Tomato and Blue Cheese Pasta with Steak

On Sunday my sister and her boyfriend came over for dinner and we grilled some steaks. They told me to keep the leftover meat, because they never knew what to do with it, since heating up the steak in the microwave would end up cooking it further and making it not as good to eat as the freshly cooked ones.

I love having leftover meat on hand because the easiest thing to do with it is to throw it into pasta, one of my favorite things to eat. It’s also a great way to stretch a portion of meat out further, which is a trick I lived by in college.

 

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When I take a picture I don’t really like, I tend to just slap a couple of Instagram filters on it… Totally makes it better.

 

While it’s hard to tell from the picture, the pasta ends up being coated in a creamy, cheesy, tomato-y sauce that just walks the line of being a satisfying comfort food without feeling like it’s weighing you down.

This recipe is very slightly adapted from one of my favorite Pioneer Woman recipes, and I love it because it’s so simple and easy to make. Seriously, I made it while watching the Red Sox beat the Rays in their last ALDS game, you know I wasn’t about to waste time making anything complicated or time consuming! American League Championship Series, here we come!!

Ingredients:

1/2 lb pasta, whatever shape you have on hand

olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

dash of red pepper flakes

1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

2 1/2 cups baby spinach

6-8 oz steak, cooked medium rare and sliced thinly

salt and pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to directions for al dente.

In a large saute pan, heat roughly 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 1-2 minutes. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Mix in cheese crumbles and and cook until sauce is thick and creamy (literally around two minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add in spinach and stir the sauce until the spinach starts to wilt. Then, stir in drained pasta and sliced steak, stirring until pasta is coated and steak is just warmed through.

Estimated cook time? Around 15 minutes!

As a side I threw some cauliflower florets into the oven to roast, and I ate them out of my pasta bowl after I was finished so they could soak up the leftover sauce- so good!

Fresh Tomato and Meat Sauce

All summer long I watched my tomato plants slowly grow taller and taller, finally taking over the raised garden bed in a massive tomato jungle. Last year, I made plenty of tomato soup to keep in the freezer all year. This year, I started out with dehydrating some for sun-dried tomatoes, but I was really waiting for the time where I could make a giant pot of tomato sauce.

And then the unthinkable happened. It started raining. And the overnight lows dipped down to 40 degrees. In a nutshell, the northwest decided to go straight from summer to winter, and my beautiful tomatoes I had been waiting to harvest split on the vine, or never even turned red.

Luckily, I had just enough previously picked ones to get me one small pot of sauce, which I guess will leave more space in my freezer for beef 🙂

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs tomatoes (I used Romas)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 lb ground beef

olive oil

1/2 cup red wine (whatever you like to drink, I used a Malbec)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon each of dried basil, oregano, and thyme

salt and pepper

grated parmesan and fresh basil, for serving

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and next to it place a bowl of cold water.

Trim tomatoes to remove core, and cut an “x” into the bottom of each tomato. Place in the pot of boiling water for 45 seconds- 1 minute, then place in the bowl of cold water to easily remove the tomato skins.

Roughly chop the tomatoes, removing as much of the seeds as possible (but don’t bother making yourself too crazy over them).

Simmer the tomatoes in a medium stockpot until broken down and thickened, about 25 minutes. Add the tomato paste and simmer and additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the ground beef with a small drizzle of olive oil over medium heat until done. Drain excess fat from the pan, and then add the minced garlic and cook 1-2 minutes longer. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid is mostly evaporated, making sure to scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the spices, salt and pepper, and tomato sauce to the meat mixture, taste, and adjust for seasonings.

 

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Don’t forget to top with more cheese!

The logical base for meat sauce is pasta, but I served mine over cheesy polenta, and it was some serious comfort food, y’all.

Balsamic Glazed Meatloaf

I was going to go swimming tonight, I really was.

But then I realized I haven’t posted a recipe in three weeks, I already went on a run today, there’s a College World Series game on tonight, AND I have two jobs, which is pretty exhausting…

But mainly I didn’t end up going swimming tonight because my dad poured me a glass of wine and I sat on the couch and drank it. Triathlon shmiathlon.

balsamic glazed meatloaf

Really, it’s about time I shared this recipe- it’s ridiculously good. And yes, I’m talking about meatloaf here, not brownies. The vegetables in the meatloaf give it additional moisture and texture, and the balsamic vinegar is really what makes the meatloaf, if you know what I mean.

