Spicy Beef with Potatoes

You’d think I could have come up with a more creative name for this dish, but no. I kind of dropped the ball in that department. However, there’s a lot of flavor in there and in no way is it boring! If you can think of a better name to jazz it up, I’m open to suggestions. This was one of those dishes that came together when I had no plan and not a lot of ingredient options, but I wanted something spicy. It’s just good ol’ comfort food with a little kick that comes from the chipotle chile in adobo. I’ve made it several times now and luckily wrote my recipe down after I made it the first time. (Psst…This is another tasty addition for a Cinco de Mayo feast!)

Spicy Beef with Potatoes (until we can think of a better name!)
Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef (you can substitute ground turkey)
1 teaspoon cumin
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup (+ more if needed) chicken broth
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt & pepper, to taste
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped (see note in instructions)
1 teaspoon dried cilantro (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro added in at the end)
1 – 15oz. can cut green beans, or 15 oz. fresh or frozen green beans (see note in instructions)
1 tablespoon green onion, chopped

Instructions:
1. Brown ground beef (or ground turkey) over medium high heat in a deep skillet and season with salt and pepper. Drain off excess fat.
2. Add 1 teaspoon cumin and stir into the beef to combine.
3. Add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato paste (enough to coat the meat). I like to buy the tomato paste in the tube. Keeps for a long time in the fridge and you don’t waste any like you sometimes do with the little cans.
4. Add in the 1 cup of chicken broth* and the peeled and cubed potatoes. Season the potatoes with a little salt.
5. Add in the chopped up & seeded chile in adobo. You buy these in the international section of your grocery store and they come in a can, usually marked Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce. They pack a good punch so you only need one. If you like a LOT of heat, you can add another one. Just don’t add the whole can! Take a little bit of the sauce with it when you add it to your beef mixture.
6. If you are using dried cilantro, add it in now. Wait until the end for fresh cilantro. If you are using fresh or frozen green beans, add them now. Stir everything to combine well.
7. Cover and simmer over low to medium heat until the potatoes are tender and mixture has thickened up. If you are using canned green beans, add them about halfway through the cooking time. (I really don’t care for canned veggies but for some reason canned green beans taste good to me in soups and stews like this. Don’t judge. I usually keep a can on hand for times when I throw stuff together…)
*Stir occasionally throughout cooking time and add in little splashes of chicken broth as needed. You don’t want the mixture to dry out and the potatoes need moisture to cook. However, you don’t want it to be runny when it’s finished.
8. When it’s ready, add the chopped green onions and fresh cilantro.

So does this sound good to you? Or am I alone in my love for this spicy dish with a boring name? You’ll let me know I’m sure. 🙂

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Sparkling Kids’ Sangria

I’ve been focusing on Cinco de Mayo ideas this week — so here is one that’s perfect for the little fiesta guests! Though I am calling it Sparkling Kids’ Sangria, adults will enjoy it as well, especially on a hot summer day.

Sparkling Kids’ Sangria
Ingredients:
1 orange – sliced, and remove any seeds
2 limes – sliced, and remove any seeds
4 cups cherry juice (like Juicy Juice brand)
4 cups lemon-lime soda

Put the fruit slices in the bottom of a pitcher. Pour in the juice and the soda. Stir gently and serve over ice. Garnish with a lime slice if desired. Makes 8 – 1 cup servings.

{You can use other juice flavors if you want…but I suggest something red and naturally flavored. If you prefer ginger ale, you can use that in place of the lemon-lime soda.}

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
~Micha

Mango & Jicama Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

If you like mango, lime, and crunch – this salad is for you! It’s so refreshing and perfect for a summer gathering. It also makes a nice and sweet accompaniment to a spicy Cinco de Mayo meal. Melt-in-your-mouth sweet mangoes, crunchy jicama, and cool cucumbers are dressed with a light honey lime vinaigrette. I wish you could taste this right now!

Have you ever had jicama? It’s a root vegetable that looks like a turnip, but it’s sweet and crisp. When you cut it, it resembles a potato, but it is sweeter. I told my kids it’s like if a potato and an apple (or a pear?) got married and had a baby, that’s what it tastes like. I don’t know if I would use it very often, but it’s perfect in this salad. It adds a really nice crunch and compliments the soft, juicy mango. Look for one that is firm and dry, and do not put it in the refrigerator until after you cut it.

Now, let’s see how this salad comes together. You will need a blender or a small food processor to make the vinaigrette (unless you have mad whisk skills), and a zester to grate some lime zest. I found this recipe in an old Family Fun magazine and I adapted it slightly to suit my taste.

Here are some tips on cutting up your mangoes. I love using my mango slicer to get the pit out. It can be tricky because the pit is a weird, oblong shape and I used to hack my mangoes all up trying to find it!

An easy way to cut the mango is to make slices one way and then the other, but not cutting all the way through the skin.

Then peel it back…and take your knife and slice off the cubes from the skin.

Mango & Jicama Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
2 ripe mangoes
1 medium jicama
1 medium cucumber
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2 or 3 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
Zest from one lime
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup canola oil
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
Peel the mangoes, jicama, and cucumber and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Throw them all in a big bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of lime juice into the blender. Add the zest from one lime and the 3 tablespoons honey. Start up the blender on low speed, and slowly drizzle in the 1 cup of canola oil. You want to thicken it up…and it will look almost white when it’s ready. Add a pinch of salt.
{Now, I was thinking that the 1 cup of oil seemed like too much oil, but when I tasted the vinaigrette with only 1/2 cup, it was way too tart. It really needs the whole cup to taste right, but what I did was add only enough of the vinaigrette to coat the salad and did not use the whole thing. You can add as much or as little as you like.}
Pour the desired amount of the honey lime vinaigrette over the mangoes, jicama, and cucumbers. Toss to coat. Can be served immediately or refrigerated to let the flavors combine.

Happy Jicama Hunting!
~Micha