All posts tagged beef

Simple Ingredients Make the Perfect Burger: Palapa Burgers

Published June 6, 2013 by jenmatteson

With our parents, Nate and I went to Belize last year…like last year February 2012, sadly, not this past winter ūüė¶ ¬†I did quite a bit of research before we went to get in the know about the best places to go. ¬†The Palapa¬†Bar was highly recommended on Trip Advisor, not only for its excellent, friendly service, beautiful location, the fact that you can float in inner tubes in the ocean while drinks are lowered down to you in a bucket, and that you can leave your mark (if you can find a place to do so), but because of their burgers. ¬†For all reasons listed, we hit this place one of the first days we were there.

Palapa Bar, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Well, we ended up spending the majority of the day here. ¬†A quick recap of notable events: my mom got nice and toasted (and I don’t mean sunburned).My parents enjoying panty rippers at the Palapa Bar

I found a swimsuit twin,

My swim suit twin

we left several marks on the bar,

One of our marks on the bar

My mom's doing...still not sure what it says.

Our mark <3

we floated in inner tubes and had drinks lowered to us,

My dad enjoying his panty ripper in the tube

soaked up the sun,

Nate and I having fun in the sun at the Palapa Bar

and last but certainly not least, we had a burger. ¬†Usually I’d be skeptical and say it was just the atmosphere that made these burgers so delicious, but I must reject that theory. ¬†Why? Because we got the secret recipe from the owner and have made them at home.

Palapa Burgers

That’s right, it’s a very secret recipe that I am about to share with you. ¬†The ingredients are so simple, and there are so few, you might actually think it couldn’t be true. ¬†Well guess what? ¬†It is.

Palapa Burgers

Now, I’m certainly guilty of loading my ground beef with seasoning and onions and whatever else comes to mind before making my patties, but sometimes, you must adhere¬†to KISS (keep it simple sweetheart).¬†¬†Sometimes adding ingredients is necessary if you’re making a turkey or chicken burger, mostly because they don’t have a lot of flavor alone, nor is there enough fat to keep them juicy.¬† But sometimes, a plain and simple beef burger is where it’s at!

So, here it goes – I’m giving up the secret ingredients now. ¬†Ground beef (and not that lean crap that’s got no flavor; get the ¬†fatty stuff, like 80/20), salt and pepper. ¬†Yep, that’s it. ¬†Aren’t you sad you didn’t think of this? ¬†Don’t you feel stupid for looking up a burger recipe that is so simple? ¬†Well, don’t. ¬†I like people like you who keep me blogging about the stuff I’m blogging about. ¬†And you trust me to give you good info, and well, this is GREAT info. ¬†Best burger, hands down.

Palapa Burgers

Palapa Burgers

Source: Not at all adapted from The Palapa Bar
Servings: 4


1 lb ground beef
Kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper


1. Preheat grill to medium-high.  Divide beef into four equal parts and shape into patties.  Transfer to plate and season top side generously with salt and pepper.

Here’s a hint: Do you ever suffer from a bloated burger?¬† You know, when it shrinks in diameter but plumps up in the middle, almost like a slightly flattened meatball?¬† Well, if you gently press your thumbs into the center of the patty before grilling it, this will prevent the bloated burger, thus making it pretty and fit on your bun (and in your mouth) much easier.

Press thumb into center of patty to prevent burger bloat

2. Once grill is heated, place patties on hottest part of the grill, seasoned side down.¬† Season the top side of the burgers.¬† Grill over medium-high heat until you begin to see “burger sweat”.¬† These are juices that accumulate on the top of the burger.¬† It’s hard to say how long based on how you like your burger cooked and the temp you are grilling at.¬† About 5-6 minutes should be efficient for a 1/4 pound burger cooked to medium.¬† It’s time to flip**.¬† Grill for 1-2 minutes less than you did the other side.¬† If you want cheese, add it in the last 1 minute of cooking.¬† Close the top and cook until cheese is melted.

3. Remove from the grill and do yourself a favor.  Let the burger rest for at least 5 minutes before shoving it down your pie hole.  This will allow the juices to redistribute, making it a flavor explosion in your mouth.  Serve with desired garnishments.

**Two important things about flipping burgers, and more broadly, meat in general. 

1.¬†If you cannot easily¬†get your spatula under it because the meat is sticking to the grates, than guess what?¬† It’s not time to flip.¬† Do not, I repeat, do not try flipping it anyway, otherwise your poor burger is going to fall apart.

