Flap Meat Carne Asada Burritos With Mango Salsa and Guacamole

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while–waiting for summer to come around when mangos are in season! There is a type of magic that happens when you combine beef with mango that I really can’t explain. In the case of these flap meat burritos, the sweet and tartness of the mango and lime salsa cuts the richness of the salty, seasoned beef perfectly. Add a little guacamole to the whole thing, wrap it in a tortilla with some caramelized onions and it’s pure heaven.

In fact, we had this meal last night since my husband’s nephew was in town with two of his 20-something-year-old friends. It’s a good BBQ meal to make and a nice way to unwind in the backyard after a work day during the summer while playing with the kids. And the kids really like the bits of cut up steak and LOVE the mango–a great way to incorporate some fruit into their diet. Instead of wrapping the kids’ meat into a burritos, I cut triangle wedges out of the tortillas and butter them and then serve the meat, salsa and guacamole on the side.

Here’s what you’ll need for a meal for four people:

– A pound and a half (or more, if you like) of flap meat beef
– Chef Merito carne asada seasoning (Check to see if your local grocery store carries it. I love the tang, and I prefer it because it doesn’t have the strong cumin taste that some of these types of seasonings do.)
– One red onion, cut in half and sliced. Chop about a tablespoon and reserve for the salsa.
– A handful of chopped, fresh cilantro. Save a tablespoon for the salsa.
– Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
– Two mangos
– One serrano pepper, seeded and cut into tiny bits
– Two avocados
– One lime
– Tabasco sauce
– A bag of flour tortillas

The night before your BBQ, lay all the pieces of flap meat out flat and fully season both sides of the meat with the carne asada seasoning and with black pepper. Make sure you don’t coat too heavily, but try not to be skimpy either. Then put the meat into a zip bag with the sliced onion and cilantro and add the two tablespoons of oil. Zip the bag and massage the meat with the other ingredients until it’s well mixed. Put the bag onto a plate or dish and refrigerate over night.

The next day, start to prepare your salsa and guacamole before putting the meat on the grill. Stand the mango upright and slice it from the top downward on both sides. Next, cut lines down and across each slice of the mango and then bend the peel backward and cut the chunks loose into a bowl. Cut any other eatable chunks off of the pit and use for the salsa. Then add the chopped red onion, cilantro, serrano pepper and squeeze the juice of half of the lime into the mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.

To make the guacamole, cut each avocado in half by running a knife around the circumference of the avocados. Once you have two halves, stick the blade of your knife into the pit and twist. The pit should come right out. Take a big spoon and scoop out the inside meat and put it into a bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork, making it as chunky or creamy as you like. Add the juice from the other half of lime and some Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

Place the flap meat on a high-heat grill and add the onions from the marinade to a metal, grill-safe bowl in order to caramelize the onions on top of the grill. Grill the meat until it is well done (no longer springs back to the touch) or you can grill more rare, if you prefer. Keep mixing the onions to cook them.

When the meat is done, allow it to cool a bit. Remove caramelized onions from the grill and set aside. Now, the trick to getting tender, bite-sized pieces of meat is cutting against the grain. Gently pull on each piece of the meat and you will see a natural grain appear. You want to cut the meat in thin strips going the opposite way of this grain. Once you have strips, cut these slices into bite-sized pieces.

Now all you have to do to make your burrito is place some meat in the middle of the tortilla, top with caramelized onions, salsa and guacamole, roll it all up and take a scrumptious bite. I can’t even tell you how good this is. It’s definitely one of my favorites. Enjoy!


Quick-Fix Stovetop Mini Meatloaves

About a month ago I found myself in a quandary. I had some hamburger thawed in the refrigerator on a weeknight and I started having that craving for meatloaf but knew I wouldn’t have time after work to pick up the kids, prepare the ingredients, and wait for the meatloaf to bake in the oven for an hour before the kids started getting restless and tired. So I tried a new stovetop technique and made “mini” meatloaves in 15 minutes! Not a thing is lost on these little wonders. The taste, texture (and sliceability the next day!) are all great. Plus, I can sneak in a little bit of carrot along with the aromatics so the kids have even more servings of veggies. I’m also able to make a down-home, filling meal for my husband to enjoy at the end of his long day. I like to serve this with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Here’s how I do it:

-1 pound of low fat hamburger or ground turkey
-1 egg
-About 10 saltine or club crackers crushed finely inside a plastic bag
-8 ounces of stewed tomatoes crushed by hand
-1 tablespoon ketchup
-1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
-1 stalk of celery finely diced
-1 small onion finely diced
-1 small carrot finely diced
-1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 teaspoon of dried basil
-1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
-Extra ketchup to spoon on top of loaves

For the garlic mashed potatoes:
-4 russet potatoes, diced
-1/4 cup of lite sour cream
-A couple of splashes of nonfat milk–enough to moisten to the desired consistency
-1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
-Salt and pepper to taste

As a side: 1 big bunch of broccoli to steam on top of the potatoes as they’re boiling.

