Thirty-Minute Meals for a Warm Ground Beef Buzz
Let’s face it. When it’s dark and ice-cold outside, all you want to do after work is whip up a quick comfort meal, eat dinner, and head to a warm bed.
These three meals fit the bill perfectly. They come together in 30 minutes or so and will satisfy adults and kids alike. Best of all, they each contain the perfect meal trifecta: rich carbs, savory protein, and colorful seasonal winter vegetables. And, they make great leftovers (if you manage to save any)!
One Pot Dirty Rice
Dirty rice is a homey comfort food from the deep south. The rich flavor comes from adding chicken livers—the same livers that color the rice— hence the “dirty” moniker. You can leave them out if you like, but you’re missing out. Substitute with chicken thighs if you must.
- 1 lb ground grassfed beef
- 6 oz finely diced free-range chicken: livers (preferably) or thighs
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced red and green pepper
- 1 cup diced celery
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
- 1 ½ cup long grain white rice
- 24 oz chicken broth or water
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Rinse the rice in cold water over a strainer and set aside.
- In a heavy, large-bottomed pot (like a dutch oven), over medium high heat, cook ground meat and chicken (livers or thigh) until beginning to brown.
- Add onion, bell pepper, and celery to the pot. Cook, stirring often until softened—about 5 minutes.
- Add in garlic and cajun seasoning. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add rice and thyme and stir to coat. Slowly stir in chicken broth.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer on low until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne and serve.
Mexican Caesar Salad
To make life super easy, make this salad first, so the flavors meld and it’s ready to serve when your quesadillas are piping hot.
- 4-5 cups kale, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro leaves
- 2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 fresh avocado, sliced into thin chunks
Toss kale and cilantro in a bowl. Top with pumpkin seeds and avocado. Toss gently with Greek yogurt dressing and serve.
Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp anchovy paste
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 minced garlic clove
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 to 4 tbsp milk
- 2-4 tbsp lime juice
Whisk first 8 ingredients together until smooth. Alternately whisk 1 tbsp milk and lime juice into dressing to reach your preferred consistency and tartness. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Ground Beef Quesadillas with Mexican Caesar Salad
Quesadillas and salad are easy to whip up on a weeknight—and the gooey cheese and beef combo is always a hit with kids. Accompany with Mexican Caesar salad for a well rounded, colorful meal to warm up winter blues.
Ground Beef Quesadillas
- 1 lb grassfed ground beef
- 2 tsp chili powder
- ½ an onion, diced
- ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup kale, shredded
- 4 large tortillas
- 2 cup grated cheese - mexican cheese mix, or cheddar and pepper jack
- Butter or vegetable spread
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with a little olive oil and add the ground beef. Break apart and stir often, until lightly browned. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon to a dish with a lid to keep warm. Leave the oil in the pan (there won’t be much as grassfed beef is so lean). Return to medium heat.
- Add the onion and green pepper. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about a minute more.
- Return the beef to the pan and stir in the chili powder, blending everything together for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and cover.
Lightly brush a large griddle pan with butter and heat to low-medium.
Take a large tortilla and cover one half with ½ cup grated cheese and1/4 of the beef/veggie mixture. Fold the tortilla into a half moon shape and place on the griddle.Repeat with a second tortilla. You can fit two quesadillas on most griddle pans.
Don’t rush! Keep the heat on the low-medium side to let the quesadilla cook slowly. This way, the cheese melts through but the tortilla doesn’t burn. When the cheese starts to soften, flip the tortilla and let the second side brown and the cheese continue to melt.
Remove from the pan and let sit for one minute before slicing—so the cheese is gooey but doesn’t slide everywhere. Either serve the quesadillas as they’re ready, or keep them warm in the oven until all four are cooked.
Skillet Shepherd’s Pie
This two-pot dish from the U.K will warm you through on a cold night. It has everything you want in a winter casserole—comforting carbs, rich sauce, and a few vegetables to make you feel virtuous.
- 1.5 lbs potatoes (russet or golden)
- 2 lbs grassfed ground beef
- Olive oil (if needed)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, cut into half moon slices
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- ⅔ cup frozen peas
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 ½ - 2 cup beef or chicken broth
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ cup half and half
Cover potatoes with at least 1 inch water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until fork-tender (about 15 minutes)
While the potatoes simmer, coat a cast iron skillet with a tsp olive oil. Heat to medium and add the ground beef, breaking it apart as it browns. Once cooked through, remove to a dish and cover to keep warm.
Lean grass-fed beef may not leave much oil in the pan. If needed, add a little olive oil so the skillet is coated again. Heat on medium until just shimmering.
Add the diced onions and carrots. Cook until onions are near translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and stir for another 2 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add thyme and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add flour and tomato paste and stir until vegetables are well coated, about 1 minute.
Whisk in 1.5 cups broth and worcestershire, scraping up any brown bits. Add the ground beef back to the mixture and cover. Cook over medium heat until sauce is thickened, about 6 minutes. Stir in frozen peas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add broth if the sauce thickens too much.
Meanwhile, as the sauce thickens, drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add butter and half-and-half and mash together. Salt and pepper to taste.
Top the beef mixture with the potato mixture. Serve up a heaping spoonful or two into each bowl.
In England, Shepherd’s Pie is often served with a little ketchup on the side. It may sound strange, but it’s really tasty!
*Adapted from momswhothink.com