Flank Steak Tacos with Cilantro Lime Marinade

His mom has a tatoo that says, “Son”… When in Rome, they do as he does… If he says, it’s not you, it’s me. He’s lying… Anyone else always cracked up by the Dos XX most interesting man in the world commercials? I love them… 

Anyway, one thing those commercials always make think of is Mexican food. We love it in any form. Everything from simple ground beef tacos to the most elaborate enchiladas you can make. The recipe for these beauties comes from Laurie at Simply Scratch. She makes a great pico too! The tacos really require no more work that your average taco recipe. Only a little more time so that the meat has a chance to marinate. The result? Delicious, simple taco perfection. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Flank Steak Tacos with Cilantro Lime Marinade
From Simply Scratch 

2 lbs. flank or skirt steak
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lime, juiced 
1 garlic clove, smashed 
2 tsp. honey
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly removed from the stems
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Ancho-Chili powder (I just used regular)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
aluminum foil
10-12 soft flour tortillas
lettuce, shredded or chopped
Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated 

Pico de gallo:
4 roma tomatoes, seeds removed, diced small
1 small red onion, diced small
1 jalapeno pepper, diced finely
1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled and minced
3 green onions, white and green parts sliced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
pinch of Kosher salt
few grinds of black pepper 

For the marinade, in a mini food processor, place the cilantro, garlic, and lime juice and pulse quickly until chopped. Toss the remaining ingredients up to the tortillas into the food processor and pulse until combined. Place the steak and marinade in a ziplock bag and marinate on the countertop for 30 minutes. Be sure the meat is at room temperature before grilling. 

While the meat is marinating, combine all the ingredients for the pico de gallo. Toss to mix. Cover and place in the refrigerator while you finish the tacos. 

After 30 minutes, grill the steak for 6-10 minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Remove from the grill and cover with aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing so the juices in the meat can redistribute. Slice across the grain at a slight angle. Warm some flour tortillas, top with desired toppings, and serve with the pico de gallo.


Beef Taco Pizza

Just in time for the weekend, I have your next pizza recipe!

We actually first got the idea for a taco-type pizza after having a similar one from a pizza chain in Nebraska (Godfather’s anyone?) and have made several variations on that idea since then. It is a really simple idea. You just take your taco toppings and add them to a pizza crust instead of a taco shell. It may be even better than tacos because the bake time melts the cheese on the pizza 🙂

We went all out on our toppings including taco-seasoned ground beef, onion, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives, and cheddar cheese, but you could use any combination of ingredients here that you would add to your taco. Just swap the pizza sauce for taco sauce and remember to add the shredded lettuce after the bake time so that it doesn’t wilt. Adding the lettuce is a little different, but we love the texture and temperature difference that the colder lettuce adds to the hot pizza. Try it. I promise it’s good. Enjoy

(Printable Recipe) 

Beef Taco Pizza
Cookin’ Chemist original

1 pkg pre-made or portion of homemade pizza dough
1/2 cup taco sauce
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. homemade taco seasoning
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 bell pepper, any color, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1/2 head Romaine lettuce, shredded 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven while the oven warms up. 

Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough for a 12-14-inch pizza. Lightly flour the paper. Roll out or stretch out (using your hands) the pizza dough to your desired size. If it seems to shrink back after you stretch it, let it sit for a few minutes and try again. Set the crust aside. Brown the ground beef in a medium-sized skillet. Drain any fat, if necessary. Add the taco seasoning and mix well. Set aside. 

Spread the taco sauce over the dough. Top with ground beef, olives, pepper, onion, and tomatoes. Finish with the cheese. Transfer the pizza and the parchment paper to the hot pizza stone or other pizza pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust begins to brown and the cheese is melted. Cut and serve immediately. Top each individual slice with lettuce upon serving (If you have leftovers, the lettuce will not keep well on top of the slices. This is why we add it to each piece as we eat them).

SRC: Beef Empanadas with Black Bean Dipping Sauce

There have been some big changes to the Secret Recipe Club this month. In the 5 months of it’s existence, the blog group has grown enough that we are now divided into 3 segments – one managed by Amanda of Amanda’s Cooking, one by Tina of Mom’s Crazy Cooking, and one by Angela of Big Bear’s Wife. The group is really fun. Who doesn’t love getting to check out a new blog, new recipes, and having some air time for their own blog 🙂 Not only that, but Amanda has rolled out a great blog page for the group featuring recipes from each of the members. Sweet!

