Posts Tagged ‘ground beef’

Skip those individual, itty-bitty bags of Doritos and buy the bag with enough packaging air to inflate a bike tire. Here’s another ex-in-law recipe—it’s like hockey rink concession stand season in a casserole, minus the hockey stink drifting down the hallway!

The only changes I’ve made to this dish over the years is adding onion to the ground beef, a layer of taco sauce or salsa to juice it up a bit, and a smidge more sour cream and cottage cheese.

taco in a bag casserole

Here’s two more family favorite, ex-in-law recipes that lasted longer than my marriage: broccoli ranch salad and homemade Snickers bars.

Walking taco casserole (AKA Mexican hot dish from my ex-in-law Sue)

(Serves 8. You can easily cut this recipe in half.)

Medium or family size bag of nacho cheese flavored chips

2 pounds ground beef or sirloin

1/4 cup diced onion

2 packages taco seasoning

1 (16 ounce) sour cream

1 (24 ounce) cottage cheese

1 cup salsa or taco sauce

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Toppings of choice like shredded lettuce, black olives, sour cream, shredded cheese, taco sauce, tomatoes, etc.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Butter a 13×9 pan or similar size casserole dish.
  3. Brown hamburger with diced onion until cooked thoroughly. Add taco seasoning and cook according to package directions.
  4. In a bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese.
  5. Crush a few handfuls of nacho cheese chips into the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer crushed chips, 1/2 the meat mixture, 1/2 the salsa or taco sauce, 1/2 the sour cream mixture, and 1/2 the grated cheese into the buttered dish. Repeat layers and top with more crushed chips.
  6. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Garnish each serving with toppings of choice.
  8. Refrigerate leftovers.

This reminds me of a joke my kids (DO NOT) love when I tell: “What do you call cheese that’s not yours? Nach-o cheese!”

Cheesy wishes,



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The weather outside is never frightful when it comes to youth hockey season in the Midwest, especially when one of our teams has a two-week lull in their game schedule. And luckily for these guys (and their little sisters), their parents are as passionate about hockey and having fun as they are. So the First Annual Lake Campbell Winter Classic was established this January. And don’t be surprised if, after these kids are off to college, you’ll find us parents keeping the icy tradition alive. (Yes Ann, I just invited us to your house every January for the rest of our lives.)

Lake Campbell Lake Hockey 2015

First Annual Lake Campbell Winter Classic 2015 Photo courtesy of Ann Park

What does hockey have to do with chili? (Because I know you aren’t asking yourself what this has to do with beer.) Ann, our hostess, shared a scrumptious pot of chili at the party and even though I had to eat and run my daughter to hockey in Watertown, I kept thinking about how good it was to have a steamy bowl of chili topped with cheese, sour cream, and crunchy chips. So when I made a batch of Once a Month Beer Chili Spaghetti the next week, I eyed that meat mixture with beans and corn chips on my mind.

beer chili


Sure, I could have made my old staple, Make-it-your-way Rainy Day Chili but there’s just something about this addicting meat sauce.

Beer Chili

Recipe for beer chili spaghetti and/or beer chili meat mixture (makes approximately 4 cups):

2 pounds ground sirloin or lean ground beef

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons salt

1¾ teaspoons paprika

1¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1 tablespoon onion powder

1½ teaspoons garlic powder

¼ cup chili powder

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 12-ounce beer

If you are making a meal of beer chili spaghetti and a few meals of beer chili, make 12 ounces of spaghetti noodles and add some of the hot pasta water to the meat mixture and then use some of the leftover meat sauce to make chili. If you are making this meat sauce to make all chili, you’ll need to at least double the beans and tomato juice below. You only need to add pasta water to the portion you are using for spaghetti. 

To make the chili (very imprecise directions):

Take a cup or two of the beer chili meat mixture and add:

1 or 2 (15-ounce) cans red beans (drained)

1 or 2 (15-ounce) cans chili beans in chili sauce

Chili powder to taste

Cumin to taste

Tomato juice – I used part of a 46-ounce bottle. It depends on how much meat sauce you are using and how thick or juicy you like your chili.

