Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Perfect Chuck Roast

I just love when I accomplish what I set out to do!!! After living through my mom's pot roasts, and even Grandma's, (sorry to both of you; I love you!) I've been getting better at roasts gradually. It takes time and love to get a roast to that perfectly tender, juicy and seasoned state. Today, I'm happy to say I DID IT!!!!

This recipe is a modified version of my mother-in-law's crock pot roast. I used my Dutch oven pot and my oven got a REAL work out today! NOTE: this is a lazy-day-cook-slowly comfort meal; this is NOT your average quick weekday supper! But this is WORTH it! So plan a Saturday or Sunday to cozy up with loved ones and enjoy the beautiful aromas as this bakes slowly...hungry yet???

First, and foremost, let me say that if you have never BRINED anything before, this is a great time to start! My roast was juicy and fall-apart tender! Most people think of brining poultry. You can brine ANYTHING! And resting in a bath is the best way to impart moistness and extra flavor!

Here's how I did it...

For the brine: Mix 1 qt. cold tap, 1/4 c sea salt, 1/3 c brown sugar, 3 thyme sprigs


1 2.5-3 lb chuck roast, trimmed
2 large sweet onions, sliced
1 jar salsa verde
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
1/2 packet Au Jus mix
1/2 packet French Onion mix
2 cups water
1 T. canola oil
sea salt
cracked pepper
smoked paprika
1/4 c. red wine
2 T. light butter
1/2 c water +1 T cornstarch

The night before, brine the roast in a large container, using the solution above. Cover and refrigerate.

The next day, when ready to cook, drain roast. Rinse in cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle on both sides black pepper and smoked paprika. NO SALT needed here.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven. When oil is hot, sear roast on both sides until caramelized --a couple minutes each side. Remove and cover. Set aside.

Add onions to pot. Saute until soft. Add wine to deglaze. Add seasonings. Add salsa, water, and stir. Put roast back into pot. Spoon liquid over  roast. Cover pot with lid and bake in oven for 30 min.

Check and re-baste roast with pan broth. Turn oven down to 200. Bake for several hours (I did about 5 hours,) on low. When ready to serve. Remove from oven. Transfer roast and onions to platter and cover. Boil down stock until reduced by half. Add butter and whisk. Mix cornstarch in water and whisk into broth.  It should thicken rather quickly to form a gravy.

Break up roast into large chunks to serve, and put into gravy. Let sit in gravy 5 min. Serve on dirty garlic Greek yogurt mashed potatoes, couscous, rice, or noodles.

This is the BEST ROAST I've ever made! NO leftovers here! Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baked White Spaghetti ~ Move Over White Pizza! #MeatlessMonday

If you want to mix it up a little and omit the red sauce in the traditional baked spaghetti, this dish is right up the alley!

One of my daughters likes PLAIN spaghetti. She refuses red sauce if she has the option. In fact, she doesn't require much more than a little butter and maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan to satisfy her palate. While this proves to be a simple solution to a quick meal on the go for us, my tastebuds require a little more substance.

Since she does enjoy Mac-n-Cheese, but prefers spaghetti type pasta I decided to "play" in my kitchen today. What ended as a result was nothing short of incredibly delicious, (if I do say so myself!) {wink!}

This was super easy to prepare, and it is a double win for us because I used the "new" white fiber pasta from Barilla. I did a little research on the new pasta, and here's some info I found on WebMD:

A 2-ounce (56 gram) serving is a sensible serving size for most of us, and this amount contains 6 grams of fiber, which is exactly what one store brand’s whole grain pasta gives you. Each serving also contributes 7 grams of protein, the same amount as whole grain pasta.
So how did they do it?
Comparing these two lists of ingredients, it’s hard to see how the two types of pasta, one white and one brown, could contain the same amount of fiber. Barilla’s Whole Wheat pasta contains whole durum wheat flour, semolina, durum wheat flour, and oat fiber.
The first two ingredients of the new Piccolini pasta are semolina wheat (a coarse durum wheat) and durum wheat flour. Whole durum wheat flour is the third ingredient and is one of the key fiber-boosting ingredients. According to Barilla, fiber in the new Piccolini pasta also comes from hi-maize 260 (listed on the label as corn starch), which they describe as a “resistant starch, which resists digestion in the small intestine and behaves as dietary fiber in the large intestine.”
This is pretty impressive stuff to me! I want the taste, but I want the benefits whenever possible.
Here's what I used:
1 16 oz. box Barilla White Fiber Spaghetti, cooked about 8 minutes in heavily salted boiling water

