Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What’s Cooking in the Kitchen?

My cooking routine has definitely changed since adding a new little one to the household and going back to work full-time and graduate school part-time. Now that we have a little eater, meals have to be quick to prepare and appealing to both adults and kid!

Pre-baby, we rarely ate out on weeknights. I cooked 3-4 nights a week, often trying out new recipes and techniques. Sometimes dinner wasn’t ready until 7:30 or 8:00 pm but we didn’t mind. With a little one, our weeknight schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of heavy duty cooking and we don’t want to do take-out. So over the past year I’ve slowly adjusted the routine, bringing us to our current schedule:

Thursday or Friday night: Menu planning and grocery list writing.
Saturday or Sunday morning (around 8 am): Grocery shopping.
Saturday morning (10 or 11 am): Weekly family trip to the farmers market to stock up on produce and our favorite bagels, meats, cheeses, and every so often a nice bottle of wine.
Sunday afternoon: Prep for the week! Wash, chop, cook, organize.
Weeknights: Assemble, reheat and eat! Make lunches and get organized for breakfast.

I try to cook everything we need for the week on Sunday and leave only a few things to cook during the week. If I cook during the week, it is usually something that goes in after the little guy’s bedtime. Here is a look at what we’ve had cooking recently! I’m sorry I have limited pictures – these days it’s more about getting dinner on the table for these guys.

Pot Roast in Many Ways
I cook for the week, but sometimes it can get a little boring to eat the same meal over and over again. Instead of the creativity of cooking something new each night I am having fun making variations with the original dish. This pot roast kept us well fed for many nights.

Pot Roast Take #1: Slow Cooker Top Round Roast with Vegetables
3ish pounds Top Round Roast – From Charlton Orchards (Wayland Winter Farmers Market)
16 oz sliced mushrooms
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into 4 inch pieces (basically cutting in half)
About 10 small roasting potatoes (I used a mix of red, purple and Yukon gold)
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1-1.5 cups water + beef base or beef broth/stock
Bay leaf
Splash of red wine

Salt the pot roast
Brown the pot roast on each side, for extra flavor (I skipped the step this time)
Add pot roast to the slow cooker and arrange vegetables around the sides of the pot roast
Add broth, wine, and bay leaf
Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours (check after 4 hours to see how tender the meat is)
Remove bay leaf and serve

Pot Roast Take #2: Pot Roast Quesadillas with Sharp Cheddar
Flour tortillas
Shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (I use Cabot Extra Sharp or Seriously Sharp)
Leftover pot roast, carrots, and onions – chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Layout tortillas on a foil-lined baking sheet
Spread a thin layer of cheese on half of the tortilla
Top with chopped pot roast and vegetables
Sprinkle another thin layer of cheese on top of pot roast
Fold tortilla over
Bake for 5-8 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortilla is a lightly golden
Cut into wedges and serve

Pot Roast Take #3: Pot Roast Hash with Root Vegetables
Leftover pot roast, carrots, onions, and potatoes - chopped
Leftover roasted sweet potatoes and beets
Vegetable oil

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
Add chopped pot roast and vegetables in a single layer
Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until heated through
Press down with the back of a spatula and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes until the bottom is nice and crispy
Serve with a fried or poached egg on top – and a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce!

We served ours with scrambled eggs - I wanted to make sure the eggs were cooked through for the little guy.

What is your favorite way to repurpose food in the refrigerator? I am having a blast doing it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's Cooking

Kitchen and bathroom renovation are in full swing! That means we have set up a temporary kitchen in our dining room. Combined with a busy schedule, cooking has been interesting. There has been a lot of toasting, microwave eggs, frozen soup from our freezer, and cereal. We have done really well with not ordering takeout during the week. By the time we get home we just want to eat, not wait for takeout to arrive. Weekends we tend to go out for breakfast and dinner - but that is usually because we are out running errands related to the renovations or starting to prepare for our other new addition.

So far we've put the toaster and microwave to the most use. Not wanting to leave out any appliances - this week I put the waffle iron and slow cooker to work for us.

First up, turkey and cheddar melts! This is where the waffle iron came in handy. I assembled some roasted turkey from the grocery store and a thick slice of cheddar on whole wheat bread. After the waffle iron heated up I added in the sandwich, closed the lid and waited for the 'ready' alarm.

After 2 flips and cooking cycles the sandwiches were toasty and ready to go!

I am already thinking up more delicious sandwiches - pressed PB & Banana (with Dark Chocolate Dreams PB),  goat cheese and fig spread - the possibilities are endless!

