Queso Pasta Bake

Queso Pasta Bake really means cheese sauce and more cheese on top!  This is basically a beefed up mac and cheese recipe – literally – it has beef in it 🙂  I am a sucker for pasta dishes.

Ingredients.  It looks like a lot, but it really is an easy dish to make

Beef and tomatoes all cooked up and ready to be mixed

Cheese Sauce (I was gonna show you the pasta next, but who wants to see plain cooked pasta?  Although, it is curly pasta which is always fun.

All mixed up and ready for more cheese!

Cheeese!  Or should I say Queeeeso!

All baked and lovely

This made 8 HUGE servings for me.  So large, I am contemplating giving some servings away.  I liked this.  It isn’t as cheesy as a normal mac and cheese, but it is definitely in there.  I think it could use a little more seasoning, though.  It has a tablespoon of cumin and I added who knows how much garlic, but I still couldn’t taste any of it.  The salsa and rotel contribute some flavor, so it isn’t bland.  Next time, I am going to add some spice and maybe do the cheese sauce at 1.5 recipe.  Using both the rotel and salsa adds a few too many tomatoes for me.  Just one would suffice.  I would probably go for the salsa before the rotel next time because I always have it in my fridge and it has more ingredients than the rotel.  Definitely looking forward to making this again.


Enchilada Pasta Casserole

Because I can’t get enough baking in the southern heat, I decided to make this recipe.  I was originally going to make chicken with mac and cheese, but I didn’t have the ingredients I needed in the house.  Since I am being QUITE lazy today, I needed something else today.  Something easy and this just fit the bill.

Ingredients – I used just some taco seasoning instead of the three listed in the recipe (did I mention I was lazy?).  I also had to measure the ground beef after it was cooked because it was frozen.  I didn’t want to wait for it to thaw, so I threw it in the pan (see a pattern?).

About to mix everything.  There are no pictures after mixing, because I am telling you – it is GROSS looking.  I am not saying it tastes gross, but is not a photogenic bowl.

Ready to be baked


It didn’t look anything like the picture from the website when I served my plate


It was a simple, easy dish.  I, of course, forgot the salt and that was a notable missing element.  It would definitely be better with that element.  It isn’t a bad recipe, but it isn’t something I would see myself making often.  Maybe it was because I used taco seasoning instead of the listed seasonings, but it just didn’t make me sit up and notice.

Slow cooker beef

I am not sure what else to call this.  I kind of whipped it up on my own (crazy, I know!).  I don’t have pictures of the ingredients.  I just threw everything in the crock pot in the morning and ended up with this:

I shredded the meat and added some corn starch and water slush to thicken it up.

I also tasted and adjusted the salt at this point.  I also added some fresh ground pepper.  I read some where that if you are adding pepper to a dish, do it near the end or it gets bitter.  Normally, I don’t worry about it, but with something cooking this long, I didn’t want to risk it.

I let it cook for another 45 minutes on high to see if it would actually thicken – nope.  Added the beef back in and let it heat back up

I made some instant mashed potatoes (the horror) and spooned the beef over top.  I was going to have some other things with it, but I am just exhausted today.  And to demonstrate even further, I forgot to take a picture 😦

I made another of the same plate for lunch.  Tomorrow night, I want to try and make some shredded beef burritos.  My fave: no beans in sight 😀

I would try this again, but I would double all the seasonings and also make the gravy on the stove top.  I have so little experience with slow cookers, but I want to try to expand my skills.  I am not a fan of the idea of chicken and salsa, but I do have some roasted garlic salsa might work out pretty well.

Don’t worry, I will share it all with you.  🙂

Simply Steak

I am not a big beef eater.  I only have 8 posts tagged as beef on my blog and this just might be the best of them all.  The recipe from the last post inspired me.  I tried to think what would go the best with it.  First, I was thinking seafood.  Then, it hit me….STEAK!  After scouring the web for what type of steak to buy, asking on forums, I set out to buy one.  With my knowledge flying around my head, I stood in front of the meat case…..and picked one that looked good, forgetting to look at what it was.  Eh, the stomach wants what it wants.  Plus, it was the perfect size.  Less than a pound – perfect for just me.

All wrapped up looking pretty

In it’s raw glory

In the pan, seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

One side seared.  I honestly don’t know how long I cooked it for, but it wasn’t really long.  I was aiming for medium to medium rare and just went with my gut, I guess.  I think it took maybe 10 minutes total to cook?  Maybe 15 minutes?

All done!

After resting for 7 minutes, I sliced.  OMG – can you see that perfect color?

OMG – this was a wonderful meal.  The beef was perfectly cooked and it was SO tender.  It almost melted in my mouth!  I don’t know if it was the temperature it was cooked to or where I bought it from.  It was such a wonderful dinner (pic coming in the next post along with some sides).  It was definitely a pricy steak compared to what I normally buy, but if I eat it so rarely, why not do it right??

Shepard’s Pieish type recipe

I have no idea when I found this recipe.  It’s been in the arsenal for a bit of time.  I finally bought some ground meat to be able to make it.  I took a few shortcuts with it that made it a less labor intensive recipe

Ingredients (Forgot the potatoes).  The barley malt was a replacement for molasses.  The canned tomatoes and frozen onions stood in place for the fresh.  Quite frankly, I was feeling a little lazy and these were both cheaper options.

First things is to cook the potatoes.  The recipe called for 2 pounds.  This was a little under and was almost too much

And make mashed potatoes out of them.  The recipe called for the potatoes to me made with oil and the water the potatoes were boiled in.  That didn’t sound very good to me, how about you?  I decided to go ahead and make real mashed with milk, butter, and salt.  I mashed them with a hand masher instead of mixers so it would have a little more texture.

