Corned Beef Done Right

After I created this recipe, my family has become fans of corned beef. This isn’t the extremely salty, painful-to-eat corned beef you might have tasted in the school cafeteria or from the can (eeewww!). It is tender, juicy and flavorful. The slow cooker does all the work while you are busy through the day. Serve alongside mashed potatoes, a veggie or salad and dinner is served. Used leftovers to make a Reuben sandwich that will knock your socks off! ~Kathy

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Ingredients:

1 packaged corned beef, flat cut*

1 medium onion

1 c. beef broth

1 garlic clove

1/8 tsp black pepper

Red pepper flakes

Instructions:

Slice onion into thick slices or wedges. Place half of the onion into the bottom the slow cooker. Crush or mince garlic clove and place in slow cooker with onion. Add beef broth to slow cooker.

Remove corned beef from package. Discard seasoning packet. Rinse well to remove brine. Trim fat and discard. Place into slow cooker on top of onion and broth.

Top beef with black pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes and remaining onion.

Cover, cook on low for at least 8 hours.

When tender, remove to a platter and slice about ½ inch thick, against the grain.

*Packaged corned beef comes in two cuts: flat cut and point cut. They are labeled on the top of the package. You will want to ensure you have the flat cut for the best results.

Weight Watchers Info: Each 3 ounce serving is 6 SmartPoints.

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Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

This is the easiest (and tastiest) unstuffed cabbage casserole ever.  Why?  No cabbage chopping/shredding required!  Instead, I take the short-cut of using bagged cole slaw mix to cut down on prep time. Ain’t nobody got time to hand-shred cabbage.  ~Erin

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Ingredients:

2 bags (16 oz. each) tri-color cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage & carrots)

1 ½ T. minced garlic, divided

1 T. olive oil

2 ½ tsp. salt, divided

1 ¼ tsp. black pepper, divided

1 lb. 96% lean ground beef

1 onion, finely diced

1 tsp. thyme

2 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. oregano

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

2 cups cooked brown rice

3 cups shredded low moisture, part skim mozzarella

Crushed red pepper flakes for serving, optional

Instructions:

Cook brown rice according to package directions; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large, high-sided skillet, saute both bags of cole slaw mix in 1 T. olive oil until it’s wilted to about half its size (about ten minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add 1 ½ tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper in the process of stirring.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet, cook the ground beef and onion with 1 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and ½ T. minced garlic until browned; then drain beef.  

Add thyme, paprika, and oregano and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  Add canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.  

Add 2 cups cooked brown rice and stir to combine.  

Spray a 9×13 in. casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer ingredients starting with half the coleslaw cabbage, then half the meat/tomato/rice mixture, and one cup cheese.  Repeat with the last half of cabbage, then meat/tomato/rice mixture but reserve the 2 cups of remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 or until hot and bubbly. Spread the top evenly with the remaining 2 cups of cheese.  Cook for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle each serving with red pepper flakes, if desired.

Weight Watchers Info.:  This makes 8 servings at 7 Freestyle points per serving.

Italian Stuffed Shells

This recipe is a hit at our house.  My husband says it’s better than lasagna (one of our favorites)! These are great for dinner at home or would be a crowd pleaser at a pot luck.  Truly, Italian comfort food.  With simple ingredients, you can crank out an impressive dinner for your family. Serve alongside a green salad, and ta-da, dinner is complete!  The mix of cheese….  Come to Mama!   ~Kathy

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Ingredients:              

12 oz. Jumbo pasta shells (make plenty – some will break; you need about 34 for this recipe)

½ lb. 96% lean ground beef

1/3 c. chopped onion

1 c. shredded parmesan cheese (not the powdered type)

1 c. (1% fat) cottage cheese

1 (7.5 oz.) package cream cheese with chive and onion

2 c. low moisture part-skim mozzarella, shredded (reserve ¾ c.)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)

¼ tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp dried parsley

1 (24 oz.) jar reduced fat spaghetti sauce

3 T. water

Optional garnishes:  fresh chopped basil or parsley

Instructions:

In large pot, bring salted water to a boil.   Cook pasta just until al dente (about 10 minutes).  Drain, rinse in cold water and turn open side down on paper towels to dry.

