Tag Archives: beef

Beef Fajita Tacos cooked with Pompeian Varietals Olive Oil

Beef Fajita Tacos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comTracking Pixel

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian.

A few years back I took an olive oil appreciation class at a food conference in San Francisco. I sampled olive oils in a process very similar to sipping fine wine or whiskey. I learned that all extra virgin olive oils weren’t the same. Some are good for grilling meats, while other olive oils are good for using on vegetables and lighter dishes like fish. Still other olive oils are best used to finish dishes like soups and salads. It all depends on the variety of olive, where they are grown, what time of year they are picked, and how they are processed.

It was such an interesting class that I took the opportunity to buy a bottle of very expensive olive oil directly from the grower – a summer harvested variety grown in Northern California. It was an indulgent souvenir of the trip that I justified by telling myself that it would last longer than a bottle of wine. Still it’s not something I’d do again as it's way too pricey, so it’s lovely to see that Pompeian is now bringing quality olive oil to my local grocery store at prices that everyone can afford with their new Pompeian Varietals Collection. (It’s not just extra virgin olive oil, but vinegars and cooking wines, too!)

Pompeian Varietals Collection reviewed at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Making Beef Fajita Tacos

I was sent a bottle the Picholine Olive Oil to grill with, which was perfect because we’re big meat eaters. Since I had a couple of steaks in the freezer (I buy the manager specials from the grocery store and stock up) I decided to cut them up into strips and make them into beef fajita tacos.

The green fruitiness, hints of herbs, and slight bitterness of the Picholine Olive Oil perfectly brought out the beef and seasoning flavors. I didn’t notice an oily taste either since some olive oils can be overpowering and quite noticeable.

Making Beef Fajita Tacos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Beef Fajita Tacos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Beef Fajita Tacos


  • 1 pound lean beef steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onions
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Pompeian Varietals Picholine Olive Oil
  • Your favorite taco fixings
  • 12 small corn tortillas


  1. Place steak strips, seasonings, and olive oil in a bowl. Combine until meat is thoroughly covered. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Grill steak strips on griddle pan or large skillet on high heat until cooked through.
  3. Serve with pepper stir fry, avocados, salsa, queso fresca, shredded cheese, hot sauce, cilantro, etc. on corn tortillas.
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes
Servings: 12 tacos (feeds 4)
  • Serving size: 3 tacos per person
Pompeian Varietals Reviewed at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Pompeian Varietals Collection

What I like about the Pompeian Varietals Collection of olive oils is that they leave the guess work out of choosing what olive oil is best for the recipe you'll be making. TV chefs like Mario Batali and Rachael Ray have educated us that extra virgin olive oil is the way to go when it comes to cooking. But do we want to go with a full, mild or medium bodied oil? With the Pompeian Varietals Collection, it’s right on the label!

  • Arbequina – a mild-bodied extra virgin olive oil  is for fish and vegetables.
  • Picholine – a medium-bodied extra virgin olive oil is for meats and sauces.
  • Koroneiki – a full-bodied extra virgin olive oil is for soups and salads.

What’s really fun is that you can learn the history behind each bottle of olive oil starting at the mill, country and harvest date, and ending at your kitchen table. By visiting the Pompeian Varietals website, you can track the lot number located on the back of your Varietals bottle to discover where it’s traveled and its unique harvesting process and origin.

What Pompeian Varietals Olive Oil would you try out first?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian.

Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole

Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

There’s a story behind this Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole recipe. When my sister and I had moved out of the house and were in college, my mom used to take a lot trips by herself. My father never liked to travel that much, so my mom booked seniors bus  tours. Being French, she had seen Europe and now wanted to travel around the United States.

One of those trips was to Utah, where she had brought back a copy of a cookbook called Mormon Cooking: Authentic Recipes [affiliate code] for me. It was filled with good old American recipes like meatloaf and peach cobbler, which were dishes I wasn’t brought up on. Having a French mother who was enamored of Julia Child and Gourmet magazine meant I ate beef bourguignon, not hamburger casserole at home. When my mom tried to cook up American dishes like meatloaf, it was often a disaster.

Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Well, I took Mormon Cooking: Authentic Recipes to heart and started cooking recipes from it for my then boyfriend and now husband. It really taught me how to cook American food, like casseroles. One of our favorites was a dish called, Delicious Beef and Rice. Over the years I’ve changed this recipe to make it healthier by adding vegetables and to fit in more with what I had in the pantry. (It originally calls for you to place green olive slices on top before serving, a very 1950s Better Homes & Gardens touch!)

Funny how crappy little cookbook that’s filled with very ordinary recipes can be so influential!

Coming up with Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole

This time around I decided to try using chorizo and black rice in my version of Delicious Beef and Rice. In the freezer, I still had some left over chorizo that I made from scratch a few months ago. I always have pepper stir fry in the freezer (great for making fajitas or for taco night!) And there was a bag of black rice that I bought at Costco sitting in the pantry that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. I always have grated cheese, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes in the pantry, so Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole was born.

The shredded cheese is optional – use as much or as little as you like. The casserole is pretty creamy on its own, but kids like Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole better with a little bit of shredded cheese on top. Finally, if you don’t have black rice, feel free to use white rice.

Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound chorizo – loose or removed from sausage casings
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag pepper stir fry (frozen or thawed)
  • 2 cups uncooked black rice
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • Grated Mexican style or cheddar cheese for serving (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Brown beef and chorizo with rice, pepper stir fry, and onion in a large Dutch oven or oven safe skillet with lid. Stir to break up ground meat and chorizo.
  3. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, smoked paprika and boiling water. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  4. Place Dutch oven or oven safe skillet, covered with a lid, in oven for 1 hour or until rice is cooked.
  5. Serve with grated cheese, if desired.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: Feeds 6 to 8
  • Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe

Easy One Pot Black Rice and Chorizo Casserole from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet

Healthy Gluten Free Leftover Enchiladas

Leftover Enchiladas from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Got leftovers? This recipe works great with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, leftover pork from my Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos, leftover chicken or even some shredded beef – whatever you have on hand including a combination of two or more meats if you’re adventurous.

