Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Ton of Leftovers

I have been wanting to make French Onion Soup at home ever since I picked up these cute little crocks and when the November issue of Fine Cooking arrived with a recipe in it I knew it was time. I think I was partially holding off because I didn't think Jer was interested in it but when he saw the cheesy, gooey, overflowing bowl of the soup in the issue he said "Mmm, what is that?" I knew he would at least give it a try.

French Onion Soup
makes 4 servings

2 T unsalted butter, more for baking sheet
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t granulated sugar
1/2 small baguette, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1 quart low sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup grated Gruyere

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Stir in the onions and season with 1/2 t salt and a few grinds of pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover the onions with a piece of foil, pressed to cover them completely, cover the pot with a lid, and cook stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft (but not falling apart), 40-50- minutes. Remove the lid and the foil, raise the heat to medium-high and stir in the sugar. Cook, stirring often, until deep brown, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the baguette toasts, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a rimmed baking sheet (I lined it with a silicone mat, you could also use aluminum foil) and arrange the baguette slices on the sheet in a single layer. Bake until the bread is crisp and lightly browned, turning once, 12-15 minutes. Set aside.

Add the broth and bay leaf to the caramelized onions and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce he heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper (I found it needed a lot of pepper and not much salt at all).

To serve, position a rack 6" from the broiler and heat the broiler. Put 4 broiler proof bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the soup into each bowl. Top with 2-3 toasts and sprinkle with cheese. Broil until the top is browned and bubbly, 2-5 minutes. Serve immediately.


Last weekend, Jer thought a Pot Roast sounded good and, since I had never made one, I knew just where to turn for a recipe. The Pioneer Woman! Who better to turn to than a food blogger who lives on a cattle ranch!? Sure enough, she had a delicious sounding recipe and great step by step photos. I loved her idea of leaving the potatoes out of the pot and instead serving the meat and veggies over a bed of mashed potatoes. I knew we would have a ton of leftovers too, so the rest of the week was spent reinventing the meal into new dishes.

Pot Roast
makes 8-10 servings (or 4 with lots of leftovers)

2 T Olive Oil
1 4-5 lb Chuck Roast (nicely marbled)
2 yellow onions, cut in half
6-8 carrots, scrubbed well and cut into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup red wine (or beef broth)
2-3 cups beef stock
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat over to 275 degrees F. Generously salt and pepper the chuck roast. Heat the olive oil in a large (oven proof) pot or Dutch over over medium high heat. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add the onions and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate. Add the carrots to the same pot and toss until slightly browned, remove to a plate.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the pot and add the meat, searing for about a minute on all sides (including the ends) until nicely browned. Remove to a plate. With the burner still on high, add the red wine (or broth) and deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom with a a whisk. Place the roast back in the pot and add enough beef stock to reach halfway up the sides of the meat. Add the onions and carrots back to the pot and submerge the thyme and rosemary on either side of the meat.

Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven for about 4 hrs. Serve over mashed potatoes with some of the juice from the pot poured over the top.


Leftover Pot Roast Green Chili Enchiladas

For leftovers the first night I shredded up some of the leftover meat and cooked it in a skillet with a little taco seasoning until heated through. Then I wrapped a little of the meat and some shredded cheddar and jack cheese inside corn tortillas, topped with green chili and more cheddar and jack and placed under the broiler until the cheese was melted.


Leftover Pot Roast Pasta

On the second night I cubed up the leftover meat and the carrots and onions and threw them all in with some marinara sauce. I served it over pasta on a bed of spinach.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Pie Time

I just had to share this pie recipe before Thanksgiving. It is so delicious and unique. The pears I used were slightly under ripe and I think that helped them maintain there shape during baking. Also, I unintentionally made it a little healthier by accidentally omitting half of the butter in the streusel topping. I suppose that could be a good thing but on Thanksgiving who wants to think about all of that? I say butter it up, baby!

Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel
makes 8 servings

For the Streusel:
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 t table salt
8 T unsalted butter, melted

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the flour mixture. The mixture will be moist. Set aside

For the Filling:
5 medium Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled and cored, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges and then crosswise into 1/2" slices
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 t table salt
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t grated nutmeg
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
1 9" pie crust of your choice (Fine Cooking has a good recipe and some really great ideas for crimping the edges.)

In a large bowl, toss the pears with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the sugar mixture to the pears and toss well to combine. Stir in the cherries.

Mound the filing into the piecrust. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the pear mixture, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle.

Bake the pie until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and thickened at the edges, 55-65 minutes. Rotate the pie halfway through baking and if the pastry or streusel browns before the filling has thickened, loosely cover the top or edges of the pie as needed with a aluminum foil.

Cool the pie, on a rack, completely before servings. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Two Weeks

Last week totally got away from me and I never got a chance to post the previous week's menu so today you get a twofer. I was feeling like our veggie consumption was a little lower than it should be, especially with us both fighting colds recently, so I stepped it up in the meals below. Red, green and orange seem to be representatives from the vegetable kingdom.


Although I have eaten it on a few occasions this was my first time cooking kale. A past coworker was always singing it's praises and now I totally see why. I found it to be really satisfying to work with. I loved the heft of the bunch and the hearty texture. This meal left me feeling completely satisfied and the leftovers made two delicious lunches.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Bacon and Braised Kale
makes 4 servings

1/2 lb whole heat spaghetti (I like to use a pretty thin one what I go for the whole wheat variety)
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 lemon
grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon or tongs to a paper towel lined plate. Wipe out the skillet leaving a thin layer of the bacon grease. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add the kale to the onion mixture and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook about 10 minutes, until the kale is tender.

Remove from heat, stir in the spaghetti, a handful of Parmesan, juice from the lemon and the bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste.


