Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jack-Pot Roast

Growing up there was a rotation of things my Mom and Grannie cooked for my family during regular weeknight meals. I am sure most of those choices were driven by cost factors associated with feeding such a large family. One of the items I remember in that rotation was Pot Roast. I am pretty sure my mom nor Grannie made their pot roast in a slow cooker because I don't remember either one of them owning one. Despite how they prepared it (and I am sure it was good since they are/were both amazing cooks), I can also remember not liking pot roast as a child. But then again I didn't like hardly any food as a child. Now that I am older and much more experimental with food, I have come to realize that my taste buds missed out on so much during my discretionary tasting years. Pot Roast isn't even really weird or out there. I have no idea why I didn't like it, but I am glad that now I do!

Pot Roast
Adapted from Cooking Light October 2004

8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces roast, 1 onion wedge, about 3 carrot pieces, 4 potato halves, and about 1/4 cup gravy)
  • 1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 10 oz package sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 medium onions (about 3/4 pound), quartered
  • 1 (16-ounce) package carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 16 small red potatoes (about 2 pounds), halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons water
1. Combine roast, soy sauce, and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal bag, and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours, turning bag occasionally.
2. Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; reserving broth mixture.
3. Remove roast from bag, reserving marinade. Sprinkle roast with pepper and salt, gently pressing pepper and salt into roast. Combine reserved marinade, broth, and tomato paste; stir well, and set aside.

4. Place mushrooms, onion, carrot and potato in a 6-quart electric slow cooker; toss gently. Salt and pepper the vegetables.

5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add roast,

browing well on all sides. Place roast over vegetables in slow cooker.

Pour tomato paste mixture into pan, scraping to loosen browned bits.

Pour tomato paste mixture over roast and vegetables.

Cover with lid; cook on high-heat setting 1 hour. Reduce to low-heat setting, and cook 8 hours or until roast is tender. Place roast and vegetables on a serving platter; keep warm.

Reserve liquid in slow cooker; increase to high-heat setting.
6. Place flour in a small bowl. Gradually add water, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add flour mixture to liquid in slow cooker.

Cook, uncovered, 15 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring frequently. Serve gravy with roast and vegetables.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


This is my 250th recipe post on this blog. And just when I think I can't possibly find another new and interesting recipe - BAM. One finds me! I am always surprised at how many mouthwatering and uniquely different recipes are out there in the world. It just goes to show you that food is timeless and the possibilities surrounding it are endless. I LOVE FOOD!

This recipe in particular isn't anything I have ever read about on a restaurant menu, I have never seen a celebrity chef whip it up on my favorite channel and I have never been served it during a dinner party. But as soon as I saw the title I was hooked. I was going to make this soup no matter how complicated it may be and I would be making it soon. Much to my pleasure, it wasn't complicated at all and was probably one of the easier things I have ever made. And boy was it delicious! The melty cheese and the tender eggplant worked wonders with the hearty tomato saucey broth. This was a definate winner and righfully deserves the coveted spot on this blog as recipe post number 250!

Eggplant Parmesan Soup
Adapted from Berolli on MyRecipes.com


2 large entree servings or 4 small appetizer servings

  • 3 tablespoons Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small Italian or Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pouch Bertolli® Premium Summer Crushed Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano Rind
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


Heat Olive Oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook eggplant, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Add onion and salt and pepper the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until eggplant and onions are golden and tender.

Stir in Sauce (14.5 oz pouch of premium Bertolli sauce pictured below)

and broth.

Add the rind of a used piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano to help thicken the soup.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until thickened.

Place 2 oven-proof soup bowls or crocks on cookie sheet. Remove Rind from soup. Evenly spoon soup into crocks, then top with Parmesan cheese,

Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden. Serve, if desired, with crusty Italian bread.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Appi

These little appetizers were extremely yummy, really pretty and fun to make. I love the mix of colors and combination of textures in this tiny treat. Give them a try - you won't be sorry!

Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche
Adapted from William Sonoma

  • 1 3/4 cups white or yellow corn kernels (from
    about 2 ears)
  • 1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil, or as needed
  • 16 small slices smoked salmon
  • 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

Place the corn kernels in a food processor. Using on-off pulses, pulse just until a coarse puree forms. Do not overprocess.

Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the cornmeal and flour until smoothly incorporated.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter and eggs

until blended. Add to the corn mixture and stir to combine.

Stir in the salt and pepper. (The batter may be prepared up to a few hours before cooking; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)

Place a large nonstick or well-seasoned griddle or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, brush with the peanut oil. Using about 2 Tbs. batter for each cake, ladle the batter onto the hot surface and spread to form cakes about 3 inches in diameter.

The batter should sizzle when it hits the pan. Cook until golden on one side, about 3 minutes. Then turn and cook until the other side is golden and the center is set, about 2 minutes more.

Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 150 degree oven until all the cakes are cooked.

To serve, place 2 corn cakes on each warmed individual plate. Top each corn cake with 2 slices of smoked salmon, a generous drizzle of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of chives. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My favorite thing to order at P.F. Changs is the Singapore Street Noodles. So when I saw this recipe in the Slurp-Worthy Noodle Bowl article in this month's Cooking Light I knew I had to give it a try. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a little leery about trying to recreate certain dishes. I just don't like to have a dish that is only "second best". But this was a winner! Much tastier, much healthier and way more cost effective!

