Archive for Beef

Traditional Chili

I have been making this variation one of my aunt’s traditional chili recipes for years. It is always a big hit for family and friends and very easy to make. I have never made it with 9 lbs. of beef before, but I have also never made chili for a huge crowd before. I would make it again using this much meat even if I had less people because I could easily freeze half of it to get us through the winter! It’s an easy recipe to cut in half if you want to. You can also change up the amounts of your spices, add more beans, less onion….the opportunities are endless! If it wasn’t gone so quickly, I would have taken a better picture of it in a bowl all dressed up with cheese and sour cream! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 2 1/2 -3 hours


9 lbs. ground beef

3 onions, diced

6 T. olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

4 cans green chiles

3 10 oz. cans beef consommé

4 cans Rotel Chili Fixin’s

4 4oz. cans tomato paste

1 T. oregano

2 T. cumin

6 T. chili powder

3 cans kidney beans (1 drained, 2 undrained)

Garnishes (optional):

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Fritos (although the kids will say this is not an optional ingredient)

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Large Pot

Preparing Traditional Chili:

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add meat and cook until done. Drain.  Return mixture to pot. Add chiles, consommé, Rotel Chili Fixin’s, tomato paste, oregano, cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add beans. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve hot. Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and Fritos, if desired. 


Important Tips:

The key to a good chili is to never rush it. The longer the flavors have to blend together, the better it will be! 


You can easily substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef in this recipe. You just might need to add a little spice! 

Got Leftovers?:

As with all chili, this will keep for months in the freezer as long as you double bag it! 

Meatball Sliders

Meatball Sliders

I was flipping through the January 2015 edition of Southern Living magazine recently and came across this recipe for Meatball Sliders. Can I just say, “AH-MAZING!” I made them on a Friday night when I knew the kids were having friends over since the recipes makes a lot of meatballs. I actually prepared the meatballs the night before and put them in the refrigerator. When I got home Friday afternoon after a busy day, I pulled out the meatballs to bring them to room temperature before putting them in the sauce. This could not have been more easy and everyone LOVED them! Note: I actually tried a meatball by itself and even though I am not a meatball expert, it was pretty awesome! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 10 hours


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 large fresh basil sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, crushed
5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
24 slider buns or dinner rolls, split and lightly toasted
12 (1-oz.) provolone cheese slices, halved
Garnish: fresh basil leaves

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Crock Pot

Preparing Meatball Sliders:

1. Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 7-qt. slow cooker; stir in 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours. 

2. Meanwhile, place ground chuck and ground pork in a large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients and remaining 1 Tbsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper; mix gently just until blended. Gently shape mixture into 24 meatballs. (Do not pack.) Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet; cover well, and chill until ready to use.

3. Let meatballs stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Carefully submerge meatballs in tomato mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour or until meatballs are done, stirring after 30 minutes. (I actually cooked my meatballs about 90 minutes).

4. Preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Arrange bottom halves of 12 buns in a single layer on each of 2 baking sheets. Place 1 meatball on each bun;

Meatball Sliders

top with sauce and 1 halved provolone cheese slice. Repeat with remaining buns, meatballs, and cheese.

Meatball Sliders

5. Broil sliders, 1 baking sheet at a time, 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with top halves of buns.

Meatball Sliders

Meal Ideas:

Serve with a salad and call it a day!

Brisket Tacos with Red Cabbage

Brisket Tacos with Red Cabbage

I love watching the show “Chopped” on the Food Network. That is how I have come to know the name Alex Guarnaschelli since she is one of the judges. I came across her recipe for Brisket Tacos with Red Cabbage in the May 2011 Food Network Magazine. I often change up recipes that I find in books and magazines to better suit the tastes of my family, but not this one. I figured she probably knows what she’s talking about and they can just deal with it. I was right! My entire family absolutely loved these tacos! They passed on the red cabbage as I knew they would, but that just left more for me! This dish is a little more labor intensive than those that I normally cook. However, it was well worth it. This one is a definite keeper with no need to change a thing!!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 3 1/2 hours

