Taco Spaghetti

I love kids television. I would totally pick the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon over most adult shows any day. I know what you’re thinking, what does that have to do with anything?

Well, a few years ago I binge-watched iCarly and one of their meals of choice was spaghetti tacos. Which was obviously supposed to be a show joke but since the show was so popular, it became a real thing. I’ve had it in the back of my head that maybe, possibly, at some point I’d try them… just to see.

And then I ran across this recipe and I immediately knew this would be a much better take on the iconic iCarly meal. I’m always a fan of one-pot meals and this one didn’t disappoint!


Taco Spaghetti
{from Ready, Set, Eat)
Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 1/2 cups water
8 oz. spaghetti, broken in half
Sour cream, for serving
Avocado, for serving

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef. Add taco seasoning, tomatoes and water. Stir to combine. Stir in the spaghetti. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.

Serve topped with sour cream and avocado.

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak

I’m kind of in denial that June is already here. My husband and I are both turning thirty this month. Next month we’ll be celebrating our sixth anniversary and Jake’s first birthday. I mean, how is that really possible? Add to that two planned trips, out of town friends coming for a week, 4th of July and our calendar is filling up really, really fast. I’m already getting anxious that the summer is going to get away from me.

The only way I’m combatting my anxiety, so far, is by starting early. We’ve had the baby pool set up for a few weeks and I’m plowing through my folder of grilling recipes. We’ve already made my beloved grilled pizza a few times so it was time to move onto another favorite – meat on sticks.

Beef, prosciutto, provolone and Italian spices all wrapped up and grilled – how could this not be a winner?


Italian Stuffed Flank Steak
(from The Chunky Chef)
Serves 4

4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 small shallot, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. flank steak
4 oz. deli-sliced prosciutto
4 oz. deli-sliced provolone cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients.

Butterfly the steak and pound out thin. Top with herb mixture, prosciutto and provolone. Roll up, hold together with toothpicks and cut into pinwheels.

Grill over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until steak reaches desired doneness.

Steak Chili

Friday is the official first day of spring and it’s actually starting to feel like spring here. This winter was pretty brutal with the below-freezing temperatures and ice storms, so I’m relishing the fact that most afternoons it’s warm enough for walking outside.

We are still getting a few cold days, though – my Mother-in-law texted a few days ago she was getting snow! – so I’ve been using them to cook a few more wintery dishes that I know I won’t want to make in a few weeks. (Bring on grilling weather!)

We usually make chili with ground beef, so the chunks of beef in this one were a nice change of pace. It packs a nice flavor punch for the minimal number of ingredients and is definitely something I’ll break out again next winter!


Steak Chili
(from Damn Delicious)
Serves 6

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. stew meat, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Slat and pepper, to taste
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapenos, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups water
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, for serving

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Season meat with salt and pepper and add tohot pot. Cook for about 2 minutes, turning so that all sides brown. Add in onion, garlic andjalapenos and cook 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, kidney beans and enough water so that everything is covered. Stir well to combine.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded cheese.

Taco Stuffed Shells

This was another freezer meal I prepped before Jake was born. I’ve made it a few times before but never got a bloggable picture before this. If it’s surprising to you that the best picture of this dish came while I was carrying around a baby, it’s surprising to me too.

This is a real people-pleaser meal – a fusion of tacos and pasta, how can you not love it? If you’re looking for a meal to bring to a friend, this is a great one.

For the freezer, I covered and froze after the taco sauce. I bagged the cheese separately and froze that so I’d have one less thing to do on a busy night. Also, the picture shows a half batch – I prefer to freeze in portions that are easier for two people so we’re not drowning in leftovers!


Taco Stuffed Shells
(from Blog Chef)
Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
20-24 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups tortilla chips, crushed
Green onions, black olives and sour cream, for serving, optional

In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and prepare as taco meat according to directions on the seasoning packet. When finished, stir in cream cheese until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the meat cooks, cook shells according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Pour the salsa into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each shell with the taco meat mixture and lay on top of salsa. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and top with cheeses and tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Top with green onions, black olives and sour cream, if desired, and serve.

Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo Garlic Mayo (+ Win a Hampton Creek Just Mayo Prize Pack!)

A few weeks ago, the folks at Hampton Creek contacted me about trying out some of their Just Mayo products. A company that’s trying to make sustainable, healthy, affordable food? I was totally on board.

They sent three mayos to try – regular, garlic and sriracha. I’ve been incorporating all three into dishes the last few weeks and I can honestly say I’m impressed. The mayo is eggless, so it’s allergy-friendly and it tastes really good.

These burgers went on the menu so I had an excuse to try the garlic mayo. So delicious! The flavors really go together well here for an awesome, easy burger.

Interested in trying some Just Mayo yourself? The nice folks at Hampton Creek sent along a set of Just Mayo products for a lucky reader. Want to win? Leave a comment below letting me know how you’d like to use the mayo. I’ll pick one comment at random to receive three bottles of Just Mayo in original, garlic and sriracha flavors. You have until midnight eastern time on September 14, 2014. Open to US residents only.



Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Garlic Mayo
(adapted slightly from Handle the Heat)
Serves 2

1/2 lb. ground chuck
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices Brie cheese
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup arugula
2 Tbsp. garlic mayo
2 burger buns

Heat the grill to medium heat.

Divide the meat in half and form into 2 patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway, to desired doneness. Top with the cheese and remove from the grill immediately. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve the burgers on buns topped with caramelized onions, arugula and garlic mayo.

Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri

We have a lot of parsley in the garden. A lot. This was the first recipe I ran across that used up a chunk of it – and london broil was on sale! – so it went on the menu. Grilled steak is a summertime favorite so this was a nice way to shake up our normal routine without being too different.

We’re also currently over-run with basil and dill – any suggestions on ways to use them up?


Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri
(from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 lb. london broil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a food processor, combine the parsley, oil, oregano, vinegar, red pepper, garlic and green onion. Process until finely shopped. Rub 1 Tbsp. of the parsley mixture over the steak and let stand for fifteen minutes.

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat, covered, 4 minutes per side or until it is cooked to your liking. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Serve with remaining parsley mixture.

Garlic Beef Enchiladas

One thing that’s been a bit of a surprise with the new kitchen is that the new freezer is smaller than our old one. I had grand plans to start stocking the freezer with meals for after baby boy is born once the kitchen was back together, but it’s become a project of using up what’s already in there first. One thing I inexplicably have a lot of? Ground beef.

When I polled my friends for their favorite recipes using ground beef, Katie suggested this one. Not only did it use up some of the freezer stock, it’s a freezer-friendly meal itself so I made a small tray to freeze as a post-baby meal. They were delicious, so I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy them again!


Garlic Beef Enchiladas
(from Taste of Home)
Serves 5

For the enchiladas:
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped up
2 cups Colby-Jack cheese, divided
10 flour tortillas

For the sauce:
1/3 cup butter
4-5 cloves garlic, minces
1/2 cup flour
1 can beef broth
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion until the beef is browned and the onion is softened. Stir in flour and seasonings until well combined. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.

While the beef simmers, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and make the sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually whisk in the broth. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and seasonings. Heat through and then set aside.

To assemble: Pour 1 1/2 cups on the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. In each tortilla, place about 1/4 cup of the beef mixture and 1-2 Tbsp. of the cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish on top of the sauce, seam side down. Pour remaining sauce over the top.

Bake, covered, for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Remove cover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Queso Burgers

It’s sort of amazing that we always want what we can’t have. On a normal week, I’d kill to have a night of takeout and not have to cook. With the kitchen torn apart and plans to get takeout, there’s nothing I want more than to be able to cook dinner. Of course.

