Try these Weeknight Taco Sloppy Joe’s with Grassfed beef!

I stopped by Isabelle Farm stand to pick up some veggies. I realized that as long as I was there I should get everything I needed for dinner. Since Raleigh Street Bakery was there I decided to work with their delicious bread. I make sourdough bread myself but theirs is better!

raleigh-st-bakery-pretzel-rollsThey had some lovely little pretzel rolls so that’s what I chose. I decided to pay a little extra to save a trip and get ground beef there. It was grass fed, which I normally don’t love, but I thought I’d give it a shot. With the ingredients decided, what to make? Mexican Sloppy Joe’s on the pretzel rolls!

Mayo Clinic says, “When compared with other types of beef, grassfed beef may have: Less total fat. More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks.” That said, I like 80 or 85% fat, but well drained. According to Best food facts, this brings it down to 90%.

The grass fed did taste cleaner and my husband loved it. I had to add zucchini, tomatoes and Pace’s picante to make it interesting enough for me though!

taco-sloppy-joes-meat1lb. ground beef

1 red onion, chopped

1 garlic clove

1 zucchini

1 tomato

1 T. Olive oil

3 T. ancho chili powder

1 t. salt

1 t. pepper

1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano

Pinch of cumin

1/4 c. Pace’s picante sauce medium

Pretzel rolls or hamburger buns

Saute the onion and garlic with 1/2 T. olive oil and set aside. Brown the ground beef with salt and pepper and the spices including chili powder. Add grated zuchini and tomato and the reserved onion and garlic. Continue cooking until the vegies are soft. Add the paces picante. Cook two more minutes. Serve on pretzel rolls or hamburger buns. These remind me of taco burgers from Taco Bell!


Julia Child’s Vichyssoise

Since I am spending a lot of time cooking for one, I have been looking for recipes that I can freeze or turn into something else later in the week. Soups are such a savior for me because I can make a big batch, keep out two servings and freeze the rest for later. That way I don’t have to eat the same thing for a week in a row and I have something convenient and usually healthy after working all day. It helps a ton knowing that I can come home, pull soup from the freezer and have dinner in under 20 minutes with very little effort. I have saved a fortune doing this since I don’t feel compelled to stop for take out! Bonus: a soup like this is both economical and elegant.

I have been inspired this week to pull out Mastering the Art of French Cooking in honor of Julia Child’s birthday month. Leek and Potato soup is one of the very first recipes in the book and a wonderful easy way to dig in. I have some favorites of hers, but things like Beef Bourguignon or Chocolate Mousse are complicated and have a ton of ingredients. Sometimes making these dishes, I feel like I use every pot and pan I own! This soup was simple, straightforward with very few ingredients. It is also really versatile. The first night, after cooking, I just ladled it into a mug to be eaten on the couch. The second night, I had this as chilled vichyssoise; perfect for a warm summer evening. Fresh herbs from my garden on top and a glass of Rosé were the perfect compliment. If you wanted to go a step further, you could use this as a base and add anything you love. It is the perfect canvas to get creative. Enjoy a classic!

Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup)

  • 3-4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white & a bit of the tender green part)
  • 3-4 cups diced potatoes (baking potatoes recommended)
  • 6 to 7 cups water
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 4-6 T heavy cream or 2-3 T butter (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chives or parsley, minced

Bring the leeks, potatoes and water to the boil in a large pot. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 40-50 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Mash the vegetables or purée the soup. Taste, and correct seasoning. Off the heat, stir in the cream or butter. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. Taste carefully again, and correct the seasoning (sometimes salt becomes muted when chilled). Top each serving with a sprinkle of chives or parsley.

Note: the original recipe calls for water only. I almost always sub chicken stock for water, but refrained this time. I think stock always adds something, especially when you have homemade stock on hand. I also used an immersion blender which produced a silky texture. You could purée half the soup and leave it a bit chunkier.


Sunday Supper

Summertime and grilling go hand in hand. Even more so when my wonderful BF is here to help me divide and conquer on dinner prep. Tonight’s dinner was a great team effort and if I do say so myself, one of the better things we have put together in a while! A combination of Cedar Plank Salmon with a Soy Thyme Marinade, Grilled Potato Salad with a Lemon and Scallion Vinaigrette finished with a dessert of Grilled Pineapple Glazed with Whiskey Peach Jam with Whipped Cream and Mint. Such a nice way to spend a Sunday evening while preparing for the week ahead! The cedar plank really adds a special flavor to salmon without being overpowering. You will also see some lovely caramelization on the fish. The potato salad has a fantastic heat from the jalapeño with brightness from the lemon and scallion. We also included some grilled bell pepper to round out the plate. Finishing with the pineapple gave the perfect sweet way to end the meal. Enjoy a healthy but flavorful meal; great for a group or just a quiet meal for two. Enjoy the week ahead!


