Weeknight Roast: Kielbasa, Fennel, Potato, Onion & Broccoli

kielbasa

We ate this on a Sunday, but it’s so easy I feel confident that you could easily make it on a weeknight. ūüôā

Before I share the recipe, I wanted to share a link to a list of organic foods that can be purchased at Costco. There are some sausages on this list that would make a great weeknight roast with onions, potatoes, or any veggies that¬†you have in your fridge. Also, organic food is so expensive so it is best to buy it cheap when you can!! The only problem with going to Costco is¬†that buying a WHOLE LOT of the cheap stuff adds up and I never get out of there for less than $200. ūüôā

http://naturalthrifty.com/costco-organic-price-list.html

And now for the main event:

Ingredients:

1 package Kielbasa, cut into 2 inch chunks and then halved.

2 onions, roughly chopped

1 bulb fennel, roughly chopped

3 large potatoes, chopped

2 heads Broccoli, chopped

3 tablespoons Olive Oil (1 Tablespoon reserved for Broccoli)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (use convection option if your oven has it. My oven has a “convection roast” option so I used that.)

1. Place the kielbasa into the middle of your roasting pan.

2. Put all the cut up veggies EXCEPT the broccoli into a large bowl and then add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to coat.

3. Sprinkle the veggies around the perimeter of the kielbasa.

4. Place roasting pan into oven and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, put broccoli into same bowl from which you removed the veggies and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to coat.

6. When your timer goes off at 30 minutes, stir up all the veggies and kielbasa and then sprinkle the broccoli on top and bake for another 20 minutes.

ENJOY!

Quick and Easy Pizza Crust and Finally the ANSWER to Making Perfect Pizzas!

So if you know us well, you know that we love to make homemade pizza. It just tastes so much better than the frozen or delivery stuff. But it’s kind of a process and trust me we do order our fair share of Dominos and Papa Johns!¬† Sometimes you just want to dip your crust in that fake buttery sauce, ya know?!

So for a while we were grilling our pizzas. This usually ended up in complete disaster. The crusts were often charred beyond recognition and getting the raw pizza dough with toppings onto the grill proved to be more than a challenge.

So then we tried grilling the pizzas on foil. UM NOPE.

So then we just bought special grilling pizza pans. Those work pretty well but it’s still easy to burn the crust.

So then we started using the grilling pizza pans in the oven. This works even better than grilling. Grilling pizza is cool but we just got really sick of eating burned crusts.

So then we got some pizzas from Homemade Pizza Co. They were yummy and they tell you to bake them on the parchment paper provided. Paper?? Really?? Guess what? The pizzas came out cooked perfectly and the crusts were crispy and not at all burned. I thought it must be a fluke and some proprietary parchment paper thing and that if I tried it myself I would likely start a kitchen fire with burned paper. But it worked!!! On Saturday, we made our own pizzas and baked them on parchment paper. Not only was it easy to transfer the pizzas right to the rack of the oven, the crusts were perfect. The best part is…wait for it….the clean up is a SNAP!! So important!!

So from now on, our preferred method will be to cook our pizzas on parchment paper in the oven at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Also, I found this recipe for pizza crust and it is what we used this weekend. I doubled this recipe to make 4 small pizzas and I used half bread flour and half whole wheat flour. I also just realized as I was re-reading the recipe that I forgot to put in the sugar and we didn’t miss it.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/quick-and-easy-pizza-crust/

Ham & Cheese Gnocchi

This was a hit with both the husband and the preschooler! It’s so hard to find recipes these days that everyone will enjoy but this fits the bill!

I have never made gnocchi before. I’m not sure why I thought it was complicated because it’s even simpler than making pasta. Especially with a recipe like this where you can cook all the ingredients in one skillet and then put it under the broiler (I actually transferred my ingredients to a casserole dish for the broiler but if you have an oven proof skillet you can just¬†put it right under the broiler).

For the recipe and pics (I keep forgetting to take pics!)¬†go to these folks’ blog.¬† This one is definitely a keeper!!

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dinner/ham-and-cheese-gnocchi.html#_a5y_p=1385090

 

Sheperd’s Pie

Did you miss me?? Haven’t had time for the blog lately but I’m going to try harder I promise!

I was really in the mood for Sheperd’s Pie this weekend. I searched around for a recipe I thought looked good and stumbled upon Alton Brown’s version from the Food Network. I saw that the prep time was 45 minutes so I thought that wasn’t so bad. Ok…this took me waaaay longer to make. A little over an hour. But that is probably not Alton’s fault. I have two kids and they constantly NEED ALL THE¬†THINGS!¬† So although it took me a long time to prep, it was worth every scrumptious bite! The fresh herbs in the recipe were a pain to cut up, but they really enhance the flavor. Sometimes Shepard’s Pie can be bland and you just want to scrape the mashies off the top…but not with this recipe!! Sooo good and definitely adding to my favorite recipes to make. It’s especially good as leftovers on a snowy day. I speak from experience! ūüôā

Full recipe can be found here:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2.html

The only alteration I made was to substitute “meatloaf mix” for the ground lamb because I don’t like how lamb tastes.¬† Meatloaf is a tastier sub than straight up ground beef. It’s 1/3 beef, 1/3 veal and 1/3 pork.