2. Please note that meat needs, and should be, flipped only once.¬† Just once.¬† Two is too many.¬† None is not enough.¬† Once.¬† And stop playing with it on the grill for God’s sake.¬† It’s already dead and will not¬†play with you back.¬† Just let it do its¬†thing and enjoy the weather.¬† The more you move, play with, and flip your meat, the more dry and sucky it will be.¬† For real.

Individual Beef Wellington

Published February 17, 2013 by jenmatteson

I’ve really had a bee in my bonnet lately about my 30 Before 30 list. ¬†My deadline is quickly approaching, and with all the wedding planning I’ve been doing, my list has been thrown to the wayside. ¬†But, I’m getting a move on and I have somewhat tried to plan out when I’ll be making what next. ¬†Clearly I’ve been putting off some of the more difficult items (at least I assume they are difficult…).

Individual Beef Wellington

I had planned to make just horseradish scalloped potatoes this weekend, but while I was at the store, I noticed that top sirloin was on sale, so I picked one up to make my individual beef wellington. ¬†I’ve only eaten this dish once, and if you’ve ever watched Hell’s Kitchen, apparently beef wellington is the most difficult thing in the entire world to make well…at least according to Chef Ramsey. ¬†Or maybe he just likes to yell ūüėČ ¬†That being said, I was certainly hesitant to make this. ¬†I’ve also never worked with puff pastry, but how hard could it be, right?

Individual Beef Wellington

Individual Beef Wellington

Mistake number one, it needs to thaw. ¬†Dummy. ¬†Whoops! ¬†So my schedule was pushed back by about 40 minutes. ¬†No biggie, except Nate and I had agreed to watch my niece and nephew for the evening, and I wanted to get dinner on and take pictures before the sun went down, which means I had to do it before they got there. ¬†That didn’t happen. ¬†I finished it up just after they arrived, but alas, the sun had already gone down. ¬†I still got some pics, but not like I wanted. ¬†I got up this morning and replated them to get something decent. ¬†This was from last night:

Individual Beef Wellington

Oh, you want to know how they taste?? ¬†Yes, let’s get to that. ¬†In a minute. ¬†Duxelles is what is lines the insides of beef wellington. ¬†I never knew exactly what this was, but turns out, it’s basically just a mixture of mushrooms, shallots and herbs. ¬†And let me tell you, just making the duxelles filled my house with such a rich aroma, I was dying to eat it with a spoon. ¬†But I didn’t.


Thyme Seasoning Mixture

The steak made the smell even better!  I put it in a sizzling hot pan and just seared both sides quickly.  Once it was cooled, I coated them in seasoning and let them rest.  My house smelled AMAZING!

Seared Sirlion

Once the puff pastry was thawed, it was pretty easy to work with. ¬†I laid¬†it out on a floured surface, and gently rolled out each piece. ¬†They weren’t perfect or anything, but hey, whatever gets the job done.

Puff Pastry

Okay, okay. ¬†So how did it taste? ¬†Well, I must say I make a very good beef wellington! ¬†Nate absolutely loved it! ¬†I don’t think it even spent much time on his plate before it was gone and he was ready for another. ¬†The beef was cooked just barely over medium (so certainly room for improvement), but all the seasonings with the duxelles and the flakey butter puff pastry – YUM! ¬†These would be great for a party too. ¬†To make as an appetizer, just cut the meat even smaller so they can be 1-2 bite sized.

Individual Beef Wellington

Individual Beef Wellington

Individual Beef Wellington

Source: Adapted from Marrying Prince Charming
Servings: 4-6


1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 fresh cracked pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
6-8 large button mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 rosemary sprigs, leaves only
1 lb beef sirloin or tenderloin
2 sheets puff pastry
2 tbsp stone ground mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and thyme.  Set aside.

2. The bowl of a food processor, combine garlic, shallots, mushrooms, red wine, olive oil, rosemary and half of the thyme seasoning mixture.  Process until all ingredients are finely chopped and well combined.

3. Transfer mixture to a medium skillet and saute until most of the excess liquid is gone, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

4. Trim any fat from the beef and cut into 2×2 inch chunks. ¬†Place in a bowl and toss with remaining thyme seasoning mixture until all pieces are well coated.

5. Once puff pastry is thawed and ready to work with, roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Cut puff pastry into as many pieces as you have beef pieces, making sure they are large enough to completely wrap around the beef.  Spread a thin layer of the stone ground mustard on each piece of puff pastry.  Then spread a thin layer of the duxelles on each piece, about 1 tbsp each, leaving a small border.  Place beef in the center of the puff pastry and carefully wrap.  Place on a prepared baking sheet, seam sides down.

