Oscar Night Dinner for My Four Leading Men – Crockpot Beef Pot Roast with Mushrooms “Sorta-coto”

It’s the same thing every year.  I always want to watch the Oscars to see all of the fabulous dresses and hairstyles, and the incredible jewelry, and my current celebrity crush (right now, I’ll take the Ryans – Gosling and Reynolds) in a tux.   In college, actually, for pretty much any awards show, we would always get all of our friends together, maybe make a big pot of spaghetti, and just ogle over or make fun of famous people all night.  My friend and former college roomie, The Half-Baked Housewife, is a total awards show junkie.  This year, she even live blogged during the Oscars (I paid more attention to that than the actual show).

But I was never really into watching the actual awards.  I have always been more of a “movie” person than a “film” person, and, more often than not, it is the “films” that are nominated for the big awards.  So I don’t usually have much of a vested interest (except this year I did see and LOVE Moneyball, so was pulling for the movie, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill to win). And the mediocre hosts and long speeches and boring tributes – not worth four hours of my time.  I think the best thing to happen to the Oscars was E! starting to televise the red carpet.  And even better, now I just have to watch Fashion Police, and I get the full recap of the only parts I am interested in.

So instead of a throwing an Oscar party, and making all of the fabulous dishes that I saw posted on a ton of other blogs, I thought it would be nice to make a good meal for the four leading men in my life: The Bug, The Hubby, Dad, and Grandpa.

My Four Leading Men

And when you are cooking for four generations of men, what better to make than good, old fashioned meat and potatoes.

Meat and potatoes

Let’s just say they were all quite satisfied, including The Bug.

The Bug digging in to Pot Roast with Mushrooms

My inspiration came from Giada DeLaurentiis’ cookbook “Giada’s Family Dinners”, and her recipe for Stracoto with Porcini Mushrooms.  I have made this recipe several times, and it has always been a hit.  But I wanted to change up a few things.  Giada braises her roast, and I wanted to make it in the crock pot (I used my 5 quart one).  She uses chuck roast, and I happened to have an eye round roast in the freezer (next time I would probably use a chuck or something else with a little more fat, to make it even more tender).  Also, her gravy is made from pureeing everything that is left in the pot after removing the meat.  I wanted chunks of mushrooms and a little thinner gravy.  I also wanted to cook some carrots with the roast because there is nothing like carrots soaked with all of those wonderful beef juices, and they are one of The Bug’s favorite veggies.  I did sear the meat, like she did, because I love the flavor it gives.  But I bet you could just chuck everything into your slow cooker, and it would be delicious.  Alternatively, if you don’t want to use the crock pot, you can follow Giada’s braising instructions.

Pot Roast with Mushrooms on plate

The flavors were perfect, but if I made it again, I would use a bigger piece of meat to have more leftovers (there was plenty of sauce, so no need to increase that).  However, I did manage to re-purpose what was leftover for a few lunches.  On Monday, The Bug had a repeat plate of what he had for dinner Sunday night, and devoured it just as happily.  Then today for lunch, Bill stuffed some of the leftover meat and gravy with some cheese into a pita, and I had a salad topped with the leftover mushrooms (oh, how I love mushrooms), a fried egg, parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar.  Yum!

Salad with leftover mushrooms from pot roast

Did you have an Oscars party?  What were some of your favorite dresses?

Crockpot Beef Pot Roast with Mushroom Sauce “Sorta-coto” (serves 4, but you can easily use a bigger piece of beef)

IngredientsPot Roast with Mushrooms in serving bowl

1 (2-pound or bigger) beef eye round roast (or another type of beef roast, such as chuck)

2 T. olive oil

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 t. salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup beef broth/stock

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2T. tomato paste

1 medium or 1/2 of a large onion, quartered

3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 cup dry red wine (I used a Merlot)

10 oz. cremini or white button mushrooms, quartered

1 cup baby carrots, or whole carrots, peeled and cut into “fingers”

1 large sprig of fresh rosemary

Directions

1.  Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.Pot Roast With Mushrooms in Crock Pot before cooking

2.  Combine the corn starch, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.

3.  Roll the meat around in the cornstarch mixture until it is coated on all sides.  Set aside the remaining cornstarch mixture.

