Category Archives: Beef

Recipe for Ground Beef Meatloaf, individual servings

Easy as 1-2-3, This Flavorful Meatloaf is Hard to Beat.

Sometimes, whipping up a quick and easy meal isn’t all that quick, or easy. But when meatloaf goes to the table, not only is Momma happy, Daddy and the whole gang are waiting with fork in hand for the start of a memorial and satisfying meal. Nothing is quicker, nor tastier than a good ol’ homemade meatloaf. And when I say homemade,  I mean using good ingredients and delectable flavors that will make every bite outstanding.

Now the key to easy dinners is planning and keeping it simple. But that does not mean processed foods or out-of-the-box meals or sides. This meatloaf meal comes together with 3 recipes that together, makes for one outstanding, non-ordinary meatloaf. Plan your side dishes around the meatloaf, choose ones that will complement the flavor and be sure to maintain correct portions of the vegetables ( and the grains, fruit and dairy too) to the protein serving. Think steamed or quick pan sauteed, or even oven roasted vegetables.

We love meatloaf around our house. This is one way we enjoy making it, in individual servings and with a gravy made with good ingredients that really taste superb. The recipe uses basic ingredients for flavor but what we really love about this one is the added flavor and moistness the vegetables give to the texture and, with the addition of tomato paste as a binder, no egg is used. Enjoy!

Individual Meatloaves with Vegetable Gravy
Great for family dinners or company too – freeze unneeded loaves

makes 6 loaves

1) for the meatloaves:

2 1/2 to 3 pounds ground round beef (85/15)
1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onions
1 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
2 teaspoons of your favorite seasoning blend (you should know by know, mine is Badia Complete)
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon low sodium Worcestershire
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed bell peppers
1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2) for the basting sop:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

3) for the vegetable gravy:

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped mixed bell peppers
1 small carrot, diced
seasoning blend of choice
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken or beef stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In an extra large bowl, blend the dried onion and garlic, seasoning blend, tomato paste, Worcestershire, soy sauce and liquid smoke together well. Mix in the chopped vegetables. Using a large metal or wooden spatula or mixing fork, cut in the ground beef adding about one-third of meat at a time. Mix to incorporate being careful not to compact the meat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using cold hands, form meat mixture into 6 balls and then each one into individual meatloaves. Place on a meat or wire rack and over a large shallow roasting pan.

Cook for about 30 minutes basting with the sop about 3 or 4 times during the cooking time. Remove when each is nicely brown and glazed.

While loaves are cooking, saute the mushrooms, onion, bell peppers and carrot with the olive oil until onion is soft. Add wine and chicken stock and allow to reduce about half in volume. Stir the cornstarch in a little stock or water and blend into the mixture to thicken. Simmer on low until gravy is desired consistency.

Place loaves in baking dish and spoon gravy on top. Return to oven if desired and allow gravy to simmer. Or, you can serve right away.

Notes: You could do away with much of the dried seasonings and use the standard onion soup mix I suppose, but then, it wouldn’t exactly be my recipe.
Next time I make these, I am gonna cook these on the grill, I can only imagine the added flavor especially using the basting sop.

Award Winning Summertime Tasting Hamburger

A new favorite, maybe the best!

It is crazy how we get stuck in a rut. I mean, eating the same thing over-and-over again. Now I am not saying to put away a good recipe when you find one, I’m just saying I like to try and create new ones from time to time. Do I try to ‘out do’ the previous favorite? No, nor do I try to replace it. But I think having several great recipes for the same food under the belt, so to speak, is a good idea. To change things up a bit at times, don’t you see.

So when I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago, I did what I do best, I reached into the cabinet and let my mind and taste thoughts lead me toward creating what became a hamburger with a remarkable and flavorful, southern smoky grilled taste. A new recipe that was hailed as ‘award winning’ by all who enjoyed it. (I have made a second batch and grilled them with equally great reactions.) In fact, one even went as far in saying it was the new favorite, the best ever. Well, I don’t know . . . I’ll let you decide that. Go ahead, make up a batch yourself, get to grilling and enjoy a really good great hamburger. Enjoy!