Believe it or not, I never made enchiladas before! Not a problem, as this leftover enchilada recipe was easy to make. I even made my own enchilada sauce from scratch using Emeril Lagasse’s Easy Enchilada Sauce recipe. (I substituted all purpose gluten free flour mix for the flour.) If you're using store bought, check the ingredients to make sure it's gluten free. To keep my leftover enchiladas on the healthy side, I kept the cheese to a minimum, too - just 1 cup total. I also used corn tortillas to make sure it was gluten free as well.

And the verdict from the family? Two thumbs up and no complaints about the lack of cheese! I liked it so much I even ate it for breakfast with a fried egg on top!

Leftover Enchiladas with an egg on top from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

My Leftover Enchiladas recipe is for a double batch – one to eat now and one to freeze for later. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you wish and use the half the can of corn and tomatoes in chili or soup.


Leftover Enchiladas from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Healthy Gluten Free Leftover Enchiladas

Inspired by Grandma Kim’s Best Ever Healthy Chicken Enchiladas at Pretty Providence


  • 4 cups shredded turkey, pork, chicken, or beef
  • 3 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 26-30 small corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled


  1. Place shredded meat, 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, corn, and diced tomatoes in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Spray two 9 × 13 pan with cooking spray.
  3. Fill tortillas with about 2 generous tablespoons of filling , roll up, and place in pan. (You’ll need to have two enchiladas per horizontal row.) When you’ve used up half the tortillas, start on the second pan. If tortillas break, patch with an extra tortilla if you wish, but don’t worry about it.
  4. If you have leftover filling, add remaining 1 1/2 cup enchilada sauce to it. Then pour half the sauce over one pan, then the remaining enchilada sauce over the other dish.
  5. Lightly sprinkle each dish with half the grated cheese and half the queso fresco.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes until edges are crispy.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes
Servings: Double batch - serves 16
  • Serving size: 1/16 of recipe

Flank Steak With Chickpea Arugula Salad from Bertolli Olive Oil

Flank Steak With Chickpea Arugula SaladDuring my recovery from brain surgery, I’m featuring recipes from brands I use and love. This one comes courtesy of Bertolli, a brand that I trust and cook with often. They were nice enough to send me a complimentary bottle a few weeks ago – always good to stock up on staples when you can’t get to the grocery store too often!

This elegant, easy and quick to make dish is from Chef Fabio Viviani. You can watch him make the dish below. This dish is naturally gluten free and a great way to serve your meat and salad all on one dish.

Flank Steak With Chickpea Arugula Salad

Recipe courtesy of Chef Fabio Viviani and Bertolli Olive Oil

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 pound flank steak
  • 1 teaspoon Bertolli® Extra Light™ Tasting Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Grated peel from 2 lemons
  • Grated peel from 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoon Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini
  • 4 cups arugula


  1. Season steak with salt and ground black pepper. Heat Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook steak, turning once, 10 minutes or until desired doneness.
  2. Whisk together lemon juice, lemon peel, orange peel, and Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive oil in medium bowl. Add chickpeas, olives, green onions and pepperoncini. Add Arugula; toss to coat.
  3. Slice steak and serve salad on top.

Recipe and photo used with permission.

Gluten Free Potato Chip and Carrot Meatloaf

Gluten Free Potato Chip and Carrot Meatloaf at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Unless we’re having a party, I usually don’t buy chips. However, there are certain people in my household who feel that watching sports on television isn’t fun without a bag of salt and vinegar salt potato chips. (Ahem.) So, when faced with a chips request, I try to find a brand that’s as healthy as possible. That’s why I buy Kettle Brand Potato Chips since they’re as wholesome as you can get for a snack food.

The folks at Kettle Brand Potato Chips cook real, unpeeled potatoes in small batches for a superior taste and a signature crunch. In addition, they use only the finest all-natural, non-GMO ingredients – no trans fats, no MSG, no artificial colors or flavors, and no list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. In fact, they’re the first potato chip to be verified by the Non-GMO Project.

Gluten Free Potato Chip and Carrot Meatloaf at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Taste wise, their chips are delicious and hard to put down! Our favorites of the 24 flavors they make are Sea Salt & Vinegar, Sea Salt, and Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper Crinkle Cut Chips. Kettle Chips also makes four types of organic potato chips: Organic Country Style Barbeque, Organic Sea Salt, Organic Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper, and Organic Sweet Chili Garlic.

All Kettle Brand Potato Chips (including Kettle Brand Bakes, Reduced Fat, Organic, and Krinkle Cut Potato Chips) are gluten free and processed in a gluten free environment. They’re also considered to be safe for people with peanut allergies, since they’re processed in an environment free of peanuts and other nuts. The chips are processed on equipment shared with ingredients that contain very small amounts of dairy. Even though they thoroughly clean the lines after each flavor run, there's a slight potential of cross contamination. (See Kettle Brand’s FAQ page for more info.)

Kettle Brand Potato Chips inspired meatloaf

At my house, meatloaf is a popular but challenging dish. For years, I had to make it egg-free due to my daughter’s allergies. She’s grown out of her egg allergies, but now we have to deal with me being gluten free.