The onion gets cooked until softened and add the beef.  Next comes the tomatoes and everything gets cooked together

While that’s cooking, you make a sauce out of all the wet ingredients

Add that to the beef mixture for the base of the recipe.

This is another place I went different than the recipe.  It said to add the beef to a casserole dish and top with the potatoes before broiling.  I don’t know what your casserole dishes are like, but I am almost positive that mine say no broiler.  I decided to just use the skillet as a casserole dish.  I knew it would be fine in the oven since cast iron is used in direct fires (thank you cooking channels)

I used a fork and made some indentations in the potato so that it would look a little better after browning.

Close up and close up with a flash.  I am not sure which one looks better, but I liked them both.  Looking at them side by side like this, though, the one with the flash looks better
BPP_UpClose BPP_UpClose_Flash

I made it into an 8 serving cut because it is just easier for me to cut anything that way.  I ate it with a garlic cheddar biscuit.

I really liked the recipe.  It was a little sweet, but balanced by the potatoes very well.  I think adding some heat to the beef mixture would make this even better.  I am considering making my sloppy joe recipe as the base next time.  Something easy and even though it seems common, something I never would have thought of to start myself.  Sometimes the easy answerers aren’t always the ones that come to mind first.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

I’m going to tell you a secret – we never really had hamburger helper growing up.  I vaguely remember eating it once, but it was coupled with the flu and unpleasant circumstances.  My mother did a lot of cooking and we really didn’t eat too many boxed items.  Potatoes, maybe some mac and cheese (but not the powder kind).  I came across this and it seemed simple and quick with common ingredients.  I have made a couple recipes from the site that were wildly successfully, so I jumped in.

Ingredients.  I replace the elbows with some mini rotini.  I NEVER have elbows.  I don’t know why.  They just aren’t the one I always reach for when I am shopping.  Gimme twisty any day :).  I also ran out of paprika a while ago and I forgot.  I forged ahead because I am not sure what it adds to a dish – lol

Using the new cast iron dutch oven to cook it 🙂

Adding the seasonings.  Whenever I am adding seasoning to meat with liquid, I always add the dry first and make sure that it is evenly coated.  I know it doesn’t make much of a difference when this much liquid is added, but with tacos, it definitely makes a difference

Everything but the cheese added and waiting for the boil.  I originally was going to only add about 6.5 ounces of pasta because mine was smaller, but then it didn’t look like enough so I added more.  Thank goodness, too.

(can I just show you a really cook picture of the boiling???  😉 )

A picture of it right after the timer went off.  I cooked it for about 10 minutes.  8 probably would have worked, but the pasta was still good.

Added the cheese and mixed it all up.  I tasted it and it didn’t taste like enough cheese.  I added the rest of the bar and mixed it again.
HHH_Cheese HHH_Upclose

It was still missing something, but I couldn’t pin it down.  I put it in some containers – I got 6 cups easy, so I made it into 6 servings.

I started eating and was trying to figure what was missing.  It hit me – salt.  It needed more salt.  I added the whole abount in the recipe (for once), but it was just not enough.  It was an ok meal.  I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with the recipe, but it was more me.  I don’t think I ever eat beef with pasta unless it is mixed into a tomato sauce.  It’s just the fact that I don’t know what to expect with hamburger helper and I was expecting something different.  From what I remember, though, it does taste like it.  I actually may try this again, but use turkey dinner sausage.  I think that would be more my style.

PS – Any other bloggers out there have problems with coming up with names of posts?  I mean, I could always just use the recipe name, but that’s not always very interesting.  I couldn’t think of anything else to call this one, though, so recipe name it was.

Orange Beef – FINALLY!

I finally made the orange beef from forever ago.  I admit that I actually started it on Sunday and finished it last night.  There are a lot of ingredients for this, but that is the trend for all the recipes in the cookbook.  It still isn’t hard to make.

Ingredients – I know, I know, I need to buy regular sherry instead of the crappy cooking sherry, but I cannot find it for the life of me.  I didn’t think to check a wine store until after I already bought the crappy stuff – a decision I regretted later.

Marinade – Just cause it looks cool.  The orange is from the bean sauce – weird, right?

Ingredients for the cooking.  There was supposed to be only 8 pieces of the orange peel, but I kind of destroyed one peel.  Apparently, I need some sort of orange peeling class.  Only problem – I have no idea what to do with the oranges themselves!  I might have to make some cookies or something.

Ingredients for the sauce

I didn’t take any pictures of the sauce or the cooking ingredients combined because it just looked….brown.  Anything with dark soy sauce tends to only be brown.

Beef cooked – at this point, the recipe said to remove all but 3 tbsp of oil from the wok.  Seriously?  I never understood how people did that.  It’s boiling hot oil and you want me to try and measure some out?  I don’t think so!  I just dumped out enough that I thought it looked right and said “Good enough!!”

Frying orange peel.  Yep –  frying.

Beef and orange peel – see the liquid in the middle?  I wasn’t sure how much of that was oil and how much was goodness.  I was going to take it out but then, I actually tasted it and it was beefy – so I left it alone.



It was good, but not as mind blowing as I thought.  I blame most of it on the sherry,  The other thing was the meat.  It was kind of tough and stringy.  As much as it cost, I expected it to be great.  I even marinated it for about 3 days and it still wasn’t as good.  I made notes to try a different cut of beef and to replace the sherry with broth.  I was also thinking of trying it with chicken.  Definitely not with marinating for 3 days, though, You wouldn’t want it to turn to mush.  I wonder if I could just make the sauce and pour it over grilled chicken.