Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roast Beef: Good Enough for Company

One of my go-to's for comforting, cold weather meals is always roast beef. It was always one of my favorite dishes that my mother made. For me, roast beef must be served with potatoes, carrots, and onions and it's not complete without a side of bread and apple butter (a Pennsylvania Dutch favorite!).

It is an impressive meal to serve to guests. This delicious recipe is made in the crock pot, also making it a great meal to cook while you're at work or running errands on a busy weekend. It's deliciously tender and full of flavor and my favorite part - leftover roast beef sandwiches!

Roast Beef with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onions
  • 2 medium onions, halved and cut into 1" wedges
  • 3/4 lb. white potatoes, well scrubbed and cut into 1" chunks
  • 5 lg. carrots,, peeled and cut into 1" slices
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled (3 left whole and 2 cut into 12 slivers)
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds eye-of-round beef roast
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Make 12 small slits in top and sides of roast and insert garlic slivers. Place beef in center of crock pot, and rub all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme. Pour beef broth around the sides of the roast into the bottom of the crock pot.

Place onions, potatoes, carrots, and whole garlic cloves around the roast. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook in crock pot on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

Remove roast from crock pot and slice into 1/4" slices. Serve with potatoes, carrots, and onions. I also like to serve with the juices from the crock pot, strained into a bowl, on the side to use as au jus for the beef & vegetables.

Another thing I always serve my roast beef with is a good dose of coarse, freshly ground black pepper on the top of each slice!



Monday, October 26, 2009

Italian Sausage, Spinach, and Penne

Italian is satisfying any night of the week - there is something comforting about the plethora of Italian ingredients. Plus, it's usually pretty easy to come up with an original Italian-inspired meal with ingredients you mostly have on hand...

This delicious meal was the result of wanting to try a recipe, but not having all of the right ingredients on hand. Mix the flavors up to suit your own tastes.

Italian Sausage, Spinach, and Penne Pasta

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • Course salt (I always use Kosher salt, never "table salt")
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 links of Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, your preference!), casings removed
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes with basil
  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed free of excess water
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes (reduce heat if they brown too quickly).

Add garlic and sausage to pan. Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned (about 5 mins). Add flour and cook for 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Cook sauce until thickened slightly, 6-8 mins. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 4 minutes less than package instructions. Drain and return to pot.

Add spinach and tomato mixture to penne. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish.

Top with mozzarella, then Parmesan. Bake until cheese has browned slightly and liquid is bubbling, about 15 minutes.



Monday, October 19, 2009

Meatless Monday - Stuffed Acorn Squash featured this recipe on their website! View it here

For this week's Meatless Monday, I decided to combine the wonderful fall flavors that are currently lining the market shelves to come up with a stunning dish.

Don't be fooled by the cooking times (total cooking time: about 1 and a half hours). This dish is very easy to make! It takes a long time from start to finish, but there is a lot of "hands off" time where you could be doing something fabulous like... washing your hair!

Mushroom, Almond and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash (Serves 4)

2 acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
2 T olive oil
1 cup dried portabello mushrooms
1 cup vegetable broth, plus 1/2 cup for baking dish
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4/ cups sliced almonds
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring 1 cup of broth to a boil in a saucepan. Add dried mushrooms and cook for about 30 minutes, until tender and all of broth has been soaked up.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium high. Add mushrooms and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add a little water or broth if mushrooms stick to pan.

Add almonds and saute for another 2 minutes. Add rice and cranberries to pan and season again with salt and pepper (it is always very important to season every layer). Stir for 2-3 more minutes, until contents are heated through.

Spray a baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Cut rear ends of squash halves so they have a flat surface to sit on. Hollow out seeds and sit in baking dish. Surround with 1/2 cup of broth.

Fill cavities with stuffing mixture and sprinkle each squash half with 1 T of Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15-20 minutes longer.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Product Alert - Trader Joe's Simmer Sauce

Worn out from a busy schedule, I wanted something healthy for dinner, but didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Enter: Trader Giotto's (aka Trader Joe's) Cacciatore Simmer Sauce. Simple, tasty, & healthy. A trifecta!