Inspired by Kettle Brand, I thought I’d use crushed potato chips instead of bread crumbs in my meatloaf recipe. I also used crushed potato chips on the top of the meatloaf for added visual appeal. To health up the meatloaf, I used shredded carrots and egg whites, and kept it dairy free by using rice milk. (Feel free to use regular milk if you don’t have a food sensitivity to dairy.) I used Kettle Brand’s Sea Salt Potato Chips, but you can experiment with your favorite flavor. I bet Kettle Brand’s Backyard Barbeque, Jalapeño Jack, or Cheddar Beer flavors would be wonderful in this meatloaf recipe, too!

Gluten Free Potato Chip and Carrot Meatloaf at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Since I used one of my favorite Memphis style barbecue sauces, I’ll serve that on the side instead of ketchup. In addition, I’ll be serving this with fresh green beans from the farmer’s market and some Easy Mashed Parsnips and Chives. And don’t forget, leftover slices of cold meatloaf make wonderful sandwiches!

If you double the recipe, you can freeze one loaf for later. Let the meatloaf cool in the pan. Then lift it out and cover completely with foil to freeze.

Gluten Free Potato Chip and Carrot Meatloaf at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Gluten Free Potato Chip and Carrot Meatloaf

Instead of the aluminum foil, you may want to use a two-piece meatloaf pan that has a perforated, elevated insert so fat can drain away as meatloaf cooks. Several companies like Rachel Ray and Wilton make them.


  • 2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Kettle Brand Sea Salt Potato Chips – divided
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup rice milk
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients (except for cooking spray and 1/2 cup of the crushed potato chips) in a bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. You can use your hands or a potato masher.
  3. Line a 9x5” meatloaf pan with foil. Spray inside with cooking spray.
  4. Place meatloaf ingredients in the pan. Pat down evenly.
  5. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of crush potato chips evenly on top of loaf.
  6. Place meatloaf pan on top of a baking sheet and place into oven.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently remove the meatloaf by lifting up on the aluminum foil. Peel foil off of meatloaf, cut into slices and serve.
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: Makes 6-8 servings
  • Serving size: 1-2 slices

What is your favorite flavor of Kettle Brand Potato Chips?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kettle Brand. The opinions and text are all mine.

Chile and Orange Braised Flanken Style Beef Short Ribs

Chile-Braised Flanken Style Beef Short Ribs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comThe folks at Finish asked me to take the Finish Rise and Shine Challenge and create a difficult-to-clean meal to put Finish® Quantum® with New Power Gel to the test. I thought this was a great excuse to make a braised short rib recipe that I saw in Bon Appétit magazine to use up the flanken style beef short ribs I had in the freezer.

This recipe was a good choice for the Finish Rise and Shine Challenge, because braising makes a lot of mess. Plus, the flanken style ribs were so greasy I had to put the cooked meat and vegetables in a colander to drain them onto a cookie sheet – lots of grease for Finish to clean up!

More on the Finish Rise and Shine Challenge tomorrow. First the recipe!

flanken style beef short ribs

Changes to Bon Appétit’s Chile-Braised Short Ribs recipe

This was the first and last time I’ll use flanken style short ribs. Besides being too greasy, they cooked too quickly, which turned the short rib recipe into a stew recipe. (I’ve adjusted the times accordingly below so you don’t end up with stew like me.) I also didn’t like all the little pieces of bone I had to pick out of the meat.

Here are the other changes I made to Bon Appétit’s recipe to create my Chile and Orange Braised Flanken Style Beef Short Ribs :

  • Chiles: The original recipe uses dried New Mexico chiles. Even though we have a large Hispanic population here in Athens, GA, I couldn’t find any chiles labeled “New Mexican” so I used the dried ancho chiles I found at Kroger.
  • Marinade: I found that the marinade was very thick and was worried that the meat wouldn’t be evenly exposed to it. So I added a cup of soaking liquid to make the marinade less paste like.
  • Cuties to the rescue: Dummy me forgot to buy lemons, so I used Cutie Clementine oranges instead, which sweetened up the braised ribs a little.
  • Cauliflower: Since I have a food sensitivity to potatoes, I used cauliflower instead.
  • Olives: I didn’t read the label on the Mezzetta Castelvetrano Olives I bought on sale at CostPlus World Market, and accidentally bought olives with the pits still in them. Oops! I ended up using a paring knife to cut off the meat, thus the olives were chopped not whole.
  • Carrots: To save time, I used baby carrots instead of cutting up large carrots.
  • Parsley: Instead of fresh parsley, I used Gourmet Garden’s parsley for taste rather than garnish.
  • Less clean up: Finally, I tried to have you use less cookware than the Bon Appétit recipe called for by soaking the chiles in the blender, marinating the meat in the pot, and so on.

All in all a heavy, but delicious dish. I really liked how the tangy sourness of the olives contrasted with the sweetness of the meat, orange juice and carrots. However, my daughter, Lucie, didn’t care for the olives at all, so you may want to serve your kids the ribs without the sauce.

Chile-Braised Flanken Style Beef Short Ribs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Chile and Orange Braised Flanken Style Beef Short Ribs

Based on Bon Appétit’s Chile-Braised Short Ribs from the March 2013 issue


  • 8 dried ancho chiles
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 Cuties Clementine oranges, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 pounds flanken style beef short ribs
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large cauliflower, but into bite size pieces
  • 3/4 pound baby carrots
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano green olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Gourmet Garden parsley


