For the latest installment in my not-frequent-enough series on Meals You Can Make Exclusively Using Trader Joe’s Products, I offer these delicious, grill-ready steak tips and sides. Made using things you can find 100% at Trader Joe’s, this meal comfortably fed our family of three with leftovers, and came together in half an hour on a weeknight after work and camp. It’s also pretty healthy, with just 240 calories per serving of beef, or a total of 10 Weight Watchers points if you eat a really big helping. We cooked this indoors because it was raining out, but these tips are made for the grill. You could also broil them to mimic that fresh-off-the-barbecue sear!
Teriyaki Steak Tips & Grilled Asparagus
All from Trader Joe’s:
1 package refrigerated teriyaki steak tips (in the meat case)
1 package frozen grilled asparagus spears
1 packaged refrigerated scalloped potatoesorboxed potatoes au gratin*
Prepare potatoes following package directions (or use from-scratch recipes above) while heating up a grill pan/large cast iron skillet/Dutch oven to cook the steak tips. (Or grill ’em outside!) I used my large Le Creuset dish and it worked perfectly by giving all the tips room to brown without crowding on the bottom of the pan.
You can also stick these under the broiler for a few minutes and that would work great, too. You’ll be cooking them for about 7 minutes or to desired level of done-ness.
While the tips are cooking, heat the frozen asparagus either in the oven in a glass dish, or in the microwave in a safe dish, until cooked through, following package directions.
Serve the tips with some pan juices alongside the grilled asparagus and potatoes. Garnish with any additional steak sauce you like; Trader Joe’s island soyaki sauce might be nice here, as would any other sweet condiment that won’t fight the teriyaki marinade. Enjoy!
There’s no need to season these further, as they come already marinated in a sauce that you can just throw right into a hot pot with a little olive oil. This would also go really well with any type of rice side, as well as any other type of vegetable if you don’t like asparagus. I love these frozen asparagus because you can really taste the grilled parts, and they aren’t very mushy, which kind of tricks your taste buds into thinking that you cooked them fresh. Other awesome frozen sides at Trader Joe’s include their Organic Superfood Pilaf (tri-color quinoa with sweet potatoes, kale and carrots),Fire Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions, and Misto Alla Griglia (marinated grilled eggplant, zucchini and red peppers). I also keep their boxed frozen rice on hand at all times, because you can just steam-heat a two-serving pouch in the microwave to go with dinner at the last minute, and they have a wide variety ranging from organic jasmine rice to organic brown rice to barley mix.
And, like most people who shop at Trader Joe’s, one of our top meals is their frozen orange chicken sauteed in a pan with TJ’s frozen vegetable fried rice. It’s our #1 takeout substitute for busy weeknight dinners and now even Georgia asks when we can have “OC” again! I make a big batch on a busy evening and she loves to share a plate with Daddy while watching a movie. What other Trader Joe’s foods do YOU love?
This post is dedicated to my adventurous husband and daughter who bravely tried something that they a) had never heard of, b) knew was a little spicy, and c) couldn’t slather with melted cheese, as is their typical preference.
This dish was super easy, and can be made both vegetarian and mild very easily.
(Or, you can go all-in and cook the jalapenos with their ribs and seeds and everything and get even MORE heat!)
What are Arepas? Similar to Polenta patties, they are like small pancakes made with pre-cooked white or yellow corn flour, available inexpensively in large grocery stores under the Goya brand or online. Pan-fried in a hot skillet with a little bit of oil, they are a fast foundation to several Central- and South-American dishes. They are very versatile and can be served at any time of day with eggs, vegetables, cheese or meat. All you need to do is mix the flour with water and form into palm-sized balls, then pat them flat and cook in a frying pan.
Arepas with Pickled Jalapenos & Avocado
Time: Less than 40 minutes start to finish.
