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Where’s the beef? In these five recipes for at-home dishes, beef can play a comforting role

UPDATED: Wed., April 15, 2020

We can’t have enough recipes during this novel coronavirus pandemic, and here to help this week is the Washington State Beef Commission with five simple recipes using beef and pantry and freezer staples.

The commission’s five recipes are beef and egg breakfast mugs, beef quesadillas, beef jerky trail mix (this is definitely in the running for the easiest recipe in recent memory), classic beef meatloaf and chocolate beefy brownies.

Coincidentally, last week’s Food section featured gluten-free meatloaf made with pork and brisket and brownies made with black beans. Which is more unusual, black bean brownies or beef brownies?

This new quintet for at-home preparation joins a list of quarantine recipes, and some before March but all by the local culinary industry, that includes artisan bread, pecan bars, crepes, balsamic roasted vegetables, sourdough pasta, vegan and vegetable dishes and even a few cocktails from a downtown mixologist.

But back to beef. Here are the five recipes:

Beef and Egg Breakfast Mugs

1 recipe Basic Country Beef Breakfast Sausage (see below)

1 cup chopped vegetables (tomato, baby spinach, bell pepper, zucchini or green onion)

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack or American)

8 large eggs

Salt and pepper (optional)

Optional toppings: Sour cream, salsa, Sriracha or ketchup

Prepare sausage. Remove skillet from heat; let it cool 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Evenly divide the beef and vegetables into eight food-safe quart-size plastic bags. Close securely and refrigerate up to 4 days.

For each serving, coat one 6- to 12-ounce microwave-safe mug or bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Add 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water; whisk with a fork. Stir in 1 bag refrigerated sausage-vegetable mixture.

Microwave, uncovered, on high 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave; stir. Continue to microwave on high 30 to 60 seconds or until egg is just set. Stir. Top with cheese. Let it stand 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with toppings, if desired.

Basic Country Beef Breakfast Sausage: Combine 1 pound ground beef (93% or leaner), 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper in a large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add sausage mixture; cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, breaking into 1/2-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally.

Taco seasoning variation: Prepare beef as directed above, substituting 1 packet (1 ounce) reduced-sodium taco seasoning mix for herbs and seasonings in sausage.

Beef Quesadillas

1 pound ground beef (90% to 95% lean)

1 jar (16 ounces) prepared salsa with black beans and corn

1 1/2 cups shredded spicy Mexican cheese blend or shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 large flour tortillas (10-inch diameter)

Chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add ground beef; cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, breaking into 3/4-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings.

Reserve 1/2 cup salsa. Add remaining salsa, cheese and 1/4 cup cilantro to beef; mix well. Spoon 1/4 of the beef mixture onto half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half to close. Place on a baking sheet.

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 11 minutes or until the filling is heated through and the edges of the tortillas are lightly browned and crisp. Sprinkle with cilantro, as desired; serve with reserved salsa.

Beef Jerky Trail Mix

1 cup chopped beef jerky

1/2 cup whole almonds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: You may substitute any nut for almonds, any dried fruit for cranberries and any seed for sunflower seeds.

Classic Beef Meatloaf

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (93% lean or leaner)

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce, divided

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1 egg

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Measure 1/4 cup tomato sauce, brown sugar and mustard into a small bowl; set aside for topping. Add remaining tomato sauce, ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, onion, Worcestershire, thyme, garlic salt and pepper to a large bowl; mix thoroughly but lightly.

Shape the beef mixture into an 8-by-4 1/2-inch loaf on a rack in a broiler pan. Spread the topping over the meatloaf. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers at 160 degrees.

Let it stand 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into slices.

Four-Pepper Meatloaf variation: Prepare meatloaf as above, adding 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper to the ground beef mixture.

Picadillo-Style Meatloaf variation: Prepare meatloaf as above, omitting thyme and adding 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed, to ground beef mixture.

Chocolate Beefy Brownies

1 cup cooked ground beef (93% lean or leaner), cooled

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Combine the chocolate, eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl; mix to combine. Add flour and baking powder to the chocolate mixture; mix until incorporated.

Add ground beef to a food processor. Pulse on and off for 30 seconds until the beef is broken into small pieces. Add beef and walnuts to the chocolate mixture; stir to combine.

Coat an 8-by-8-inch glass baking pan with cooking spray. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature before serving.

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