What have we been eating while the kitchen is a mess? Burgers. Lots and lots of burgers. They’ve been easy to put together and throw on the grill without actually needing the kitchen.

This is one of the burger variations we liked best. It’s a basic burger patty (in a pinch, you could totally buy pre-made pattys) topped with queso. So simple and yet really, really tasty.


Queso Burgers
(from The Recipe Critic)
Serves 6

1½ lb. ground sirloin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. Velveeta, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with jalapenos, undrained
6 hamburger buns

Divide the ground sirloin equally into 6 balls, form into patties and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat, about 4-5 minutes per side, until they reach desired doneness.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the Velveta and diced tomatoes. Microwave on high for 2 minutes and then stir. Continue to microwave in 30 second – 1 minute intervals, stirring between, until the cheese is fully melted and well combined.

Serve burgers topped with queso.

Flank Steak Pinwheels

This recipe came from a magazine I got while in college. I made it a few times that summer and then pretty much forgot about it. I don’t know what made me think of it the other day, but I decided I needed to make it again. I tore my office apart looking for that magazine, only to come up empty handed.

And then it occurred to me that it’s 2014 and I could probably find it on the internet. Thank you, internet!

This is a dish that looks fancy but is actually pretty quick and easy – and now that the recipe has resurfaced, I’m sure it’s one we’ll make regularly. If you’re still looking for something fun to grill up this weekend, I recommend these!


Flank Steak Pinwheels
(slightly adapted from Taste of Home)
Serves 4

8 slices of bacon
1 1/2 lbs. flank steak
4 cups fresh baby spinach
7 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup shredded horseradish cheese (or blue cheese)

Place bacon on a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towels. Cover with another paper towel and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, until partially cooked.

Butterfly the steak and open it so it lies flat. Pound out to 1/4″ thick. Cover with spinach and red peppers. Roll up, jelly-roll style. Wrap the bacon strips around the beef and secure with toothpicks or skewers. Slice between the bacon slices, making 8 pinwheels.

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Grill for 5-7 minutes per side.

While the pinwheels grill, combine cream cheese, milk, butter and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook on low, whisking regularly, until smooth. Whisk in cheese and stir until melted.

Serve pinwheels with cheese sauce.

Baked Ziti

Do you know what today is? It’s 10k day for those of us participating in NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated)  is a project to write 50k words of a novel in 30 days. It’s a little crazy and a lot fun. This is my 7th year participating in NaNo and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my past attempts, it’s that you need to plan ahead.

As part of my NaNo prep this year, I stocked our freezer with dinners. I’ve never really done much freezer cooking, but spending less time in the kitchen and more time writing sounded like an excellent idea. This is one of the meals we’ve got in the freezer for this month. The recipe makes two pans – so we ate one when I made in and froze the other. This is a pretty basic, no-frills baked ziti, but it’s a really good one. We’re really looking forward to enjoying the second pan.

I’ve got a whole lot of freezer meals on the menu this month. I’m planning to share the hits and include freezing instructions on some already-blogged recipes. Keep your fingers crossed this goes as well as planned!


Baked Ziti
(from Six Sisters’ Stuff)
Makes 2 8×8″ trays

1 lb. penne pasta
1 onion, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef, seasoned with pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and minced garlic
2 (26 oz.) jars spaghetti sauce
8 slices provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions.

In a large skillet, cook the onion and ground beef over medium heat until the meat is browned and onions are translucent. Drain off any excess fat. Add in the spaghetti sauce and simmer for fifteen minutes.

If cooking it now, preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Spray two 8×8-inch pans with non-stick cooking spray. Layer in each pan: 1/4 of the ziti, 1/4 of the sauce, 4 slices of Provolone cheese, 1/2 of sour cream,  1/4 of ziti, 1/4 mozzarella cheese and 1/4 of sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, until cheeses are melted. Or, cover and freeze.

To cook from frozen: bake at 350F degrees, covered, until heated through and bubbly.