Quantity: The recipe below feeds about 2 1/2 people, which was exactly our size. Adjust accordingly! It doubles very easily and most people will be satisfied with one arepa, or maybe one and a half if you’re a growing boy like Mark 😉
8 ounces ground beef (1/2 pound)
1 cup Masarepa (or corn flour) — see note above on where to buy
2 radishes, ends removed, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 lime, quartered
1 red onion, sliced
1 large bunch cilantro, de-stemmed
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP sugar
1 jalapeno pepper (can sub jarred jalapeno slices)
seasonings, such as cumin & chili powder, to taste (I used carne molida blend)
1 cup room-temperature water
olive oil, for cooking
Start by washing, drying and preparing the produce: cut off the ends of the radishes, then slice them thinly into rounds; quarter the lime; pit, peel and slide the avocado to desired thickness; toss with the juice of 1 lime wedge to prevent browning; peel, halve and thinly slice the red onion; pick the cilantro leaves off the stems, discarding the stems; slice the jalapeno into rounds (or slice lengthwise and chop into smaller pieces, discarding ribs and seeds for less heat); end by washing your hands so you don’t transfer the heat of the pepper to other parts of the dish (or rub your eyes by accident — ouch!)
Next, pickle the jalapeno and onion. In a small pan, combine the jalapeno, sugar, vinegar and half the onion. Add 2 TBSP water and heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cook and stir occasionally for just a couple minutes, or until the liquid is mostly reduced. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
Then, brown the beef. In a large non stick pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium-high until hot; add the beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, for 2-3 minutes or until it’s just cooked through (no more pink). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside; wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
In the pan you just used to cook the beef, heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium high until hot. Add the rest of the onion plus the spice blend to your taste (I did just the tiniest pinch because I was making this mild) plus salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, just a couple minutes or until fragrant; add the cooked beef and the juice of 1 lime wedge. Cook another two minutes, stirring, until just combined, then transfer to a bowl and wipe out the pan again for the arepas.
To form the arepas, combine the flour with a huge pinch of salt and 1 cup of lukewarm water. Stir until just combined; the dough should be damp and easy to work with. Using wet hands, divide the dough into four equal-sized balls, then flatten into 1/4 inch thin rounds on a clean work surface like a dry cutting board.
In the pan you just cleaned out, heat 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-hot until hot. Add the arepas all at one time, cooking 2-4 minutes per side, or until they are golden and cooked through.
Plate your food by placing the arepas in the bottom of each dish, topping them with the ground beef, then avocado. Garnish with the radishes, cilantro and as much pickled jalapeno and onion as appeals. Serve with the remaining lime wedges on the side. Yum!
Carne Molida is a spice blend made up of 2 Parts Ancho Chile Powder, 2 Parts Chipotle Chile Powder, 2 Parts Garlic Powder, 2 Parts Ground Cumin, 2 Parts Ground Coriander, 2 Parts Mexican Oregano, 1 Part Cocoa Powder, 1 Part Ground Nutmeg, and 1 Part Cornstarch. I barely used a pinch of this; you can decide what type of flavor you like and what heat level you desire and adjust accordingly. You could just as easily add a dash of cumin and chile powder and call it a day.
Masarepa is a quick-cooking flour. Its most popular use is in making arepas; the name “masarepa” is a combination of the words “masa” and “arepa,” meaning “dough” and “cornbread.” As I said above, you can buy it online here if you can’t find it locally.
Cooking Jalapeno with sugar and red wine balances out its heat a little, but you should only use a tiny amount of chopped jalapeno in this dish if you really hate spicy food. Adding in the ribs and seeds will intensify that level significantly. I cooked a little bit and then made sure Mark and Georgia didn’t get any actual Jalapeno chunks on their plate, which satisfied my desire to get the flavor into the dish while making sure they didn’t bite down into anything hot.
This can be easily doubled with one pound of ground beef and so on. You can also very easily sub in vegetarian ground crumbles or omit the meat entirely and insert cheese, eggs, or sturdy roasted vegetables with the same seasonings.
