Category Archives: Ground meat & bacon recipes

Poblanos Stuffed with Wild Boar

We don’t go out to eat often, but when we do, I like to be inspired by the foods we eat. A few weeks ago, we had poblanos stuffed with wild boar at a wine dinner hosted by Koch Ranches. A few days later, I just *had* to go to their store and buy some wild boar so I could re-create those fantastic stuffed poblanos. So, with only a description of the dish (from the menu) and my ability (or inability) to “wing it”, we came up with this. And I think we came pretty darn close to the original!

If wild boar is not available, you can easily substitute ground beef or pork instead. Enjoy!

Poblanos Stuffed with Wild Boar
A Karen original recipe, inspired by Koch Ranches wine dinner 2016
Makes 8 servings

4 large poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed, cut in half lengthwise
1 lb ground wild boar meat
1 medium jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium sweet red bell pepper, diced
½ cup frozen corn kernels
6 oz chopped nopalitos (cactus)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup no-salt added canned tomato sauce
½ cup cilantro, chopped, divided
1 oz crumbled queso fresco cheese

1. Saute meat with peppers, onion, nopalitos, spices, salt, & pepper, and corn until onions are tender and meat is browned. Stir in tomato sauce. Let cool slightly, then stir in half of cilantro.

2. Meanwhile, bake poblano halves at 400 for 10-15 minutes, or until almost tender.

3. Fill poblano halves with meat mixture. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, or until poblanos are tender and filling is warmed through.

4. Top with queso fresco and remaining cilantro, serve warm.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 143.3
Total Fat: 3.6 g
Saturated Fat: 1.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.8 g
Cholesterol: 1.9 mg
Sodium: 200.3 mg
Potassium: 87.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 8.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.8 g
Sugars: 3.1 g
Protein: 15.3 g


Fiesta Soup

Years ago, I was scared to try new foods.  Really.  So when my mother-in-law brought this to our house when they visited, I was a little hesitant to try it.  But I actually *did* try it, I loved it.  I had to ask my mother-in-law for the recipe, and since I’ve been making it, it has become one of my favorite go-to  soups.  And it freezes well, so you get a lot of meals (and meals for the freezer) for very little effort.  Enjoy!

Fiesta Soup
Recipe from Mary Ross Smith
Makes about 12 cups

2 lbs ground turkey breast
1 onion, chopped
2 packages taco seasoning mix (I make homemade – see below)
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can black beans, undrained
1 can pinto beans, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomatoes w/green chiles (such as Rotel), undrained
2 cans white corn, undrained (I usually use 2 cups frozen corn kernels)
2 cups water
Fat-free shredded cheddar cheese and fat free sour cream (optional – not included in nutritional information)

In a large non-stick stockpot, brown turkey and onion together. Add seasoning mixes to meat. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours. More water can be added if too thick.

Garnish with shredded fat free cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, or fat-free sour cream (optional).

Homemade taco seasoning (equals 1 store-bought packet):
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp tomato powder

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
Calories: 216.8
Total Fat: 1.5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 659.3 mg
Potassium: 172.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 19.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.0 g
Sugars: 3.2 g
Protein: 25.3 g

Bacon Jam and Brie Tarts

I am a very organized person – I keep an inventory of my pantry, freezers, etc. on my phone. But sometimes I’m *still* surprised by what I find! A few days ago, I found a jar of bacon jam in the pantry. I thought, “What on earth did I buy this for? What was I planning to make with this?” So, I decided to do some online searching for recipes using bacon jam. I came across one on the Wry Toast blog, but it had instructions to *make* bacon jam (which I already had!), so I just adapted their method using my store-bought bacon jam. I ended up taking these to a friend’s house, and they were so popular that my friend asked me to bring these to the next party! These are soooo tasty! Enjoy!