3 T. light butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 oz. light cream cheese
2 c. + 2/3 c milk (reduce fat with 1% optional)
2 T cornstarch
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t. sea salt
1 t. cracked black pepper
1 t. smoked paprika
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 heaping T fresh chopped thyme
1 c. shredded pepper jack
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. shredded Parmesan
1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1 T. fresh chopped parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in medium sauce pan and cook onion until translucent. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add 2 c. milk and heat to a simmer. Add Dijon and seasonings. Mix remaining milk with cornstarch and gradually pour into milk mixture in saucepan stirring the whole time. It will thicken VERY quickly. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, leaving some Parmesan for topping.
When pasta is done, ladle 1 small amount pasta water into cheese sauce. Stir until incorporated. Sauce should be very creamy and slightly thick.
Drain pasta and mix with sauce. Pour into a lightly sprayed 9x13 baker. Top with panko and remaining cheese and parsley. Spray lightly with olive oil spray. Bake uncovered 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting. It will come out like lasagna. This is DELICIOUS!!!! GREAT dish for #meatlessMondays!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tarragon Bourbon Chicken with Caramelized Onions

Today my SundaySupper family put together some fabulous budget friendly menus to share on Twitter #SundaySupper chat. All week, I perused the delicious offerings and thought about making any number of them! (I plan to try them soon!) Click here to see all the great recipes!;postID=3113329387717338920;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=3;src=postname

As it happened, I had some chicken thighs on hand, so I got my creative thinking cap on and came up with this dish for dinner tonight.  This is pretty close to a French chicken stew recipe that I've made before, but with a few minor twists. The flavors really worked and my daughter loved it!

Incidentally, this is really quite budget friendly as well -- using thighs rather than the more expensive cut of breasts, along with onions, potatoes, and carrots keeps the cost down. Here's what you'll need:

1 pkg. (1 lb.) boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (You could use bone-in and save even more money.)
3 medium yellow onions, sliced
3 medium carrots, cut in bite sized chunks
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peels on -- cut same as carrots
2 c. sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/3 c. fresh chopped tarragon
1 T canola oil,  +1 T canola oil
1 T butter + 1 T butter
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/8 c. red wine
1 T. Braggs amino acid (or Worchestershire will work)
2-3 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. bourbon
1/4 c. heavy cream
sea salt
cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot, melt oil and butter together over medium high heat. Saute onions until they turn golden --almost brown, (caramelized.) Season with salt and pepper. Add vinegar and cook down another minute. Remove from pot and set aside. Add a little more butter and add mushrooms to same pot. Saute until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In separate Dutch oven, heat another T oil & 1 T butter over medium high heat. Season both sides of thighs with salt and pepper and add to pot. Brown 3-4 min on each side and remove.  Set aside.

Deglaze pan with wine. Reduce by half. Add Braggs amino acid. Add 1 1/2 c. chicken stock. Bring to boil. Turn down heat. Add onions and mushrooms. Add tarragon. Check for seasoning Add chicken back to pot. Add chopped carrots and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper lightly. Add another 1/2 to 1 c. stock. Cover and bake at 350 for 20 min. Turn down to 325 and bake another hour.

Remove chicken and veggies to platter and cover. Bring liquid up to a boil and reduce by half. Add bourbon and ignite. When flame goes out. Whisk in cream. Stir until slightly thickened. Add chicken and veggies back to pot. Stir to cover with gravy.

At this point, you can serve as is, or keep on low for another hour covered. The flavors are so nutty and rich! It's the perfect fall meal on a crisp evening. We had roasted broccoli and cauliflower as our side. A nice French bread would be ideal to mop up any excess gravy!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Potato Zucchini Frittata with Creme Fraiche

When in doubt and you have eggs, make a frittata! This is a great dish for any time of day -- satisfying and extremely easy and budget-friendly! I've made frittatas so many times, and the reason I love making them is because you can put just about anything in them and get great results!

This one is my "what's in the pantry and fridge" version... Here's what I used:

1 russet potato, sliced thin (I used my mandolin)
1 small zucchini (it was looking sad and needed to be cooked!)
1/2 small sweet onion, chopped
5 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. 1% milk
1 c. reduced fat cheddar, shredded
1/4 c. Parmesan, shredded
olive oil + 1 T butter
1 t. salt
cracked pepper
fresh Italian parsley

Begin by heating oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, saute onion in butter and oil until translucent. Add potatoes and cook, turning occasionally until slightly crisp/brown on edges. Add zucchini. Cook until tender.

Beat eggs together with milk and seasonings. Turn down heat to medium and pour into veg mixture in skillet. Using spatula, carefully work the eggs towards the middle to start an even cook. When eggs begin to look like they are setting. Add cheddar and just lightly mix into eggs. Then top with Parmesan and place in oven. Bake about 20 minutes until puffed slightly and set. Remove and let sit for 5 min. Invert on plate and cut into pie shapes. Top with parsley and creme fraiche or sour cream with chives. EASY and delicious!

