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Beef, Dinner, Italian, Pasta, Recipes

Cheesy Beef Stuffed Shells

April 12, 2017

Cheesy Beef Stuffed Shells

These stuffed shells are my new favorite pasta dish.  It has many flavors in common with lasagne bolognese.  Yet unlike bolognese sauce that simmers for a several hours, this meat sauce is ready in less than 30 minutes and is equally delicious.  Another time saver is to use a good store-bought pasta sauce such as Rao’s Basil Tomato Sauce. Because it is particularly tasty, I stock up when it is on sale.

Barilla Jumbo Pasta Shells

Barilla makes beautiful pasta shells that are just the right size for this recipe.  Check the box for broken pieces before purchasing it.  If the box shows signs of being damaged, the shells may be fractured and once cooked can fall apart and be unusable.

Meat Sauce for Shells

Ground sirloin is the perfect choice for the meat sauce.  It is flavorful yet lean.  However if you are unable to find ground sirloin, lean ground beef is a fine substitute.

Cheesy Beef Stuffed Shells

Cheesy Beef Stuffed Shells

I use cottage cheese in the recipe however you may substitute ricotta.  The cottage cheese is light and mild in flavor but adds a creaminess without adding too many calories. I love how it melds together with the meat sauce and becomes a luxurious filling.

Cheesy Beef Stuffed Shells

Cheesy Beef Stuffed Shells
Serves: 6
  • Meat Sauce:
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (or other lean ground beef)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 24 ounce jar Rao's Tomato Basil Sauce, divided
  • Pasta Shells:
  • 20 - 24 jumbo pasta shells (Barilla Jumbo Shells 12 oz. box)
  • Cheese Mixture:
  • 16 ounces cottage cheese (I use Lactose Free)
  • 6 ounces (2 cups) coarsely shredded yogurt cheese (or mozzarella), divided
  • 3 ounces (1 cup) coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9x13" casserole dish.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the ground sirloin and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink. Season with ¾ teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add fresh parsley, dried oregano and marjoram. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat and mix in 1¼ cups of Rao's sauce. Spread the remaining sauce in the casserole dish.
  3. Cook shells in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes or until al dente. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, drain on paper towels.
  4. Combine cottage cheese, ¾ cup yogurt cheese, and all of the cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Mix in beaten egg. Add beef mixture to the bowl, stir to combine well. Spoon the filling into the pasta shells and arrange over the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1¼ cups yogurt cheese over the shells. Bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is thoroughly heated and the cheese is melted and bubbly.



Beef, Dinner, Japanese, Lactose Free, Pork, Recipes, Sandwiches

Japanese Burgers

November 26, 2016

Japanese Burger

The moment I saw this recipe from the New York Times I knew I wanted to make it right away.  I was curious to know why these were called Japanese burgers.  Upon reading the ingredients, panko bread crumbs, soy sauce, and the combination of ground beef and pork, the answer was clear.  The recipe comes from Tadashi Ono, owner of Matsuri restaurant in New York. Tadashi is Japanese.  The article also lists a recipe for wasabi (Japanese!) ketchup to go along with the burger. In the end, it didn’t matter what they called these burgers.  They are so good I just call them “ono burgers!”

Ground Sirloin & Ground Pork

Times market in Kihei sells specific types of excellent ground beef (including sirloin and chuck), rather than the usual generic version. Whole Foods market ground the pork for me while I waited at the counter.

Ground Sirloin & Ground Pork

Panko, Milk, Onion, Soy Sauce

A bit of panko and milk moisten the meat.  Very finely minced onion and soy sauce flavor the ground beef and pork along with a little salt and pepper.

Japanese Burger

These are juicy, moist burgers.  We heated leftover patties wrapped in foil in the toaster oven the following day and they were equally delicious as they were on the first day.  In place of the wasabi ketchup suggested in the article, we opted to mix up sriracha with ketchup because sriracha enhances nearly every food imaginable (pizza, noodles, eggs, mayonnaise, ketchup).

Japanese Burger

Japanese Burgers
Adapted from the New York Times
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup panko
  • ¼ cup 2% or whole milk
  • 10 ounces ground sirloin
  • 10 ounces ground pork
  • ¼ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • sesame oil for coating hands
  • 4 brioche buns for serving
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs and milk and let rest for a few minutes. If the mixture seems too dry add a few extra drops of milk to moisten the bread crumbs.
  2. Add sirloin, pork, onion, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together. Divide into 4 equal parts (a scale comes in handy).
  3. Lightly dab your hands with sesame oil. Using your palms, roll each part of the meat into a ball, then pat the ball flat, shifting it from hand to hand to form a ½-inch-thick patty. Make a shallow indentation across the center of the patty to keep it from puffing while it grills.
  4. Grill the burgers, flipping twice, until browned and cooked through with no pink in the middle, about 10 minutes (160 degrees). Serve on buns, topped with spicy ketchup and shredded iceberg lettuce.



