The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Karen's Kitchen

February 15, 2012

Ground Beef Primer

TARBORO — From time to time, I receive requests for articles and recipes on a specific topic. I have received several of those lately and will be trying to incorporate them as I can find the info and recipes. One recent one was for beef recipes. With the cost of food lately, inexpensive beef is a great meal make.

When purchasing ground beef, keep in mind that even though the leaner ground beef is a little more expensive, it continues to be economical to purchase. If the amount of fat in the cheaper ground beef is factored in, the volume of usable meat is reduced when the fat renders out. Buying ground chuck or round creates less waste and a healthier meal.  If the whole chuck roast, top sirloin or round steak is on sale, buy the whole thing and grind it yourself in the food processor.

There are lots of standard uses for ground beef. The backyard barbeque is probably the most common and the easiest. Throw a burger on the grill, slam it on a bun and there you have it, quick culinary pleasure. To make a simple hamburger on the grill a great burger it takes some planning and forethought. You need to season the burger for the best taste. You can do that many ways, add some chopped onion, minced garlic, bell pepper or other spices and your basic burger goes way up the taste scale with a minimum amount of effort.

However, there are many other preparation methods for ground beef. Here are a few good and easy recipes.

The first is Shepherd’s Pie. It’s easy, cheap and delicious! What could be better.

The second is beef stew. This one is cooked in the slow cooker, so it can be cooking while you are at work and then dinner is a snap.

The last recipe is beef stuffed squash. This is a fun way to use squash and it’s tasty and easy to make.

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Karen's Kitchen
  • t-bone.jpg Reductions add zip to flavor

    When I cook, I often don't have a lot of time to spend making exotic meals, so I decided that I want to get more for less. In cooking that often means reductions. It’s amazing how the taste of something can change just by cooking it down until most of the liquid is gone. Reductions are so ridiculously easy that I often ask myself why I don’t use them more often. They also keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
    When creating reductions, it’s important that the ingredients be good quality. Concentrating a flavor that was mediocre to begin with changes it from mediocre to terrible. That particularly applies to wines, oils and vinegars. Buy the best that you can afford and don’t use anything that you wouldn’t want to taste alone.
    It’s also important to cook the reduction sauce moderately and until it reduces to a thick, syrupy consistency. It doesn’t take very long, but don’t be in a hurry or it will burn.

    March 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • Cheese-Fondue-Bread-2.jpg Great Fondues

    My husband and I love to entertain. We also love fondue. There is no more fun way to surprise guests with a great meal than to fondue. I have 4 or 5 fondue pots. I use them regularly.
    There are several ways to fondue. You can make the dessert fondue and I have a great chocolate fondue recipe below. Another fondue option is to have a cheese fondue for a starter before the meal or at a party.
    The last fondue option is to make the main course the fondue. With this option you can use either wine, a broth or oil for the fondue. I alternate usually between the broth and the oil. Sometimes I use peanut oil and sometimes I use canola oil. I don’t generally use vegetable oil because it has a lower smoke point.
    The first recipe is my wine fondue. The important thing to remember is to use a good white wine. Never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t serve to guests. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be a table wine. You can play with the spices to find the taste that you like.

    February 26, 2013 1 Photo

  • Cafe-Mocha.jpg How to Make Knock off Latte's and more...

    One of my weaknesses is Starbuck's Grande latté with 3 packets of Splenda. However, I live in a small town, like Tarboro, that doesn't have a Starbucks and I'm a cheapskate and don't want to spend that kind of money on a regular basis.  The answer to that is to learn to make your own. Obviously I am not the only one who has that I idea as I found recipes all over the internet. Many of the called for buying expensive equipment. If I have to do that, I might as well drive to Starbucks. So, these recipes don't require anything except blenders and pots. In a few cases they require a little patience. Find me on Facebook and let me know what you think!

    February 6, 2013 3 Photos

  • french onion.jpg Soup's On

    Even though the weather has been very warm lately, it will be cold again soon. When the cold comes back, it will be soup time. Of course, any time can be soup time! We love soup around our house.
    Our first recipe is ham and potato soup. It's a simple soup but will smell good and taste even better.
    The second soup is my all-time favorite - French Onion. I love it with a good gooey cheese on top. It's not a hard soup to make, so give it a try.
    The third is potato and cheddar. That's a hardy soup but will become one of your favorites. It also has ham so it's almost the same as the first soup but with cheddar cheese.
    The last soup is a leftover or potluck soup with pasta in it. This recipe makes 20 servings so you will have some to freeze or share!
    When winter rolls back around, enjoy the cold with one of these soups.

    January 16, 2013 2 Photos

  • 11240_aPO.jpg Craving Comfort

    Comfort food is different for everybody, but the deep satisfaction each mouthful brings is the same. To warm the body and the soul on a chilly day, give your favorite comfort foods a delicious makeover with recipes that use Wisconsin-made Grand Cru Gruyere cheese. Gruyere is a great melting cheese with lots of flavor, which means you get more flavor in every bite.

    October 3, 2012 3 Photos

  • crockpot zucchini.jpg Crockpot Sweet Things

    If you stay busy, your crockpot can be your best friend.  Even for dessert. These recipes take 2-3 hours to cook in your crockpot, so they can be cooking away while you are enjoying little league games or t-ball.

    September 26, 2012 2 Photos

  • rum ribs.JPG Cooking with Rum

    A few weeks ago, a colleague went to Jamaica. He came back with bottles of Rum for our team. A very nice gesture and of course that made me start looking for rum recipes! There are a lot of them out there. Here are a few that I really liked and that I think you will enjoy too.

    September 5, 2012 2 Photos

  • grilled-salmon.jpg Bounty of the Sear

    I'm currently working in Charleston. Probably until about the end of November. Of course that means great seafood. I can go down and buy it within a few hours of it coming off the boats. I love it! There is absolutely nothing that I love more than good seafood. Besides, I need the Omega 3's that come from eating seafood. So do you!

    August 22, 2012 2 Photos

  • butternut squash puree.jpg Butternut Squash is easy and delish!

    My garden is beginning to fade away! It's hard to believe that summer is so close to being a memory. I'm not ready! But, one of the things that I love about the end of summer is harvesting my winter squash. This season we planted butternut squash. We vary what we plant each season.

    August 15, 2012 2 Photos

  • Cool Summer Drinks

    It has been sooo hot! I guess that we are paying for the mild winter that we had. I know I felt that heat here in Charleston, where I'm working right now. So, when it feels like 110 in the shade, it's a great time to cool down with icy cold and delicious summer drinks. Especially since you can find fresh fruit to go in them right now!

    August 1, 2012

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