Bacon Jam and Brie Tarts

Slightly adapted from Wry Toast blog
Serves 15 (appetizer)

2.5 Tbsp bacon jam (I used HEB’s Cookwell & Company Better Than Good Bacon Jam)
4 oz brie, rind cut off
1 pkg Athens Filo shells (15 per pkg)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Place phyllo shells into mini muffin pans. Cut rind off brie, then cut into 15 pieces. Place one piece of cheese into each shell. Top each with 1/2 tsp of bacon jam.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and shells are browned.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 47.8
Total Fat: 3.3 g
Saturated Fat:1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 8.4 mg
Sodium: 72.6 mg
Potassium: 11.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 2.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Sugars: 0.7 g
Protein: 1.7 g

Zucchini, Sausage, and Feta Casserole

I love zucchini, and usually in the summer we need LOTS of different recipes to use it! We’ve been making this recipe for years, and it really tastes great, and even freezes well! Enjoy!

Zucchini, Sausage, and Feta Casserole

Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2007
Serves 6

2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne (8 oz)
8 ounces ground turkey breast with 1/2 Tbsp italian sausage seasoning
Cooking spray
1 Tbsp olive oil
5 cups thinly sliced zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour*
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled fat-free feta cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1/2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add ground meat and sausage seasoning to pan; cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan. Heat oil in pan. Add zucchini, onion, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and zucchini begins to brown, stirring occasionally.

Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan; cook 1 minute. Combine zucchini mixture, pasta, sausage, and feta cheese in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 250.8
Total Fat: 3.6 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 20.4 mg
Sodium: 871.4 mg
Potassium: 450.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 40.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.9 g
Sugars: 3.2 g
Protein: 19.0 g

Beef & Black Bean Tacos

We love tacos in Texas, so recently I decided to do a twist on plain-old regular tacos. I didn’t have taco shells on hand, but I did have a package of 6-inch corn tortillas. And I didn’t have an entire pound of ground beef – I had 8oz, and I found cooked black beans in my freezer (about the equivalent of one can). So, I decided to do some improvising! I used the meat and beans together with my homemade taco seasoning, and I baked the tortillas in the oven (by turning my cupcake pan upside-down). It was a lot of fun, and they turned out great! Enjoy!

Beef & Black Bean Tacos

A Karen original recipe
Serves 4 (2 tacos per serving)

8 oz 93% lean ground beef, uncooked
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (about 1 can – if canned, then rinse & drain)
8 6-inch corn tortillas (I use HEB brand)
1 recipe homemade taco seasoning (see recipe below)
1/2 cup water
toppings – lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream, etc. (not included in nutritional info)

Bake tortillas upside-down in a cupcake pan at 425 for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, brown meat in medium skillet. Add taco seasoning, black beans, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer until thickened.

Fill tortillas with the beef & bean mixture.

Top with your favorite toppings (lettuce, salsa, cheese, etc.).

Nutritional info:
Calories 287.7
Total Fat 5.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Cholesterol 30.0 mg
Sodium 349.0 mg
Potassium 430.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 40.5 g
Dietary Fiber 7.0 g
Sugars 0.6 g
Protein 19.5 g

Homemade taco seasoning (equals 1 store-bought packet)

Adapted from unknown recipe source
Makes 1 “packet”, 4 servings

1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp tomato powder

For tacos, mix with 1/2 cup water and cooked ground meat.

Nutritional info per serving:
Calories: 7.6
Total Fat:: 0.2 g
Saturated Fat: 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 298.8 mg
Potassium: 53.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 2.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Sugars: 0.6 g
Protein: 0.3 g

Beans, Greens, and Pork Stew with Chipotles

While it’s still (barely) winter in TX, and while we still have some winter produce available, I thought I’d try this recipe from “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook.” Although it took a bit of time to prep (the soaking/cooking of the beans, and the couple of hours of simmering the meat), it was definitely worthwhile. It ended up being pretty spicy due to the two chipotles, but we liked it (and it can easily be toned down). Enjoy!

