Easy Ground Beef Mushroom Stroganoff

Is ground beef mushroom stroganoff a thing? I’ve heard of beef stroganoff, but never ground beef mushroom stroganoff. Oh well, I’m going with it because it was delicious and there were no leftovers because my family devoured this recipe.

I’ve been craving rich, creamy pasta dishes lately. There’s something about cooler temperatures and comfort foods loaded with that umami flavor that is just irresistible to me. I’ve been wanting beef stroganoff and I looked on Pinterest but didn’t find quite what I was looking for, so I went recipe-rogue and made my own.

Here’s what you need:

  • Two tablespoons butter or canola oil
  • 1 – white onion – diced
  • 1 – green pepper – diced
  • 1 –  2 cups chopped baby portabella mushrooms (one of the small boxes of mushrooms chopped up!)
  • 1 lb. of ground beef or ground sirloin
  • 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom with Roasted Garlic soup
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of sour cream (you’ll adjust to suit your taste)
  • 1 – 16 ounce box of rotini pasta
  1. Boil the pasta and while it cooks…
  2. Warm the butter or oil over medium/medium-high heat in a large frying pan, then saute the diced onion until translucent.
  3. Add the green pepper and cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add chopped portabella mushrooms, cook for three to five minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Now would be a good time to check the pasta and if it’s done, drain, toss with a bit of oil, and set aside.
  6. When the mushrooms are tender, push the veggies off to the side of the pan and add the ground beef. As the beef starts to cook, slowly mix in the veggies and allow the beef to cook thoroughly.
  7. When the beef and veggies are cooked, turn the heat to medium/medium-low and add the can of soup, mixing well. I also added about a half cup of water but you can adjust the amount depending on desired thickness.
  8. Add the sour cream, adjusting to your desired level of sour creaminess.
  9. You’re done – serve the stroganoff over the pasta with a veggie! (We had sautéed zucchini!)

There you have it – a fast and easy beef stroganoff spin-off that doesn’t take any time at all. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Photo credit:Christine Siracusa on Unsplash

I <3 Lidl

Lidl is a German grocery store chain that recently started opening stores in the U.S. Specifically, they’re starting in North Carolina and Virginia and there’s one not far from my house.

Before I tell you more, I’m going to let you know that I love grocery stores. Growing up my extended family owned and operated grocery stores and I worked in grocery stores as a teenager. The first time I went to California I called my family from Safeway because I couldn’t wait to tell them how cool it was. I even sent them photos of the store’s walk-in wine cooler. I have tourist photos of grocery stores. I mean business, people.

I’ve tried to include photos here, but didn’t take photos in the busiest spots of the store. I didn’t want to be that weird stranger taking random photos of people.

I love Lidl. Lidl is the baby that Target and Aldi would have if they hooked up. It’s well-organized, has great prices on store-brands, and competitive prices on name brands. It sells a huge variety of stuff in a small space. The quality of produce and meat is top notch and the bakery, oh, the bakery. Well, I’ll tell you about that now…

The bakery sales breads, donuts, sweet pastries, savory pastries (think mini-pizzas with veggie toppings) and bagels. It’s basically a “serve yourself” bakery, so you grab a paper bag and grab your own items from gigantic bread boxes. You can also use their bread slicing machine which is like magic and proof that Lidl has enough faith in humanity that they think we can handle the decision of bread slice thickness. *fist bump to Lidl*

Meat/Seafood/Dairy…Cheese and the perfect Charcuterie Platter
I find that the quality of the meat, seafood, and dairy items are pretty good. We’ve had a roast and salmon from Lidl that were awesome, ribs that were so-so. The manchego that comes in at about $3 a pound is a bit drier than most manchego I’ve had, but it’s still delish and who am I to belittle a perfectly good cheese?

They also have a wide variety of packaged meats and cheeses that is better than most other grocery stores. You can create an epic meat and cheese platter…or if you want to get fancy, call it charcuterie. Some veggies, a good piece of bread, cheese, meat… I’m getting hungry.