Singapore-Style Noodles
Adapted from Cooking Light October 2009

  • 6 ounces uncooked rice vermicelli
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup (1-inch) pieces green onions
  • 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 5 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound large tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger, divided
  • 1 cup (1 1/2-inch) julienne-cut red bell pepper

1. Soak noodles in warm water 7 minutes. Drain well.

2. Preheat broiler.

3. Combine green onions, 2 teaspoons oil, and bacon. Place onion mixture on a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Broil 5 minutes. Add shrimp to mixture; toss.

Arrange shrimp in a single layer. Broil 5 minutes or until shrimp and bacon are done. Transfer mixture to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Stir in black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

4. Combine curry powder mixture, red pepper, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin, chili garlic sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon ginger. Whisk to combine.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper to pan; sauté 2 minutes.

Add remaining 1 teaspoon ginger; sauté 45 seconds. Add to shrimp mixture.

5. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add soy sauce mixture and noodles;

cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, tossing to coat.

Place about 3/4 cup noodles on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with about 1 cup shrimp mixture. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blessed GrandMother

My paternal grandmother passed away last week. And although I have several personal memories of her, when my parents told me of her passing my mind instantly went back to an old photograph of her as a young bride. The photograph hangs over the spiral staircase in my parents' home and has been there for about the last year when my father recently obtained it from his parents. It is a black and white of my grandparents the night before their wedding. They are sitting at a table in a restaurant with each set of their parents. My grandmother looks very young and extremely happy. Her dark hair and her equally dark eyes are the perfect contrast to the light hair and light eyes of her future groom. The antithesis of their physical characteristics is only further personified by the appearance and features of their parents. My grandmothers parents were Italian immigrants with dark features, brooding facial expresions and large builds. My grandfathers parents were fervently French with light hair, extremely light almost crystal-like eyes and very small in stature.

It isn't just the comparison of the two families that had me thinking of the photograph (although it is so interesting), nor is it the old nostalgia of the 60 year old picture. The most amazing thing about the photograph; especially in the wake of her life; is the fresh newness of the young bride. I can only imagine that like I once did, all she could probably think of on the night before her wedding was the actual wedding - becoming a wife, walking down the aisle, her dress, her guests, the cake and the flowers. She most assuredly wasn't thinking too far past the next day and what her distant future would hold. At no point during that photographed dinner could she ever have perceived the life she had ahead of her. How could she have known that she would live to be 86 years old, that she would have outlived her groom by only 5 months after almost 70 years of marriage? Sure it is every new bride's wish, but so many aren't that lucky. She had no certainty during that dinner that she would have children with her future husband. Six to be exact - 5 daughters and one son, my father. She could never imagine that she would painfully have to bury two of her beloved children before her own passing. How could she have know that she would have 12 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren? How was the young bride to predict that she would live to see two devastating Hurricanes ravage the city of New Orleans? She lived in the affected areas for both Betsy and Katrina and survived to tell about both destructive storms that hit 40 years apart. During that dinner, on the night before her wedding she couldn't have conceptualized any of the many adventures her life had in store for her.

I love that photograph. I had never seen it before last year and I am extremely happy that it found its way into my family. It represents so much to me. It is about foundation. At the time that is was taken, I am sure it was nothing more than a mere family photo. The bride, the groom and their parents - every wedding weekend contains hundreds of photos of the same makeup. But when I look at that photo I always feel a special tug at what it embodies. The start of so much for the young bride. The beginning of a life, of a family - of my family. The perfect pairing of the beautiful young Italian bride and her handsome youthful French groom.

I looked for a recipe that I felt was the perfect marriage of French and Italian ingredients to celebrate the marriage of my French and Italian grandparents and my grandmother's long and happy life. I thought these traditional French pastries flavored with typical Italian ingredients was the perfect recipe for the celebration.

Rosemary and Parmesan Madeleines
Adapted from William Sonoma

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3 tsp. finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling*
  • 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⁄4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus
    more for sprinkling


Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.

Brush the molds of two 12-well madeleine pans with 2 Tbs. of the butter.

Sift the cake flour into a bowl

and gently stir in the rosemary, the 1 tsp. fleur de sel

and the pepper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the cream of tartar

and sugar

and beat until the mixture drops from the whisk in ribbons, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture being careful to not deflate the egg mixture

and the 1 cup cheese,

then fold in the remaining 6 Tbs. butter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared molds so the batter is even with the rims.

Bake until the madeleines spring back when pressed lightly, about 12 minutes. Immediately remove them from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with a pinch of fleur de sel and cheese and serve. Makes 18 madeleines.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oven Ovation

Let's not kid ourselves - oven frying doesn't hold a candle to the crispier deep frying. But every now and then it is necessary to go the healthier route in order to maintain the waistline and the unclogged arteries.

This was a really great oven-fried recipe. Putting the baking sheet in the oven to preheat helped crisp both sides of the chicken equally. In addition, the buttermilk-mustard sauce was very succulent and it added the special touch that the oven-fried chicken needed.

Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs with Buttermilk-Mustard Sauce
Adapted from
Cooking Light May 2001


2 servings (serving size: 2 thighs and 2 tablespoons sauce)

  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 4 (6-ounce) chicken thighs, skinned
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place a baking sheet coated with cooking spray in the oven during pre-heat.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl.

Spoon 3 tablespoons buttermilk mixture into a shallow bowl; reserve remaining mixture.

Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Dip chicken in 3 tablespoons buttermilk mixture;

dredge in breadcrumb mixture.

Chill 15 minutes.

Place the chicken on baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 24 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 180°, turning chicken after 12 minutes. Microwave reserved buttermilk mixture at high for 20 seconds or until warm. Drizzle the sauce over chicken.