superdumb supervillain: Cooking for Kids With Kansas Beef

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cooking for Kids With Kansas Beef

I recently went back to work full-time and it's been quite a shock to our household. I've never been the most strategic of housekeepers or recipe planners, so making sure the kids have something good to eat at a reasonable hour has been a bit of a struggle for me as the school year progresses.

Roo and Jasper are not super picky eaters and, luckily, have no food allergies but they are also woefully unadventurous. (Unless they're with their grandmother, who can apparently get them to try anything, much to my chagrin and her delight.) Let's see, they like grilled cheese, chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. Anything else is met with some skepticism. I can't wait until they grow out of this particular stage.

Since I am personally out of ideas at the end of the day, it's great that the Kansas Beef Council sent me a bunch of family-friendly recipes to liven up not only family dinnertime but also the fear-inducing school lunch repertoire. Here's a sample of the kid-friendly recipes you'll find on the Beef, It's What's For Dinner website:

Easy-to-pack Lunch Collection:
·         Sweet Potato Beef Mash Up: Ground Beef and sweet potato chunks get wrapped up in a whole-wheat tortilla.*
·         Rock and Roll Beef Wrap: A colorful way to introduce quinoa to your kids with ranch-seasoned Ground Beef and slaw.*
·         Mu Shu Steak & Apple Wraps: Hand-held and perfectly portable, these Steak, apple and slaw wraps are great on the go.

Nutritious Dinner Collection:
·         Spy Thai Beef: Peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger and garlic introduce ethnic flavors to picky palates.*
·         Sweet and Sloppy Joe: This recipe incorporates lots of veggies for a nutritious take on a kid favorite.*
·         Hoisin BBQ Steak-On-A-Stick with Pineapple Salsa: Little and big hands alike can enjoy bite-sized beef cubes, topped with a colorful four ingredient salsa.

*Watch for this item on your child’s school lunch menu! This recipe has been shared in its foodservice format with school districts across Kansas.

I decided to try the Spy Thai Beef recipe, which looked easy and delicious. In an ideal world, the plated dish would look like this:

My Spy Thai Beef ended up considerably less attractive but, hey, at least it tasted good. It started off, as so many yummy things do, with some ground beef:

You brown the beef and then add ginger, soy sauce, garlic and peanut butter for sort of an Asian-inflected sloppy joe.

Here's where I went wrong. I thought it would be novel to bake the won ton wrappers in muffin tins, to make little baskets for the filling, instead of baking simple triangles to scoop up the beef with. Hey, I saw it on Pinterest, so it looked doable. Except I didn't pull them out of the oven quickly enough and they ended up a bit darker than expected. Pinterest fail, yet again. Sigh.

Truth be told, the peanutty beef isn't the world's prettiest stuff either. It definitely needs the green onion garnish to boost its plate appeal. 

It wasn't a huge winner on looks but it did taste good. I served it with some stir fried veggies on the side and it was done in less than a half hour, so I considered it a success.

Since it's October, I'll share a recent beef adventure I undertook. Bob's always talking about this German dish, rouladen, that his mom used to make. I found a couple of recipes online and decided to try it out for a backyard Oktoberfest we hosted.

Ingredients: flank steak, bacon, pickles, stone ground mustard and onions.

I've never actually used our meat tenderizer before but it was strangely satisfying to pound the flank steak with a brutally spiked aluminum mallet. After that was accomplished, I cut the steak into strips and slathered them with mustard on one side. Then I layered each strip with sliced onions, bacon and a pickle and tried to roll them up daintily before skewering them with jumbo toothpicks. As you can imagine, my rolls were less than perfect. Martha I am not. You toss these rolls into a pan and brown them in butter. It smelled amazing.

After the rolls (rouladen, auf Deutsch) were browned, I put them into a casserole dish and topped them with some mushroom bouillion. I topped them with the extra onions I had cut up and sauteed in the pan drippings. Yeah, I know. This is not necessarily endorsed as a healthy beef dish although I think the Kansas Beef Council would be okay with  it, due to all the Mennonite and German heritage in our state…

Anyhow, once again I managed to make a dish that tastes WAY better than it looks! Accessorized with a ton of pickled cabbage-based sides, rouladen was a hit at our Oktoberfest. Prost!

In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and the WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I received a gift card to buy beef for this postNo additional compensation was provided. All opinions are, as usual, entirely my own. 

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