6. Brush each wellington with egg and poke holes in the tops with a fork so they are able to vent while cooking.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puff pastry is golden brown and flaky.

Four Bean Turkey Chili

Published October 14, 2012 by jenmatteson

It is the perfect time of year for chili, and I had the perfect opportunity to make it this past weekend.  We had just gotten back from visiting my best friend in Duluth, and our neighbors were coming over to watch the Vikings game (the 3-1 Vikings at the time!).  Everyone has their own recipe for chili, and many are probably like mine; it changes a little each time, but generally the ingredients stay the same.  Growing up (and still), my dad always made a big pot of chili that would last my family for an entire week.  This is where I first learned to make it myself.  I pretty much stick to his recipe, with a few small changes.

I like to make turkey chili, but this would be just as good with ground beef, chicken – whatever YOU like to make your chili with.¬† Additionally, use whatever types of beans you like.¬† I¬†use black, dark kidney, white kidney, and chili beans.¬† For some reason, the liquid in the beans kinda grosses me out, which is why I choose to drain my beans, except for the chili beans, because that liquid is seasoned and delicious and doesn’t look like some weird clear¬†gelatinous goo ūüėõ

The awesome thing about chili¬†is that it is so versatile.¬† Not just with what ingredients you put in it, but how you eat it.¬† Of course there’s the traditional way of in a bowl with some choice toppings, but you can also make chili fries, chili dogs/brats, chili burgers, baked potatoes topped with chili, nachos, chili tacos or taco salad, and so on and so forth.¬† The possibilities are endless, so make a huge pot of chili and don’t be afraid to try it in a new vessel!¬† If all else fails, chili freezes super well, so you can either put a large amount in gallon sized zip-top freezer bag, or individual servings in quart sized zip-top freezer baggies.

Four Bean Turkey Chili

Source: Pigzilla Original, adapted from Mr. Pigzilla (my dad)
Servings: A LOT, probably 12-15


olive oil
2 lbs lean ground turkey
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 bell peppers, diced (I use one yellow, red, and green)
4 jalapeno peppers, diced (and seeded for less heat)
1 large onion, diced
1 can low-sodium black beans, mostly drained
1 can low-sodium dark kidney beans, mostly drained
1 can low-sodium white kidney beans, mostly drained
1 can low-sodium chili beans
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes
1 12 oz beer (I use whatever I have on hand, this time I home-brewed Oktoberfest)
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch cilantro


1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and brown meat.  Add garlic for last 2 minutes of browning.  Drain and transfer meat to large stock pot or slow cooker.

2. Using the same pan, add olive oil and saute peppers and onions over medium heat until slightly soft, about 3-5 minutes.  You may have to work in batches depending on how large the skillet is.  Transfer to stock pot or slow cooker with turkey.

3.  Add all beans to stock pot or slow cooker with turkey and vegetables.  Add tomatoes with all juices.  Using a wooden spoon, break up whole tomatoes into smaller pieces.  Add beer, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon.  Salt and pepper to taste.  If using stock pot over stove top, simmer mixture for at least one hour to let flavors develop and alcohol cook out of the beer.  If using a slow cooker, cook on high for at least one hour, or low for 2-4 hours.

4. Stir in cilantro just before serving.¬† Garnish with desired toppings (raw white or green onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, cheese, hot sauce, cilantro, tortilla chips, cheddar jalapeno beer bread, ¬†Greek yogurt/sour cream, corn bread…).

Beef Enchiladas with Roasted Corn

Published September 10, 2012 by jenmatteson

I love Mexican food!  Chili powder, cumin and red pepper are some of my absolute favorite seasonings.  I love onions, peppers, cilantro and pretty much anything spicy, and the proteins are pretty much interchangable; chicken, beef, shrimp, pork and beans are my usual suspects.  Yum!

I never order enchiladas in a restaraunt because the filling is generally pre-made with cheese in it.¬†ūüė¶¬† But, I decided it wouldn’t be too difficult to try it out, making mine without cheese, of course, but still adding it to the top and inside of Nate’s.¬† Normally, I would have used chicken, but I had shredded beef leftover in my freezer (from slow cooker¬†french dip sandwiches)¬†that I wanted to use up.¬† I thawed it and drained the juices, added to my enchilada¬†sauce base¬†vegetables, along with some sauce, and went from there.¬† I also had corn on the cob that needed to be used, so I roasted it on the grill, and added it to my filling.¬† Great addition!

