Ingredient: lean ground beef

All Seasons, Beef, Fall, Latin America, Main, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer, Winter

Beef Tamale Pie

Serve with a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette-

Although tamale pie has its origins in the United States, most likely California, many American Hispanics prepare this ultimate comfort food. Not to be confused with Mexican tamales, tamale pie is a baked casserole of ground beef, cornmeal, tomatoes, olives and cheese. I simplified the original recipe, which calls for preparing cornmeal and pouring it into the bottom of a pie dish and again topping the beef mixture with more cornmeal, by substituting a corn muffin mix. A simple side salad completes this family-friendly meal.

Appetizer, Bbq/Grilling, Beef, Fall, Main, Middle Eastern, Pizzas, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer

Beef Kefta Flatbread Pizza

Serve with Tomato-Cucumber Salad-

I was flipping through a Cooking Light magazine and came across Beef Kefta Patties with Cucumber Salad. Kefta? A quick internet search yielded my answer: Kefta is the Lebanese/Syrian dialect for Kofta- a Middle Eastern, South Asian and Balkan meatball or meatloaf, although it is also referred to as kefka in Morocco. In the Middle East Kefta is ground beef or lamb, typically mixed with cumin, paprika, minced onion, coriander and parsley. Cinnamon, hot ground pepper, and mint leaves are optional.

The recipe below shows traditional quantities of these spices and herbs. I have, however, sautéed the kefta mixture in favor of forming into kebobs and made it as the base for a flatbread pizza. In honor of its Lebanese roots, serve it with a cooling cucumber-tomato salad.

All Seasons, Asian, Beef, Dairy Free, Fall, Gluten free, Main, Paleo / Primal, Paleo/Primal, Slow Cooker, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer, Winter

Slow Cooker Asian Beef and Broccoli

A bit of a twist on a popular Chinese dish, which is typically made with sirloin strips, this slow cooker version uses more economical and fuss-free lean ground beef. This is a staple for my family on Tuesday piano practice night when we come in late and need dinner in a hurry. I prepare my rice in a rice cooker just before we leave and keep it on warm for our return.

All Seasons, Beef, Dairy Free, Fall, Gluten free, Latin America, Main, Paleo/Primal, Slow Cooker, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer, Winter

Slow Cooker Picadillo, Cuban-Style

Being transplanted to Tampa over 20 years ago has opened my eyes to the culinary wonders of Cuban food: black beans and rice, Cuban sandwiches, arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), café con leche, and this dish, Picadillo. Tampa’s Cuban community originated in the late 1800s in what is now Ybor City, named after its founder, Vicente Martinez Ybor, and continues to be a huge cultural and culinary influence on the City of Tampa.

I found this history of picadillo from Tampa’s Junior League, a philanthropic and social organization that, among other things, is famous for its locally-based cookbooks, which have graced Tampa kitchen counters since 1961: The name comes from the Spanish word “picar,” meaning “to chop” or “to mince,” and it seems that many Latin American countries have their own twist on the basic ground beef recipe. In Mexico, it’s sweetened with honey, giving it a teriyaki-like taste. In Puerto Rico, it is used as the filling for empanadas and can include cheese, ham and rum-soaked raisins. In the Dominican Republic, picadillo can include hard-boiled egg and a bouillon cube. The Cuban version is a balance of sweet-salty due to the pimento-stuffed olives, capers, vinegar and raisins.

All Seasons, Beef, Fall, Gluten free, Main, Mexican, Paleo / Primal, Paleo/Primal, Slow Cooker, Spring, Sugar Free, Summer, Winter

Slow Cooker Tacos

I am almost embarrassed to include this; it’s so easy, it’s shameful! This is my have-one-second-to put-a-meal-in-the-slow-cooker dinners. Not only can I make the taco meat in a split second and forget it all day, but everyone loves making and eating tacos! It’s such a fun meal to eat with others.

All Seasons, Beef, Gluten free, Main, Mexican, Paleo / Primal, Sugar Free

Taco Casserole

I did not “get” Twitter until I started The Whole Meal and found myself thoroughly absorbed in all things social media. Now Twitter and Instagram have been such great sources of inspiration for me; this recipe being the perfect example.

A Tweet from @MyFitnessPal with a recipe for a taco casserole had me thinking this looks yummy and easy but when I looked at the ingredients it didn’t seem very taco-ish (had black beans and corn in it) so I played around with more traditional taco ingredients and this easy casserole was born; like eating a taco without all the mess and clean up! My family loved it!

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Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Serve with chopped romaine salad and balsamic vinaigrette-

Spaghetti with meat sauce is one of those tried and true weeknight meals that I default to when I am lazy, don’t want expensive takeout or Pb&j sandwiches, and lucky enough to have all the ingredients on hand. I am including this basic recipe in hopes that you’ll refer to it in a pinch with the notion that you do not need to buy commercially prepared jarred sauce; homemade is pretty easy, sugarless and fresh! Serve a crisp romaine or garden salad along with some Italian bread to sop up the sauce if you don’t mind the extra carbs.