Slow Cooker Red Wine Pot Roast

This is the second time I’ve posted a recipe involving red wine and the slow cooker. I guess I am drawn to certain flavors. Well, and wine.

The first one I am talking about is the red wine brisket I made back in September. Now while it was very delicious, this red wine pot roast was way, way better.

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I assume that is because chuck roast is a fattier piece of meat than brisket and hence that adds an extra layer of flavor. But this was just so moist and tender. The vegetables were cooked so perfectly and infused with the flavor of the wine, seasonings and meat. Mmm. I am definitely looking forward to having leftovers tonight.

Slow Cooker Red Wine Pot Roast

2-3 lbs chuck roast (I didn’t trim mine, but you can if you want)
1/2 lb baby carrots, whole
1 to 1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, cut in to chunks
1 large onion, cut in to wedges
1 cup of wine (I used Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 package of pot roast seasoning (or feel free to us whatever spices you want)

1) Preheat a skillet to medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of oil. Season the roast on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the roast on both sides for about 3 to 4 minutes.

2) Place the roast in bottom of the slow cooker and top with the chopped veggies. Mix the wine and seasonings together and pour over the meat and veggies.

3) Cooking on low for 8 hours or high for 4. The meat should be falling apart when finished and the veggies should be fork tender.

Friday Faves

I was a bad food blogger this week. I have not cooked a single dinner at home. We’ve just been busy with dinners out with friends and a work event — but I promise to get back in to the swing of things next week.

But I did eat a lot of my homemade sweet potato chips this week. Probably every day. They are just so good and so easy to make. It is kind of unbelievable how I have never thought to do it before. I think next week I might try some apple chips in the microwave so stay tuned.

I saw this recipe on The Kitchn last night and can’t stop thinking about it. Savory french toast? It makes a lot of sense — french toast doesn’t always have to be sweet. Just look at how amazing it looks.

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Mouth. Watering. Mmmm. Bread and cheese — always a winning combination.

We’re having my parents over for dinner this weekend and I’m going to make a red wine pot roast. The weather’s warmed up here in Atlanta quite a bit, so it’s not exactly pot roast weather anymore. But who cares? It sounds delicious and I can’t wait to make it. If all goes well, I’ll share the recipe with you next week.

Salt and Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips

Oh, hey. How are you? Sorry I totally forgot to post on Monday. The day just got away from me and to be honest, I didn’t have anything of note to share. But today is not the case. I have a delicious recipe for an easy, and healthy snack.

Who doesn’t love sweet potatoes? All potatoes really. Give me a potato and I’ll probably eat it, regardless of how it is prepared — fried, roasted, au gratin, mashed. I had a sweet potato on hand yesterday so I decided to make some homemade sweet potato chips. I was hankering for some salt and vinegar chips (my personal fave) and knew that going and buying a bag of chips would end poorly (i.e. I’d eat the whole thing) so I figured, why not make a healthier option of my own?

I don’t trust our oven. It’s acted weird ever since we moved in. If we owned and didn’t rent, we could have bought a new one by now, but alas, we don’t have that option. It’s really finicky above 350 degrees and I knew chips could require heat higher than that so I improvised. Hello, microwave chips.

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Maybe it’s blasphemous to use a microwave, but it works incredibly well. And it took a fraction of the time an oven would.

I used salt and vinegar as my toppings, but you really could use whatever you want. Cinnamon and sugar would be a nice addition for a sweet treat. Herbs de Provence or something similar would also be tasty. The options are endless once you get the technique down.

Salt and vinegar sweet potato chips

1/2 large sweet potato (or more depending on how many chips you want)
Cooking spray (I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Cooking Spray)
Toppings (I used white wine vinegar and salt)

1) Cut sweet potato in to 1/8 inch thick slices. The best tool for this is a mandolin, I find.

2) Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a microwave safe plate. Oil the parchment and set the potato slices on the plate. (Note: If you are using spices (like herbs de Provence, rosemary, etc) this is when you’d sprinkle them on. If you are wanting salt and vinegar like me, wait until after the chips are cooked.) Depending on how many slices you have, you might need to do two batches.

3) Cook the sweet potato in the microwave for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes at 90 percent. The chips will be considered done when they have shriveled up a bit yet are still orange in color.  If they are beginning to brown, they are a bit overdone. Once you are done microwaving them, open the microwave door and let them sit for a few minutes to crisp up.

4) Pour about a 1/2 tsp of vinegar in to a plastic bag along with a tsp of salt. Dump the cooked chips in and shake the bag around until you think the chips are coated. Eat immediately (I haven’t had any stick around long enough to see how they store…)

Friday Faves

I’m going to keep this week’s faves short and sweet — or at least I’m going to attempt to.Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not exactly short on words… So let’s see how this goes.

As I mentioned back in my fails post, I’m not a huge fan of spaghetti squash. Nothing about it reminds me of pasta and I’m not a huge fan of the taste. But when Eric requested spaghetti and meatballs last weekend, I decided to try another way to bulk up my pasta with veggies — zucchini noodles.

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I know that you can buy a specific tool for making noodles out of zucchini, but I just used my mandolin to julienne one zucchini into small pieces. I sauteed the “noodles” in a bit of olive oil until they were slightly cooked, but still crunchy (a little al dente) and then mixed them in with my spaghetti and sauce.  So good. You couldn’t even really notice the difference between the zucchini and the actual pasta. I’m sold. I also whipped up a concoction for lunch yesterday of zucchini noodles, chickpeas and tomatoes and it was quite tasty.

