Monday, February 17, 2014

Pot Roast Tonight

I love making a pot roast.  I use a pressure cooker to make it, so it usually only takes about an hour and a half, give or take.  It's one of our favorite comfort meals.  And after this string of bitterly cold days and snow, it is perfect to warm up with.  My mom used to make it all the time.  Sometimes she scorched it, and the story goes that I used to ask my mom if she'd burned the pot roast yet!  I occasionally scorch it too, but it still tastes great!

We had our first snow day on Feb. 5, and then had 2 in a row on Feb. 13 and 14.  Another snow storm is on its way tomorrow.  We got about 9 inches in the first storm, and then about a foot in the last.  Tomorrow we're slated to get anywhere from 4-8 inches.

Here's the pot roast recipe --- or what passes for one.

3-4 lb pot roast (--- can be anything from a bottom round or "brisket".  Our market labels                           cuts as oven roasts or pot roasts.)

1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1-2 onions chopped (depends on the size - one large or 2 small)
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
about 3 cups beef broth
about 1/2 cup water
potatoes  (3-4) cut into quarters
carrots  (5-6 - halved)

Put meat in pressure cooker.  I have a rack in mine so I don't need to add any fat, but if you don't have a rack, melt a bit of butter or put in a little oil so it doesn't stick.
Add onions, soup mix, garlic, about 2 cups broth, and water.

Bring pressure cooker up to rapid steam, and then reduce heat to medium.  Steam for about 45 min.  Release steam, open, and add carrots and potatoes and more broth/water if needed.  Bring back to full pressure and cook for another 20 -30 min.

Remove from heat, remove meat and veggies.  If you want, you can use pan juices to make a gravy.

Sometimes, I don't put potatoes in the pressure cooker.  I cook them separately and mash them, and definitely make gravy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Our First Snow Day!

It's hard to believe that we haven't had any snow days yet this year.  It's been very cold, and we have had snow, but the storms have been small, and their timing hasn't affected school travel. Today however, it started snowing about 5 am, and 11 hours later, it still is.  We have about a foot so far.  This was almost a perfect snow day because the district called it off last night.  No need to wake up early and wonder/wait for the decision.

Today I read, I knit, and I worked on the company billing.  I did laundry too, and this afternoon I baked.  I'm trying a new recipe called Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Bars.
The recipe is from a Pinterest link.  They smell so yummy!  I love gingerbread so I'm looking forward to trying these.

Dinner tonight will be shaved beef sandwiches ---  Saute shaved beef in the skillet with some onions, peppers, and mushrooms.  Just before serving, melt some cheese on top.  Serve on a bun.  I'm not crazy about these, but my husband has been craving them.  I'm doing some baked sweet potato slices too ----- slice a couple of sweet potatoes very thinly.  Drizzle with olive oil, and dust with some salt and pepper.  Bake in a 450° oven for about 15 minutes, or until tender.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

It was a super busy week!  Monday was a tough day at school -- I was not on my game, and neither were the kids.  A good day to forget.  Tuesday was okay at school, but I had fun afterwards.  I took a demo cooking class on Moroccan cooking at a local restaurant.  The class cost $50 and ran ostensibly from 6-8:30.  In reality, I left at 9:45!   It was a lot of fun, though it was more demonstration than actual cooking.  As one of the other participants said, "This is more like an interesting, educational dinner party than a class!"  There were 10 of us and we helped prepare the menu, and then we ate.  We had a really delicious soup made from tomatoes and orange juice; we were all surprised at how good this was.  This was followed by a beet and orange salad with fig dressing.  The main course (which we'd helped prepare) was a lamb tangine with couscous, and we ended with sweet mint tea and the best rice pudding I've had in years.

Harira (Soup)

2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes  
2-3 cups of orange juice
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of saffron (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Strain and heat.  If it's too thin, you can add some pureed chick peas.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Wednesday I was a bit on the sleepy side when I headed to school since I"d been up so late on Tuesday.

And then Wed. night we had play tickets to see "Hair!" at a local theater.  This was a national tour company presentation.  We went with some friends and had a great dinner out, and then watched the production.  I have to admit that despite my baby boomer status, I had not seen this play --I'd only heard about it.  It wasn't what I'd expected.  It was a much darker play.  It was well done, but once again, it was a very late night.  I didn't get to bed until 11 pm!

Thursday and Friday were luckily back to normal routine days.  It's fun to do something out of the rut, but my body pays for it.

As far as this week's meals -- other than the 2 meals out, nothing particularly special.
Last Sunday I roasted a small eye of the round which we had with garlic mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy.  I do make a very low fat gravy which makes this a bit healthier.

Low fat Gravy

1 can beef broth
Pan drippings (fat strained off)
1/2 cup +/- of red wine
about 1 tbs of cornstarch

Combine all ingredients.  Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.  If it's not thick enough, add more cornstarch and continue cooking. If it's too thick, add more broth or wine.

Monday night I pan-broiled center cut pork chops seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian herb mix.  I also made some farro, seasoned only with salt.    My husband's not crazy about "alternate" grains, but I liked it.  I actually ate the leftover farro for breakfast the next morning:
   Breakfast Farro

  Cooked farro  (I had about 2/3 cup)
  handful of dried cranberries
 handful of chopped walnuts
2 Tbs half and half
1 tsp maple syrup

Combine all ingredients and heat in microwave, about 90 seconds.

Tuesday and Wed. were dinner out.  On Thursday I used the left overs from Sunday to make shepherd's pie:  Cut up the beef into small cubes, mix with leftover gravy, added 1/2 chopped onion, and 1/2 bag of frozen mixed veggies.  Covered with the potatoes, sprinkled the top with smoked Spanish paprika, and heated in oven for about 40 minutes.
Friday night I just made pasta:  Penne pasta with spaghetti sauce and a couple of chicken sausages which I'd cut up into small pieces.

Yesterday was soup day -- I made a version of cabbage  refrigerator soup.   Started with stew beef, which I browned, then added a chopped onion, some carrots, some turnips, some sunchokes, 2 large cans of diced tomatoes, 1/2 head of cabbage, about 6 cups of beef broth, and sugar and vinegar to taste.  This simmered most of the day, and we dipped into it as the stomach growled.

Today??? Well I have no idea.  My husband is off grocery shopping so we will eat what he brings home!