Category: Beef

Chili with Braised Beef and Squash

I had such high hopes for this chili because all of components are awesome in some form or another. It’s a bean-less chili though, which is almost hard for me to call it a chili because I always always always have chili with beans in it. I have no idea what else to call it. It’s sort of like that whole sweetened vs. unsweetened cornbread debacle. Like my affinity for all things cornbread [I’ll eat both types], I’ll eat any type of chili. I have no shame.

I was especially excited at the prospect of using some dried whole chilies to spice this thing up. I usually equate these kinds of peppers in homemade enchilada or hot sauce, but it can absolutely hop into my bowl of chili. I’ll gladly accept. Of course they came in a huge bag, so the remaining ones just sit in the pantry waiting for another day. If someone will point me to a bulk dried chili bin, I would appreciate it. I never want more than a couple. The chili base calls for a blender, which was just another not-so-subtle reminder that I need to call Vitamix about maintenance. I imagine a food processor would work, too.

Squash was the wild card to the recipe. Honestly, the chili was probably just a vehicle for the squash. It drew me in with its siren call. I love squash. I roasted up a whole baking tray of the stuff tonight and it took all my willpower not to just eat it straight from the pan. I may not be huge on sweets most of the time, but the sweetness of squash gets me every.single.time. Unfortunately the sweetness of the squash overpowered the rest of the chili, and maybe that was the point, but it isn’t the flavor profile I usually expect from a chili. I was kind of hoping for a more subtle sweetness—hoping the chilies would dampen it. I still slurped up every drop the next day at work. Don’t worry.

It all came together rather quickly. It was a lazy Sunday project since it takes about an hour depending on how quickly you can cut and peel that dang squash. New Seasons has a bunch of precut stuff in the case right by the door. I’m pretty sure I look at it every time I walk in the store [that and the guacamole…creature of habit]. I embraced my inner over-achiever and toasted some pepitas [or pumpkin seeds]. I sacrificed my hard earned dollars on a mediocre avocado to garnish. I’m such a sucker. Look how pretty it is. It was mostly for looks because that avocado was the epitome of bland.

Beef and Beer Chili

Inspiration: Bon Appétit


  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 1 dried pasilla chile
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1lb boneless beef chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 12oz lager
  • 1 small acorn squash, peeled and cut small
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
  • salt and pepper
  • Avocado, sliced radishes, green onions, sour cream or cilantro for serving


Toast the chilies in a skillet on medium high heat. Press them down to the pan so they get a lot of contact with the heat. They should start to darken after a few minutes. Toast both sides. Fill a bowl with boiling water and add the chilies to it to rehydrate. Soak for 3o minutes. They’ll be falling apart. Remove the stem and transfer the entire thing to a blender [or remove the seeds if that’s your thing]. Blend until smooth.

Put a large pot over high heat. Add one tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Pat the beef dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon of oil and chopped onion and garlic. Stir well break up the remnants of the beef juices that have accumulated. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the cumin and oregano. Stir well so it’s evenly distributed.

Add the beef back to the pot and pour in the beer. Bring to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer for about five minutes. The beer will cook down significantly. Add the chile puree and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the beef in the chile for 20-25 minutes before adding the squash. When the squash is soft, about 15 minutes, taste for additional salt and lime.

Serve in bowls topped with the toasted pepitas and your preferred accouterments.

Carrot Goat Cheese Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve made this shepherd’s pie before. For my friend Emma. We ate it. I forgot to take photos [so typical] and let’s be real — shepherd’s pie really isn’t the most photogenic thing in the world. Yet when I made it again, I wanted a photo so I could tell you about it. No one wants to hear me drone on and on about goat cheese without a photo.

It really is amazing what goat cheese can do to elevate some mashed potatoes. I’d take these over most mashed potatoes almost any day of the week. I’ve seen mashed potatoes with sour cream or creme fraiche for a tangy addition, but the goat cheese trumps it all. The carrots add a hint of sweet but it’s mostly muted but the goat cheese. The color though. That’s what the carrots do more than anything. Or I just have a tendency to have buy the boring bland carrots. Maybe both. Probably both. Making it with the mixture of pork and sirloin is worthwhile. Lamb would be lovely as well. This recipe is perfect for annoying the guys behind the meat counter by asking for small amounts of everything. It’s becoming a favorite pastime of mine. Usually I’m met with disappointment when I only pick up one thing, like a pound of pork, but I make their day for about three seconds when I ask for 1/4 pound of pork after getting the ground sirloin. It’s the little things.

Brussels sprouts are such a good addition to the pie. They’re made deliciously tender and pick up the flavors of the other ingredients. It reminds me of the bubble and squeak at Radar. I would have no shame smothering the pie with gravy. Why isn’t that a thing?

