Cooking · Food · Meal Building Blocks

Easy Pot Roast

I recently picked up a pork roast and eagerly added it to my menu. The tender juicy meat can be used for the center piece of a meal or added to casseroles or sandwiches.

I love the ease of a slow cooker method as more often than not I get a tender juicy result with little effort. I’ve even been known to put it together the night before and let the slow cooker work overnight. I admit I wake up HUNGRY but dinner is pretty much done by the time I get up in the morning. LOL!

Here’s my recipe:

Easy Slow Cooker Roast

The easiest way to slow cook a roast and get amazing results.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker
  • Slow Cooker Liners

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 pound pork or beef roast
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Line the slow cooker with the liner.
  • Season the meat on all sides and then add to the slow cooker
  • Set to LOW for 6 to 8 hours

Additions (optional)

  • 1 – 2 Carrots, coarsely chopped
    2 – 4 Potatoes, coarsely chopped
    1 Onion, coarsely chopped
    1 stalk Celery, coarsely chopped
  • Add the vegetables into the slow cooker BEFORE you put in the meat. Add 1/4 cup of water.

Notes

This basic recipe works for pork roast, beef roast, turkey breast, and chicken pieces.
Do not be tempted to add water if you are not including vegetables.  Do not put in too much water!  The meat has sufficient moisture that will become the sauce or gravy base.  If you are uncertain, check after an hour and adjust as you see fit.
Seasoning is flexible but keep in mind that a little goes a long way when you are slow cooking.
The long cooking time gives the meat time to not only reach a ‘done’ temperature, but also time to become tender and juicy.  If you stop at a shorter time you run the risk of a not so tender roast.
Cooking · Food

Leftover Heaven!

Cheesy Beef Enchilada Pie

I had odds and ends in the fridge. It didn’t hurt that I’d been looking for something a bit different.

Beef and Cheese Enchilada Pie

A quick and easy deconstructed enchilada recipe.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6

Equipment

  • 8 x 8 Baking Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 cup taco sauce
  • 2/3 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup biscuit mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8×8 dish with nonstick spray. Spread the crushed tortilla chips and 1/2 cup of the cheese on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  • Brown the beef and onions in a large skillet. Add the seasonings. Drain well.
  • Put the drained beef mixture on top of the tortilla cheese mixture in the baking dish. Top with 1/4 cup of taco sauce and more cheese.
  • Combine the baking mix, milk, and eggs and pour over the mixture in the baking dish.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Top with remaining taco sauce and cheese and return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  • Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

I used leftover salsa in lieu of the taco sauce. 
Since I also didn’t have the full requirement of tortilla chips, I added crushed croutons.  Putting these on the bottom of the pan gave a crispy-ish crust.  Wonderful and tasty!
 
Cooking · Dining · Food

Rediscovering Oldies But Goodies

Or, maybe just discovering new ideas.

As someone who started to cook in a farmhouse kitchen and who loves good food, I love to learn about food. I remember when the Galloping Gourmet was on TV (waaaaaay back in the early 70s). Sadly, in my neck of the woods, PBS signals weren’t that strong so I didn’t have the luxury of watching Julia child then. Later on however…

Fast Forward a Few Years

I fondly recall watching the PBS weekend home shows that included Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Graham Kerr (the Galloping Gourmet) among many others. I learned a lot.

When the Internet and streaming arrived, I discovered many other places to find good cooks who shared their best recipes, ideas, tips and tricks. Here are some of my recent discoveries. Check them out:

Graham Kerr’s Kitchen

As a result of wife Treena’s health issues, Graham Kerr started to learn new ways to create meals with healthier foods that were easily prepared, and quite tasty. What he discovered and created are some interesting ideas that can be easily customizable based on your own tastes.

If you are looking for healthy recipes with some creative ideas to create some amazing food check out the series.

You can find the series on YouTube, iFood.TV and Amazon Prime.

