5 Ingredient Homemade Beefaroni

I’m always trying new recipes I think my grandkids might like.  I made this simple recipe yesterday.  I was skyping with my son Benji who’s in Vietnam right now.  We were discussing all the different recipes he wants me to make when he gets home in a few weeks. I was showing him pictures of the beefaroni I was cooking and he told me that on the night he gets home from Vietnam, he wants that dish waiting for him.

  • 1 lb. good chop meat (I bought Whole Foods short rib chop meat)
  • 1 28 oz. can organic Cento chunky style crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped
  • about 6-7 garlic cloves chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dried oregano (about 1 teaspoon)
  • about 3/4 lb. of pasta (I used De Cecco wagon wheels)
  • parmesan for serving

Saute onion for a few minutes in about 2 tablespoons olive oil till soft.  Add garlic and saute a few minutes. Add chop meat and brown over low flame.  Add salt and pepper and oregano.  Then add tomatoes and pure.  Break up the chunks of tomatoes with the spoon or spatula you are using to mix.  Cook over medium to low flame about 15-20 min dvakotla.com.ua.  You don’t want to reduce or lose too much of liquid, cause you’ll need it.

Boil your water and cook pasta till al dente.  Drain, and add about 3/4 of the box or pound to the meat sauce.  You’re ready to serve.  If you are serving it later, just heat it up in the microwave, because baking it in oven will dry it out.

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs in Tomato Cream Sauce

 These meatballs are so tasty, you definitely will not miss the beef.  They are so moist, and absolutely delectable in the tomato sauce and topped by the cheese.  Real comfort food for a cold winter night.

Ingredients

For the sauce: 

  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole plum tomatoes (Cento San Marzano Organic in puree is my first choice)
  • 11/2 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. organic tomato paste
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

For the meatballs: 

  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 2 1/2  tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste

To finish: 

  • 4-8 oz. shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2-3 tbsp. minced fresh basil (optional)

 

Instructions:

  •  Puree tomatoes in food processor until smooth, reserving puree.   Melt the butter in a 2-3 qt. pot and saute onion and garlic till translucent, adding red pepper flakes.  Stir in the tomato paste, and mix for a minute.  Stir in tomato puree and reserved puree in can, add salt and pepper, lower the flame, and simmer for about 10 min.  Take off heat, and add the cream. Set aside.
  • To make the meatballs, combine the ground chicken, panko, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, eggs, and tomato paste.  Stir together with a fork just until blended.   With wet hands, form the mixture into meatballs about 1½-inch in diameter.
  • In large nonstick pan, pour about 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, and heat.  Add meatballs, and brown on all sides.  Sprinkle with a little kosher salt as they saute.  Pour tomato sauce in bottom of baking dish.  Add meatballs on top.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and mozzarella and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Then  heat the oven to 400? F.   Put covered baking dish in oven for about 45 min.  Take cover off, put broiler on and broil till cheese browns for about 5-8 min.  Garnish with fresh basil if desired.
  • Serve with pasta or plain with good Italian bread.

Baked Penne with Marinara, Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Miniature Meatballs

I wanted to make a baked pasta dish and add my homemade meatballs, so I came up with this very easy recipe.  I was thrilled when my daughter told me how much she loved the dish.  I decided to omit ricotta cheese from the dish, and I was glad.  I thought it came out perfect without it.

Ingredients:

1 lb. penne or ziti, whole wheat or not

1 lb. or a little more of grated mozzarella (I used Whole Foods part skim)

about 1/2 cup grated parmesan

about 1 qt. marinara sauce (I used jarred)

about 1 teaspoon fresh thyme if you happen to have it

a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes, if you like the heat

for the meatballs:

1 lb. grass fed or organic ground beef, 85% fat

about 1/3 cup ketchup

1 large egg

abut 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs or white ones

kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder

make the meatballs:

In a mixing bowl, gently mix the ground beef, ketchup, 1 egg, about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and the bread crumbs.  I use my hands to mix gently.  Then form little meatballs- a little less than 1 inch in diameter.  Put about 2 tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil in nonstick saute pan and heat.  Gently place meatballs in pan and brown only very lightly on all sides.  Pour marinara sauce in a saucepan, and gently place drained meatballs in sauce.  Add the thyme if using as well as red pepper flakes, and simmer covered over low flame about 10 or 15 min.  Turn heat off.

for the assembly:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente.  Drain in colander. In 9 by 13 rectangular or oval baking dish, spoon a little sauce in pan to coat bottom.  Put a nice layer of noodles to cover bottom of pan.  Spoon about 1/3 of sauce and meatballs over the noodles.  Sprinkle with parmesan and about 1/3 of grated mozzarella.  Put another 1/3 of noodles on top, 1/3 of sauce and meatballs, parmesan, and 1/3 of mozzarella.  Spread last 1/3 of noodles, the rest of the sauce and meatballs, parmesan, and rest of mozzarella.

Either put in fridge to bake later, or bake right away.  From the fridge, it will take about 1 hour at 375 degrees.  If you are baking it immediately, it might only take 30 minutes for it to get nice and bubbly.

Shirley’s Amazing Barbecued London Broil Dinner with French Fries

This was one of my favorite dishes growing up.  I loved it with a passion, and I actually cooked it for the family on the grill.  This was the steak we had at our annual Father’s Day Barbecue when I was growing up.  Those were the best times.  Like my mother said often in the last few years, “Where did the time go?”  Over the years, whenever I made this for my mother, Shirley, she would say, “This is the only food I can eat and eat and eat.” I cooked this often for my kids and for my parents when my kids  were growing up, and at family barbecues.  My father Murray always said that this was the only steak he really liked.  People were always shocked to hear that the steak was london broil, and how simple the marinade was.  I think my mom actually got the recipe for this from our neighbors, Lenore and Arthur Velinsky.

So this past weekend, my son Danny requested that I make this for dinner for his friend Stephanie.  He wanted it to be the standard steak dinner I had growing up and I cooked for my kids all the time:  steak, french fries, salad, and LeSeur peas. I added buttermilk biscuits and homemade chocolate chip ice cream with my homemade hot fudge for dessert to the menu. Then Danny’s other great friend Mindy joined us.  Okay, this steak came out beyond beyond.  It was like butter, and so, so juicy.  Stephanie couldn’t believe it was london broil as she ordinarily hates that cut of steak.

All I can say about the steak is wow.

all you need is:

top round london broil- Look for an oyster cut if you see it. Look for a piece about 1 1/4 in. thick.  I bought this steak at Costco and it was phenomenal!  In the package came 2 steaks, and I made both.

The night before:  Place steak(s) in baking pan.  Pierce all over with fork.  Sprinkle  very lightly with Adolph’s unseasoned Meat Tenderizer.  Pour about 1/2 bottle of original Catalina dressing over the steak(s), and spread over with a spoon to cover- even the sides.  Flip steak(s).  Pierce with fork.  Sprinkle lightly with the Adolph’s.  Pour remaining dressing over steak(s) and spread nicely.  Cover pan with saran and put in fridge.

Next day – Take steaks out of fridge maybe 30-45 min. before you are ready to grill them.  Heat up grill on high.  Place steaks on grill. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  You want the steaks to form a crust on the bottom, because that’s where the amazing flavor will come from.  I place the cover down on my grill after the steaks are on.  But if there aren’t a lot of flames, you won’t get that crust. There isn’t that much fat in the london broil, so you may not get enough flames.  So this is what I do.  But you have to be careful- and an expert griller to use this technique.  And you have to be an adult to do it.  I take the cap of my bottle of corn oil, and I fill it with oil.  I drizzle some oil on the top of the steaks.  This oil drips down and causes very large flames to form.  Then I put the top down for a few minutes, and repeat if necessary till the bottom of the steak is nicely charred.  I flip the steak and repeat.  Once both sides are charred, using the oil isn’t necessary any more.  Now, I have a really crummy propane grill, but if you have a much better grill, you might not need to use this technique with the oil.

