Cuban Picadillo

Cuban Picadillo | Pinky's Pantry
Growing up, my Mom always made us Picadillo, but it was a soup. It had ground beef and potatoes swimming in a tasty broth and it was absolutely delicious. So the first time I went to a Cuban restaurant and saw Picadillo on the menu, I was very surprised to learn that their version was not a soup at all! It was completely different, but equally delicious. Served with white rice, black beans, tostones (fried plaintains) and mojo (garlic sauce), it was different and to die for. I asked a couple of my Cuban friends at work what spices go into Picadillo and was surprised to learn that both of them put cumin and cinnamon in it! Well, cumin wasn’t surprising, but I only ever use cinnamon in sweet stuff like pies and desserts. So… here’s my attempt to recreate the Picadillo I had at the Cuban restaurant. I think it turned out pretty darn good!

CUBAN PICADILLO

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp. salt (add more or less, to your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut in cubes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pan set over medium high heat.
  2. Saute onions and garlic for about 2 minutes, then add ground beef.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until beef is browned through.
  4. Stir in green bell pepper, diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and bay leaf.
  5. Lower heat and let simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in olives and raisins and let simmer for another 8-10 minutes more.
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Corned Beef Tater Tot Casserole

Corned Beef Tater Tot Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
This is another dish that’s going on my Christmas Breakfast table this year. It’s a play on one I saw from the Food Network Kitchens a couple of years ago. It’s different because it’s made with tater tots instead of the usual hash browns. I use canned corned beef which is more readily available year round from my local grocery store. If you prefer to use fresh corned beef, by all means go for it! Just chop 1½ pounds fresh corned beef into ½-inch cubes and use it in place of the canned corned beef in this recipe.
Corned Beef Tater Tot Casserole | Pinky's Pantry

CORNED BEEF TATER TOT CASSEROLE

  • 1 bag (32 ozs.) frozen tater tots
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cans (12 ozs. each) corned beef
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Set aside about 2 cups of the tater tots to use for topping.
  3. Arrange remaining tater tots in single layer on bottom of prepared baking dish.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tater tots or spray lightly with cooking spray.
  5. Bake about 25 minutes or until tater tots are golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  6. In large skillet set over medium-high heat, sauté onions, red and green peppers.
  7. Add corned beef and cook, breaking up corned beef with the back of a spoon and stirring together well. Allow to cool.
  8. Whisk eggs together in a bowl, then whisk in milk, mustard, salt and pepper.
  9. Spread corned beef mixture over cheese.
  10. Pour egg mixture over everything. If making ahead, cover the casserole at this point and refrigerate overnight.
  11. To cook, remove casserole from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  13. Scatter reserved 2 cups tater tots over casserole.
  14. Top with shredded cheese.
  15. Bake until egg mixture is set and top is golden brown, 55 – 60 minutes.

Italian Beef Sandwiches with Coleslaw

Italian Beef Sandwich | Pinky's Pantry
It’s Super Bowl Sunday again. I saw Valerie Bertinelli make Italian Beef sandwiches on TV last week and decided that that’s what I wanted to do for our Super Bowl Sunday lunch. She made her sandwiches with a giardiniera aioli but I don’t particularly care for giardiniera. At least not the ones I’ve tried so far. I do think these sandwiches would be great with a garlic aioli though.

One thing she did do was serve her sandwiches with coleslaw and that was definitely the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Delicious! The coleslaw added a sweet crunch to the tender, savory beef that made it the perfect well-rounded meal.

ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES WITH COLESLAW

Make Italian Beef the Night Before:

Italian Beef | Pinky's Pantry

  • 4 lbs. boneless beef chuck or rump roast, cut into large chunks
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 can (15 ozs.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients together in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low setting for 10-14 hours.
  3. Skim some of the excess fat from the surface using a ladle or cooking spoon.
  4. Shred the beef coarsely with two forks.

Assemble Sandwiches:

  • 4 loaves (12-14 inches each) Italian or French bread
  • Italian Beef, warm or at room temperature
  • coleslaw, ready-made or make your own (recipe here)
  1. Cut each loaf of bread into 4 to 6-inch lengths depending on how big you want your sandwiches.
  2. Split each sandwich in half lengthwise and toast lightly.
  3. Fill sandwiches with the shredded beef.
  4. Top beef with coleslaw.

NOTE:  Serve sliced pepperoncinis on the side for those who might want them.
You can also top the beef with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese before piling on the coleslaw, if desired.

Hamburger Soup

Hamburger Soup | Pinky's Pantry
I was watching Pioneer Woman on TV one day and saw her make this soup. I had to try it of course, and have made it several times since. It was very easy to make and I loved how it was so versatile. You could add other ingredients to it if you like. I’ve added beans, pasta, zucchini, broccoli, all sorts of things. It’s a great way to use up all the leftover veggies you have in your fridge. One time, I had some left over lasagna noodles so I cut them into short strips and tossed them in! It was great! The soup makes a big, hearty pot perfect for a large, hungry family, but feel free to cut the ingredients in half or even one- third if there are less than 4 of you sitting down to eat.