Beans, Greens, and Pork Stew with Chipotles

Adapted from “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook” recipe from Amelia Saltsman
Serves 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean, trimmed pork loin, cut into cubes
8 oz lean italian sausage, removed from casings (I used venison italian sausage)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle chiles (from canned in adobo sauce), divided
3 whole sun dried tomatoes, chopped
3 cups cooked pinto beans (from 8 oz dry)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 bunches swiss chard (about 1.5 lbs), stemmed and roughly chopped

Soak and cook beans (this can be done the day before). Place soaked beans and one chipotle chile in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring water to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer beans covered until tender, 45-60 minutes. Alternatively, add soaked beans, chile, and water to a pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 25 minutes. After cooking, add salt to taste, cover beans in their cooking liquid, and set aside (or refrigerate the next day).

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and brown the pork and sausage about 5 minutes. Remove meat to a plate and set aside. To the same pot, add the chopped onions and garlic and turn the heat to medium. Cook until onions are tender and garlic lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the meat and its juices to the pot and add one chipotle, the tomatoes, and three cups of water.

Turn heat to low and simmer covered until meat is tender, 1-2 hours, adding more water as needed to keep a little sauce going.

Add cooked beans plus their liquid to the meat. Add about 6 cups of water, and simmer until meat, beans and liquid are hot. Season with salt and smoked paprika. Next, add chopped greens and cook until tender, 5-10 minutes.

Serve with grilled thick slices of sourdough bread, if desired.

**Note** If you want the soup to be less spicy, reduce the number of chipotle chiles (use one in either the meat or the beans, but not both).

Nutritional info:
Calories: 297.3
Total Fat: 12.5 g
Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 22.2 mg
Sodium: 694.0 mg
Potassium: 1,025.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate:23.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 8.0 g
Sugars: 1.4 g
Protein: 24.0 g

BBQ Meatballs

I’ve been making meatballs for years – usually for Italian recipes, but only a few years ago my sister mentioned this method of making BBQ meatballs in the crockpot. She told me they had grape jelly in them, and I was shocked! But they were tasty!

A couple of months ago, my husband was having some friends over to watch football, and I wanted to serve some football-type appetizers.  So I looked online for a recipe that seemed similar to my sister’s method and found the recipe on the “I heart naptime” blog. I used my homemade meatball recipe (just without Italian seasonings) instead of premade meatballs, but otherwise the method is the same.

These turned out great! We served them straight out of the crockpot, and my husband set out some small rolls for the guys who wanted to make a mini-meatball sub. They were a big hit!

BBQ Meatballs

Slightly adapted from I heart naptime blog
Serves 50 (per meatball)

2 recipes homemade meatballs (25 meatballs per recipe), without Italian seasoning
1 18oz jar organic grape jelly
1 18oz jar barbecue sauce (I like KC Masterpiece)

Mix cooked meatballs, jelly, and bbq sauce in a crockpot. Heat until warm (about 2 hours), serve.

Nutritional info (per meatball):
Calories 71.9
Total Fat 0.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 17.4 mg
Sodium 135.6 mg
Potassium 2.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 11.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Sugars 9.6 g
Protein 4.0 g

Stuffed Chard with Fresh Marinara

While it’s getting cold everywhere else, we are still getting lots of greens at the farmer’s markets here in TX. I bought some swiss chard the other day just so that I could make this recipe. Although it takes a bit of work to put together, it is fantastic! And the sauce can be made ahead and frozen, too. Enjoy!

Stuffed Chard with Fresh Marinara

Adapted from Eating Well
Serves 4

1 pound 93% lean ground beef
1/4 cup oatmeal
2 medium shallots, minced, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
8 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Fresh parsley, oregano, and basil – chopped (about 3 Tbsp total)
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese*, (optional – we didn’t use, so not included in nutritional info)

Gently mix beef, oatmeal, 1 tablespoon shallot, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1 Tbsp chopped herbs, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Divide the mixture into 8 oblong 3-inch portions.

Overlap the two sides of a chard leaf where the stem was removed and place a portion of beef there. Tightly roll the chard around the beef. Place each roll, seam-side down, in a large nonstick skillet. Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads 165°F, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any remaining broth.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining shallot, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot is soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Add remaining chopped herbs to the sauce during last 2 minutes of cooking.