I’m pretty good at being able to tell when my meat is done.  But if you can’t tell, just slice one slice off an end to see how it’s going.  We like our meat medium rare.

When meat is done, take off grill, and place on clean cutting board.  Cover with aluminum foil for about 5-7 min.  Then slice meat sort of on the diagonal about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick using a good knife, depending on how thick you like it.  Place on serving platter and drizzle with juices from cutting board and serve.

for my amazing -not homemade- french fries:

Heat corn or canola (I prefer corn) oil up in a large saucepan- you will need at least 32 oz. of oil.  Watch the oil.  If it gets too hot, it will start to catch fire.  I’m guessing it’s about 350 degrees or so.  Take about 20-24 oz. of Nathan’s Frozen French Fries out of the freezer and place carefully in the hot oil.  I guess alternately you could use a deep fat fryer, which I don’t have and I don’t need.  Cook over medium high heat till crisp and brown- about 20 minutes or so, and wrap in paper towels for a minute.  I just line the serving bowl I’ll be using with paper towels. Then when everything is ready to go on the table to be served, I just dump the fries out of the paper towels into the bowl.  Sprinkle nicely with kosher salt and serve.

Fried Chicken with Fresh Peaches and Strawberries and Homemade Ranch Dressing

I wanted to make a light summer dinner salad, so I cooked my recipe for “Delectable Fried Chicken Nuggets” and I made a salad of green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, sliced strawberries and peaches, slices of the nuggets, drizzled with this very light and summery dressing.  In the fall, I’ll substitute slices of apples and add some cranberries and toasted walnuts for the summer fruit. The best part of the salad was the dressing though,which I couldn’t get enough of.

for the chicken:  See my recipe for Delectable Fried Chicken Nuggets.  You can refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

for the salad:  green leaf lettuce, sliced cucumber, sliced strawberries, sliced peaches.

for the dressing:  In medium bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons Hellman’s or Kraft mayo, 1/2 cup Fage plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar, pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, zest of one lemon, and about 3 tablespoons of chopped fine or snipped chive.

Note:  This also makes a good dipping sauce for the nuggets.

Delectble Fried Chicken Nuggets

The inspiration for this dish, believe it or not, came from eating various chicken dishes at P.F. Chang’s.  The chicken in Chang’s  Spicy Chicken and Kung Pao Chicken is in the form of perfect, juicy, lightly fried nuggets.  So I decided that my grandchildren and my kids would love it if I made homemade chicken nuggets.  I have made them about 4 times in the last 2 weeks for picnic lunches and for dinner.  I have made dipping sauces for them including a Greek yogurt, chive, dill, and lemon sauce, and a mustard and yogurt sauce.  These nuggets are scrumptious!

  • 1 to 2 lbs. of organic boneless chicken breasts (not thin sliced) You can find these at Wegmans or at Costco.
  • Italian bread crumbs (I like Colonna)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 eggs mixed with a little water
  • light olive oil for frying

Directions:

Cut chicken up into nice size chunks- about 1 1/2 inches by about the same.  The sizes don’t have to be exactly the same.

Crack 1 or 2 eggs into a bowl or baking pan and add a little water, mix with fork.  Put cut pieces of chicken in egg mixture and toss to cover well.

Pour enough bread crumbs into a baking pan, add some kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer egg coated chicken to pan with bread crumbs and toss well to cover really well.

In large saute pan (about 10 in. in diameter) pour oil about 1/2 inch deep.  Heat up till nice and hot- about 350 degrees. Oil will start to shimmer when ready.  Drop chicken in carefully.  Fry on one side till nicely browned, turn and fry on other side till browned nicely.  Check to insure chicken is cooked through.  Drain on paper towels.

That’s it.

Sauces:

Greekish Yogurt Sauce

Mix about 1 1/2 cups Fage total fat or 2% fat Greek yogurt with zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1 lemon, fresh or freeze dried chive, and some freeze dried dill, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Refrigerate till you use.