Cedar Plank Salmon with Soy Thyme Vinaigrette


1 Lb Wild Salmon

4 T Soy Lime Marinade from Sisters Pantry (You can sub soy sauce and lime juice with some crushed garlic and/or grated ginger)

1 Sprig of fresh thyme

1 Cedar Plank, soaked for 1-2 hours

Place soy & thyme in a zip top bag with the salmon. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to several hours. Pre-heat grill to high temp. Place Cedar plank on the grill with the salmon on top. Close the lid and allow to cook for 15-17 minutes. Remove from the grill and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Grilled Potato and Scallion Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Adapted from Food and Wine


1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes

Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Juice of one lemon juice

1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, grilled then thinly sliced

In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then halve lengthwise. Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down over high heat until lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. In a large bowl, whisk the 1/3 cup of olive oil with the vinegar and lemon juice. Add the scallions, jalapeño and potatoes and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Note: I improvised a bit since our store did not have fingerling potatoes. Since the small boiling potatoes I used were small, I wrapped them in foil cut side down to save myself from turning a thousand tiny potatoes on the grill. This was still a fantastic dish, but the grill marks and char would add something. The original recipe grilled the scallions as well, but I liked the bite of the fresh scallion.


Grilled Pineapple with Peach Bourbon Jam, Whipped Cream and Fresh Mint


1 Pineapple, cleaned and cored, cut into 1-2″ sticks

2-4 T Whiskey Peach Jam, we used Deliciousness (this is optional but highly recommended)

Whipped Cream to taste

Place pineapple in foil and cover with peach jam. Grill pineapple until tender, juicy and beginning to caramelize (about 10-12 minutes). Place 1-2 sticks of pineapple per plate, garnish with whipped cream and fresh mint. Enjoy!


**All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for any recommendations in this post. These are things I enjoy and use in my kitchen!

Grilled Veggie and Chicken Farro Salad with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

As promised, I want to share my new recipe attempt this week in my Farro Salad made in the Instant Pot. I got the Instant Pot as a gift for Christmas. At first, I felt intimidated by it, but Mary had a stove problem and was left without one for a few weeks. I took my Instant Pot over along with some crockpot meals I had made and stored in the freezer. It was a good introduction and now I have been trying to incorporate it into my regular repertoire. Farro seemed like a great fit for a pressure cooker. It is a wonderful grain that I first made when I had Blue Apron. I had bought some after that and it has just sat in my pantry waiting for the right recipe (or for me to remember it was there 😀 ).  Farro can take a long time to cook because it absorbs less water than rice over a longer time frame. The Instant Pot takes care of that taking the cooking from an hour to about 20 minutes. I also love that I can set it and not worry too much about it, since it will let me know when the time is up. The other great thing about farro is that you can mix things up early in the week and it will hold up without getting soggy. The grilled veggies add great smoky flavor and the vinaigrette is bright and flavorful. Enjoy right away or later in the week!


Grilled Veggie and Chicken Farro Salad with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Juice from two lemons, reserve the zest from one

1 cup uncooked farro

Kosher salt & cracked black pepper

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 red onion, cut into wedges

3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, torn basil leaves, and thyme leaves (or whatever you have on hand)


For the Vinaigrette:

Mix the juice from one lemon, olive oil, salt pepper and honey if you have it. Reserve for the salad.

For the Farro:

I started the farro on the saute function with a bit of butter and some green onions. Once the onions start to soften, add the farro to toast the grain until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cancel that function and add the liquid. I used chicken stock, but water would also work. You can season this with whatever you like for any recipe you have on hand. Put the lid on and lock. Set the function to manual and set the timer for 15-20 minutes. I live at altitude and sometimes grains need a little extra time and liquid here. I usually add an extra 1/4 cup of liquid and 5-10 minutes of time. You could shorten the cooking time and let the Instant Pot slow release. I am a bit impatient and let it go a little longer and used the quick release. I pulled the lid off and left it on keep warm for about 5 minutes to let some of the liquid finish absorb. Unlike rice, you will still need to strain off the extra liquid. Once finished, put in a large bowl and toss with a couple tablespoons of vinaigrette and the lemon zest. Set aside while you prepare the veggies and chicken.

For the Grill:

Combine juice from one lemon, the crushed garlic, half of the the herbs, salt, pepper and a little olive oil in a zip top bag. Add the chicken and marinate 30 minutes to several hours. Prepare the veggies and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Preheat the grill. Cook the chicken 5-7 minutes per side, until golden and cooked through. Cook the veggies until charred and tender. Times will vary depending on what you use. Chop finished chicken and veggies into bite sized and roughly uniform pieces.

Finish by combining the cooked farro, veggies, chicken and toss with the rest of the vinaigrette (to taste). Enjoy!



**All opinions are my own and I was not compensated by any of the products mentioned. These are just things I use in my kitchen.