barbecue bake

My husband loves food. He’s the type of guy that will eat just about anything, and really enjoys it all. The only thing we joke about him not liking would be egg noodles, but that’s because when we were first married I forgot to time them and turned the egg noodles into something that didn’t resemble food. He, being a kind man, tried to eat them anyway, in order to not hurt my feelings. At the time I felt terrible that he ate what surely would damage his stomach, but now am glad he did, because we’ve had a good laugh from that for the past two decades!

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When I ask my husband what meals he’d like, when I’m doing the meal planning for the upcoming week, you’d think he’s suggest something new and different to satisfy his varied food tastes. No. Instead, each week his answers are almost always exactly the same:

  1. fish
  2. the ground turkey with barbecue sauce, green beans and cornbread on top thing

This second dish is so ridiculously simple, I have an issue calling it a recipe. It also is so ridiculously simple that I laugh every time he requests it. For someone who loves all kinds of foods, how this dish ended up one of his favorites is beyond me.

So here you go readers. My husband’s second most requested meal.

P.S. No photos for this one, not because I didn’t take any, but because they didn’t turn out well. But I trust that if you use your imagination, you’ll get a good image in your head, and one that is vastly superior to the photos my camera captured yesterday.

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Barbecue Bake

1 pound ground turkey breast (or ground beef)

1 jar or 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

2 cups frozen or fresh green beans

1 box cornbread mix, prepared as directed with the egg and milk

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (if desired)

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Heat oven to 400F.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan (or similar pan) with a small amount of canola or olive oil (omit the oil if using the beef). Cook the meat until just done.

Drain meat and place cooked meat into a casserole dish.

Pour the barbecue sauce over the meat.

If using frozen green beans, thaw them and drain any extra liquid. If using fresh, steam them for a few minutes until they are just barely tender.

Add the green beans to the meat and barbecue sauce, and stir.

Now, if there was a tricky part to this recipe, this next stage would be it. Distribute the prepared cornbread batter THINLY over the meat and green bean mixture. If it’s too thick, it won’t cook through. Note: To save time and frustration, sometimes I cook the cornbread batter in a round cake pan, or in individual muffins, then place the cooked cornbread on top of the heated meat mixture to serve.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top, if desired.

Bake for about 25 – 35 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.

spice rub for fish (or chicken or burgers)

Recently I was gone for two weeks with the two younger children. My husband and 19 year old son stayed home due to their work schedules. One thing they made quite often during that time was fish. My husband loves fish and they both love spicy food, so he did some searching (in recipe books and online) and found a few ways to cook fish to his liking. One recipe called for marinating the fish for a few hours in an olive oil and lemon combination. Another recipe was for a dry spice rub that goes onto the fish right before cooking. He took both these ideas and used them to cook a few different varieties of fish.

Couple things:

  • Today we didn’t allow the fish to spend more than five minutes in the oil and lemon, because we forgot and ran out of time.
  • The dry spice rub recipe came from the Cook This, Not That: Kitchen Survival Guide.
  • My husband and son loved this spice rub so much on fish, that they also put it on chicken and on burgers and declared all of it delicious!

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Spice Rub

In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon each of the following:

paprika

cayenne pepper

cumin

oregano

black pepper

salt, optional (*Note: My husband did not put in any salt, though the recipe called for it.)

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Today I purchased one pound of cod fillets.

Into a small bowl, we combined 2 tablespoons olive oil with the juice and pulp from half a lemon. We poured this over the fish fillets and coated both sides of each piece of fish.

Then we took a few spoonfuls of the spice rub and sprinkled it on each side of the fish fillets. (*Note: This is spicy, and I can’t handle as much spice as my husband and son, so on one piece I went very light with the spice rub.)

Using the backside of a fork I pressed the spice rub into both sides of each piece of fish. (That’s my piece on the left in the next photo.)

We placed the prepared fish into a foil packet and sealed the edge closed. This was put onto the hot grill.

After 5 minutes we flipped the foil packet and cooked it on the second side for 4 minutes.

The fish was so tender it flaked apart very easily.

Delicious!

mozzarella meatballs

I don’t make meatballs often. Yet every time I do, I wonder why I don’t make them more frequently. They’re easy and my family loves them. Making a mental note right now to add meatballs to the weekly meal plan!

