Fake Steak

This is one of my favorite meals from my childhood – Fake Steak. I have no idea where the recipe originated; it was simply in my mom’s recipe box. When I wanted to make it as an adult, the internet didn’t show me the recipe I remembered, and I had to ask Mom to send it to me.

No, it’s not the same as a real steak, but they’re very delicious. They’re patties of hamburger and rice, with onion and Worchestershire sauce mixed in, and wrapped in bacon if I feel like being fancy (which I usually don’t). I cook these on a broiler sheet to let the grease drain beneath, although it’s not strictly necessary if you skip the bacon and use semi-lean hamburger. This recipe should serve 4 people. Alex and I know we should limit ourselves to eating two of these per meal, but we find we want to polish off the entire recipe – not that we do.  We hypothesize that it’s the Worchestershire sauce that makes this taste so much better than we think it should.

People have called these individual meatloafs, which irritates me because I don’t like meatloaf. If I’m being honest, though, I see a vague resemblance. Honestly, I know these aren’t much to look at, but I love this recipe just the same. This is my comfort food; that’s why I was eating these 20 years ago and will still be making this recipe 20 years from now.

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Roast Beef Hash

I’m incredibly excited about this recipe for beef hash.

I like beef hash, and I don’t always find it when I’m out for breakfast; when I do, so often it’s corned beef hash from a can. I like that sometimes, but it’s so salty! Hash seemed like it should be simple to make, but I never tried to make it until recently when I had a leftover roast that I really couldn’t figure out what else to do with. It was perfect!

I used this recipe as a jumping board. Other recipes added liquid, including milk or cream (I guess to make it more of a gravy?). I resisted initially, but found that adding a little liquid at the end added moisture to the beef and allowed me to scrape up browned bits from the pan. Leftover liquid from your roast is perfect as it should already be seasoned to your liking. I’d need to salt lightly if using broth since it’s often salty (and the liquid cooks off), and I’d need to add some extra salt, pepper, and other seasonings like thyme or garlic if I used water. Mushrooms are optional; they didn’t add much to the dish for me. I wouldn’t forgo the red bell pepper, though – it adds a little more flavor and oomph to the dish. Another thing I like about this recipe – from start to finish, it only took 30 minutes, which is about as much time as I want to spend on a single meal.

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I finally have a favorite recipe for fajitas. It’s delicious, fast, and incredibly easy to make. Previously, I made fajitas before using a recipe from a cookbook I’d had for years; they were always tasty, but I recall the recipe being a little involved, though I can’t remember how. But leave it to Smitten Kitchen to again give a delicious, streamlined recipe that I can count on.


What do I love about this recipe? Little things. You cook the vegetables before the meat, then add it back – I can’t recall ever seeing that in a recipe like this (which is essentially a stir-fry). The marinade for the meat has little liquid, so you don’t have to drain it. You just dump the meat into the skillet, and there’s no mess and no waste! I’ve made this with beef and with chicken, and they were equally delicious, but I favor using beef mainly because I can buy precut stir-fry beef.

The marinade was flavorful but not spicy. The meat and vegetables cooked perfectly in my cast iron skillet. It was quick for me to combine the spices and lime juice (I use bottled) to marinate the meat and to cut the vegetables (while Amelia had her afternoon snack), and that could easily be done the night before. The fajitas took very little time to cook, and were great as leftovers too.


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Homemade Corned Beef

I’ve planned to corn my own beef for a little while. Yes, make my own corned beef from scratch. Alton Brown did it, and it didn’t look too difficult. So I bought a brisket back in February, stuck it in the freezer, and planned to make corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day.

However, you have to brine corned beef for 10 days before you cook it. I would have needed to start corning (brining) my beef two Wednesdays or Thursdays before St. Patrick’s Day, and I was traveling around those dates. There was just no time.

I’m glad it worked out this way, though. Instead of making corned beef when everyone else does, I cooked it, and baked homemade rye bread to go with it, during a late March snowstorm (about a month ago!). I can’t think of any way I’d rather spend a snowy Sunday than baking.

