Spaghetti Bolognese

I love pasta almost as much as I love Mexican food. Any shape or size, give me a sauce and some Parmesan cheese and I will have at it! Unfortunately not all of my family shares in my love. However, since I do the cooking I am able to pop it on the menu as much as I want. One of the perks I enjoy about being in charge of the kitchen. Plus I can just say "Hey I am a food blogger. I have to give the people what they want". That seems to quiet them down. 

I  had been wanting to try a bolognese sauce for quite some time. I was just worried because everyone I talked to made it seem like it was such a hard sauce to  make. Once I tried it I asked myself what in the heck took me so long! Yes, it takes a while to make but trust me, it is well worth the work. The sauce is so creamy and rich. It is just a huge hug for your tummy!

This was one pasta that everyone enjoyed. Don't pass up the ricotta cheese on top either. It was icing on the cake! I will keep this on on the list of recipes to do again. I know you will love it too!

Spaghetti Bolognese

  • 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry red wine 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti (I used tagiatelle pasta though) 
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh ricotta cheese

Reconstitute the mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes until tender, drain and coarsely chop.
Puree the mushrooms, pancetta, onion, celery stalks, carrots, garlic, together in a blender.
In a heavy-bottomed pot add olive oil, bay leaves, herbs and cook gently until fragrant, then add vegetable puree and continue to cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
Raise the heat a bit and add the ground pork and beef; brown until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon. Add the milk and simmer until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Carefully pour in the tomatoes, and wine and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Slowly simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring now and then, until the sauce is very thick. Taste again for salt and pepper.
When you are ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm. Drain the pasta well and toss with the Bolognese sauce.
Serve with a good scoop of fresh ricotta cheese and garnish with some shredded basil, grated Parmigiano and a drizzle of olive oil.

Italian Wedding Soup

I know I have mentioned, on many an occasion, that I have a love of all things soup. It borders on an obsession really! If you can give me a lovely liquid to slurp up with some crusty bread I am in heaven. Meat, no meat, I don't care. There is something calming and comforting about a nice warm bowl of soup (and I am not leaving out its brothers stew, chowder, or chili). I don't quite know why I feel this way but I know I don't stand alone on this one. Soup lovers of the world UNITE!!

For years now I have had one canned soup that I still crave. Well it isn't really canned, it comes in those microwavable bowls, but it is premade and I love it. Healthy Choices Italian Wedding soup. When I was working it was my lunch of choice at least 2 or 3 out of a 5 day week. Yet I never tried to make it at home? Why you ask? Hmmmm good question! Maybe I was afraid it wouldn't be as good, maybe it was just laziness. I mean I actually LIKED this premade soup so it was pretty easy to just have Chef Mike run the show.

Now that I have been venturing into making some healthier recipes I decide I need to give this one a shot. I mean lets face it, a lot, and I mean a LOT of the soups that are "comforting" are creamy and thick and probably NOT the healthiest they could be. I knew this one would be different.

So I gathered about 4 different recipes and started forming my plan of attack. Picking and choosing the things I liked from each one to try and make the best soup possible. WOW I was hoping it would be good but I had no idea how good it would be!! I made a comment on my Facebook page "Italian Wedding Soup is heaven in a bowl" WHO KNEW? I made about 35 meatballs and a lot of broth and 3 people were able to woof it all down and want more. Well Kevin hid some in a Tupperware container for his lunch the next day, but STILL. All you  heard was slurp slurp "WOW" slurp slurp "OhEmmGee this is good" slurp slurp "Is there any more"??

I honestly can't wait to make it again!

Italian Wedding Soup

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For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 pound chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), diced
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2 or 3 stalks), diced
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, washed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine. With a spoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 35 to 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Cover with foil and reserve
In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, depending on how tender you want your vegetables. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

Cheesy Chicken Mac

Last night I was not "feeling" dinner at all. I had been under the weather all day. Sore throat, chills, headache, can you hear me whining from there? The original plan was leftover pizza. The kids had bought two large pizzas the night before and I figured since it was just Kevin, his son, and me, that pizza would be fine. But the more I thought about it, and it swam around in my cloudy brain, I couldn't do it. I must have been delirious to actually WANT to cook when I am sick!

