Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast

Cold weather means comfort food. Threats of snow storms and being shut in, means large meals that will last for days. I’m going to break out my slow cooker every time. Soups, stews, roasts.

Now, in Georgia, these threats are usually just blown out of proportion and I laugh them off. But I’ll still go to the store days ahead and buy the supplies for just such a meal. I mean, why not, right? Now, I’m a fan of my mother’s pot roast and I need no excuse to make it. But I’m always on the hunt for a new one to try. This one intrigued me for many reasons, but I was sold at the thought of balsamic vinegar and red wine.

I mostly followed the recipe – but I cheated and used baby carrots and baby gold potatoes. I work from home and am pretty busy this month. So I didn’t have the time on a Friday morning to do all the prep work on the carrots and potatoes to peel and prep. Short cuts should never make you feel ashamed, especially for a slow cooker recipe. Also, the grocery never has a 1.5 pound chuck roast. So all I did was increase the amounts of veggies to match the size of the roast… and of course doubled the garlic because I’m me.

This turned out great and will probably be stew by Sunday. Also, because I’m me.


Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Delish

3 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive
2 1/2 Pounds beef, chuck roast trimmed
1 Tbls salt, Kosher
1 Tbls pepper, black, coarsely ground
10 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Large onion, white cut into 1-inch dice
1/4 Cup vinegar, balsamic
3 Tbls sugar, light brown, packed
1 Pound carrots, baby
24 Small potatoes, Yukon gold creamer
5 Sprigs thyme, fresh
1 Each bay leaves
2 Cups stock, chicken, low-sodium
1 Cup wine, dry red
2 Tbls cornstarch
1/2 Cup water
2 Tbls parsley, flat-leaf chopped

Tools Needed:
KitchenAid 6-Qt. Slow Cooker with Standard Lid
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk


Mix together your salt and pepper in a small bowl – this will prevent any cross-contamination in your normal salt and pepper containers.

Dry meat with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper all over.

Don’t forget to season the sides as well.

In a large sauté pan over high heat warm 1 tbsp olive oil. Sear on all sides until a deep golden crust forms, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Also, make sure you sear the sides because brown food tastes good!

Transfer meat to the slow cooker bowl.

Return pan to medium heat and add 1 tsp olive oil. Sauté garlic and onions for 2 minutes.

Deglaze with balsamic vinegar. Simmer on low until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Scrape bottom with a wooden spoon to remove all bits of meat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.

Pour mixture over meat in slow cooker. Add carrots, potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, chicken stock and red wine. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Remove bay leaf and thyme branches. Plate the beef and veggies on a plater.

Pour sauce into a small saucepan.

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, Bring sauce to a boil and slowly whisk and pour in the slurry and cook about 2 minutes on boiling until thickened.


Serve gravy on the side. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.


Cheesy Taco Noodles

I really love cheese, so any excuse to put cheese in a dish, odds are I’m going to give it a shot. This means if the dish is French, Italian or Mexican in original or claims to be one of these ethnicities, I’m sure I will love it. Because again, cheese! If you haven’t heard me say it before, cheese is life.

Now, everything in moderation. I won’t cook a dish like this except once a month, or when on vacation. Mostly because I don’t want to clog my arteries or give my doctor a heart attack. Also, I will use the 2% milkfat cheese anytime I can find them. Why? Well, because when this cools in my fridge, and I pull some out to reheat for lunch, that oil slick on top that becomes a layer of orange congealed fat is unappetizing and I will never cook the dish again. Imagine that in your body… ewwww. Reduce the fat where you can, people. I;d also suggest ground chuck (80/20) or ground round (85/15) – again, less fat equals a better you. I feel those are meatier tasting anyway.

Now in this dish, I broke my cardinal rule… in several places. First, this recipe was a glaring advertisement for No Yolks noodles. I’m not a fan, so I bought the brand I like. Also, I couldn’t find a few things at the store – December 28th and the shelves were barren. Go figure. So I made some edits along the way and this turned out (pardon the pun), delish!

Because you’ve asked, I have a few tutorials on how to chop an onion (my way) and mince a jalapeno (also my way). Apparently, the mushroom slicing was a success.

Adapted from Delish

Yields 6 servings

1 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive
1 Medium onion, white chopped
1 Small pepper, jalapeño minced
1 to taste salt, Kosher
1 1/3 Pound beef, ground chuck
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
12 Ounce(wt)s pasta, extra-wide egg noodles
3 Cups stock, chicken, low-sodium
28 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced, fire-roasted
1/2 Cup cream, heavy
3 Cups cheese, Mexican blend shredded

Tools Needed:
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-qt. Sauté Pan & Cover
ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

Chop the onion. First, cut it in half and remove the outer peel. Leave the root on the onion.