Or …  Mustard and Yogurt-Mayo  Sauce (inspired by Ina Garten)

In bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup mayo and 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons Guldens spicy mustard, 2 tablespoons country style grainy mustard.  Refrigerate till you use. Next time, I may use all yogurt as a healthier option.

Shepherd’s Pie

These days most of my desire to cook revolves around cooking for my daughter and her family, and for my sons Danny and Benji.  My daughter had gone to Whole Foods and she and her family had eaten the shepherd’s pie from the hot food bar.  She told me it was the best thing she’d ever eaten and that I had to make it for her family.  I found a recipe on the Food Network site which looked pretty good.  I made it last week, and everybody loved it, but my daughter said it still wasn’t quite as good as Whole Food’s.  So I made it again this week, and basically added a  little more seasoning.  This time, my daughter said it  was just as good as Whole Food’s version. And my son Danny went totally crazy for it.  Yesterday, watching my two grandsons eating this and loving it was so gratifying.  I was “kvelling” from their reaction!

adapted from Food Network “Mummy Boome’s Traditional Shepherd Pie”

meat filling:

  • 2 3/4 lb. 85% chopped meat (I used Nature’s Promise or Whole Food’s grass fed beef)
  • 5 organic carrots, small dice
  • 3 organic celery stalks, small dice
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • almost all of a small can of organic tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup organic beef broth or stock
  • 3 tablespoons organic worcesteshire  sauce (Annie’s)
  • 2-3 cups organic frozen peas

mashed potatoes topping:

  • 5 lbs. organic russet, idaho, or yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2 to 2 sticks organic salted butter
  • about 1/2 cup  organic whole milk
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour a few tablespoons of  organic olive oil (you can find organic extra virgin olive oil at Costco) in large sauté pan.  Add salt and pepper.  Sauté  onion, carrot, celery till soft and just starting to brown.  Add garlic, and sauté a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix in.  Add the meat, salt and pepper, and break up with fork as you brown. Add the worcesteshire sauce and the beef broth.  Mix and add the peas.  Taste for seasoning. Transfer meat mixture to large baking dish- at least a 9 x 13 (I have one which is a little larger). Refrigerate.

Make your mashed potatoes.  I peel 5 lbs. and cut them into medium pieces, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Boil over medium heat until soft.  Drain in colander and then put back in pot over low flame for a minute to get rid of excess water in potatoes.  Turn flame off.  Add butter, kosher salt, and a little fresh cracked pepper.  Mash, and start adding the whole milk until nice and fluffy.

Spoon the potatoes over the top of the meat.  You should have a hefty amount of potatoes topping the meat.  Refrigerate until dinner time.  Then preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 35-45 min. until hot.

Note:  If you are not baking this right away, and you don’t have time to make the mashed potatoes right away, refrigerate the meat mixture  until you have your mashed potatoes.  I have refrigerated this for up to a day before I made the potatoes.  When I make the potatoes, I let them cool to warm and then I put them on top of the meat (which is cold from being in the fridge).  Then I put the dish back in the fridge till I’m ready to bake it. If you are baking it right away, then just it won’t matter if the potatoes are still hot when you put them on the meat.

My New Chicken Cutlets

I made this recipe three times, and the flavors are really great.  My daughter Randi loved the chicken, so I’m sold.

1 1/2 pounds organic chicken cutlets

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil mixed with 1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves grated

pinch kosher salt

pinch of red pepper flakes

sprinkling of dried oregano

about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese mixed with about 1 cup Italian bread crumbs with a few twists of freshly grated black pepper

Put the chicken cutlets in the oil and garlic mixture with the salt, red pepper, and oregano.  Then dredge in the bread crumbs and cheese mixture.

At this point, you can fry the cutlets, or bake them.  If you bake them, you have to bake them at a high temperature to brown them.  I fried them, and that worked out well.

