Winning Dinners - The Bend Magazine

Winning Dinners

Tried and true classic recipes for Pasta Bolognese, Roast Beef with Vegetables, and Ground Beef Tacos

By: Justin and Kayla Butts  Photos by: Rachel Benavides

Remember when you were the one asking the question? Now, when someone says, “What’s for dinner?” everyone looks at you!

If you are in need of recipe ideas to optimize your refrigerator staples, we’ve got you covered with some tried-and-true favorites. Sure, we love to experiment with exotic recipes from red hot curries to freaky-deaky bean burgers. But we find ourselves coming back, again and again, to these comfort food classics.

Pot roast is old-fashioned goodness at its best. There is a reason this dish stands the test of time: It is simple, healthy, wholesome, and delicious. This dish feeds dinner to a hungry family with enough leftovers for roast beef sandwiches the next day.

This one-pot-wonder allows you to use up all the aging root vegetables in the bottom of your crisper. The key to this dish is sourcing your grass-fed beef roast from a local farm. Using high-quality ingredients means you can let the slow cooker do the work for you.

While you are at the farmer’s market getting your beef roast from Turkey Hollow Farm, pick up a few pounds of grass-fed ground beef and pastured ground pork as well. These versatile packages will solve the dinner question over many nights of the week.

Pasta Bolognese is a traditional Italian meat sauce (we use ground pork or Italian sausage) simmered in cream. If the long simmer time is too daunting for your hungry brood, have no fear. Just like the roast beef recipe, this sauce can be finished in a slow cooker while you run errands, work out, or take the dog for a nice walk. The leftovers of this pasta dish are even better the next day.

Tacos are so tasty, they got their own day of the week! This taco recipe was passed down from my grandmother, who learned it growing up in Edinburg in the 1940s. 

Nan’s classic recipe is so good, we can’t find a way to improve it. Every time we add or subtract an ingredient, it’s not the same, so we are sticking with Nan’s original. For toppings, we use anything and everything still surviving in our crisper drawer, plus whatever cheeses are on hand.

We are always looking for new dishes and clever twists on familiar favorites. But the classics are classic for a reason. These dishes are dinner winners, every time. 

Next time someone asks, “What’s for dinner?” you’ll  be ready with an answer: Something delicious!

Beef Roast with Vegetables

Serves 6

Prep time: 12 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
4-6 lbs chuck or shoulder roast
Salt and pepper
½ cup red wine
2 tsp thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
1 cup beef broth
3 oz tomato paste
1/2 head cabbage, cut into 1/8ths
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 medium sweet onions, cut into 1/8ths
6 oz baby carrots
1 lb red potatoes, quartered


Preheat oven to 300°F. Drizzle oil into a large Dutch oven placed over medium heat. Pat roast dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, sear roast on each side until golden brown (about 5 minutes per side).  In a medium bowl, combine wine, thyme, rosemary, broth, and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Pour over roast and cover with a lid. Cook in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

Surround roast with vegetables and season them with additional salt and pepper. Return to the oven for an additional 2 hours, or until vegetables and roast are both fork tender. Serve roast with vegetables, drizzled generously with the roasting liquid. 

Ground Beef Tacos

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 large yellow onion, minced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
4 oz tomato sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 6-inch corn tortillas
Optional toppings: shredded monterrey jack cheese, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado, dollops of sour cream, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce, sliced onion, or spoonfuls of pico de gallo


Preheat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onion and sauté for 3 minutes, until fragrant and turning translucent. Add garlic and stirring frequently, cook an additional 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and continue to cook, breaking beef into smaller morsels, until no pink remains. 

Lightly char tortillas (about 1-2 minutes on each side) in a dry cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Serve filling in a warm tortilla with desired topping(s).

Pasta Bolognese 

Serves 6

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion
1 stalk celery
2 large carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 lb ground pork or Italian sausage
1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
Salt and red pepper, to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup cream
1 cup chicken stock
28 oz crushed tomato
1/2 cup parmigiana reggiano, grated
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Drizzle olive oil into a large cast iron pan over medium heat. While oil heats up, pulse vegetables in a food processor for 20-30 seconds, until finely chopped. Add vegetables to hot oil and sauté for 5 minutes, until fragrant and starting to brown. 

Add pork, nutmeg, salt and pepper to vegetable mixture. Cook pork, stirring occasionally and breaking apart with the cooking spoon, until almost no pink remains (about 10 minutes). Add wine and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until the wine has mostly evaporated.

Stir cream, stock, and crushed tomato into meat mixture, reducing to the second lowest heat setting. Cook for about 3 hours, stirring to prevent sticking, until sauce is thick and concentrated. In a separate pot, cook pasta in salted water until al dente. 

To serve, ladle Bolognese generously over prepared pasta and top with parm reg and chopped parsley. Note: If thinner sauce is desired, add pasta water in 1/4 cup increments until preferred consistency is reached.