Ingredients for 8-10 people:


2 heads garlic, unpeeled and halved crosswise, plus 6 cloves garlic

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher Salt

4 – 4 1/2 lb. brisket

Fresh ground pepper

1 T. smoked paprika

1 T. chili powder

3 T. canola oil

3 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced

1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar

2 T. apple cider vinegar

1 c. dry white wine

2 c. beef stock

2 bay leaves

16-20 small flour tortillas


1 small head shaved red cabbage

3 T. red wine vinegar

Splash of olive oil

Dab of Siracha

Salt (to taste)

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Dutch Oven

Preparing Brisket Tacos with Red Cabbage:

1. Preheat oven to 325. Place the halved garlic heads in a single layer on a sheet of foil. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt. Fold the foil into a pocket; roast until tender, about 45 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, cook the brisket: Pulse the garlic cloves in a food processor to make a paste. Season both sides of the brisket with salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder. Heat 2 T. canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the meat to the pot in a single layer and brown both sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove the meat from the pot and spread with garlic paste. 

3. Drain the oil and wipe out the Dutch oven. Add the remaining 1 T. of canola oil to the pot and warm over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and stir in the brown sugar; cook 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Return brisket to the pot, add the wine and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf and return to simmer. Cover, transfer to oven and cook until meat is tender, about 2 – 2 1/2 hours. 

4. Remove the brisket from the pot and let rest for 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and put the pot with the braising liquid over medium heat; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and whisk into liquid. Taste and seasons with salt and pepper if necessary. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain and toss with some of the roasted garlic sauce. Warm the tortillas; fill with the brisket and top with red cabbage slaw. 

Red Cabbage Slaw

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Set aside and let the vinegar work its magic!

Important Tips:

Don’t rush it. The reward is so great as the meat just falls apart and then melts in your mouth!

Got Leftovers?:

The leftover meat heats up wonderfully. I put it in my kids’ thermos for lunch the following day and their friends were jealous!

Grilled Main Courses

Grilled chicken

Grilled main courses used to be something that I had only on the weekends when my husband was home to cook them. I was tired of always cleaning the kitchen after using the stove or oven to prepare dinner so I decided to “man up” and learn how to grill. I will say that it was one of the best things that I ever did in my cooking adventures. Not only is there less mess in the kitchen (I think I’ve said that lots this week), but grilled meat is typically healthier since there is less oil or butter used! For those you who have never grilled…give it a try. Just once!! It could change the way you eat and cook forever!!!


Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Mustard Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken Wrapped in Bacon and Rosemary

Beer Can Chicken

Ranch Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken in Garlic and White Wine Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce 


Pork Tenderloin

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Bone in BBQ Pork Chops


Pork Chops with Brown Sugar Glaze


Beef Tenderloin

Blackened Steak Salad

Flank Steak with Lime, Honey and Garlic

Gourmet Burger Bar

Tri Tip Steak

Filet Mignon Stuffed with Spinach and Manchego


Spicy Grilled Shrimp



Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Turkey Breast with Garlic and Lemon








Blackberry and Red Wine Braised Short Rib Pie

short ribs in puff pastry

Short ribs! I ADORE these little things. Amazing flavor can be imparted by braising them in a whole hose of different flavors. But, since one of our mystery challenge ingredients was blackberries, I opted to braise them with the short ribs and a bit of wine, then make it into a ‘pie’ using the puff pastry mystery ingredient. Oh my! Since there were not a ton of short ribs, I also added some baby portabella mushrooms to add some volume, texture and flavor. You’ll have to try this blackberry and red wine braised short rib pie!!

Level of Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time ~ 4hours (2 1/2 hours for short ribs, 30 minutes to reduce sauce and 30 minutes to bake the pie).

If you have the time, braise the short ribs one day and make the pie the next. This gives the short ribs plenty of time to soak in the flavors and allows you to skim off the cooled fat as short ribs are a fatty piece of meat.


