Tag Archives: Kitchen Casual

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


Another trip to HomeGoods

I sometimes feel that if I don’t go to HomeGoods at least once a week, I am missing out on something. I’m sure that is not the case, but it makes sense in my head. I take my trips to HomeGoods without any specific item in mind, and sometimes I leave empty handed, but sometimes I find some good things.

My last trip resulted in a few goods things, all of which I had been keeping my eye out for for a little while. I didn’t go crazy and spend too much (I think the total was less than $20) but I figured I’d share what I got with y’all anyways.

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I’ve always wanted one of these olive oil bottles, but all the ones I’d seen before had weird designs painted on. When I saw this plain one, I had to scoop it up. I buy olive oil in bulk so it is much easier to use this when cooking than trying to drizzle out of a giant bottle.

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This little French press is the cutest thing ever. It makes about one cup of coffee (or tea) so it’s great for solo use. I’ve been wanting a French press for awhile and this small one is giving me a chance to try it out before I get a bigger one. Spoiler alert: I love this. I’ve mostly been using it to make loose leaf tea and it’s amazing.

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Now there are sometimes when I’m making something and I don’t think it’s right to be served on a plate, but it’s not quite bowl material. Enter these pasta bowls. They are like the perfect hybrid of a bowl and a plate.

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Here is some kale I was cooking with last night. I think these are going to be great for salads as well as pasta. I am now regretting not getting the other box that HomeGoods had, but like we need anymore plates, bowls, etc.

Crab cakes with roasted pepper and corn saute

If I had to choose one way to eat crabs, it would be a crab cake. After living in DC for six year, I have been to plenty of events where you crack your own crabs. While it is fun in theory, for me, it is usually hazardous. I would get to my second crab and end up drawing blood. I like when someone has already done the work for me and presents the delicious crab to me in a nice, tasty cake form.

We’ve never tried making our own crab cakes before. There were just too many great options available to us when we lived in Virginia (G&M Restaurant up near Baltimore was probably our favorite). Eric was really in the mood for crab last week so lo and behold we set out to make homemade crab cakes for the first time. And it was quite successful.

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They were so delicious. I prefer a crab cake where you really get to taste the crab and not a bunch of filler. These were pretty much simple, unadulterated crab cakes that ended up being pretty easy to make. We did not buy and crack our own crabs (ain’t nobody got time for that). Instead we bought jumbo lump crab meat at Costco (it was actually quite reasonable in price, so if you have a Costco near you, I’d check it out). It wasn’t as authentic as Eric might have wanted, but it was much less of a hassle.

Now let’s talk about the side dish. Eric loves the combination of corn and crab cakes so we knew that was going to be the base. I had some little baby bell peppers around so I figured why not roast them up and saute them together and voila. A great accompaniment to the crab cakes.

Crab cakes with roasted pepper and corn saute

For the crabcakes

16oz lump crab meat
3 tbls whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 egg beaten plus 1 egg white
1/4 cup mayo or Greek yogurt (Eric used mayo, I used the yogurt. There wasn’t much of a difference in taste, but if you are trying to cut calories, the Greek yogurt is a great option).
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning (or more to your taste)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Break crab meat up in to smaller chunks (depending on how you like it).  Combine all the ingredients together and mix.
3) Take 1/3 cup portions of the mixture and form it in to patties. Place on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. If desire, sprinkle a little more Old Bay on stop before putting in the oven.
4) Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cakes are starting to turn a golden brown.

For the corn saute

10 to 15 mini bell peppers (or a few big ones)
1 package frozen corn (I think we used about 16 oz)
1 to 2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut peppers in half and lay cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, rotating the cooking sheet 180 degrees halfway through. The edges of the peppers should be turning a little black. Once the peppers cool a little, chop in to small pieces.
2) Cook corn in microwave based on package directions.
3) Preheat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan. Add peppers, garlic and corn and saute for about 5 minutes. Serve alongside crab cakes.

Friday Faves

The snow in Atlanta has made this week simultaneously feel extremely long and also extremely short. I felt like I blinked and suddenly it was Friday. Which is a good thing. And yet also a bad thing. But anyways, here’s what I’ve been loving this week — very briefly.



Why hello, soft boiled goodness. I’ve always wanted to try soft boiled eggs and it’s kinda crazy I just started cooking them. My ideal egg is one with a runny middle and a cooked white so this is pretty much perfect. I’m still ironing out all the kinks in how I make them, but this is what works for me: add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a pot of water and bring to a boil, add egg, boil for 4 minutes and 30 seconds (precision is key), dunk in an ice bath for a minute, peel, eat. I’ve mostly been eating them on toast, but I’d like to try them on other things like veggies, polenta or even some quinoa. It should also be noted that I tried poaching an egg in the microwave with some success. It sounds weird, but it works.

Do any of you watch “Top Chef?” Without fail, I will watch every season of the original show (now really big on “Top Chef: Masters, however). Well any of my fellow “Top Chef” watchers might appreciate this.

After the episode this week, I noted that Hugh Acheson hadn’t really been on much this season. Maybe this is me, and maybe I am biased since he is an Georgia-based chef, but I felt a serious lack of Hugh. So I tweeted about it. And Hugh Acheson favorited the tweet.


Needless to say, I was geeking out. This is one of the many reasons I love Twitter. Luckily, it looks like Hugh will be on the season finale next week so the Hugh drought will be over.

The beauty of fauxmade

First of all, let me say greetings from snowy Atlanta. As some of you might have seen, we got about 2 inches of snow yesterday and it turned in to a total nightmare. Luckily, I work from home and Eric made it home before the roads got super bad, so we weren’t stranded in our cars. But I know plenty of people who were. Fingers crossed things thaw out soon.

Now on to the post. I have written before about my love of semi-homemade baked goods, and sometimes, you need to extend that practice to other aspects of cooking. I like to call this fauxmade (did I make that up? Probably not, but it sounds good). To me fauxmade is when you take some precooked ingredients or other shortcuts to make something that tastes like you slaved over a hot stove all day. Only part of the effort but still a delicious result.


This was a pot of chicken and rice soup I made a few weeks ago. Instead of making my own stock with chicken and bones, I used bouillon and the juices and meat from a rotisserie chicken. That combination made for a rich, delicious soup  that both Eric and I slurped down. We preferred it to a chicken and rice soup I tried before that cooked all day in the crock pot. The above soup came together in about an hour.

Rotisserie chickens really are a fauxmade chef’s best friend. I have used them before to make soups, salads, tacos or quesadillas — even a stuffing for homemade/fauxmade ravioli. A $5 rotisserie chicken from Costco will feed Eric and I for at least two dinners, maybe even more.

I was inspired to write this post yesterday after I took a can of Manischewitz matzo ball soup and doctored it up to make it taste a bit more like the soup my mother-in-law makes.

51dAEkz9UiL._SY300_I put it in a pot with a little bouillon and water, added some carrots and parsley. It was quite tasty.

What are some of your favorite fauxmade cooking tricks?