Chili Toppings:

Sour cream

Corn chips

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat together the meat mixture, beans, and tomato juice. Add the additional chili powder and cumin if desired. When hot, serve with sour cream, corn chips, and shredded cheese. Store leftover chili in airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you are more in the mood for BBQs, make  BeerBQ Joes and put corn chips on top.

Icy & spicy wishes,


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There’s no name swapping when it comes to matters of the loose meat sandwich. Call them what you will – BBQs, sloppy Joes, taverns, loose meat sandwiches –loyalty to one over the rest is likely a reflection of your childhood days spent at church basement potlucks, drive-in cafés, and birthday parties where the main dish was served from a slow cooker. But it really comes down to the region where you grew up.

To add to the controversial list of loose meat sandwiches, I used tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and beer to create a tangy, hearty meat sauce meant for a bun. So is born, and will forever be known from my tiny southwest corner of Minnesota – the BeerBQ Joe.

BeerBQ Joe Taverns - BBQs with beer

Here’s my (Eastern South Dakota roots) take on the meaty sandwiches:

BBQs – this is what we grew up with my mom making. We still say, “I’ll make the BBQs,” for a party. Mysteriously, there isn’t any BBQ sauce in the recipe. Just tomato sauce or soup and ketchup. Catsup? That’s another story.

Sloppy Joes – I’m still afraid this might imply Manwiches, which remind me of “those” kids whose moms made these for birthday parties and it almost always meant there were green flecks in my meat. And the funny dads stuck Cheetos in their ears.

Taverns – I had never heard of taverns until about four years ago when someone at work mentioned them. She grew up in Beresford, S.D. That’s only 89 miles south on I-29 from where I grew up. But…it’s only 46 miles from Yankton, S.D. which according to South Dakota Magazine’s Laura Johnson, proper taverns ought not include anything from a tomato. You must read her article, “The Humble Tavern” and all the comments that follow to get to the heart of people’s steadfast beliefs about taverns. A recipe and story about taverns on Food.com seem to corroborate a comment made by Julie Simpson in Laura’s tavern story – Ye Olde Tavern in Sioux City, Iowa just might be the birth place of taverns in the early 50s.

Loose meats – I just figured these were sandwiches with cooked ground beef and onions and seasonings. Or just deli meat sandwiches. I didn’t really know.

BeerBQ Joes

Make 12 servings (recipe can easily be halved or doubled) 

2 lbs (85-90% lean) ground beef

1/2 cup diced onion

1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)

1 cup (8 ounces) BBQ sauce (use a spicy sauce for more heat)

1 cup (8-ounce can) tomato sauce

2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces dark beer (I use Shiner Bock, just like in my Once a Month Beer Chili Spaghetti)

Buns or garlic toast, cheese slices, dill pickles

In a medium pan, brown ground beef with onions and garlic until the meat is cooked through, breaking meat into pieces. Drain the grease. Add the next 7 ingredients (BBQ sauce through the pepper), stirring to combine. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Pour in beer. Stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Serve on buns, sandwich bread, pretzel rolls, toasted garlic bread, pita bread, etc. Top with cheese and pickles.

Cover leftover BeerBQ tightly and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.


What’s perfect for dessert? Peanut Butter Pie.

peanut butter pie for mikey

Where do your loyalties lie? BBQs? Taverns? Sloppy Joes? Loose meats? BeerBQ Joes?

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It’s a question we ask before almost every family get-together. Between my sisters, my mom, and me, one of us makes an abundant batch (with the hopes of leftovers) of our family’s thick and velvety taco dip.

Remember to grab a couple of bags of your favorite tortilla chips.

Taco dip | Random Sweetness Baking

Taco Dip

2 pounds (32-ounce box) Velveeta

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

2 (10-ounces each) cans chili with no beans

1-1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef, browned with diced onion or onion flakes

Into a large saucepan over low heat, cut the Velveeta and cream cheese into cubes and melt together. Stir in the chili until thoroughly mixed and melty. Briskly fold in the browned hamburger. Serve hot with tortilla chips. Place in a crockpot if not serving immediately.

Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

You can melt this dip in the microwave but I’ve found it’s creamier, without white chunks of cream cheese, if I melt it low and slow on the stove top.

For a smaller batch of taco dip:

1 pound Velveeta

4 ounces cream cheese

1 10-ounce can chili with no beans

1 pound ground beef, browned with diced onion or onion flakes

Follow directions above.

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I’m not sure if I even had cumin in my spice cupboard before I found this recipe for Beer Chili Spaghetti. But now I keep an extra bottle on hand. I talk about this meal often; I seriously crave the spicy spaghetti at least once a month, so I’ve shared the recipe with a few friends. And since I still owe some people the recipe, I’m sharing the link for everyone to enjoy.

Get the recipe for Beer Chili Spaghetti from The Enchanted Cook’s blog. Please note: I do not use 1/2 cup of chili powder as listed in the recipe. I probably only use 1/4 cup at the most, maybe even less. Measure to your liking. For the beer, you can use any dark beer you like, but make sure it’s a dark beer. I also add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to the sauce.

May your bowl be as empty as mine.


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It was a cold and rainy morning when our construction crew arrived for rebuilding day #1. First on their agenda – build us a garage before the sometimes light and fluffy, but usually blinding and brutal, Minnesota snow flies. When I brought the guys warm cinnamon coffee cake straight from the oven, my dad said to them, “You’ll gain 10 pounds working here.” What a great way to be introduced to strangers! I knew we’d picked the right crew when one of the guys commented back, “That’s ok, winter’s almost here!” I just have to be careful not to make them too comfortable or they’ll still be here when the flowers bloom in the spring.

The coffee cake recipe is from Taste of Home. I added a few teaspoons of vanilla to intensify the flavor of the yellow cake, and I didn’t make the icing; not for any particular reason, other than I know the cake is moist and flavorful without it. (You may notice that the recipe on the Taste of Home website says to bake 30-35 minutes but both times I made it this week, I noticed that even in my convection oven, the cake took 45 minutes or so to bake completely.)

The chili is a “throw in what you like” recipe so you can choose what types of beans and spices you use. This batch, perfect for the slow cooker, makes enough for six hungry guys, one hungry girl, and one serving for later. And because comfort food includes chocolate in my domain, I also made a batch of my Marshmallow Creme Crunch Brownies.

Beginning of rebuilding day #1.

End of rebuilding day #1.

You may be wondering why we are feeding our construction crew. The owner, Lyle Enger, and his crew are from Bigfork, Minnesota which is so many miles from here that they are close to the Canadian border. (As a food blogger, I think it would be awesome to live in a town called Bigfork!) Lyle is a long-time family friend of Jason’s and they know his work well. He owns, and built most of the Maple Ridge Resort on the edge of wilderness in northern Minnesota. (And don’t even get me started on owning a place with the word maple in it. Yum.) The crew is staying in a hotel 10 miles from our house so we felt that the least we could do is feed them lunch each day.  

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Make-it-Your-Way Rainy Day Chili

3 pounds ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained and rinsed

2 (15-ounce) cans chili beans with sauce

2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

3 (46-ounce) cans tomato juice

BBQ sauce, approximately 1/4 cup

a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

a couple tablespoons of prepared yellow mustard

cayenne pepper

salt & pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

ground cumin

hot chili powder

onion salt

1 tablespoon or so of brown sugar

Let’s make the chili!

Season the ground beef with onion salt (to taste) and cook with chopped onion until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Put the beef in the slow cooker and add all the beans and the tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard and Worcestershire (all to taste), stirring to combine. Add the can of tomato juice and then add the spices. This truly is a “make-it-your-way” recipe so add any spices or sauces you like. I’ve also been known to add steak sauce and hot pepper sauce. Stir all the ingredients until well combined. Cook until piping hot. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced red onions.

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What kinds of beans and spices do you use in your homemade chili?

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