My New Southern Seasoned Hamburger Recipe
makes 4 burgers

2 tablespoons Southern Seasoning Home Blend (see below)
2 tablespoons low-sodium Worcestershire
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Badia Complete Seasoning or seasoning salt
2 pounds ground chuck beef (80/20), cold from refrigerator

In a wide large bowl, whisk the first 6 ingredients together. Let set for about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef by carefully breaking it apart and with a large spoon or spatula, blend it into the seasoning mixture. Using your hands will heat the meat and cause the fat to tighten up the texture.

Dip your hands in ice-cold water. Dry hands completely and divide mixture into 4 balls. Quickly pat out into no less than 1-inch thick patties. I like to form the side edges somewhat flat, perpendicular to the surface. Lay each on a baking pan and press an indention into the center of each burger. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until about 30 minutes before ready to grill.

Preheat grill on medium high. Grill patties for 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Baste both sides with the of the Hamburger Basting Sauce (below) while grilling.

Top each with a layer of cheese (I used Chipotle Cheddar) right after removing from grill. Add what ever condiments and finish with a dressing however you like. I made up a quick jam by sauteing red and green bell pepper slices with onion silvers along with olive oil and as it just began to caramelize, I added grain mustard and ketchup for a wonderful, dressing to pair with the grilled hamburger.

Note: Badia Compete or Sazon Completa is the same item and is available in most grocers. I use the heck out of this in so many foods as an all-purpose seasoning blend. And what I like best, besides the taste, is that salt is one of the last listed spice ingredients.

SO… What are a few of my other ‘favorite’ burgers’?
Steakhouse Burger – with flavors of a steakhouse grill
Dad’s Better Burger – beef and pork sausage burger with bacon jam and special sauce
Sensational Burgers – pure savory beef burgers with no egg or bread fillers
Smoky Texan ‘Ham’burgers – loaded patty with onions, peppers, smoked ham and bacon…juicy with Texan BBQ sauce glaze

Southern Seasoning Home Blend
I like to make up a batch and use as a general additive to so many foods, from dips, soups, stocks and the likes of this: hamburgers. (also esp. good in meatloaf)

1/4 cup dried minced onions
3 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried carrots flakes
2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves

Combine all in a container with a tight fitting lid. Store in a dry, dark cabinet or pantry.
Note: Carrot flakes are found in natural or health food specialty stores

Hamburger Basting Sauce
Use this to mop on the burgers as you grill.

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire
good dash of Chipotle Tabasco or liquid smoke

I like to place this in a half-pint mason jar and mop with a baster

Best Tasting, Fajita Beef Kabobs

Easy grilling with a superb and unrivaled outdoor taste.

Nothing beats the taste of grilled beef kabobs. And there aren’t too many fine meals that come together so effortless either.

A little prep time of cutting the beef sirloin, top round or tenderloin into sections of about 1-inch x 1/2-inch along with a few savory vegetables is all the time you need in preparing this one. Well, you gotta whip up the marinade of course and thread the skewers too but after that, it’s a quick trip to the hot grill and in no time flat, you’re on your way to some fine eating. Be sure to cut the vegetables (like onions, bell pepper, squash, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, etc.) the same diameter as the beef. And be sure to place the onion and bell pepper directly next to the meat for added flavor.

I let the beef marinate about an hour and brush it on as the kabobs grill away. Be sure to place the kabobs over a hot fire and watch carefully, it won’t take no time at all. Why, I bet you won’t be able to finish your beer.

I can’t wait to try this marinade on chicken wings too. It is outstanding in flavor and made the meat tender and the vegetables extraordinarily tasty.

Fajita Marinade for Kabobs
~works well on chicken too

1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons low sodium Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic toes, minced
1 teaspoon pure clover honey
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning
1/4 teaspoon course ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra light olive oil

Allow the meat to marinate at least an hour, two would be great. Use the marinade to brush on the kabobs during the first rotation of grilling.

Oven Cooked Chili Cheeseburger

The Chili is in the Burger.

Still hankering for a little more tasty meals other than the bland foods we tend to eat when we have a cold or the flu, my taste buds motivated me toward a spicy, messy Chili con Carne topped cheeseburger. But before I got too carried away, I decided to go another route: Make a hamburger loaded with the flavors of a big ol’ bowl of chili loaded roasted flavor, I mean that is all Chili con Carne really is, right? Meat flavored with chiles.