Personal Care and Home Care
They have a limited quantity of personal and home care items. Store brand dish soap, clothing soap, hand soap. Household cleaners, feminine products, hygiene items like cotton swabs, baby items like shampoo, diapers, and wipes. Some of these things are name brands, others are store brand. I’ve found the quality of all the Lidl brand products in this category to be great.

Surprises only last until the store runs out. In any given week you’ll find items ranging from cycling jerseys to coffee makers to plant stands to dish sets. The prices are fair and the items are a mix of name brand and Lidl brand. I’m still mourning an adorable tiered plant stand I didn’t get because I waited too long!

Produce at Lidl is competitive with local brands and is often from the same sources used by other local grocers. They don’t have a huge variety, but everything is fresh and you can pick up most of what you might need for a week’s worth of meals.

Specialty Foods
In the last month or so my area Lidl has been stocking up on Italian foods – yummy cookies, unique pastas, you name it. It seems like this is cyclical, so maybe at a different time there will be German or Greek delicacies, for instance.

Beer and Wine
The beer and wine section is HUGE! And the prices are very fair. Lidl doesn’t carry overly expensive bottles of wine, but they take care to cover all price points. I’ll let the photo do the talking!

Definitely, check out Lidl when it comes to your neighborhood! It’s fantastic and I think it will change the way Americans grocery shop.

All Lidl photos by me. Featured photo of awesome food spread by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash

Freezer case of awesomeness at Lidl
Amazing beer and wine selection


Goalpaper: You’re plenty sweet!

What do you put on your smartphone lock screen? Pictures of your kids? Cool scenery? Cute designs? I put my goals on my lock screen, because I’m constantly looking at the damn thing, so I may as well make good use of it.

Whenever I make my goalpapers (goals + wallpaper = goalpaper! wahoo!) I try to make them say something that’s meaningful to me but really doesn’t mean much to anyone else who may glance at my phone. You know, snoopy people.

Lately, I’ve been trying to eat less sugar. I went on a bender for most of April and May. And June and July. Okay, I basically have been living life as a human chipper-shredder of all things sugar. I let myself eat whatever, and now I’m sitting here in shorts that are just a bit snug and I don’t appreciate the wedgie. I know that when I stick to the World Health Organization suggestion of 25 grams of sugar a day or less, I stay at a healthy weight. (Technically the recommendation is 10% of your intake of calories should come from sugar, or between 25 and 50 grams.)

My goalpaper this week is a reminder that I’m plenty sweet without more sugar. I hope you find it to be a good reminder too!

I made this cute iPhone 6 wallpaper using Canva. You can click on the image below to download it for your phone.

Featured image thanks to Gili Benita on Unsplash
iPhone 6 wallpaper/goalpaper by me, Christine, using Canva.

Support your local farmers. Be lazy.

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

In almost every place we’ve ever lived, I’ve signed us up for the local CSA or, Community Supported Agriculture, cooperative. Here in North Carolina, we belong to the Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative. A CSA allows participants to pay a weekly, monthly, or seasonal fee to become a shareholder, of sorts, at a farm, or multiple farms. In return for your fee you get a box of fresh fruits and veggies from local farmers each week. Sometimes you even get bread, jams or jellies, and sweets. In most places the fee starts at around $24-$30 a week, which is pretty darn fair if you tend to eat a lot of fresh food.

Here are four of my reasons for joining the co-op.

I like to sleep in.
Farmers markets are nice, but dear Lord, must they all start at 7 am? I just can’t do that. I’m barely functional by 9 and let’s face it, if you don’t get to a farmers market early, there’s almost nothing left after the first couple hours. My CSA box allows me to sleep in and I get to pick it up from the local coffee shop between 5 and 7 PM on Thursdays. Late pick up, coffee, fresh veggies. Win. Win. Win. Zzzzz.

I want to garden, but I just don’t.
I’m an intern master gardener. It means I’m not quite a master gardener because I haven’t finished my volunteer hours yet. I love gardening. I do want to garden, but I don’t. I have a few sad tomato plants that are neglected. I’m chasing kids and trying to work and and and…so, hellllloooo CSA. All the healthy benefits of a garden (lovely veggies, fruits, etc.), none of the watering or bug bites.

