Monday, June 28, 2010

Slow Cooked Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

I decided to be a temperature rebel this week and cook a warm, hearty winter classic in the dead of summer: pot roast. My boyfriend will be leaving soon for the summer, and nothing screams "please your man with some meat and potatoes" like a delicious pot roast with vegetables.

I love using a slow cooker. It is an inexpensive device that will let you cook up all sorts of delicious things, and it is definitely worth the investment. Things I love about slow cookers:

1) You can literally take ten minutes in the morning to cut up some ingredients, throw them in the cooker with some liquid, and leave it for 8 hours. Come home after work and your place smells amazing, plus dinner is hot and ready!

2) It is less expensive in terms of electricity to run a slow cooker all day than to use an oven for a couple hours.

3) Clean up is incredibly easy. All you do is take out the stoneware sleeve and put it in the dishwasher.

4) Slow cookers work BETTER with cheaper cuts of meat! Expensive, fattier meats like filet mignon would just fall apart, but tough, inexpensive, and leaner cuts become soft and tender in the slow cooker.

My Slow Cooker Pot Roast is melt-in-your-mouth tender and chock full of healthy veggies in a rich gravy. Best of all, it is super low maintenance. Enjoy!

  • 1.5-1.75 lbs. pot roast beef. It is usually labeled as pot roast in the grocery store, and it's super inexpensive. This may sound like a lot of meat for two people, but it shrinks down quite a bit when it cooks. Plus, it makes for amazing leftovers.
  • 2 stalks celery

  • 2 carrots

  • 2 small onions
  • 4 small red potatoes
  • 1 packet slow cooker beef or pot roast seasoning. You can find this in any grocery store. These lil paper packets come with all the delicious seasonings you need, so it saves you tons of money.
  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 1 cup red wine

  • 1 cup water
  • Olive oil
This amount of meat and veggies just barely fits into a small slow cooker. If you have a large one and are cooking for more than two, feel free to add more. Also, you can add other root vegetables too, such as turnips or parsnips.


Peel your carrots and cut them and the celery into large chunks. They will shrink a bit as they soften in the slow cooker.

Quarter your small onions and potatoes and throw them into the slow cooker with your celery and carrots.

Now I do a lil extra step that you can skip if you'd like: browning the pot roast. I do it because searing the outside of the meat adds nice color and an extra level of flavor, plus the flour from searing helps thicken the gravy. If you don't want to though, just don't worry about it!

Cut the meat into 2-3 large pieces so it will fit inside better (that's definitely NOT what he said! Har har). Trim away any excess fat as well.

Heat a lil bit of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Dredge your meat in the flour so it's covered, shake to remove the excess, and put it in the pan to sear.

Let the meat brown for a couple minutes so it develops a nice crust on the outside. Don't move it around, just let it be! Once it is nice and brown, flip it and do the same to the other side.

Also, you might want to turn on the fan above your stove cause the meat might smoke a bit. You also will probably need to do this in batches if the meat won't all fit at once (don't crowd it!)

Lay the meat on the bed of vegetables in the slow cooker so it all fits inside. It will NOT be cooked through at this point, just browned and pretty on the outside.

Don't waste all those yummy bits of flavor on the bottom of your searing pan! Take the pan off the heat and add the cup of red wine, stirring to pick up all the browned bits stuck to the pan.

Most slow cooker seasoning packets call for two cups of water. I like to use one cup of water and one cup of wine for an added layer of flavor to the gravy (and hey, why not add alcohol when you can?).

Pour the wine from the searing pan into a measuring cup, and add a cup of water. Whisk in the contents of the seasoning packet.

Pour the mixture over the meat and veggies. Don't worry about stirring, the flavors will mix together as it cooks. Just put the lid on, and turn the cooker on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours depending on when you want dinner ready.

NOTE: DO NOT remove the lid to check on the meat while it cooks. Taking the lid off lets a ton of heat and moisture escape, and can result in up to 20 minutes more necessary cooking time. Trust the slow cooker to do its job!