Beef, Dinner, Mexican, Recipes

Dry-Rubbed Ribeye Steak

September 2, 2016

Dry-Rubbed Grilled Ribeye

Grilling a steak always makes for a quick delicious meal, especially when that steak is liberally coated with a flavorful mixture of spices!  This particular dry rub is adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.  We used the dry rub on skirt and ribeye steaks.  Both were delicious, but there’s something about the tenderness and flavor of a ribeye that is truly satisfying.

Dry-Rubbed Grilled Ribeye with Corn Salsa

Serve the steak thinly sliced with grilled corn salsa and roasted potatoes.  This is a wonderful meal to make for a small group of friends.  You can prepare the salsa and potatoes in advance, grill the steak and serve everything on a big platter.

Dry Rub Spices

If you like your steak quite spicy, use the 1 teaspoon of cayenne called for in the original recipe. I used a half teaspoon instead, and it was perfect since I like to drizzle our homemade hot sauce over my tacos.

Dry-Rubbed Ribeye

We butterflied two center-cut ribeye steaks then liberally coated each side with the dry rub and a drizzle of canola oil to help the dry rub adhere better.  One of our favorite ways to serve the grilled steak is in crispy tacos (a tasty version of carne asada).

Dry-Rubbed Grilled Ribeye Tacos


Dry-Rubbed Ribeye Steak
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hatch mild chile powder (or ancho chile powder)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ pounds ribeye steak (butterflied to make thinner steaks)
  1. Combine all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Coat steaks with all of the dry rub. Drizzle a little canola oil over the steaks to help the rub adhere.
  3. Grill steaks to your desired doneness. Serve steaks with roasted potatoes and grilled corn salsa or as a filling in crispy tacos.



Beef, Dinner, Mexican, Recipes

Beef Barbacoa

December 16, 2015

Beef Barbacoa TacosWe can never seem to get enough Mexican cuisine, with its amazing diversity and dynamic flavors.  Braised beef, pork and chicken dishes are some of our favorite meals.  So with that thought in mind, a Mexican-style braise was a natural choice.  One thing leads to another.  We had tacos the first night and quesadillas the following night.  This tasty beef barbacoa would be fantastic in tamales or enchiladas too. I love the idea that so many meals can be made from one recipe.  Plus, you can freeze the beef barbacoa and whip up a quick meal whenever you’re short on time.

Onion, Lime, Garlic, Oregano, Chipotle Peppers in AdoboThe chipotle chiles in adobo add a bit of smokiness and subtle heat to the beef.  It wouldn’t be the same without them.

Beef Barbacoa

Beef Barbacoa

Beef Barbacoa Tacos

Beef Barbacoa

Beef Barbacoa
Updated 2/01/16
Serves: 6 - 8
  • 3½ pounds trimmed chuck steak, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons mild chile powder
  • 2½ cups chicken broth
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and minced + 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 4 ounce can diced green chiles
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or similar oven-proof pot with a cover over medium-high heat. Lightly season beef with kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Brown beef in two batches, adding more oil to the pan if needed. Beef should be nicely browned on two sides (let brown on one side for a few minutes without moving the beef). Adjust heat if too high. Remove beef to a platter and set aside.
  3. Using the same pot, lower heat to medium and sauté onions for a minute or two. Add a little oil if pan is too dry. Add garlic, cumin, oregano and chile powder. Stir constantly for a few seconds. Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add meat back to the pot. Pour remaining 1½ cups broth to pot, along with the chipotle chiles, 2 teaspoons adobo sauce, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, diced green chiles, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and bay leaf. Stir gently and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover and transfer to the oven.
  4. Let beef cook for 3 hours, stirring once during the cooking time. Remove from the oven. The meat should be fall apart tender. Remove bay leaf. Taste and add more salt if needed. Shred meat to desired consistency. Serve with corn tortillas that are gently heating on a comal or fried if you prefer.


Beef, Dinner, Japanese, Lactose Free, Recipes

Seared Filet Mignon with Sautéed Shallots & Shiitake Mushrooms

March 22, 2015

Filet Mignon with Shallots & Shiitake MushroomsUmami = Deliciousness.   The New Yorker’s March 2015 article: You Think You Know Umami describes it in two sentences: “That deep, dark, meaty intensity that distinguishes seared beef, soy sauce, ripe tomato, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and mushrooms, among other things. It hits the back of your throat and leaves you craving more.”  This simple dish is all about umami.  Steak, seared and served with shiitake mushrooms, shallots and soy sauce.  That’s it. Simple and delicious.