Next up in our remote cooking adventures is a slow cooked brisket. I modified an recipe I've used in the past. Using what I had on hand, I modified the recipe and technique. I turned the slow-cooker to high and as I sliced onions I added them in to the pot. That allowed them to heat & sweat a little before I added the rest of the ingredients. My idea was to brown the onions and maybe sear the brisket, but the slow-cooker wasn't quite hot enough for that. Even without browning, the brisket came out fall-apart tender and the vegetables were cooked perfectly. Thankfully the 3.5 pound brisket will feed us most of the week!

Slow-Cooker Brisket
3.5 pound brisket, fat trimmed
Dry mustard powder - about 2 tablespoons
Celery salt - about 1 tablespoon
Ground black pepper - about 1 teaspoon
1 medium vidalia onion, cut into 1/4 inch rings
1/2 pound baby carrots
6 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
Soy sauce - 3-4 tablespoons
Worcestershire sauce - 2 tablespoons
Beef broth

Heat 6-quart slow cooker on high heat
Add sliced onions and allow to cook
While onions are cooking, rub brisket with mustard power, celery salt, and ground pepper
Allow brisket to rest while you peel and slice potatoes
Remove onions from the slow cooker and set aside
Line the bottom of the slow cooker with potato slices
Add brisket on top of the potatoes
Next, layer on the onions then carrots
Add soy sauce, Worcestershire, and enough beef broth to fill the slow cooker about halfway (too much & it will boil over)
Squeeze ketchup on top of carrots
Place the lid on and cook on high for 6 hours
When finished cooking, put brisket and vegetables in one container and the sauce into a separate container
Refrigerate overnight
Before serving, scrape any accumulated fat off the juice

Next up for the slow cooker - spicy turkey and kidney bean chili. And then a cinnamon applesauce made with local Massachusetts honey crisp apples.

Do you have a favorite microwave or slow-cooker recipe that doesn't require a lot of prep work? We've got a few more weeks of creative cooking and could use some ideas!

I'll leave you with a look at the kitchen in progress. Today the electrician came to start wiring for all of our new outlets, switches, and appliances. No more cords across the kitchen!

And here's a look from the kitchen into the bathroom. Next up this week, putting in the tub and the bathroom walls. Next week - tiling the bathroom floor and shower/tub area.

We still have a few more things to pick out - kitchen faucet, cabinet hardware, light fixtures, and outlet covers. There are so many choices!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Slow Braised Beef ... Easy, Flavorful, and Melt in Your Mouth Good

I've got a line up of about five posts, but tonight's dinner was so good I wanted to write it up right away!

A few weeks ago I was a lucky winner of some delicious pesto courtesy of one of my favorite food bloggers, Alicia at The Clean Plate Club Blog. Lauren from Pestos with Panache was nice enough to let me pick my choice of the tasty flavors to try. I've been really into spicy chocolate recently, so I chose the Decadent Dark Chocolate & Ancho Chili Pesto. According to their website:

"Decadent Dark Chocolate & Ancho Chile Pesto marries some of the New World’s flavors—70% dark chocolate, ancho chilies, clove and vanilla—with the Old World’s fresh basil Genovese pesto. Hovering in the background is just a touch of smoky cumin to form a truly complex flavor."

I wanted to make something interesting with the pesto and had been tossing ideas around for a week or two. I had decided to make a roast beef this weekend to use for lunches during the week. When I got home from the store with my chuck roast, I went to my cookbook shelf for inspiration. I found a recipe for a slow-braised lamb (or goat!) Jalisco-style in my Mexican Everyday (Rick Bayless) cookbook. What I love about this cookbook are the riffs that follow each recipe. Following this recipe was a riff called Northern Mexican Barbacoa - using a beef chuck roast and potatoes. I had bought a yucca, so I swapped that in for the potatoes.

This was the easiest roast I've ever made - thanks to using the pesto in place of the marinade. When the roast was done, it was so tender it just melted in your mouth. The yucca held up to the long slow braise and the leftover juice made a great sauce. Delicious!! This is getting added to the favorite recipe/cooking method list.

Good Cook Doris' Riff on Rick Bayless' Riff on Slow Braised Lamb (or Goat) Jalisco-Style
1 3-3.5 pound beef chuck roast, tied
2 tablespoons Decadent Dark Chocolate & Ancho Chili Pesto, thawed
1-3 medium yucca, peeled and sliced into 1 inch rounds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Enough water to cover the yucca and about a quarter of the roast
An extra tablespoon of pesto for the sauce

I used my 5-quart slow cooker for this.

Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with the slice yucca
Sprinkle the salt over the yucca
Massage the pesto into the roast - making sure to cover all sides evenly
Place the roast on top of the yucca
Pour in enough water to cover the yucca and about a quarter of the roast
Turn on the slow cooker to the High - Six Hour setting
Go about your day!

The hubby is very proud of this aerial photo.

When the roast is done, take out very carefully (mine practically fell apart) and remove the string
Remove the yucca and put into a bowl
Carefully ladle out (or pour) liquid into a dish
I made my roast in advance, so I let it cool and then put in the fridge for tonight

To prepare the juice
Scrape off any fat that has gelled on the top of the juice
Pour the leftover liquid into a sauce pan and add the additional tablespoon of pesto
Bring to a boil
Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the juice has reduced and concentrated

Reheat the meat and yucca with some juice in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
Serve, ladling more juice on top

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Outside, Hearty Pot Roast and Biscuits Inside

With temperatures in the twenties and the snow ready to fly, it was the perfect weekend for comfort food. I've been making a lot of brisket and short-ribs over the past year and wanted to try something different. I fought off a few crazy women at the grocery store and brought home a nice beef chuck boneless eye round. Out came the slow-cooker, the meat could roast while I got to work on some cheddar-scallion biscuits and latkes.

In the spirit of holiday creativity, I made up my own pot roast recipe. I checked an old Cooking Light slow-cooked pot roast recipe for cooking tips and then opened the fridge to pull out the ingredients. For the roasting liquid, I had a bottle of unused Castle Rock Pinot Noir (no red drinkers at my Thanksgiving feast). We had enough for dinner, and two lunches each (6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are).

For the side dishes, I cooked up three options. First, cheddar-scallion biscuits. Second, traditional potato and onion latkes. Third, sweet potato and scallion latkes. All delicious, and all great with the pot roast! I'll write up the latkes tomorrow. For this post I'll focus on the pot roast and biscuits.

The biscuits were inspired by a post at Playing House but made following a recipe from TracyFood. The biscuits were unbelievable. Buttery, flaky, cheesy, scallion-y, mmm.... The only change I would make next time is to add a little less salt. For my biscuits I used a cheddar-jack cheese mix. Visit TracyFood for the full recipe! Now on the meat...

Snowy Weekend Pot Roast
1 3-ish lb. beef chuck boneless eye round, tied together
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup Pinot Noir (or other red wine)
1 cup reduced sodium beef broth
2 bay Turkish leafs
Kosher salt and pepper (I forgot to measure)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1.5 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon sage

Set up your slow-cooker
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a medium sauce pan (big enough to pour in your liquid and veggies)
Rub salt and pepper on all sides of the roast
Sear meat in pan, approximately 2 minutes per side
Remove meat from the pan and put into the slow cooker
Add a little more oil to the pan, and then add in onions
Cook for about 8 minutes, until they are just beginning to brown
Add in garlic and cook for 1 minute
Pour in wine and beef broth, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan
Stir in sage and thyme
Carefully pour the liquid over the roast in the slow cooker
Put the carrots, parsnips and potatoes around the meat
Put in the two bay leafs and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper
Cover and cook on high for 2 hours
Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 3-4 hours, until tender

The biscuits on the side were fabulous! I'll let you check out TracyFood for the recipe, but will share my mouth-watering photos below.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hearty Vegetable Tomato Sauce and Meatballs

We were at a housewarming party recently and were talking with some friends about easy weeknight dinners and recipes that we make a lot. They had some great ideas - Greek inspired tacos, avocado boats - but one idea had me thinking about it the whole way home. Good old spaghetti and meatballs. It is such a comfort food. With our recent trend toward recipes good for leftovers, this definitely filled the bill. And since the slowcooker is still on the counter, I decided to to put it to work again.

Instead of a boring tomato, garlic, and basil sauce, I wanted to make something that packed a nice veggie punch. A trip to the store yielded some nice nutritionally rich ingredients.

Before throwing everything into the pot, the ingredients got a little pre-cooking. First in the saute pan - diced baby bella mushrooms. Next the onions and carrots. Finally, minced garlic and spinach.

After the veggies were sweated and softened it was time to go in the slowcooker. I used a few cans of diced tomatoes with no salt added. I'm not a fan of the off-season tomatoes at the grocery store, the canned tomatoes are a tastier option. The sauce got off to a simmer and then it was time to get to work on the meatballs.

My grandmother makes a mean meatball - so I stick with her method when making mine. They get thrown into the sauce and soak up the flavors of the sauce.