2 1/2 lbs short ribs

2 carrots, diced small

1 onion, diced small

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 T flour

1 T tomato paste

1/2 bottle dry red wine

1/2 t thyme

1/2 t rosemary, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 pint blackberries

1 pint sliced baby bellas

18oz beef stock

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1 package of puff pastry, defrosted when ready to use

1 egg and 1 T water

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Ceramic Dutch Oven – a must!

Wire mesh strainer

Glass Pie Dish

How to make blackberry and red wine braised short rib pie:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper.

Blackberry and red wine braised short rib pie

Prepare the Dutch oven on the stove with olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the short ribs on all sides (work in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan) until a deep golden brown. Remove from the Dutch oven and set aside.

Blackberry and red wine braised short rib pie

Add the diced onions and carrots to the pan and sauté until tender. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits.

braising short ribs

Add 2 T flour and stir constantly for about 2 minutes. Then add 1 T tomato paste and stir for another minute. This adds a lot of flavor, really!

When ready, pour in 1/2 a bottle of dry red wine (Cabernet will do the trick), then pour a glass for yourself. Stir and scrape up anything from the bottom of the pan. Reduce by about half. It took mine about 8-10 minutes.

Blackberry and red wine braised short rib pie

Add the thyme, rosemary, garlic and bay leaf. Also add the blackberries, portabellas and beef stock. Bring back up to a simmer.

braised short ribs with blackberries

Add the short ribs back to the Dutch oven, cover and put in oven for 2 1/2 hours or until the short ribs easily shred.

Shred the short ribs, remove the bones and any excess fat or other chewy parts. Now, if you have the time, let the shredded short ribs cool in the braising liquid. They’ll soak it up and be amazing. 

Once cooled, place in fridge overnight. The next day, you can gently scrape up the congealed fat from the top. Then place all of the meat and sauce in a colander over Dutch oven and allow the sauce to come out. Since we are making a pie, we need the braising liquid reduced by a lot! Once you get all of the liquid out, simmer the liquid over medium heat until very thick (reduced by about 2/3). Then strain the sauce using a wire mesh strainer to remove the chunks of carrot and the blackberry seeds.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Return the meat back to the reduced and strained sauce and warm. While it is warming, place 1/2 of the puff pastry in the bottom of a glass pie dish and trim to fit. Once the meat is warm, add to the pie dish and top with the other half of puff pastry. Again, trim to fit and crimp the edges to seal. Brush with the egg wash (1 beaten egg and 1T water).

egg wash on puff pastry

Bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Ready your taste buds for a flavor explosion and enjoy!

short ribs in puff pastry

Important Tips:

Season the short ribs well. Sear them well. Cook them at least 2 hours. Reduce the sauce. Strain the blackberry seeds (regardless of what Denise says!)

Meal Ideas:

I served this with the blue cheese and roasted rutabaga puree as a part of the McNack’s Mystery Challenge!

Got Leftovers?:

The pie was great 2 days later even when I reheated in the microwave!!

You lost me at “congealed fat”!! This really looks amazing, though. Please invite me over the next time you make it! ~ Denise

Well, I’d rather scoop out the congealed fat than eat it girlfriend! ~Melissa

Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs

Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs

McNack’s 1st Mystery Challenge basket included short ribs. I have never made short ribs before and knew that Melissa made delicious ones. I had to find a recipe that would at least hold a candle to what she was going to do. I found a recipe in DRAFT magazine that looked interesting and adapted it to make Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs. I have to admit, they were delicious and I would definitely make them again!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required:Prep Time – 15 min; Cook Time – 6 hours


2 1/2 pounds short ribs



1/4 c. olive oil

1/2 carrot, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

2 cans Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 limes, quartered

1/2 bunch cilantro

16 oz. beef stock

1 stick unsalted butter

1/4 c. fresh lime juice

12 oz. Pale Ale or “Hearty” Beer (in other words…nothing that says “Light”)

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Roasting pan

Preparing Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs:

Preheat oven to 250 Degrees. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Sear both sides until browned. Remove from heat and place in large roasting pan. 

