Sunday, November 24, 2013

{crockpot} Pot Roast

It's strange. This week is a 3-day work week and I feel like we have more food on the menu for the week than we normally would make for a full week. I'm making Lentil Soup for lunches {mostly because it's so irresistibly good and SO easy, we can't get enough of it!} and the mister has asked me to make a delightful lasagna that is very unexpected {don't worry, I'll get that recipe up this week, along with a great Thanksgiving leftover treat- totally worth the wait.} 

He's also been on me to make a beef stew, especially with how frigid cold it is today. We agreed on a pot roast for dinner tonight. Because there were errands to be run, and laundry to be folded, I decided to do it in the crock pot. Usually when I make a roast, I throw a packet of Lipton Onion on it and call it a day, but I was feeling adventurous and made up a little fun for myself in the kitchen. 

ingredients:

1 2 lb roast 
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
4-5 stalks celery, chopped into 1" pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped up
Fresh rosemary and thyme, taken off the stems and chopped roughly to release the oils
Splash of EVOO
Beef broth
1 beer {I used pumpkin because it's what I have in my fridge, I recommend it}
Salt & Pepper
Flour {for the gravy}

instructions:

  1. Salt the meat well, and in a large skillet, brown your roast on all sides. Once it's browned, place it into the crock pot. I didn't have any of my veggies chopped yet, so at this point, I turned on the crock pot and added in beef broth. I had about a quarter of the carton left in the fridge, so I used what I had.
  2. Chop veggies if that hasn't been done. I threw them into a bowl and tossed with a little S+P and EVOO. Add them in all around the meat, and poured in the beer. 
  3. Cook in crock pot on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours. I started a little late, so I cranked it up to HIGH for 3 hours, then finished it on low for an additional 2 hours. 
  4. When meat is cooked, add a few ladles into your skillet, and whisk in flour to make a pan gravy for serving. 

notes:

  • I have a really small crock pot so I always have to use a relatively small piece of meat. If you have a bigger one, and a bigger appetite, by all means, up the #s
  • Any veggies can be used here. I grabbed what I had and made it up as I went along
  • I served this with a good ol' fashioned mashed potato, but you could add chopped potatoes into the crock pot and cook them right in there with the roast and veg
  • I am really bad at making gravy
  • You can use any dark beer that you have on hand. I was hesitant on using the pumpkin because I wasn't sure what it would do- but it was delicious! The meat didn't take up too much of the flavor, but I could definitely taste it in the gravy, and the thyme and rosemary were a good pairing with it in flavor-town.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beef Stroganoff

So, my girlfriend Stan made the trek from NYC to CT this past weekend, and there were many highlights to our visit. Namely, the $60 bottle of Chardonnay from Napa Valley that we uncorked in celebration of our 29+2. In addition, and a close second runner up, was dinner. Not sure which part was better- the actual food, or the fact that I didn't have to make it ;o)

Now, I've tried to make Beef Stroganoff in the past. My mother's is fantastic- I have her recipe- I failed at recreating it. The sauce didn't work, the beef was crunchy. Mr. TT did NOT like it. It was a very unfortunate happening. I had shared this mishap with Stan and she assured me that her father's was the best ever. Like- promised me. I said no way. But, I let her prove me wrong. (and boy... was I wrong)

Ingredients

1 ¼ lb. filet mignon or filet of beef, sliced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ tbsp. shallots or green onions, minced
1 medium onion, sliced, to taste (optional)
2 tbsp. flour
¼ cup beer
1 can beef broth
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ cup sour cream

instructions

  1. Slice meat thin, about 2x2 inches, its easiest to slice real thin by partially freezing the meat first, be sure that ALL fat is trimmed off.  
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. of butter and ½ tbsp. oil in large frying pan.  Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Add the onions and/or shallots, sauté 2 minutes more, remove all from skillet.  
  3. Heat the remaining oil and butter until it bubbles, then add the meat and brown, removed the browned meat from the pan.  
  4. Put the flour in the pan and mix in with the oil in the pan until well blended. Gradually add the beer and the beef broth, being sure the mixture is smooth. Cook over high heat and turn to medium-high and cook down to half.
  5. Add meat and season (to taste) and add the mushrooms/onions. Cook over medium-low heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  
  6. Just before serving stir in sour cream.  DO NOT ALLOW TO COME TO A BOIL, it will curdle. 
  7. Serve over egg noodles.

notes

  • We used sliced portobella mushrooms, minced yellow onions, no shallot/green onions and Savignon Blanc in place of beer (obviously, drank the rest!)
  • Dredge the beef in flour before browning - ensure you are only browning the meat during step #3 and not cooking thru (I am 99% positive this was my problem the last time I made it and the beef overcooked- you want to ensure the rest of the cooking process happens IN the gravy, so it stays tender)
  • Stan's Kitchen Tip: use a fork and not a whisk to make the gravy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stuffed Pepper Soup + DIY Italian Seasoning

Keeping with the trend that I've been following, you guessed it... another soup recipe.  This one, though, has a dedication. My mother hosts Sunday Dinner every week, which ultimately includes primarily my grandparents. My sister heads over most of the time, and because I live in another state, I unfortunately don't make it nearly often enough. Regardless of who is there, though, my amazing mother makes dinner. And in addition to Sunday Dinner, she also makes something for my grandparents to take home with them, usually a casserole of some sort. One of their favorites is Inside Out Stuffed Pepper Casserole, which I posted about earlier this year, and we thoroughly enjoyed in this house. So when I came across this recipe for Stuffed Pepper Soup, I thought to myself "Self, I bet this would be a great one to share with the royal family!" So let's have at it. I haven't made it yet, so leave me love if you have anything to add!! 