Bring a large sauce pot of salted water to a boil. Peel and dice four russet potatoes and cut and de-stem broccoli.

Dice the vegetables for the meatloaf and saute them in the olive oil in a large frying pan until soft. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Place the softened vegetables into a bowl and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, add the hamburger and all the other ingredients, except the olive oil and extra ketchup. Mix by hand and add about a half tablespoon of salt and 1/4 tablespoon of pepper to the mixture. Add the cooled veggies to the hamburger and mix by hand until incorporated.

Place cut up potatoes into boiling water and stir. Place a steamer pot on top, put broccoli in it and place a lid on top. Boil for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat or until broccoli and potatoes are tender. Turn down the heat a bit if you have to in order to avoid the water overspilling.

Next, form the hamburger into a patted-down ball and score evenly with the side of your hand lengthwise down the middle and up and down so that the mixture looks divided into four equal parts. Take each quarter and form into the shape of four mini loaves.

Then, heat the frying pan again to medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, place each loaf in the pan and sear on one side until browned. Then turn each one, spoon some ketchup over the tops and sear on the other side until browned. Once there is nice color on both sides, lower the heat and pour about two tablespoons of water into the pan. Place a lid on the pan and cook the meatloaf on medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes until cooked through. The steam is the magic that makes these loaves moist and tender on the inside! Add more water, if needed, to continue the steaming action.

While the loaves cool, set the broccoli aside, drain the potatoes, and place them back into the saucepan. Add the sour cream, nonfat milk, garlic powder and enough salt and pepper to taste. Mix by hand with a slotted potato smasher until smooth.

That’s it! I usually slice the meatloaf into bite-sized pieces for the kids

Super easy and really yummy (but not better than those leftover sandwiches!)


The Steak-House Meal At Home

Ok, so I do a lot of thinking about food. I sometimes wish we could just pick up and leave–with the kids in tow–and drive down to this little local bistro that has one heck of a happy hour menu at a great price! But it’s too nice of a menu and place to rush the trip. My son, now almost five, could probably sit and draw while my husband and I noshed on the chilled gazpacho soup garnished with scallop ceviche, avocado and cucumber ($4.50 a bowl) and followed it up with the beef bourguignon ($9) and the Australian lamb chops with port wine sauce ($12!). But we wouldn’t be able to savor the affordable gourmet happy-hour meal with the must-have glass of syrah or cab that the food deserves–unless we downed everything with extreme urgency before the “heeby jeebies” set in.

“I want down, mom. Can we go now? What’s that red stuff on the plate? Can I use my napkin as a karate bandana?”
And I won’t even go there–thinking about our little almost-two-year old little girl. She is so sweet. And then she realizes she is strapped in. Yikes! Does anyone have ear plugs. You can’t blame her. She just discovered she is her own little individual person.
“Mommy. ‘Et me dowwwwwwn!”
Ok, I know. One word. Babysitter. The thing is, money is so tight right now that the happy hour prices would just go out the window if we hired a babysitter for this venture. So I sit and stare at the happy hour menu and scheme to figure out how I am going to have some of those dishes. Soon.
And finally, this weekend, I got an idea. Why not make a dish from their menu at home and see how it turns out? Yes! So I decide on a traditional steak-house dish: Filet Mignon Wedge Salad. It’s simple. Char-grilled fillet mignon, sliced, and draped over a wedge of iceberg lettuce with yummy, rich bleu cheese dressing drizzled on top! Double Yes!
So I check out the filets at my local grocery store and sure enough, with it being the fourth of July weekend, they’re on sale. Two nice-sized filets for six bucks. Throw in iceberg lettuce and good bleu cheese dressing and the whole thing is $10. Well, I spied some fresh jumbo, raw shrimp so I threw 12 of those in the basket too! And of course, a nice bottle of cab.
Ok. Here’s what I did on Friday night:
1. Feed the kids, bathe the kids and put them to bed.
2. Have my husband light the coals (he refuses to get a gas grill and that’s ok!)
3. Salt and pepper the filets and skewer the shrimp through tail and head lengthwise and brush with oil that has been seasoned with “seasoned salt” and lemon and have my husband grill the steaks until medium rare (should still be tender to the touch when you push on the center with you’re finger but not too tender) and until the shrimp curl up slightly
4. While steak is resting and shrimp cooling a bit, quarter the lettuce and place one quarter on each dish
5. Slice steak and drape over the lettuce and drizzle bleu cheese dressing over all
6. Serve shrimp next to steak and lettuce combo

7. Open bottle of red wine and enjoy the food and several hours of good conversation, music and laughs! Now that’s a restaurant-quality endeavor.