Chicken with a Chili Rub and a Honey-Lime Glaze

I’m always looking for new chicken recipes, and I spotted a great looking recipe on a blog called “Week of Menus.” The picture of the chicken looked incredible. I decided to make dinner for lunch for my sons Benji and Danny since they won’t be home later. I adapted the recipe a little for my taste. I served this with my fresh sauteed corn and a bagged caesar salad. My kids really enjoyed the chicken. They said it was “full of flavor and juicy as hell.” I was surprised that it turned out not to be too hot or spicy. Ingredients:4-5 chicken breast halves on the bone, or 1 chicken cut up into eighths (I buy Bell & Evans)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (that’s one more tablespoon than in the original recipe)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (that’s half the amount 0f the original recipe)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt (I reduced the salt from 1 teaspoon as there are many other spices to make up for the reduction)
Honey Lime Glaze
1/2 cup honey (the original recipe calls for 1/3, but I felt the glaze was too thin, so I added some more honey.)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (or juice of 1 lime)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Mix olive oil, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and, salt together in a large bowl. Place chicken in a foil lined roasting pan. Rub and cover pieces all over with the spice mixture.  Roast for 30-35 minutes (basting once or twice during the cooking) depending on how meaty your pieces of chicken are. After 30-35 minutes, mix honey with lime juice. The skin of the chicken should be really brown. Spoon the honey mixture over the chicken. Put back in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Take out from oven.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve.

Beef Stew with New Potatoes, Carrots, Peas, and Mushrooms

My daughter went to Whole Foods last weekend with her family, and she called me to tell me that they’d gotten the most delicious beef stew from the food bar there.  I called up the store, and asked what the ingredients were in the stew, and they told me.  So I put this recipe together even though I was missing a few things, and it came out delicious.  I bought stew meat at Whole Foods, and it was perfect looking meat.  I used as many other organic ingredients as possible, including Nature’s Promise tomato paste, organic carrots, potatoes, peas, and beef broth.

  • 1 very very large onion, or 2 med-large onions, finely chopped2
  • 2 1 lb. bags of organic carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 8-10 oz. boxes of baby bella mushrooms, washed and cut into large slices
  • about 4 springs of fresh thyme
  • about 4 lbs. organic red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 5-7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • about 4 lbs. stew cubes (chuck) from Whole Foods (Their meat is the absolute best!)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 qts. (boxes) organic Whole Foods beef broth
  • 1 small can organic tomato paste (I used Nature’s Promise from Stop & Shop)
  • 1 small container of demi glace bought at Whole Foods:  Demi-Glace Gold Classic French Demi-Glace, 1.5 oz. from More then Gourmet

1. In a large pot,  pour the oil and put the butter, heat till butter is melted, and sauté onion till translucent and is just starting to brown a little.  Add garlic, and cook another 3 minutes or so.  Take out of pot.

3. Sprinkle meat cubes with kosher salt and pepper.  Brown beef lightly in same pot in a tablespoon of oil. Drain beef in strainer.  Put onions and garlic back in pot.  Put meat back in pot.

6. Deglaze the skillet with the beef broth.  Add about half the can of tomato paste, the demi glace, and simmer stew covered about 1 hour over low flame.  Stir every so often.

7.  After an hour or so, add the  carrot chunks and potato chunks.

8.  After another hour, add the rest of the tomato paste.  Add the leaves from about 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.  Cook another hour covered over low flame.

Note:  If you have too much liquid, spoon some out into a bowl and dispose of later when you are sure you don’t need it.

9.  Meanwhile, sauté the mushroom slices in a bit of olive oil and butter.  Sprinkle mushrooms with kosher salt and pepper.  Let mushroom brown nicely on each side.

10.  Taste beef.  It should be very soft.  If it is, then add the mushrooms.  If not, simmer covered till meat is very soft.  Turn heat off.   Add mushrooms when meat is very soft and tender.  Also, add 1 bag of organic Whole Foods frozen peas.

11.  Try to spoon any fat off the top of the gravy if possible.  Otherwise, after you refrigerate the stew, the fat will solidify at the top and you’ll be able to remove it.

12.  Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley if desired.