The very first episode of the series.
Glen and Friends Cooking

Glen and Friends is a Canadian based show produced for YouTube but found on iFood.tv (as LeGourmet). Glen and wife Julie focus on vintage recipes from cookbooks from his old cookbook collection bu there is a wide variety of foods covered. The recipes are interesting, the flavors different from what we think of as the average food profile of the day.

Glen has tackled a wide variety of things, including a series on discovering the recipe for KFC chicken.

A recent addition to the YouTube channel.
Wyse Guide

Wyse Guide was a surprise I found on YouTube. Definitely the youngest of this crowd, Kaleb brings a wide variety of material to his website and his YouTube channel.

Want to learn the basics of baking? How to preserve and can foods? Find easy and tasty weeknight meal recipes? Kaleb’s your person!

One of his recent YouTube videos.

Thanks to streaming, there has been quite a bit of cross-pollination of many, many shows. Several of Julia Child’s series can be found on PlutoTV on her very own channel. Ditto for America’s Test Kitchen. You can also find The Hairy Bikers on the BBC Food channel as well as over on Tubi and Crackle. Ciao Italia and P. Allen Smith are also found on iFood.tv. These are all free streaming channels.

I’ve found cookbooks over on Amazon, too.

If you are learning to cook or are looking to expand your repertoire, these are great options.

Have fun!

Cooking · Food

Baked Sandwiches

A great alternative to cold sandwiches that you can make your own!

I recently pulled a pack of pulled pork from my freezer and decided to use it in a slightly different way. A few years back I found a great recipe for a baked sandwich that was easy to make, tasty, and very flexible.

Roast Beef and Swiss Sandwich Bake is excellent on its own, but you can switch out the meats and the cheese(s) to use what you have.

I used the pulled pork, used Dijon mustard and a mix of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Delicious!

What About?

Here are some ideas you might consider:

Sliced chicken or turkey with provolone? Taco meat? Pulled meats?

The sandwich reheats well but you can eat at room temperature, too. I’m thinking packed lunches, picnics, backyard meals, the options are broad. Serve with a side salad or some fresh vegetables, maybe some soup.

Let your imagination go!

Happy eating!

Around the House · Cooking · Dining · Food

A Bread Board That Works!

If you are like me, you love homemade or artisan types of bread. If you are also like me, cutting these loaves can be a trial.

In my case, I have a wonderful, sharp knife, but the effort to slice the loaf without crushing it, or getting a slice that is a bit, um, mis-shaped, is a trial.

For several years I looked to find a solution to this problem, thinking that I might purchase an electric knife to solve the issue. I admit, I did not know about the bread slicing guide until I happened to trip over a reference in one of my searches.

I needed something that would make the slicing easier, provide a variety of slice sizes, and would be easy to store away. What I found astonished me.

Behold, the Natural Bamboo Foldable Bread Slicer! Click on the link for more information.

Pay attention to the information guide and note that while this is an easy to use product, there can be a bit of a learning curve. Like many first time users, I set mine up backwards – with the platform that the bread sits on lower than the knife guide. When I turned it over (right side up), it worked great!

It is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store. At first I was concerned that the bamboo would be damaged by cutting, but that hasn’t happened yet. I do have issues using the knife, but I expect that to work itself out over time.

Oh, and I have not purchased an electric knife. 🙂

I purchased mine through Amazon, but as you can see on the link above, you can purchase directly from the manufacturer – and check out all the other products they have available!

Food

Why Did I Wait So Long To Try This?

Finally, a great tasting salsa that is Just Right. For me.

I’m one of those folks who do not like spicy or hot foods. My idea of chili has a maximum 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder.

Salsa is one of those things I enjoy in moderation but won’t make at home. Buying salsa at the store can be tricky. I go for ‘mild’ actually preferring something 50 degrees cooler. And let us not forget that tomatoes and acid go hand in hand, which makes it just that much less enjoyable.

Every once in a while I get an urge for some salsa and the search begins. I toy with the idea of picking up the same brand I bought the last time until I remember that that experience was not really enjoyable. Decent flavor. Okay. Nice texture. Okay. Acid reflux for days. No thanks.