And one of the best things going is the way I prepared these; you can do so in the oven, anytime of the year. No going outside during the winter, no worrying about the burgers falling apart (it do contain a lot of moisture) and no frying on a stove-top griddle slinging grease all over the kitchen. Yup, a very appealing yet satisfying burger.


Chili Cheeseburger
makes 8 burgers

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 garlic toes, minced
1 -4 oz can Fire Roasted (Hot or Mild) Green Diced Chiles, Hatch brand
2/3 can (from a 15.5 oz can) Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained
Recipe for my Taco Seasoning Mix or 1 -1.35 oz package Taco Seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons good chili powder blend (Mexene will do)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds ground lean (93%) beef
6 Onion split buns, toasted
6 slices Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese
Romaine lettuce leaves, thin onion and tomato slices and sliced avocados if desired

In medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium high heat and sauté onion and garlic until onion is slightly brown. Add drained chilies, tomatoes, taco seasoning, chili powder and cumin. Stir and simmer about 10 minutes to reduce moisture a bit. Let cool about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

With a large spoon or spatula, mix cooked ingredients with meat. Divide mixture into six portions and shape into burgers. Place on a large roasting pan or bake ware about 1-inch apart. Place in oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Cook about 10 minutes and turn burgers over. Continue cooking about 10 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove and drain on plate. Place cheese slice on each and tent loosely with foil.

Use your favorite salsa or condiment on the buns and add lettuce, onion, tomato and avocado if desired.

Roasted Vegetable Taco Soup with Meatballs

Full of Gitty-Up,

this Is a Cowboy’s Ambrosia

Folks, this is a most wonderful, well developed and flavorful soup, if I may say so myself. I made it this weekend as I began to recover from a nasty cold and tired of having chicken base soups, which I do love, I hankered for a little more flavor. This one did more than I expected.

I’ve noticed in the past many Taco Soups using a package of dry ranch seasoning salad dressing but I cannot recall ever making such. Instead, I like the limey, tart tomatillos to replicate what I expect would be an unexpected flavor brought on by the packaged seasonings. By roasting the tomatillos over an open flame, the flesh remains firm while the green skin chars nicely. I think the oven produces a mushy mess and does not char the skin on tomatillos that much. The tomatoes need to roast just enough to make it easy to remove the peel becoming ‘stewed-like’ while the onions and peppers stay in longer to blacken a bit. This process using fresh ingredients brings out such a richness and depth that that is so worth the little effort.

For the meatballs, I based the recipe on how I do it when making my Sopa de Albondigas and pre-soaking the rice helps speed the cooking time. I like the medium grain white rice here and as noted in my last recipe, it’s qualities are best suited for cooking into foods such as this. And because I like Chorizo flavor, I added it to the beef and cooked the meatballs in the oven, unlike most Sopa de Albondigas recipes, to remove its fat.

The broth comes together quickly as the remaining ingredients are pretty much staple cupboard and pantry items and it is the roasted veggies that brings everything together. I like the greenness of the spinach, sorta like lettuce in a taco I guess. So, here is a quick-step listing from my notes on how I made this one, it is one I will repeat many times. Hope you do too. Enjoy

Roasted Vegetable Taco Soup with Meatballs
about 10 servings

Roast over open flame:
4 tomatillos

Roast in broiling oven:
3 roma tomatoes
1 large white onion, quartered
1 red bell pepper, halved
-remove and chop

1/2 cup medium grain white rice
1/2 cup boiling water
-in a bowl and let set for 30 mins, then squeeze dry

Heat in stockpot:
2 tablespoons olive oil

Saute in stockpot over medium high heat:
1 medium onion, diced
2 large garlic toes, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
-remove and let cool

Combine in a large bowl:
1 pound ground lean beef
1 pound chorizo, casing removed
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 /2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
the sautéed vegetables
the soaked (and patted dry) rice
-together and form into 1/2 to 3/4-inch balls; place on baking pans and bake 15-20 at 350 degrees F or until brown; drain on paper towels

Add to the stockpot:
2 carrots, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
2 cups frozen shoepeg corn
1 -15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 -16 oz can red or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Recipe for my Taco Seasoning Mix or 1 -1.35 oz package Taco Seasoning
-mix together

Stir in:

1 -8 oz can tomato sauce
2 quarts chicken stock
1 quart beef stock
-bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

-Add the meatballs a few at a time until incorporated.