Serve the chard rolls topped with sauce and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

**Note** To make a more complete meal, serve over polenta or your favorite whole wheat pasta.

**Note 2** This makes a *lot* of sauce. We usually only use 1/2 the sauce for the entire recipe. The remaining sauce can be frozen and used later.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 343.0
Total Fat: 12.7 g
Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.6 g
Cholesterol: 65.0 mg
Sodium: 664.1 mg
Potassium: 1,367.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 26.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.6 g
Sugars: 1.6 g
Protein: 30.8 g

Nutritional information (using only 1/2 of sauce):
Calories: 291.4
Total Fat: 10.1 g
Saturated Fat: 3.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 65.0 mg
Sodium: 533.4 mg
Potassium: 1,077.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 19.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.8 g
Sugars: 1.6 g
Protein: 29.2 g

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

In the summertime, when peppers are *everywhere* here in Texas, the bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers show up at all sorts of parties and events. In fact, our local grocery store makes ready-to-cook filled & wrapped peppers (that you can just cook in the oven or on the grill). But they are so easy to make at home, that I thought I’d give it a try. The result? SO tasty! Enjoy!

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

A Karen original recipe
10 servings

5 large jalapenos, cut in half (with ribs and seeds removed
10 Tbsp whipped cream cheese
5 slices bacon, cut in half

Cut peppers in half, removing seeds and ribs. Fill each half with 1 Tbsp whipped cream cheese, wrap each with 1/2 slice of uncooked bacon.

Preheat grill to medium. Place peppers on grill and cook until bacon is cooked and peppers are tender, about 10 minutes.

Alternatively, preheat oven to 400, and place peppers on a tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until peppers are tender and bacon is cooked.

Nutritional info:
Calories: 53.1
Total Fat: 4.0 g
Saturated Fat: 2.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 12.0 mg
Sodium: 143.6 mg
Potassium: 15.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 1.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Sugars: 0.7 g
Protein: 2.1 g

Chinese Meatballs with Cabbage

So – don’t be fooled by the title – this isn’t “real” Chinese food – but it is a tasty recipe with some added Asian flavors. I got the recipe many years ago from a friend, and only a couple of years ago decided to give it a try. And I’ve been making it ever since.

Although “meatballs” and “Chinese” seem as though they contradict each other, this recipe is a keeper. Plus, it’s a great way to use extra cabbage!

We like this recipe served over brown rice for dinner, but it also freezes and reheats well, too. It’s a perfect recipe to make to stock the freezer with homemade lunches! Enjoy!

Chinese Meatballs with Cabbage
Adapted from Erin’s recipe
Serves 4

1lb ground lean pork loin (I ground the trimmed pork loin myself on my kitchenaid grinder)
2 scallions, chopped
1 TBS Hoisin sauce
1 TBS minced Ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup oats
1 egg

1 head Napa cabbage, shredded (I used the slicer attachment on my food processor)
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
3 TBS Low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 TBS cornstarch w/2 Tbsp water, mix, set aside
1/2 cup water – for thinning the sauce (may not use all of it)

Combine top ingredients through egg in bowl and form into small meatballs.

Bake in oven at 400 for 10-15 minutes until beginning to brown. Take out and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, add the cabbage, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Cover and cook the cabbage over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the baked meatballs into the pot and toss with cabbage. Turn heat up to medium, cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Push meatballs and cabbage toward the sides of the pot. Add dissolved cornstarch to the liquid in center of the pot. Stir for a few seconds, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Mix well with the cabbage and meatballs. Add water as needed to thin sauce to desired consistency.

*Note* You can substitute ground turkey or chicken for the pork loin in this recipe – the nutritional info will change, but it will still be delicious!

Nutritional info:
Calories: 290.0
Total Fat: 6.5 g
Saturated Fat: 1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 108.6 mg
Sodium: 863.7 mg
Potassium: 1,152.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 26.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.6 g
Sugars: 2.7 g
Protein: 32.6 g