I’m a little bit lazy.
I like to really look over my food at the store, see what’s in season, review the prices, check the quality, see what’s “Clean 15” or “Dirty Dozen” or organic. But there are days when I’m trying to balance life stuff and I just grab stuff and don’t check and the next thing I know I have four rotten tomatoes because they were already starting to turn at the store but I didn’t notice. With a CSA, you get things at the peak of ripeness, so no more rotting food. And if you join a CSA featuring organic farmers, then you don’t have to worry about looking for organic labels or “Clean 15” items.

I like pretending I own a farm.
When you join a CSA, you become a part of a community, and most of the CSAs we’ve belonged to have held community events. Farm tours, community meals made of farm-fresh products, and even chances to volunteer to pack weekly boxes. It’s a fun chance to check out farms, meet the people who grow your food, and just hang out with people who like food as much as you do. And, during farm tours I daydream about my own super amazing future farm, because, a girl can dream, right?

Are you a member of a CSA? What are your reasons for joining?

A meal delivery service changed the way I cook forever…

When I first heard of meal delivery services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, I thought that there was no way in hell I’d need such a thing.  My thoughts veered toward food snobbery – first, I know how to cook!  I have tried-and-true recipes!  I’m a kitchen goddess! (Wishful thinking…) Secondly – I live in Hawaii – they aren’t going to ship that box here!  Thirdly – the expense – I can go to the store and buy ingredients for far less! Smug, smug, smug, smuggity smug with a side of “so there”.

Fast forward to Christmas 2014.  A very pregnant me received a subscription to Fresh Box from The Sarge.  I had pretty much stopped cooking and most of our meals came from boxes, cans, or delivery.  I couldn’t go to the grocery store because the mere sight of food made me ill.  Fresh Box meal delivery became our saving grace.

Fresh Box is based here in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, so my shipping argument went out the window.  Every week The Sarge and I would visit the Fresh Box website.  If we liked the three meals that were available that week, we’d order the box for $72.00.  The owners would deliver it to my office for me – though I could have chosen home delivery too.  Inside were all the fresh ingredients we – and by “we”, I mean The Sarge – would need to make three health dinners for two adults.

I didn’t think I’d like it…and I didn’t.  I LOVED IT.  We aren’t getting boxes right now because I’m on maternity leave and am home to cook.  But when I get back to work, we’ll be back to our Fresh Box subscription.

Here’s what we learned from our meal delivery experience:

Have higher standards for the ingredients you purchase.  The meat and produce we received in our meal deliveries where always very fresh and had excellent shelf life.  Everything was organic and was of highest quality.  I had gotten used to grabbing whatever was on the shelf at the grocery.  Instead I join my local CSA or go to the grocery store that has higher quality produce or if all else fails, am just more selective when selecting produce and meat at my usual grocery store.

Time is money.  And it takes a long time to grocery shop.  I thought that $72.00 was expensive, but I was wrong.  The value we received was so high that my cost argument seemed silly.  Trying to grocery shop and then cook after a 12 hour work day was insane.  Having everything we needed to cook a healthy meal from scratch plus all the instructions to do it was worth every single dang penny.

There are more cooking techniques than boil and fry.  The recipes pushed us to learn new techniques – searing and broiling were added to our slim repertoire and we learned to appreciate how the cooking technique changes the final meal.

Herbs change a meal in ways we never understood. I was never one to shy away from trying herbs and herb blends in my cooking, but I never truly understood how much they could change a dish.  One night we forgot to add one of the herbs to our meal and half way through eating we mixed it in.  It was like a different dish!  So we got in to the habit of trying the meals we made without and then with certain ingredients and learned a lot about how herbs impact a meal.

We weren’t as adventurous as we thought we were.  The Sarge and I always thought we were pretty open minded eaters.  We aren’t picky and we like trying new things.  But that’s mostly at restaurants.  When walking through the grocery store we had blinders on to new foods and were stuck in the rut of picking up the ingredients we knew.  Meal delivery offered up new types of veggies and cuts of meat that we had never tried and we were pleasantly surprised by what we were introduced to!

Meal delivery is pretty amazing.  I guess you could say I’m eating crow but that’s actually not in the box! (Har har!  See what I did there?)

Featured photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash