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2 Ground Beef Recipes - the Classic & the Playful!

Posted by Didi Gorman on

Hi again!

Today we’re talking ground beef.

What’s the first dish that comes into your mind when you think 'ground beef'?
And what’s the scenery surrounding it?

Is it a cozy family dinner on a cold winter day? A hearty meal at your local diner?
An outdoor adventure with friends? Perhaps something entirely different?

For me, ground beef means two very different experiences that I would like to share with you:

The first involves a cozy dinner with the whole family.
The second is more of an outdoor adventure. I’ll keep that one for later...

For now, let’s start with a classic:

1. Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

When my son Uri was just a toddler, my Mom would make him these delicious meatballs.

He would then look admiringly at her while chowing down on some 3-4 meatballs  -the sauce dripping down his chin-  and exclaim (with his mouth full): “Thish ish sho tashty!”

Seeing the envy in my eyes, my Mom kindly agreed to teach me the recipe, but added with a wink: “You know, Grammy’s food will always be better than Mommy’s…” 

Over the years I’ve taken it as a personal challenge to perfect this recipe to my son’s delight, and I think I finally nailed it. I think. (And yes, we also taught him to chew with his mouth closed...)

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with utmost pleasure that I present you with this truly lovely recipe!

Level: advanced

  • Making: 45-60 minutes
  • Cook time: about 45 minutes

Serves:  5-7 people

For the sauce you will need:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into rings
  • 1 ½ tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes (about 800 mL/28 fl oz)
  • Water, about 1300 mL (about 5 ½ cups)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Parsley flakes, about 2 tbsp. (or to taste)
  • Sweet ground paprika, about 1 ½ tbsp. (or to taste)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 bay leaves, gently ripped
  • Avocado oil, about 4 tbsp.

For the meatballs you will need:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Parsley flakes, about 2 tbsp.
  • Sweet ground paprika, about 1 ½ tbsp.
  • 2 ½ slices of white bread, soaked, squeezed, and ripped

How to make the sauce:

  1. In a big cooking pot preheated with avocado oil, sauté onions and carrots, until onions are translucent, and carrots are a bit more tender.
  2. Add water, crushed tomato paste, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, parsley flakes, and a generous dose of seasoning. Stir.
  3. Cook on medium-high heat, for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

How to make the meatballs:

  1. In a big bowl combine all ingredients, mix well with your hands until well combined.
  2. Form small balls (about 1 inch diameter), and place in the pot with the sauce.
    Tip: dip your hands in water from time to time, so they don’t get sticky.
  3. Cook on medium-high heat for about 45 minutes, until meatballs are cooked.
    If necessary, stir gently from time to time.
  4. Serve with rice.

If your mouth isn’t watering yet, let me introduce you to our second recipe, the one that earned the label ‘Playful’ in the title to this post.

Ready to meet the meat?

Here we go.

2. Travelling Tacos

If you’re looking at the picture, and you’re thinking ‘what in the world is that???’
I have a little surprise for you:

Welcome to one of the yummiest (and craziest…) recipes ever! And I mean EVER!

You may not recognize it at first glance, but this is no other than…… the good ol’ Tacos!  With a little twist, of course.

I owe this fun recipe to my friends at the 1st Lennoxville Scout Group, who graciously initiated me to this super-fun outdoor meal a few years back in one of our camps.

I’ve been hooked ever since, as you’ll soon see why.

(And trust me, I had the same expression on MY face as you probably have on yours when I first saw this. But keep reading. Deliciousness is on its way!)

First off, a few words on the name.
I’ll assume we all know what Tacos are. But why ‘Travelling’?

Just as the name suggests, you can walk while you eat. Literally a meal on-the-go.

Picture this:
A Scout Troop is camping in the middle of the forest.

For lunch we hand out individual Dorito bags to each Scout.
First they need to crush the Doritos (Oh, what fun!), then fill the bags with ground beef and top with a selection of veggies, cheese, and various condiments.

Then comes the mixin’ and the shakin’ (Even more fun!). And that’s it! You’re good to go.

A few preps ahead of time will go a long way in making life so much easier out there in the forest:
All the veggies had been chopped in advance and put into separate Ziploc bags.
Together with a decent number of extra spoons, the dishing out was as easy as pie!

Fast forward an hour, and we had a bunch of very happy (and well-fed) 12-year-olds licking their lips…

The best part?

A whole Scout troop and not one single plate! No dishwashing duty either!
Just how cool is that?

I bring the original recipe here, just the way it was introduced to me: fun and charmingly messy… 

Feel free to play with it to suit your family (or troop’s) palate.

One sure thing, it is always a hit!

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of eating out of a Ziploc bag or a Dorito bag, go ahead and use plates or bowls, but you might miss out on the ‘travelling’ part…

This is the taste of adventure and togetherness. A real delectable combo!

Now, let’s get messy!

Level: easy-intermediate

  • Making: 15-20 minutes
  • Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Serves:  5

For the ground beef you will need:

  • 1 ½ kg (3 pounds) ground beef
  • About 1 cup crushed tomato paste/sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Sweet ground paprika to taste

For the toppings you will need:

  • Enough Tostitos/Doritos/tortilla chips/corn chips for all participants.

    You can simplify by getting individual Dorito bags.

    (Check out our  blue corn chips and our tortilla chips)

  • 2-3 tomatoes, diced into a bowl/Ziploc bag
  • 1-2 green Bell peppers, diced into a bowl/Ziploc bag
  • 1-2 red Bell peppers, diced into a bowl/ Ziploc bag
  • 1 lettuce, shredded into a bowl/ Ziploc bag
  • 1 onion, finely chopped into a bowl/ Ziploc bag
  • 250 g cheddar cheese, shredded into a bowl/ Ziploc bag
  • 1 tub sour cream (250 mL)
  • 1 jar salsa of your choice


  • Enough 7 by 8 inch Ziploc bags (a bag per participant + for all the toppings, the meat + a few extras…)
  • Enough spoons (a spoon per participant + for all the toppings, the meat + a few extras…)

How to make it:

  1. Brown the ground beef, mixing occasionally.
  2. Add tomato sauce and seasoning. Mix, cover. Cook until meat is cooked.
    Let cool down a little.

If you’re planning on a Scout-style outdoor meal, you might want to put the meat in big Ziploc bags to dish out from, or just carry your pot outside.

Now comes the fun part!

  1. Open an individual Dorito bag, or put some Doritos in a Ziploc bag.
    Crush the Doritos with your hands!
    (Gently! Don’t rip the bag …)
  1. Now add the ground beef into the bag, and top with all your favorite extras.

    When you’re done, close your bag and shake it!

  2. Enjoy with a spoon!

I hope you enjoyed our ground beef adventures.
I surely enjoyed my fun memories of them!

If you like our recipes, stay tuned. There will be more coming up soon.

Have a lovely weekend!

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