Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When you're tired, and only have ground beef ... what to make?

When you have kids, and are tired from a long day, sometimes dinner is just another chore. Like laundry. Even when you like to cook.   

So I go out to the garage - Open the freezer, and stare. Looking at what frozen meat I have, and wondering what the hell to make for dinner. I didn't go to the grocery yesterday like I typically do, so I don't have my usual assortment of fresh meats and fish for the next few days. So I gotta pick something frozen. We've had a lot of chicken lately, so I don't think my chicken-disliking husband can gag down another chicken dish. Pork? Nope, no pork in the freezer. Shrimp? No... no shrimp either because I'm shrimped-out too. So that leaves ground beef. 

OK, so I got ground beef. NOW what? Last night I made noodle stroganoff with ground chicken, so it can't be anything along those lines.

I guess the vegetable drawer could give me some help. I look -- I got Kale. And fresh tomatoes. Alrighty then, ground beef, with sauteed kale and chopped fresh tomatoes it is!  Over white rice. 

Boil chopped kale in salty water until tender. Meanwhile, brown ground beef. Drain fat from beef, and return to pan. Add the cooked, drained kale - and saute a couple minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste, 2 cloves chopped garlic, cook 3 minutes more, then add the tomatoes at the very end. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Have blender, will make soup.

I always have homemade chicken stock in my freezer. I save chicken bones from several chickens, then make huge batches of stock and freeze it. I use it to create gravies and sauces during the week, but also I make quick soups. My personal favorite are creamy soups. Take any cooked vegetable, blend it with some stock, a few tablespoons of flour and maybe a splash of half & half (or fat free half & half), then transfer to a pan and heat through until flour is cooked. Done. Takes 10 minutes. 

Today I was in the mood for a cream of chicken avocado soup. The avocados are really good right now, and if you happen to have a ripe and tasty one, you should give this recipe a try! It's one of those great versions that are still delicious without all the butter and cream. 


To serve 4 small or 2 large:

4 cups chicken stock
1 large Haas avocado (must be ripe and taste rich and buttery)
4 cooked skinless boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons flour
salt & pepper to taste
4 tablespoons half & half (or more to taste)
suggestions for garnish: crispy bacon, drizzle of olive oil, croutons, cubed avocado

In a blender, add about 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock, the chicken meat, the flour and the avocado. Blend on high until smooth. Soup will thicken in the blender quite a bit. Empty into a saucepan, add the remaining chicken stock and heat until just starting to boil, then reduce to medium and cook 7 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Add salt & pepper to taste. When done, remove from heat, stir in half & half and serve. 

Takes only minutes. 

Pictured below is a richer version, I've added a tad more cream and a slice of crispy bacon. 


The other night I made a Filet Kebab recipe from my New Food of Life Persian cookbook. If you've ever had the steak kebabs at a Persian restaurant you'll probably agree with me, they are just out of this world delicious. I am working on an oven version (as opposed to having to cook them on an outside grill). I'll let you know how it goes. The last batch I made wasn't marinated long enough, and then it was too wet in the pan and didn't brown well enough. I'll share the details later, once I find success.  

So with that dinner, we ended up with a lot of leftover rice. I decided to make porcupine meatballs, but once again, I screwed up -- I added too much rice. I first put in 3 eggs, thinking it might still hold it together and the meatball idea could be saved. Nope.

The next thing you know, I'm dumping all sorts of stuff in there.  

3 pieces of whole grain bread - in the blender to make breadcrumbs. Then, I had a few Roma tomatoes that needed to be used, and they went in. Then a good drizzle of olive oil. Then, I remembered I had some leftover roasted tomatoes and fennel in the fridge. In it went. Then, half an onion. And I pulverized it. Then mixed it with the 2 cups of rice and 1.25 lb of ground beef. The result was a DELICIOUS mixture. But definitely not stiff enough for meatballs. 

So, instead, I stuffed stuff. Tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. Carve out the center of the veggies, stuff, and cook at 350 until the meat is cooked through (peppers and tomatoes take longer than zucchini). 

Meatballs who? This was so much better!