After being cooped up inside for three days, we decided to venture out last night for date night. We went to Bistro Niko in Buckhead. We’ve been there before and it was delicious, so we figured, why not? And man, it might have been even tastier this time.  We started the meal with these little cheese puffs called gourgeres. I didn’t have time to snap a pic of them because we devoured them. I could eat four baskets of them.

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For my main, I ordered the horseradish crusted cod with vegetable couscous and a lemon-olive oil emulsion. IT WAS SO GOOD. I can never get my fish that delicious when I cook it at home. It managed to be light and rich at the same time. Mmmm. Of course we saved room for dessert and got the chocolate sundae. This is the most off the charts sundae — chocolate and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, crushed hazelnut brittle, brownie pieces and toasted marshmallow on top. I even allowed Eric to have a few bites…

It was the perfect ending to a long, snow and ice filled week. If you live in Atlanta and are looking for a good date place, you cannot beat Bistro Niko.

Ranking the herbs

Winter storm Pax is officially past us! As I am typing this, I can hear the ice and snow melting off the trees outside our house. Which is good because Eric and I have dinner reservations tonight and you best believe I want to make them.

I saw this Buzzfeed article ranking a bunch of herbs and couldn’t help but weigh in on it. I love me some herbs. Now I’m not going to lie — some of these I haven’t used or even heard of (what the heck is hyssop?). But I definitely agree with their top five.

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1. Basil
2. Mint
3. Coriander (aka cilantro)
4. Rosemary
5. Thyme

Throw sage in there and those are all my favorites. Granted, I do think they have oregano a little low on the list (my Italian roots make me biased, I suppose), but I’ll let that one slide.

For the past few years, I’ve attempted to grow basil, mint and cilantro on my own, but basil has been the only one that I’ve had success with, which is sad because I love some fresh mint for mojitos and cilantro for homemade salsa or guac. I have little to no green thumb so maybe it’s best if I just give up.

What are your favorite herbs?

Crispy polenta with kale and tomato sauce

Polenta is one of my most favorite things in the entire world. It’s like Italian grits — a great vessel for everything from eggs to stews and veggies. Polenta can be cooked in a variety of ways. I like it soft and creamy, almost like a bowl of porridge. But these polenta tubes are much more convenient and allow you to whip up a meal in no time.

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I usually stock up when I go to Trader Joe’s, but I think you can find them at almost any grocery store. If for some reason you cannot and are feeling very ambitious, you could always cook up polenta the old fashioned way, form it in to a tube and let it cool down to reach the same effect. But that seems like way too much effort.

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite frozen meals, Amy’s Light and Lean Roasted Polenta. I try not to eat those pre-packaged entrees too much, but sometimes, they are so darn convenient. This one makes for a great lunch, but I recreated it for dinner last week.

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It was delicious and oh so easy.

Crispy Polenta With Kale and Tomato Sauce

1/2 tube polenta, cut in to 1/3 inch slices
1/2 can crushed tomatoes (I go for the fire roasted variety or the basil and oregano)
1 clove garlic
1 cup kale
Olive oil

1) Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil and allow it to heat up. Drop in the polenta slices and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are browning just slightly.

2) While the polenta is on, heat another skillet over medium heat and add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Add in the kale and garlic and saute for a few minutes. The kale should be softened and the garlic fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and continue to cook until the whole mixture is headed through.

3) Remove the polenta rounds from the pan and pat off excess oil (this helps to keep the rounds nice and crispy). Put polenta on a plate and top with the kale and tomato mixture. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Friday Faves

This week’s Friday Faves revolves around two of my most favorite things in all the world: goat cheese and tea.

It would be hard for me to choose a favorite type of cheese, but goat cheese would definitely be up at the top. If I’m out to dinner and something has goat cheese on it, there is a safe bet I am ordering it. We usually always have goat cheese in our fridge, and last week, La Bonne Vie goat cheese was on sale at Kroger, so I bought two.

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Specifically, those little cheese boxes are what I got. It’s a more spreadable form of goat cheese rather than a crumbly version, and let me just say it is excellent. I’ve been spreading it on whole wheat Wasa crackers as an afternoon snack. Mmmmm.

Usually I am eating these crackers and cheese alongside a cup of tea. My tea obsession has gotten out of control lately and I blame it all on my new little French press.

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It is so much easier to make loose leaf tea now. Yes, using a tea ball isn’t exactly complicated, but I just find this so much more enjoyable. I’ve even been opening up tea bags to drop in the tea so I can still use this. I might have a problem. But that’s OK.

My two favorites to brew up are the Maharaja Chai Oolong from Teavana and the Brioche tea from American Tea Room.  If you are not a fan of spicy teas, than the Maharaja might not be for you, but cut with a little almond milk, it is so good. And the Brioche tea tastes like a delicious almond croissant. You cannot beat that.

If you are as tea obsessed as I am, I suggest invested in this YouCopia Tea Stand. I had like 8 or so boxes of tea bags just roaming around our pantry and this has consolidated them all in to one, compact corner. And to answer a question I’m sure some of you (or none of you) might be wondering, I currently have 19 different teas in my house. My OCD is making me want to run out and get another so it will be a nice, round 20…