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Mozzarella Meatballs

1 egg

1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

salt

pepper

2 cups pasta sauce (any kind you prefer — homemade or from a jar), divided

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

1 pound ground beef (I use either 80/20 or 85/15 for meatballs)

Olive or vegetable oil

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In a large bowl, stir together the egg, bread crumbs and seasonings and 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce. Mix in the ground beef and mozzarella and Parmesan.

(*Note: I do not enjoy mixing raw meat with my fingers, and have found that stirring with a large serving fork mixes the meat and ingredients well.)

Form into balls about the size of golf balls. From the one pound of beef I get about 15 meatballs.

In a deep skillet, heat the oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan … don’t skimp!).

Place the meatballs into the hot oil and cook over medium heat; turning the meatballs frequently, to brown them on all sides as best as possible. You may need to reduce the heat so that they don’t cook too quickly.

When brown on all sides, add the remaining pasta sauce.

Cover. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 15 minutes (I like to let these simmer for up to 30 minutes).

Serve with pasta or on a sub roll.

crockpot roast with potatoes and carrots in tomato sauce

Beef in the crockpot is really the only way I can cook beef (other than hamburgers) to know for sure it will turn out well.

I’ve posted my recipes for crockpot roast beef and crockpot chuck roast with tomato sauce. Today I decided to combine the two by including the potatoes and carrots, as well as the tomatoes. I’ve even come up with the unique, creative name of “crockpot beef — #3”. Catchy, isn’t it?

*Note: This has been edited to change the name of the recipe. I did this because with the old name it was hard to locate the recipe when using the search field.

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Crockpot Roast With Potatoes And Carrots In Tomato Sauce

vegetable oil or olive oil

chuck roast

1/2 cup water or beef broth

1 can (28-ounce) Roma tomatoes

4 white potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper

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Heat oil in large pan and cook meat on all sides — about 2-3 minutes per side — over medium heat. Remove meat from pan and place in the crockpot.

Turn off the heat under the pan. Drain the oil and fat from the pan and add the water (or beef stock) to deglaze the pan. Pour this liquid over the meat in the crcokpot.

Add the tomatoes to the crockpot. (Note: Drain the can of tomatoes if you’d prefer less liquid in the final result.)

Add the potatoes and carrots to the crockpot.

Season it all with the basil, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or high for at least 4 hours.

*Edited to add the potatoes and carrots into the recipe. Just realized they weren’t listed … oops!

crockpot chuck roast with tomato sauce

*Updated to add links to my other crock pot recipes for chuck roasts: here and here.

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This recipe was based on one I found on the website of my local grocery store. I printed it off a year or two or three ago and never did anything with it, until today.

This morning I had chuck roast on hand, intending to cook it in the crock pot as I’ve done before, but was thinking of doing it a bit differently this time. Knowing I’ve had success cooking a chuck roast with tomato sauce in the past, I searched my recipe binder and found the printed out recipe to use as a guide. The recipe from the grocery store wasn’t exactly what I wanted, so basically I just took their guidance as to the amount of canned tomatoes and beef broth and did the rest on my own.

Because today’s meal was for my family as well as for a friend’s family, I did not include onions and garlic (this other family isn’t a big fan), but next time I will, since my husband enjoys the meat cooked with those flavors. Today I also used two chuck roasts to accommodate everyone. If making this with just the one chuck roast, I may decrease the liquids, because the sauce was a bit watery. Maybe I’ll just try draining the can of tomatoes. When I try it with these changes, I’ll post again!

*Edited to add: I’ve since made another version of this, and my family loved it! You can find the recipe here. Enjoy!

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Crockpot Chuck Roast With Tomato Sauce

vegetable oil

chuck roast

1 cup beef stock

1 onion, cut in half and sliced (*optional)

2-4 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced (*optional)

1 can (28-ounce) Roma tomatoes

1/2 cup pasta sauce

1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper

Heat oil in large pan and cook meat on all sides — about 2-3 minutes per side — over medium heat. Remove meat from pan and place in the crockpot.

Turn off the heat under the pan. Drain the oil and fat from the pan and add the beef stock to deglaze the pan. Pour this liquid over the meat in the crcokpot.

Add the onion and garlic (if desired), and then the tomatoes and tomato sauce to the crockpot.  Season it all with the basil, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for at least 4 hours.

