Spice It Up a Little: Taco Burgers

Spice It Up a Little: Taco Burgers

Mmm, who doesn’t love a good cheeseburger? We’re not going to rest with cheddar on beef, though, let’s make in a little spicy, up the cheese factor and put a Mexican twist on this classic! This stuffed and studded burger is packed with flavor and spices.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

To impart that Mexican spice, we combine crunchy corn chips with taco seasoning and mix it throughout the ground beef for our burgers. Rather than just laying cheese atop the patties, we also stuff them with what my grocery store calls “Fiesta cheese”. And, for a final layer of flavor, we crust the patties with additional taco seasoning.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

You’d be surprised how much flavor plain ol’ corn chips can add to a simple burger, but it gives a distinct earthy flavor that is a natural counterpart to the beef. Corn is a traditional flavor for Mexican cuisine, so it’s a fine pairing. The cheese cuts through the saltiness of the chips and seasoning for a well-balanced dish.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

Taco Burgers

  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 96/4)
  • 1 cup corn chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese chunks
  • ¼ cup taco seasoning, divided
  • 4 slices colby jack cheese
  1. Crush corn chips by pulsing them in a food processor. Add 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning to the work bowl and combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix spiced corn chip crumbs, ground beef, and egg, until well combined.
  3. Shape ground beef mixture into 8 equal balls. Place ¼ cup cheese chunks in between 2 balls and combine into a patty. Form 3 more patties using same method.
  4. Pour the remaining taco seasoning on a plate. Place each patty on the seasoning, press to adhere, flip and repeat.
  5. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and grill 7-8 minutes on each side. For the last minute of grilling, lay a slice of colby jack on each patty.
  6. Serve with salsa and tortillas.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

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Decadent and Delicious: Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

Decadent and Delicious: Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

First things first, this is my 60th recipe on Mancktastic! It’s hard to believe I’ve shared that many recipes here on the bloggy, but it’s awesome too. I hope that you and your families enjoyed these recipes; I love sharing them with you!

And now, on to the milestone recipe! This dish holds a special place in my family’s house because it brought my mother and my sisters together.

When my parents got married, Mom suddenly gained 3 half-grown daughters ranging in age from 15-8, my half-sisters. Of course, they were a little suspicious of this new, young woman in my dad’s life, so Mom had to work a little to integrated herself into the family. I didn’t join the world until six years after all of this happened, but I grew up hearing stories about the trials and tribulations of their new, blended family. I’ll never really understand or appreciate the relationship my mother and my half-sisters have because, to me, my mommy has always been there and part of our family, but Mom had to work hard to be a Manck, apparently. She came from a more worldly and learned background, full of things the girls found weird and different.

I never really understood this struggle and relationship until I stayed with my oldest sister, Jennifer, the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college.

To earn my keep living with Jen and her family during an internship, I watched my awesome twin nephews and cooked dinner several nights a week. This was when I really learned the basic skills of cooking like browning ground beef and meal planning. One weekend, while plotting the week’s meals, I asked Jen what she’d like for dinner. She asked if I knew how to make stuffed shells. “Well, I’ve never made them before, but I could try”, I responded. “Do you really like them?” She told me she loved them, and they always reminded her of my mother.

Apparently, the girls had never had the dish until my mom made it for them for dinner one night. The wariness they’d had to her evaporated for just that one night as they enjoyed the saucy, cheesy shells as a family.

The shells didn’t magically make their relationship easy, but it showed my sisters that Mom was new but she (and the things she brought) didn’t have to be scary just because they were unfamiliar. Of course, I made Stuffed Shells for the family that week, and that story has stuck with me ever since. Now stuffed shells speak to me about family, new experiences, and love.

This version of Stuffed Shells feels particularly decadent because of the inclusion of cream cheese and Italian sausage in the shell filling. The cream cheese adds a smooth richness to the cheeses, while the delicious Italian sausage elevates this dish beyond your typical pasta dish. I was glad to share these with Bill last night and think about how big, and small, my family is now : )

Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

  • 8 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • ²/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 26 ounces spaghetti sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cook shells according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  3. Cook Italian sausage, drain and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine Italian sausage, spinach, garlic, ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan, egg, seasonings and ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Spoon mixture into a large ziptop bag and snip off one corner.
  5. Spread half of spaghetti sauce into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Arrange shells over sauce, fill with the cheese and sausage mixture, then top with remaining sauce.
  6. Cover baking dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and bake for 5-10 minutes.

