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I’m going to be quite frank with you here. I was pretty sure that Chris would hate this dinner.

Not that there is anything wrong with these tacos, there sure isn’t, but Chris has very specific requirements for his tacos.

I started toiling away in the kitchen while Chris made a run into town for beer flank steak. By the time he got home, I was mashing and smashing pinto beans like nobody’s business.

FYI: If you do not own a potato masher, your meat tenderizer will work wonders for smashing pinto beans.

I just realized that I don’t even know what a potato masher looks like and that the above comment may not make sense at all. ::Off to Google.::

Oxo Good Grips Wire Potato MasherOxo Good Grips Meat Tenderizer

I’m sure that I am not alone in being somewhat culinarily challenged (ok, maybe I am). The device on the left is a potato masher. The device on the right is a meat tenderizer, also works as a potato masher in a pinch.

In my defense, I always thought potato mashers looked like this:

Cuisinart HM-70 Power Advantage 7-Speed Hand Mixer, Stainless and White

Ok, so it turns out that those two tools should not be billed as interchangeable. (Trust me, they totally are.) No wonder Chris looked at me so quizzically when he saw what I was doing.

Anyway, when Chris walked into the kitchen, in typical Chris form, he tasted the “refried” beans. “Did you make beans with lard in them? They’re so creamy!”

I immediately knew that at the very least the beans were a home run! And no, I did not use any lard.

I have always said that refried beans with no lard are no good. Why bother eating them? And that refried beans made with lard are supremely unhealthy. Won’t eat those either.

It turns out, that lard-free “refried” beans can be amazing! Thanks Elly!

The big test was to see if our house taco expert would give this creation a thumbs up. Win! They even won the ultimate Duke’s House accolade “Good enough to serve to other people.”

 

Inspired by Elly Says Opa!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth (I used 99% fat-free.)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 6 oz beef, flank or skirt steak would work well
  • 1 tbsp steak seasoning (Just use your favorite kind.)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 oz Manchego cheese, shredded or grated
  • 3 scallions, sliced

Directions:

  • Saute onion in a heavy skillet until tender.
  • Stir in the garlic until fragrant, and then the chicken broth, cumin, beans, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring the mixture to a light boil and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Begin to sauté peppers in a second skillet.
  • As the bean mixture is cooking, cook the beef in a third skillet (or grill pan if you have one), seasoning somewhat aggressively with steak seasoning.
  • Set your oven to 275 degrees and place the corn tortillas inside to warm them slightly.
  • Use a potato masher to press down on the beans, and mash to your desired consistency. If necessary add more broth, or simmer longer to remove moisture.
  • When the beef has finished cooking, remove it from the skillet and chop it very finely.
  • Remove tortillas from the oven, fill with beef, refried beans, sautéd peppers and onions, and top with the Manchego cheese and sliced scallions.

Servings ~ 4 (two tacos per serving)
Calories (per serving) ~ 387, Fat ~ 21 g, Carbohydrates ~ 38 g, Protein ~ 20 g
Calories (per taco) ~ 194, Fat ~ 11 g, Carbohydrates ~ 19 g, Protein ~ 10 g

During my last “real” summer, my dad decided to take my family to Australia for a month. Our typical vacation style was in a station wagon, an SUV when I got older, à la Griswold, so it was no surprise that his game plan was to rent a motor home and go for a month-long drive Down Under.

We had many adventures on that trip, like off-roading in the motor home which resulted in getting it stuck in a river, crashing the motor home into a giant eagle, and having more flat tires than one should expect to repair over 30 days. Thankfully, we survived the trip, learned a lot, and had a great time.

Some of the things I learned in Australia:

  • You can use the “grey water” hose from your RV as a snorkel for the tail pipe when you are trying to get the RV unstuck from a river.
  • Road trains are real and can be six trailers long – move over!
  • Those “towns” on the map of the Outback…yeah, those are just roadhouses.
  • Hitting an eagle (his fault, not ours) will bust up your windshield big time.
  • The longest fence in the world resides in the Outback, a 3488 mile long dingo fence to help keep the dingoes away from the free range sheep.
  • When you are calling around in the middle of the night looking for someone to fix your windshield, it is helpful to know that they will have no clue what you are talking about unless you refer to it as a wind screen.
  • One spare tire is never enough.
  • The roadhouses serve awesome burgers. See below.

 The Aussie “Outback” Burger…Brittany-fied.

Ingredients (per burger):

  • 4 oz extra lean ground beef
  • 1 thin slice, Canadian bacon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice reduced fat Swiss cheese
  • 1 sandwich thin
  • 2 leaves romaine
  • 3 slices tomato
  • 3 slices pickled beet
  • 2 slices red onion
  • 1 ring pineapple
  • 1 tbsp fat-free mayo

Directions:

  • Before you get started, stage your fruits and veggies.
  • Slice the tomato and onion. Drain the pickled beet and pineapple so you don’t make your bread soggy.
  • Ok, now get ready to multi-task. As the burgers are cooking, you will brown one slice of Canadian bacon per burger, cook one egg over-medium per burger, toast the buns, and top the burgers with cheese.
  • Get the burgers started first. Grill or stove top, your choice. (I recommend the stove top because it is easier to cook the egg and the bacon if you aren’t running in and out of your house to your grill at the same time.)
  • After starting the burgers, begin cooking the eggs.
  • When you have your eggs started, move on to the Canadian bacon. You want it lightly browned on both sides.  
  • Set your oven to broil and begin to toast the sandwich thins.
  • Continue juggling the eggs, buns, bacon, and burgers until you are ready to assemble your sandwich.
  • Take a deep breath, this was hectic, but we’re almost there!
  • Spread mayo on the top side of each bun.
  • Building your sandwich from the bottom up, I recommend this order for maximum flavor and minimum tipping: bottom bun, romaine, onion, tomato, bacon, beets, pineapple, burger, egg, top bun. At the very least, make sure that the egg is on top so that the yolk will soak into the top bun when you bite into it.
  • Your burger now looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I recommend wrapping it in wax paper (Taylor Ham and Cheese style if you’re from New Jersey) and cutting it in half through the paper.
  • Finally, a manageable looking sandwich!

*Egg left off of this burger for the sake of the picture. Runny egg yolk would not exactly have enhanced this photo!

Servings ~ 1
Calories ~ 466, Fat ~ 16 g, Carbohydrates ~ 39 g, Protein ~ 43 g