Homemade Corned Beef on New York Deli Rye
Homemade Corned Beef on New York Deli Rye

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Country-Style Steak

Based on my blogging trends, you would believe that I eat sweets all the time. You’d be nearly right – I do love dessert. Lest you think I don’t make dinner, I present to you Country-Style Steak.

Alton Brown made cooking cubed steak so appealing in the episode I found this recipe in. With the cooler, fall-like temperatures we’ve had for the past few weekends, I looked forward to making something that cooked for a while in the oven. As a bonus, cubed steak is relatively inexpensive – and if you use simple round steak as Alton does, it’s generally even cheaper. Continue reading Country-Style Steak

Poblano-Jalapeño Chili

Cooking with peppers is fun. It feels so… exotic and dangerous. I didn’t grow up with particularly spicy food, so I didn’t buy chili peppers to cook with until the past several years. I like spicy food, but just a little bit of spice will keep my face warm for a while.

I decided to make Poblano-Jalapeño Chili last month. I know that poblanos are decidedly not hot and jalapeños can range in how hot they are, so this is nothing too adventurous. That said, I like my usual hamburger+tomatoes+beans+chili powder version of chili, so I usually don’t try chili recipes. I think it was the inclusion of the beer and the peppers that drew me to this recipe and convinced me to give it a try.

Poblano-Jalapeño Chili
Poblano-Jalapeño Chili

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Beef with Capers and Garlic

I decided upon the perfect thing to make for dinner while my husband was out of town one weekend. I would try the recipe for Beef with 100 Cloves of Garlic. Actually, I came across two competing recipes (second one here), both adaptations of the same original. I love garlic, and although my husband likes it, I didn’t want to force him to try a recipe with a flavor so intense.

The original of this recipe took beef, garlic, olives, and red wine. I don’t like olives, but somehow I like capers instead, and I decided that the briny capers would make them a decent substitute for the olives. I cooked this on the stove, then transferred it to the oven for slower cooking. I would have made a crockpot version of it, but I didn’t have time the evening before to prepare it for the slow cooker. I made this dish on a Friday, so that my leftovers wouldn’t scare my coworkers if they were too intense.

This recipe was indeed intense and flavorful – very rich. A little went a long way – think, tapas-style, where you’re satisfied with a few bites.

Beef with Garlic and Capers, with Italian Bread
Beef with Garlic and Capers, with Italian Bread

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Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes

A few weeks ago I made homemade hamburger buns (which I haven’t written about… oops) to take to a barbecue. I had some left and froze some because I wasn’t going to be able to eat them all. I decided that Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes would be a good enough excuse to eat another one or two. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of sloppy joes – I actually prefer making chili burgers instead by combining ground beef with a can of chili instead of a can of Manwich. I reasoned that making sloppy joes from scratch might make me like them more.

This recipe used a pound of lean ground beef and a pound of finely chopped ground mushrooms. After you brown the beef, you add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion is soft, and then add tomato paste, oregano (I used dried), red wine vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, molasses, and salt (which I forgot to add). After the liquid has evaporated, add black pepper and hot sauce.

Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes

This recipe made a lot of sloppy joes. My hamburger buns were big, and there was plenty for 4 sandwiches if we’d wanted to have that many. I liked the texture – the mushrooms worked well in the mixture and were not mushy at all. I liked the fact that the sloppy joes were half vegetables, and they weren’t overly sweet. That said, it didn’t particularly taste like sloppy joes. It tasted primarily like mushrooms. Manwich, for instance, tastes sweeter, more tomatoey and more like barbecue sauce. This recipe smelled more like vinegar (which I’m sensitive to) and Worcestershire sauce. It was a solid recipe and I’m glad I tried it, but neither Alex nor I liked it enough to make it again.

Beef-Broccoli Stir-fry

I made the Beef-Broccoli Stir-fry from Cooking Light a while ago. I haven’t done a lot of blogging recently, but I enjoyed the recipe so I still wanted to write a little about it.

