Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet

This one-pan meal is very delicious and very easy to make.  It’s a big mash-up of yummy–ground beef, rice and beans, spices and cheese.  You probably have most, if not everything, to make this in your pantry already.  I love weeknight dishes that I can set to simmer for a few minutes-it allows me to clean everything up while it finishes cooking.

Feel free to change the spices around to your particular taste. The recipe below gives a bit of a kick but it’s not spicy (in my opinion anyway).

This would also be great on nachos, Husband ate it rolled in a tortilla, I just ate it straight out of the bowl. Both helpings 🙂  Leftovers reheat beautifully.



Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced fine
  • 1 15oz can crushed tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp Goya seasoning
  • 1 8oz box Goya Rice and Beans (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup light mexican blend shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • Fat free sour cream (for topping)
  • Sliced avocado (for topping)


  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium/high heat. Cook the beef until nearly cooked through, drain, then add the onion and garlic, cook until onion is soft -just a few minutes.  Drain fat again if needed. Then add the tomatoes, seasoning and spices and mix to combine.  Transfer the beef to a deep plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. In the same pan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the contents of the rice box and boil for 30 seconds.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed-about 25 minutes. If necessary add a few extra tbsp of water to cook rice.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the beef and then stir in the cheese.  Let it rest for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  4. Garnish and serve.

Greatly adapted from Goya’s Cheeseburger Rice recipe.



Mexican Meatball Soup

The recipe for this soup caught my eye for a number of reasons-it’s easy and fast to cook and the ingredients are probably already in your pantry (I just had to buy the carrot and zucchini) yet delicious when put together. You can very easily adjust the heat too-add a bit more or less of the chili powders or add some diced green chiles. I made mine rather mild,  opting for a few squirts of hot sauce later.  I really loved how crisp the veggies stay even after reheating and there’s just enough rice. I served it with a small cheese quesadilla, a bit of refried beans, sour cream and salsa.  It was nice to dip the quesadilla into to broth. I think it would be great topped with some tortilla strips or crunched tortilla chips. This recipe is a keeper!!


Mexican Meatball Soup


  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Goya Adobo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth (I used the last 3 cups of this home made chicken stock plus an additional 3 cups which I purchased)
  • 1 large carrot cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 large zucchini,  halved then cut into 1/4 inch half-moons
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained (I used Muir Woods Organic)
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
  • freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, for topping


  1. In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients (beef through and including Adobo). Using your hands mix to evenly combine. Be careful not to over-mix. Pinch off tablespoon-sized pieces and roll into balls.
  2. In a large dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Place as many meatballs into the pot as you can without crowding them and push slightly on the top to flatten a bit. Brown on all sides for about 3/4 minutes. You do not have to cook them all the way through but they must be mostly done. You may have to work in batches to brown all of the meatballs.
  3. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, zucchini and rice. Return to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is done and the meatballs are cooked through.
  4. Season with salt if necessary.
  5. Serve garnished with cilantro and cheddar cheese if desired.

This soup reheats beautifully for left overs and I would imagine that it freezes well-although I didn’t try.


Adapted from February, 2014 issue of All You Magazine.

Italian Beef Sandwiches-slow cooker

These are delicious! The beef is cooked all day and just falls apart. The very slightly hot peppers, the melty provolone cheese and the tomatoes makes this one tasty hot sandwich. Save some of the juice for dipping if you’d like.  This cooks for 8 hours which makes it ideal for a weeknight dinner also as it can stay on ‘warm’ for a while after cooking.

I put the roast in my slow cooker at about 10am on New Year’s Day. I didn’t really have any plans for the day except catching up on some DVR’d shows and doing some chores around the house and laundry but on a lazy day off it was nice to not have to worry about dinner and have such a delicious sandwich waiting for me.  It also reheats really well. I brought some left-overs to work the next day, put the roll in the toaster oven with a slice of cheese and nuked the beef. It was delicious!








Italian Beef Sandwiches-Slow Cooker


  • 1 3lb eye round roast (or chuck or rump)
  • 1 2oz packet Italian Dressing mix (dry)
  • 6 small Pepperoncini peppers
  • 1 cup low sodium low fat beef broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes w/italian herbs
  • Sliced provolone cheese
  • Butter
  • Rolls


  1. Put the roast into the cooker.
  2. In a bowl combine the dressing mix and broth and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the mix over the roast followed by the tomatoes.  Place the peppers into the broth around the roast.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. When the cooking is complete remove any pieces of fat from the beef or liquid and discard.
  6. Remove the roast from the liquid and set aside. Strain the liquid to remove any fat that may be left. Retain the strained liquid and tomatoes.
  7. Slice the rolls in half the long way.
  8. Heat a pan over medium/high heat. Melt a tbsp of butter and when foaming place the halves of as many rolls as can fit into the butter (interior side down). Weigh down with something (I used my tea pot) and cook until crisp. Remove from the pan and place provolone onto the bread and then top with some beef and tomatoes and cooking liquid if you’d like.
  9. Serve immediately.