My blog assignment for this month was A Bountiful Kitchen. One of the things that I loved about her blog was the surplus of Mexican-themed recipes on her blog. We love Mexican and Southwest flavors here, so I had a really hard time choosing amongst her recipes. I kid you not, I have no less than 3 more enchilada recipes and a salsa recipe bookmarked to make at a future date. Of course, Mexican foods aren’t all you’ll find… I have frosted sugar cookie bars and a great lasagna bookmarked too 🙂

In the end, I choose these empanadas because they are something different from what we normally make. While they were new to me, I found the recipe quite easy. It is basically cooking the meat filling and folding it into purchased puff pastry (I suppose you could make your own, but I’m not quite that confident). I followed her recipe almost to a ‘T’ except that I added about a teaspoon of adobe sauce and a de-seeded chipotle pepper to the sour cream mixture to give it a little bit more kick. 

So how were they? Pretty awesome! I wouldn’t change a thing. We ate them for dinner, but I am sure they’d make a great addition to an appetizer spread for a party too. We also made the fresh, but I am thinking they would freeze pretty well to make a quick meal. Maybe freeze them just after assembly, but before baking? Then you could probably bake them right out of the freezer, just adding a couple of minutes. Either way, be sure to stop by A Bountiful Kitchen. I know I’ll be making more recipes from there!

(Printable Recipe)

Beef Empanadas with Black Bean Dipping Sauce
From A Bountiful Kitchen (Originally adapted from Bon Appetit)

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (17.3 oz) pkg. frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
2 large egg yolks, beaten for glaze

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 can (15 oz can) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded
1 tsp. adobo sauce
1 Roma tomato, seeded, chopped, divided
1 large green onion, sliced, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, chopped onion, and garlic; cook, stirring often and breaking into pieces with a wooden spoon until beef is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Add tomato paste, cumin, and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring often, to let flavors meld, about 4 minutes. Add cilantro; season to taste with salt and pepper. Let filling cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (optional – I have baking stones, so I skipped this step). Cut each pastry sheet into 4 equal squares for a total of 8 squares. Lightly brush the edges of each square with the yolk glaze. Spoon filling into the center of each, dividing equally. Fold edges over, forming triangles. Dip the tines of a fork into flour and crimp the edges of each triangle to seal. Divide triangles between baking sheets. Brush the tops with glaze. (Assembled empanadas can be prepared up to 6 hours prior. Cover and chill.) Bake until tops are puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the beans, sour cream, pepper, and adobo sauce in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Mix in half the tomato and half the green onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining tomato and green onion over the top. Serve with the baked empanadas.

Taco Ring

This might be the recipe that won me my husband. See, being from Nebraska, we both were (and are) huge Nebraska football fans since as far back as I remember. My husband and I actually met while we were both in high school, and it was at one of these Nebraska football parties where our relationship really began. Guess what dish my girlfriend and I had made to bring to the party 🙂

Story aside, we had both sadly forgotten about this recipe until my husband brought it up during my menu plan a couple months ago. While football season is still a few months out, it worked quite well as our main dish for the college basketball finals several weeks ago. One of the things I love about this dish is that it looks really impressive while still being really easy to make. If you can brown hamburger and chop vegetables, you can master this recipe. Besides game day, this recipe would also work great for backyard barbecues and graduation parties. The other thing I love. The taste. It really is all the taste of tacos in a more portable vehicle. What’s not to love? We certainly won’t be waiting as long to make this again. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Taco Ring
Recipe from the Dobbes

1/2 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
1 pkg. taco seasoning or homemade taco seasoning
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbsp. water
2 pkg. crescent rolls
1 medium green bell pepper (any color will work)
1/2 head lettuce, shredded
1 small onion, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 cup salsa
light sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine cooked meat, seasoning mix, cheese and water in a large bowl. Arrange crescent triangles in a circle on a 13″ round baking stone or other baking dish with bases overlapping in the center and points to the outside (there should be a 5″ diameter in the center). Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the meat mixture over the rolls. Fold the points of the triangles over the filling and pinch dough together at the center (filling will not be completely covered). Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

Using a v-shaped cutter or regular knife, but off the top of the bell pepper. Remove seeds. Shred lettuce and cube tomato. Chop onion. Place bell pepper in the center of the ring; fill with salsa. Mound lettuce, onion, tomato, and olives around the pepper. Garnish with sour cream. Slice with pizza cutter and enjoy.

Crispy Baked Taco Bowls

This one isn’t so much a recipe as it is a fun dinner idea to put a spin on a dinnertime staple. I saw saw these adorable shells over on Annie’s Eats several weeks ago and immediately bookmarked it because in college, one of the things I always liked about our Mexican buffet at the cafeteria (yes, I actually liked this cafeteria meal) was the taco bowls. I’m not going to lie. They’re cute. Better yet you can use the bowls to pile on all the toppings you want because let’s face it, I am one of those people that fills their taco shells too full and ends up needing a fork anyway.

We actually ended up making these on a night where we needed supper on the table NOW. They’re great because they require almost no preparation, are done in the time that it takes to make the taco meat/filling, and can also serve as chips if you discover that you’re out – this may or may not be from experience =)

Since it’s such a simple recipe and definitely not my idea, I am not going to repost the instructions. So, dig out that favorite taco recipe and head over to Annie’s eats to get started making those taco bowls. I’m sure your family will love them!

