Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos with Veggies & Black Beans

The Recipe: What a quick supper! Just cook the beef in the slow cooker (no browning!) with pantry ingredients, then toss together a quick sauté of vegetables and black beans. Add some diced avocado and sour cream. Gorgeous!

The Conversation: The lesson I've learned from chefs about pantry ingredients.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos, what a quick supper, recipe, tips, nutrition, WW pts at Kitchen Parade.
Easy Summer Recipes
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published every summer since 2009.
Watch for new 'summer easy' recipes all summer long.
With a free e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

As of this month, I’ve written 175 weekly columns for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrangling home-cook friendly recipes from restaurants.

Column by column, the weeks fly by, the years too. And week after week, I fall in love with a brand-new place, its chef, its food and most especially its story.

Every week, that one place is my new favorite. I want to eat there! I want everyone else to eat there too! The next week? It happens all over again with still another new place.

(Okay, yes, there are a few clunkers and some times the owner and I just don’t connect. But it’s more rare than one might think. And I like to think that readers never know, discerning nothing between the lines.)

One big lesson? Ingredient management. Chefs are trained to have at least two menu items for any ingredient kept on the shelf. And boy, did this common restaurant practice work out here in my own kitchen.

Two Pantry Ingredients in Two Recipes: Salsa and green chiles.

Recipe #1: Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole, it’s so handy to make this on a whim, I keep the key ingredients on hand.

Recipe #2: Slow Cooker Shredded Beef, what an easy supper, I will definitely make this again!

ALANNA’S TIPS
SHREDDED BEEF The beef is good enough on its own, great texture and flavor, nice to have on hand (and I suspect, to freeze) for impromptu beef sandwiches. Regular readers know I’m no fan of slow cookers, finding inconsistent and unreliable, no matter the model. This recipe works, even for me! It’s because there’s so much liquid in the pot that there’s little risk of the meat burning. Still, I’d never leave a slow cooker unattended for more than an hour or two but that’s just me. Yes, that’s raw beef that’s dropped into the slow cooker. Yippee, no browning! For meat seasoning, use one of those blends that collect in the spice cupboard. For our taste, mild salsa is perfect and the green chiles are quite mild as well. These add flavor more than heat.

VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS This is a great combination, as written, but feel free to adapt based on what vegetables you like and have on hand. Do dice everything quite small, it’ll be easier to spread on the tacos.

TACOS I’d intended to fold the shredded beef and veggies into burritos but found whole-wheat tortillas way too stiff for folding even when warmed. Tacos it would be! You can warm one or two tortillas in the microwave, just 10 or 20 seconds will do it. For more, wrap a stack of tortillas in foil, heat in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. With the leftovers, I used corn tortillas to make a slightly different version of my total favorite Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda), warmed in the oven on a blazing-hot cast iron griddle, the grill would work too. Awesome good!
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite quick-supper style recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF TACOS
with VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS

Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Time to table: 5 hours
Makes 3 cups Shredded Beef and 3-1/2 cups Veggies & Beans, enough for about 9 tacos
    SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • 2 tablespoons meat seasoning (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
  • 1 onion, diced fine
  • 1 15-ounce jar salsa
  • 1 4-ounce can green chiles
  • 2/3 cup water
    VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, minced
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 large tomato, diced or 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Shredded Beef Cooking Liquid
  • Salt & pepper
    PER TACO
  • 1 whole-wheat tortilla, warmed
  • 1/3 cup hot Shredded Beef
  • 1/3 cup hot Veggies & Black Beans
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped green onion
  • Sour cream

SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF Stir uncooked meat and remaining ingredients together in a slow cooker. Cook on high for two hours. Stir and cook for another two hours on high. Lift meat from slow cooker. There will be almost 3 cups of liquid in the slow cooker; leave one cup in the slow cooker, set aside the rest for the Veggies & Black Beans. With two forks, shred the meat and return it to slow cooker, stirring into the one cup cooking liquid. Cook for another 30 minutes or so on high while cooking the Veggies & Black Beans.

VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high until shimmery, stir in onion, garlic, jalapeno and zucchini as they’re prepped, cook just until turning color. Stir in tomato, black beans and cumin, then the leftover cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.