As an alternate serve the cooking liquid in a small bowl along side the sandwich for dipping.

Adapted from thecountrycook.net

Christmas Eve Pot Roast

My family doesn’t usually do much on Christmas Eve. This year though, since Husband and Mom and I and In-Laws were all off I decided to have a Christmas Eve dinner at my house. The evening was so much fun. We started with some easy pickies-different olives, some hummus, cheese and crackers and then moved on to dinner then had some dessert and exchanged some presents.  It seemed almost too perfect that it also started to snow while we were opening presents.  Not much-just flurries-but I couldn’t have planned a better backdrop. Thanks Mother Nature!!

The menu was very simple-pot roast, roasted veggies and ranch mashed potatoes–and it was perfect.  We had only a little of everything left-and those left overs were gone the next day.  Allow yourself time to sear the meat properly-it makes all the difference in the end.

The pot roast-so simple to cook and so delicious! My father in law proclaimed it perfect and the best he’s ever had!!  It was a flavorful comforting meal perfect for a holiday get together.


Christmas Eve Pot Roast


  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  4.75 lb chuck roast*
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 whole medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into 2 inch rings then halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 cup red wine (I used chianti)
  • 3 cups low fat low sodium beef broth
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 275f.
  2. Salt and pepper the roast generously.
  3. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven (mine is a 6 qt) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the carrots to the pot and stir them around for a few minutes until they’re slightly  browned. Remove and set aside with onions.
  5. If the pan needs a bit more oil add it now.  Place the roast into the pan and sear it for about a minute (or until a nice brown crust developes), then repeat for all sides–even the ends. Set aside with the onions and carrots.
  6. Add the wine to the pot and scape up all of the bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Put the roast back into the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the roast halfway.
  7. Put the onions, carrots and fresh herbs into the liquid in the pot.
  8. Put the lid on and roast in the oven for 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Brown the meat so that it looks like this.


The roast was so tender that I couldn’t slice it-I just pulled the meat apart and served it that way.


If your roast is smaller it will take less time to cook. Plan on 3 hours for a 3lb roast.

I was also able to find some beautiful flowers in Christmas-y colors for the table. Red and white carnations with some really adorable puffy greens-they reminded me of something Dr. Seuss would think up.


Adapted from Ree Drummond via Food Network.

Sunday Afternoon Chili

The fall bug has bitten! I can’t wait to make up all kinds of soups and stews and have a gray afternoon with something simmering on the stove all day.

As I wrote in the post for the cornbread that I served with this chili, Husband and I had a Sunday football day at home instead of heading out to the bar with friends. That cornbread and this chili was our dinner and it was delicious. This chili is meaty, it’s bean-y, it’s got some underlying spice and heat but it’s not spicY or hot. You can always add a squirt of hot sauce if you’d like but I like to keep the heat factor down a bit and go up from there.

The original recipe called for smoking the meat but since we don’t own a grill or a smoker we skipped that step.


Sunday Afternoon Chili


  • 1&1/2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 2 cups diced Spanish onion (about 1 large)
  • 2 cups diced green pepper (about 2 large)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed to a pulp
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced, seeds and spine removed
  • 1&1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1&1/2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1&1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 15 oz cans dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 ozs beer (we used Belfast Bay Lobster Ale-a red ale)
  • toppings of your choice-fat free sour cream, grated cheese, scallions etc..


  1. Brown the beef until almost cooked through in a heavy bottomed stock pot, drain the excess fat, then add the onion and green pepper, garlic and jalapeno and cook until beef is cooked through.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 90 minutes.
  3. Serve as is or top with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheese, squirt of hot sauce, scallions etc……


Adapted from Brother Jimmy’s BBQ cookbook Smoky BBQ Chili.

Taco Casserole Bake

It seems that over the last week that the weather has turned more towards fall even though it’s still summer until the 22nd. And with fall comes cozy Sundays watching football. And with Sunday football comes yummy food. And that yummy food category just got a new additon. This casserole is as easy to make as it is tasty. I found the original recipe on BettyCrocker.com and lightened it up a ton by using fat-free refried beans, super-lean ground beef, reduced fat cheese and fat-free sour cream.  Even better-I had all of the ingredients I needed in my pantry already.


