Worth the fuss

Beef rolls with Spring Salad

Oh, no.  Those red peppers look like tongues.  Oops.

Oh, no. Those red peppers look like tongues. Oops.

Ok, I know that I previously railed against making a beef roll-up thingy as being way too much dang work.  In that case, rolling up scallions and red pepper in thin pieces of beef just seemed to me a very fussy way to make a simple stir fry.  This recipe is different.  Why?  Cheese.  It has a slice of pepper jack cheese in each roll.  Believe it or not, that actually makes the rolling, toothpicking, and related fussing all worthwhile.  You cut into these little packages and get beef, red pepper, onion, and pepper jack cheese all in one delicious bite.

Also, if you can’t find bracciola beef or aren’t somewhere with a proper butcher counter that can slice beef for you, you can do what I did.  I bought a chunk of top round, froze it for maybe 15 minutes, then sliced it and pounded it to get it thinner.  It worked just fine.  Oh, and don’t forget that this recipe uses the leftover peppers and onions from the delicious sausage sandwiches.  I love those Everyday Food combos.

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This is why you bought a Dutch oven

Pork shoulder roast with tomatoes

Lookin' wholesome!

Lookin’ wholesome!

Wow.  This is a keeper.  This one is for real.  The one thing to know is that it does honestly take 2.25 hours and it’s not a good candidate to convert to a slow cooker recipe because it requires you to baste it every 15 minutes toward the end.  But, if you have a long afternoon at home and you don’t mind almost eating your own hand because the smell of this makes you so hungry, then you’ve got to make this recipe.

If nothing else, this recipe will make you feel super good for owning a Dutch oven.  There are those pieces of kitchen equipment that you look at and think, “Man, I’m not sure I need to own that thing…”  Gratin dish, Kitchen Aid mixer (I love it…I just don’t use it very often), mini bundt cake pan, immersion blender, melon baller, and so on.  But then that moment comes when nothing else would have been better.  This was that moment for my Dutch oven.  Here it is, rising to the occasion:

I'm proud of you, Baby!

I’m proud of you, Baby!

So if your significant other keeps hassling about why you own that giant, heavy pot, you make this recipe.

Side note: J loved this one.  He ate it up like it was cheese crackers and applesauce.  For real.

Panic carrots

Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken with Couscous

Here I come to save the day!

Here I come to save the day!

I’ve already said I’m a food safety nut.  I’m also pretty into fire safety.  I don’t want to get into it because it’s sad and this is not the place for it, but there was a fire in my old neighborhood that killed some people in an apartment building and it stuck with me.  No, I don’t have an escape plan, but thank you so so so much for putting that into my head.  Guess what you’re doing tonight instead of watching TV, D?  I digress…  Because of this fear of fire, I’m nervous about leaving my slow cooker on all day.  (I can hear your eyes rolling.)  My slow cooker has a big warning in the manual about making sure the slow cooker is filled at least halfway.  I suppose they are trying to say that you shouldn’t put a single pork chop into the cooker, crank it to high, and leave it for several hours and expect it to work out.  My fear is that a less than half-full slow cooker would cook down, start to smolder, burst into flames that climb up the kitchen cabinets, reach the walls, and engulf the apartment and my kittens in smoke and fire.  All this was running through my head as I rushed to get the dinner into the slow cooker and out the door to go to work.  I didn’t leave myself enough time, so I was frantically carving the super cold bird and chucking pieces into the cooker, all the while gauging the crock for whether it had reached the magic halfway mark.  I finished loading the carrots and chicken and it was only (ominous music here) 1/3 full.  So I did what any sensible person would do, I panicked.  I grabbed a pound of carrots from the fridge, washed them and hacked them into long pieces.  I stuffed the carrots under the chicken pieces to raise the food up to the halfway mark.  Then I turned the cooker on and dashed out the door, 15 minutes late to work.

That moment of panic turned out to be doubly awesome.  First, the house didn’t burn down.  Second, those carrots were completely delicious.  I mean they were the best part of the entire dish.  I’m not just saying that to justify what I did.  The lack of a house fire was justification enough for me.  I mean that the onions, garlic, and rendered chicken fat all turned those carrots into sweet and savory little flavor bombs.  I highly recommend adding carrots to this recipe, even if you’re already at the halfway mark on your crock or if it never occurred to you to worry about such a thing, you foolhardy, devil-may-care, ne’er-do-well, you.

Actually, it was triply awesome.  Baby J loved those carrots.

Panic carrots: one. Fire: zero.

Ending November on a High Note!

Well, sort of.  The recipe is delicious.  But once again, the recipe is not online.  Thanks November!

Mmm... Oniony...

Mmm… Oniony…

I made this one afternoon thinking we would have it for dinner and for a few days for lunch.  Then I ran into my lovely neighbor (remember from Thanksgiving?).  I offered her some soup.  Then a couple of friends stopped in.  I offered them some soup.  By the end of the afternoon, the soup was pretty much gone.  I was sad.  It was really delicious.  And heart warming.  And comforting.  And full of onions…

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

2 Tbs butter

2 Tbs olive oil

4 lbs onions halved and thinly sliced (seriously people, get out your food processor on this one)

4 garlic cloves thinly slices

salt and pepper

1/2 cup port or Marsala wine

2 cans each of both chicken and beef broth (14.5 oz cans)

Crusty baguette

Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Get out your biggest pot (I used my 7.5 qt dutch oven – 4 lbs of onions take up a lot of space!).  Heat the butter and the olive oil over medium, then add your onions and garlic and season them with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until the onions have softened, be sure to stir occasionally so the onions on top get cooked down a bit too.  Then uncover and continue to cook until the onions have caramelized and turned a nice golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes more.  The recipes says to add 1/4 water if the pot gets too dry, I did this.  I scraped up the brown bits of goodness on the bottom in the process.

When your onions are caramelized, add the Marsala or port (I used Marsala) and cook until the liquid reduces.  Stir in the broths and two additional cups of water.  Check your seasoning again and add more salt if necessary.

Then serve with cheese toasts.  Do I need to explain those?  You cut slices of baguette… Then you toast or broil them with some shredded cheese on top.  Then you eat them…

*adapted from November 2007, issue 47, pg. 70

One word of warning.  Four pounds of onions will make you cry.  A lot.  You will also cry when your lovely soup is gone in a few hours.  This was technically a Freeze It recipe… Oh well.  Enjoy!

And get ready to welcome in December!!!