4.  Sear the meat in the pan for 2-3 minutes on each side, until it is nice and browned.

5. While the meat is searing, add the reserved cornstarch mixture, broth, balsamic vinegar, and tomato paste to the slow cooker, and stir to dissolve.

6.  Remove the meat from the pan, and put it in the slow cooker.Pot Roast with Mushrooms in Crock Pot after cooking

7.  Reduce the heat to low and pour the wine into the pan.  Scrape up any of the brown bits with a wooden spoon, and pour everything into the crockpot.

8.  Arrange the onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, and rosemary around the roast.

9.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the meat is cooked through.

10.  Remove the meat, carrots, and mushrooms from the slow cooker.  Ladle out or strain the liquid from the crockpot, and serve on the side as a gravy.

11.  Enjoy!

Pot Roast with Mushrooms close up

This recipe was shared with:

BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient) – Beef at My Bizzy Kitchen.

Real Food Wednesday 2/29/12 at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes and Sunday Dinners

When I was a kid, Sundays always went the same way.  I got dressed in my Sunday best, which, much to my displeasure, usually involved tights and patent leather Mary Janes.  Then we were off to church at 9am, followed by an Entenmann’s chocolate frosted mini-donut from the church basement and a ride across town for CCD (a.k.a. Catechism or Sunday School).

Religious education complete, the whole family then congregated at Grandma & Grandpa’s house for Sunday Dinner.  The cousins all played while the adults sat in the dining room reading the newspaper and chatting.  I was typically in the backyard losing a game of one-on-one baseball (we had a very complex set of rules in order to do this) or H-O-R-S-E to my cousin, Nathaniel.  At some point in the afternoon, I would crawl in Grandpa’s lap to read the comics.

Then we would all gather around the table for one of my Grandma’s wonderful Sunday dinners.  Sometimes it was spaghetti or chicken noodle soup, or stuffed cabbage (which I always ate without the cabbage), but more often than not, it was some sort of roast or chicken with a side of mashed potatoes.  I would have a huge pile of mashed potatoes, usually with my corn mixed into it – those were pretty much the only two vegetables I ate as a kid.  Probably too many mashed potatoes, since now I don’t really love them.  On Thanksgiving, with all of the other awesome side dishes, I don’t feel that they are worthy of any of the valuable real estate on my plate.  Then I found a recipe for Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes, and I was a fan again.  I’ve made them several times, and thought it was time to put my own spin on them.

Caramelized onions

During The Bug’s nap, I cooked the onions till they were all browned and caramelized, added some balsamic vinegar and water, then let them cook a little more, until they were all gooey. Then I put them in the fridge till it was time to finish up dinner, and folded them into the potatoes right at the end.

Caramelized onion mashed potatoes on my plate

They were sweet, salty, tangy, and tasty, and went perfectly with the flavors in the gravy from the crockpot roast and Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (future posts to come on these recipes – dinner was delish!).  I hope you like them, too!

Shared in:

My Bizzy Kitchen‘s Blogger Secret Ingredient: Potatoes

The Nourishing Gourmet‘s Pennywise Platter Thursday 3/1

Recipes for My BoysThursday’s Treasures

Did you have family Sunday Dinners as a kid?  Do you now?  What are some of your favorite Sunday Dinner meals?

Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes (serves 6-8)

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

1 T olive oilBowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes

1/2 of a large or 1 medium sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui, etc.), chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T water

2 lbs white potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 grated parmesan cheese

1 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

a few grinds of pepper

Directions

Prepare the caramelized onions (can be done ahead, and kept in the fridge):

1.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add onions.

2.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  You may have to lower the heat a little as they start to brown.

3.  Add balsamic vinegar and water, cover and lower heat.

4.  Cook until soft and sticky.

5.  Set aside until potatoes are ready.

Prepare the potatoes:

1.  Cover potatoes in a pot with water, and bring to a boil.

2.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain.

3.  Add the buttermilk and mash with a hand potato masher.  I like to leave it a little chunky.

4.  Stir in the reserved caramelized onions, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

5.  Enjoy!

Bowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes from top

Blogging-induced Insomnia

It is 6:43 am on a Saturday and I have been wide awake for an hour. I didn’t go to sleep till 1:29 am. And this has nothing to do with a toddler with poor sleeping habits. He is starting to chatter a bit now, but unless he is sick or teething, he sleeps through the night (*knocking on wood*). But ever since I started blogging, I have had a steady stream of recipe ideas running through my head at all hours. And last night I was having so much fun being inspired by other blogs that I could not shut the laptop, So here I am, laying in bed next to a sleeping husband, writing a lame blog post on my iPhone.

