Burrito Bowls

Burrito bowls are one of my favorite things to serve to guests. It is simple, inexpensive, and delicious, and I think it will please every type of eater, from the pickiest to the most adventurous.


I am always looking for meals I can serve several guests that are healthy and simple, yet satisfying. I try to cook meals that are not terribly different from what we eat every day so I can make them last minute without having to run to the store for specific ingredients, and I know we will always eat whatever is leftover.


Burrito bowls are pretty self-explanatory by the name: it is a burrito in a bowl instead of a tortilla. Options for your bowl are endless, but here are a few of our favorites.


Meat


I either brown ground beef or make shredded chicken, or both if we are having a big crowd. For the beef I simply brown it in a big pan on the stove, seasoned only with salt, in case one of my guests does not like Mexican seasonings.


For the chicken I either boil it on the stove or cook it all day in the crock pot (depending on how much time I have), then shred it, saving the broth for soup another day.


How much meat you cook depends on how many guests you are feeding, but you don’t have to cook as much as you would if you were serving whole pieces of beef or steak. Since the bowls will be filled with rice and all the other toppings, you can get by with cooking less meat, making the meal less expensive.

(Side note: I am happy to cook expensive meals for my guests, but if I can find ways to save money we can feed more people and have more people into our homes. I try not to skimp in ways that are obvious, just in ways that are practical.)


Rice


Cook lots of rice! You can do either white or brown rice, whichever you normally eat and have on hand. We will always eat leftover rice, so I try to cook more than I think we’ll need. Yet there have still been times that we ran out of rice! Even if I cook brown rice for the meal, I like having white rice on hand so I can cook up extra in a few minutes.


Sometimes I cook the rice in tomato juice and cooked veggies and spices, but usually I keep it plain, again in case there are guests who do not prefer Mexican flavors.


Beans


I either cook refried beans or black beans, or both if we are having lots of guests. It is best to get them dry and soak them the night before, but I have definitely used canned beans in a pinch and they are still great! I will go ahead and season these beans with cumin, chili powder, and other Mexican spices because I think they taste so much better that way, and guests can choose to bypass the beans if they prefer.


Other Toppings


I try to have as many of these extra toppings as possible, but often I just stick to what we keep on hand. Ideas for extra toppings include: salsa, taco sauce, hot sauce, guacamole or sliced avocado, corn, cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips or strips, shredded lettuce or cilantro-lime slaw.


Recipes


This will make enough burrito bowls for at least 8 people, perhaps with some leftover as well.


Ingredients:


Meat
1-1.5 lbs beef
1 onion, diced


Rice
3 cups uncooked white rice
7 cups water
Salt, to taste


Refried Beans
2 cups dried pinto beans or 3 15oz cans pinto beans
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS cumin
2 tsp salt
1 onion, diced


Guacamole
2 avocados
1 lime


Additional Toppings
1 16oz jar salsa, any type
1 16oz container sour cream
16oz shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Tortilla chips


Meat
If using ground beef, begin by sautéing the diced onion in a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil.
When the onion is turning translucent, add your meat and continue to cook until the meat is fully cooked.
Carefully drain the meat and transfer to a serving bowl


Rice
Place water, rice, and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil.
Lower to a simmer and put lid on the pot; let steam for 15 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to a serving dish, or just leave it in the pot on a hot pad


Refried Beans
If you are using dried beans, place them in a large bowl the night before and cover with water. The next day drain and rinse the beans.
Put beans in a large pot and cover with several inches of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and let the beans gently boil for around 45 minutes. Test your beans every so often for softness because it may take more or less time.
If you are using canned beans start here! Drain the liquid from your beans (whether from your cooking pot or from a can), but SAVE the liquid.
Brown the diced onion in an oiled pan until soft and fully cooked. Add seasonings.
Add the onion to your beans and mash everything together with a potato masher. You can also use a hand-mixer, adding your saved bean liquid as necessary to get the desired consistency.


Guacamole
Mash all the ingredients together in a bowl with a fork, adding lime juice and salt to taste.

Cucumber Potato Salad

A Delicious, Fresh Recipe for Summer

This recipe for potato salad with a fresh, interesting twist is quickly becoming a favorite around our house.

I got the original recipe from the Sue Gregg cookbook Main Dishes. I love Sue Gregg! I appreciate how she is thoughtful about health and nutrition, but she does not see the need to follow any kind of fad or cut out any major food group. I enjoy her menu suggestions, and the absolute wealth of recipes she has in her cookbook series.

This potato salad is quick, easy, and delicious. It can be made ahead of time and pulled out of the refrigerator for dinner, or you can whip it up right before in about 30-45 minutes. It is delicious both chilled and slightly warm.

How to Serve Cucumber Potato Salad

Cucumber potato salad is great served on a bed of lettuce, topped with a source of protein such as leftover cooked chickpeas or boiled eggs. It is also great with BBQ baked beans and cornbread, as a lighter alternative to traditional potato salad. Sometimes I serve it with a veggie platter and homemade multi-grain muffins. 

