Saturday, October 19, 2013

Melaney's French Dip

What cookin'?
My friend Melaney sent me this recipe last week.  I was already prepped for making BBQ short ribs in the slow cooker, so I set the recipe aside for this weekend.  I just got home from Wegmans and it's simmering now.  Within an hour my house is gonna smell soooo goood.
Here it is, exactly as she sent it to me.  I used top steak instead of chuck roast. 

2 cups water

½ cup soy sauce

4 whole peppercorns

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. garlic powder or one minced garlic clove

3 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of all fat.

Combine water, soy sauce, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and garlic in a slow cooker, stirring until well blended. Place roast in crockpot and cover.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until beef is tender. Remove meat from broth and shred with a fork. Serve beef on rolls. Pour broth in small bowls for dipping. Good topped with Swiss cheese or sautéed onions, peppers or both.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another dinner party!


Late 2012

pork tenderloin dish

Crockpot Bean soup a la Mark Bittman

Whoops, this is still empty.  Come back later... 

Perfect Pot Roast


1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 (2 1/2 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 package dry beef gravy mix
1 package ranch dressing mix

1 package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1/2 cup water, or as needed

5 whole peeled carrots (optional)


1.Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread the onion slices out into the bottom of the cooker.

2.Spread the flour out onto a work surface. Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt and black pepper, and roll the roast in the flour to coat all sides. Using the edge of a small, sturdy plate, pound the flour into the meat. Place the floured roast into the cooker on top of the onions. Whisk together beef gravy mix, ranch dressing mix, and Italian dressing mix in a bowl, and whisk the mixes with water until smooth. Pour over the chuck roast. Distribute carrots around the meat.

3.Cover the cooker, set to Low, and cook until the roast is tender and the gravy has thickened, about 8 hours.

Peanut Butter Noodles

This came from 


8 ounces spaghetti (next time I will use udon noodles)
1 bunch green onions, sliced (white parts only)

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (I used ginger paste)

1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1.Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until done. Drain.

2. Combine oil and onions in a small skillet. Saute over low heat until tender. Add ginger; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, and red pepper flakes.

3.Toss noodles with sauce.
I threw some lightly salted peanuts on top of the pasta.
Another recipe I found used chicken broth, chile paste, honey and garlic in the sauce mixture.  I will add those the next time, they seem like a good addition.

Peach Blueberry Crisp

I made the below using a combination of two recipes.  One of them had a really good peach filling/mixture (I added the blueberries, you don't need to have them) and the other had a much easier rendition of the topping.  I made a few tiny changes and voila.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the filling:   Toss the peaches in a large bowl with the zest and lemon juice. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
4-5 fresh peaches, pitted and cut into chunks

1 lemon, zested and juiced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh blueberries to taste (1/2 cup or more)

Pinch kosher salt

For the topping: Mix flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl using a pastry cutter or fork until evenly crumbled. Fold the rolled oats into flour mixture; sprinkle and press topping into peaches.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cold butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled oats

1.Arrange peach mixture evenly in an baking dish (I used a 12 inch oval).

2.  Sprinkle and press topping into peaches.

3.Bake in the preheated oven until topping is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

International Potluck Day - more Mac and Cheese (baked)

When was the last time you made mac and cheese from scratch twice in one week?  This is a first for me.  I rarely make it, ever.  The crockpot mac and cheese was fantastic and I would have made it again for the potluck lunch but my crockpot still had mac and cheese in it. 

In reference to the title, at work, we have an annual International Potluck Day in which each person makes something from their country and shares it.  Everyone looks forward to this day each year.  The food is amazing.  Inevitably one wag brings in a platter of McDonald's hamburgers.  I opted to make the mac and cheese this year. 

Here is the recipe which I cobbled together from two recipes:

Mac and cheese:

·         16 oz (one box) uncooked elbow macaroni

·         4 tablespoons butter

·         About 12-14 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese

·         2 eggs, beaten

·         1/2 cup sour cream

·         1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup

·         1 cup whole milk

·         One tablespoon dry mustard

·         1/2 teaspoon black pepper

·         1/2 teaspoon salt


·         3 tablespoons butter

·         1 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


·         Boil the macaroni until al dente, drain.