ItalianSausageStuffedShells

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Based on a recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Homemade Takeout: Light Orange Beef and Broccoli

Homemade Takeout: Light Orange Beef and Broccoli

Whew, what a weekend! We flew out early, early Friday morning, then proceeded to play 4 games, watch 2 college games, celebrate 1 birthday, eat a goodly amount of awful food and wear ourselves completely ragged before flying back Sunday afternoon. I managed to escape with only a tiny bit of sunburn thanks to the world’s most ridiculous sunhat, fake Wayfarers I stole from one of our players, and an expandable tent the TJ parents put over the table where I was keeping statistics.

The team stretching after the flight while we waited on their luggage.
The team stretching after the flight while we waited on their luggage.
The lovely bell tower on the Tampa Jesuit campus.
The lovely bell tower on the Tampa Jesuit campus.
I have a compulsion to remake the hotel bed every morning, even though housekeeping will come do it later...
I have a compulsion to remake the hotel bed every morning, even though housekeeping will come do it later…
Tampa has neato birds that I think look like dinosaurs!
Tampa has neato birds that I think look like dinosaurs!
Our three goalies with green lips from birthday cupcakes (not ManckWhite-made).
Our three goalies with green lips from birthday cupcakes (not ManckWhite-made).

Needless to say, by the time we got home I was a wee bit too wiped to do anything but sleep Sunday and Monday. Last night I was finally able to pull myself together enough to start the laundry, tidy the house and make some delicious dinner!

Last night’s recipe was another delicious homemade takeout for your family to enjoy without worrying about mystery ingredients or MSG! Fresh orange juice is combined with marmalade and beef broth to make a sweet and savory sauce that coats and covers thin-sliced beef, broccoli and rice. (If you’d like some additional heat, you can add red pepper flakes or sriracha to the sauce mixture.) This recipe makes delicious, quick and light dinner with the flavors you love.

Orange Beef and Broccoli

  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth, divided
  • ¹/3 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon wok or sesame oil
  • 1 pound flank steak, very thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli
  • 2 cups white rice, cooked
  1. Combine the orange juice, soy sauce, ¼ cup beef broth, marmalade and cornstarch in a bowl, whisking until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Heat the wok or sesame oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the steak and garlic, draining off extra fat after a few minutes. Flip the pieces until each piece is cooked through.
  3. Add frozen broccoli and ¼ cup of beef broth to the skillet after the meat is cooked through and cover to steam for 1-2 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.
  4. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir for 1 minute until the sauce starts to thicken. When sauce has thickened, stir in the cooked white rice until everything is well-integrated. Optionally: serve topped with orange slices.

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Based on a recipe from A Pinch of Yum

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Venison Ragu

Venison Ragu

As you know, yesterday Bill and I’s third dating anniversary! Since it was such a special occasion and our first regular night at home in more than a week, I decided we needed an extra special dinner in honor of the special day : ) One of Bill’s fellow lacrosse coaches had kindly gifted us with some ground venison from a hunt he’d been on last year, so I decided that it was the perfect base for a fancy dinner treat!

This recipe combines the rich flavors of lean venison, red wine, and beef stock along with the fresh brightness of tomatoes and spinach to create a delicious ragu sauce that envelops and compliments the hearty rigatoni pasta. It was cold and rainy last night, so this was the perfect meal for both celebration and comfort.

I hope that your family can enjoy this tasty and uncommon dinner soon!

Venison Ragu

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground venison
  • 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 ounce can, tomato sauce
  • 2¼ cups beef stock
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ Tablespoon sage
  • ½ Tablespoon oregano
  • ½ Tablespoon parsley
  • 1 ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen spinach
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • Reggiano cheese for garnish
  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep saute pan and brown venison till cooked through. Remove browned venison and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the remaining olive oil and garlic, sauteeing for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, beef stock, and wine, and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add tomatoes, spinach, sage, oregano, parsley, and brown sugar to the sauce mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer while you cook the pasta to the package directions. Drain pasta and set aside.
  4. Combine 3 Tablespoons flour with the cooked venison and mix well so the flour coats the meat. Return the browned venison with the flour to the pan and stir. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until thickened.
  5. Add pasta to the saute pan and combine with the sauce. Top with Reggiano.

 

8494381765_2caac72dd0_zRed wine and beef stock combine to create a great depth of flavor with the tomatoes and spinach! If you don’t have easy access to vension, you could easily swap it out for lean ground beef.
Based on recipe from In Sock Monkey Slippers

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Pizza Burgers

Pizza Burgers

Our preferred grocery store, HEB, makes a wonderful in-store Italian sausage that I love using in our dinners, so I’m always on the lookout for recipes I can incorporate it in. This week’s winner was Pizza Burgers, based on the recipe from The Pioneer Woman; with it I was not only able to use our favorite Italian sausage, but also the tiny pepperoni I had leftover from the Pepperoni Pizza Puffs last week!

