Quicky Recipe – Balsamic Dijon Pot Roast

Balsamic Dijon Pot Roast

Perfect for Sunday dinner when you would rather be spending time elsewhere than in the kitchen!

3-4 pound beef chuck roast

1 large onion

4 Tb. balsamic vinegar

3 Tb. dijon mustard

1 Tb. dried thyme

2-3 cups beef broth

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Heat about 1-2 Tb. vegetable oil in bottom of dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Salt and pepper each side of roast and brown in heated oil.
  4. Remove from dutch oven and set aside.  Coarsely chop onion and add to dutch oven; sauté 5 minutes; add vinegar and mustard; stir for 1 minute.
  5. Place browned meat on top of onion mixture; sprinkle with thyme and add beef broth by pouring around edges. I use 2 cups and reserve the additional cup if meat dries out during cooking.
  6. Place lid and place in oven.  Cook 2 1/2-3 hours or until meat is tender.
  7. Fabulous with rice, pasta, potatoes, couscous, or chunk of rustic bread.  Veggie and a green salad and walla—Enjoy!!

Oops! Now What?

Thanksgiving is always a time for experimentation for me and I never fail to make a few mistakes along the way. Normally I keep the pizza parlor number on quick dial if mistakes are too big to fix when trying to get a normal weekday dinner on the table, but this is Thanksgiving. I could never ever serve the family pizza for the holiday dinner…Pasta maybe, but not pizza! So I have compiled notes over the years on how to fix my “Oops’s”. Here are some of them. I will save myself the embarrassment of telling you how I got into some of these predicaments. I am sure your imagination or your own experimentation will answer your own curiosity.
1. Need Leg Room – Give the turkey a first class seat. Use a generous size roasting pan with plenty of room to spare on all sides of the turkey. Preferably a heavy-duty pan, not the disposable foil kind that may (and will) collapse.
2. Probes Work – Use a probe thermometer that stays in the turkey (preferably deep in the thigh not touching bone) and remove bird from oven no sooner than 160 degrees F.  DO NOT trust those sill little pop-up do-hickies that typically come with the grocery store bird.
2a. Revive dried-out meat with plenty of hot stock or gravy.
3. No Hack Job – Remove the legs and slice the meat and place on serving plate. Do the same with the breast meat; remove the breast meat from the bird and place on cutting board and slice against the grain. Do me one favor – please do not try to recreate the Saturday Evening Post Cover photo with “Pops” carving the turkey and “Mother” standing next to him with apron on and a glazed look of love and wonder (ie. way to much wine while prepping the whole day) as she watches him carve the giant beast (turkey) at the dinner table while the rest of the family wait with bated breathe… It doesn’t work that way!
4. Forgot To Stir – Burned the soup? Do not dislodge the mess at the bottom. Just transfer to a new part and leave the scorched stuff behind..soaking…in the sink…for hours…
5. Wallpaper Paste? – Invest in a ricer if you prefer super smooth mashed potatoes. A hand masher works well too. Electric mixers will beat the day lights out of the potatoes and make a very gluey glutenous mess. Use a russet baking style potato or a yukon gold.
6. Ultimate Meltdown – This happens to the young and inexperienced cook who takes on more than they can handle. Ask for help and enjoy the livelihood in the kitchen. Turn up the music, dance, sip some wine and have some fun cooking while everyone is enjoying as well.
7. Lumpy and Limp – Whether using flour or cornstarch to thicken your gravy, always loosen it with quarter cup or so of cool liquid (broth or water) before adding to hot gravy/pan drippings. If you still get lumps, strain through a sieve. Also, dress your greens and/or vegetables right before serving so they stay crisp and colorful.

So there you have it. Good luck and most importantly have fun. Thanksgiving is not just the meal, but all the events of the day you share with those you love! Be Thankful we have a holiday like this to give Thanks!!

Tailgate specialties

College football tailgates have been happening these past few months, but now the real serious tailgates (and games) are underway.  This Apple Bean Bake recipe is from my Good To Go cookbook and has been a standard dish for all our tailgates.  No pictures for this one since it’s 1) very easy and 2) we consume it all before I can take any pics!!  Great hot, warm or cold.  Especially the next day after the game. It is a very forgiving recipe so if you have little time to peel the apples, don’t bother. And, yellow onion or sweet onion works in place of red.