·         In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and mix in the grated cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. 

·         Add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well.

·         Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a large casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.  I forgot to set aside some grated cheddar cheese to put on the mixture but I had leftover grated gruyere cheese. 

·         Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chicken Salad with cherries and almonds (AKA the lightbulb came on about organization)

Good morning

In the quest to become more organized while cooking, and, not waste as much food, I had the brilliant idea this weekend that when I bought foods that lent themselves to the sous-chef treatment, I would pre-prep them the minute I got home and put them in containers. 

I have been so much better in the past year about buying non-processed foods.  I wasn't all that bad before.  For instance, I almost never would buy frozen packaged foods, but, I did buy more boxed food than I do these days.  I still buy canned foods but I figure those have minimal processing especially if you label read. 

However, buying fresh means you gotta start eating them right away.  And not lose interest in them.  My theory is that I'd buy all this good stuff, but since my food planning is non-existent - primarily "last minute" ideas, I'd open the fridge, see everything still in wrapping (like celery, cauliflower, rotisserie chicken) and pass it over in favor of something easy.

So, tada.  My Sunday afternoon, after a lovely brunch with friends, consisted of food shopping and when I got home, a glass of chardonnay and some food prep.  In addition to making my crock pot mac and cheese (posted yesterday) I also chopped and bagged the celery, chopped and stored the fresh mango, and shredded the rotisserie chicken.  All in containers, waiting to be used.

And just now, moments ago, I decided to make easy chicken salad for a sandwich at lunch.  Pulled out the chicken, ready to go.  Pulled out the celery, ready to go.  I buy dried cherries like they are going out of style, and I always have almonds and walnuts handy.  The almonds are toasting. 

A little fresh lemon, some mayonnaise (not from scratch, that will be another time), and it's all tossed together.  I'm hoping this organization will pay off - I hate wasting food. 


Rotisserie chicken, shredded
Chopped celery (as much or little as you like)
Handful of dried cherries
Toasted Almonds
Lemon juice

Toss it all together.  I imagine some onion would have been good, too.

For contrast, here was one item from the fantastic Sunday brunch at Orso:

Bacon Sticky Buns!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Warning - this is not low fat.  It is however sinfully good.

2 cups uncooked macaroni
4 tablespoonsbutter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheese (I used gruyere, which probably isn't all that sharp)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard  (what's with all the mac and cheese recipes that use dried mustard?)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan until tender. Drain and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts.  Gruyere will be very goopy. 
In a crock pot, combine the cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well.

After all the above is combined, add drained macaroni and stir again.

Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  I cooked it on low - second to highest setting.
 Soooo good but soooo bad for you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Marinara sauce

Today was a big cooking day. 

Yesterday I went to the farmer's market and picked up a haul -and not just produce, either. After lunch with a friend, I bought some gourmet olive oil - from a store called "Ah Love Oil". It was blood orange infused and I was sold as soon as the assistant mentioned that she makes almond coffee cake using it.

So this morning I made blueberry muffins from scratch using the blood orange olive oil and almond extract. They have a sugar/cinnamon/flour/butter crumb topping.  I already posted this recipe.

Lunch was:
Salmon with a generous helping of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. In a baking pan, 30 minutes at 375.
Corn on the cob, in tin foil, olive oil/salt/pepper and wrapped up. In oven next to baking pan.
Lotta fresh squeezed lemon on the salmon when it came out.

Now,  I am making marinara sauce from those gorgeous tomatoes I bought yesterday.

I cut them up while olive oil and a whole lotta garlic was simmering.  A whole lotta means almost an entire small jar of the minced garlic in olive oil. 

I also threw in a handful of the sweet cherries I bought yesterday, also cut up, instead of any sugar.    Douse it good with white wine.  I think I used almost 3/4 of a cup.  I just poured.