I started poking around my kitchen and just kind of tossing things out on the counter. I guess I figured if I tossed enough things out there eventually I would be able to put a few together to make a meal. Well shock of shocks, I was RIGHT. Of course it turned out that I was going to make a mac and cheese. That is one of my comfort foods so I guess it was a subliminal thing. I am sick = give me mac and cheese. Something about that ooyey gooey cheesy goodness that just promises yummy in my tummy.

I had a couple of chicken breasts that I had poached a couple of nights ago with another recipe I made. I decided to poach all of the breasts I had so I would have some cooked chicken to work with later in the week. I must have been psychic! So I defrosted the chicken boobies and got to work.

You could substitute just about any cheese you want in this recipe. That is the beauty of a mac and cheese and why it is so versatile. I had Gruyere because I am making a quiche tonight, but I knew I wouldn't use it all in one dish so grabbed some of that, and sharp cheddar, and parm. TADA dinner!!

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Cheesy Chicken Mac 

1/2 box elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
2 chicken breasts, poached or oven roasted, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh ground nutmeg
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup of Parmesan flavored breadcrumbs
2 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Into a large pot of boiling salted water add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Toss the chopped chicken in 1 to 2 minutes, just to warm it up.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add onion mixture and cheese to the cooked macaroni and then place it all into a casserole dish. 

Melt 1 tbs butter in sauce pan add bread crumbs mix well. Toss in the parsley and combine. Remove from heat. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the bread crumbs are browned on the top. 

Denver Omelet in a Cup

Ever since I  made the Make Ahead Sausage Breakfast Casserole I have been thinking more and more about good breakfast recipes. I really do love breakfast but I, as well as many I am sure, have fallen into that breakfast rut. You know, when you try to think of what to make for breakfast you run down the list, Bacon and eggs, Sausage and eggs (OH and don' forget hash browns), Sausage gravy and biscuits, pancakes, french toast, omelet, etc. At least those are the ones that get bounced around here. Usually we settle on Eggs with sausage or bacon and hash browns. A cheese omelet or egg and cheese muffin sandwich are usually my go to choices through the week. That is IF I eat breakfast. My breakfast as of late has been coffee with cream. Bad I know, but it just seems to be all that I can fit in.

OK so if I am going to be boring and some what bad through the week, I want to make up for it on the weekend. This weekend was another winner. I was looking through my Everyday Food Magazine and saw a recipe that I was interested in but knew I wanted to change up a bit. I was really excited to have found another original recipe to surprise everyone with.

The thing about this recipe is that it is super easy and not that expensive. If you don't want to use the packaged hash browns you could grate your own. Make sure you wrap them in a clean kitchen towel and squeeeeeeeeze all the moisture out of them that you can. I used the packaged hash browns that you can find in the refrigerated section (usually by the eggs) just because it meant less work on the weekend and THAT was one of my goals.

This recipe makes 4 to 6 depending on how large your ramekins/muffin cups are. I used 4 ramekins that I have for making creme bruelee (now ask me if I have ever made that creme brulee that I bought them for), but you can use the jumbo muffin pans and then it will make 6.

Denver Omelet in a Cup

4 cups hash browns (1 pound), defrosted frozen, refrigerated, or fresh
2 egg whites plus 4 to 6 large eggs
4 teaspoons butter
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
4 ounces of ham steak
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Coat ramekins or jumbo muffin cups with non stick spray.

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt 4 teaspoons of butter. Add 4 cups hash browns and 2 egg whites, season with salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Place approx 1/2 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup (more if using ramekins). Firmly press into the bottom and up the side of each cup forming a "crust". Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and ham steak. Cook stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable misture evenly between the cups and top with cheddar cheese. Bake for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and crack a large egg into each cup, season with salt and pepper. Bake until whites are set but yolks are still creamy, 8 to 10 minutes. If using muffin cups use a small offset spatula to remove the omelet cups from the pan. If using ramekins serve as is.

The Versatile Blogger Award 2012

It is so flattering to be recognized by my peers. As food bloggers we put our heart and soul into what we do because that is our passion. So when someone I respect singles me out for an award it is such an honor. That is what Candi from The Devilish Dish did by giving me this award. Thank you so very much Candi for putting a smile on my face and making my day!!

