Crock-Pot Balsamic Pot Roast

Another crock pot gem.

Crock-Pot Balsamic Pot Roast

(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients:

2 lbs of beef chuck roast
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic [I used pre-minced garlic]
5-6 red potatoes

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Preparation:

1.  Mix together beef broth, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic.

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2.  Line the bottom of the crock pot with red potatoes.  This allows for the meat not to touch the bottom of the pot and potentially burn, but it also sets you up for some amazing mashed potatoes to go with your dinner.

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3.  Place meat on top of potatoes.

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4.  Pour sauce over top of the meat.  Add 1/2 cup of water to the mix to add a little moisture to the pot.

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5.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  The roast should shrink down to about 1/2 its size – that is normal.

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6.  At this point, the meat should just fall apart.  Scoop out the potatoes and mash them together with a little butter and milk for a perfectly complementary side dish.

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Results:

Definitely a hearty meal.  This is a good one for a cold weather warm-up.  It’s quick and easy and uses mostly general cupboard ingredients.   It’s also a great bonus to be cooking a side dish at the same time as the main course.  Great time saver!

The taste is savory – the meat falls apart and can be cut with a fork.  Yum! 🙂

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Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

We were having a special occasion and I wanted a special occasion meal.  I always feel like a nice steak dinner is a bit more formal than any other kind of meal.  It reminds me of upscale restaurants and steakhouses that are reserved for special nights only.

Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

(Inspired by this excellent cookbook, page 236)

Ingredients:

Beef tenderloin steaks
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon flour [I used the gluten free flour inspired by the cookbook, but any flour would work here]
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper

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Preparation:

1.  Mince your shallot.  A shallot is like a mini-onion.

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2.  Season each steak with salt and pepper on both sides.

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3.  Heat the saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and sear for about 5 minutes per side, depending on how done you want the meat.  Remove the meat and set aside.

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4. Combine the flour, wine, broth, salt, and peppar in a separate bowl.

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5. Melt the butter in the same pan used for the beef.  Add the shallot and mix around for a minute, browning it a little bit.  Add the sauce and stir gently until it thickens.

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6.  Pour the sauce over the steak and enjoy!

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Results:

This actually turned out very nice to have for a formal-ish dinner.  The original recipe calls for using some olive oil in the saute pan (pictured above).  I’d skip that step – it actually slows the cooking and when the oil gets hot, it splatters.

The sauce has a really nice tang to it and is really scrumptious.  I wished there was more once I finished my portion.

Feel free to serve the rest of that wine bottle with your meal! 🙂

Party Meatballs!

I had these meatballs at my friend Emily’s engagement party and I found myself so in love with them, I hovered over the serving dish and kept eating more when no one was looking.  I knew that I had to keep this recipe and use it to wow my own party guests someday.  The opportunity came at my annual holiday shindig last night, where (once again) these meatballs got the party started!

Party Meatballs

(Inspiration found here and also from Emily!)

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds ground beef

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SAUCE:
2 cups ketchup
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped onion

Preparation:

1.  In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients.
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2.  Mix in ground beef to bowl and knead all ingredients together until well mixed.  Get your hands messy on this one!

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3.   Shape into 1-in. balls. Place in greased baking dishes.

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–At this point, I put them in the refrigerator over night.  I had the luxury of preparing them the day before.  If you don’t have the time, you can continue on directly.  However, the fridge step allows for the meatballs to solidify and stay together a bit more than just cooking them directly.–

4.  Combine the sauce ingredients; pour over meatballs. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 1 hour or until meat is no longer pink.  Serve and enjoy!

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Results:

A big hit!  The sauce caramelizes while baking, which allows for a great sweet taste.  There are more than enough servings to go around and also provide leftovers.  Yum!

Beef and Bean Chili

Chili is a staple when it turns into autumn.  It keeps you warm and full and is totally a comfort food.  It is also ideal for feeding a crowd, as I did this weekend when BF’s brother was in town and brought a full appetite.

Beef and Bean Chili

(Inspired by America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Vol. 2)

1 lb ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano/Italian seasoning
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can white kidney beans
28oz canned crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

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1.  Microwave broken up ground beef, onions, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper for 10 minutes on 50% power.  Try to make sure that most of the beef is no longer pink.

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2.  Stir all cans of beans together in a medium bowl.

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3.  Transfer meat mixture to slow cooker, breaking up any large pieces of beef.  Stir in beans, tomatoes, and brown sugar.

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4.  Cover and cook on low for 6 1/2-7 hours.

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5.  Enjoy with some delicious cornbread and your favorite chili toppings!

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BONUS RECIPE!

