Friday, December 28, 2012

Super Simple Pot Roast



Don't have a lot of time to make a healthy dinner? Want dinner ready for you when you come home? Well this is a great option, its fast, simple, healthy and hearty.

For my family of 5 we used: a 4lb roast, 5 Yukon Gold potatoes cut roughly 1/4 inch thick, 1 medium sweet onion, 1 lb baby carrots, 2 cups beef stock and some herbs and spices. Yep, that's it.

After chopping up my vegetables, I heated up my cast iron skillet on high with a little bit of olive oil (any olive oil will work), lightly salted the roast and seared the edges.
With the burner off, I tossed the onions and carrots into the still hot skillet to quickly soak up the drippings from the meat and lightly brown a few of them, mixed with the potatoes and then put them with the roast in the crock-pot.
After mixing my beef stock with my herbs and spices I poured them over the roast and let them cook until tender. I got a late start at making dinner and put it on high for 3 hours, but this could be left on low for 6-8 hours quite easily.

We had a lot of "juices" left over, so I've halved the amount of beef stock in the ingredient list.

Super Simple Pot Roast

Ingredients
1 Beef Roast, trimmed of excess fat
1 Medium Sweet Onion, sliced
4-5 small-med Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 lb baby carrots
1 cup  beef stock (or 1 tsp better than bullion reconstituted with 1c boiling water)
sea salt
ground pepper
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf, whole, removed before serving
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp olive oil

Directions

Prepare all vegetables. Heat a skillet on high, add 1 tsp olive oil. Lightly salt roast. Once oil is shimmering hot sear all sides of the roast in the pan and remove from heat.  The idea is not to cook the roast in the pan but to brown all edges. Place roast in crock-pot.
While skillet is still hot toss in the garlic, onions and carrots to absorb the drippings and remaining oil from the skillet, mix with potatoes, pour mixture around roast.
Mix herbs and spices, except for bay leaf, with beef stock or reconstituted better than bullion and pour over roast. Insert bay leaf into mixture juices, but where you can easily remove before serving. Cover and cook until tender (2-3 hours on high or 6-8 on low)

Apple - Butternut Squash dessert

Every year I buy a butternut squash for my fall center piece, and each year I try to do something different with it.  This year I decided to try and make a nice dessert out of the squash and forgetting about it in my crock pot. Simple enough, I thought.  I had forgotten that it is hard to peel those things!

Once I was able to get through the peeling and dicing my prep-time was next to nothing, exactly what I wanted for our post-holiday clean-up day.  My poor house is slowly coming back from the disaster area that took over it following my daughter's 6th birthday party which entailed not only the kids building their own pizzas but cookie decorating with all all of my decorating tools available.
 Calling it a mess would have been underwhelming to say the least...

We giggled with the kids and their "goofy" house decorating antics.
Days later we celebrated Christmas in an unusual fashion for our family, usually our main time to open presents is on Christmas Eve with only a few presents opened on Christmas Day with the kids. However, this year my mom decided that she was "The Grinch" and the only things available at her house on Christmas Eve was dinner and talking with the family, no presents were to be exchanged, period.

So we instead woke up really early on Christmas morning and opened them all at once! We were barely finished opening them in time before my kids had to leave for their Christmas with my ex-husband, the last present was opened with barely minutes to spare.
 
Our family has been truly blessed this year, not only have we been able to maintain our lifestyle with me being out of work for so long due to medical issues, but we were also able to give our children the Birthday parties and Christmas' that they desired.  I can only hope to do so well next year.

Apple - Butternut Squash Dessert

Ingredients

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup Spiced Apple Cider (if you use regular Apple Cider, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
4 Tbsp Butter, melted
1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed

Directions

Peel and cube butternut squash, add to crock pot.
Mix the melted butter and brown sugar, pour over squash. Add in apple cider, stir well to evenly coat.
Cover, cook on low for 4-8 hours or until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crustless Sausage Quiche


Okay, so the last thing that I probably need post-gall bladder removal is sausage, but in my opinion it makes some of the best tasting quiche out there. The fact that a quiche is pretty quick to put together makes it great for days when we're bogged down and don't get to dinner until late.

This is a very tasty quiche that my husband and son seconds, my girls wolfed down theirs before I had even finished half of mine.

Crustless Sausage Quiche

1 lb. Ground Sausage
1/2 c. Onion, chopped (1/2 med onion)
1/3 - 1/2 c. Green Bell Pepper (1/4 - 1/2 large bell pepper)
1 1/2 c. Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. Flour
2 large Eggs, beaten
1 c. Whole Milk
1 Tbsp. Parsley flakes (fresh can be used, double amount)
3/4 tsp. Johnny's Season Salt
1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a skillet over medium heat cook sausage, just before browned add in onion and bell pepper.  When fully browned, drain well.
In a medium bowl mix the flour and grated cheese together, pour sausage mixture over the cheese and mix well.
Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour into a well greased deep dish pan.
Bake on cookie sheet 35-40 minutes until browned and center is set.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kombucha Tea

Kombucha is a wonderfully tasty fermented drink that supposedly has pro-biotic properties. This tangy sweet concoction is fizzy on the tongue without any added carbonation, the thing is, it smells funny.  Because of Kombucha's fermented past it has a light vinegary/beer-esk smell.  I prefer it after what is called a "second fermentation" where the person brewing said tea has added fruit or juice and allowed that to ferment, though I think the best I have had came from my friend Matt, who gave me this beautiful SCOBY Mother pictured above. What Matt did to his Kombucha was he had bottled it and allowed it to set an extra few days or so without any other additives and then that day was he had added fresh crushed blueberries to his "pop top" drink that somehow made it even fizzier. In the few days it had formed a little baby scoby that bounced up and down in the bottle fizzing away. Not sure if that was too healthy or not leaving the scoby in there, but it was however the best I have tasted and no one got sick.

So here is the ingredient list that my friend Matt handed down to me for making Kombucha

1 SCOBY
1 gallon water
1 gallon water (for tea)
2 green tea bags
5 black tea bags
2 cups of sugar
2 - 2.5 gallon glass container
cloth cover

Here's what I've found for "brewing directions":
First and foremost don't use metal on your SCOBY and avoid fermenting in plastic as it can breed bacteria.

1. Procure a SCOBY and its starter liquid, their site Food Renegade's "How to" has many options for procuring one.
2. Make your sweet tea.
    a. Boil half of your water and seep tea bags, remove tea bags and add sugar. Cool to room temp, about two hours
    b. Pour into your brewing container and add second half of water.
3. Add the liquid starter into your tea and carefully float your scoby on top of the tea
4. Cover and place away from direct sunlight in a warm area (74-86*F). Brew for 5-7 days, test its "tartness" by putting a straw under the scoby and taking a sample.
5. When its fermented to your liking remove scoby and 1 to 1-1/2 cups of the kombucha as a starter for the next batch. This starter should be kept in glass, away from direct sunlight.
6. Bottle or begin the second brewing stage.

Second Stage Brewing:
1. Pour clear fruit juice (with no pulp) in the bottom of your bottles, add the kombucha and ferment for two days.

Storing your SCOBY between batches:
Some recommend to put it in the refrigerator, where it should "keep" for up to 10 days before going dormant. Dormant scoby's need longer to "refresh," feed them a nice diet of refined white sugar until they're healthy again, or just be willing to wait a few extra days until your next batch is ready.