Taco Casserole Bake


  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 16oz can fat free Refried Beans (Old El Paso)
  • 8 ozs medium spicy salsa (I used Fairway brand)
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 Taco Seasoning Packet or homemade taco seasoning
  • 2&1/2 cups smashed tortilla chips
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped, seeds and cores removed
  • 1 cup freshly-grated reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • fat free sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce, olives, other toppings of choice


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. In a large skillet brown the beef over medium-high heat and drain. Stir in the beans, salsa, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Reduce heat to medium and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to combine.
  3. On the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish place 2 cups of the smashed toritlla chips then pread the beef mixure evenly over the chips then sprinkle the pepper, onion, 1 cup of the chopped tomato and the cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes until bubbling and cheese has melted.
  5. Serve with the remaining tomatoes and chips on the side topped with anything else you’d like.

Note: this also reheats beautifully for left overs.


French Dip Sandwich

Labor Day weekend already? It seems like it was just Memorial Day weekend!! Well there’s only 3 weeks of summer left. Soon the leaves will change colors and it will be chillly again. I can’t say I’m sad about that. This summer seemed to not be our typical Long Island summer. Too rainy. Too humid. Not many nice days at all. So while I’m usually summer’s biggest fan this year I say ‘bring on the fall’. I’m ready for boots and scarves and sweaters (yay!! get the cashmere out!!). 

Husband and I finally did some painting in our house that we should’ve done probably 3 years ago-but alas-we put things off like that. It felt really good to get it done and, as always is the case, it looks fabulous.  I knew it was going to be an active busy day so I planned ahead and had everything I needed for these sandwiches on hand. They were a HUGE hit! They were so tasty. They’re so tangy from the broth and the sweet onions were deeeeeelicious! And they came together really fast to boot.  A perfect sandwich for a day of doing things around the house or for a nice lunch at home. 

By the way-the color in the background of the photo below is Benjamin Moore’s Wood Ash the color we painted the room. It’s very nice if you’re looking for a warm neutral to go with dark furniture/and wood floors like we were.

French Dip

French Dip Sandwiches


  • 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut in half and sliced to 1/4 inch slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tsp salt-free Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning Blend, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups fat-free, low-sodium beef broth or stock made from Better than Bullion Beef
  • 12 ozs thinly sliced Boars Head roast beef from the deli counter
  • 4 kaiser rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • 4-8 slices reduced-fat Swiss Cheese (or meunster)


  1. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over med-high heat and add the onion. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle in 1/2 tsp of the Mrs. Dash. Stir to distribute evenly and sautee about 13 minutes until onion is tender and golden brown. While the onion is cooking add the water 2 tbsp at a time until it evaporates, scraping the bits off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. While the onion is cooking combine the broth and remaining Mrs. Dash in a sauce pan large enough to hold the liquid and the roast beef and stir it. Cook the broth until hot. Remove the pan from the heat and add the roast beef, pushing it down into the broth and let it stand while you prepare the rolls.
  3. Place the bread cut side up in the toaster oven, top one side (or each if you prefer) with a slice of cheese. Toast to desired crispy/meltyness.
  4. Using tongs pick up some of the beef and let the broth drip back into the pan. Place the beef on the bottom of the prepared roll and top with onions.  Serve immediately with a side of broth if desired.

I opted to just drizzle a little broth over the onion/beef on my sandwich and then put the top of the roll on top.

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast cookbook.




One Great Steak

What a simple and delicious steak!!  I made a super tasty quick throw-together marinade and then served with wonderful Yukon Gold Baked Potatoes and crisp roasted green beans. Easy peasy!

Note: I cooked this on my stove-top Le Creuset grill pan but you could also use an outdoor grill or press-just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

june 3 dinner

One Great Steak


  • 1.5 lb top sirloin about 1 inch thick
  • 2-3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1-1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic put through a press or smashed to a paste
  • 1.5-2 tsp freshly grated ginger


  1. Put meat and other ingredients into a zip-lock bag and marinate for 30 minutes to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. When ready to cook  pre-heat the grill pan to medium/medium-high. When sufficiently hot place steak on pan. 
  3. Cook for approximately 8 minutes on each side for medium rare and leave it alone while it’s cooking. You can also use a meat thermometer.
  4. When the meat is cooked remove it from the grill pan and place it on a plate, cover it with foil, and let it rest 10 minutes.
  5. Slice across the grain and serve.