While the noodles are cooking, cook ground beef with onion.  Season with salt and pepper.   Drain grease and set aside.

Combine parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese and 1¼ c. mozzarella.   Stir in eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper and parsley.  Stir in ground beef mixture.  Combine well.

In a small bowl, mix together water and ¼ c. spaghetti sauce.   Spread into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.

Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture.  Set into pan open side up.  Continue filling shells until cheese mixture is gone.   Top with remaining sauce.

Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 375˚ oven for 40 minutes.   Turn oven off, remove foil.  Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Leave in oven for an additional 5 minutes.   Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Top with fresh chopped parsley or basil if desired.

 

Weight Watchers Info.:  This makes approximately 34 stuffed shells.  A serving of 2 shells is 7 Freestyle points.  A serving of 3 shells is 11 Freestyle points.

Make Ahead Meatballs

If you’re a busy mom (or dad) like we all are, or someone who likes to do their food-prep ahead of time, then this is a great recipe for you. It seems like these days there are so many sporting events and meetings that if I waited until we all got home to start dinner….well, let’s just say we might as well eat in our pajamas. One of the things that I’ve found helps a lot is to pre-prep as many of our meals as I can over the weekend. This recipe is one of my favorites because it makes so many meatballs that can be used in a variety of ways. Our favorite way to eat them is with a special semi-homemade barbecue sauce (I’ll include that recipe), but I also leave some dry and freeze them to use for spaghetti or meatball subs — or any other way you’d like them!  ~Tracy

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Meatball Ingredients:

2 ½ lbs. extra lean hamburger meat

1 lb. breakfast sausage (Use turkey sausage for Weight Watchers.)

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. salt

2 c. quick cook oatmeal

2 eggs, beaten

1 c. finely chopped onion

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

 

Meatball Instructions:

Mix all ingredients well and form into balls approximately the size of a golf ball (for recipe purposes I weighed meatballs in 1.5 oz. servings before cooking).  

Bake meatballs at 350 for approx. 50 min. or until cooked through.

 

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

2 c. catsup

2 tsp. liquid smoke

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ c. finely chopped onion

1 c. brown sugar

½ bottled barbecue sauce (I prefer Head Country Original)

 

BBQ Sauce Instructions:  

Mix all ingredients in sauce pan and simmer on low for approx. 15 minutes to melt the sugar and blend flavors. Spoon sauce over meatballs during last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking to caramelize sauce onto meat.  

Weight Watchers Info.: Recipe makes approximately 70 meatballs (1.5 oz. each before cooking).  Using extra lean (95/5) ground beef and turkey sausage, these meatballs are 2 Freestyle SmartPoints each (not including sauce).  

 

Slow Cooker Beefy Pinto Beans

BeansLogoThis is my husband’s recipe for beefy pinto beans.  He made this for me when we were newly married and honestly, until then, I didn’t know how to make pinto beans.  Sounds silly because they are like the easiest meal in the world to make.  If you can run water, you can make pinto beans.  I just never had done it before we got married and didn’t know where to start.  (The basic directions are usually on the package, I found out later.  Duh!)  The good thing about beans is that they are customizable and basically take on the flavor of whatever you cook with them.  I grew up with ham in my beans.  My husband, who was raised on a cattle ranch, always had ground beef in his beans.  I like them both ways, but I prefer this beefy version over the ham… especially with some chopped up jalapenos and fresh cornbread mixed in!  If you’ve never tried making pinto beans, try them this way.  The beef and seasonings add so much flavor!  I think you’ll love them.  ~Erin

 

Ingredients:

2 pounds dry pinto beans

3 T. seasoned salt (I use Lawry’s)

1 lb. 93% lean ground beef, browned

Water

Optional: pickled jalapeños

 

Instructions:

Rinse your beans in a colander and remove any beans that don’t look normal.  Place the beans in the slow cooker pot and cover them with 2 to 3 inches of water above the top of the beans. They will expand a lot.  Allow the beans to soak overnight at room temp.