My first experience with Chinese food was with Beef and Broccoli during my freshman year of college. Some friends and I were having food delivered, and I didn’t know what to order. At the time, I hadn’t experienced a wide range of food (like most of what I make and write about here), and I’m sure that the only non-American food I’d had was Mexican (and the extent of that might have been tacos – we didn’t dine out much when I was young). I asked for a recommendation from a Vietnamese-American friend who was getting (vegetarian) food, and he said that a lot of Americans liked beef and broccoli. I decided to give it a try, and it certainly was a safe bet for someone who was raised on meat and potatoes, who didn’t want anything excessively spicy.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right choice for me. Even then I should have guessed, but I’m not really a plain, meat-and-potatoes kind of person. I like simple, straightforward flavors, but I also like spicy, and I like complex. I remember the beef and broccoli weighed down with the heavy taste of soy sauce. I was unimpressed. I like soy sauce and it has its uses, but those uses shouldn’t be pouring it over rice to flavor it (I don’t understand how anyone can do that; it’s so salty!) or making it the sole flavor in a dish. The entire thing left me believing that I didn’t like Chinese food, until I made a half soy – half lime juice chicken marinade a year later.

I decided I’d give beef and broccoli another try. This was an easy recipe to make – particularly because I recruited Alex as sous chef. Stir-fries like this are easy to make once you understand the basics of how they’re put together; I’ve had success when I’ve followed the instructions similar to those in this recipe. You make a marinade for your meat, and you make a sauce. Cook the meat, replace it with vegetables, add back the meat and sauce, and you’ve got dinner.

For this specific recipe, you make a simple marinade of soy sauce, white wine (the recipe calls for sherry, and I’ve seen some call for sake, which is rice wine), and sugar for the beef. You let it sit while you make the sauce for the stir-fry, which is more wine, soy sauce, beef broth, cornstarch, hoisin sauce, and Sriracha. I was able to make both of these sauces while Alex cut the beef and the broccoli, so if you have to cut all of your ingredients, it will take you longer.

Cooking: You saute the beef for 3 minutes and remove from pan. Saute ginger and garlic for 30 seconds, and then add broccoli and water. Cook for a few minutes (adding in green onions if you don’t forget them like I do), and add beef and broth mixture. Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. I served this over some Japanese rice I had already cooked and kept in the fridge.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry

Alex and I both really enjoyed this. The ginger and garlic gave it flavor and kept the dish from seeming heavy, and the Sriracha gave it heat without being too spicy. It had a nice, balanced flavor. If only it had tasted this good 10+ years ago. I’d definitely make this again, and you should give it a try too if you don’t already have a version you like.

Meals, meals, and more meals

Although I’m lumping these several recipes together in this post, I didn’t actually make them together. I just realized that I hadn’t blogged about any recipes since last weekend, and I want to get a couple more out there while I’m thinking about it.

I hadn’t planned to let so much time lapse between blog posts. I’ve still been cooking at home – quite a bit, actually – and I’ve made several new recipes. I just haven’t written about them.

Frankly, I know that a lot of the things I made last year weren’t that exciting. Some were variations on other dishes I’d made. Some I made primarily just so that I’d have a source to site on this blog. I’m still looking through blogs and cooking websites and magazines and finding recipes to make – it’s a habit I can’t (and don’t necessarily need to) break. I don’t necessarily feel the need to recommend everything I make, but I do feel like it’s worth having feedback out there on recipes if someone wants to look for it. That said, I’m trying to resist the urge to write about the recipes unless there’s something really worth saying about them.

So, I made 3 recipes this past week (4 weeknights). I made a few recipes the week before that as well. So here’s a dinner round-up!


I made Pork and Wild Rice Soup a little while ago. Since Alex isn’t eating many carbs, this was my own exclusive meal. I cooked my beans for the soup in the crockpot rather than use canned; and I soaked regular brown and wild rice since that’s what I had, and I knew they wouldn’t cook in 15 minutes otherwise. The result of these changes? My beans disintegrated (after they cooked a little too long in an untimed slow cooker), yielding a murky broth instead of the original clear; and I still had to cook the soup longer, by 15-20 minutes or more, to get the rice to be done, even though I’d soaked it.