At the end of the cooking time, the pot roast will be moist and fall-apart-tender, the veggies soft and delicious, and the gravy rich and thick. Spoon onto a plate, garnish with fresh parsley if you'd like, and dig in!

Do YOU have any tasty slow cooker recipes?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Creamy Tilapia Meuniere

Sometimes on a hot summer day, nothing is better than a light fish dinner. Inspired by some leftover ingredients I already had in my fridge, I decided to create my own spin on a traditional French dish, sole meuniere.

Sole meuniere is a delicious piece of mild fish fried in the pan and topped with a simple lemon butter sauce. Apparently "meuniere" means "miller's wife" because the fish is dusted in flour first. I decided to channel my inner French miller's wife:

My Creamy Tilapia Meuniere kicks it up a notch with white wine and cream in addition to the lemon and butter. Hey, I never professed to be a classical trained French chef....I just cannibalize recipes I find online. Bon appetit!

  • 1 tilapia fillet. You can use any mild white fish, including sole or flounder.
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
This recipe is very easy to make for a quick week night meal, and fancy pants enough for company. Enjoy!


Mix flour, pepper, salt, and garlic powder on a plate.

Put your butter in a sautee pan and melt over medium high heat until the butter is foamy and slightly brown (should take just a couple minutes).

Dredge your fish in the flour mixture, making sure to coat completely. Shake to get rid of the excess flour, and then put it in the hot butter.

Let it brown for a couple minutes. In the meanwhile, put on some French music and taste your white wine to make sure it's suitable for the fish. *

*NOTE: This is not a real step. But it's fun.

Once the side touching the pan is browned, flip it carefully (fish falls apart easily!) Let it sear on the other side for another 2-3 minutes until the fish is cooked all the way through. It should flake easily when you stick a fork in it and should be completely opaque. Remove it from the pan and keep it on another plate.

Add your garlic to the hot butter and let it sautee for just a minute. Then add your wine, and let it bubble away and reduce for a couple minutes. The wine deglazes the pan and picks up the nice browned bits left by the fish. The flour from the fish will help thicken it!

After a few minutes, add the cream and the lemon juice. Let it simmer for another few minutes until it is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon. No exact science here! If it's not thickening enough, you can always sprinkle in some leftover flour from the dredging.

Pour the sauce over your fish, sprinkle with the fresh parsley, and voila! Creamy Tilapia Meuniere.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Moroccan Chicken Stew

This week, I made the unfortunate choice to go to see Sex and the City 2. I went into this movie with low expectations, and it somehow managed to be even worse than my wildest dreams. From a bizarre cameo by Liza Minelli in a unitard to a particularly embarrassing bout of karaoke, I found myself wondering how it was possible for an amazing series to fall so far.

One of the only redeeming parts of this movie was the lovely scenery we got to witness as we lived vicariously through the girls' ridiculously far-fetched and unnecessary trip to the Middle East. Though the story takes place in Abu Dhabi, the scenes were actually filmed in Morocco. It was wonderful to see the decadent spice markets and imagine all the flavors and smells. In fact, it even inspired me to make my Moroccan Chicken Stew!

This recipe is rich, hearty, and fragrant and is a great "clean out your pantry and spice cabinet" meal for all you people moving out for the summer. It also makes enough for delicious leftovers to store in your fridge or freezer. This would also be an exotic, fun dish to bring to a potluck. Enjoy!


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained. Also known as garbanzo beans.
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 onion

  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup of diced carrots. You can add more or less if you'd like. I cut up some leftover baby carrots I had in my fridge.
  • 1.5 cups of raisins. Once again, more or less if you'd like.
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp. cumin. Adds a rich, smoky flavor.
  • 2 tbsp. ground ginger. Sweet and tangy!
  • 1.5 tbsp. cinnamon. Warm and sweet.
  • 1.5 tbsp. ground coriander. Fresh and lemony. Fun fact: coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant! If you don't have ground coriander, you can grind the whole seeds like I did.
  • 2 bay leaves. These are great for making any stew savory and delicious- just make sure to remove them before eating the stew!
  • 1 tbsp. salt

  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked. Optional. You can also serve the stew over couscous (the more traditional Moroccan option), but quinoa is healthier and has a nice lil crunch to it. You could also use rice if you are trying to clean out your pantry and have some on hand.