Next, cut the half in half – you should have 4 quarters. Note: Root is still in tact – this will keep the layers from falling apart as you chop.

Make slices from the root end (not quite all the way to the root) forward. Depending on the size chop you need – in this case, 1/4-inch.

Turn the onion quarter onto its other cut side and do the same thing. 1/4-inch slices from the root end forward.

Now, turn the onion 1/4 turn and slice (again 1/4-inch). Your slices will yield diced/chopped onion. Slice until you hit the end of your slices – at the root.

Repeat with the other 3 quarters of onion.

Mincing jalapenos: Jalapenos are spicy, but often are requested to be minced with the ribs and seeds removed. What does that look like?

First, remove the stem from the top and cut it in half lengthwise.

Next, remove the ribs and seeds by cutting out both using a paring knife or a spoon. Use gloves or be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards or you may burn your face or mouth (or anything you touch as the oils from the pepper will stay on your fingers)

Slice the pepper lengthwise into very thin strips with a sharp knife.

Line up the matchsticks and cut into a very small dice crosswise.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and season with salt. Cook until tender, 5 minutes.

Add jalapeño. Cook 2 minutes more.

Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.

Drain the fat and return the beef mix to the pan.


Add the taco seasoning.

Add noodles and stir until coated in beef mixture, then add fire-roasted tomatoes and chicken broth.

Simmer until noodles are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.

Remove from heat and add both cheeses and toss to coat. Add additional salt to taste and serve.

Egg in a Hole Burger

I consider myself to be a cheeseburger connoisseur – my friends and I travel all over to find the best of the best. Usually, you will find me cooking my own on the grill versus in an iron skillet. But when I saw someone combining two of my favorite things – an egg-in-a-hole (great breakfast treat) and a burger, I thought to myself “this I just have to try.”

Two important things here. You need to really season the meat. I season the meat when I mix it up and then the top and bottom before it goes in the pan. Then, you need to make sure the hold is large enough for the egg to fit into, but not so large that the egg gets lost. Tricky, I know. The egg will need to get slightly set, but not cooked so that it becomes a sauce. And if you like spicy or not, the sriracha mayo is the best compliment to this burger as it is the perfect bite. You can skip the garden and keep it plain, or dress it up completely. Go with your gut.

15369067_10154695471067978_8996892835286029534_oAdapted from Delish
Yields 4 servings

3 Tbls mayonnaise
1 Tbls Sriracha
8 Slices bacon, uncooked
2 Tbls butter, salted
1 1/3 Pound beef, ground chuck
1 to taste salt, Kosher
1 to taste pepper, black, ground
4 Large egg, whole
4 Each bun, hamburger
4 Slices cheese, cheddar medium
1 Medium tomato, beefsteak sliced
1 Small onion, yellow sliced
1 Head lettuce, iceberg

Tools Needed:
Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
RSVP Endurance 4 Piece Stainless Steel Biscuit Cutter Set

Make Sriracha mayo:
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and Sriracha.

In a large skillet, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Mix salt and pepper into the beef. Form beef into three equal-sized patties. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out the center of each patty to create a donut-shaped burger (combine excess meat to form fourth patty). Season tops (and bottoms) generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat and melt butter. Add burgers and cook 2 minutes, then flip. Crack an egg into the center of each burger and cook, covered, until whites are set. Spoon butter over the tops of the burgers to help cook the top of the eggs. Add a slice of cheese to each with 30 seconds remaining and replace lid. Remove burgers when cheese is melted.

Toast buns on a griddle by spreading with a little butter and putting cut edges down. Watch carefully! Spread Sriracha mayo on bottom buns. Build burgers by topping with lettuce, burger, and bacon.

Chef’s Note: Bake the bacon in the oven to avoid smoking up your kitchen.

Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti

I love lasagna – but so much work. I have found that baked spaghetti can be the same flavors, but half the work. The problem has been finding a good recipe – so many versions out there and I have tried a lot of them and haven’t found any I like. This one was close.

I do my best to follow the recipe the first time – but the instructions were weird. So I tweaked it…a bit. But knowing what I know in the kitchen, the recipe below is further adjusted for you. I am torn, however. This still layers the mean and spaghetti separately…I may try mixing them all together and just putting the cream cheese mixture in between. You be the judge.


Yields 8 servings

1 Pound pasta, thin spaghetti cooked al dente
1 1/2 Pound beef, ground chuck
1 Medium onion, white chopped
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1/2 tsp salt, Kosher
1/2 tsp pepper, black, ground
8 Ounce(wt)s cheese, cream regular softened
3 Cups cheese, mozzarella (part skim) shredded
1 Tbls parsley, flat-leaf chopped
6 Cups sauce, Lindy’s Marinara Sauce or jarred Marinara

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Epicurean Garlic Press
Pyrex Basics 3 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish with Red Plastic Lid
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-qt. Sauté Pan & Cover
Black & Decker MX1500W Lightweight Hand Mixer, White


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet saute the onions and garlic in oil until translucent. Set aside. Add the add the beef, salt and pepper into the pan and cook on high. Saute until the beef is cooked through. Drain fat from beef. Add to the bowl with the onions and garlic. Add in 1 cup of marinara sauce.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the remaining 5 cups of the marinara sauce and toss to combine.