The original recipe is from www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com 

ingredients

2 lb. lean ground beef
3 large peppers {at least 1 green}, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 carton (32 oz.) beef broth
2 cans (10¾ oz. each) condensed tomato soup
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning {bonus recipe below!}
½ tsp. black pepper
1½ cups cooked white rice

instructions

  1. In a large pot, brown the ground beef with the peppers, onion and mushrooms. Cook until the beef is no longer pink and drain off any grease if necessary. 
  2. Stir in the broth, tomato soup, tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Add Italian seasoning, black pepper and rice. Heat through and serve.

notes

  • Make it skinny... sub lean ground turkey for your beef and use brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice and make sure your broth, tomato soup, and tomatoes are all low sodium if possible.

Bonus Recipe: DIY Italian Seasoning


Combine 2 Tablespoons each of: basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Store in airtight container, or do what I do and put homemade seasoning combos into old spice containers {Just make sure it's cleaned and dried thoroughly or that it's a spice that is contained in your mixture as to not affect the taste}


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bowtie Pasta with Firefly Vodka Sauce

I haven't made this just yet but I honestly cannot wait to. Lucky for me, I typically have all of the ingredients on hand {besides the pasta- I usually have a variety of whole wheat pasta types, but for this I think I will splurge and get real bowties! I'm sure Mr. won't mind that one bit}

I love vodka sauce anyway, but the thought of adding the sweet tea flavor of Firefly makes my tastebuds sing and dance. I'm thinking this might be a good "date night in" type meal, maybe with meatballs and/or sausage and a nice crisp salad. Ohhh yum. 

ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup of onion finely chopped
1 cup Firefly Straight Handcrafted Vodka
¾ cup chicken stock
2 small cans of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
1 pound of bow tie pasta
½ cup heavy cream
Fresh basil leaves cut in thin strips

instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile heat oil and butter in a large skillet, add garlic, and onion. Sauté about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add Firefly Straight Handcrafted Vodka and simmer to reduce vodka by half (about 3 minutes) Add chicken stock, tomato sauce. Bring sauce to a bubble then reduce heat to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When water boils, salt liberally and cook pasta per instructions on the box.
  5. As the pasta cooks, stir heavy cream into sauce. Once the sauce begins to bubble remove from heat.
  6. When pasta is cooked, drain. Add basil strips to sauce and toss with hot pasta.
  7. Garnish with fresh course ground pepper and a few whole basil leaves.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Broccoli + White Bean Soup

You guessed it... another soup recipe!!! If you have a love/hate relationship with Panera like I do, you will appreciate this great swap that I came across. It's a way healthier version of their Broccoli and Cheddar soup, that actually has no cheese in it... crazy. Adding a little bit on top is just enough, and the beans give it a great consistency that mimics the decadent and creamy goodness that is broccoli and cheese soup. My mouth is seriously watering right now. 

I can't for the life of me find it now to give credit because I would love to thank the person that came up with this... {SO sorry mystery recipe creator!!}

ingredients:

4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large head of broccoli (approx. 4 cups) washed and cut into florets
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, washed and chopped
optional: parmesan cheese or sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese

instructions:

  1. Using a food processor, shred garlic and onions
  2. In a soup pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute garlic and onions on medium heat for 4-5 minutes
  3. Shred broccoli in the food processor until desired size is reached
  4. Add broccoli and saute in onion/garlic mixture 2-3 minutes
  5. Puree cannellini beans in the food processor and add to the vegetable mixture
  6. Season with salt, pepper and paprika
  7. Using a whisk, slowly incorporate vegetable broth
  8. Add rosemary
  9. Cover and simmer on med-low heat for 12-15 minutes until reduced to desired thickness {doubling the recipe, it does not reduce to a very thick consistency in 15 minutes}
  10. Serve with cheese and black pepper if you'd like

notes:

  • The flavor of this soup is great, but I would recommend adding in perhaps another level of flavor - I am thinking nutmeg maybe the next time I make it. And also leaving some of the broccoli chunkier, as well as onions. 
  • This soup has approximately 150 calories 3g fat and 600mg sodium (based on the type of beans and vegg stock you use - this calculation is based on a doubled recipe above, making 10 servings)
  • A large Panera's Broccoli and Cheddar soup (13.25 oz) has 330 calories, 21g fat and 1390mg sodium - and that's not even including the bread bowl... Eek!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Garlic + Lentil Soup

Apparently I am obsessed with soup right now. And more specifically, Lentil Soup. This one runs circles around the Sausage and Kale one - it's simplicity is what makes it delightful. It has SO much flavor. I think it also is in part the vegetable broth. This is such a different flavor than chicken which is what I usually would use. So yum.

Garlic + Lentil Soup

ingredients:

1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
2 yellow onions, finely diced
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano
7-8 cups vegetable stock {I used Natures Promise Organic Vegetable Broth}
Salt and black pepper

instructions:

  1. Heat oil in the bottom of a big soup pot, and add onion, garlic, carrots, salt, pepper, bay leaves and oregano. Cook veggies until onions are on their way to being translucent. 
  2. Add vegetable broth and lentils. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

notes:

  • If you notice the soup is thickening and the lentils still need to cook more, you can add a little extra vegetable stock. I started with 7 cups, and then added in the rest of the 2nd container. 

** Featured **

Paleo Pizza Spaghetti Pie

Yet again it's a recipe experiment week!! While the week is coming to a close, I tried a few good ones. Shrimp fraDiavlo was one that w...