Indian Spiced Beef Wraps with Cilantro Mint Sauce

FullSizeRender 2This meat dish has so much flavor it could convert a vegetarian. I’m not a big fan of beef, but I absolutely LOVE all the crazy spices—cilantro, ginger, cumin, coriander, fennel, turmeric, and even cinnamon—packed into this recipe. The contrast between the spiced meat and the chilled cilantro mint yogurt sauce is perfect. Add the fresh cucumber slices and sweet cherry tomatoes, and it’s a dish to die for. In fact, I once thought a guest of ours actually WAS dying (or had broken a tooth) when I served this meal. My son Justin had brought home a pack of starving college guys, and I thought they’d appreciate some quality meat, served up in a format they probably weren’t getting in the school cafeteria. His friend Brady starting moaning after his first bite, and I looked up in alarm. “Are you OK?” Brady sheepishly smiled and said, “I’m fine! It’s just sooooo GOOD.” The others laughed, but concurred.

The original recipe directions said to mix meat, herbs, and spices together and shape into meatballs or sausages, skewer them, and grill them. I tried that the first time I made this, and it was a ton of work, and then the meat didn’t stretch as far as I would have liked. So now I just mix it all together and brown the meat in a pan, and it works great. Now to give credit where credit is due. I got this recipe from the Lunds & Byerly’s Real Food magazine some time in 2010, I’m guessing. I don’t have the exact date recorded with my magazine clipping, but I remember about when Justin would drop in with that particular crew. Good times had by all. 

Makes 6-8 servings

For Spiced Meat:
1½-2 pounds quality lean ground beef (or lamb—if you like lamb…)
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped scallions (aka: green onion, Tom)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon ground fennel
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

For Cilantro Mint Sauce:
½ cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
½-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, quartered
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, quartered
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt

Serving suggestion:
Flour tortillas*, or corn tortillas (for gluten-free option)
1 cucumber, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 yellow onion, sliced (optional—sometimes we want these, sometimes we don’t!)
Crumbled feta cheese

To make meat: Combine beef, yogurt, cornstarch, and all the herbs and spices in large frying pan. Cook until no pink remains in meat. Keep on low heat until serving.

To make sauce: Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Can chill until serving.

To serve wraps: Briefly heat tortilla on hot griddle, then top with warm spiced meat, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, and chilled yogurt sauce. Fold in half and eat like a taco. Get ready to be amazed at the flavor explosion in your mouth.

*NOTE: I love to take this recipe up even ONE MORE NOTCH by making my own tortillas. I sometimes do these a day ahead and store in frig with parchment paper between them, and then reheat on the griddle right before serving. Just like the spiced meat, they are truly moan-worthy.

Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff

IMG_1190Have a Crock Pot® and need more slow cooker recipes in your arsenal? Try this delicious beef stroganoff, and you’ll never go back to the Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and hamburger stuff again. I have to admit, that was my stand-by for years until I stumbled upon this recipe for stroganoff in one of Martha Stewart’s “Everyday Food” magazines (December 2006). She used cornstarch to thicken her version, but I prefer to make a roux (there’s that word again, Tom!) as the base for a beautiful, creamy sauce. Don’t be afraid of that French food word! Simple directions for making a roux are in the recipe below.

FullSizeRenderA dab of Dijon mustard and sprinkle of dill add subtle flavor twists that enhance the meat and mushrooms, turning this into a meal that makes even my non-beef-eating son say, “I don’t normally like beef, but this is GOOD!” Get the meat and onions simmering in your slow cooker (any shout outs for my 80’s harvest gold pot pictured here?) on low in the morning, and you’ll come home to a meal that’s 95% done. Finish the sauce on your stove top, boil some cous cous (since it only takes 5 minutes), and voilà! Dinner is served.