Jack-o-lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers


I hope you are all having a great Halloween! I know these are a little late for anyone to really enjoy this year, but I thought they were way too cute to wait a whole year to post! The family I’m staying with in Nebraska has a 6-year old boy, so we enjoyed these for our Halloween feast tonight before he left to go trick-or-treating. The only thing that I’m a little disappointed about was the lack of orange bell peppers at the store today. Nevertheless, it’s kind of fun to have a child around as a reason to be festive =)

I didn’t really follow a recipe in making these. The basic idea for a jack-o-lantern came from a recipe I saw yesterday on allrecipes.com. However, I modified it because the filling in this recipe called for bread crumbs, and I was really looking for a rice-based filling. In the end, I ended up using pieces of recipes from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, epicurious, and Delicious Living. My end recipe isn’t close to any of them, so I’m just going to call it my own. That’s one thing I love about stuffed peppers. You can really change them up however you want, and you’ll still end up with something delicious!

Keep these bookmarked for next year! I know that we had tons of fun with them tonight, and I’m definitely going to keep these in mind for future Halloween’s at our house!

(Printable Recipe)

Jack-o-lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers
The Cookin’ Chemist original

6 bell peppers, orange or other colors (that will stand on their own)
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 c. chopped red onion
6 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. cooked rice, cooled
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. allspice
2-1/2 c. canned tomato sauce
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cook the rice according to package directions. Set aside. 

Cut of the top 1/2-inch of each bell pepper. Scoop the seeds from the cavities. Cut around the stem to save the edible top of the pepper. Discard the stems and chop the pepper tops. Using a small knife, cut jack-o-lantern faces into one side of each pepper. Add enough water to a large stockpot to cover all of the peppers; bring the water to a boil. Add the peppers and let simmer for 5 minutes to pre-cook the peppers. Carefully drain so as not to disturb the faces on the peppers and set the peppers in an 8×8-inch baking dish.

Heat the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the chopped bell pepper pieces, onion, garlic, and parsley for 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until the meat is cooked through. 

While the meat is cooking, add the Worcestershire sauce to the tomato sauce and mix well. After the meat is cooked through, mix in 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, the paprika, the allspice, the salt and pepper, and the rice. Fill pepper cavities with the beef mixture. Pour remaining tomato sauce around the bottom of the peppers in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top of each of the peppers and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve over the tomato sauce to make it look like it is coming out of the jack-o-lantern’s mouth. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Pie

I seem to have quite the streak of main dishes going here. Don’t worry. I’ve still been doing my fair share of baking 🙂

The ingredients in this recipe remind of of a mix between spaghetti and lasagna. The noodles are cooked on the stove and then mixed with a little butter, Parmesan cheese, and an egg to form a “crust” on the bottom of the pie. This is actually the second time we’ve tried to make a spaghetti pie. The first time (with a different recipe) the spaghetti-crust didn’t hold together at all. It ended up more like a baked spaghetti dish. I’m not quite sure what was different this time around because the idea of this recipe was the same, but it worked out a lot better for us.

One thing that I did like about the other recipe was the use of turkey sausage rather than ground beef. The sausage just gives the dish a little more flavor, and I would swap it in for the ground beef next time. Overall, we really enjoyed this spin on spaghetti, and it’s definitely something we will make again.

(Printable Recipe)

Spaghetti Pie
Adapted from www.allrecipes.com

6 oz. whole wheat spaghetti 
2 Tbsp. butter 
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb. lean ground beef (or 1 lb. ground turkey sausage)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper, any color
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 c. fat-free cottage cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Stir in margarine, Parmesan cheese, and eggs while spaghetti is hot. Press spaghetti mixture into a greased 10-inch pie plate to form a crust.

In a skillet, cook the beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Drain any fat and stir in the undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and oregano. Heat through. 

Spread the cottage cheese over the spaghetti crust then pour in the beef and tomato mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover with mozzarella cheese and bake for 5 minutes longer, until the cheese melts.

Servings: 6 per original recipe

Garlic-Thyme Burgers with Grilled Tomatoes

Happy first day of summer – doesn’t that sound great! 🙂

I don’t know about you, but in my mind, summer is synonymous with grilling. There’s just nothing like a great burger cooked on the grill. Add a beach into that equation, and you’re getting pretty close to perfection in my book!  To quote my father, “There’s nothing quite like a beach burger.”

So to celebrate summer, I’m sharing this burger recipe from the June 2010 issue of Cooking Light. This is actually another recipe that I made while I was in Arizona moving into our home. It’s a really simple recipe, and the garlic-thyme additions really kicks these burgers up a notch. I love it when you can find simple things that take a good recipe up another level.