Now I get to pay it forward by choosing 5 blogs to give this award to. This is a very difficult choice because I know so many wonderful bloggers now. But I will pick 5

There are so many more that I could list! I wish it wasn't just 5. But please make sure to check out other wonderful blogs by clicking on the links to the left hand side of my blog!!

Bobbi on a Budget-Fish and White Bean Tostadas with Pineapple Avocado Salsa

OK you asked for it so here it is....Bobbi on a Budget TADA (and the crowd goes wild)! Ahem....OK let me reel myself back in and be a bit serious here. I was very happy when the votes came in and I saw that people wanted a budget post on a regular basis. With the economy the way it is and so many people out of work, it just makes sense that many of us can not afford to cook whatever we want whenever we want it. The dilemma? Trying to cook healthy (or at least healthiER) on a limited budget. That is something I struggle with all of the time. I love to use fresh produce and fresh herbs and, let's admit, that isn't "budget" cooking.

I am realizing that sale fliers are a wonderful thing (Ya, I know, who knew?). I have been so bad about just making a menu plan and shopping without even looking to see what was on sale. Now I am getting the hang of checking the sale fliers to the 3 local grocery stores and finding what meat, produce, etc. is on sale for that week.

A suggestion, look for things like canned tomatoes, tomato paste, stocks, beans, etc. All of things that are staples in your pantry. If you use dried spices a lot (I use a lot of cumin and coriander) grab those when they are on sale too. Again, probably not something you didn't know but something I am having to learn quickly.
For the budget meals segment I will be trying to stay as close to $10 for a 4 serving meal as possible.

I took a little help from Melissa d'Arabian for my first post to get me started and in the swing of things.  I have to admit I thought there was no way I could feed my 3 hungry guys for $10 but I was shocked and pleasantly proven wrong. With the white beans they end up being quite filling. They all loved this meal and there was enough for everyone. I was lucky enough to have the O Olive Oils that I won in the challenge, so I used the Tahitian Lime oil for this recipe. But regular olive oil is just as good.

Oh, the meal? Ah yes, the reason we are all here. I guess I should post the recipe so you can all enjoy!!

The "Snowmageddon" Giveaway

I am sure some of you are wondering what in the heck "Snowmageddon" is. Well over the last couple of days Mother Nature has seen fit to open up the skies and dump more snow on the Western Washington area than we have seen in years! To ad insult to injury she has decided that a good old fashioned ice storm is just what is needed after a foot (or more in places) of snow. Needless to say I am stuck at home. Nothing drives me crazier than being cooped up. Even though I may not have had plans to go anywhere, just the idea that I can't if I wanted to makes me nuts. So I decided a distraction is what I need. My cabin fever translates into wanting to make somebody smile.

This giveaway if for a shirt that I found at I fell in love with it and bought one for myself and one for my daughter. Then I got to thinking "Hey" I bet I am not the only one that would like this shirt. SO I thought of all of you.

The giveaway starts at 12:01 AM tomorrow. 

Good Luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make Ahead Sausage Breakfast Casserole

I love Love LOVE breakfast! But not so enthusiastic about being the one that has to get up and make it. Just being honest here. I can make a mean breakfast for dinner, but something about getting my rear out of bed to cook, and make dishes that need to be done, all before I have had some coffee and everyone else has gotten up. Sooooo the idea of a make ahead casserole that you put in the fridge and then pop into the oven when you feel like eating was one that I ADORED!! I had made one years and years ago for Christmas day with ham and cheese and bread etc. but I don't know what happened to my recipe. Plus I wanted to try something different. I know Kevin loves sausage, eggs, and hash browns for breakfast so that was my jumping off point. I jumped off and ran with it.

This is seriously so simple it is ridiculous. Which makes it even better in my mind. I love pouring my love and time into main dishes but for some reason, breakfast, not so much. So the fact that I made dinner and then could jump right on this to get it ready was awesome. All you do it a bit of browning, chopping, and put it all together.

You could add more to this is you want. The possibilities are really endless. If you want more Italian flavors I would use Italian sausage (and they do have Italian flavored turkey sausage now), Parmesan cheese, flat-leaf parsley, and use an Italian seasoning blend to flavor the eggs. WOW now I am kind of excited about breakfasts!!