-Allow to come to a second simmer and cook on low 20 minutes.

Stir in:
Roasted vegetables
3 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and drained

-Stir and simmer about 10 minutes

-Serve with a good sprinkle of cheese, tortilla strips or fritos, pico de gallo and sour cream if desired.

Note: Read the post above for a further explanation of the ‘how and why’ of preparing this soup.

Irish Immigrant Stew

Beef or Lamb Stew Recipe

When emigrants arrive to the United States, they bring with them their native way of cookery. America is blessed with such a rich diversity of food cuisines from a wealth of countries. The south is no different as I have mentioned many times and I believe it is here, where a most homogenize merging of foodstuff comes together, just like in a good gumbo.

Most historians when mentioning the Irish migration tend to focus on the settlement of the New England states, although during the 18th century, the Irish flourished heavily in Georgia and the Carolinas as well moving onwards into the Delta areas. It is here that many became prominent citizens, rising above the immigrant mentality held in the upper New England states of New York and Massachusetts. Much of the rise came about from the Irish fighting in the American Revolutionary War and doing so won the hearts and camaraderie of fellow southern citizens. It is here, in the south where the Irish found tolerance and where their heritage was welcomed. And it is in the south where Irish families felt acclimated, becoming part of a community while gaining foothold and persevering tenacity.

After 1815, the Irish immigration rose to over 33,000 per year and of those, the laborious work of digging, forming canals for waterways and moving earth to make way for railways in the south was done by many of the Irishmen. Others became doctors, lawyers and plantation owners. During this time, New Orleans, which was the largest city in the south, became one-quarter Irish. It is no wonder there is such an influence of Irish character in New Orleans. Mobile had its share of Irish influx too and even today, Callahan’s Irish Social Club exists just a couple blocks from our house.

Which brings us to the recipe today, one of those peasant style, home-goodness, one-pot meals that slowly comes together in making a full-bodied, hearty stew of pleasantry. It blends together the distinctive characteristics of the southern Irish, a little of my momma and a whole lot of me. You see, the recipe is based on one my momma made many times and in making her version of Irish Stew, she used cubes of lamb shoulder along with large chunks of carrots, potatoes and turnips. You could too, either way . . . enjoy!

Irish Immigrant Stew
4 to 6 servings

2 pounds beef roast, boneless short ribs or stewing meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves toes, minced
1 bottled beer, like the clean and crisp Harp Lager or the somewhat hoppy Murphy’s Irish Red
4 cups rich beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 large bay leaf
pinch of cayenne
good pinch of thyme
4 whole carrots, roughly sliced bite size
1 pound red potatoes, unpeeled and chopped bite size
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the beef cubes with a little salt and pepper. Add enough flour lightly coating each piece. Spread on a pan to keep dry.

In a stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat and when butter begins to brown add the beef, just enough to cover the bottom. Sear bottom side of the beef to a light brown, about 3 minutes and turn meat to sear the other side. Remove to a plate and sear remaining beef cubes. Tent the plate of beef with foil and keep warm.

Add the onions to the pot and cook stirring onions until the onions caramelize from the fond in the pot. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add any remaining dusting flour along with enough to make about 1/4 cup. Stir flour into the onions and cook about 3 minutes. Pour in the beer (at room temperature), beef stock, Worcestershire and add the bay leaf, cayenne, thyme and sugar. Allow liquid to come to a simmer on its own (not increasing heat to do so) and at simmer add the browned beef. At second simmer, reduce heat to medium low (barely simmering) and cook covered for about 2 hours.

Stir the carrots and potatoes into the stew mixture. Cook 30 to 45 minutes covered or until the potatoes are tender. Add a half-cup of hot water to the stew if the mixture becomes too thick.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and hot crusty French bread, cornbread muffins or soda bread.