I am loving this new creative outlet and joining the blogging community. I just want to get some sleep. Or maybe, since I consume very little caffeine, it is due to the chocolate ice cream and chocolate chips I ate last night…

So anyway, I am going to try to post a blog roll later, so that you can see some bloggers who inspire me, either for their recipes, health information, photography, writing, or site design. In the meantime, it is time to turn some of the recipes churning in my head into breakfast.

Do you have any favorite blogs I should check out?

Of Lent and Leftovers (Mango Avocado Salsa Recipe)

I was raised Byzantine Catholic. It is pretty much like being Roman Catholic, but not really.  I could explain further, but I really don’t intend to use my blog for theology lessons.  But for us, Lent starts on Monday, not Ash Wednesday.  We don’t even really acknowledge Ash Wednesday.  I remember the first time I saw someone with ashes on their head, I thought they had been cleaning their fireplace and then touched their forehead before they washed their hands.  Another difference is that on the first day of Lent and on Good Friday, we can’t have meat or dairy.  Growing up in a meat-and-carb-loving family who didn’t really like seafood or beans (or, in my case, fruits and vegetables), and knew absolutely nothing about vegan cooking, this was tough.  Basically we picked on Pop Tarts (yes, strangely most varieties of Pop Tarts are dairy-free), Campbell’s Tomato Soup, peanut butter, saltines, bananas, and lo mein all day.  Well, this was not very tasty, filling, or healthy.

Luckily in the past several years, I have learned to make and enjoy a wider variety of foods.  So now one of my go-to dishes for the first day of Lent and/or Good Friday is fish or shrimp tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa.  Actually this salsa makes a frequent appearance on our dinner table ever since I first saw the recipe I based it on two years ago.  I tweaked the ratios to how I like it, got rid of the raw onion, and replaced the jalapeno with chili powder and cumin, because I usually have these in my pantry, but don’t usually have a jalapeno lying around (and I am not a huge fan of chunks of raw jalapeno).  We LOVE it on fish, shrimp, black bean, or chicken tacos.

Tyler eating Mango Avocado Salsa

Clearly The Bug loves him some Mango Avocado Salsa

I used to make it with just half of a mango and half of an avocado, but The Bug absolutely devours it (well, he does pick around the tomatoes).  But when I use a whole avocado and mango, we do usually have some left over.  And I hate leftover food.  Well, actually, I hate throwing away week-old, uneaten leftover food.  So I have come up with a number of ways to “re-purpose” any salsa that is left.  Except for the salad, these are all some of The Bug’s favorites:

  • Scoop it up with Tostitos Scoops (I usually get the baked ones)
  • Put it in an omelet with cheese
  • Make a quesadilla with beans and/or cheese
  • Put it in a grilled cheese sandwich
  • Spoon some on top of a pile of  mashed black beans (my version of refried beans)
  • Scoop it on top of a salad with Cumin Lime Dressing, and maybe a little feta cheese (my cheaper, easier to find replacement for cotija cheese)
Fish Taco with Mango Avocado Salsa

Fish Taco

Mango Avocado Salsa on Black Beans

Black Beans

Mango Avocado Quesadilla

Quesadilla

I am giving up wine this year.  It was that or ice cream, and I don’t feel like I can part with ice cream right now.  Are you giving up anything for Lent?

This post was shared with:

Pennywise Platter Thursday 2/23 blog carnival, on The Nourishing Gourmet

Traditional Tuesdays 2/28/12, on Whole New Mom

Hodge Podge Friday 3/2/12, on It’s a Hodge Podge Life

Mango Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

1 mango, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)Bowl of Mango Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, chopped (about 1 cup)

3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (I like to use grape tomatoes)

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

A few grinds of pepper

Directions

1.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  I like to squeeze the lime over it right after I cut the avocado to keep it from turning brown.