Note: you may want to season the steak with salt and pepper too but I left it out due to the saltyness of the soy sauce.

Serves 4 approx.


Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes

Yes I know I thought the same thing when I read the name of the dish–YUM!! Putting 2 classics together-that’s genius! I’ve seen a few different recipes for this floating around the internet and blog world for a while but never got around to making one. For this month’s blog swap I was given http://www.tasteofhomecooking.blogspot.com/ and it took me a while to decide to make this dish-Sarah’s got a ton of great sounding recipes on her blog.

I really did enjoy eating these yummy sandwiches. The recipe makes about 4-6 sloppy joes depending on how much you can load into the bun. I toasted the roll with a slice of provolone on each side and then put the beef mixture in the middle. I stuck to her recipe pretty closely with this one-the only changes being that I added a bit of worstershire sauce and used less onion and upped the steak sauce amount and then let it reduce for a while. I think the green pepper added a great depth of flavor too. Next time I make this I will use the leanest ground beef that I can find to cut down on the fat. The beef mixture also reheated extremely well.



Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 tbsp A1 Steak Sauce (or similar)
  • 3 tbsp Lea & Perrins Worstershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4-6 kaiser rolls
  • Provolone cheese-sliced thin


  1. Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. when the oil is hot add the onion and geen pepper and cook until starting to brown and slightly soft. Remove the onions and peppers from the pan and set aside for later.
  2. To the same hot pan add the ground beef and brown, cooking through thoroughly. Drian any fat, add the peppers, onions and stir to combine. Then add the steak sauce, worcestershire sauce, beef stock. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat and let it simmer about 10 minutes until most of the liquid is gone. Add salt and pepper if necessary to season.
  3. Cut the rolls in half, place one piece of provolone on each side and toast.
  4. Mound up the beef onto the rolls and either eat open face or as a sandwich.

Check out the other May blog swap recipies here. Thanks for hosting Sarah!!

Beef Burritos in the slow cooker (with make ahead and freeze instructions)

I must have 3 trillion lists that I’ve found on Pinterest and all over the internet from super savvy ladies who make these mountains of meals and stockpile them in their freezer. Seriously they could feed their entire town for a year if they needed to. It makes me feel very inadequate considering I only having frozen berries and ice cream in mine. So I decided to try one and see how it worked out. All in all it was a great success.  It was easy to just pull the ziplock bag out of the freezer, thaw it for a bit and then just pour everything into my slow cooker. I honestly didn’t see it saving any time. The thawing time was far more than it would have taken me to chop the onion and measure out a few ingredients but it was nice to have it there and ready to go.  I cooked it on Sunday all day and then put it in a container in the fridge with other toppings to eat during the week.

A few weeks ago my supermarket had top round roasts on sale. I bought one, took it home, put it in the ziplock with a bunch of ingredients, zipped it up and put it in the freezer.  Easy. I wrote the instructions for cooking with a sharpie on the bag before I put the ingredients in so that I wouldn’t smudge it and I wouldn’t have to write with meat/tomato sauce to lean on.  I did add some of this seasoning to the slow cooker too. The best part-the beef was DELICIOUS!! It also didn’t make too much-I’d say enough for between 5-7 burritos depending on how much you put in each.


Beef Burritos in the slow cooker


  • 2lb top round roast
  • 2 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • taco seasoning to taste
  • 1 small can green chilies, drained

Optional Ingredients (to taste):

  • sour cream
  • grated cheese (don’t use pregrated-that stuff doesn’t melt nearly as well due to preservatives and anti-sticking additives–YUCK!!)
  • sliced avocado
  • salsa
  • burritos
  • refried beans 


  1. Write all cooking instructions on a large freezer bag and make sure it won’t smudge.
  2. Add all ingredients through and including the cider vinegar to the ziplock bag, remove all of the air from the bag and seal. Place in freezer flat to freeze.
  3. When you’re ready to cook it thaw the bag in some water until no longer frozen. Place contents of bag in the slow cooker and add the taco seasoning and chilies. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  4. After 7 hours carefully remove the meat and place on a board. Remove any fat and discard it.
  5. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a bowl, discard the contents of the strainer. 
  6. Add the beef back into the cooker and shred with 2 forks.  Pour enough of the strained liquid over the beef to cover it half way and cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.

Then make a burrito how you like it. This time I used beef, beans, a sprinkle of white cheddar and monterey jack, sliced avocado and sour cream. I put the burrito on my panini press to heat it up and melt the cheese and to give the burrito that nice crispy crunch.

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