A few years back America’s Test Kitchen did a taste testing of bottled salsas and picked a winner. I appreciated the test, but at that time the brand wasn’t available in my area.

Fast forward a few years. I recently caught that same episode with the taste test. Check out the taste test here:

I wondered if the winning brand was available in my local stores. Yep, it was. I added it to my shopping list along with a bag of my favorite tortilla chips.

Boy! Was I glad I did!

Chi-Chi’s Brand has quite an array of products including salsas. I picked up their Thick and Chunky Salsa – in Mild, of course – and really enjoyed it. Even a few days after the jar was opened, the contents held their flavors, weren’t acidic or bitter and tasted as good as the first taste.

Yes, there is some heat and tang to the sauce. No, it isn’t spicy and hot in that numb your mouth way. At least the Mild version I tried wasn’t. I can’t comment on any of the others.

Yes, I could make my own, but I don’t eat it enough to go to the trouble to find everything I need.

I’m glad I saw that taste test and took the minute or two to find it in my local market. This is something that I can imagine using in a variety of ways, not just on chips.

Check it out and see what you think!

Cooking · Food

Too Hot To Cook!

In my neck of the woods, it has been in the high 90s for quite a few weeks. Way too hot to heat up the kitchen!

Recently several folks posted the query: “It is too darn hot to cook – What do I fix for dinner?”

While take-out might sound great, it does take quite a chunk out of the budget. And I know that heating up the kitchen just doesn’t appeal when it also heats up the house. No need to strain the a/c, right? But what to do?

Here are some suggestions:

Why not grill chicken, including extra chicken that you can eat cold? Or, if you are inclined, fry enough chicken for several meals. Cold chicken is a staple in many picnic baskets, why not keep that thought in mind for a picnic in the backyard or at the kitchen table?

You could make tuna or chicken salads or add tuna or chicken to pasta salads. Or, you could make sandwiches using tuna or chicken. If you precook a batch of chicken, you could have enough for sandwiches and salads.

Speaking of salads, pasta salads are an easy fix and you can make enough for a couple of meals. Same for potato salad and coleslaw.

Have some cheese and crackers on hand. Don’t forget the pickles, not to mention raw vegetables, like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, and jicama.

Think fresh fruits for dessert. With the bounties available at farmer’s markets, you could indulge in some wonderful flavors at reasonable prices.

You can make your own sorbets using the fruits, too. Or, if your fruit is getting a bit close to its’ ‘use by’ date, make a crisp or buckle. You could make it early in the day before the heat is bad, so it doesn’t overheat the kitchen.

If you have suggestions on other options, I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, don’t forget to make a batch of iced tea (sweet or unsweet), and tuck it in the fridge for a great way to cool off on a hot Summer day!

Cooking · Food · Meal Building Blocks

Why Didn’t I Think Of This Earlier?

Or, tips and tricks to make Summer meals a lot less, less.

I’ve had a few ‘head-slap’ moments lately and thought I should share. After all, you might not have thought of these, either. 🙂

Batch Cooking

As you contemplate your weekly meals, if you are planning on using, say, a lot of oven-baked chicken across many meals, why not put it all in the oven at the same time and use the oven once instead of several times heating the kitchen when it really is too hot already?

My range has a convection oven and, along with all the other bells and whistles, has a dedicated button for chicken nuggets. Yeah, really. I used to chuckle a lot at that, too. But you know what? Filling the oven with baking sheets full of chicken to be cooked and used for several different meals saves time, energy (i.e.: money), and work. You can even prep different flavor profiles if you want. Even if it really is just chicken nuggets.

If you are able to find a flat of meats you will be able to use in a variety of meals, take advantage of pre-prepping and batch cooking. You can fill up the slow cooker in addition to filling up the oven or making use of your grill. You’ll save money and time.

Think Ahead

If you like to make tuna or chicken salad don’t forget to put the tuna or cooked chicken in the fridge before you start making the salads. I keep my canned tuna in the fridge so when I’m ready for a tasty lunch, the tuna is already cold. All I need to do is make the salad and eat. No waiting for the mixture to cool off.