In addition, I served this with mango chutney because a dear friend brought me a sheperd’s pie after I had baby #2 and she brought mango chutney with it and it was AWESOME!! Totally enhances the flavor! Try it!!

 

Weeknight Roast: Sausage, Pearl Onions, Potatoes & Carrots

I often think to myself around 4:30 or 5 that I have nothing to fix for dinner. Do you know that feeling?¬†You’ve been taking care of kids all day or working and the last thing you feel like doing is preparing a meal for¬†your family. You’re tempted to drive through McDonalds or¬†order pizza but feel guilty because you did that yesterday. If so, this recipe is for you! Before I use¬†the pizza app on my phone¬†I scrounge in the kitchen for a meat and some veggies.¬† If I find anything worth eating,¬†I throw¬†it in a roasting pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and voila…an awesome yummy dinner comes out of the oven.¬† So I’m going to start a regular segment on the blog about these roasts that I do. But keep in mind pretty much any meat and vegetables will work! Or you could just do vegetables if you are vegetarian or just don’t want to eat meat or don’t have any in the fridge.

Note: if you are going to use green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale or spinach you want to add those in for the last 20 minutes of baking.

So yesterday I had sausages, pearl onions, potatoes, and carrots and here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

1 package raw Italian sausage (buy enough links to serve 2-3 per person you are serving)

1 package pearl onions, ends chopped off and skin removed (these are a total pain to peal but they are so worth it. They come out very sweet and tasty. If you want to use regular onions that is fine. Just chop them up into chunks)

1 package baby carrots (I only had about half a package in my fridge so that’s what I used)

1 package red potatoes, chopped into fourths

2-3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

PREHEAT OVEN TO 425 degrees (this higher temp makes the veggies more crisp and browns the meat. Also, if you have a convection oven use that function for roasting)

1. Toss your veggies with the olive oil, salt, and pepper

sausage

2.  Then arrange your veggies around the perimeter of your roasting pan to make a nest for your meat:

sausage2

3. Put your meat in the middle:

sausage3

4. Bake for between 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. You want the vegetables crispy and the meat browned and cooked all the way through.

The finished product:

sausage4

Enjoy!!

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

mushrooms

 

Last night we gathered around our Christmas tree with some very old (not in age but in terms of how long we have known them) and dear friends. When we first starting hanging out with these friends none of us were married and we were known to go to a bar or two. Now we have all gotten married and most of us have had kids.¬† There is one couple in the group that are still living a pretty cool hipster lifestyle without kids. It was reluctantly that this friend agreed to let me host our annual Christmas get together at my house so that I could deal with my baby’s sleep schedule. I think she thought that we would be having triscuits with that spray on cheese on paper plates (hey that sounds kind of tasty doesn’t it?). But I managed to wrangle up my Mom’s Christmas china and we put out a SPREAD! (Mom, if you are reading this…don’t expect to get that china back anytime soon. I’m kind of digging it!)

One of the things I made to impress my friend were these bacon stuffed mushrooms and boy did they deliver. They were the perfect companion to the tenderloin her husband smoked in their Big Green Egg and the shrimp salad sandwiches she brought (I need that recipe, Stat!!).¬† So if you need to impress some people and you don’t have a lot of time, I highly recommend this recipe!!!

Also, I want to give a shout out to my dear friend, A, who got me the handheld blender I wrote that I wanted in my post about salsa. Thank you!!

hand blender

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

(Adapted from this recipe: http://www.mountainmamacooks.com/2011/02/bacon-and-cream-cheese-stuffed-mushrooms/)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
16 oz standard mushrooms with stems

2/3 cup parmesan cheese

8 oz sour cream

1 package bacon (or pancetta if you are feeling fancy. Going try that next time!)

1 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

Directions:

1. Chop up your bacon or pancetta and fry in a pan until nice and crispy. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and reserve bacon grease.

2. Meanwhile, wash your mushrooms and remove stems. You can discard the stems unless you want to use them for some other purpose. This recipe does not use them.

3.  Lay mushrooms out bottom side up on a baking sheet.

4. Cook onion in bacon grease until slightly carmelized. About 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant. About 1 more minute.

5. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave your brick of cream cheese w/ parmesan cheese for about 2 minutes.