The great thing about this recipe is how flexible it is. If you have extra veggies in the fridge you are looking to get rid of, throw em in the pot! Also, if you are vegetarian, you can even leave the chicken out.


Chop up your onion and carrots.

If your coriander is whole seeds, put them in a Ziploc baggie and smash them with a rolling pin until they comply with your wishes.

Measure out your lovely spices (coriander, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon) to admire them....

.... Or just add them to another Ziploc bag with the flour and salt. Cut your chicken breasts into bite sized cubes and throw them in the bag, shaking to coat all the pieces in the flour and spices.

At this point, you can start preparing your quinoa. Follow the directions on the bag, dummy!

Heat some olive oil in a large high-sided skillet or saucepan over medium high. Add your chicken and let it brown up on all sides.

Enjoy the scent of spices that should now be wafting through your kitchen, and imagine yourself in the arms of a sexy Arabian man.

Once the chicken is brown on all sides (not cooked all the way through), remove it from the pan and reserve on a plate. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to the pan with some more olive oil. Stir to coat with the spices and drippings in the pan and let them soften and cook together.

After the veggies have softened (about five minutes), add the tomatoes, chicken broth, chickpeas, raisins, and bay leaves. Sprinkle in the rest of the flour and spices in your Ziploc bag from the chicken (don't dump it in all at once or it will become one big lump.)

Stir everything to combine, and add the reserved chicken back into the pot.

Let everything simmer for about half an hour until the chicken is cooked all the way through and your house smells like a Moroccan spice market. Remove the bay leaves (they are tough and can't be eaten) and serve the stew over the cooked quinoa.

Garnish with some fresh cilantro and more raisins if you'd like, and dig in!

Belhana wel shefa-- Google tells me this means "bon appetit" in Arabic!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Food Network Fridays: Bobby Flay!

I figured in keeping with the grilling theme of this week, I would go ahead and grill Bobby Flay for this edition of Food Network Fridays.

For those of you who don't know him, Bobby Flay is a Northeast-accent-talking, pepper-loving, Throwdown-losing, arrogant mother%$#&@* of a grilling fiend. He also earns the title of MY LEAST FAVORITE FOOD NETWORK CHEF. Congrats, Bobby!

Bobby makes spicy, grilled foods with a Southwest flavor profile and also travels around the country challenging various chefs to throwdowns. I have never understood why he has the audacity to think he can actually out-cook chefs who have been making sushi or other highly specialized foods their entire lives. Needless to say, he usually loses.

Go ahead, open up a bottle of whiskey, and get to know Bobby Flay!

Grill It! With Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill With Bobby Flay, and Throwdown With Bobby Flay. He also commonly appears to douche it up on Iron Chef and The Next Food Network Star.

  • Bobby does manage to prove that you can grill just about anything you put your mind to. Lettuce? Sure, why not!
  • Despite the fact that Bobby is an arrogant douche who makes the same exact type of cuisine every single time, he has somehow managed to build an empire of restaurants and products. You gotta give the guy credit for pulling that off.
  • (Chirp, chirp). <--- The sound of crickets as I attempt to think of a third pro for Bobby Flay.

  • PEPPERS!! Aaaah!!!! In case I have not expressed it enough on this blog, I loathe peppers in every form. I can sniff them out a mile away and even the smell makes me nauseous. I got sick from them one time when I was little, and since then I can't stand them. Bobby Flay is the KING of peppers. I challenge any one of my readers to find a single recipe in which there is no use of peppers. Aside from my personal hatred of them, this is also a major con cause it shows a serious lack of creativity.
  • I can't stand Bobby's accent. He sounds like a dockworker from NYC. Normally I wouldn't care, but he positions himself as a sophisticated, highly trained chef, and the accent just plain annoys the crap out of me.
  • Aside from the stench of peppers, Bobby Flay also reeks of arrogance. The very premise of Throwdown is laughable. He insults cooks all across America by thinking he can move in and outdo recipes that have been in their families and restaurants for generations. Douche!

