Tag Archives: beef

Beef and Spinach Enchiladas

Do you have recipe pet peeves? If you do, I’d love to hear them in the comments. I have a few. I don’t love when something is listed in a smaller unit of measurement than necessary (don’t say 4 tablespoons, say ¼ cup, for example). I prefer when something says the whole amount need in the ingredients list rather than list it 3 times (say 1 teaspoon of salt, divided). But those are mostly my preferences.

I do have conflicting pet peeves, actually. I hate when recipes call for an amount of cooked meat, like chicken. I rarely have precooked chicken just sitting around. And without the steps in the recipe, sometimes I find myself half way in and realize I need to cook the darn chicken. BUT another pet peeve is to have a million steps to make something that is just one part of a larger whole that also has a million steps.

Unfortunately, this recipe hits those pet peeves. There is no way around it. Enchiladas need cooked meat. BUT, the good news is this recipe for meat is super easy and delicious AND makes more than you need for the enchiladas (or easily does) so you could have sandwiches, meat on salad, etc for awhile afterwards. So forgive me for doing what I actually hate myself. The end result of these is pretty darn delicious! And please pardon the photo. I tried several times and couldn’t get an appealing shot of enchiladas. While tasty, they aren’t photogenic.

Beef and Spinach Enchiladas (Serves 6-8)

Beef and Spinach Enchiladas

3-4 lb boneless chuck roast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup low sodium beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 teaspoon canola oil
½ onion, chopped
9 ounces fresh spinach
2 tablespoons water
½ cup low fat sour cream
16 corn tortillas or 8 large flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
2. Combine salt through cumin. Rub on all sides of chuck roast. Place in a shallow baking pan. Cover with onions, broth, and tomatoes. Cover pan with a lid or with foil.
3. Bake for 3-4 hours, or until meat is tender enough to pull apart with a fork.
4. Remove meat and shred. Pour juice/tomato mixture from pan into a saucepan. Heat over medium heat to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Puree. Add ½ cup sour cream. Set aside.
5. Heat a large nonstick skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and water. Cover with a lid. Cook 2-3 minutes, until spinach is wilted, stirring as needed. Remove from heat. Add shredded beef to spinach mixture.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
7. Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Fill tortillas with beef mixture and cheese, placing in pan seamside down. Reserve ¼ cup cheese for topping. Pour remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese melted.

Recipe notes: I use my Traeger to cook the meat at 275. If you have a meat thermometer, you want the meat at about 195 degrees F. My meat was quite frozen the last time I made this, and it only took 3 hours to get there. So I recommend watching it. I’ve cooked thawed meat for over 3 hours to get it tender as well. Also, it seems like a lot of sauce. I’ve put all of it and not put all of it. More sauce is always better.

Nutritional information: (amount per serving)

Calories: 453
Protein: 44 gm
Fat: 18 gm
Saturated fat: 8 gm
Cholesterol: 131 mg
Carbohydrates: 32 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 623 mg

Source: adapted from Traeger and various sources online

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Oven Baked Tacos

The holiday season is upon us. We are all very busy and stressed. Easy dinners are the order of the day, yes? These oven baked tacos are a win on that score. They can be put on the table in about 30 minutes and are delicious. And there isn’t a big mess afterwards. I hope these help ease a little of the December stress in your life.

Oven Baked Tacos (Makes 12 tacos)

Oven Baked Tacos

12 hard shell taco shells
½ tablespoon canola oil
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
½ jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed if desired, diced small
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tomato, diced
½ cup salsa
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 tablespoons water
½ cup shredded cheese (your preference)
Shredded lettuce
Chopped green onion
Chopped tomatoes
Sour cream
Shredded cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Line taco shalls in 9×13 baking dish.

2. Heat a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and ground meat. While it begins to brown, chop vegetables. Add onion, peppers, and garlic once meat is mostly browned. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and pepper soft. Add tomato, salsa, taco seasoning, and water. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until thickened and combined.

3. Spoon meat mixture into the taco shells. Top evenly with shredded cheese.

4. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve with desired toppings.

Nutritional Information (Amount per taco):

Calories: 158
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 32 mg
Carbohydrates: 12 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 277 mg

Recipe notes: Don’t worry if your shells crack a bit trying to get them in the pan. Once you put the filling and cheese in, you can patch them back together. I would start checking the tacos at 5 minutes. The longer they are in the oven, the softer the shells become. Mine were in 8 minutes (convection oven) and the bottoms of the shells were almost too soft/soggy. The nutritional analysis uses ground turkey and doesn’t include in toppings. Refried black beans are a great side dish to serve with this.

Source: Adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff

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Italian Braised Beef over Polenta

At my house, it is beginning to warm up and feel like spring and summer might actually happen. I spent so much time at the park yesterday that I got my first “tan” line of the year. But Mother Nature is tricky. Every year this happens, and then every year there is a random snow storm or cold streak that makes us all depressed again.