Gluten-Free Cornbread!

(Stolen off the Glutino Yankee Cornbread Mix box)

1 box Glutino GF Yankee Cornbread mix
1 egg
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
6 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Nonstick cooking spray

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1.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Combine bread mix and sugar in medium bowl.

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3.  Pour in wet ingredients and mix to create a batter-like consistency.  Pour batter into a baking dish that has been sprayed with the non-stick cooking spray. (You can also use leftover butter instead of cooking spray if you’d like).

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4.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top and sides get crispy.

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Results:

This was a great recipe to come home to.  The apartment smelled amazing!  And it was a crowd pleaser, especially with two hungry gents.

The microwave trick that ATC suggested was a wonder.  Often, people brown the beef in a pan before throwing it in the crock pot.  I thought this worked much better and saved me a pan to wash.

You can use however many cans of beans you want.  I chose four because I had them in my cabinet.  The original recipe calls for three.  Your choice.

Definitely going into the regular meal rotation for cold winter days. 🙂

Mongolian Beef

Another one of my favorite take-out go-to’s is Chinese food.  As we’ve discussed, it can be a pain on both the wallet and the waistline to order in take-out all the time.  I enjoy finding alternatives to favorite meals that are usually healthier and often more delicious.

Mongolian Beef
(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients
1 lb flank steak, trimmed and cut into thin slices
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1/3 cup hoisin sauce [Find this in the international food aisle]
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger [I used this crazy ginger paste as seen in the photo and it worked out pretty well and saved the headache that is fresh ginger]
1 teaspoon bottled minced roasted garlic
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil [Also in the international food aisle]
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 green onions
Snap Peas
Rice
Ingredients

Preparation:

1. Cut steak into bite-size pieces and chop onion in preparation.

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2.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook steak in pan over medium-high heat until browned, stirring occasionally.
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3.  While steak cooks, combine hoisin sauce, water, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper in a small bowl.

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4.  Once steak is cooked through but not too ‘well done’, pour in the sauce and the snap peas into the pan and mix together.

5.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

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Results:

This is definitely a lighter, healthier version than you’d find at the Chinese take-out place.  The sauce is SUPER delish, too.  Add a little extra hoisin for sweetness and adjust the red pepper for your preferred level of spicy.

The best steak to use is flank steak.  It is often the most expensive in the meat counter and, depending on your grocery store, they may not even carry it.  Alternatives are skirt steak or “London Broil”.  You can really use any cut of steak you’d like, but make sure it’s not too too fatty, or else you’ll get a lot of grease in the pan and it’ll affect the flavor.  Just make sure it’s a thin cut of meat.

I love using the snap peas as the vegetable in this one.  They add a nice crunch to each bite.

Crock Pot Beef Stew

The crock pot is a godsend!  No, really.  There’s no better feeling than coming home from a long day of work and having a hot meal ready to go.  No stress, just deliciousness.

This love has been extended with my new slow cooker cookbook.  I’m excited to make my way through all the recipes America’s Test Kitchen has to offer me in my crock pot.  Since this week in DC has been rainy, chilly, and all-out gross, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to crock pot it up.

EASIEST-EVER BEEF AND POTATO STEW (courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Vol. 2)

2 cans (10.5 oz) condensed French onion soup
1 cup water
¼ cup tomato paste
2½ tbsp. instant tapioca [Find it in the baking aisle]
1 tsp. dried thyme
Small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
4 lbs. sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces [I used 1lb of tip steak and didn’t cut it up – this let the meat really fall apart)
Salt and pepper
2 cups frozen peas

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1.  Whisk soup, water, tomato paste, tapioca and thyme together.

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2.  Coat the bottom of the slow cooker with a thin layer of the mix.

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3.  Place the potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker.

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4. Place the beef on top of the potatoes.  Pour the rest of the mix over top of the meat and potatoes.  [I usually freeze meat before putting it into my slow cooker.  This way it cooks and melts at the same time and leaves the meat in a soft, falling apart state.]

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5.  Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 10 hours on low or 6 to 7 hours on high, depending on your cooker.  [With my machine, I set it for 8 1/2 hours and it then turns on to a ‘Keep Warm’ setting until serving]

6.  Just before serving, boil a pot of water and warm the frozen peas on the stove top.  Once peas are cooked, pour into slow cooker and mix with stew.

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7.  Using a fork, tear apart the meat into strings.  Use the side of the fork to cut potatoes into smaller pieces (they should just fall apart).

8.  Serve and enjoy!

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Results:

This was DELICIOUS and perfect for a cold day.  Even though I only used 1lb of the steak, there was plenty left over for second-day meals.