  1. In a large skillet using NO oil, roast chiles over medium heat until slightly puffed and slightly darkened, about 1 minute on each side. (The chiles I used were large enough that only 4 fit in my skillet, so you may have to do this twice.)
  2. Remove the chiles from skillet and let cool.
  3. Pull stem off chiles and halve lengthwise. Scrape out and discard seeds.
  4. If you’re comfortable pouring boiling water into your blender or food processor, then place cleaned chiles into it. (You can use a bowl instead if you're not.) Add boiling water to cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain water, reserving one cup of liquid, and leave chiles in blender or food processor. (Or place them into your blender/food processor if your soaking them in a bowl.)
  5. Combine chiles, garlic, Clementine orange zest and juice, oil, salt, coriander, cumin and 1 cup soaking water in a blender or food processor. Purée until marinade is smooth.
  6. Place flanken style beef short ribs, onion and marinade in a large oven safe heavy pot, like the 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset French oven I used. Cover with lid and chill ribs in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°.
  8. Add broth to the heavy pot, then bring everything to a boil on your stove top. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise ribs for 1 1/2 hour.
  9. Add cauliflower, baby carrots, and tomato paste to the post. Make sure to keep meat and vegetables covered in the liquid.
  10. Cover with lid and return to oven. Continue braising until meat is fork-tender and separates easily from the bone and vegetables are soft, 1 to 1/2 hours longer.
  11. Turn oven off or keep it at the “warm” setting.
  12. Place colander on a cookie sheet. Using a slotted spoon, transfer short ribs and vegetables to the colander to drain excess grease.
  13. When meat is cool enough to the touch, remove any small pieces of bone that have come loose from the flanken style ribs.
  14. Place meat and vegetables into an oven safe casserole dish, cover with foil, and return to oven to keep warm.
  15. Place your large cooking pot on the stove over high heat. Bring liquid to a boil then reduce heat and simmer. Use a spoon to skim fat from surface.
  16. Simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce starts to thickened like gravy. Stir olives and parsley into sauce and keep warm over low heat.
  17. To serve, place short ribs and vegetables on plate and and spoon sauce over. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 12 Hours
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 15 Hours
Servings: Makes 8 servings
  • Serving size: 1/8 of recipe

Read Part Two of the Finish Rise and Shine Challenge tomorrow!

Braised Not-So-Short Short Ribs with Hominy Stew from A New Turn in the South

Braised Not-So-Short Short Ribs with Hominy Stew from A New Turn in the South | At This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

This month’s selection from Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, was another attempt to use up something we had in the freezer – a three pound rack of beef short ribs. It was one of those “Manager’s Specials” my husband purchased at Kroger – you know, the package of meat that’s quickly approaching it’s due date and has been drastically reduced in price. I know my husband probably thought “barbeque!” but I thought braised short ribs instead.

However, these short ribs weren’t very short. In fact, they were twice as long as what would be served in Hugh’s restaurant. Lacking a band saw, I decided to make due and forge ahead with the ribs as is. So instead of two little elegant rib pieces, I had to serve up Fred Flintstone sized ribs instead. No biggie.

So, when buying ribs, make sure you’d have enough to serve one rib to each person. (The rack I had consisted of six ribs and was three pounds, so I doubled the recipe.) If I was buying ribs, I’d ask my butcher for four ribs weighing in at 1 1/2 pounds – and I would ask to have the ribs cut in half.

Weeknight cooking strategy

This recipe takes four to five hours to make, so it’s something you’d make on the weekend. However, you could make it during the week with a little planning. Here’s how:

Evening 1 – after dinner, prepare your “mise en place” – your chopped vegetables, measured seasonings, measured out liquids, etc. Place everything in small bowls or measuring cups, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. This will take you 30 to 45 minutes including clean up time.

Evening 2 – while cooking dinner (if possible) or after, cook up steps 1 through 10. Place ribs back in the Dutch oven and store in the pot in the refrigerator. Also, don’t bother skimming the fat off the braising liquid. By storing it in the refrigerator overnight, you’ll have a thick, congealed layer of fat on the top, which you can spoon off. So much easier and more healthy, too! This will take 3 to 3 1/2 hours including clean up and storage time.

Evening 3 – cook up steps 11 through 17 and serve. You may need to heat ribs in the stew 5 minutes longer since they’ll be cold from the refrigerator. This part will take 25 to 30 minutes.

Braised Not-So-Short Short Ribs with Hominy Stew from A New Turn in the South | At This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

A note on hominy and Dutch ovens

Hominy is made from dried corn that’s been soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled. Here in the Georgia, I was able to find canned hominy – both white and yellow variations – in the canned vegetable aisle near the beans. If your store doesn’t stock hominy in that aisle, try the Hispanic section or buy it at a Hispanic market as hominy is a popular ingredient in pozole soup.

Since the short ribs have to be cooked both on the stove top, then in the oven, you need to have cookware with a lid that will work in both. I used my two ancient Le Creuset 5 1/2-Quart Round French Ovens, since I doubled the recipe. But secretly I would have loved to have a Le Creuset 7 1/4-Quart French Oven or a couple of Le Creuset’s 5-Quart Round Braisers. If wishes were fishes…

If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can sear the ribs in a skillet and transfer them to a casserole dish with a lid for braising.

A New Turn in the South

Braised Not-So-Short Short Ribs with Hominy Stew from A New Turn in the South | At This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Not-So-Short Short Ribs with Hominy Stew

Based on Hugh Acheson’s Braised Short Ribs with Hominy Stew recipe from A New Turn in the South (page 193)


