¬† Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Enchilada Casserole – 377
Spicy Black Beans – 83

Enchilada Casserole with Spicy Black Beans

Grillades with Cheddar and Goat Cheese Fried Grits

We have a little tradition at our house where Sunday night is our “good meal” night of the week.¬† It’s usually something that is a little more time or labor intensive, something you wouldn’t be up to tackling during the week.¬† Often it’s something on the grill, or sometimes it’s something that has to simmer or roast for a while in the oven.¬† This week it was grits and grillades.

I know you’re thinking grits and grillades don’t really take all that long to cook, and you’re right.¬† They don’t.¬† But these are special grits.¬† They’re grits mixed with two different cheeses, cut into squares, battered and fried.¬† So when you top the crisp little boxes of grits with that savory beefy gravy and dig in, you get a small taste of crunch with the creamy cheesy grits.¬† And you keep digging in, way past when you should have called it quits.¬† Because it’s just so good.¬† So good.

I should note for those that can’t imagine what this tastes like – the grillades reminds me very much of boeuf bourguignon.¬† In fact, it made me say “hmmm, maybe next time we make b.b. we can make fried grits!

Grillades with Cheddar and Goat Cheese Fried Grits
Recipe adapted from my dad, Gerry!

Grillades Recipe:
1 lb. sirloin tip steaks
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
¬†¬Ĺ tsp black pepper
¬†¬Ĺ tsp garlic powder
¬†¬Ĺ cup flour
 2-3 slices bacon, browned and crumbled, grease reserved
 1 onion, chopped
 15oz can diced tomato
 1 can Rotel Original tomatoes
2 cups red wine
 5 squirts Worcestershire sauce
 1 tsp. basil
 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Remove and discard fat from meat.¬† Cut into ¬Ĺ inch wide strips.¬† Lay several pieces of meat on a cutting board, sprinkle with seasoning mix and a little flour.¬† Pound each piece of meat with a mallet till slightly flattened.¬† After all of the meat is tenderized, heat the bacon drippings in a large black iron pot and brown the meat on both sides.¬† Add seasoning blend and cook till veggies are tender, stirring often to prevent sticking.¬† Add both cans of tomatoes and their liquid, reducing heat to medium. Add mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, wine, basil and¬†thyme.¬† Cook for an hour or so, until meat is tender.¬† If gravy becomes too thick, add wine or beef broth.¬† Just before serving, you can add chopped green onion tops.¬† Serve over fried or baked grits.
Grits Recipe
Cooked grits (make 8 servings)
¬†¬Ĺ cup shredded cheddar
4 oz. garlic and herb goat cheese
green onions
¬†seasoning mix (I use Tony Chachere’s)
 seasoned flour
 egg wash
 vegetable oil
Make grits according to package directions.  Mix with cheese, green onions, and seasonings.  Pour into greased casserole dish.  Put into fridge overnight, or at least a few hours.  Cut grits into squares, dip into egg wash, then into seasoned flour.  Fry in about an inch of oil in a fry pan till browned.  Serve with grillades poured over it.

Grillades with Cheddar and Goat Cheese Fried Grits