In the morning, pour the water off the beans and rinse them again.  This doesn’t have to be a perfect rinse job.  Just pour as much off as you can without dumping them in your sink, run water over them, and repeat a couple times.

Finally, fill the pot with enough to cover the beans with about an inch to an inch and half of water over the top of the beans.

Cook the beans on low for at least 10 hours.  When about 2 hours of cook time is remaining, stir in the seasoned salt* and cooked ground beef and continue to cook for the last 2 hours.

Serve the beans with cornbread and, if desired, chopped pickled jalapenos.

Weight Watchers Info.:  This recipe makes 11 servings.  Each serving is 8 ounces (about 1 cup).

Old SmartPoints:  9 SmartPoints

New Freestyle SmartPoints:  2 SmartPoints

*The salt is not added until the end of cook time because, if added too early, it inhibits the tenderizing process.

 

Cowboy Joes

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My boys sometimes get to choose what is for dinner.  Often, this is their request.  By often, I mean we could eat them once a week. 

Cowboy Joes are a smoky, tasty, twist on a classic sloppy joe you know and love.  Last time I made these, my youngest was switching schools so he got to choose what was for dinner the night before.  On the way to school the next morning, in the midst of a narrow canyon, around a sharp bend, we come upon an entire herd of sheep and sheep herders coming right toward us.  On the highway, side to side, cars lined up the other direction for a long way. (Check out the picture – ignore my dirty windshield)

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Completely slowed us up, but we made it to school on time!

These truly are one of my cowboys absolute favorite meals.  You can’t go wrong!!  Serve ‘em up and please the cow punchers (or regular folk) in your life!!   ~Kathy

Ingredients for beef:

1 lb. 95% lean ground beef

¼ c. onion, finely chopped

½ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. heaping salt

½ tsp. pepper

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Ingredients for sauce:

1 T. Worcestershire

1/3 c. water

¼ tsp. garlic powder

2/3 c. catsup

4 T. smoky BBQ sauce

1½ tsp. mustard

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

In a large skillet, combine first 5 ingredients.   Cook until beef is cooked through.   Drain on paper towel lined plate and return to pan.   Add remaining ingredients, stir well to combine.  Adjust seasonings if needed. Simmer about 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened and no longer runny.

Serve immediately on hamburger buns.

Weight Watchers info:  This recipe makes 7 servings.  Each 1/3 cup serving is 4 SmartPoints.  We did not include a bun in the calculation; this gives you more freedom to choose your favorite.

Mom’s Classic Meatloaf

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Meatloaf can go one of two ways.  It can be a lump of flavorless beef–or it can be a tender, hearty, flavorful, slice of comfort food.  Our mom’s meatloaf is the latter.  Her recipe is classic… made of simple ingredients and topped with good old American ketchup.  Pair it with a pile of creamy mashed potatoes, and you have the flavors of home.

͂ Erin

 

Ingredients:

2 lb. ground beef (93% lean beef)

1 c. canned tomato sauce

60 saltine crackers (about a sleeve and a half)

½ c. diced onion

1 c. diced bell pepper

1 egg

½ c. ketchup

1 tsp. salt

Instructions:  

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Combine all ingredients except ketchup until just mixed.  Do not over mix.  Spread ketchup on top of loaves.  Form two loaves on a sheet pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through (160°F throughout).

Weight Watchers info:  This recipe makes 16 servings at 4 SmartPoints each.

Chili Mac

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I have a house full of boys. They all help Grandpa on the ranch all summer. After a long, hot day of moving irrigation pipe, a hearty dish is always a favorite of my hard working ranch hands. This is a quick, simple, stick to your ribs kind of recipe (my favorite kind!). It’s full of flavor and won’t disappoint.    ~Kathy

Ingredients:

16 oz. cellentani or elbow macaroni (I use whole wheat.)