Slow Cooker Roast Beef for Debris Po-Boys

The World’s Greatest Sandwich

 … if you ask me.

Debris: pronounced ‘day-bree’ and means the bits and pieces left behind from roast beef. Read the history of the po-boy sandwich from an earlier grilled Cajun chicken post.

During Mardi Gras, I decided to feed my staff, at least the ones in our retail division lunch one day (the Special Event Crew setting up the many balls missed out) and I thought nothing would be better than my favorite Mardi Gras food. That would be a good ol’, dripping messy, and I mean run-down-your-arm kind of messiness, French bread sandwich filled savory bits and shreds of beef and a full-flavored beefy gravy. If you have ever had a NOLA roast beef sandwich, then you know the kind we southerners prefer, or rather, demand. If you have not, then you should know that the NOLA type of roast beef is a misnomer as it is not roasted at all, rather boiled or braised in liquid, veggies and spices until it literally falls apart, thus becoming debris.

I have several recipes for roast beef sandwiches and the one today is similar to one I shared during a contest back in 2011. Scroll down that post to find it. I used the slow cooker this time to cook the roast beef and used a whole sirloin tip roast (it was really a good buy). By cooking it in the slow cooker, I was able to do so slowly overnight and by lunchtime, it fell apart which was perfect and so well received.

Now, I am not saying this po-boy, the recipe today, is the world’s greatest sandwich, but it is a darn good one. To me, as mentioned, a roast beef sandwich is my very favorite. One taste of the sandwich today brings out flavorful depths of braised beef with savory onion and slight garlic undertones, a taste that from only one bite, will seem like your very first, and one being a taste of homecoming. Enjoy!

Roast Beef for Debris Style Po-Boys
using a smaller roast will result in the same flavorful beef, just more of the delicious gravy
serves about 30

1 -10 to 12 pound whole sirloin tip roast (rump roast is my normal preference)
salt, cracked pepper, garlic powder or your favorite roast seasonings
flour for dusting
1 small bell pepper, diced
6 garlic toes, smashed and mince
3 large yellow onions, sliced
1 tablespoon steak seasoning (I used Bahia)
1 -15 oz can condensed beef broth

Unlike the NOLA method, I like to sear my roast and this time I did it quickly in the oven.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Remove roast from the packaging, rinse if desired and dry completely. Remove the silver skin left on and any visible fat. Normally there is a vein of silver and fat running through the center. Season the roast all over with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dust lightly with flour completely. Place in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes turning the roast over midway or until the meat is seared all over. Remove from oven.

In a large slow cooker, place half of the bell pepper an garlic in the bottom and lay the roast on top. Sprinkle the remaining bell pepper and garlic. Cover roast with the onion slices and with the steak seasoning. Pour the beef broth over the onions.

Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours.

Remove cover and if needed, shred roast with two serving forks or chop on a large cutting board. I stirred the roast around enough to dislodge most into bite size pieces and then continued cooking on low another 4 hours. At this point, the meat fell apart and was ready to serve.

Serve on French style pistolettes, cut French bread, Po-Boy loaves or even submarine type loaves. In true sense, the sandwiches would be served “fully dressed” with mayo, lettuce and slices of tomato. Horseradish, red onions, bread-and-butter pickles and Creole mustard are optional; some folks even like a dab of BBQ sauce (a sacrilege act if you ask me).

Beef and Pork Roasted Tomato Chili

Fill Up On this Super Bowl of Chili

Folks sure have been talking up the Super Bowl this year and with the Harbaugh teams going against each other, well, the media frenzy is just crazy. Take Media Day for example; the hype for fans to sit in the Super Dome and watch, which they paid $25 to do, show the obsession of fans who may or may not be in attendance to the actual game. To just hang around and watch 3000 plus reporters do their thing to me is plain crazy. Those in the stands could not talk to, solicit autographs from the players, or come in any contact whatsoever. What they could do is sit there for 4 hours and watch, spend their money at the concession stands, which by the way, sells alcohol and which also probably helped past the time. It just goes to show the popularity of the Super Bowl and the NFL and as one Forbes article put it, ‘if the NFL was selling sand in the desert, fans would buy it.’