HAMBURGER SOUP

  • 2½ lbs. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 large cans (49 oz. each) beef broth
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 5 medium potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Brown ground beef in a large stock pot with the onion, celery, and garlic.
  2. Once the onions are translucent, drain as much oil as you can from the pot.
  3. Stir in tomato paste and diced tomatoes.
  4. Add beef broth, carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, oregano, and parsley.
  5. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until carrots and potatoes are tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with a good crusty bread.

Hamburger Bean Casserole

Hamburger Bean Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
At the age of 18, I landed my very first office job. I worked as a secretary for the County Department of Health & Welfare. I worked with a bunch of nurses in the Public Health Nursing Division. It was fun and interesting. Our supervisor was this big, tall nurse with a great sense of humor named Sharon. She shared her recipe for this casserole with me and I’ve kept it all these years. It’s a great dish to take to a potluck or a barbeque. It’s really easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. Just top it with the biscuits and cheese on the day you bake it.
Hamburger Bean Casserole | Pinky's Pantry

HAMBURGER BEAN CASSEROLE

  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pork & beans
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits  (8 biscuits)
  • 1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Brown hamburger meat and onions in a medium pot. Drain well.
  3. Remove pot from heat and stir in beans, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, barbecue sauce, mustard, and liquid smoke.
  4. Pour mixture into an 11×7-inch casserole dish.
  5. Arrange biscuits on top of casserole.
  6. Bake for 13 minutes or till biscuits are light brown.
  7. Remove casserole dish from oven and carefully turn each biscuit over.
  8. Return to oven and bake another 13 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.
  9. Top with grated cheese and bake for 2 minutes more or until cheese is all melted.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Beef and Broccoli | Pinky's PantryBeef and Broccoli is a Chinese-American creation. I don’t actually know if they serve this dish in China, but you can certainly find it in every Chinese restaurant in America. It’s one of the more popular dishes. My kids absolutely love it. We never go to a Chinese restaurant without getting at least one order of Beef and Broccoli.

I took a Chinese cooking class many years ago before I was even married. This recipe is an adaptation of the recipe we learned in class. I’ve tweaked it over the years and made some changes to the original (no offense to my cooking teacher). I still don’t think it tastes quite like what you get in a Chinese restaurant, but it’s yummy and hits the spot when you can’t get down the hill to Debbie Wong’s.
Beef and Broccoli | Pinky's Pantry

BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY

  • 1 lb. beef, like flank steak, boneless ribs, top sirloin, or tri-tip
  • 1½ lbs. broccoli florets
  • ⅓ cup oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup rice wine
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. Slice beef into strips.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and cornstarch.
  3. Place sliced beef into marinade and allow to marinate for 15 minutes to an hour.
  4. Heat a little oil in a wok and stir fry garlic quickly.
  5. Add broccoli and stir fry until broccoli turns bright green.
  6. Remove from pan and set aside.
  7. Add a little more oil to wok.
  8. When hot, remove beef from marinade, put into wok, and stir fry until just cooked.
  9. Add broccoli back into wok and toss with beef to combine.
  10. Serve with cooked white rice.

NOTE:  If you want a little sauce, pour some of the marinade into the wok together with the beef and cook together. If sauce is too watery, you can thicken it with cornstarch.

Thai Steak Salad

Thai Steak Salad | Pinky's PantryI had a long day at work today. It was one of those days where you’re pulled in so many directions that it feels like you can’t get anything finished. Sometimes, I think I can’t wait to retire. The thought of being able to stay home and relax, spend my days cooking and blogging, seems like such a distant fantasy. An easy dinner was in order. And what could be easier than a salad?

I had some steak in the fridge so decided to make a Thai Steak Salad for dinner tonight. The dressing for this recipe has no oil in it so if you use a lean cut of meat, the dish is virtually fat free. The lime juice adds such a bright, refreshing flavor. You can make the salad spicier by increasing the Sriracha in the dressing or omit the Sriracha entirely if you prefer. This light, delicious salad is the perfect ending to a long day.

THAI STEAK SALAD

For the Steak:

  • 1½ lbs. flank steak or sirloin steak
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Grill steak until medium or to desired degree of doneness.
  2. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes or so.
  4. Slice steak across the grain into thin slices.

For the Dressing:

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and Sriracha until well combined.
  2. The dressing can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

For the Salad:

  • 2 cups lettuce torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1¼ cups fresh bean sprouts
  • ¾ cup julienned carrots
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  1. In a large salad bowl, lightly toss the salad ingredients together.
  2. Add the dressing and toss again to combine.
  3. Place a little salad on a plate, top with some sliced steak, and serve.