Serves 6-8

Rating: easy to medium

3½-4 pounds beef round bottom roast or beef stew meat, slightly frozen*
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill weed
8- to 10-ounce package white button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

Prepared egg noodles, cous cous, or brown rice for serving
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping, optional

Slice meat into ¼-inch thick pieces, about 2 or 3-inches long, cutting against grain. Toss in 5- or 6-quart slow cooker with onions, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 6 hours. Stir once while cooking, if possible.

Once meat is done cooking, scoop as much of the liquid from pot as you can into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. You will probably get 2 cups-worth of beef juice from that amount of meat, but add water if you need to, in order to get 2 cups worth of beef broth. Set aside. (Leave slow cooker set on low while you prep the sauce and mushrooms.)

To make a roux: In frying pan set on medium heat, melt butter. Sprinkle flour on top of the melted butter, and stir to combine. Turn heat to low. All flour should be incorporated, and mixture will become paste-like in consistency. Gradually whisk the reserved beef broth into the roux (butter/flour mixture), until it is all combined and no lumps remain. Turn heat up to medium-high. Stir in sour cream, Dijon mustard, and dill until thoroughly combined. Pour sauce back into slow cooker, and stir to coat meat.

Sauté mushrooms in fry pan on high, stirring often, until mushrooms begin to brown slightly. Once cooked, stir mushrooms in with beef and sauce. Serve over cooked pasta, cous cous, or rice. (Serve with rice if you need this meal to be gluten-free.)

*PREP TIP: The meat is easiest to slice thin if it’s slightly frozen. You will want to trim off visible fat as well, and that’s also easier to do when the meat is chilled. I usually pull my meat out of the freezer and let sit about an hour so it’s not rock-solid, but still cold enough to slice.

Fabulous Fajitas

IMG_1020Fajitas can be quick and easy weekday fare, and are a great way to use any meat you may have leftover from grilling. My husband loves to grill or smoke a pork roast or large pork chops for dinner one night, and then we can use the leftovers to make fajitas or stir fry another time. Grilled beef roast or flanks are also awesome in fajitas. Or sometimes he sears the meat on the grill just for flavor but doesn’t cook it all the way, and then we finish it up on the stove top with the peppers and onions. If you don’t have time or space for grilling, chicken can be sautéed in a pan with the veggies.

I can assure you the recipe I’ve come up with below is easy (Judy easy!) and perfect for a couple or small family. The trick with fajitas, is to cut everything—meat, onions, and peppers—in strips so you can grab the meat and veggies with tongs when loading up your tortillas. And the secret flavor booster is the sesame oil, a wonderfully nutty and earthy addition. It’s found in the Asian food or oil aisle of your grocery store.

Serves 4-6

1 pound pork roast, beef roast (or 8 chicken tenderloins)
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
Drizzle of olive oil
Garlic salt
1-2 large yellow onions, halved then sliced
2 green peppers, or 1 green and 1 sweet red pepper, sliced in strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds


One recipe Spicy Hummus, or purchased hummus
Crumbled feta cheese

One recipe tortillas, or store-bought tortillas

Put meat in bowl and drizzle with soy sauce. Turn to coat. (Use 4 tablespoons soy sauce for the pork or beef, and 2 tablespoons for the chicken tenderloins.) Grill meat until just pink in center, sprinkling with garlic salt while grilling. Or use chicken if making your whole meal indoors. If using chicken, drizzle olive oil in a large sauté pan and heat on high. Add chicken to pan and sear on each side about 2 minutes, sprinkling with garlic salt while cooking. Remove to plate to cool.

Drizzle olive oil in pan and heat to high. Add onions and saute for 1-2 minutes. Turn down to medium-high heat and continue to cook until onions are translucent. Add peppers and cook until pepper are tender-crisp. Add garlic, stir and cook 1 minute more. Turn heat back up to high. Slice meat into long, thin strips and add to pan. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Stir to combine, and then let ingredients sauté about 1-2 minutes more.

Heat tortillas on hot skillet for a few seconds on each side. Add fajita mixture to tortilla. Add hummus and feta cheese. Roll up and eat!