It also helps to use beef that is completely delicious all on it’s own. You know, all- natural, completely grass-fed cows that you helped to raise in the temperate climate of Banks, OR….

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Ha. Use whatever meat you want, ground turkey works really well with this recipe because of the additional vegetables.

Also, just kidding Ina!!!!!! I have 7 of your 8 cookbooks and I love you!!!!!!

Ingredients:

Recipe was adapted from here

olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

4-5 crimini mushrooms, finely diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 lb ground beef

3/4 cup bread crumbs, or a mixture of bread crumbs and crushed crackers (buttery crackers like Ritz work best!)

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

additional 1/4 cup ketchup + 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar for the glaze

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a large saute pan over medium- high heat, cook the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes in olive oil until almost soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except for the glaze, and gently mix. Add cooled vegetables to the meat mixture, remembering to just mix until everything is combined, and no more than that!

Press the mixture into a 9 x 5 loaf pan, brush with the remaining ketchup/ balsamic vinegar glaze, and bake for 1 hour.

Or, you can make adorable mini meatloaf’s, by using a mini loaf pan and baking the meatloaf for 20 minutes. Which is conveniently the time and temperature needed to roast Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes….

Your call though 🙂

A wee bit O’ brined meat and a lot O’ Guinness!

Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day!!! Seeing as I judge a holiday based off of the food associated with it, St. Paddy’s is one of my favorites. Anytime I can find Guinness on sale is a win in my books as well.

This being the first St. Patrick’s Day in awhile that I haven’t been in a college town, I decided to skip the whole bar scene and make dinner at home for a few of my friends. Plus, the Timbers were playing the Sounders that night and there was no way I wasn’t going to be in charge of the remote…

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Eating and drinking and being merry!

Here’s the menu, enjoy folks!

Sauteed cabbage

Salt and Vinegar Mashed Potatoes

Irish Soda Bread

Homemade corned beef

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

A lot of beer

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Corned Beef:

Corned beef is traditionally made with a brisket, but since I cook beef from cows raised on the ranch I work at, and I didn’t have a brisket in my freezer, I improvised and used a cross rib roast, which worked just fine.

Ingredients:

4 lb brisket (or your choice of cut)

8 cups of water

1 c kosher salt

1/4 c brown sugar

3 tablespoons pickling spice

1 small onion, quartered

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 carrot, roughly chopped

Directions:

Create the corned beef brine by bringing the water to a boil and add the salt, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the pickling spice. Boil until salt and sugar have dissolved, then set aside to cool.

In a gallon zip-loc bag, place meat and pour cooled brine over. Make sure to put the bag in a pan or casserole dish to catch any drips or spills, and refrigerate for five days, making sure the meat is completely submerged and flipping the bag daily.

When you’re ready to cook the beef, rinse meat thoroughly under cold water and place in a dutch oven or large stock pot, and add enough water so that the meat is covered by at least 1 inch of water . For a less salty meat you can add up to another inch of water. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and remaining 1 tablespoon of pickling spice. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cover. Cook until the meat is fall-apart tender, about three hours.

*Note that I didn’t add anything like pink pickling salt or saltpeter to the brine, so my corned beef wasn’t the traditional bright pink color, but I didn’t see it as a necessary addition…

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Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes:

I’ve been making these cupcakes for awhile based off of this recipe, but here is the exact method I use to make them.

Ingredients:

1 c plus 2 tablespoons salted butter

1 1/4 c Guinness

3/4 c cocoa powder

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 1/4 c flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 c sugar

2 eggs

2/3 c Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

1 tblsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, Guinness, cocoa powder, and unsweetened chocolate together, and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and sugar. Pour in chocolate mixture and combine. Stir in eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. The batter should be thick and mousse-like.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full with batter and cook for 18 minutes. Note that this is meant to be a moist cake though, so if you check for done-ness with a toothpick, a few crumbs should still stick to the toothpick- use your judgement to make sure cupcakes are done but not dried out!!

The original recipe comes with a cream cheese/ whipped cream frosting that I’ve never actually made. In the past I’ve frosted them with Paula Deen’s cream cheese frosting (my fav!), but my favorite way to eat them is actually with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a hearty splash of O’Mara’s.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t get a picture of the cupcakes, however. My attention seemed to have been diverted to my overly-full stomach and Timber’s last minute rally to tie the game at the 90th minute… Oops.

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I hope everyone had a fun and delicious St. Paddy’s day, I can’t wait for next year!!