Hearty Veggie Tomato Sauce and Meatballs
1 bag of spinach leaves
1 medium yellow onion, diced
About 1 cup carrots, diced
1-2 cups mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added) - Drained
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added) - Not drained
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt and Pepper

Turn on the slow cooker to the highest setting (mine is 4 hours - high)
Add tomatoes
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat
Add chopped mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add to slowcooker
Add more oil if necessary, and then saute onions and carrots for about 5 minutes, then add to slowcooker
Cook the minced garlic for a minute, then add spinach to the pan, cooking until just wilted
Add spinach to the slowcooker
Cover with lid and let simmer

1 pound ground sirloin
About a cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients by hand until just combined - do not over mix
Form into 1 inch balls
Add to sauce
When last meatball has been added to the sauce, cook for 1.5 - 2 hours until cooked through

I left the sauce chunky - but if you wanted a smoother consistency you could use an immersion blender to blend it. For the first night, we had the sauce and meatballs the traditional way - over whole wheat spaghetti noodles. On the side - whole wheat garlic bread.

For the second night, I planned to make meatball subs with the rest of the whole wheat bread. What I didn't realize is that the hubby had packed all the remaining meatballs for my lunch that day. So we had delicious veggie sauce subs with melted provolone cheese. Still hearty and tasty - just missing a little protein.

Anyway you want to serve it - this is a great way to add some veggies to your diet and have a great comforting meal!

Stay tuned for some more fall favorites like beef stew and roasted root vegetables. Leave a note about your favorite hearty dish or favorite comfort food!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Slow Cooker Delights - Take 2

My new friend Cara has a great blog and always has interesting (and healthy!) recipes. I remembered reading about some of her slow cooker meals and decided to peruse her site ( for some recipes. Since I already had the slow cooker out on the counter from the brisket, I wanted to use it again!

I stumbled upon her recipe for Crockpot Coconut Peanut Curry Chicken. This combines some of my favorite flavors: cilantro, lime, peanut, etc. I'll let you check out the recipe on her I made a few edits for my version. I used the full crockpot to make sure there were plenty of leftovers for the week. I used 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts and approximately doubled the amounts of the other ingredients. Also, I substituted in natural chunky peanut butter (Cara uses a fancy PB2 that you can read about on her site).

To start, I assembled the spices, minced ginger, and diced jalapenos for the sauce.

Next up was adding the chicken and liquid ingredients. Then setting the slow cooker for 6 hours on low. I think I ended up taking it out after 5 hours, because the chicken was cooked all the way through and I planned to reheat the dish before eating it. The chicken was practically falling apart after cooking - nice and moist. Here's a look at it after cooking:

When we were ready to eat this for dinner, there was just a little more preparation to do. I took out my trusty green cutting board and knife to chop up the cilantro, scallions, and lime wedges to finish off the dish.

I took a shortcut on the rice and microwaved one of those :90 rice packets. To make a little fancier, I bought the basmati rice version. There are two generous servings in each pack - no mess to clean up!

This was a dish that will get added to our repeat recipe list. The flavors work well together and it reheated very well for a few days of lunches. Thanks Cara!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Slow Cooked Goodness

When we got married (four years ago already!), I (we) registered for all the fun kitchen gadgets and appliances that are absolutely necessary for cooking. I use a lot of dishes, plates, and utensils in the kitchen but don't always use the fancy electrics that we own. No more! I've pulled out the slow-cooker and decided to put it to work.

My first thought about using the slow-cooker was that most recipes call for 6-8 hour cooking times. I'm often gone for 10-12 hours during the day, so this doesn't really work out very well. Then it dawned on me - I could cook while we sleep. I can prep the food after dinner and homework and then turn on the slow-cooker overnight. So I searched Epicurious for a slow-cooker brisket recipe and got to work!

This recipe is definitely a keeper. There were a few things I didn't think about before cooking. 1 - All night we dreamed of brisket. The smell of roasting onions permeated the house. 2 - The slow cooker lid doesn't seal perfectly and we woke up to a stream of brisket sauce down the counter. Besides that - it was great!

Here's the ingredient list for the sauce (my first time using the iPhone in the kitchen - a little messy). You can find the full recipe at the Epicurious website:

The recipe did involve a little prep work - not strictly a dump and cook recipe. First is browning the onions. Second is searing the brisket to get a nice brown crust. Then, cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices and line the bottom of the slow-cooker. Next time I will halve the number of potatoes as they took up too much room. Then I followed the recipe and put the slow cooker to work while we slept. The brisket was fall apart tender, the potatoes had a great meaty flavor, and the veggies cooked down into a tasty sauce. For two of us we had enough for a few days of lunches and dinners. Stay tuned for more slow-cooker treats!


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