I printed this recipe out a long time ago and in the shuffle of things I never got around to making it. Somehow it found it's way to the top of the pile and caught my eye again. It was a nice combination of flavors and the glaze you make at the end was really flavorful.

Caramelized Pork with Sweet Potatoes
from Real Simple
makes 2 servings

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced.
1 T olive oil
1 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1/4 t kosher salt
black pepper
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T sugar
Juice from 1/2 orange

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat two baking panes with vegetable oil. In a bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil. Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking pans and sprinkle with half of the rosemary. Place in the oven and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, season each side of the pork with salt and pepper, spread with the mustard and sprinkle with the sugar and remaining rosemary. Roast 25 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.

Remove the pork from the pan and cover with aluminum foil until ready to slice. Place the pan on the stove, over medium heat, add the orange juice and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour over the pork and sweet potatoes.


Jeremy was the first to spot this recipe several years ago and suggested we give it a try. Sometimes he surprises me. The cinnamon really has the ability to transport the food. And can I just say, why don't I make couscous more often? It is so tasty!

Moroccan Shrimp
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

box of couscous
1 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
1 lemon

Prepare the couscous according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, salt and 1/8 t of the pepper. Cover and cook until the onion is softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and raisins and cook another 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, place the shrimp in a bowl and sprinkle with the cumin, cinnamon and the remaining black pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the top and stir to combine. Add the shrimp (but not the liquid) to the vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve with the shrimp mixture on top.

You know what would go perfect on top of this Cheeseburger Chowder? Home made garlic croutons. That is if you don't forget them under the broiler until you exclaim, to your kitchen full of people, "Oh my God, what is all of that smoke pouring out of the oven!!!"

Don't ask me how I know that.

Cheeseburger Chowder
makes 4 servings

1 lb very lean ground beef
2 red skinned potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup corn
1 beef bullion cube
1 1/2 cups water
1 t kosher salt
2 1/2 cups milk
3 T all-purpose flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a soup pot brown the ground beef, drain off any fat. Stir in the potatoes, celery, onion, bell pepper, corn, bullion cube, water and salt. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Whisk together the flour and milk. Slowly add to the meat mixture and cook until thickened and bubbly. Add the cheese and heat, stirring, until it melts.


These come together super quickly if you buy a pre-made dough from the grocery store. Ours has a pizza counter that sells it fresh every day. You can put whatever fillings in you want. this time mine had caramelized onions, black olives, red peppers, mozzarella cheese and a little spicy Italian sausage.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out a single serving of dough into an oval shape and layer your choice of fillings on one half of the dough. Fold the second half of the dough and crimp tightly to seal. Brush the top with olive oil and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

I had peanut sauce left over from the Thai Chicken Pizza I made a couple of weeks ago so I just took a cue from the recipe on the bottle and made this pasta salad. I bought a rotisserie chicken from the store and used half of the meat for this and half for the next meal on the menu.

Thai Pasta Salad
makes 4 servings

10 oz. thin egg noodles
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 carrot, shredded or cut into matchstick size pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into matchstick size pieces
4 scallions, slices into 2 inch lengths
1/2 cup peanut sauce

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Stir in the chicken, vegetables and peanut sauce. Serve hot or cold.


An old standby around here. Anything wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and something spicy.

Shredded Chicken Burritos

Place the cooked, shredded chicken into a skillet over medium heat, add taco seasoning and water. Cook until a sauce forms and the chicken is heated through. Layer on a tortilla with your choice of toppings. I overstuffed mine as always with black beans, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado and salsa.


This meal was born out of nothing working out the night I made it. Each component was originally meant to be used in some other way but Murphy's law was definitely in effect and as it was I still had to have Jer stop by the market on his way home to get me some mayo. For all of my careful planning sometimes I still have to fly by the seat of my pants. It is good to know that I can.

Pork Chops and Potato Salad
makes 4 servings

For the pork:
2 T all-purpose flour
1 t ground cumin
1 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
4 medium size boneless pork chops OR one 1 1/2 - 2 lb. pork tenderloin cut into 1/2" thick slices
1 T vegetable oil
1 T butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T grainy mustard (optional, but delicious)

Mix together the flour, cumin, salt and pepper on a large plate. Lightly coat each piece of pork with the flour mixture and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the pork in the skillet, sprinkle with the parsley, and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, mix together the broth and vinegar. When the pork is done remove it from the skillet and set aside. Pour the broth mixture into the skillet, stirring and scraping up any bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened.

Serve each piece of pork with a drizzle of pan sauce.

For the Potato Salad:
6 Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe to follow)
4 hard boiled eggs, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 red or white onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1 cup mayonnaise
kosher salt and black pepper

Scrub the potatoes well but do not peel. Dice into bite-size cubes and cook in water to cover until just tender, about 10 minutes after water boils. Drain and toss with the dressing. Set aside and allow to cool thoroughly.
In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, eggs, celery, onion and olives. Add enough mayo to make the salad moist but not mushy. Chill thoroughly. Sprinkle with Paprika before serving.

For the dressing:
3 oz. olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 t red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t French mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 t dried tarragon
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients.


I have made this oven roasted broccoli once before and I think I made the same mistake of cooking it a little too long. I like the flavor the broccoli takes on from being roasted rather than steamed but the texture suffered a little from being almost burnt. Maybe recording it here will help me remember next time.

Spaghetti with Oven Roasted Broccoli
makes 2 servings

1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
2 1/2 t olive oil
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss broccoli with 1 1/2 t of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.

Stir together the remain 1 t oil, garlic and the red pepper flakes. Drizzle over the broccoli and roast another 5-8 minutes, until the broccoli is beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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