The flavor of this soup was pretty good, and it went well with chips. The rices really didn’t do much for me, though, and I was suffering from soup burnout after eating (the similarly-themed) Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup for a few days before making this.


I didn’t realize this until I looked it up just now, but Salisbury steak was actually invented by an American; I always assumed it was British and named after a place, not a person. Now and then when I was growing up, we would have Salisbury steak for dinner. This was always a convenient, frozen entree that would serve the entire family. I don’t remember ever liking this. This makes sense, when you know my tastes. Salisbury steak is basically just seasoned hamburger patties in gravy, and while I like hamburgers just fine, I find gravy to be relatively boring. The texture of the meat in lots of frozen entrees can be a little off, as well, and I also am very picky about texture (a major reason why I don’t eat eggs, even when they’re delicious like in flan).

The December issue of Cooking Light had a Salisbury Steak recipe, and I decided to try it for two reasons. First, it sounded likeable (quick sauce/gravy made with wine; just onion and seasoning in the hamburgers), and second, it didn’t have many carbs so Alex would be able to eat it, especially if I ended up not liking it. This was simple and quick. After cooking the hamburgers and removing from the pan, I sauteed mushrooms and made the quick sauce. I substituted .25 cups water for the same amount of broth since I was using bouillon cubes, but this didn’t hurt the flavor at all.

Salisbury Steak

I should have made the patties smaller and more steak-shaped, but that’s mostly an aesthetic issue. This tasted good. If Salisbury steak had tasted this good when I was a kid, I would have enjoyed it. Of course, the delicious part of this was the gravy. The hamburger itself was fine, but nothing particularly special. I wouldn’t make this often, but it’s nice to know there’s a version of the dish out there that I liked.


Alex may be eating a lot of meat, but I still enjoy my vegetables and having vegetarian meals. I kept the ingredients to make Chickpeas and Spinach with Smoky Paprika on hand. Spinach was the trickiest, but I decided that I would use frozen spinach in place of the fresh. I made a few other substitutions to the recipe in addition, so it may not be the most faithful representation of the original recipe. I did buy fire-roasted tomatoes, which had a nice flavor. I thought that 4 cups of onion was excessive, so I used 2. I used water in place of vegetable broth. I used frozen spinach, and added red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar. This recipe was originally called an appetizer, but I thought it sounded like it would make a nice meal. I ate it for 3 meals, each one with a toasted ciabatta roll.

Chickpeas and Spinach with Smoky Paprika

This was pretty good. Since I used frozen spinach, it ended up being more of a chickpea and tomato dish than a chickpea and spinach dish. I’m very glad I used only half of the onions it called for. It did go well with toasted bread, but it was pretty good on its own too. The smoked paprika smelled so good as it went in, and gave the dish a nice flavor; it’s definitely worth spending money on to use in vegetarian dishes. I might make this again sometime.


Tonight I made Sizzled Shrimp for dinner. Yes, it’s another appetizer that I decided to have for dinner. I wanted to make something low-carb, since shrimp is pretty good for Alex’s diet. Otherwise, though, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with the shrimp; I’d originally thought I’d try a healthy shrimp scampi. But, I came across this recipe, and decided I wanted to eat garlic bread with it rather than pasta. Shrimp is really fast to cook. This couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes. Honestly, I think it only took 7 – the exact amount of time it takes for me to make garlic bread the way I like it in the toaster oven.

Sizzled Shrimp

These were also pretty good. The classic combination of garlic, pepper, lemon, and white wine goes well with many things, and shrimp is definitely among them. I was a little surprised that there was so much liquid with the shrimp – I guess I expected a little more of it to cook off than it did. It would have been good with a single serving of pasta. This was tasty and easy, though, and I might make it again.


I think that pretty much wraps up everything I’ve eaten in the past week or two. Nothing particularly exciting, but I think it was all healthy and relatively tasty!