More popular than the desire to sit and watch Media Day is sitting and watching the actual game. And to me, more popular than that, is eating on game day. This is a chili recipe I came up with a while back, one based on the old southern way of making chili and one we think is a darn right winning bowl of goodness. The richness of the tomato-laden sauce mingles well with the spiciness of chili flavors and blends into a developed meaty base that has a slight fire-roasted savory savor.


Beef and Pork Roasted Tomato Chili
6-10 servings

2 pounds pork roast, 1/2-inch cubed
salt, pepper and garlic powder
3/4 cup flour
cooking oil
2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
8 oz mini sweet peppers, sliced (or chopped red bell pepper)
2 large onions, chopped
6 garlic toes, minced
2 cups extra rich chicken stock
2 -10 oz cans petite cut tomatoes and chiles (Hatch brand)
1 -28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 -11.5 oz can tomato juice
1 -29 oz can seasoned pinto beans, with sauce
1 -15 oz can corn kernels, drained
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
4 to 6 tablespoons good chili powder (like Mexene brand)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
grated cheddar cheese

Add the flour to a medium wide bowl and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Toss the pork cubes in the flour coating well.

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, add about 3 tablespoons cooking oil and when hot, add about half of the pork. Brown on all sides and remove to a paper towel lined plate. Brown the remaining pork and put aside.

Add the ground beef and cook until brown. Add the bell pepper, sweet pepper, onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Add the chicken stock, Hatch tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato juice, pinto beans, corn, lime juice, oregano, chili powder and cumin. Stir to incorporate and allow chili to come to a light simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

In a small bowl, make the salsa by combining the onions with the tomatoes. Give it a light splash with salt, pepper and lime juice if desired.

To serve, top each bowl with grated cheese and good spoonful of salsa. Serve with cornbread, saltines or your choice of bread and sour cream is optional too.

Beef Shank Stock for Vegetable Soup

Recipes for Super Rich Beef Stock and Beef Shank Vegetable Soup

Southern Kitchen Classics: Beef Stock

Making a good soup is like making a good gumbo, ya gotta start with a developed foundation. As labor intense as the making a dark roux is, the result forms the flavor dominance and depth required in the gumbos we enjoy. Starting with a well developed beef stock is essence in creating a good beef based soup; one that draws from the flavors of roasted vegetables, beef bones and the rich marrow inside. To this stock, we add the seasonings and the vegetables which gives our bodies and soul the reward of taking the time to make a soup ‘from scratch’.

Making a good, rich beef stock is not hard, it does however take several hours to develop the richness desired. Roasting in the oven adds exceptional flavor and color to stocks. In making a beef stock, I like to roast some form of acidic tomato (ketchup) on the bones which not only boost flavor but also draws minerals from the bone. With this stock I like to make gravies, soups and sauces. Each batch makes enough for a large pot of soup or ample quantities that I freeze or refrigerate in smaller containers for future use.

Below is the recipe I use to make beef stock. Today I used beef shanks ’cause I wanted to use the meat in the Vegetable Soup recipe that follows. Enjoy!

Rich Beef Stock
made with roasted vegetables and beef bones
makes about 6 quarts
6 to 8 pounds beef bones, oxtails, shins, short ribs or beef shanks (the meat is a plus)

hot, rich beef stock

1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 onions, quartered
2 ribs of celery, halved
2 carrots, cut into 4×1/2-inch strips
1/2 green bell pepper, quartered
6 garlic toes, halved
2 cups dry red wine
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 1/2 quarts cold water

beef shanks

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

For beef bones, oxtails, shins: Place in a roasting pan, lightly sprinkle with salt and cook for 45 minutes. Turn bones over and cook 20 minutes.

For short ribs, beef shanks: Place in a roasting pan, lightly sprinkle with salt and cook for 25 minutes. Turn bones over and cook 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, pour off any liquid reserving the bottom broth. Discard the top grease.

Reduce oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the ketchup with the black pepper and brush onto the bones, ribs or shanks. Scatter on top the onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic. Return to oven and cook for 30 minutes. Add the red wine, the reserved broth and cook another 30 minutes.

Place all in a large stockpot and add the bay leaves, thyme and water. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low (barely simmering) cooking for 4 to 6 hours. Continually skim off the scum that forms on the surface.