Bobby Flay Drinking Game:
  • Take a drink every time Bobby uses a pepper in his recipe. That's right, every time.
  • Take a drink anytime, anywhere you see Bobby Flay shamelessly promoting himself (especially with those awful mayonnaise commercials).

  • Take a drink every time Bobby's wife appears on the show to cook with him and try to make him seem more likeable than he actually is.
  • Take a drink every time Bobby's man-boobs happen to be particularly noticeable.

  • Take a drink every time Bobby says "so flavorful."
  • And finally, take a drink every time Bobby loses a Throwdown.

Cheers, and have a great weekend!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grilling Season, Part Two: Starters, Sides, and Dessert

Welcome back! I hope you all have been enjoying your Big Ass Burgers (and resulting food coma.)

Now I'd like to talk about some starters, sides, and even desserts for grilling. As I said in my last post, grilling is really nothing to be scared of. Anyone can do it!

Starter: Chips and Guacamole

Okay, so you don't actually grill guacamole. But it is a great recipe for enjoying outdoors that everyone should know how to make.

As most people would attest to, guacamole is @%$&ing delicious. Creamy and refreshing, it makes for the perfect summer starter. I adapted my recipe from Robin Miller's.

Feel free to make the guacamole ahead of time before you get to the grill, but not too far in advance, as it tends to get brown and icky. If you know it will be a while before you get outside, add some more lime juice. The acidity will help stop the browning process! SCIENCE!!

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Juice of 2 small limes. You can also use bottled lime juice.
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion. The kind in the container, not actual onion.
This guacamole takes about five minutes to make, and then you can pack it up and take it outside with a big bowl of chips. Ole!


Slice your avocados in half, working your knife around the pit. Then pop out the pit and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh into a small bowl.

Dice up your tomato and add it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Using a large spoon or potato masher, mash everything together. Ta da! How easy is that?

Side Dishes: Fries and Corn on the Cob

You can't really enjoy a burger without fries. That's like peanut butter without jelly, or Angelina without Brad. Grilling potatoes can be tricky, so I compromised. I made them ahead of time in the oven, brought them out to the grill, and reheated them to give em that nice grill flavor in a fraction of the time.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and cut a large baking potato into 8 wedges. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and garlic pepper, and pop into the oven for 35 minutes until they are nice and toasty brown.

When you get out to the grill, put the fries on a piece of foil on the upper level of the grill so they don't burn. Let them reheat and soak up some grill goodness while your burger cooks. Yum!

Another grilling classic is corn on the cob. There are many schools of thought on how to go about grilling corn, but I'll give you my easy way.

Find a nice cob of corn and peel away the husk until only a single layer covers the corn. Also, make sure to remove all the corn silk (the stuff that looks like hair.) That shit will burn up on the grill!

Peel back the final husk, spray the corn with butter spray or rub with butter, and put the layer of husk back up. It's fine if some of the corn is exposed.

Put the cob down and grill, baby, grill! The husk will protect it from burning and will keep the kernels moist. Turn it every few minutes so all the sides can brown up evenly. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes, and the corn is done when it is a bit charred on the outside and the kernels are tender and juicy. Slather on some more butter and enjoy!

Dessert: Grilled Peaches and Pineapple

I bet you didn't know you could grill dessert, huh? Fruit on the grill is delicious and healthy! Give it a try. Just cut up a pineapple into rings, sprinkle with cinnamon, and toss on the grill for a minute on each side.

Or, put some canned peach slices on a piece of foil, sprinkle with cinnamon, and let them warm through on the grill for a couple minutes. The grill helps caramelize the sugars in the fruit, and the cinnamon brings out the grill's smoky flavor. You can then serve the fruit over ice cream if you'd like. Deeeelicious!

I hope this gave you some good ideas and a couple of helpful tips. Do YOU have any grilling advice, recipes, or questions? Let's hear em!

Grilling Season, Part One: the Big Ass Burger

Ahh, summer. Birds are chirping, lawn mowers are motoring along, and children are urinating in kiddie pools. Who doesn't love summer?