Chicken with Fennel Cream Sauce

Everyone in this house loves pasta. It is the one thing I know I can make that EVERYONE will be happy to see it on the plate. I will say, I am pretty lucky because the people that I cook for are appreciative of every meal that I make. Kevin's son Dylan said the other day "Bobbi your dinners are like a 5 star meal every night"! OK well you know that is the quickest way to my heart right? Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE (except out of the dishes).

I knew I wanted to do something with fennel. I have developed a love for the flavor of fennel over the last few years. Roasted, raw, sauteed, you name it, I want it. I had seen a recipe Rachael Ray had done along these lines and decided it would give me another way of sneaking chicken in on Kevin without him feeling beef deprived. I mean if I can pack a ton of flavor into a chicken dish he won't miss beef right? One can only hope.

This dish is takes a bit of time, but most of it is spent poaching the chicken. We got it going and then hopped in the hot tub for a while to pass the time. The only problem is I was really good about taking pictures up until things started to get really busy and then *POOF* taking pictures went right out of my head. Until the finished dish THEN I smacked myself for missing some of the steps. I promise I will get much better with my photography. 30 lashes with a wet noodle to me!!

I can tell you that not one bit of this meal went to waste. I think my son actually licked the leftover container clean!

Penne with Chicken and Fennel Cream Sauce

For the chicken:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of skin-on bone-in chicken 
3 bay leaves
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 very large onion, quartered
A palm full of whole black peppercorns
3 stems of fresh rosemary
8 stems of fresh thyme
Kosher salt

For the pasta:

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 whole head of garlic, thinly sliced
1 head of fennel, cored and thinly sliced (save some of the fronds for the garnish)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound penne pasta
Kosher salt and white pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place the chicken along with the carrots, celery, bay leaves, onion, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, and kosher salt in a large heavy bottomed soup pot. Add water to just cover and heat to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for one hour. Remove the chicken from the pot and allow it to cool. Strain the broth and save for future use, saving 1 cup for the fennel sauce, (I put mine in quart ziplock bags and freeze it). Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and tear chicken into bite sized pieces with your fingers.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes until soft and sweet but not brown. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.

Place fennel mixture in a food processor (or you can use an immersion blender) adding the reserved chicken broth and the heavy cream. Puree the sauce well.Return to the pot and season with kosher salt and white pepper (caution; white pepper is a very strong pepper so better to add a small amount at first then more if needed). Simmer sauce over low heat until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken to the mixture.

Bring a large pot of salt water to boil. Add the penne and cook to package directions.Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss to combine. Top with fennel fronds and Parmesan cheese.

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Cod Ratatouille En Papillote with Herb Salad

OK I know that is a mouthful (and a tasty one at that, trust me) but really it is just fancy talk for cod cooked in parchment paper with a truck load of vegetables and a yummy herb salad on top of it all. But I figured that wouldn't fit as a title so I went with the foo foo wording.

I was really excited to cook fish again because it gave me the opportunity to use some of my O Olive Oils. Remember I won the O Olive Oil and recipe challenge a while back? Well they sent me some of the olive oils I won and they have been staring at me from my counter saying "use me, use me!!" I didn't marinade in the oil, which afterward I thought "dangit why didn't I marinade?" but I did give the veggies and fish a good dousing of their Myer Lemon Olive Oil. I can't say enough about their oils. The crush process they go through just gives the oils a fresh clean flavor. You can actually taste the fresh fruit in them sooooo yummy!!

I also got to break out the new Cuisinart food processor Kevin bought me for Christmas. He was disappointed because he thought he bought the one with the wide feed tube, but I am happy with it. I can chop the bigger stuff if needed. It sure made quick work of my zucchini I can tell you that!

But enough about my toys and gadgets. Lets talk about the food. I have to admit, this recipe looks a lot harder than it really is. The hardest part is slicing all the veg (unless you have a food processor...or a sous chef  hehe). Once you get the fish in that paper the oven does all of the work. No worrying that you have overcooked the fish or wondering if you should flip it over yet. Bing, bam, boom, fish done. Top it with the herb salad and you have a wonderfully healthy and tasty meal that the family, at least my family, will gobble up in no time flat! We had 2 pounds of fish for 4 people and I only eat small portions because of my surgery. So I will say that between the 3 of them they consumed 1 3/4 pounds of fish in mere minutes!