These were really, really, very ¬†yummy, and bursting with flavors!¬† I can’t imagine how much better they would be if I had used chicken and cooked it in the enchilada sauce base, only for better seasoning.¬† Next time.¬† It’s a good thing we liked these, because we’ve got a ton of leftover filling, and had them the next day for the Vikings home opener (SKOL!), and made enough to have leftovers for lunch on Monday.

Beef Enchiladas with Roasted Corn

Source: Adapted from Prevention RD
Servings: 24 enchiladas


olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
3-4 cloves garlic
1 large tomato, chopped
2-3 lbs shredded beef, cooked
2 ears corn on the cob, roasted and cut off cob* (or about 1 1/2 cups cooked corn)
2 cups enchilada sauce, divided
1 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
2 cups mexican cheese blend, shredded
24 6-inch soft tortillas (corn or flour)
raw onion, sour cream, salsa and avocado for garnish


NOTE: If using my enchilada sauce recipe, skip to step 2 and use the vegetables from the sauce base instead of cooking more in step one.  If using canned enchilada sauce, start with step 1.

1. Preheat broiler.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, jalapenos, chili powder and cumin.  Saute until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and chopped tomato and cook for another 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. In a large bowl, combine cooked vegetables, roasted corn, shredded beef, and 1 cup enchilada sauce (enough to coat the mixture, but not so it’s soggy).¬† Mix in 1 cup cilantro and 1 cup shredded cheese.

3. Place tortillas on plate and cover with damp paper towel.¬† Microwave for 30 seconds.¬† Fill tortillas with 1/3 cup meat mixture, roll tightly and place in greased 9 x 13″ baking dish, seam side down (you should only be able to fit about 8 at a time and will need to repeat for remaining filling) and spray each with olive oil.¬† Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes, until tortillas begin to brown and crisp.

4. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Pour enchilada sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese (reserving more of each for additional enchiladas).  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and turn broiler on for 2 minutes, or until cheese browns and bubbles.

5. Garnish with cilantro, onion, sour cream and salsa as desired and serve.

*To roast corn, preheat grill to high heat.  Place corn in husks on grill until kernals on grill side are bright yellow, about 10-15 minutes.  Turn and grill for another 10-15 minutes, until corn is cooked all the way around.  Remove from grill and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove husks and silk, stand cob on one end, and cut kernals off cob in a downward motion.  Turn cob and repeat until no kernals remain.

Asian Surf and Turf Burgers

Published May 19, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’m always on the lookout for a new burger to try (enter Bobby Flay into my life), and many times I make them into turkey burgers. ¬†I saw a recipe for California Roll Burgers, and I love sushi, though california roll really isn’t a usual order for me, but I thought I’d give it a whirl anyway. ¬†I did use beef, as Bridget said she tried turkey it in the past, but the turkey flavor didn’t stand up to the crab.

I ended up altering the recipe a bit, only because Nate couldn’t find nori at the store, and the avocados were rock hard. ¬†So, seeing as though two ingredients that pretty much epitomizes California rolls were unavailable to me, I had to change the name to surf and turf burgers.

I have never used fish sauce before, and I got a little concerned when I was adding to my beef, as it smelled really strong.  My cats sure were getting excited though!  The end result was really good.  The wasabi soy mayo was a nice kick, but definitely not too over powering.  The beef was seasoned perfectly, and the crab mixture was a perfect finish.  I would have loved to have avocado to add a little creaminess, but it was still lovely without it.  Certainly, this is an outside the box burger, with flavors that almost everyone can appreciate.

Asian Surf and Turf Burgers

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles
Servings: 4 large, 6 medium-sized, 8 small burgers


2 lbs ground beef, no less than 90% lean
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
10 oz shelled king crab (from two legs, or pasteurized lump crab)
1/4 cup mayonnaise, divided
1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp wasabi powder
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
hamburger buns
1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
sesame seeds


1. In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper.  Mix gently with your fingertips, then begin to form into patties.  Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine crab meat and 2 tbsp mayonnaise.  In another small bowl, mix together remaining mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, wasabi powder, and soy sauce.  Set both bowls aside.

3. Grill burgers to preferred doneness.  When the burgers are almost done, toast the hamburger buns.

4. Spread wasabi mayonnaise on both sides of the buns, add cucumbers, burger, crab mixture, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and top with bun.

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