One of my favorite parts of this time of year is getting together with friends and family and grilling in the great outdoors. If you are a young twenty-something like myself, it is a really fun way to socialize. But it can also be daunting! What do I make? How do I turn on the grill without it exploding? And how do I get that nasty crust off the grill afterwards?

No worries, my friends. In this two part series, I will include some delicious grilling recipes and outdoor eating tips. Today is my recipe for my Big Ass Burger, and Wednesday I will post ideas for starters, sides, and even grilled dessert. Enjoy!

The Main Event: the Big Ass Burger

Nothing screams summertime like a big ole mouth-watering grilled burger. But not just any burger. My Big Ass Burger is a monstrosity of flavor that will fill you up and give your jaw a workout. 1/3 lb. of grass-fed beef topped with caramelized onions and mushrooms, Muenster cheese, lettuce, and tomato, all on a kaiser roll. Sometimes you just need to indulge a little!

Below are the toppings and accompaniments I used, but feel free to mix it up.

  • 1/3 lb.ground beef. Since I was indulging, I splurged and bought grass-fed beef. Grass-fed is more expensive, but it is much healthier and has an intense, sweet flavor. Cows are meant to eat grass, and the proof is in the beef!
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil. Since grass-fed beef is less fatty, this will help the meat stay rich and moist. Use less if using regular ground beef.
  • Salt and garlic pepper to taste
  • 2 slices Muenster cheese
  • 1 slice tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 kaiser roll. You need a quality roll to stand up to the Big Ass Burger. None of those wimpy Wonderbread hamburger buns that fall apart.
  • 2 leafs of romaine lettuce
  • 1 handful white mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
When you are using quality ground beef, you want to keep it simple and not add too many flavors. Let that yummy cow shine through!


TIP #1: Before you even head out to the grill, you can whip up some amazing caramelized mushrooms and onions to top your Big Ass Burger. Well worth it!

Start by slicing up your onion and mushrooms into thin slices.

Heat a skillet to medium high and melt a tablespoon of butter and some olive oil to coat the pan. Then toss in your onion slices.

Let the onion soften and brown for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add your mushrooms. After the mushrooms have softened and browned for a minute, add the balsamic vinegar. This adds a wonderful tart sweetness.

Let the mixture cook and brown for several more minutes. There is no precise time to this, just get those babies soft and delicious!

In a bowl, combine the beef, olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together and shape it into a patty.

TIP #2: Do not overwork the meat! (That's what he said?) But seriously, it makes the burger dense and tough, and no one wants that. Using your fingers lightly makes sure the burger stays a burger, and not a dried out brick.

Pack up your mushrooms and onions, lettuce/tomato/cheese, and patty in separate containers and head out to the grill.

I like using gas grills cause I don't know how to deal with charcoal. Follow the instructions on the gas grill for turning it on without causing a small explosion, and heat the grill to high.

TIP #3: Let the grill heat up
. I know it's tempting to just put the burger on right away, but you want it to sear as soon as it hits the grill. This will also help the meat cook evenly.

Cook the burger on one side for about 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the burger.

TIP #4: Do not squish down the burger with your spatula, even though you might think it will make you look like a cool grill-master. This makes the juices run out, causing scary flare-ups and making your burger dry out. Just let the poor thing be!

Flip your burger carefully and let it cook on the other side for another 4-5 minutes.

TIP #4: When there are just a couple minutes left, put your buns on the grill so they get nice and toasty. I sprayed mine with some butter spray first to help them crisp up.

TIP #5: When there is just a minute or so to go, spoon some of the mushrooms and onions onto the burger. Then cover it with the cheese. When it melts, it will help glue the toppings down to the burger. Clever, right?

Forces, assemble! Put your patty with mushrooms, onions, and cheese on the bun and top with the slice of tomato and romaine lettuce.

Unhinge your jaw and take a big ole bite of your Big Ass Burger. Let the euphoria commence!

Stay tuned Wednesday to learn how to make those tasty looking fries, guacamole, and delicious grilled sides and desserts! Happy grilling :)