Mix the cream cheese and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese in a bowl – use a hand mixer to mix them throughly.

Add half the pasta/sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Add a layer of half of the beef mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining pasta/sauce mixture. Top with the remaining the meat sauce mixture.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover, top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Chef’s Note: This would work great with ground chicken or turkey if you don’t eat beef as well. Also, if you want something a little zingier, go for Italian sausage instead of the beef.

Grilled Steak and Potato Kebabs

img_1980Adapted from Delish
Yields 3 servings

1 1/2 Pound beef, top sirloin, boneless trimmed, cut into 1-in cubes
2 Tbls oil, olive
1/4 tsp pepper, cayenne
1 tsp seasoning, Montreal Steak
1 Tbls soy sauce, low sodium
16 Small potatoes, Yukon gold creamer
1 Tbls mustard, dijon
2 Tbls oil, olive
1 Tbls rosemary, fresh
1 tsp salt, Kosher

Tools Needed:
Skewers – either bamboo or metal suitable for the grill
Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Indoor Grill Pan

Preheat grill to medium-high. Soak skewers for 20 minutes (if using bamboo)

Toss steak with cayenne, oil, soy and steak seasoning. Let marinate at least an hour.

Place potatoes in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on until just tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Mix together the mustard, oil, rosemary and salt. Toss well.

Thread steak and potatoes onto skewers.

Grill, turning occasionally, until steak is desired doneness, 6 minutes for medium rare; 8 minutes for medium.

Serve with steak sauce, if desired.

Spaghetti Sauce

spaghettiFrom Eileen Fight Sparks and Nancy Sparks Frank
Yields 3 quarts sauce

2 Pounds beef, ground chuck
12 Ounce(wt)s tomato paste
16 Ounce(wt)s tomato sauce
3 1/2 Cups water
6 Cloves garlic, fresh
1/8 Cup oil, olive
1 Large onion, white chopped
2 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp basil, dried
1/2 tsp pepper, black, ground
1/2 tsp salt
16 Ounce(wt)s mushrooms, fresh, sliced

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Epicurean Garlic Press
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-qt. Sauté Pan & Cover
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven

Brown meat in a skillet until no longer pink. Drain fat and transfer to a bowl. Add oil to skillet and saute onions until soft and slightly browned on the edges. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Add butter to skillet and add mushrooms and half the salt. Saute until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are browned on the edges. Remove from heat.

Move everything into a Dutch oven. Add tomato paste, sauce, water, garlic and herbs, remaining salt and pepper.

Simmer until thick consistency, approximately 2 hours.

If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

Serve over pasta of your choice and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

London Broil with Herb Butter


Adapted from Food Network
Yields 4 servings

1 tsp bouillon, beef, granules dissolved in 3/4 c water
3 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive
1 Tbls soy sauce, low sodium
1 Tbls worcestershire sauce
2 Tbls juice, lemon
1 to taste salt and pepper
2 Pounds beef, London broil
4 Tbls butter, unsalted
2 Tbls chives, fresh chopped
2Tbls parsley, flat-leaf chopped
1/2 Tbls sage, fresh chopped
1/2 Tbls oregano, fresh chopped
1 to taste salt and pepper
1 Tbls juice, lemon

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel
Weber 741001 Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

Prepare the steak: Dissolve the bouillon cube in 3/4 cup hot water in a bowl; set aside to cool. Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil, the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place the steak in a large resealable plastic bag, pour in the marinade and seal, squeezing out the air. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

Prepare the herb butter: Mix the butter with the chives, parsley, chervil, a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the lemon juice in a bowl.

About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the meat from the bag (discard the marinade), dry it well and bring to room temperature. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat, about 2 minutes. Rub the steak with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt over the surface of the pan; add the meat and set a heavy skillet on top to weigh it down. Sear for about 7 minutes; turn the steak, replace the weight and cook until a thermometer inserted into the side reads 110 degrees for medium-rare, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the steak to a cutting board; brush with some of the herb butter, tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes. Thinly slice against the grain; top with more herb butter and drizzle with the pan juices.

If you prefer to grill: Preheat a grill and on an oiled rack set about 4-inches over glowing coals, grill the meat, turning each once, 9 to 10 minutes on each side, or until it registers 125 to 130 degrees, on a meat thermometer for medium-rare meat.