Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Classic Pot Roast

It's been so busy here lately!  The renovations on the house, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Mardi Gras, baseball practice, the list goes on and on.  Sometimes, when our worlds are at their craziest, we just need to slow down, sit down and enjoy.  This classic pot roast recipe is the perfect way to do that.  It slow cooks in the oven and you serve it from the same pot you cook it in.  Classic, rustic, unbelievably delicious!  Just what I needed.





CLASSIC POT ROAST

2-3 lb chuck roast
1 onion, quartered
1 cup baby carrots
2 stalks celery, quartered
3 medium potatoes, quartered
2 sprigs of parlsey
1/2 cup beef broth (or water)
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
1 packet brown gravy mix
salt/pepper
2 TBS vegetable oil
  

Cut the onions, potatoes and celery into quarters.  You want big pieces because they will be cooking for a long time.  If they are too small, they'll over cook and turn to mush.
 

A tip to keep potatoes from turning brown:  Once cut, put them in a big bowl of cold water until you're ready to use them.


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In an oven-proof pot with a lid (I love a cast iron pot for this), heat oil over medium-high heat.

Season the roast with salt and pepper.


Brown the roast on both sides:  Let the pot get very very hot!  Place the roast in and don't touch it for 2 minutes.  If you keep moving it around, it won't get that great crust on it.  After two minutes, flip it over and let it sit there (untouched) for 2-3 minutes.  It may take a little longer on the second side.



See that great brown crust.  That imparts flavor.

Remove the roast to a plate and set it aside.

Next, we deglaze the pot:  That just means getting the brown bits off the bottom.  While it's hot, pour in about 1/2 cup beef broth (or water) and scrape up the bits with a spoon.



Once you've deglazed the pot, pour in the tomatoes and brown gravy mix.  I zip them in a blender together because my guys don't like chunks of tomatoes but that's not necessary.  You could just stir them together then pour the mixture into the pot.


Return the roast to the pot.


Place all of the vegetables around and on top of the roast.  Place the parsley sprigs on top.


Put the lid on and place in the oven.


Bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 - 3 hours (for a 2 - 3 lb roast).  Bigger roasts will take longer.

Remove the parsley stems.

Look how delicious this looks:


Just push the vegetables to the side so the meat can be seen in the middle.  You can serve it straight from the pot.


The meat is so tender you can pull it apart with a fork!



This classic recipe is so easy but it's pretty impressive.  Your family will be wowed by a bubbling pot of tender beef and flavorful veggies!  Just add some crusty bread to soak up the gravy and you'll be in comfort food heaven.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Brownie in a Mug

Ever get a craving for something sweet and chocolatey but you're already in your PJs and don't feel like going out?  (It can't just be me?)  If so, this one's for you.  An easy brownie you make in a mug and cook in the microwave?!  Yes, that's right, only one mug to clean, nothing else.  Sound too good to be true?  Usually I would agree, but I've tried this (several times) and it works.  Not only that, it's delicious!  Here's how easy it is to make:



BROWNIE IN A MUG

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 TBS oil
3 TBS water

In a microwave-safe mug, mix flour, sugar, cocoa and salt.



Add oil and water.  Mix well with a fork (I have a tiny whisk.  It's so cute!).




Microwave times vary.  My microwave is pretty powerful and it took 1 minute 10 seconds.  If you have an older microwave or a less powerful one, it may take up to 1 minute 40 seconds.  Check it after 1 minute 10 seconds and if it's not done put it back in for another 10 seconds.  Keep doing that until it's done.  You'll know it's done when it's no longer liquidy on top.  But you don't want to over cook it.  Nothing worse than a dried out brownie.



You can top it with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream or just eat it as is.  If you want to make it a little more decadent, stir in a few chocolate chips before you cook it.


Look how moist it is on the inside.  Delicious!



This brownie is quick, easy and really hits the spot when you're craving chocolatey goodness!
 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vanilla Nut Cereal Bars

Well, we are still getting the house in order following the remodel.  Final touches.  That's code for still crazy busy.  Workers coming and going.  Dog constantly barking.  Husband steadily grumbling.  Wife holding her tongue.  Mostly.