Carrot Goat Cheese Shephards Pie

Inspiration: A Cozy Kitchen


  • 1lb russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 8 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4lb ground pork
  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3oz goat cheese
  • 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


Place the potatoes and half of the carrots in a pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until they are super soft. You should be able to crush them with a fork. It should take about 15-20 minutes. Drain the pot and add the vegetables back to the pot. Add the goat cheese, butter, and whole milk and mash everything together. Taste for salt and pepper and set aside.

While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 400°. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil to medium high heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add in the brussels sprouts, the remaining carrots, and onion. Saute. After about five minutes, add in the garlic. Stir often to keep it from burning. Add in the pork, beef, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Stir to break up the meat. Once it’s browned and cooked through, add the flour and stir to combine. Add in the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and rosemary. Bring the broth to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Simmer for 10-12 minutes so the sauce thickens.

Spread the meat mixture in a 8×8″ pan. Top with the goat cheese mash. Spread it as evenly as possible, covering the meat mixture entirely. Bake for 25 minutes. If the potatoes don’t start to brown, you can place it under a broiler to get some color. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool for 15 minutes before eating.

Greek Meatballs

Mediterranean Exploration Company — eat there. You must. It’s the latest restaurant checked off our ‘must try’ list. We’ve been slowly tackling the list once a month, and the list keeps growing faster than we can get to them. M.E.C. is another John Gorham creation. I love his other restaurants, gigantic waits be damned, Toro Brovo and Tasty n Alder (or Sons). You could say we went a little overboard with the number of plates ordered over the course of a few hours, but it seemed so necessary at the time. After all, I don’t know when we’ll be back. The highlights were the lamb and bulgar tartar [raw meat, always gets me], fresh made pita with the roasted eggplant dip, fried anchovies, grilled octopus [the most tender octopus of my life], and the Greek lamb chops. Mouth. Watering. Deliciousness. The desserts didn’t do a whole lot for me. I would have gladly eaten another pita instead. We sat at the bar top that surrounded the kitchen. So fun to watch and eat.

These Greek meatballs were supposed to be made with lamb per the original recipe. I try not to mess with Smitten Kitchen recipes. Deb is a master of her recipes. I had every intention to go grab lamb for them, I swear. The fridge [New Seasons] was completely out though. I instinctively went with ground beef instead, which turned out to be a solid substitute. I still think lamb would be infinitely better, but that’s because lamb > beef in my world. It just is [see Greek lamb chops above]. But in a pinch? When I want to save a few dollars? Beef all the way. The saltiness of the feta and the olives is the star of the show anyway. Putting them on a bed of buttery orzo was pretty much heavenly. I’m currently craving pasta as I type.

I’ve been keeping a bag of breadcrumbs in my freezer for a long time now. I used them. They worked great as a binder. I was actually a bit skeptical since I really don’t care for bread from the freezer. I thought perhaps they’d end up a bit soggy when cooked, but nope! Add that to the list of things I perpetually keep in the freezer [along with peeled garlic cloves and fresh ginger].

Beef Greek Meatballs

Inspiration: Smitten Kitchen


  • 1.5 tablespoons of water
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 of a whisked egg [the rest went to Roma]
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons crumbled feta
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1-2 tablespoons vermouth or red wine
  • 14-15oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves [don’t skip this!!]
  • juice of one lemon [or 2 tablespoons]
  • Orzo [or other fresh pasta] or fresh rolls to make sandos to serve


In a large bowl, mix together the three tablespoons of water, ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of the crumbled feta, salt, 1/2 teaspoons red chile flakes, one minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, and tomato paste. Roll them into small, uniform balls. I use a cookie scoop for ease.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Do this in batches if necessary. A crowded pan is a recipe for crumbled meatballs. Set them aside on a paper towel lined plate. In the same skillet, add the onion and remaining clove of garlic. Brown in the remaining grease. Scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. When the onion starts to soften, add the vermouth or wine. When the liquid is almost gone, add the tomatoes, oregano, olives, remaining chile flakes, and mint. When the mixture starts to simmer, add the meatballs to the pan. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Serve over pasta or in a sandwich. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top.

Curry with Beef Kofta and Spinach

Remember when I said I was eating out too much? Yeah, just when I think I’m ready to give it up I have two back-to-back meals that rank high up in that realm of “best ever.” It’s been awhile since I’ve been that excited.