NOTE:  You could also toss the steak, salad, and dressing all together in a big bowl if you like, but I think that plating the salad and topping it with some slices of steak makes for prettier-looking servings.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Party Meatballs

Sweet & Spicy Party Meatballs | Pinky's PantryWe’re having another potluck at work tomorrow so I thought I would fix these to take to the office. Crockpot meatballs with grape jelly and some other ingredient is one of those recipes that’s been around for years and everyone has their own version of. My version can be fixed mild or spicy (which my Old Goat loves). It’s great because it’s super easy to do. Just mix all the ingredients in your slow cooker and turn it on. If I’m around, I’ll occasionally stir the meatballs, but if I’m out or asleep, then I don’t bother.

This recipe makes a lot of meatballs – perfect for a party or a potluck. I get the big bag of frozen meatballs from Costco. If you want to make less, you can cut the recipe in half or one-third. Also, to make your meatballs really spicy, omit the chili sauce and use 3 bottles of hot & spicy ketchup. If you want it medium spicy, use 2 bottles hot & spicy ketchup and 1 bottle chili sauce. If you prefer it mild like my kids do, then follow the recipe below.

SLOW COOKER SWEET & SPICY PARTY MEATBALLS

  • 1 bag (6 lbs.) frozen meatballs
  • 1 bottle (14 ozs.) Heinz hot & spicy tomato ketchup
  • 2 bottles (12 ozs. each) chili sauce
  • 1 jar (32 ozs.) grape jelly
  1. In the bowl of a 6-quart slow cooker, whisk together spicy ketchup, chili sauce and grape jelly.
  2. Pour in frozen meatballs and stir until meatballs are coated with sauce.
  3. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Chili con Carne

Chili con Carne | Pinky's Pantry
I thought that since I posted the recipe for Bacon Cheddar Cornbread Muffins yesterday, I would post My Old Goat’s Chili con Carne recipe today. His chili is a family favorite. He seasons it with Carroll Shelby’s Chili Mix (which you fix hot or mild according to your own preference) and a packet of McCormick Chili Seasoning Mix. I asked Old Goat if he would give me his recipe so that I could post it here and he agreed to share it with me.

CHILI CON CARNE

  • 2½ lbs. lean ground chuck
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 pkg. Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Brand Chili Mix
  • 1 packet McCormick Mild Chili Seasoning Mix
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans red kidney beans
  • 4 cans pinto beans
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional Garnishes:  chopped onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions or chives, tortilla chips
  1. In a large pot, saute ground beef. Drain off excess oil.
  2. Stir in diced onions and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
  3. Stir in the Carroll Shelby’s chili mix, using the spicy seasoning if desired.
  4. Add the McCormick chili seasoning.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, kidney beans and pinto beans.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Omit the salt if you think it’s salty enough.
  7. Serve with optional garnishes on the side.

Carne con Aceitunas de Tita Elvie (Aunt Elvie’s Beef with Olives)

Carne con Aceitunas | Pinky's Pantry
Tita Elvie (Aunt Elvie) was my best friend Pooh’s mother-in-law. She was a deeply religious woman with a sweet disposition and a kind heart. Pooh loved her dearly and still misses her to this day.

There are some things about Tita Elvie that I always remember, like how she prayed the rosary every single day without fail and included a long litany of the names of each one of her dead relatives at the end of every rosary. She didn’t forget anybody! I remember how she quietly went about doing her housework without complaint no matter how tired she was. And she saved any and all leftovers, whether it was as big as a half a pan of lasagna or as small as two little shrimps. But most of all, I remember her cooking.

She had a repertoire of dishes that were her family’s favorites. This meat dish was my favorite. She didn’t have any measurements for the ingredients. She would just throw everything together. So these measurements are my own. She also didn’t have a name for this dish so I gave it a Spanish name because it always makes me think of something you might be served in Spain with a green salad and a nice glass of Tempranillo wine.

CARNE CON ACEITUNAS DE TITA ELVIE

  • 3 lbs. beef chuck or tri-tip, cubed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • flour for coating beef
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup white wine (I like sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small jar olives, drained
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Season beef cubes with salt and pepper.
  2. Coat seasoned beef cubes with flour, shaking off excess.
  3. Melt half the butter or margarine in a pot or deep skillet and fry the beef in batches, adding more butter as necessary. Set cooked beef cubes aside.
  4. Once all the beef is fried, add olive oil to the pan.
  5. Sauté garlic and onions in olive oil.
  6. Add white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom.
  7. Add beef broth and worcestershire sauce.
  8. Return beef to pan and add olives.
  9. Cook until beef is tender.
  10. Thicken sauce with parmesan cheese.

NOTE:  My ratio of broth to wine is 1 cup beef broth : ½ cup wine. You make as much gravy as you like by adding as much broth and wine as you like following this ratio. My kids like a lot of gravy but I would start with 1 cup of broth and ½ cup wine, and then go up from there depending on how saucy you want the dish.