Beefy meals and snacks

Cynthia Stone
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A colleague remarked the other day that snacking is her biggest problem. Mine too, but not for the same reason.
When she craves a roast beef sandwich at midnight, nothing in her fridge fills the bill - maybe that's why she's so slender. When I open that door, I see a thousand possibilities for savoury satisfaction.
I'm not sure I'm helping you or hurting you today, but here's my take on three recipes that do double duty.
They start out as great meals and finish up as fast and fabulous snacks - talk about your win-win.

Italian Roast Beef
and Toasted Hot Sandwiches

Let's face it: cooked sliced roast beef does not taste great out of the freezer. If you absolutely must, cut a chunk out of the middle of your next rare roast and wrap it tightly in freezer paper. Thaw in the fridge and microwave until hot, or use on cold sandwiches with plenty of mustard and mayo.
This version, on the other hand, is spectacular out of the freezer. Serve it tonight on pasta then freeze enough in zipper bags for a couple of snacks next month - it will be every bit as good and a completely different meal.
3-4 lb. roast beef - cheapest cut you can find
1 tsp. each salt and pepper (divided)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
ciabatta or other large rolls and butter
Rub about half the salt and pepper into the roast. Allow to sit at room temperature about an hour. In a Dutch oven, brown roast in oil on all sides. Add remaining ingredients (except rolls) to the pot.
Cover and simmer 4 hours or cook in a slow cooker 6 hours on low. If it gets too dry, add a little water. Remove roast from pot and set aside to rest 10 minutes. Mash the garlic into the sauce and season as needed. Slice roast thinly and return to pot. Serve this first over pasta - a sprinkle of chopped fresh Italian parsley dresses it up nicely. Pop the rest into freezer bags and, when you're ready for that snack, defrost and heat thoroughly in the microwave. Halve the rolls; toast and butter.
Pile sliced beef and tomato sauce on the bottom halves. Layer on cheese, if you're so inclined, and the top halves of the rolls.

Asian Style Beef Stir-Fry
and Leftover Tasty Wraps

For your first meal, serve half this mixture with about 3/4 of the sauce on steamed rice. Then freeze the other half to make wraps some hungry midnight.
This recipe will make a first supper for four followed by wraps for four.
2 lb. round steak
pinch each salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. hot chili sauce (or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes)
2 tbsp. rice wine (or red or white wine) vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
4 tbsp. chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
4 large flour tortillas
large handful romaine lettuce leaves, washed and well-drained
Thinly slice steak, stir-fry style - it's much easier if you put it in the freezer for 15 minutes first. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown thoroughly in a little of the oil over high heat.
Add a little more oil to the pan and add ginger and garlic; fry 1 minute. Remove from heat and add remaining oil, chili sauce, vinegar, honey, soy, peanut butter and cilantro and stir until smooth. Sprinkle peanuts on top.
When you're ready for those wraps, thaw and heat in microwave, then cool to lukewarm. Line tortillas with lettuce and top with beef mixture - if it's really saucy, discard some of the liquid or serve as a dip. Sliced red or green pepper, onion, julienned carrots, celery, broccoli - just about any raw vegetable tastes great in these.
Wrap tightly and serve. For a nice variation, brown the stuffed wraps on both sides in hot oil.

Spicy Beef Scramble and Empanadas

Make this filling tonight and serve on roasted potatoes with corn and green beans on the side - big-time wow factor for the family.
With the rest, make delicious meat pies and next time you're starving, pop them right from the freezer into the oven and it's wow all over again.
Of course, you can use homemade pastry, but the filling is the real star in this recipe, so store-bought is fine.
2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely diced
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 tsp. each ground cumin, dried oregano, and paprika (smoked if possible)
1/4 tsp. each ground cinnamon and allspice
1 cup green pimento-stuffed olives, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup raisins
1 19-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 frozen pie crusts, thawed
egg wash: 1 egg whisked with 2 tbsp. water
Brown beef with salt and pepper in oil. Add onions and fry until nearly cooked through. Add garlic, jalapenos, cumin, oregano, paprika, cinnamon and allspice and cook until meat is done; discard any fat.
Add remaining ingredients except pastry and egg wash and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated but mixture is still moist.
Serve over potato wedges or in warmed tortillas for the first meal. For the empanadas, allow filling to cool.
Cut pastry into rounds - reroll the scraps but don't overwork the dough or it will be tough. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of each and brush edges with egg wash.
The tricky part is getting as much filling in there as you can without having it break the pastry - a couple of practice pies for the cook should do it.
Fold in half, press out the air and seal the edges.
Cut a couple of small slashes in the top of each and brush with egg wash. Bake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at 400 F for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on their size) or until golden.
You can freeze them uncooked on a baking sheet and store in a freezer bag up to three months.
Bake from frozen at 400 F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John's. Questions may be sent to her c-o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John's, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: St. John's

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