In anticipation of that cold streak, I bring you this hearty, Italian dish. It is warm, sticks to your ribs, and tastes amazing. Even better, it cooks in the crockpot, so you could make it on a spring or summer day without heating up your house.

Enjoy!

Italian Braised Beef over Polenta (Serves 4-6)

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½ tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds boneless chuck roast (or about that much)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ – 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 ¼ cups cold water
1 cup polenta/corn meal
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.

2. Add chuck roast, pepper, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and basil. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 7 ½ hours, until meat is falling apart and shreds easily with a fork.

3. Add vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, while preparing polenta.

4. Combine broth, water, and polenta in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently until polenta begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese.

5. Shred meat with 2 forks. Serve meat with sauce over polenta.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 391
Protein:  37 g
Fat:  12 g
Saturated Fat:  3.5 g
Cholesterol:  116 mg
Carbohydrates:  34 g
Fiber:  4 g
Sodium:  275 mg

Recipe Notes: The original recipe called for pork. I’m sure that would be delicious as well. The original recipe had you sear the meat on all sides in oil before sautéing the vegetables. My meat was frozen, so searing wasn’t an option for me. I still think it tasted fine. I generally skip that step in lots of slow cooker recipes. My meat usually is frozen, but I also just don’t find that big of a flavor difference worth the mess or time it takes to sear it. I think it is a personal preference.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Quick Pastitsio

It’s a snow day at my house. Well, as snowy as Tulsa gets, which is more ice than snow at this point. But snow days make me think of living back in Chicago, where cold and snow are the norm. In Chicago, my husband and I loved to go eat in Greektown. Greek food is full of love and made any snow day better.

This pastitsio is not like what I would have eaten in Greektown. It’s much lighter, has more veggies, and cooks in at least half the time. But it still evokes the same flavors. I hope it brightens your world on this wintry day.

Enjoy!

Quick Pastitsio (Serves 6)

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Cooking spray
8 ounces uncooked, whole wheat penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey (93/7)
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 bell pepper, chopped
¾ cup finely chopped carrot
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups skim milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced no salt added tomatoes, drained
7 ounces fat free cream cheese
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

1. Preheat broiler to high. Coat a broiler safe baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook pasta to al dente, omitting any fat or salt in cooking. Drain.

3. While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is heated, add ground turkey. Sauté until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan. Drain pan if needed. Add remaining oil. Add onion, pepper, and carrot. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, sauté one minute more, stirring constantly.

4. Return turkey to pan. Sprinkle in salt. Add flour and stir frequently, cooking for 1 minute.

5. Stir in milk, tomato, and cream cheese. Bring to a simmer, stirring until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in pasta.

6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the top. Broil for 4 minutes, or until top is golden and slightly crunchy looking. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 406
Protein: 32 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 71 mg
Carbohydrates: 45 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 523 mg

Recipe Notes: I subbed in ground turkey here. A lean ground beef is also tasty and lends to a slightly more colorful dish. I don’t need to drain my pan after the turkey. I like having any juices or browned bits in there to stir in with the rest of the ingredients. It is important to chop the carrot small or even shred it for this dish. There isn’t a ton of cooking time for it to soften. I wouldn’t skip on broiling time either. The crunchy lid of cheese is delicious, and the extra heating time doesn’t hurt the sauce or pasta to come together either.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

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Gyros

I once heard someone say, “I could be a vegetarian except for the occasional order of chicken fingers.”  I think I would modify that statement for steak, but possibly beef in general.  Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetarian dishes (as the significant number on this site will attest) as well as chicken, pork, and fish.  And I’m a big advocate for healthy food.  But a steak or a delicious burger just hits the spot sometimes, you know?

When I first moved to Chicago, I lived near Greektown.  My classmates and I occasionally got gyros.  They got them as great food for a hangover.  I got them because it hit all those wonderful notes of a great burger and then some.  But they were grease bombs, and we knew it.  Lots of napkins were required, and not in a good way.

This sandwich gives you that juicy, beefy flavor without a ton of grease or guilt.  I know traditional gyros are made with lamb, but I love this flank steak version.  And I could eat the condiments for this completely on their own.  Enjoy!

Gyros (Makes about 4 sandwiches)

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1 pound flank steak
½ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon garlic powder, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
½ peeled cucumber, shredded (about ¾ cup)
1 (5 ounce) container nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
½ cup chopped fresh dill, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 whole wheat flatbreads or pitas
2 roma tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Sprinkle steak with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon garlic powered, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Let meat rest and come to room temperature before grilling. Place on grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning after 6 minutes. For medium-rare to medium, cook to 145 degrees. Let meat rest for 5 minutes off of grill. Slice diagonally against the grain into thin slices.

3. While meat is cooking, squeeze shredded cucumber between towels to remove excess moisture. Combine cucumber, yogurt, remaining salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh dill and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

4. Toss onion, oil, remaining lemon juice, and remaining dill together. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

5. Divide steak evenly between pitas, topping with cucumber sauce, onion, and sliced tomatoes.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Sandwich):

Calories: 313
Protein: 32 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 80 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 499 mg

Recipe Notes: I forgot to buy gas for my outdoor grill and do not own a grill pan. I cooked the steak on a griddle set at about 350-400. Even if you are normally a well-done kind of person with steak, flank steak is not the time for well done. A solid medium is as far as I would take it, otherwise it gets VERY tough and chewy. Don’t be afraid of the fresh dill. It is not my favorite herb, and I usually find it overpowering. In here, it is just delightful. Promise.

Recipe source: only slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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Philly Cheesesteaks

Having never been to Philadelphia, I can’t vouch for the authenticity of these sandwiches.  But I can tell you they are delicious.  Even better, they are easy and fun to make.  My husband always helps me make these, because he thinks slicing the meat is pretty neat.

I usually buy whole-wheat hoagie rolls for these sandwiches.  I made some whole wheat french bread rolls this time.  They got a lot bigger than I expected in the second rise, so the sandwich looks huge in this picture.  The amount of filling is the right amount for four sandwiches, but there is a lot more bread than for a normal hoagie roll.

Philly Cheesesteaks (Serves 4)

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1 lb top round steak
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 onion, sliced
6 ounces of provolone cheese, sliced
4 whole wheat sandwich rolls

1. Slice steak into 1 inch strips. Place in a freezer bag and put in freezer for at least 1 hour.

2. Place largest slicing disk on food processor. Feed frozen steak strips through food processor. You should have small slices and some shaved pieces of meat.

3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add sliced peppers, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add sliced onion. Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until vegetables are mostly tender.

4. Add steak and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes or so. Place slices of cheese over the top of the meat/vegetable mixture to evenly distribute. Cover pan, and cook until cheese melts. Serve in sandwich rolls.

Nutritional Information (Amount per sandwich):

Calories: 501
Protein: 44 g
Fat: 20 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 101 mg
Carbohydrates: 39 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 775 mg

Recipe Notes: If you can’t find top round steak, I have used flank steak as well. It isn’t as lean, so do try to find the top round. When freezing the meat, you want a good balance of being frozen but not rock solid. If it is too frozen, the slicing blade can have a hard time with it. If you don’t have a food processor, no problem– just try to slice the steak as thinly as possible before cooking it.  You’ll likely have to cook the meat a little longer, too.  When I buy provolone, it comes in 1.5 ounce slices, so I use 4 slices. If yours comes in 1 ounce slices, you could decrease the cheese to just 4 slices. This would save you calories, fat, and sodium. But, it is a cheesesteak, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

I know the nutrition facts don’t look that great for this sandwich. But here is a commercial cheesesteaks nutrition facts:

Calories: 760 calories
Protein: 57 g
Fat: 32 g
Saturated Fat: 17 g
Cholesterol: 145 mg
Carbohydrates: 65 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 2500 mg

Source:  Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

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Q&A: Meat and cholesterol

Q:  My cholesterol is a little high but my doctor isn’t too worried yet. We’re eating some vegetarian meals several times a week now. We were wondering if pork is any better than beef, comparatively speaking?

A:   Thank you so much for the question.  It is great that you are being proactive about your health.

Many people think that to lower your blood cholesterol you should decrease the amount of cholesterol in your diet.  While this can help, you should focus more on the amount of saturated fat in your diet, since that actually contributes more to high blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol.

For healthy adults, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation is to consume less than 10% of your calories from saturated fat (about 22 g for a 2,000 calorie diet) and less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day.  If you want to lower your cholesterol, the National Institutes of Health recommend that you consume less than 7% of your calories from saturated fat (about 15 g for a 2,000 calorie diet) and less than 200 mg of cholesterol daily.

With that in mind, here are the amounts of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in a three ounce serving of several meat products: 

Food (3 oz serving)

      Fat (g)

   Saturated Fat (g)

    Cholesterol (mg)

Beef tenderloin (trimmed of fat)

7

2.7

70

Ground beef (95/5)

6

3

76

Pork loin chop (trimmed of fat)

5

1.8

61

Chicken breast (no skin)

3

.9

72

Salmon

4.5

.8

47

Bison

2

.8

70

As you can see, beef has the most saturated fat of the meats listed, even when you choose lean cuts.  Pork does have a bit less, making it is a slightly better choice, but there are even better choices out there.  Bison is much leaner than beef and has a fairly similar taste.  However, it can be fairly expensive and difficult to find.  Chicken and salmon are also excellent choices — both are low in saturated fat and generally available.

I hope that helps.  Thanks again for the question!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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