ShiitakesMana Foods in Paia is my favorite market.  Their shelves are stocked full of goodies and hard to find items (for residents of Maui) such as Muscovado sugar, Einkorn flour, specialty vinegars, oils and more.  Particularly superb is their produce department.  It is well stocked with many fresh locally grown products, including the best selection of fresh mushrooms here on Maui.  Beautiful golden chanterelles are hard to find here but Mana has them when they are in season.  They even sell fresh fava beans!  Gorgeous shiitakes are always available at Mana.


Sliced Shiitakes

Shiitakes & ShallotsThe mushrooms and shallots are sliced thin and quickly sautéed for a few minutes.  Soy sauce will be added to the mushrooms just before they are served.

Sauteed Shiitakes

Filet Mignon with Shallots & Shiitake Mushrooms

 Seared Filet Mignon with Sautéed Shallots & Shiitake Mushrooms

Adapted from Linda Furuya’s San Francisco Chronicle article

Serves 2


2 teaspoons canola oil (or other neutral oil)

1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots

8 – 10 (about 6 ounces) medium-size shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 filet mignon (about 8 – 10 ounces 1 1/2″ thick) sliced into two 3/4″ thick medallions

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce


Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and mushrooms, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the steak with a little kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add the steak to the pan and sear on each side for about 2 – 3 minutes, or enough to leave the insides pink and juicy.  Remove steak from the heat, but leave the juices in the pan.

Lower the heat to medium. Return the mushrooms and shallots back to the skillet to warm gently.  Once heated, remove the skillet from the heat, add soy sauce and stir until mushrooms and shallots are well coated.

Cut the steak into thin slices and scatter the mushroom mixture over and around the meat.  Serve with steamed rice.


Beef, Dinner, Lactose Free, Mexican, Recipes

Shredded Beef Tacos

November 29, 2014

Shredded Beef TacosAnyone familiar with this blog is aware that I love Mexican dishes, all of them: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tamales….  I always have Sopa de Arroz and Cuban style black beans stashed in the freezer.  They are staple side dishes that go with every Mexican meal.  In fact, I am happy just to eat a big bowl of beans and rice with some fresh cilantro scattered over the top.

Chiles and Bay Leaves

Boneless Beef Short RibsCook’s Illustrated, with their tried and true recipes, once again caught my eye with this recipe; shredded beef tacos.  The idea of tender, shredded beef on warm corn tortillas was just too inviting.  I called Times Supermarket and asked the butcher if he could prepare 3 pounds of boneless short ribs cut into 2-inch cubes for me.  No problem!  Knowing that short ribs are quite “rich” I was a bit nervous when I picked up my order. The short ribs were beautiful.  Just slightly marbled, but overall well-trimmed and lean.

Boneless Beef Short RibsI was skeptical about the procedure to brown the meat called for by the recipe.  I shouldn’t have had any doubts.  The meat was browned to perfection.  Never doubt Cook’s Illustrated.

Shredded Beef for TacosDecadent and rich, the short ribs turned out great.  We warmed corn tortillas on the comal and served them with a cabbage-carrot slaw.

Cabbage-Carrot Slaw

Shredded Beef Tacos with Sopa de Arroz & Cuban Style Black Beans

Shredded Beef Tacos

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Serves 6 – 8


1 1/2 cups beer (I used Sierra Nevada)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 ounces (4 – 6) dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons tomato paste

6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds

3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine beer, vinegar, anchos, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cloves, and cinnamon in Dutch oven.  Arrange onion rounds in a single layer on the bottom of pot.  Place beef on top of onion rounds in a single layer.  Cover and cook until meat is well browned and tender, 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a large bowl, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.  Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (do not wash pot).  Discard onion rounds and bay leaves.  Transfer remaining solids to the blender.  Let strained liquid settle for 5 minutes, then skim any fat off the surface.  Pour 1 cup liquid into blender with reserved solids and blend until smooth, about 40 – 60 seconds.  Transfer sauce to now-empty pot.

Using two forks, shred beef into bite-size pieces.  Bring sauce to a simmer over medium heat.  Add shredded beef and stir to coat.  Season with salt to taste.  (Beef can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; gently reheat before serving).

Spoon small amount of beef into each warm tortilla and serve with cabbage slaw, queso fresco (I used feta), sour cream and lime wedges.



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