Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bean & Beef Burritos

Every Saturday morning my TiVo is set to record one of my favorite shows on the Food Network - Pioneer Woman. She is a city girl turned country woman and her cooking is an amazing combination of delicious, cowboy friendly and her recipes are something everyone can make. I am not just saying that. Plus, every one of her recipes I have tried has been amazing and not overly complicated to make. Seriously. Don't believe me? Well then you will need to try to make her bean and beef burritos.

I know that beef and bean burritos don't sounds very special or very complicated to make, but just because they are simple and easy to make does not mean they aren't delicious. The last episode of Pioneer Woman featured her famous 16 minute meals - everything she made could be whipped up and served in just about 16 minutes. Now that's what I am talking about. With my busy work and school schedule, 16 minutes is about all I have to make dinner. So, when I saw these, I knew I had to make them for the captain and I. Plus, the best thing about this recipe, is that I had most things on hand - ground beef, refried beans, cheddar cheese and tortillas. I bet you do too. Cooked ground beef is always on stock in my freezer and vegetarian refried beans are always in my pantry for quick go to meals.

Although the original recipe for these burritos sounded amazing, I knew I wanted to lighten them up and make them healthier and more waist friendly. To cut down the calories and fat, I used extra lean ground beef in place of just regular ground beef, vegetarian refried beans instead of beans that may or may not be made with lard, I cut the amount of cheddar cheese in half and also substituted a huge regular burrito size tortilla for one that was just as large, but only 100 calories each and loaded with fiber (trust me, you'd never know the difference- it tastes just the same and you can find them next to all the other tortillas in the grocery store). Of course you don't have to make the changes I did, but if you are looking lighten things up, I definitely recommend it!

To whip up these fabulous burritos, the first thing you'll need to do is brown the beef with a little bit of onion. Once the beef is nice and cooked up, there won't be much fat, but make sure you drain the beef on a paper towel to make sure you get rid of all that extra stuff. When the meat is nice and drained, place the beef back in the pan and add a bit of Mexican tomato sauce (you can find it next to the enchilada sauce at your local grocery store!) to give it some more flavor and some sauciness. You could even add chili powder, garlic powder or any additional spices you like, if you wanted. You just want to make sure you don't add too much sauce that the mixture too soupy. If it's too soupy, your burritos will be too soggy and a soggy burrito is not a good burrito. When the meat is all good and spicy, you take a bit of the mixture of refried beans and cheddar cheese (which you heated up together while you were cooking the beef), spread it on the tortilla, place a bit of the meat mixture on the beans and then roll up the burrito. When all the burritos have been made, top them with a bit more of the Mexican tomato sauce, a little bit of cheese and some green onions for color. From here, you can freeze half for another time (which you know I did) and cook the other half by warming them up and melting the cheese in the oven. So simple. So easy. So delicious. Who doesn't love all of that in under 16 minutes. Even better, this recipe got two thumbs up from the captain. That's when you know you have a winner!

cheese + beans
ground beef and onions
this is the brand of Mexican tomato sauce I used - if you can't find it, enchilada sauce will do just fine
all rolled up and ready to go - one for us and one for the freezer!

Bean & Beef Burritos (slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman)

2 pounds Ground Beef
1/2 whole Medium Onion
1 can (7 Ounce) Mexican Tomato Sauce Or Enchilada Sauce
Salt And Pepper
1 can (28 Ounce) Refried Beans
3/4 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
12 whole Burrito-sized Flour Tortillas
Extra Grated Cheese, For Sprinkling
Extra Sauce, For Drizzling

Brown ground beef with onion and season to taste. Pour in sauce and simmer over low heat. Add water if mixture gets too dry.

Heat refried beans in a saucepan. Add cheese and stir in till melted. Keep warm.  Heat tortillas in microwave for one minute.