Serve over egg noodles, if desired.

crockpot beef roast

I don’t eat red meat, but I serve it to my family a couple times a week. Because I don’t eat it, I don’t have tons of recipes for beef, and haven’t experimented too much. In the past, when cooking beef, I haven’t always had the best results — for example, I’ve burned steaks often enough that I’ve given up trying (if my family wants steak, that’s what restaurants are for, right?). Usually I make hamburgers for the beef eaters in my family, but if I do so too often, they strike. So I rotate between this crockpot beef, hamburgers, and a few other beef dishes. And we know which restaurants to go to when the steak craving takes over!

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I have a few variations for making beef in the crockpot — and I’ll post some of them at another time — but this recipe is pure and simple. Meat, potatoes, carrots. Simple. The flavors of the beef shine through (or so my family tells me).

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Crockpot Beef Roast

In a deep skillet, brown both sides of a chuck roast, or any cut of beef you prefer, after seasoning it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Place meat in crockpot set to HIGH.

In the pan that you browned the meat, add 1/2 – 1 cup of water or red wine. Deglaze the pan over low heat. Pour that liquid over the meat in the crockpot.

Scrub 4-6 potatoes. Cut each one in half.

Peel 4-6 carrots and slice into 1-inch pieces.

Place the carrots and potatoes in the crockpot with the meat.

Cover and cook on HIGH.

taco stew

I think I’ve mentioned how my mom can not follow a recipe. Well, she can, she just chooses not to. She enjoys being creative and playful with food. Sometimes the results are awesome. Sometimes not. But that’s okay. She has fun and that’s what’s important.

I thought I’d be different. I expected to be a recipe follower. A ‘true to the original’ type cook. But instead I’ve got a lot of my mom in me. I also have a bit of my grandmother in me as well. She was a ‘little of this and a handful of that’ type cook. Even though she didn’t use many recipes, I can’t remember anything she ever made that wasn’t delicious.

I’m proud to have both of their cooking styles and this taco stew recipe is a perfect example of that.

I’m part of a mother’s group and when a member has a baby, or surgery, or has a family emergency, we schedule meals to be delivered three times a week to help out the family. There was a time I signed up for every single request that got posted. At one point I was making two extra meals a week and I found myself making the same meal each time. Wanting to be more varied, I searched the internet for quick one dish meals that used convenient ingredients. No surprise that I ended up on a “dump a few cans of condensed soup and stir” website. Yes, those recipes would have been quick and easy and convenient, but I’m not a fan of using lots of canned foods, and condensed soups as recipe ingredients just aren’t my thing. But from that site I picked one recipe that was rated highly, then starting thinking like my mom: what can I change to make this more my style?  Once I started playing with a recipe I channeled Gram and tossed in a bit of this and a touch of that. The result is this taco stew recipe. And there’s no condensed soup in it!

Taco stew has become one of my favorite meals, and it’s super fast and easy — half an hour from start to finish. Not expensive either. Perfect for my family or when I need a meal to deliver to a family nearby.

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Taco Stew

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

garlic, crushed (as few or as many as you like)

1 pound ground turkey breast OR ground beef (I usually make this using ground turkey breast)

1 can enchilada sauce*

½ cup water

½ cup chunky salsa

½ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 cup fresh or frozen corn

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 large flour tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

½ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

Cook onion, green pepper, and garlic in a small bit of oil along with meat in deep skillet until meat is cooked through. Stir in all remaining ingredients except cheese. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir. Top with cheese a few minutes before serving.

*Along with black beans, enchilada sauce is a canned item I purchase, but one day I will try a homemade version. For now I’m happy with the brand that my local store carries: Casa Fiesta Red Enchilada Sauce. This one is all natural — I found that some of the national brands have unnecessary ingredients, such as MSG.

Edited to note: This meal can very easily be adapted for picky eaters or to suit your tastes. When I first started making it, and when I make it for families with young children, the onion, green pepper, garlic and chili pepper were left out, as well as the beans (for those non-bean eaters). As for the salsa and enchilada sauce, I used the mild versions. When making this for my family I use lots of onion, green pepper, garlic, and hot salsa and hot enchilada sauce and lots of chili pepper. It’s a great meal to play around with, and can be just as delicious made simply with the ground turkey, mild enchilada sauce, mild salsa, sour cream, a little cumin, corn, flour tortillas, and topped with cheese.