Even if you aren't a big vegetable person (this has eggplant which I know some people will say eeewwww to right off the bat) the veggies are sliced so thin and they cook in the oilive oil, butter, and white wine which gives them an amazing flavor. A great way to get your vegetables without having to eat plain boring ones.

Oh, little side note, my parchment paper was not wide enough to wrap completely around the fish so I topped it with another sheet and folded up the sides. I even secured them with paper clips just to make sure it stayed sealed so all of the yummy steam and juices properly cooked the fish and veggies.

I know the dish looks a bit "rustic" but it is oohhhh sooooo yummy!!

This is the fish all piled up on the veggies and buttered up ready to go into the oven.

When it comes out you cut open the parchment paper and top it with the herb salad. And then.....Viola a beautiful, healthy, and darn tasty dish!!

Cod Ratatouille En Papillote with Herb Salad

For the Cod Ratatouille:

2 pounds cod, skinned
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small eggplants, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
White wine
1 red pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped (we love garlic but you could use less if you aren't a big fan)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons butter, cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Herb Salad:
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 bunch of celery leaves, roughly chopped (I picked them off a bunch of celery I just bought)
1 bunch of baby dill, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the cod ratatouille, cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper that is about 2 inches wider than the baking sheet on all sides. Alternate the sliced vegetables along the length of the sheet making sure they are tightly aligned and long/wide enough to just peek out from under the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the fish on top of the vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and white wine, season with salt and pepper.

Top with the red pepper, garlic, and time. Then dot it with the cubes of butter.

Top the fish with another sheet of parchment paper of the same size and roll/fold the sides and then ends up to seal the fish and veggies in tight (like I said I used paper clips to ensure it was sealed right).

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the fish is flaky.

Meanwhile to make the herb salad, add all of the chopped herbs into a medium bowl. In a small bowl combine the balsamic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk it up and pour over the herbs. Toss with your fingers to get it combined. 

When the fish is done cut or tear the top open and top with the herb salad.

Serves 4 to 6

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Pork Pot Roast with Sweet Pepper Sauce

With the holidays, my father's passing, and my daughter leaving to go off to school, I haven't been on the ball like usual with my planning meals and cooking. It seems like forever since I posted a Rachael Ray Wednesday recipe or a Food Star Friday. So yesterday, as I was scanning my email, I read one from my subscription to the Rachael Ray Show mailing. It was for a pork roast. BING the light bulb went of in my head...I have a pork roast in my freezer!!

Yay I found a recipe for my Rachael Ray Wednesday post!! All I needed were the peppers and I was good to go. So I asked Kevin to pick peppers up for me on the way home from work. It was funny how excited I was to make this meal. Like I said I am easily amused at times and it was a nice feeling to be so happy about cooking again.

Once I got down to the business of cooking I started to realize that I wanted to change a few things up in the recipe (of course) so this isn't Rachael's recipe as it was written. I am sure it would have been fantastic without the changes, but I can tell you that with the changes I made it was so good! My kitchen smelled amazing, the kids kept asking when dinner was going to be done because it smelled so good. It took 40 minutes to cook so Kevin and I went in the hot tub while we were waiting. The fan for the stove blows right out by the hot tub and we were both watching the timer because it was making our tummies rumble.

Once the roast was out and sliced I had people hovering around waiting for me to take pictures so they could dive in. Having a food blogger in the house can be a pain at times. I think this would have made wonderful leftovers but it never made it that far. The plate was clear in about 15 minutes! There was left over pepper sauce so Kevin sliced up some sausage and mixed it in to have a lunch for today. The pepper sauce is fantastic over rice too.

Pork Pot Roast with Sweet Pepper Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 boneless pork loin end roast (approx 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
3 large sweet bell peppers, preferably red, orange, and yellow, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 leaves of fresh sage
1 14-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons hot water (maybe a bit more)

In a large heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Salt and pepper the roast and brown it on all sides. Transfer the roast to a plate.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and add in the peppers, onions, garlic, and sage, season with salt and pepper. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the white wine, chicken stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, add the pork and cook over medium-low to low heat for 40 minutes, or until an internal thermometer reaches 145 degrees. Turn the roast once during the cooking time.