Strain liquid in a colander using layers of cheesecloth or linen if you prefer a clear stock (consomme). Discard the solids. Store the stock in sealed containers after it cools completely (or proceed to make soup).

Now, with making the stock aside, we get to move to the real reason of this post – a most flavorful pot of soup that is good for you and allows you to appreciate the time you took to develop the depth of a rich, full bodied stock.

Vegetable Soup with Beef Shank Stock
made with fresh or frozen vegetables (with a little pantry help) that taste garden picked
serves 6 to 10

Beefy Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, cubed
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 quarts Rich Beef Stock -recipe from above
1 pound fresh green beans,trimmed in 1-inch sections (1 -14 oz frozen)
1 pound fresh, dry shelled small lima beans (1 -16 oz petite frozen)
kernels from 5 to 6 ears of fresh corn (1 -16 oz frozen)
1/2 pound fresh okra, chopped (3/4 cup frozen)
1 large white potato, peeled and cubed
1 -14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 15-.5 oz cannellini beans, drained
2 sprigs fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the carrots, celery and onions. Saute until onion is clear. Add the beef stock, increase heat and bring to a simmer. Add salt if needed. Add all ingredients and allow soup to come back to a low simmer. Reduce heat and cook 30 to 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Serve hot with choice of bread.

Note: To make a Beefy Vegetable Soup, cut a 1 1/2 to 2 pound roast in bite size pieces, season and sear in hot oil. Add to the soup when adding the beef stock.

Loaded Meaty Lasagna

Meat, Meat Please

First, let me say, this is in no way an ‘authentic’ Italian recipe. It does contain many Italian ingredients and flavors, but ya not gonna find it in the Encyclopedia of Regional Italian Cuisine. Like most of my recipes, I just made it up.

This one is for the folks, ya know who you we are, that like a lot of meat in casseroles. Yup, those ‘meat and potato’ fellers that line up at diners across Americana eateries. Layered in this easy-to-make chunky pasta sauce is four kinds of meat not to mention (okay, I will) five vegetables and a blend of yummy cheeses. Go ahead, loosen up your belt, roll up your sleeves and make a meal out of this one. Enjoy!

Loaded Meaty Lasagna
My ‘Kitchen Sink’ casserole using a no-boil pasta method
about 6-8 servings

1 pound lean ground beef
1 -8 oz button mushroom, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/5 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic toes, minced
1 celery  stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 -24 oz pasta sauce
1 -14.5 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon from an 6 oz can tomato paste
1 -8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
9 Lasagna noodles from a 16 oz box
1 -16 oz large curd cottage cheese
2 -8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup diced precooked bacon
2 links of precooked Italian sweet sausage, sliced
3 oz turkey pepperoni slices
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown the ground beef in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook tossing ’em around until tender. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, celery, carrots and cook until onion is translucent. Stir in the pasta sauce, the diced tomatoes (liquid too), tomato paste, sauce and red wine stirring to incorporate the paste. Stir in the seasonings. Cover with lid and allow mixture to come to a simmer, then cook for 45 minutes with lid ajar. Stir often.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the cottage cheese with 8 ounces shredded mozzarella. I like to add a couple of turns of black pepper. Put aside.

Spray a lasagna pan or a 13x9x2-inch baker with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with the meat sauce. Place 3 of the uncooked lasagna on top of the sauce. Spoon half of the cheese mixture on top and even out. Add 1/3 of meat sauce, half of the bacon, half of the sweet sausage slices and pepperoni. Add anther layer of lasagna followed with the remaining cheese mixture. Add another 1/3 of the sauce, repeating with layering the remaining meats. Place the last layer of lasagna, the last of the meat sauce and the remaining 8 oz mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top. Cover with foil.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Note: When ever I am layering as such, I always do a listing so I won’t get lost. This one goes something like this. Start from the bottom.

2 cheeses
1/3 meat sauce
3 lasagna pasta
1/2 meats
1/3 meat sauce
1/2 cheese mixture
3 lasagna pasta
1/2 meats
1/3 meat sauce
1/2 cheese mixture
3 lasagna pasta
a little meat sauce