Due to the cucumbers, apples, and cabbage getting soft and soggy, this potato salad is best eaten within a few days. It is great leftover the next day for an easy lunch, but this isn’t something you want to keep in your fridge for a week.

Let me know if you try it and what you think!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Cucumber Potato Salad

A fresh, delicious recipe perfect for a spring dinner
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Salad
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 small-medium white potatoes
  • 1 sour apple (such as granny smith)
  • 1 medium-large cucumber
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 2 TBS olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2 TBS Greek yogurt, or more mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Scrub and cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks. I don't peel them, but you can if you prefer. Put them in a pot and cover with cold water and put them on the stove to boil.
  • Bring the potatoes to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking thinly slice your cucumber and apples and place them in a large bowl along with your shredded cabbage.
  • Mix in the mayonnaise and yougurt, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the potatoes are done cooking drain them in a colander and allow them to cool for a few minutes before mixing them in with the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.
  • Taste, add more salt and pepper as necessary, and enjoy!

Homemade Bread

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” – James Beard

Is there anything better than a fresh, warm slice of homemade bread?

My interest in baking homemade bread began when I was about twelve years old. I loved being in the kitchen, but for some reason bread baking had seemed like an unattainable skill only the most advanced bakers could achieve. However, in a lecture on nutrition at cross country camp, my coach briefly mentioned homemade bread and the health benefits therein.

As soon as I got home I pulled out cook books, asked Mama to buy yeast at the store, and began mixing and kneading all sorts of concoctions. Some loaves turned out flat and dense while others came out pungent and salty. I made lighter bread with white flour, heavy bricks with wheat flour, savory bread flavored with potato flakes and sweet bread swirled with cinnamon, sugar, and butter. I also boiled bagels, shaped rolls, and filled, rolled, and sliced cinnamon buns.

My family lovingly tested each batch of bread, advising me on which recipes to keep and which ones to discard.

Eventually I settled on a recipe from Sue Gregg’s cookbook that everyone in my family declared a winner. It used whole wheat flour, had good flavor, and wasn’t a dense brick. I made the recipe a few more times, and not much later, for Mama and Daddy’s twentieth wedding anniversary Daddy gave Mama a Bosch mixer and grain mill.

Mama took over the bread baking for a while, perfecting the recipe even further. Eventually she had a perfect bread dough that made the best, fluffy, delicious loaves for sandwiches and toast, a thin and crunchy pizza crust, or sweet cinnamon rolls or monkey bread. The dough could be shaped into hamburger buns or dinner rolls, folded into calzones or swirled with cinnamon and raisins for sweet bread.

Mama taught me how to make her magical dough one day for our Home Ec. lesson in homeschool, and I slowly took over the bread baking for our family. When I went to college, Mama said no one made any homemade bread until I did when I came home for my fall break.

I only baked bread in college once, and it was to give to the cute boy I was dating who had several papers to write and was getting very little sleep (later we got married and Sam still loves it when I make that same flatbread to go with lentil soup).

Once I discovered what the Romanian word for yeast was and found it at the market, I began baking bread again after we got married and moved to Romania. I loved kneading the dough on my tiny kitchen counter, usually while listening to an audio book. I would serve the warm bread, sliced, with butter alongside, to the guests we often had in our apartment.

When Mae was a baby, I was still in school online to complete my Bachelor’s degree, we were settling into a new house and new jobs for Sam, I did not bake bread. But I missed it. I remember at times when I was overwhelmed with books to read, papers to write, and assignments to submit, I would daydream about how wonderful it would be to be done with school.

I would just be a wife and mother, that’s all. I would take care of Sam and Mae, clean the house, and bake bread. Baking bread was always in my daydream for some reason, and I think about it now every time I pull a fresh loaf out of the oven.

I have countless memories tied up with baking bread, and right now I am thankful to be a wife and mother who gets to bake bread.

Delicious Bread Dough

This is the recipe Mama perfected that I still love to use for everything! I have tried many different recipes, but if I ever need a no-fail dough for something this is the recipe I go back to again and again.

2 cups warm water
213 cup honey
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBS yeast
1 TBS salt
2 Tbs. ground flax
8-10 cups or more of whole wheat flour (I prefer to grind the wheat in the NutriMill, but any flour will work)

Mix warm water, honey, applesauce, and 2 cups flour in a stand mixer on a low speed.  Add yeast and salt, and continue to mix.  Then set the timer for 10 minutes and add flour until the dough is not sticky and it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Continue to let the dough mix until the 10 minutes is up.

Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, or about 1.5-2 hours.

Divide the dough in half and shape into loaves. Let rise in greased loaf pans in a warm place until doubled in size, or about an hour.

Bake the loaves of bread for at 350 F for 30 minutes.  

You can also use this dough to make pizza crusts, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, or anything else you may need dough for. The possibilities are almost endless!