Archive | October, 2011

The best pot roast EVER

26 Oct

I am the first to admit that I have been seriously slacking on maintaining this blog. I start getting sassy Facebook messages from friends and then I know that I need to get my act together! Part of the reason that I’ve been slacking is because I hate the way that my photos turn out with my old Nikon Coolpix. Great for an everyday camera, but not so great in the food photography department.  Notice I said, “old camera?” Thanks to my awesome sister Lauren, I am the proud new owner of a new digital SLR camera. Lauren never used hers and she just let me have it. For free. Thanks Lauren!!

The pot roast pictures below are some of my last with my Nikon camera. As fate would have it, halfway through the cooking process my battery died so I won’t be posting a step-by-step as usual, but I still think the pictures turned out pretty decent, but in no way do the deliciousness of this pot roast justice.

Now onto the pot roast. This thing is seriously amazing. The hubs declared it “The best roast he’s ever had.” And he didn’t even douse it in barbeque sauce, which lets me know he was telling the truth. I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s blog, but adapted it just a bit. I made this in a dutch oven, but it could be easily made using a crockpot. Just dump all of the meat, veggies, and beef stock in the crock pot and heat on low for 8 hours. I haven’t tried this so I can’t speak for how it will turn out, but if you have the time (think Sunday dinner), seriously try it this way. You won’t be sorry.

The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 whole (3-4 Pounds) Chuck Roast
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Onions
  • 6 whole Carrots (Up To 8 Carrots)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 container of Button Mushrooms
  • Salt To Taste
  • Pepper To Taste
  • 1 cup Red Wine (optional, You Can Use Beef Broth Instead)**I didn’t have red wine on hand, so I used more stock.
  • 2 cups To 3 Cups Beef Stock
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, or more to taste
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, or more to taste (**I didn’t have fresh rosemary and didn’t miss it!)

Directions

First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat. This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else. Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).

Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so. Remove the carrots to the plate and add the mushrooms and garlic.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.

When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion, carrots, and mushrooms, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

(Recipe courtesy of http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/09/2008_the_year_of_the_pot_roast/)

Carrots and onion browned and transferred to plate. *Note, the point is not to cook these veggies, just to brown them. Only have them in there for a couple minutes or so. They will get plenty of time to cook when they get transferred to the oven.

Mushrooms and garlic browning in pot.

I added another 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and put the chuck roast in the pot to sear.

Let sear on all sides, then remove to a separate plate.

See all the garlic and brown bits on the bottom? That is flavor that you want back in your sauce! This is the point where you will add 1 cup of red wine or beef stock and deglaze the pot. This is also the part where my camera died. 😦 After you deglaze the pot, add the chuck roast back in (make sure to put all the drippings from the plate back in, too!) Put the veggies on top of the roast and pour the remaining 2-3 cups of beef stock and sprigs of rosemary and thyme in the pot. Put the lid on the pot and put it in the oven at 275 for 3-4 hours (depending on size of roast.)

About 45 minutes before the roast is done, start making the mashed potatoes!

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Light Buttery Spread (I use Brummel & Brown)
  • 1/2 container (4 oz.) Light Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 2-3 Tbsp. of butter, 4 oz. of light cream cheese and about 1/4 cup of milk. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper. You may need to add a little more butter, milk, or Lawry’s salt depending on the taste/consistency you are looking for.

I adapted this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, as well. Her recipe called for real butter, cream cheese, and half & half. She also puts hers in the oven and warms them through. I didn’t see the need, so I skipped that step. This was my attempt to “lighten” the mashed potatoes and they were seriously delicious. The Lawry’s seasoning was the secret ingredient that made them over the top amazing.

Recipe adapted from: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/11/delicious_creamy_mashed_potatoes/

To make a quick pan gravy: pour some of the broth into a pan over medium heat and whisk a teaspoon of flour into the liquid. Make sure there are no lumps! Add pepper to taste. This makes an excellent gravy on top of the meat/potatoes!

3-4 hours later, you have perfection.

This would be a great meal to make for company. Since it’s just Matt and I, we dined on this for 2 nights. It was even better the next day. Again, no BBQ sauce in sight…SUCCESS!

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

3 Oct

I have a love for all things spicy. The first time I tried something that was both sweet and spicy, my mind was officially blown. Enter, Queen City Cayenne by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio. It’s rich, chocolatey, and has quite the kick. I’ve been thinking about making a cookie version for awhile but couldn’t find a recipe that I loved. I ended up using a Martha Stewart recipe and tweaked it a little. The result, quite possibly one of the best cookies I’ve ever had. This cookie is moist, super chocolatey and full of spice. These are by no means “burn your mouth” spicy, but a “warm, tingly in the back of your throat” spicy. Do not be weary of the spice! I wouldn’t change a thing about these cookies. If anything, I will add more chocolate chips to my recipe next time I make them (and it reflects that below.) I can’t wait to find an excuse to make these again and I can’t wait for you to try them!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 3/4 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. This helps set the dough and they always turn out yummier somehow.
  3. Using a cookie dough scoop or heaping teaspoons, roll dough into a ball. Flatten slightly with your fingers. Place, about 3 inches apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center about 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.)

(Recipe courtesy of http://www.marthastewart.com/336516/mexican-hot-chocolate-cookies)

I wanted to add more pictures of the baking process, but my camera stinks in terms of photographing food. Who wants to buy me a Digital SLR camera for Christmas? (*cough, Matt, cough*)
If you need any more convincing of how delicious these cookies are, just check out the proof below:
   
Need I say more? Make these and let me know if they are as life changing as I believe them to be!
I entered these cookies into a Holiday Recipe Swap!
Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.