Apple Bean Bake

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 375 degrees for 1 hour

Quantity: serves at least 8-10 people

 

1 jar (48 oz.) great northern beans, drained

4 tablespoons butter

3 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add apples and onions.  Cook for 10 minutes; stir occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and add brown sugar, ketchup, cinnamon, cloves and salt; stir well.
  5. Place beans in prepared casserole dish. Pour apple mixture over the beans; mix well.  Bake for 1 hour. (Cover beans during baking process if drying out too much.)

Mother Nature Is In Charge

Woke up this morning and realized three things:

1) Mother Nature made it very clear she is “in-charge”.

2) I found leftover corn-on-the-cob in the fridge.

3) When it is September 13th and 45 degrees outside, I have a need to make a pot of soup and enjoy the sunshine because the temperature could be worse!

So here is my Corn Chowder recipe I put together with the leftover corn.  The perfect lunch or dinner starter.

IMG_6728

Corn Chowder

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 large onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (I use the entire sprig)

2 tablespoons unbleached white flour

3 cups chicken broth (low sodium preferred)

1 cup half & half

2 medium Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and diced

3 ears of corn (about 3 cups), fresh/raw, cooked on the cob or frozen in a bag

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

IMG_6689

  1. Heat butter and 1 tablespoons olive oil in medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and thyme sprigs; sauté until vegetables are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Dust with flour and stir to coat well; sauté another 30 seconds.
  2. Add broth, increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add corn to soup and season with salt in pepper. Simmer about 10 minutes or until corn is tender.
  4. Stir in parsley and add a splash of remainder of olive oil. Add more chicken broth if you prefer a thinner broth.IMG_6693
  5. Serve hot. Keeps in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

 

IMG_6479

The weather here in Michigan cannot be more perfect and the yield from the earth cannot be more abundant! Tomatoes, basil and garlic are currently overflowing in gardens, markets, roadside stands and grocery stores. My husband and I took a spin over to the local farmers market to check it all out. After viewing the numerous stands of fresh produce, meats, poultry, fish, cheeses, eggs and pastries we decided to purchase ingredients for a fresh tomato sauce for dinner; quick, easy and refreshing!

I picked out 3-4 large ripe tomatoes, a bunch of fresh basil and a fresh head of garlic (if you haven’t tried fresh organic garlic…the flavor is fabulous and it is worth every penny; for those of you who have, you know what I am talking about). I knew we had a chunk of fontinella cheese in the fridge and of course we always have enough olive oil and pasta in the pantry.

After a pleasant glass of wine on the deck while enjoying the beautiful early evening and a chat with the neighbors; I was able to whip up a fabulous fresh tomato basil sauce within 30 minutes. The meal was perfect!

Below is the recipe for this sauce. Feel free to peel the skin off the tomatoes before a course dice. I have found that fresh tomatoes early to mid-season (late July thru August) have a thin soft skin and not necessary to peel.  I also use a general garden variety tomato for this dish (not Roma/plum style).  One more thing; DO NOT refrigerate your tomatoes; they will get mealy and lose a fair amount of flavor.

If you happen to pass a produce stand on the way home from work or this week…stop and bring a bag of goodies home or better yet, make a special trip to the farmers market on saturday morning.  You will not be disappointed!

IMG_6500IMG_6504

IMG_6511

Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce – makes enough for 1 pound of pasta

3-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2-3 large cloves garlic, crushed

3-4 large fresh tomatoes, course diced 1/2″ cubes with any juices (peeling optional)*

1 handful fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup crumbled fontinella cheese, (I have used grated fontina cheese with great results)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

pinch of sugar, only if necessary

  1. Warm olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Saute garlic for about 30-45 seconds.
  3. Add diced tomatoes with any juices and basil.
  4. Bring to a simmer; continue to adjust heat until you see gentle simmering bubbles coming from sauce.
  5. Taste the sauce after about 5 minutes of simmering.  Season with a large pinch of salt and some generous grinds of pepper; taste.
  6. Add more salt sparingly until you get the right balance.  Only add a small pinch of sugar if necessary.  You will know if sauce needs sugar if there is a sharp acidic/tart taste.
  7. Saute for about 20-25 minutes more or until you see the tomatoes begin to soften.  Continue to adjust heat so the sauce stays juicy and does not dry out.  The moisture content in tomatoes varies from one variety to another as well as the time of season.  If you find the sauce starting to dry out, just put a lid on the pan and reduce the heat.