The deconstructed toddler version:
And no, she didn’t really go for the radishes. She did try them, though.
Happily, avocados and carbs are already favorites of hers, so the patties and everything else went down the hatch. Like me, she never really eats red meat, so the hamburger she sort of picked at and gave a few courtesy nibbles. I’m not worried about her disliking ground beef, though. While it’s a rich source of iron, protein and zinc, no toddler needs to eat red meat to get those nutrients if they eat enough good fish like salmon, eggs and full-fat dairy products like cheese and whole milk, and she’s better off without all the unhealthy saturated fat in beef (to say nothing of the hormones and antibiotics found in most U.S. meat, which isn’t safe for anybody). If you do eat a fair amount of red meat, good tips for keeping it healthy enough for toddlers include purchasing higher-end cuts that have less fat; picking lean ground beef when buying it for hamburgers; and broiling instead of pan-frying, which reduces the amount of fat retained.
I hope you enjoy this one. We tried it during our free trial of Blue Apron, which we’ve now decided to subscribe to this summer on a temporary basis to see how we like it. When pricing it out — $60 per delivery, which includes three meals that feed exactly two people — it made more sense than dropping $25 every other night on takeout when we don’t have enough time or ingredients in the house to make dinner. We always seem to have just enough extra to give Georgia a taste with her dinner, too, so it comes out to an economical $10 per person. I’ve decided to “skip” two weeks each month, so that we only get deliveries from Blue Apron every third week, and in between we rely on our old favorites, like pasta with meatballs, risotto, shepherd’s pie and spaghetti carbonara. Now that it’s summer and our garden is firing up, we’ll rotate this lemony pasta with sweet sausage in more frequently, as well as homemade pizza to use up all those peppers, tomatoes and basil. And, of course, there’s lots of fresh greens available at the farmer’s markets these days to go alongside any of these dishes to lighten them up and add some vegetables!
Talk about easy! This is like “cheater chili” because it has so few ingredients and doesn’t have to cook for very long. You can use real beef or vegetarian meat crumbles. (I like MorningStar Farms vegetarian meat substitute).
1lb (approx.) lean ground beef or vegetarian crumbles
2 tsp chili powder
1 16-oz fresh salsa (from the refrigerated section of the store)
1 15-oz can kidney beans
Brown the ground beef or vegetarian crumbles with 2 teaspoons of chili powder in a saucepan (I used my favorite, the Le Creuset dutch oven).
Stir in the 16-oz container of salsa (mild or medium; I chose mild) and the kidney beans with their liquid. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Optional: mash some of the beans with a spatula to thicken the chili. Season with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt and shredded cheese.
As my husband says, “Is there anything better than coming home from work to the smell of beef stew??” That goes for any kind of stew, if you ask me! It’s the ultimate comfort food, and if you chop your ingredients the night before, you can throw this together before leaving for work and time it to be ready when you come home. All you have to do is eat!
Ingredients (eyeball to size of your slow cooker)
1 – 1/2 pound of stew beef
3 or 4 potatoes, chopped
two cloves garlic, sliced or whole (whole=subtler flavor)
3-4 carrots, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large onion, sliced
splash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of beef broth (ideally, low sodium)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
optional: peas (add after it’s done cooking so they don’t mush)
Also optional: dredge the beef in flour and fry in olive oil before adding to the slow cooker. I am going to try that next time! I’d also add something savory like cumin, cloves or paprika to amp up the seasoning next time, I think.
Unless you are browning the beef in a skillet first, you simply add all the ingredients to your slow cooker, stir to mix briefly, and heat covered on LOW for 8 hours. When you walk in the door after work, it will smell delicious! I made this for my husband to have since he so seldom gets to enjoy a meaty, stick-to-your-ribs dish like this.
Serve with sliced crusty bread, such as a French loaf. Check back soon to see what I do with the leftover bread!