2.  If you have time, let it sit in the fridge for a little while to let the flavors blend before eating.

3.  Scoop onto your taco of choice.

4.  Enjoy!

Mango Avocado Salsa

A few things I love! (And some things I don’t)

This weekend was filled with so many of the things I love.

The Bug!  Cooking with The BugHe was my “Little Chef” on Friday night.  It is fun having him in the kitchen with me.  Makes Daddy a little nervous, though.

The Hubby!  Daddy and Tyler on the CarouselI may not work outside the home, but I still look forward to weekends when The Hubby is home.  One of the nice things is that he sometimes lets me stay in bed and gets up with The Bug, or I can get out for some errands without the little guy and all of his associated gear in tow.  But what I really love is the time all three of us spend together, and watching daddy and boy interacting together.  During the week, by the time The Hubby gets home from work, we have dinner, and The Bug is pretty much exhausted.

Pancakes!  Pancakes from The Brownstone DinerWe enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast at The Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory in Jersey City, NJ.  Awesome!  I was too busy feeding my face and The Bug’s, so I stole this picture, because I didn’t take one.

Science!Tyler at LSC  We took The Bug to the Liberty Science Center.  I think he learned more about how to climb on different shapes and sizes of chairs and benches than he did about science, but that’s OK.  He had a blast!  And I had a blast watching him run around, squealing with delight.

Cooking! Stuffed Shells & Meatballs I made a bunch of stuffed shells and meatballs for a woman in my Mom’s Group who just had a new baby.  Snuck some veggies in the meatballs, in case she is having the same pickiness issue in her 22-month-old that is suddenly and unexpectedly coming up with my 22-month-old.  With the mess I made, I wish my mom had been around to clean up after me.  Oh, and for making stuffed shells, I highly recommend this.

Baking!Pumpkin Cupcake  I made these Pumpkin Cupcakes from The Crabby Cook, Jessica Harper.  I used a little maple syrup cream cheese glaze to make them more muffin-y than cupcake-y.  Kept a few for us, and giving some to that same mom (still sneaking in veggies).

So as I was thinking about these things I love, and roaming around the blogosphere scoping out some recipes and inspiration and pretty pictures, I started to think that I should tell you a bit more about my likes and dislikes.  I was reading the name of a recipe, and it went something like this – Mushrooms (Yum!) Stuffed with (Double Yum!) Brie (Triple Yum!) and Crab (Wait, hold up, no way!!).  I love to try new foods, but there are some thing that I just don’t like.  And I only like to cook things that I like to eat.  Call me selfish, but whatever, it’s my kitchen.  So you will never see any recipes on here that contain the following:

  • Raw onions – I swear, if I ask for no onions on my salad, and if there is one little, tiny speck, I will taste it for the next three weeks.
  • Crab – I’ve tried it plain, dipped in butter, au gratined, caked, and I just cannot find any preparation that tastes remotely good to me.
  • Canned tuna – Just can’t get past the smell to bring myself to put it in my mouth.
  • Indian food – I like it, but it doesn’t like me, though I am willing to experiment with some Indian spices.
  • Sauerkraut – I am Polish, so this is pretty much sacrilege, but it’s just not gonna happen.

In my first post, I mentioned a few of my favorite foods, but there are many more things that I LOVE LOVE LOVE:

  • ICE CREAM!!!!! – ‘Nuff said
  • Cheese – Brie, Blue, Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere, Parmigiano…  I am an equal opportunity cheese lover.
  • Butternut squash
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Filet mignon – Medium rare, please.
  • Grapes & cottage cheese – I know, a little weird, but it is my favorite afternoon snack.
  • Peanut Butter – My technique for eating an apple with peanut butter: 1) Get a scoop of peanut butter, and slice an apple.  2)  Smear a minute amount of the peanut butter on a few of the apple slices.  3)  Eat the apple slices.  4)  Eat the remainder of the scoop of peanut butter.  Sometimes I bypass the apple altogether.
  • Cashews
  • Chocolate Banana Smoothies – since I can’t eat ice cream EVERY night.
  • Pancakes – I am pretty much a pancake snob.
  • Wine – Pretty much anything except white zinfandel.  No, I am not a snob.  I’ll drink cheap wine.  Just don’t like white zin.

So tell me more about you.  What are some of your likes and dislikes (food, hobbies, etc.)?