Add the celery, carrot peppers, lime, cilantro, beef stock and beer.

Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs

Cover tightly with foil and roast 5-6 hours, or until the meat easily pulls from the bone. 

When the ribs have cooled, remove meat from the bone and set aside. Strain the liquid from the pan into a pot and add the butter, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the liquid reduces enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Put the meat back in the juice. Serve. 

Chipotle Beer Braised Short Ribs

Important Tips:

You can’t rush these. Slow and steady is the key. 

Meal Ideas:

I served this with blue cheese puff pastry with blackberry sauce and roasted rutabaga and Brussels sprouts. 

Ok, so here is Denise already breaking the rules. We said that when you ‘announce’ what you are going to make you have to stick with it. No where did Denise announce she was going to use a major ingredient such a beer to braise her short ribs. Maybe now, she won’t whine so much about me ‘breaking’ the rules. ~Melissa

Well Ex-CU-U-U-U-SE ME!! My recipe clearly had beer in it. I must have forgotten to say that. I get nervous once someone says “it’s recording”. Sounds to me that the root of your issue is that you’re afraid I’m going to win this one. Wa-wa WHAT?? ~Denise

Oh, right! That’s it. I forgot that I’m still shaking in my ‘I’m a chef’ Boots! But thanks for giving away your ‘I’m nervous’ tell. You complain about rules = you’re nervous I’m going to win.


Filet Mignon Stuffed with Spinach and Manchego

stuffed filet mignon

Normally, I think filet mignon should have nothing on it but a nice amount of Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. A meat this perfect, should be allowed to shine. BUT, for our little challenge of trying to be different, I knew Denise would play it safe which meant I had to go out on a limb. I’m happy to report the limb didn’t break!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 15-20 min

Ingredients for 4:

4 filet mignons, about 2-3 inches thick

3 oz  fresh spinach (give or take, it’s not rocket science)

4 oz Manchego cheese

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:


How to make filet mignon stuffed with spinach and manchego:

Preheat grill on high heat.

Take your beautiful and thick filet’s and cut a small slit in the center of one side. Use that slit to put your knife in and cut a small pocket towards both ends but without going through the meat. Take your time. Feel around with your fingers and see if you’ve got a large enough pocket with a minimal hole in the steak.

Once you are ready, cut some slices of manchego and stuff into the pocket. Then take a stack of a few spinach leaves, roll them up and shove inside the pocket. Repeat for as many as you can fit. I did 3 rolled bunches of spinach and 2 slices of manchego.

Grilled stuffed filet mignonbeef tenderloin with spinach and manchengo

Repeat for the other filets, then secure the opening with a toothpick or two.

grilled beef tenderloin

Sprinkle generously with coarse Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

When the grill is hot, add the steak. Cook on high heat until the meat comes away from the grill grate. If it is sticking, don’t turn it! It will release when it is ready to be turned and will give you a nice crust.

grilled filet mignon

Cook until medium rare. Since these are stuffed, you really can’t shove a meat thermometer in there. You’ll just have to do by feel and trust yourself.

Remove and let rest before serving.

grilled beef tenderloin stuffed with spinach

Here is a view without the salsa.

stuffed beef tenderloin

I topped these with a fire roasted tomatillo and poblano salsa too! Delicious.

 grilled filet mignon with tomatillo salsa

Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the meat and try to make as small of an exterior slit as you can in the beef.


Next time, I think I’ll choose a more melty cheese instead of Manchego.

You knew I would play it safe? Are you kidding me? Gee, I’m sorry. When you said cook a beef tenderloin on the grill, I took that as COOK A BEEF TENDERLOIN ON THE GRILL! I didn’t think to change the rules (like you did last week, and clearly this week) and slice it up to make filets. I will go out on a limb when you least expect it…and you will be wishing that you were at my house for dinner!!!! -Denise

There she goes again. Really? Changing the rules by cooking beef tenderloin on the grill as individual filets? Have you never watched an episode of Chopped? Transform the ingredients!! I can’t wait until we do McNack’s Chopped. Can we say easy target? ~Melissa