Batch Prepping

I recently picked up a bag of sweet mini peppers to see if I would like them. I don’t care for hot peppers and while I enjoy sweet bell peppers many times one is just too much. On top of all of that, I hate waste.

I liked the sweet mini peppers but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat them all before they went bad, so I pulled out my mini chopper, grabbed a paring knife along with a couple of small freezer containers and started in. I split each pepper after I took off the top, cleaned the seeds out and then cut into smaller pieces that I put into the chopper. Once the chopper was full, I pulsed it until the peppers were coarsely chopped and then moved the chopped peppers to the freezer containers. I can now use what I need for a recipe without waste!

Do you have ‘issues’ with green peppers? As I got older my digestive system no longer tolerated green peppers. Until I learned this secret: Peel the peppers. Yep, pull out your vegetable peeler and remove that outer skin. No more uncomfortable tummy!

If you find a good deal on onions or other vegetables but don’t want to let them go to waste why not prep them and tuck them away in the freezer?

Best Tip: Use an ice cube tray to create cubes of these veggies. When they are frozen, pop them into freezer bags and put them away. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean the ice cube tray for the next round! You can use this trick for left over wine, tomato paste, fresh herbs, and probably more things than I’ve thought of here.

Start looking at different eye levels.

It is easy to forget than there could be great bargains on your grocery shelves just waiting to be found. All you have to do is look up and then look down.

Many grocery stores stock shelves based on what they want the buyer to purchase. They know shoppers don’t always look above or below eye level. What can you gain by looking up or down? Better prices. Better quality. Better options.

Don’t get caught up in purchasing brand names, either. You’ve probably heard that store brands are often the same as name brands other than the prices. That is true more often than we think. By trying off brand items you could find something you like better – and at a better price.

There is a time and place to purchase name brand items. But it might not be a bad idea to check around and see what you are missing, especially when there are limits on what you can find on the shelves.

I hope these few tips are helpful. If so, please click on the ‘Like’ button below!

Enjoy!

Cooking · Dining · Food

Thinking About Ingredients

Or, you might find something you like better

We have all heard of blind tastings where we ‘thought’ we knew what we liked but discovered there were potential ingredient changes that would improve our cooking.

The recent blind tasting over at Sortedfood was interesting. Check it out:

Sometimes it makes a difference when you choose different versions of the same ingredient. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you discover that you are spending more money on something you don’t really like as much as the lower priced option.

In these days with higher prices and shortages, it pays to be a bit more elastic with our shopping. Trying brands that are in different parts of the store (i.e. shelf) could save a lot of money. Take it one step further and look for stores that cater to a certain cuisine.

Want to find the best produce? Looking for authentic ingredients at a price point that won’t compete with your car payment? Looking to learn more about flavors and foods from a different culture?

Your local markets and farmer’s markets are excellent resources. The big box stores can carry a lot of items but that does not necessarily mean that their quality is the best. It usually isn’t. Tiny local markets may not have the huge array of options but what they do carry is often in quantities that are easily usable without waste – even if their price point might be a bit higher. You might be surprised to discover it isn’t.

Sometimes you can find alternatives that are better quality, flavor, and even price, just by checking out a different part of the store.

Dining · Food · Recipe of the Month

A Simple Fruit Shortcake

One of my favorite ways to celebrate the bounty of fresh berries and fruit is the simple shortcake. No, not that grocery store sponge cake with the dip in the middle, a rich, simple shortcake that you pile the fruit &/or berries on along with a side of whipped cream or ice cream.

Now, I do have to admit that I’ve been known to pick up my favorite pound cake to use in place of a homemade shortcake – and that is a great option if you have a good pound cake recipe or can get your hands on a good one.

As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of Bisquick and love their shortcake recipe. You can find a link to it HERE.

That being said, I do love to make a scratch version, which oddly enough, isn’t much more work than the previous option. You can find a link to it HERE.

The next time you find a batch of beautiful fruit, consider whipping up a simple shortcake to celebrate it.