1 ½ lb. lean ground beef (I use 93% lean)

1 c. finely chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

¼ c. kale or spinach, finely chopped (I prefer kale)

1 (15 oz.) can chili beans in chili sauce

1 (10 oz.) can mild Ro-tel tomatoes, undrained

1 ½ c. beef broth

1 c. low sodium V8 or tomato juice

1 medium bell pepper, chopped, optional

2 ½ tsp. chili powder

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. salt

Pepper

Instructions:

Cook pasta in salted water, according to directions. Drain and return to pot.

In a large skillet cook ground beef, onion and bell pepper. About 5 minutes before beef is finished cooking, add garlic. Remove from pan and drain. Return beef mixture to large skillet or pot. Add remaining ingredients, stir gently over medium heat to combine. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Spoon the meat mixture carefully into pot with cooked noodles. Stir to combine and heat through over low heat.

Serve with cornbread (our favorite) and grated cheddar cheese if desired.

Weight Watchers Info.:  This recipe makes 10 servings.  Each serving is 10 ounces (weight) or about 1 1/3 cups.  Each serving is 9 SmartPoints.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

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I love stuffed peppers. Stuffing anything in a pepper just automatically makes it better. These Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers are easy, cheesy, and meaty. They are best grilled but great out of the oven too.

͂ Erin

 

Ingredients:

6 oz. fresh, sliced mushrooms

8 oz. thinly sliced roast beef, chopped into small pieces

8 oz. (8 slices) provolone

1 medium onion, diced

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. olive oil

2 large bell peppers

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 T. steak seasoning

 

Instructions:

Cut the peppers in half from top to bottom; remove seeds and veins and place pepper halves in a pan. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook onions, garlic, and mushrooms until onions are translucent and mushrooms are tender. Add roast beef, Worcestershire, and steak seasoning; cook until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the outdoor grill to medium heat or the oven to 400°F.  Line each pepper half with a slice of cheese.  Stuff the peppers with filling and top with another slice of cheese.  If cooking on the grill, place the peppers directly on the rack and cook until the peppers are tender and cheese is melted.  If cooking in the oven, place the pan of peppers on the lower rack and cook about 30 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is melted.

Weight Watchers info.:  Each stuffed pepper half is 10 SmartPoints.  This recipe makes 4 servings.

Street Tacos

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I’m always on the search for something different for dinner.   The same-old, same-old, turns into “I don’t want that tonight.”  I have a house full of boys who love meat.  I think it is in their DNA!  One day while in the city, I had a taco from a vendor that was out of this world!  I’ve been on a quest to replicate this meaty deliciousness.  These fit the bill and are approved by me and all the dudes in my house.  ~Kathy

Ingredients:

2 lbs. flank steak

2 c. orange juice, without pulp

3 T fresh squeezed lime juice

½ tsp lime zest

1 tsp cumin

3 – 4 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c. cilantro, chopped, divided

1 slice onion (plus more onion diced for serving)

1 tsp salt

½ black pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

Tortillas (we used Mission Street Taco sized flour tortillas) & desired toppings

Instructions:

In a large ziplock bag, combine orange and lime juice, zest, cumin, garlic, and ¼ c. cilantro, slice of onion and seasonings.  Mix to combine well.  Add flank steak and turn to coat.  Marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but at least 4 hours.

Remove steak from bag and discard marinade.  Grill on a lightly oiled grill, heated to medium high heat.   Cook to desired doneness.  Allow steak to rest on cutting board for about 10 minutes.  Slice thinly against the grain.

Serve with heated tortillas, remaining cilantro, chopped onion, hot sauce, chopped radishes, avocado, or salsa.  

Weight Watchers info:  (2 street size tortillas, 4 ounces meat divided between the tortillas, onion, cilantro, and any other desired zero SmartPoint veggies)  Total of 9 SmartPoints for both tacos.