On a side note, this was definitely my first experience grilling tomatoes. We’ve grilled asparagus, all kinds of meat, and even pizza, but I don’t think I ever would have thought of grilling tomatoes on my own. Now that I’ve tried it, I don’t think we’ll be making burgers again without grilled tomatoes. They were that good. The recipe calls for a beefsteak tomato, but I couldn’t find any beefsteak tomatoes at the store. I subbed a standard, full-sized tomato, and it worked just fine. I think you’d just want to avoid any real watery varieties. 

Sweet summertime wishes your way! Enjoy the burgers!  

(Printable Recipe)

Garlic-Thyme Burgers with Grilled Tomatoes
From Cooking Light

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 (1-1/2-inch) slices beefsteak tomato
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 whole-wheat buns
4 baby romaine lettuce leaves

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Divide mixture into 4 portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch thick patty (I have a patty press for burgers that I use). Place patties on the grill; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

After flipping the burgers for the first time, add the tomato slices to the grill. Continue cooking until burgers are finished, flipping as necessary. The tomatoes will start to look “soft” when they are done.

Spread about 3/4 teaspoon of mustard over the bottom half of each bun. Top with a lettuce leaf, 1 patty, 1 slice of tomato, and the top part of the bun. Enjoy!

Yield: 4 burgers

Mexican Lasagna Rollups

I haven’t talked much about it on my blog, but lately, we’ve been prepping for a big move next week! With that in mind, I’ve been trying to go through my pantry to use up all the partial containers and boxes in there. It’s been a couple weeks since we made these rollups, but they worked out perfect to use up my partial box of lasagna noodles as well as a pound of hamburger from the freezer!

I originally found this recipe here on http://www.allrecipes.com. We made a couple of changes to make it our own, but nothing too out of the ordinary. My husband was actually the chef behind the recipe in this case, as he made them while I was at work one evening. I did get a call at work because we didn’t have any taco seasoning. I think he ended up using this recipe to make our own. On that note, I may be making our own taco seasoning from now on. We always have all the spices for it, and the flavor was so much better!

Overall, it’s a pretty decent recipe. Simple and good. I bet you might even have everything you need in your kitchen already 🙂

(Printable Recipe)

Mexican Lasagna Rollups
Adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com 

10 uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 recipe of taco seasoning
1 (26 oz) jar of corn and black bean salsa
1 (16 oz) package of fat-free cottage cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the lasagna noodles, about 3-4 at a time, and return to a boil. Cook the noodles uncovered according to package directions or until the pasta is still a little firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain well and set the noodles on a flat surface while preparing the filling.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and spread half the salsa evenly over the bottom of the dish.

Place the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; sprinkle with the taco seasoning. Cook and stir the meat, breaking it up as it cooks until the meat is brown and cooked through. Drain any fat and place in a large bowl.

Mix cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese into the meat. Lay out a cooked lasagna noodle. Spread about 1/3 cup of the meat-cheese mixture down the length of the noodle. Roll up the noodle lengthwise and place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat for the remaining noodles. Spoon the rest of the salsa over the noodles. Cover the dish baking dish with aluminum foil.

Bake until the sauce is hot and bubbling, about 40 minutes. Uncover and spread the shredded cheese over the top of the rollups. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, an additional 8-10 minutes.

Nacho Pizza

In the middle of a cold, bitter Nebraska winter, there is nothing better than a warm, spicy, southwestern style pizza. Speaking of the southwest, Derek has an interview in Phoenix, Arizona tomorrow and is leaving the below zero wind chills for a mild high of 67! This weather has been brutal on allowing us to do any of the many outdoor activities we love! But, the cold and snow has given us more inside time to find and try new recipes to warm us up!

This recipe was in the January/February 2010 issue of Simple & Delicious where they had a pizza contest! (Sounds right up our alley) There were many pizza recipes we want to try from that issue, but this one stuck out for us. It was entered by Laura Stonesifer of Luck, Wisconsin. In her entry, she states ” I love Mexican food, and I love pizza.” Wow! You had me at hello!

The unique thing about this pizza is the sauce. They use a combination of salsa and sour cream. This gives the pizza a unique taste that when combined with the crushed tortilla chips on the top, reminds you of a mexican dish! We used our own recipe for the pizza crust, which can be found here. One thing is for certain, this pizza will be made again at the Deyle household. It’s not surprising though, it won 2nd place in the pizza competition and won 300 dollars!

(Printable Recipe)

Nacho Pizza
From Laura Stonesifer, Simple & Delicious
1 pizza crust
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped ripe black olives
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

In a small skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the chili powder, salt and pepper.

Combine salsa and sour cream; spread over crust to within 1 inch of edges. Top with beef mixture, tomatoes, olives and cheese. Bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with crushed chips; bake 5-6 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.