  • 4 (6 ounce) portions short ribs, trimmed of connective tissue
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus additional per taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and coarsely cut into a large dice
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 celery stalk, leaves removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 15.5 ounce can hominy – yellow or white
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 leek, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch dice (use just the white and light green parts of the leek)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canned roasted green chiles
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. On a large platter or cutting board, lay out the short ribs and evenly rub all sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ribs to the pan and sear on all sides – about 2 minutes per side. If needed, do the ribs in batches.
  4. With ribs still in the Dutch oven, add the onion, carrot and celery. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the chile, bay leaves, thyme sprig, and red wine. Cook to reduce the wine by half – about 15 minutes.
  6. Add the beef stock and bring to a simmer.
  7. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven. Allow to cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is starting to pull away from the bone.
  8. Remove the short ribs from the Dutch oven and place ribs aside on a large plate or bowl. (You’ll be using the Dutch oven for the final step, so don’t wash it! Instead, lightly wipe out any remaining fat or vegetable matter.)
  9. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the braising liquid into a 2-cup or larger measuring cup. Discard the onion, celery, bay leaves, thyme and chile.
  10. Skim off all the fat from the surface. If there’s less than 2 cups of braising liquid, add enough beef stock or water to bring it up to 2 cups.
  11. Drain and rinse hominy, and set aside.
  12. Place Dutch oven on stove over medium heat. Add the butter, leek and garlic. Sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes, while occasionally stirring.
  13. Add the roasted green chiles, diced tomato, cumin, thyme, and the 2 cups of braising liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt to taste. (While simmering, feel free to scrape the sides of your Dutch oven to add the “brown yummy goodness” from the braising to your vegetables.)
  14. Add the hominy and cook for another 5 minutes.
  15. Add the short ribs to the stew to reheat. Stir to cover the ribs in the stew and cook for 5 minutes.
  16. Turn off heat and stir in the parsley.
  17. Ladle the stew into 4 bowls, placing the ribs on top. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 2 Hours
Cook Time: 4 Hours
Total Time: 6 Hours
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1 rib plus 1/4 of stew

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Cooking The Hunger Games: Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Brown Rice

Cooking The Hunger Games: Slow Cooker Meat Stew with Brown Rice

One of my blogging goals for 2013 was to join another online foodie event like Secret Recipe Club. Somehow I stumbled on to Cook the Books. Well, this month, Cook the Books is teaming up with Food 'n Flix to bring us dishes based on both the movie and the book, The Hunger Games. Heather from Girl Chef is hosting the event – see her announcement post. Heather is definitely a blogger after my own heart as she’s as passionate about movies and reading as she is about food, since she’s part of the team that runs Cook the Books and Food ‘n Flix.

Reading The Hunger Games

I had read The Hunger Games Trilogy last spring in the hopes of getting my kids to read it. (Lucie did and enjoyed it somewhat. Nathan never got past the first book.) Instead, I was the one who got hooked on the series, which wasn’t a surprise as it’s well written and I’m a sucker for a good dystopian novel.

Rereading the book for this project, I realized how fixated Katniss Everdeen was on food. People who wonder where their next meal will come from – if it comes at all – usually are. However, one of the ways the movie, The Hunger Games, fell short was that it wasn’t fixated on food as much as Katniss’s character was. It’s a shame, because you never get the feeling that Katniss or any of the kids from the poorer districts were starving. They all looked too healthy!

Cooking The Hunger Games

To help me decide what to make for Cook the Books/Food ‘n Flix, I took notes on the various dishes and foods that are mentioned in the book, such as Katniss’s favorite lamb stew. But there are other dishes that sounded intriguing such as fish stew with greens, goat cheese, “chicken and chunks of oranges cooked in a creamy sauce laid on a bed of pearly white grain,” bread with raisins, tiny green peas and onions, or mushroom soup – and that doesn’t even touch on the desserts, such as “pudding the color of honey.”

One dish that appeared twice when Katniss was under some stress was described as “hot grain smothered in beef stew” or just hot grain and stew. Being the middle of winter, who wouldn’t want to have a bowl of beef stew on rice? I decided to modify Real Simple’s Slow Cooker Classic Beef Stew by making it gluten free, adding more root vegetables and peas, and serving it on brown rice.

Meat Stew with Carrots, Peas and Potatoes

Healthy modification: the original recipe called for dredging the beef chunks in all-purpose flour. I substituted gluten free teff flour, but feel free to use your favorite GF (or non-GF) flour. While the flour thickens the stew, it does add a lot of calories, which is fine if you're Katniss and need some fattening up. If you’re watching your calorie intake, here’s another way to thicken the stew.

  1. Omit the flour, and season the beef with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Brown the meat as directed. Follow the rest of the recipe.
  3. About 30 minutes before serving, mix 3 tablespoons corn or rice starch with 3 tablespoons broth from the slow cooker.
  4. Add the mixture to the stew and stir.
  5. Put the lid back on the crock pot and turn up the heat to the High setting.
  6. After 30 minutes, stir and serve stew over rice. 

Also, while I’ve served this with brown rice (cooked with the leftover beef broth I had on hand) you can use white rice, quinoa, or wild rice. For those who aren’t gluten free, try it with couscous or farro.

Slow Cooker Meat Stew with Brown Rice

Cooking The Hunger Games: Slow Cooker Meat Stew with Brown Rice

Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Brown Rice

Based on Slow Cooker Classic Beef Stew by Jane Kirby in the March 2004 issue of Real Simple. Note all nutritional information for stew only.


  • 4 pounds bottom round, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, washed (not peeled)
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots
  • 4 parsnips, roughly diced
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly diced
  • 2 cups gluten free beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 16 ounce package frozen peas
  • cooked brown rice (enough for 6 to 8 people)


  1. Coat the beef in the flour. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. Throw out any unused flour.
  2. Transfer browned beef to a large capacity (4 to 6 quart) slow cooker.
  3. Add the diced onions to the skillet. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions. Transfer the onion and tomato mixture to the slow cooker.
  4. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits. Pour the liquid into the slow cooker.
  5. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery, beef broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for 7 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
  7. About 15 minutes before serving, add the peas and cook until heated through.
  8. Serve on top of brown rice
Prep Time: 35 Minutes
Cook Time: 4 Hours
Total Time: 4 Hours 35 Minutes
Servings: Serves 8-10
  • Serving size: 1 bowl
  • Calories: 520
  • Calories from Fat: 177
  • Total Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated fat: 5 g
  • Unsaturated fat: 15 g
  • Sodium: 1061 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 31 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 48 mg
  • Cholesterol: 127 mg

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa  from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I cannot believe we’re moving to Athens, Georgia in less than two weeks! We’re trying to cut down on the amount of stuff to pack, so the kids and I are in the process of consuming all the foodstuffs we can. That’s why I discovered one last package of venison in the freezer. Surprisingly it was stew meat, which was perfect to make Crock-Pot Hungarian Goulash from Heather of Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment!