Friday, October 17, 2014

#SundaySupper Pre-View #Budget Friendly Meals

Potato Zucchini Frittata by Lifestyle Food Artistry

Looking for ways to cut your grocery bill without sacrificing nutrition and mouthwatering flavors????

This week's #SundaySupper promises a plethora of budget friendly meals, sides, and sweet treats to satisfy both the palate and the pocketbook! You can preview recipes from our wonderful chefs' blogs here and chat further and learn more tips and tricks this Sunday night, October 19 at 7:00pm est. It's going to be fun!

This week’s event is co-hosted by T.R. of Gluten Free Crumbley and David of Cooking Chat. Here is a preview of the budget friendly dishes the Sunday Supper family is bringing to the table!
Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WeWork "Show Us Your Workspace"

Recently, I was contacted by Sarah Allen, Community Engagement Manager at WeWork. ( In her correspondence, Sarah invited me to participate in a campaign they are currently running that features creative bloggers -- how and where they work -- called "Show Us Your Workspace."

Let me start by saying that as a fairly green blogger --( I've only been at this a little over four years,) I have been contacted a time or two with offers to "boost" my reachability or engage in various marketing strategies. I've never actually taken anyone up on previous invitations, but Sarah's invitation was very warm and personable so here I am joining in win, lose, or draw!

My workspace is VERY comfortable. Being a food blogger and personal chef with my own company, (Lifestyle Food Artistry,) I use my trusty laptop constantly as I am creating new recipes and featuring dishes on my blog. My workspace is literally composed of my cute little IKEA love seat and a glass top rattan coffee table. It's located adjacent to my kitchen where the real work takes place.

As a mother of two teenage girls, I'm always using them as Guinea pigs on trying out my new dishes and they joke constantly about my making them wait to dig in until the photo shoot is completed or the ingredients list has been tweaked! Give me a smart phone, a laptop, and good lighting -- I can create a blog post in minutes!

I love being able to work in my home environment. No matter the weather outside, I can create dishes for my family and clients any day, any time. Writing about each dish is a passion. My space is perfect for establishing that cozy feeling that gets me inspired to photograph and write about food. If I could do one thing to make my workspace even better it would be to hire a contractor to install additional cabinetry with drawers and doors to better organize the tedious "paperwork" part of my job. Other than that, I'm in heaven in my little space!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Steak au Poivre

This is such an elegant dish, but don't be fooled into thinking it's difficult! I've been making this steak entree for years now, and I've used various cuts of meat with varying degrees of success. This is probably my favorite version or a close tie to when I use ribeye cuts.

The only caution I will give is to be smart about administering the flame once the alcohol is added to the pan. (Turn off the flame first!!!!! And reignite before lighting the liquid with a candle lighter.) It should burn off in a few seconds, so do not worry -- you won't burn down the kitchen! Though every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher conveniently located near the work area.

Let's get to it! Here is what you will need to impress your pickiest guests:

4 (6 oz. ) filet mignon steaks
1 1/2 t. sea salt, plus more for sauce preference
2 T. cracked peppercorn medley

1 t. canola oil
1/3 c. brandy
2 T. red wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
2 T. butter
1 T. Dijon mustard
2/3 c. sour cream
fresh parsley to garnish
extra salt and pepper to taste

Crush peppercorns and pat into both sides of the pre-patted dry filets along with a good sprinkling of the sea salt. Place in a shallow dish and chilled for 30 minutes. Take out and bring back to room temperature before beginning.

Using a paper towel, lightly rub the bottom of a cast iron skillet with the canola oil. Turn on the flame to medium high/high. When the skillet just starts to smoke, add the filets -- keeping them apart from one another. Let them sear for about 2 minutes. Quickly flip and sear the other side about a minute more.

Remove to a platter and cover to keep warm. Turn down the fire to medium, ( it will still be very hot,) and pull the skillet off the heat before adding the brandy. Immediately put the skillet back on the flame and light the liquid with the lighter. Stand back at full arm's length: it should shoot up a nice flame and die in a few seconds. Immediately add the wine. Cook and stir until reduced by half. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half again. Add the butter and whisk briskly. It will start to thicken very quickly. Whisk in the Dijon.  Add the sour cream and whisk until incorporated. Place the steaks back into the skillet, coat both sides with sauce. Move skillet to a preheated 350 degree oven and let it bake to finish about 10- 15 minutes depending on how you like the steak cooked. Remove from oven and cover loosely with foil. Let rest another 5-7 minutes.

Slice steak 1/4' thick pieces and drizzle sauce over the top. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with Oven roasted butter and parsley coated baby potatoes or fingerlings and a fresh salad or vegetable. Sit back and listen to the raves!