Spread a small amount of beans on each tortilla. Add meat. Fold over ends, then roll up. Place burritos in a baking dish sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray. Drizzle red sauce over the top and sprinkle with more grated cheddar. Place pan in a 375 degree oven until cheese is melted and burritos are very hot. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Mexican food made easy and healthy - a double win!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quick & Easy Mini Baked Meatballs

First and foremost, you have probably been wondering where the heck I have been, right? Let me tell you, the last time I posted, I was right at the end of my first semester of grad school and right about to take final exams. For those who know me, you know how I get during finals. It's not pretty. I shut out most of the world and just lock myself in a room and study as much as I can. Or stress as much as I can. Ya, I am a worry wart. Just ask the captain. He's seen me in all my wonderful shades. It's a good thing I haven't scared him away yet! After finals were over and I could finally sleep again, I took a couple weeks off from work and just enjoyed time with my family during the holidays. The captain and I even took a week getaway to Oregon to get out of town and breathe the fresh mountain air. It was just what I needed to recharge my battery. Between then and now, school has started again and I am back into the rut of bring at work from 7am-4:30pm and then heading right to school until 9pm. Those nights are long. Too long, but it will be all worth it in the end. That I know. So, if I have gone MIA from the blogging scene for awhile, you now know why. Don't worry though, I will be back eventually. In fact, I have decided that I will try to blog at least once a week. That seems doable, right? I think so. My phone is overloaded with fabulous photos and recipes for you to try! Now, for a new recipe. Are you ready?

When I am having one of those weeks where it seems like it will never end and I am just stuck in my school books, the last thing I want to do is be in the kitchen for an hour making dinner. As bad as that sounds, it really is true. Although cooking is a stress relief for me, sometimes I am just too tired to cook. I don't like those days, so I am always looking for quick and easy (and yummy!) recipes that that captain and I will both love. The other thing I am all for these days is making a big batch of whatever it may be and freezing half for another time. It's seriously the best when my brain isn't working for menu planning or so we can just pull something out and have a fabulous dinner in no time. I just think we need a bigger freezer now. Ours is pretty much stuffed to the brim. Who's coming over for dinner next week?

A couple weeks ago, one of my fellow bloggers(and a favorite!), Christina, from Desserts for Two, posted an amazing photo on instagram of a dish with these cute little meatballs. I asked her if she made her own and she told me I had to try the recipe she uses. As a Sicilian girl, you'd think I'd have this meatball thing down, but I am slowly learning the best way to make a meatball. Someday I will get it right and I think I am getting closer with these baked mini meatballs! Not only are they mini (hello portion control!), but they are such a breeze to make and are ready to enjoy in under 30 minutes - that's from start to finish. Pretty great, right? I think so. The meatballs are super simple and are just a mixture of lean ground beef, panko, eggs, parmi, an egg, garlic and a little olive oil. See, basic ingredients. Nothing funky here. Mix all that fabulousness together, roll into small meatballs (this recipe should make about 30ish or so mini meatballs) and then place into a baking dish with a couple of cups of your favorite tomato sauce. You can use homemade (which I always keep in my freezer!) or store bought. If I must give you a recommendation, pretty pretty please go and buy the three cheese tomato sauce from Trader Joes. It's killer good and the sauce I used when I made these meatballs. It's so good, it's something I will be keeping in my pantry as a staple. I could just eat it with bread. Straight from the jar. Did I just say that? Don't tell anyone.

Once the meatballs are all ready to go and in the sauce, it's as simple as popping the pan in the oven and letting them bake for about ten minutes. If you made your meatballs bigger, they may take a bit longer to cook. Just keep an eye on them until they are done. When they are ready to go, you can enjoy them on their own, over pasta, or even in a sandwich. No matter which way you enjoy them, I will promise you will love them.  And just in case you were wondering, the leftovers freeze great. Just saying.

see, told you I used the Trader Joes sauce

don't mix the meat too much or you will have tough meatballs

roll the balls in about the size of a tablespoon

before you bake, don't forget to top the meatballs with a little more panko and parmi

look how good they look!

Quick & East Mini Baked Meatballs (slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats)

makes about 30 mini meatballs

1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl, add ground beef, egg, oil, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and parsley. Mix to combine, gently tossing a few times with your hands. Don’t overmix – it will result in tough meatballs! Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray and add 2 cups of pasta sauce. Roll beef into mini meatballs (about a tablespoon of beef) and set in sauce. Once all meatballs have been added, sprinkle additional cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve with additional sauce if desired.

Just when you thought the meatballs were good, I will show you soon how I use the ones I froze and turned them into meatball pizza made on garlic nann! Yes, I said it - garlic nann meatball pizza. Totally delicious. Totally fabulous and couldn't be easier to make. Stay tuned!