Yes, another slow cooker recipe for the Secret Recipe Club post. This is the third in a row after last month’s Healthy Slow Cooker Hoppin’ John and March’s Healthy Slow Cooker Pumpkin and Bean Chili. Hope you don’t mind, but when you have a small kitchen like I do in my temporary Boulder apartment, a slow cooker comes in handy!

I only made a few changes to Heather’s recipe. To make it gluten free, I used starch instead of flour and served it on quinoa instead of egg noodles. I also used coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar, sea salt instead of regular table salt, and smoked paprika instead of regular paprika. Feel free to use whatever substitutes you wish depending on your food sensitivities and what you have on hand.

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa  from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash with Quinoa


  • 2 pounds lean stew meat (beef or venison), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon corn or rice starch
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa


  1. Place the meat in a 5 quart slow cooker and cover with the sliced onion.
  2. Combine the garlic, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, coconut palm sugar, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and dry mustard. Stir in the water and mix well. Then pour mixture over the meat in the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. If mixture gets dry, add more water (1/2 cup at a time).
  4. Just before serving, remove a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the slow cooker and put into a small bowl. Add corn or rice starch and stir until dissolved. Pour starch mixture into the slow cooker and stir until goulash thickens.
  5. Spoon goulash over quinoa and serve.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Total Time: 6 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6
  • Calories: 412
  • Calories from Fat: 46
  • Total Fat: 5.1g
  • Saturated fat: 5g
  • Unsaturated fat: .1g
  • Sodium: 681mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 46.7g
  • Sugar: 8.5g
  • Fiber: 4.5g
  • Protein: 41.7g

More from the Secret Recipe Club!

Want to join the Secret Recipe Club? You can sign up here.

Christmas leftovers: Roast Beef Salad with Chipotle Rice Vinegar Salad Dressing

Roast Beef Salad with Chipotle Dressing at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com The problem with making roast beef is figuring out what to do with the leftovers, since reheating overcooks and dries out the meat. Sure, you could thinly slice the roast beef for sandwiches. But my favorite way of eating leftover roast beef (or venison) is cold and in a salad.

You can either thinly slice the roast beef into strips or cut it into cubes. To make your salad, add the cold roast beef to your favorite type of lettuce (I used romaine) and pile on other goodies like pine nuts, feta cheese crumbles, tomatoes, olives or whatever strikes your fancy.

Chipotle Dressing at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Homemade salad dressings with NAKANO rice vinegars

Then there was the matter of all that leftover Chipotle Mayo sauce. What was I going to do with it? I got the idea to add NAKANO Roasted Garlic Seasoned Rice Vinegar to the sauce to make a fabulous homemade salad dressing. It’s very spicy, so you may want to dial down the heat by adding more mayonnaise or using a no fat Greek yogurt instead of mayo.

Roast Beef Salad with Chipotle Dressing at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Chipotle Rice Vinegar Salad Dressing

Adapted from Nadia G.’s Chipotle Mayo recipe


  • 1 cup prepared light mayonnaise
  • 6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup NAKANO Roasted Garlic Seasoned Rice Vinegar


  1. In a food processor, blend together the mayonnaise, chipotle peppers, sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  2. Add NAKANO rice vinegar and blend until combined.
  3. Pour into a salad dressing bottle and shake before pouring on your salad.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: Makes 2 1/2 cups of dressing.
  • Serving size: 3 - 4 tablespoons

Splash it on with NAKANO vinegars

NAKANO Natural and Seasoned Rice Vinegars are a healthy alternative to fattening condiments in your holiday cooking. Instead of butter and sour cream on your baked potato, try a splash of NAKANO Red Pepper Seasoned Rice Vinegar. Splash some NAKANO® Basil & Oregano Seasoned Rice Vinegar on noodles. NAKANO Balsamic Blend Seasoned Rice Vinegar would be wonderful on salads or roasted vegetables, too!

What other healthy ways can you use NAKANO vinegars in your holiday cooking?

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of NAKANO, provided compensation for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Christmas dishes: Nadia G.’s Rockin’ Roast Beef

roast beef I first came across Nadia G. of Bitchin Kitchen at a BlogWorld Expo 2010 food blogging session. I admired how she transitioned her online brand to primetime television. So, when I got home, I checked out her show on the Cooking Channel. I thought her cooking was rather elementary, but my son and husband said she was a babe and my eight-year-old daughter thinks Nadia’s sidekick, Hans, was also a hottie. Bitchin Kitchen is a show the whole family can enjoy watching together. Well, sorta.

Cookin’ for Trouble cookbook

When I received Nadia’s latest cookbook, Cookin’ for Trouble, I wasn’t expecting much. Her show’s rather campy and I thought the cookbook would be high on humor and not much on quality. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each Bitchin Kitchen recipe is accompanied by a gorgeous, full color photograph by Ryan Szulc and food styled by Noah Witenoff.

In addition, there are recipes for beginners as well as seasoned cooks. In addition, while her target audience is young and planning weddings and bachelor parties, families with kids will enjoy her dishes, too. I especially like her spin on classics such as pizza and lemon meringue to something more sophisticated and trendy.

Speaking of trendy, she also has recipes for sliders (tuna) and cupcakes (tiramisu). She even has some vegan and gluten free dishes. There are also healthy dishes like gazpacho, low sugar jam, and creamy cream-less soups. And for the ladies a few pictures of Hans with his shirt off – yay says Lucie! Nadia knows what her audience wants!