PER TACO Spread Shredded Beef on a tortilla, top with Veggies & Black Beans. Sprinkle with avocado and green onion, serve with sour cream on the side.

NUTRITION INFORMATION
FYI for accuracy, I’m separating the nutrition information for readers, some will use only the Shredded Beef, others only the Veggies & Black Beans, etc. In addition tortillas vary widely-widely in calories, fat and carbs depending on the size, the brand, their own ingredients: there’s no guessing what you might choose.

SLOW COOKER SHREDDED BEEF ONLY Per 1/3 cup (assumes 2/3 salsa and chiles used with Veggies & Black Beans): 178 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 65mg Cholesterol; 153mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 21g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4, WW PointsPlus 4

VEGGIES & BLACK BEANS ONLY Per 1/3 cup (assumes 2/3 salsa and chiles from Slow Cooker Shredded Beef): 100 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 318mg Cholesterol; 318mg Sodium; 18g Carb; 4g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1.5, WW PointsPlus 3
Slow Cooker Shredded Beef adapted from Never Enough Thyme, a favorite food blog!

I also use the Slow Cooker Shredded Beef to make a beef version of Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau). So good! Great party food!


More Mexican-Style Recipes for Casual Meals

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda) Grilled Steak with Summer Tomato Salad Pork & Poblano Skillet with Creamy Slow-Cooker Beans
~ more Mexican recipes ~

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© Copyright 2014 & 2015 Kitchen Parade



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Zucchini Spiral “Noodle” Salad

The Recipe: An oh-so-easy but seductive zucchini salad, made 'sexy' with spiral zucchini noodles which are taking the world by storm as a low-carb, whole-food pasta-like but grain-free noodle. Low carb, just 1 Weight Watchers point, gluten-free, paleo. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Did I mention irresistible?

The Conversation: My discovery of new-style Finnish food, thanks to Finnish food blogger and cookbook author Mari Moilanen.

Zucchini Spiral 'Noodle' Salad, fresh, light, low-carb, gluten-free, paleo, vegan. Recipe, tips, nutrition, WW points at Kitchen Parade.
Easy Summer Recipes
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published every summer since 2009.
Watch for new 'summer easy' recipes all summer long.
With a free e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

Trends pass, sensibilities change, styles go out of date. Cuisines too are less than timeless, constantly evolving, melding, shape-shifting.

Take my experience with Finnish food. Sure, I lived in Finland and I l-o-v-e-d the food, especially the fish, the cheese and yogurt, the pastries. But that was way back in the 1970s (yikes!) and while that year as an exchange student may still feel almost-like-yesterday and while I've been back several times, I always looked to revisit almost forty-year old experiences.

Call it a culinary revelation, then, to spend a week in Helsinki just before Midsummer. What a contemporary 2014-style Finnish food experience! It started with the oh-so-beautiful food prepared by Mari Moilanen for the weekend Photography-Styling Workshop I attended.

Mari has an easy-breezy style that I really love: fresh and seasonal, simple but surprising. Mari blogs in Finnish at Jotain Maukasta [translation: Something Tasty] and in English at, you guessed it, right? Something Tasty. Mari also has a cookbook coming out this fall: it won't be in English so aiii, if only my Finnish were still good enough to read even a cookbook without constant references to a long-tattered Finnish-English dictionary!

But let's start with Mari's zucchini salad, one she tossed together for an outdoor picnic. Is it typically Finnish? Maybe not, not old-style Finnish anyway. But certainly it fits a global, new-style Finnish food.

Besides #1: It was the very first thing I made when we first got home from Finland!

