Monday, March 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Stew (Or Not, You Choose!)

I know this picture looks like a big pile of mash, but it actually was really delicious beef stew.  I made it two weeks in a row.  The first time, I made it in the slow cooker.  The meat was very tender, but the potatoes kind of turned in to mush.  The second time, I didn't remember to do the slow cooker and made it on the stove.  I cooked it for about an hour, and the potatoes weren't at all mush.  However, the meat was not as tender as it had been in the slow cooker.  So I guess it is a toss up which is the best way to cook it.  Either way, it is a hearty, easy to prepare stew for a cold winter day.

Beef Stew
adapted from:

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into one inch chunks
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chopped bay leaves (or one bay leaf)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 c. beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced

For the slow cooker:
Place the meat in the slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper and pour it over the meat.  Stir until all the meat is coated.  Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and beef broth.  Add the onion, carrots and potatoes.  Cook on low for 10-12 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours.

For the stove top:
In a large Ziploc bag, pour the flour, salt and pepper and shake to stir.  Add the stew meat and shake it until it is all coated with the flour mixture.  Brown the beef in 1-2 tablespoons of oil.  In a large pot, add the beef, garlic, bay leaves, Worcestershire, onion, potatoes, carrots and beef broth.  Bring to a boil and then turn it down to low and simmer for as long as you need to, stirring occasionally.  I did mine an hour.  You could add more water if needed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lazy Sunday Casserole

This was a delicious meal that we just happened to make on... Sunday.  It was easy, the only real time-consuming part was chopping up all of the vegetables.  It was the first time I've cooked with, or eaten for that matter, fennel.  It's a very interesting vegetable, it has almost a black licorice flavor (which I actually don't like, but eaten as a bite with all of the other vegetables combined it wasn't bad).  My husband liked the flavor of it combined as well.  My sister-in-law informed me that fennel is an ingredient in a lot of Italian sausages (which may be a clue as to why I don't like Italian sausage that much) so it complimented the flavors of the dish well.  

After all of my fennel talk, it was just a small part of the dish and the overall flavor was well balanced and delicious!  The vegetables were moist and it had just the right amount of seasoning.  This is one of our new favorites for sure.  I got it from Kayotic Kitchen, a new blog that I found via Pinterest, and was so happy to find it.  As she suggested, we used vegetables we had on hand, so my slight adaptations are from the vegetables we needed to use up which included mushrooms. My husband was very happy that I finally chose a recipe that used sausage, his favorite.  And I liked it just as much as he did!

Lazy Sunday Casserole
slightly adapted from Kayotic Kitchen


4 sausages (beef or pork)
3 large potatoes
3-4 large carrots
1 red bell pepper
1 large onion
1 fennel bulb
5-6 mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar


1. Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut each potato into large cubes. Chop carrots into large pieces and slice mushrooms.  Chop onion into wedges. Remove the base and stalks of the fennel and slice it into wedges as well. Slice bell pepper into strips and put everything in a big roasting tray.

2. Use a big bowl to combine the oil with the Italian herbs, grated or chopped garlic, and chicken broth and pour it over the vegetables. Toss them around to make sure the broth gets everywhere. Season with a generous amount of salt and black pepper.
3. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and pop it in a preheated oven. Bake at 450F (225C) for 45 minutes.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, lightly brown the sausages and slice each sausage in half. (Sausages do not need to be cooked through.)

4. After 45 minutes the potatoes and vegetables should be fork tender. If they’re not, cover the tray with the foil and pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes. If they are fork tender, place the sausages in there and pour the balsamic vinegar all over. Place the tray back in the oven, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Take it out after 15 minutes, flip over those sausages and ladle some of the juices lurking at the bottom all over the vegetables and sausages. Put it back in the oven for the remaining time, until everything is nice and brown.

Lasagna Cupcakes

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe, but honestly, it's been a while since I've tried a fun recipe that I've really liked.  This was an easy one Matt and I made together Friday night (we're attempting to eat out less- although I don't know if it worked because we just went out Saturday morning instead:).  I needed to use up the last of our wonton wrappers, and this was an easy and delicious way to do it, in a non-traditional way.  Although, I don't know if you've seen Pinterest and all the ways people are getting creative with wonton wrappers and cupcake tins!  

This recipe is from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  She is one of my favorite food bloggers, so it's thanks to her I have this yummy recipe. 

A few notes about this dish: I hardly ever use real Parmesan cheese, I guess I'm too cheap to ever buy it, but I happened to buy it on a whim the other day, and I loved it!  It also goes a long way!  It might be nearly as cheap to buy it fresh!  I may be sold on splurging for real Parmesan from now on.  Also, fresh basil is one of my favorite things on pizza.  We grow it in our garden during the summer/fall and then I wash, pat dry and then freeze all my extra basil leaves so that I can either make a fresh pesto with it or take a few leaves out at a time and throw them on top of my pizza (or lasagna cupcakes) the last couple minutes of baking.  It tastes just as good as fresh to me!

Lasagna Cupcakes
from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1/3 pound ground beef
salt and pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese (7 oz)
1 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (7 oz)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (3 oz)
1 cup pasta sauce
fresh basil for garnish (optional, although definitely recommended)

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
2.    Brown beef and season with salt and pepper. Drain.
3.    Reserve 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese for the top of your cupcakes. Start layering your lasagna cupcakes. Begin with a wonton wrapper and press it into the bottom of each muffin tin. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese in each. Top with a little meat and pasta sauce.
4.    Repeat layers again (i.e. wonton, Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, and pasta sauce). Top with reserved Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
5.    Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. To remove, use a knife to loosen the edges, then pop each lasagna out. Garnish with basil and serve.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Slow Cooker Lemon Rosemary Pork Roast

This week, I finally cashed in on a Christmas present that my hubby got me this year.  It was a cooking class called "Cooking Without a Recipe" at a local cooking school.  Lynnette came with me and we had so much fun!  Our teacher talked a lot about being bold, and being willing to try making food based on what we think will be good.  Since then, I have made some amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, and today I tried this Lemon Rosemary Pork Roast.  It turned out great!  It is a lot of fun to look through my cupboards and fridge and try to imagine what I can make with what I have.

Slow Cooker Lemon Rosemary Pork Roast
by: Carolyn

1 three pound pork roast
1/4-1/2 c. lemon juice
1 c. water
1 tsp. dried rosemary
freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices

In a frying pan, braise the pork roast.  I coated my pan in olive oil first.  In your slow cooker, combine the water, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper and garlic.  Place your roast in the slow cooker and then cover it with the carrots, potatoes and onion slices.  Cook it on high for 4-5 hours, or until the roast reaches 160 degrees.