Remove the roast and place it on a plate, cover with foil to keep it warm. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the flour and hot water until it reaches a smooth paste. Add the flour paste to the peppers sauce and increase the heat to a low boil. Cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with sliced roast.

Serves 4

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Chili Rellenos Casserole

As most of you know I am a HUGE fan of Mexican food. I could eat it just about everyday. I restrain myself though because Kevin is not a lover of all things Mexican like me. I have to pace myself and sneak it in where I can.

When I was little my babysitter was from Mexico and she used to let me cook with her all of the time. Home made tortillas, refried beans, etc. As I grew up I lost most of her recipes (a fact that breaks my heart) but I remembered that my all time fave recipe was her Chili Rellenos. She did hers "omelet style". They turn out so wonderful. Little pillows of egg whites filled with roasted green chilies and Monterrey jack cheese yummmmmm!

I haven't made them in years, don't ask me why. Then one day I was on Pintrest and saw a picture of a dish entitled "Chili Rellenos Casserole". Well, you KNOW I clicked on that as fast as my little fingers would let me! The recipe is originally from Better Homes and Gardens but I of course made some changes (I can't leave anything alone!). I used 6 instead of 2 peppers (uummm have I mentioned we like things spicy?) and doubled the rest of the recipe.

Miss picky Pants went back to school yesterday so she wasn't here to give me any input (not like she would have tried it), but everyone else loved it. If you don't like things too spicy you can reduce the amount of peppers, use Anaheim peppers instead of Poblano or Pasilla peppers, and use regular Montery jack cheese instead of the pepper jack.

Another reason I love this dish is because it is very versatile. I made it for dinner with taco rice, but you could make it for breakfast as well. You could add some fire roasted tomatoes, green onions, or top it with some sliced avocado. Anything that "speaks Mexican" to you would be great in this recipe

Slow Cooker Roast Beef and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Kevin and I picked up some beef round tip roasts on sale so I decided I wanted to break out the slow cooker to cook one. I am always on the prowl for good slow cooker recipes. I have tried so many and a lot of them have been just plain awful. But I never give up hope so I keep searching with faith. This recipe rewarded that faith.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found on Haute Apple Pie. It looked wonderful and even though it called for beef brisket I chose it for my round tip roast. I mean beef is beef, to a certain extent right? And how can you go wrong with garlic mashed potatoes?!?! I used my Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato recipe for the potatoes in the meal, which complimented the beef beautifully.

I was so happy with how it turned out! This is a recipe that I will go to again and again. I mean I love cooking at night with the family. It is very relaxing for me to share my kitchen with the people I love. But it is nice to have a few recipes in the slow cooker arsenal.

All you might want to do is make a veggie for the side. Sauteing some asparagus or green beans would be super simple and very yummy with this meal. I was just all about the meat and potatoes this time.

This recipe calls for a red lager beer so I jumped at the chance to use one of my favorite beers.

After you brown your roast on all sides to seal in all of those yummy juices deglaze your pan with the beer. Make sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape the pan. You don't want to miss any of those yummy brown bit!

Mix up your sauce

Put your roast in it's comfy slow cooker bed and stuff his little celery friends in with him.

Pour the sauce over the beef. And after 8 hours on low...WALA yumminess at it's best!!

Slow Cooker Roast Beef and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oill
1 3-4 lb. beef round tip roast (or brisket)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 12 oz bottle red lager 
4 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown mustard
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat add the olive oil. Salt and pepper the roast and then add to the skillet browning it on all sides. When you are browning the last side add the garlic to the pan. Transfer meat to your slow cooker. Nestle celery around beef.
Pour the beer in skillet, scraping up all of the brown bits. Simmer for one minute. Add to slow cooker. 
In a medium bowl, add remaining ingredients and whisk. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove from cooker and allow to sit about 10 minutes before cutting.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.

Drizzle the garlic with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Roast the garlic for 30 to 35 minutes and remove from the oven. Allow to cool.

Remove garlic from the aluminum foil and squeeze each clove out of the skin and mash with a fork until a smooth paste forms.

While you are waiting for the garlic to cool place potatoes in a large saucepan, add enough cold water just to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender, about 15 minutes, Drain well.
While the potatoes are cooking, combine the milk, garlic paste and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir the milk mixture into the potatoes until combined. Fold in the mascarpone and season well with salt and pepper and serve.
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