It is nothing newsworthy that I love Trader Joe's and am campaigning for them to build a store closer to home. This was one of the usual wonderful meals that typically results from a bag of TJ's groceries.

Dinner for two - here's what I did:

Season both sides of two pork chops with salt and pepper. Pan seared chops for 3-4 minutes per side in olive oil over med-high heat. Pour half of a jar of Cacciatore Simmer Sauce of pork chops, cover and reduce heat to low.

Simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Serve over cooked whole wheat linguine with a side salad.

Easy, breezy, beautiful... Giotto!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Two great articles on the Organic debate

Ever stare at a wall of veggies thinking, "If only I knew where to spend my money??"

Thanks to my friend and fellow blogger, Laura aka ChunkyChef, I'm here to provide you with two very helpful pages:

The top 12 foods to buy organic
15 Foods you don't have to buy organic

Because, I don't know about you, but I could use a little advice on where it is important to invest a little more money - and where it's not!

For some super recipes that are super healthy, check out the ChunkyChef blog!!!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

That's some hydroponic basil, dude...

Not really a gadget, but definitely a favorite addition to my kitchen is the Aerogarden. I don't like giving them free advertising, but they're just really COOL.

A couple of Christmases ago, I received this thoughtful gift from Ryan (he'll do just about anything he can to promote my cooking *wink*). I was so excited, I put the seed pods in right away and plugged my new indoor garden in to illuminate the ENTIRE first floor (man, those lights are BRIGHT)! In just a few days, tiny plants began to poke their little leaves up... this was the beginning of something really magical!

The plants lasted for about 5 or 6 months, but they really produced a LOT of herbs. Once fully grown, if I snipped clippings off of a plant it grew back in about 2-3 days. And now I can even pick which individual pods you want to make up my garden for an extra fee (before you could only chose from pre-set combinations). At the present, I am growing 3 basil plants (gotta have a lot for pesto!), thyme, sage, parsley, and chives.

There are two drawbacks to owning an Aerogarden.
  1. Recently, delivery on reorders seed pods & replacement parts from their catalog has been EXTREMELY slow (over a month). They apparently are "overloaded" by the mass of orders due to its popularity. Well, in my opinion if your product is that popular and you have such an abundance of orders, you can afford to hire some extra customer service reps. Hello? In case you didn't hear, there are THOUSANDS of people for hire at the moment!
  2. Each time you are ready to grow new plants, you must replace the seed pods, the light bulbs and the filters - all which cost about $20.00 per item. The Aerogarden itself was over $150, so it is NOT fun to dish out all of that extra money every 6 months. They really need review their price points!
Aerogarden, if you read me... great product! Let's work on the price though... we are in a recession, after all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Could these be the world's best Peanut Butter Cookies?

I do not consider myself a baker. I believe that there are two types of people... ok, actually three... a baker, a cook, or neither. I am more of a cook; I am not very fond of mixers, flour, or baking soda.

I also believe that you are either a sweet or savory person. I myself am a savory person, I'd take cheese and crackers over chocolate cake any day! But, every once in a blue moon the minuscule baker and sweet tooth in me collide and draw out a hankering for makin' dessert. More often than not, it involves peanut butter. Because, what in life is better than the sweet, creamy utopia of peanut butter??

Today was just one of those days, so I headed into my kitchen to make some peanut butter cookies. I wanted to try something new... adding peanut butter chips for a little extra "mmmh" factor! Using a standard PB cookie recipe, I added a cup of peanut butter chips into the batter before baking them off. I think they could have used a little more, so I changed it to 2 cups in the recipe.

For an additional punch, I added a handful of peanuts to the last 1/2 doz. The results? Delicisioso! I wish I had done it for the whole batch!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup of salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In electric mixer, mix butter, sugar and peanut butter together until blended.

Add eggs, flour (a little at a time), baking soda and vanilla extract.

Once fully incorporated, add in peanut butter chips and nuts and mix until evenly blended.

Drop 2T of batter onto cookie sheet and flatten out a little bit. Space 2 or 3 inches apart, so you have 8 cookies per large baking sheet (cookies will be about 3" across after baked).

Bake at for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Related Posts with Thumbnails