Olive oil, a whole lotta garlic, white wine, tomatoes, and the sweet cherries and it's all simmering down. I should have bought some bread, I forgot. That would be great on crusty bread.


Blueberry muffins made with blood orange olive oil

Trying to play catch up on this blog.  It's futile, but I try.

I made blueberry muffins this morning and used blood orange olive oil (instead of regular) and also almond extract.  This recipe was fantastic.  The crumb topping mix could almost be halved, though.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

I used Blood Orange Olive Oil, and, added almost a teaspoon of almond extract.


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).     Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 

2.  Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.   Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup.   Mix this with flour mixture.   Fold in blueberries.   Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture. 

3.  To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.   Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking. 

4.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done. 

He-man Chili

So, I got this recipe from an internet forum and I can't name the person who posted it because he'd probably kill me. Especially since when I cooked it, I changed it.  First, his recipe, next, what I did with it.


2 lbs Ground Venison
2 15 oz cans Diced Tomatoes
2 medium Onions, chopped
1 medium Green Pepper, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon ground Cumin
2 tablespoons Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Pepper Sauce (I likeTabasco Chipolte)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 bayleaf
1 finely minced Habanero
I'll usually use beef stock as my liquid, but water with a bit of bullion in it will suffice
Saute onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat. Add ground venison and brown. Add spices to mixture and transfer to crockpot. Place remaining ingredients in crockpot. Stir. Cook on low 8-10 hours, or high 4-6 hours. Enjoy!

Hamburger not venison
Fire-roasted tomatoes
RED pepper.  I hate green pepper.  Blech.
No pepper sauce
No habanero
I didn't need any liquid at all.  I didn't drain the burger after I sauteed it all, though, and there was a lot of grease in it.
Crockpot was maybe 3 hours, tops.

It could have used some beans.  Heh.  It was very good and one of the few times I actually did freeze some leftovers - and ate them the following week, too.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Santa Fe Chicken Chili (Gluten Free Goddess)

Good morning!  Long time no post. 

I don't have gluten issues, to my knowledge, but a coworker does and she raved about this to me.  So, last week I decided to give it a try.  It's very easy, and I wonder if it would be even easier if you baked the yam ahead of time - easier cutting.  I liked it a lot and the yam is a nice touch.  Don't forget to get FIRE ROASTED tomatoes, not regular diced tomatoes.

I have to wonder though - isn't chili pretty much gluten free anyway?

Copied directly:
You can easily make this recipe in your favorite slow cooker or Crock Pot, following manufacturer's instructions for chili or soup using cooked (canned) beans. Add the cooked chicken and lime juice near the end of cooking time, to keep it tender and fresh tasting. Vegans take note: make this vegan with your favorite veggie "sausage" or crumbled "burger" instead of chicken.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cumin, to taste
1/4-1 teaspoon ground cayenne or chipotle pepper, to taste
1 sweet potato, peeled, diced
2 15-oz. cans pinto or white beans, rinsed, drained
1 28-oz. can Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes, with juice
8-oz. (1 cup) chopped roasted green chilies- mild or hot
2 cups chicken broth, more if needed
1 tablespoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar
A small drizzle of agave
2 heaping cups cooked chicken pieces- hand torn looks nice
Juice of 1 lime, or to taste

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and warm the olive oil; cook the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and spices and stir for a minute.

Add the diced sweet potato, beans, tomatoes, green chiles, broth, balsamic vinegar, and agave. Stir gently to combine it all.

Bring it to a simmer and lower the heat; cover and cook the chili for 30 minutes or so until the sweet potatoes are tender. Add a touch more liquid if you need to. Add the cooked chicken and some lime juice.

Taste test and adjust the seasonings - more heat? More lime? A tad more sweetness? Good chili has a balance of these flavors.

Warm through and serve when you are ready.

If the chili thickens too much thin it with broth; if the chili becomes too thin cook it longer with the lid off to reduce the liquid.

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