If you’re a fan of the show or just like great  food pictures and cool recipes, check out Cookin’ for Trouble. It would make a great holiday gift for the foodie on your gift giving list.

Nadia G’s Christmas roast beef

Nadia’s roast beef dish is called Midnight Prime Roast Beef in her Feast of the Seven Dishes show airing this month. (See the video below.) However, in Cookin’ for Trouble, it’s called Rockin’ Roast Beef with a boneless beef rump roast. The recipes are slightly different, but either way, it’s a classic Christmas dinner roast beef dish.


My first attempt at this dish was with a rather small – and lean - beef tip roast. It was given to me by my mother-in-law and had been sitting in the freezer for awhile begging to be cooked. I kept my fingers crossed that it would work. I followed Nadia’s directions, but cut down the amount of time and kept an eye on the meat thermometer. Even so, it was slightly overcooked while the potatoes were undercooked and needed to be microwaved before serving. Shoot!

When I make this again – and I will – I’ll use a real prime rib beef roast with a nice layer of juicy fat since the beef tip roast was delicious, but not as tender and juicy as I hoped. Also, I recommend doubling (at least) the amount of mushrooms as they smelled heavenly and tasted just as good. I used small red and purple potatoes, but fingerling potatoes would work very well, too. I also had trouble finding pearl onions, so I used regular onions cut into quarters.

You can serve this with the pan juices thinned with some beef broth for au jus. In Cookin’ for Trouble, Nadia gave recipes for a teriyaki sauce and a chipotle mayo as dipping sauces. I tried the spicy chipotle mayo sauce, which was a wonderful change from the more traditional prepared horseradish. The recipe is below, too.

Nadia G’s Rockin' Roast Beef

Recipe courtesy of Nadia G. and the Cooking Channel

Total time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 2 hours

Yield: 8 to 12 servings


  • One 3 1/2-pound beef prime rib roast
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl onions
  • 20 whole mushrooms
  • 10 small potatoes


  1. In a roasting pan, place the beef fat side up and rub it with the ground mustard, black pepper, and sea salt.
  2. Let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours. (This is really important to do so you get that pink color in the middle of your roast.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F and brown for roast for about 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. 
  4. When the roast begins to drip its juices – about 30 to 60 minutes – add the potatoes, onions and mushrooms to the roasting pan.
  5. Continue to cook until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the beef registers 135 degrees F.
  6. Transfer to a cutting board to rest for about 15 minutes.
  7. Slice the beef thinly, and serve on a large platter with the roasted onions, mushrooms and potatoes.


Chipotle Mayo

Recipe courtesy of Nadia G


  • 1 cup prepared mayonnaise
  • 6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • ground black pepper


  1. In a food processor, blend together the mayonnaise, chipotle peppers, sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  2. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Featured at:

A Little Nosh

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Cookin’ for Trouble to facilitate this review. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Best Carne Asada Marinade recipe ever!

Best Carne Asada Marinade recipe ever! at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet  - thismamacooks.com A recent culinary challenge I faced was cooking the mountain goat my husband bagged in September. We had our local game processor make the meat into German, Italian and chorizo sausage – all of which have been fantastic. However, I was concerned with the steaks and chops. Would they be gamey?

I tentatively grilled up a few and found the mountain goat meat was very mild tasting – and extremely chewy. So much so that it was practically inedible. Flummoxed, I decided to marinate and tenderize the heck out the mountain goat meat by making carne asada.

It’s all about the vinegar

We love authentic Mexican carne asada and have learned to make it at home using a recipe my husband found on the Internet. (There are so many similar versions online that I’m not sure who to credit as the author.)

Traditionally, a carne asada marinade uses red wine vinegar. Instead, I decided to do things differently and use Holland House Malt Vinegar. Both Holland House Malt Vinegar and Holland House Red Wine Vinegar have 5% acidity, which makes both perfect for breaking down and tenderizing tough meat. However, the malt vinegar has a wonderful, strong zingy taste that goes well with the lime and orange juices.

My Carne Asada Marinade recipe will marinade five to six pounds of meat and can be easily halved for a small dinner with no leftover or doubled for a big party or tail gating. If you’re using beef, use skirt steak or a similar thin cut, as show above, and marinate 24 to 48 hours. (The tougher the meat, the longer you should marinate it.)

Slow cooker pulled carne asada

Traditionally, you grill carne asada meat. I tried that on half the mountain goat meat I prepared. While it was extremely delicious, it was still chewy even after marinating the mountain goat for over two days!

Instead, I decided to cook the other half of the meat in the slow cooker. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as sweet and tangy as the grilled carne asada. It was still tasty and tender, more like “pulled” meat, which is what I was shooting for. From now on, all mountain goat meat will be slow cooked. Lesson learned.

Rocky Mountain Goat

Best Carne Asada Marinade recipe ever! at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet  - thismamacooks.com

Best Carne Asada Marinade Recipe Ever!


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup Holland House Malt Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons peeled fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 5-6 pounds skirt steak


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Place meat in gallon sized freezer bag, in the bottom of a shallow baking dish, or a non-reactive (plastic or glass) storage container with a lid.
  3. Pour carne asada marinade on top of meat, cover dish or close bag, and marinate overnight up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.

Grilling the marinated carne asada:

  1. Take meat out of container and grill until just cooked through. (Rare to medium rare.)
  2. Cut cooked meat into strips.
  3. Place meat and favorite toppings (salsa, cheese, guacamole, avocado slices, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, grilled sweet peppers, etc.) in a tortilla to make into tacos or burritos. You can also serve meat over rice for a carne asada bowl.