Kachka – it was a ‘not-a-date’ night with my friend Jenny. Our catch-up nights always involve dinner somewhere and we end up parking ourselves at a table for a good three hours. I don’t think we’ve ever been disappointed, and Kachka was no different. It’s getting a lot of good press in the food world [Bon Appétit and NY Times, for example], but we managed to get a table without a reservation or a wait. I was really surprised. My knowledge of Russian food is limited, but as usual, I don’t really care about authenticity [although, I hear they hit the mark]. Does it taste good? I’m sold. We opted for their Ruskie Zakuski Experience, which is a sampling of nearly all of their cold small plates, and an order of the cabbage rolls. The food is very smoked fish heavy, and it was so, so, so, so good. Highlights = Baltic Sprat Buterbrodi [tiny smoked fish, parsley mayo, pumpernickel toast], beet cured king salmon, and Herring ‘Under a Fur Coat’ [7-layer salad of herring, potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, mayo, eggs]. My mouth watering just thinking about it. We finished dinner with Russian style ice cream sandwiches made with wafers, black currant tea milk caramel, and hazelnuts. We were talking so much that the ice cream started to melt, but it reminded me so much of an airy, less sweet, cold marshmallow fluff. Everything is better with black currant tea milk caramel.

Kukai Ramen & Izakaya – best. ramen. ever. Not that I’ve had that many bowls of ramen, but I like to think I just save my experiences for the good stuff. Their locations are in the NW, Taiwan, and Japan. Sounds legit enough for me. The garlic tonkatsu shoyu ramen has a thick, rich, garlicky broth. The noodles don’t clump together and have a great texture. Those seasoned half-boiled eggs are the things dreams are made of. I could eat just a bowl of those. Seriously good stuff. I see now, though, why they offer a low sodium version of the broth. It didn’t taste extraordinarily salty, but my god could I feel it later. Sausage fingers. Worth it.

Beef Kofta Spinach Curry

The curry in this recipe is much more Indian than Thai. Garam masala will do that. This is a ridiculously simple curry to throw together. I’m always intrigued when a curry doesn’t have coconut milk. It’s a nice change to get the full on flavor of the spices. It has a whole mess of spinach in it, too, which I will never be bummed about. I could eat spinach all the time. The meatballs come together easily without a binder of some kind, but don’t suffer from texture issues. The key is to brown them, and I mean really brown them, before rotating them in your hot skillet. I’ve learned to resist the urge to move them even though I  want to. If I think they’re ready, I know I need to wait a little longer. This ensures extra flavor while keeping the meatballs together.

The meatballs don’t stew in the curry sauce for that long. It’s a quick and easy meal in that respect. If you want to infuse more flavor, and you have more time on your hands, feel free. It ends up smelling really good, though, so it’s hard to justify waiting.

Inspiration: Fuss Free Cooking


  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 10oz frozen spinach
  • 1 cup of water
  • salt, pepper
  • diced chilies, cilantro, rice for serving


In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon of garam masala and the teaspoon of turmeric. Mix until smooth. Set aside.

In another bowl, add the ground beef, the other tablespoon of garam masala, and a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until combined. Using an ice cream or cookie scoop [or, you know, your hands], roll out little meatballs of a uniform size — approximately a tablespoon. Heat a pan on medium high heat. Space the meatballs out in an even layer. Do this in batches if your pan is too small. Allow the meatballs to brown fully before moving. Set the meatballs aside.

In the meatball pan, add the the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Turn the heat down to low and add the grated ginger and garlic. Stir quickly and often so it doesn’t burn. Add the turmeric/garam masala mixture to the pan. Sauté for about two minutes.

Add the tomato paste and sauté for another couple of minutes. It should darken in color. Add the chopped spinach and water. Bring the water to a boil before turning the heat back down to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid. Allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to break up the frozen spinach if it’s been clumped together. If the curry starts to get dry, add more water. After 10 of the 30 minutes have elapsed, add the meatballs. Try to submerge them as much as possible. Cover and simmer for the remaining 20 minutes.

Now is a great time to make rice if you haven’t.

After 30 minutes, check the curry. Taste for chile flakes or salt. Serve the curry and meatballs with rice. Top with any of your garnishes.


Unstuffed Peppers

Sometimes you just want a one-pot meal. I’m pretty sure the crock-pot is the ultimate one-pot meal, but that requires planning and foresight that I just don’t have most of the time. I’ve been getting better. Expect some crock-pot meals to come, but until then there are these.

This is what happens when you unstuff a bell pepper. It’s practically what I do when I’ve ever made/eaten stuffed ones anyway. Sure they’re pretty all on your plate perched high and stuffed full of whatever goodness, but one cut and it’s on its side anyway. Then you have to cut up the pepper with each bite so you get enough pepper with every bite. Cooking it up this way ensures you’re increasing your fork to face time. Who doesn’t like making something a little easier every now and then?

Inspiration: Budget Bytes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 15oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce


Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic for a minute or two. Add the ground beef. Break up into small pieces as it browns. Add the diced bell pepper and cook until soft—about 3-5 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, including the juice. Stir in the rice, basil, oregano, some pepper, and the beef broth. Bring the whole mixture to a boil before turning down to a low simmer. Cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. The rice should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed. Stir in the tomato sauce and worcestershire sauce.

Taste for salt and more pepper before serving.