I’m pleased to say that these were a hit! Rather than just a typical burger with Italian toppings, this recipe takes it even further by incorporating both Italian sausage and seasoning in the main meat mixture, plus melty, delicious mozzarella cheese and itsy bitsy pepperonis. All of this combines to make a dense, meaty burger with fantastic flavors throughout. I recommend you make smaller than average burgers when you’re cooking them up to counterbalance the richness and thickness. These would be great for tailgating or the Super Bowl this weekend; enjoy!

Pizza Burgers

  • 1½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound Italian sausage
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup mini pepperonis
  • 8 Tablespoons pizza sauce
  1. Heat grill or grill pan to medium or medium-high heat.
  2. Combine ground beef, sausage and Italian seasoning in a bowl, then form into your desired size patties.
  3. Place the patties on grill/grill plan, cook for 5 minutes on one side, then flip.
  4. Top each burger with one slice of cheese, ¼ cup mini pepperonis, then the other slice of cheese. Allow the burger to cook through while the cheese melts.
  5. Top each burger with pizza sauce and serve on burger buns if desired.

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These burgers are a delicious treat with the spices and italian sausage throughout. The cheese melts and melds with the other flavors as the burger cooks and the tiny pepperoni are little pops of pizza flavor. The pizza sauce completes this delicious mix of pizza and burger!

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Mini Meatballs

Mini Meatballs

This may come as a surprise, but before last night I’d never made meatballs before! I’m not sure how this culinary classic had passed me by, but when I was making this week’s meal plan I decided to remedy this situation with the help of this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

To make my tiny creations, I used a mix of ground beef and pork along with some fresh parmesan cheese and garlic. I did wind up setting off the smoke alarm while frying these little darlings, but the headache was worth it when I taste tested them. Since they cook so quickly in the oil because of their small size, the insides stay moist rather than drying out like some larger meatballs I’ve had before. These itsy-bitsy guys could be used in soups, salads or anything you can imagine!

Mini Meatballs

  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 slices bread, crust removed
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¹/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup flour, spread on a plate
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  1. Heat the milk over medium, add bread and let it soak for 5 minutes. Remove bread, squeeze out excess milk and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the ground pork, ground beef, garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper to the mixing bowl and mush around until evenly mixed.
  3. Scoop out tablespoon-sized lump of the mixture, shape into a ball, and roll in the flour, shaking off any excess. Repeat with all of the meat.
  4. Fill a deep skillet with enough vegetable oil to rise up ¼-inch on the sides of the pan and heat on medium-high. When the oil is heated, add as many meatballs as can fit without overcrowding. Brown them until they have a nice crust all around, flipping halfway through if not entirely covered with oil.
  5. When meatballs are done, scoop them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with paper towels to drain.

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These mini meatballs are packed with flavor that hits you once you bite through the flavorful crust to the tender inside. Enjoy these tasty treats as an appetizer, in sandwiches or with pasta!

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Winchiladas

Winchiladas

These black bean taco/enchiladas are a classic for the ManckWhites; the source of the recipe has been unfortunately lost to time, but I did blog about it back in 2010! I don’t think I’d made these delicious and easy Mexican treats in at least a year, which is a real shame, so I decided that they needed to make a comeback last night. The recipe is so, so simple and easy to customize based on your preferred protein and style. We tend to have taco-style chicken and black bean Winchiladas, but you could just as easily make them rolled-beef Winchiladas or have the filling over tortilla chips for Winchos. Unlike many of my recipes, this one is actually the portioned correctly for a family of two; Bill has 2, I have 1, and the remaining Winchilada becomes my next day’s lunch. I hope you enjoy this Mancktastic throwback and happy weekend!

Winchiladas

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 pound chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 15 ounces black beans, drained-ish
  • ¹/3 cup salsa
  • 4 burrito-size tortillas
  • 1 cup mexican blend cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 2
  3. minutes.Add chicken to skillet and cook for additional 5-10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Add black beans, some of their juice, and the salsa to the skillet. Simmer for about 5 minutes so the sauce thickens.
  5. Fold 4 tortillas in half and arrange in casserole dish. Sprinkle a little cheese inside each tortilla, followed by ¼ of the chicken and bean mixture. Top with cheese evenly.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the edges of the tortillas have begun to brown and crisp up.

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The combination of crispy tortillas and melty cheese, plus the filling and savory chicken and black beans, makes for a delicious dinner full of protein! You could also roll these up and top with cheese and sauce for a more traditional enchilada. These come together very quickly, so they’re great for busy weeknights; you can skip baking them to save some extra time.

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!