Slow cooking the marinated carne asada:

  1. After marinating for one or two days, place meat and marinade in a slow cooker.
  2. Slow cook for 10 to 12 hours on low.
  3. Meat should be extra tender and can be shredded with a fork.
  4. Place meat and favorite toppings (salsa, cheese, guacamole, avocado slices, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, grilled sweet peppers, etc.) in a tortilla to make into tacos or burritos. You can also serve meat over rice for a carne asada bowl.
Prep Time: 48 Hours 20 Minutes
Servings: Feeds 4 to 6 with leftovers.
  • Serving size: 1/2 pound per person.

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of Holland House, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Venison Chorizo Picadillo

Venison Chorizo Picadillo at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com Each month, Secret Recipe Club participants are assigned a participating food blog from which we’re to make a recipe. It's a secret, so you can’t tell them you are making something from their blog! I was assigned Recipe Taster and chose Alessio’s recipe for Cuban Picadillo. I was intrigued that a Sicilian man living in Bonn, Germany would cook up a Cuban dish. Then that’s Alessio for you! He’s a scientist, an artist, a food blogger, and calls himself a Renaissance man – a perfect description for someone with his range of talents and interests.


But back to the food. I love picadillo, a traditional dish in Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I usually make my picadillo in the slow cooker with onions, apples, raisins and spices. However, I wanted to make a different version and Alessio’s picadillo recipe looked perfect. I loved that he used raisins, olives and potatoes in his dish. However, I had a problem - I didn’t have any green peppers or olives in the house.

Venison Chorizo Picadillo at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

So I improvised and replaced the peppers with celery, but thought the whole thing would fall apart without the olives. Instead, I decided to give the picadillo a Mexican flare by using chorizo, which I just happened to have defrosting in the refrigerator for our weekend breakfasts.

I used ground venison and chorizo made from venison, both of which are very lean. (Our game processor doesn’t add fat to the chorizo.) You can make this with lean ground beef or even ground turkey. If you don’t have a Hispanic grocery store in your area, spicy breakfast sausage is an OK substitution for the chorizo. Just remember to cook and drain the fat from whatever meat you use to cut back on the fat and calories.

My picadillo also features Muir Glen’s Fire Roasted Adobo Seasoned Petite Diced Tomatoes, which gave the dish a terrific smoky flavor. Unfortunately, Muir Glen doesn’t make it anymore. (I either got it at my “dented can” store or possibly through their Reserved Kit program.) A good substitute would be Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies.

Venison Chorizo Picadillo at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Venison Chorizo Picadillo

Based on Recipe Taster’s recipe for Cuban Picadillo and this Chorizo-beef Picadillo Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup onions, chopped into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon green chili sauce
  • 8 ounces chorizo (venison)
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground venison or very lean ground beef
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Muir Glen’s Fire Roasted Adobo Seasoned Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, potatoes and garlic and cook until onions start to brown and caramelize. Stir often and turn down heat if vegetables begin to burn. About 10 minutes.
  2. Add salt, cumin, oregano and green chili sauce. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add chorizo, breaking it up and stirring it into vegetables.
  4. When chorizo has browned, add the ground meat. Break up meat and stir into other ingredients.
  5. When meat has browned, add in the seasoned tomatoes. Stir to combine with other ingredients.
  6. Add raisins and stir to combine.
  7. Cover skillet and turn down heat to low.
  8. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Serve on top of rice.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: Makes approximately 6 cups - 8 servings
  • Serving size: 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 343
  • Calories from Fat: 183
  • Total Fat: 20.3g
  • Saturated fat: 7.4g
  • Unsaturated fat: 12.9g
  • Sodium: 532mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 13.1g
  • Sugar: 7.3g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Protein: 26.7g
  • Cholesterol: 94mg

Weight Watchers POINTS = 7

Weight Watchers POINTS = 5 for 1/2 cup of picadillo

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Healthy Super Bowl dishes: Beefy Squash and Zucchini Stew

taste of home ultimate ground beef cookbook If you’re looking for a healthy Super Bowl party dish that uses ground beef, you may be interested in making this dish since it feeds 16 and is only four Weight Watchers POINTS per serving.

It’s based on a recipe from Taste of Home: The Ultimate Ground Beef Cookbook, which is now out of print. It’s a terrific cookbook for anyone who has a freezer full of ground meat. Try your library or used book store to find a copy.

I made this last week for dinner. The kids loved it so much they asked for seconds. If you’re making it for supper, either halve it or freeze the leftovers for later.

Beefy Squash and Zucchini Stew

Serves 16

Prep time: 15 min. Cook time: 20 min.


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef, buffalo or venison
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium green peppers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 16 oz bags of frozen butternut squash
  • 3 small potatoes, diced
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen yellow squash and zucchini
  • 1 Tbsp of low sodium salt seasoning salt*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


  • In a large stew pot, cook ground beef, onions, green peppers and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Drain.
  • Add potatoes, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and cover and cook until potatoes are tender.
  • Add the tomatoes, butternut squash, yellow squash and zucchini, and seasonings. Heat through.
  • Serve in bowls and sprinkle with the cheeses before serving.

Nutritional information

  • Calories 234
  • Calories from Fat 61
  • Total Fat 6.8g 10%
  • Saturated Fat 3.2g 16%
  • Cholesterol 58mg 19%
  • Sodium 723mg 30%
  • Total Carbohydrates 20.7g 7%
  • Dietary Fiber 4.2g 17%
  • Sugars 6.9g
  • Protein 23.8g
  • Vitamin A 139%
  • Vitamin C 81%
  • Calcium 16%
  • Iron 18%

Nutrition Grade A from CalorieCount 

Weight Watchers POINTS = 4

*I used NutraSalt’s Robusto Adobo. Their Bold Chipotle would go well in this dish, too.


Disclosure: I was sent samples of NutraSalt’s products to try out.