Besides #2: It got me to finally unbox the spiralizer purchased two years ago but never once yet used. Trust me, it's gotten some exercise ever since, I keep making this salad – and other zucchini noodle dishes – again and again!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite zucchini "noodle" recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

ZUCCHINI SPIRAL "NOODLE" SALAD

Real Food. Vegan. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Paleo.
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 4
    ZUCCHINI "NOODLES"
  • 1 medium-size or 2 small-ish zucchini, about 14 ounces/400g
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, about 5 ounces/140g, quartered
  • Fresh mint leaves, snipped small with scissors
    LIME VINAIGRETTE
  • Zest & juice (about 1 tablespoon) of a lime
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper

ZUCCHINI NOODLES Trim off the stem and blossom ends on the zucchini. For short noodles, with a small knife, cut into the zucchini lengthwise to the center, this makes for "short" and more easily eaten. (For long noodles, skip this step. Kids love long noodles!) Use a spiralizer to cut the zucchini into noodles. Collect in a bowl with tomatoes and fresh mint.

LIME VINAIGRETTE Mix all ingredients.

COMBINE About 30 minutes before serving, stir together Zucchini Noodles and Lime Vinaigrette. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to let flavors meld and noodles soak up some vinaigrette.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Cut the Zucchini Noodles up to a few hours before serving, just collect them with the tomatoes in a serving bowl and refrigerate. Make the Lime Vinaigrette ahead of time too. About 30 minutes before serving, toss the Zucchini Noodles, Lime Vinaigrette and fresh mint.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes 4 servings: 71 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 12mg Sodium; 10g Carb; 2g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW Points Plus 2. CALORIE COUNTERS For a 50-calorie serving, divide into 6 servings (1g protein).

Spiralizers: Sexy-Sexy Zucchini "Noodles"


Making zucchini noodles with a spiralizer. Recipe, tips, nutrition, WW points at Kitchen Parade.

Zucchini "noodles" aren't pasta but they're surprisingly fun! There are several spiralizer brands but I am most happy with this one from Paderno World Cuisine.

SIZE The spiralizer is about a foot wide, a foot tall, something less than a foot deep. Yes: BIG for a small kitchen. It doesn't pack easily, I'm glad I kept its box. It's quite light and sits easily on the counter.

HOW IT WORKS (left photo) Just attach the zucchini and wind the handle while gently pressing the zucchini toward the pile of noodles collecting at the far end.

WASTE (upper right photo) You'll end up with a strange-looking core. It's not really waste -- just eat it! Cook's treat!

ONE LOOOOONG NOODLE (lower right photo) The spiralizer makes one loooong noodle, really fun but hard to eat! You can fix this two ways. First, just run a knife through the noodles after they're in the bowl, lickety split. Second, before using the spiralizer, run a knife lengthwise along the zucchini, cutting to the center but no more, this technique yields nice, neat noodles of the same size, not quite so fun so still, kinda cool!

BLADES The Paderno model I use has three blades but so far I've only used the "small" noodle. The blades are very-very-VERY sharp, I've had a couple of bad cuts while cleaning the blades. Really, do take care.

CLEANING It does wash quite easily, just a rinse under running water but some zucchini does get stuck in the blade, it takes a little work (not hard or time-consuming) to get it out.


More of Mari Moilanen's New-Style Finnish Cuisine


Photo collage from photography workshop attended in Helsinki in 2014

"HelsinkiFoto 2014" was a two-day photography workshop in Finland's capital city of Helsinki taught by Dutch professional photographer Simone Van den Berg (front left) who also blogs at Simone's Kitchen and the talented, effervescent Meeta Wolff (front center) of What's for Lunch, Honey. On a personal note, it was a total thrill and a very emotional first-hello to meet Meeta in person! We've been "friends" since the very early days of food blogging. She says that I left the very first comment on her blog!

Finnish food blogger and cookbook author Mari Moilanen (front right) of Jotain Maukasta and Something Tasty made the local arrangements and, lucky for the participants, prepared the food for our cameras and our healthy appetites! On the second day, she laid out an outdoor picnic to practice our new-found photography inspiration. There was a lovely, lovely lemon cake too, it was blogged by a fellow Finn who lives in Dubai, the irrespressible Minna Herranen who blogs at NakedPlate, gorgeous! I have my eye on this cake!


More Recipes for Summer Zucchini

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Shredded Zucchini with Thyme Mediterranean Eggplant Jerusalem Turkey Burgers with Zucchini
~ more zucchini recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade


Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)





© Copyright 2014 Kitchen Parade