This morning I wanted a quick grab and go snack.  We were out of my favorite granola bars.  Instead of running to the store (because I had to be here to let workers in), I decided to whip up some cereal bars with what I had on hand.  It took less time than a trip to the store and tasted much better.  Here's how I did it:



VANILLA NUT CEREAL BARS

2 TBS butter (plus extra for buttering dish)
2 cups mini marshmallows (or 15 big marshmallows)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 cup Honey Nut Cheerios
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

Butter an 8 inch square dish.



In a pot (big enough to mix everything in), melt the butter and marshmallows over medium-low heat.  Stir this often to keep it from burning.




Once it is all melted together and smooth, remove it from the heat.  Then add the vanilla.



Add the cereals and nuts.  Stir well.






Press into the buttered dish.  I dampen my hands and press it out flat.  Using damp hands keeps it from sticking.





Let it sit for a few minutes to set up then cut it into 12 small squares.




These are so yummy!  They are sweet and salty (from the peanuts) and the vanilla gives them a great warmth.  The best part about these cereal bars?  No preservatives.  You control the ingredients.  Use whatever cereal you like.  Use whatever nuts you like.  Make them for a chocolate-lover by using cocoa krispies and almonds.  Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Apple Jacks would be good.  Granola cereal and sunflower seeds.  Whatever flavors you think would taste good together.  You can easily double this recipe and press it into a 9x13 baking dish.  I love a customizable recipe!  These keep well in an airtight container.  Great for a lunch box or afternoon snack.  Enjoy!




 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cajun Roast Beef

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted, but we have been super busy!  The renovations are very nearly complete, only a few minor things left to do.  Yay!  Also, my daughter was accepted to the Disney College Program so we had to drive her to Orlando and help her move in to her new apartment (and visit the Happiest Place on Earth while we were at it).  Yes, it's been very busy here.  But, now it's back to the real world.

Today, I thought I'd post a recipe for Cajun Roast Beef.  This is a nod to the way my Paw Paw used to make his roast.  He would cut slits in the roast and stuff it with garlic then, slow cook it until it was tender and delicious.  I never got his exact recipe but here's how I make mine.  I add two not so secret ingredients:



CAJUN ROAST BEEF

2-3 lb boneless chuck roast
1/2 an onion
3 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery
1 can beef broth
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS Louisiana Hot Sauce (I like Crystal brand)
flour
Tony's Creole Seasoning (any Cajun seasoning will work)
canola or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.



Finely dice the onion, garlic and celery (pulse it in the food processor a few times or just use a knife).



Using a sharp knife, slice holes all over the roast (top, sides and bottom).




Stuff the holes with the onion mixture.



Once you've stuffed the entire roast, season it all over with Tony's (Cajun seasoning).

Put some flour on a plate (a cup or so) and season it liberally with Tony's.


Stir it well then coat the roast on all sides with the seasoned flour.


Heat a little oil (about 2 TBS or so) over medium-high heat in a dutch oven (a pot with a lid that is oven-proof).  When the oil is very hot, brown the roast on both sides.  Make sure you let the roast brown well.  You need to make a good crust (that helps to make a good gravy).



Once both sides are browned, add the beef broth, Worcestershire and hot sauce.




You want the liquid level to be about half way up the side of the roast.  That's how you braise meat.  Never cover the meat completely.



Bring the liquid to a boil then put the lid on and put the pot in the oven.  Let it cook for 2 - 3 hours or until very tender.  I had a 2.5 lb roast and it took 2 hours.



Here's what it looks like when it's done:


Use two forks to shred it up, then stir it into the gravy.


Being "Cajun" Roast Beef, it has to be served over rice.  Us Cajuns love our rice and gravy (I guess, if you must, you could serve it with mashed potatoes).


This roast is tender and flavorful with just the right amount of spice.  It's the perfect comfort food!  I hope you'll give this one a try.