6. Add bacon and onion mixture to cream cheese mixture and mix well. Scoop mixture into mushrooms.

7. Bake mushrooms at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked through and mixture is browned.

(note: You can make your bacon cream cheese mixture a day in advance and refrigerate and add to your mushrooms on the day you want to cook them)

Enjoy!!

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Beef

So here’s the deal: this was sooooo good we ate it before I even remembered to take a picture! My family came over to our new house for our annual Christmas celebration last night and I was planning on making carnitas for them. I bundled up my little baby on Sunday night and we headed to the store and wouldn’t you know it….no pork shoulder in stock. Really?? Yeah, I was not happy. So what they did have was an endless amount of chuck roast so I though hmmmm maybe I could use that Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde in my pantry on this instead of chicken like I did last time. And guess what! It worked!!! This was soooo moist and tasty. We made fajitas out of the meat but you could eat it over rice, salad or pasta. It is extremely versatile and guaranteed to impress the company. You don’t even have to tell them it took you one minute to put this in your slow cooker and hit the “on” button!!

Ingredients:

3-5 lbs Chuck Roast

2 jars Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde (you can use any green salsa and the amount doesn’t really matter as long as you put in enough for the beef to cook in)

Directions:

1. Cut up your roast into 3 inch chunks. Place in slow cooker

2. Pour the salsa verde over and mix it up to make sure the salsa is spread over all the meat.

3. Cook on low for 8 hours.

4. Take beef out and shred with two forks and serve!

Enjoy!

Restaurant Style Salsa

salsa

(You can see my shadow on this picture as I hover over this chip just waiting to pop it in my mouth as soon as I click the picture. Patience is not one of my best virtues!)

If you know me well, you know I love Mexican food. Nine times out of ten if I get to pick the restaurant we are going to a Mexican place. I kind of feel about salsa like I do about salad dressing: homemade just tastes better. It does require a little bit of effort beyond opening a jar and dipping in your chip…but I swear it’s worth it! I found this recipe for restaurant style salsa on Pioneer Woman’s website. And it is just DELISH!!! And it doesn’t require fresh tomatoes so that’s good since it’s the middle of the winter in Virginia and what they call tomatoes at the grocery store just doesn’t pass muster. I’ve provided the link to the recipe instead of posting it here because I didn’t change anything about it (except I did add a little more salt and skipped the sugar. Oh, I also omitted the jalapeno because the Rotel made it hot enough for my tastes).

A note about this recipe: You will have to make nice with your food processor. I have had one since I got married and used to avoid any recipe that required me to use it. Lately, I’ve gotten a little bit better about getting it off the shelf. If you have a handheld immersion blender that would work well. That’s probably something I should put on my Christmas list (is anyone in my family reading this???)

Link to recipe:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/01/restaurant-style-salsa/

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Sweet Potato Curry Soup

chicken sweet potato stew

 

That’s an awfully big name for a stew/soup don’t you think? I hope you think this one lives up to such a lofty name!

Lately I have become a little more adventurous with throwing things in the slow cooker in the morning and then turning it on high for 4 hours so we have something hot and nutritious for lunch around noon. Sometimes I’m a little late and it’s not ready til 1 but hey that’s what snacks are for!

This soup came about as I was surveying what we had in the fridge to eat for the day (not much since I didn’t do the obligatory pre-snow grocery store run). We are having a big snow (for Northern Virginia) so I wanted to make something warm and delish for lunch. The flavors are really good so I decided to share. Hope you like! It’s super easy to make!

Slow Cooker Chicken Sweet Potato Curry Soup

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

4 cups chicken broth

2 yellow onions, chopped finely

2-3 large sweet potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces

1 cup apple juice or apple cider

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Put everything into your slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. When finished cooking, take chicken out and shred and then put back in the soup and serve.

 

Pork Carnitas

So my favorite food in the universe is Mexican food. I JUST LOVE IT! I am a regular at Austin Grill in Old Town. Whenever my family comes to visit we immediately head to Austin Grill for chips, queso, guac…and CARNITAS!! My cousin is a big fan of carnitas and always orders them when we go. I stumbled across this recipe from Rubies and Radishes and thought they looked easy enough for me to tackle. The end result was fantastic. Even my three year old ate them all up! I will be making this for family when they stop by for a night to celebrate Christmas with us.

My only note is that I couldn’t get all the cooking liquids to evaporate so I just used a slotted spoon when I was serving. If this happens to you and you want to crisp up the meat, put it on a cookie sheet and put it under the broiler for a minute or two. I think you could also easily make this in a crockpot on low for 8 hours or high for 4. If you do this your liquid definitely will not evaporate so use a slotted spoon to serve.

http://www.rubiesandradishes.com/2013/02/19/the-best-carnitas-ever/