Long time no see, and just in time for Fall.

Well things have shifted majorly in my world. I realize its been over a year since my last update. Since then I have gotten a new job, moved, got pregnant, had a beautiful baby girl, and after a very brief maternity leave (if you want to call it that), I am back working part time from home.

10710790_10152422381540888_4426890037188315255_nWhile this cutie pie is napping I have sometime to start dinner, and post.

During my pregnancy, I didn’t have any of those “crazy pregnancy cravings” you hear so much about.  Chalk it up to my enjoyment of most foods, or what have you, I found myself eating the same foods as usual, when I wanted to eat.  That was the problem.  I was exhausted most of the time, still working 40 + hours a week, to cook food.  On top of that, nothing really sounded good.  I ate a lot of cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and there were many a night of bread/cheese/meat plates.  It was summer after all, and we had just moved to a second story apartment with no A/C.  I was NOT going to be turning on the oven any time soon.  None of this made for good writing material in my opinion.  I have a food blog dedicated to celebrating food, not whining about how my condition makes things sound yucky.

Getting to the point, its now autumn, my favorite time of year.  I have had weeks of doing nothing but child rearing and watching the food network, and I’ve been itching to get back in the kitchen.  I’ve been warming up the past couple weeks starting off with roasted root veggies and chicken, some soups, and baking cornbread.

Tonight’s dinner started early.  Pot Roast!  Pot Roast is one of those meals that immediately brings me back to holiday dinners at my grandmother’s, and while I make my pot roast differently than she did, the end result is that same comforting meaty hug.  Remember, pot roast takes some time to cook if you want that truly fall apart, melt in your mouth, tenderness, so give yourself time.

I’m starting off with a 2lb chuck roast.  There are only two of us eating, and this will stretch from dinner tonight to lunches tomorrow (pot roast is the one leftover my husband gobbles up).  If you are serving 4 or more and want some leftovers, choose a 4+ lb roast.  I should also mention, this can be done with a Brisket as well, but you will need to alter the cooking time.  I am allowing 3 hours per pound of meat.  I don’t use a meat thermometer with pot roast to tell if its done.  I simply stick a fork in it and try to pull some meat off.  If it comes off easy, its done, plus I get to sneak a taste before dinner.  😀

You can cook a pot roast on its own, but I like to add some starchy veggies to cook in with the meat and soak up all that beefy goodness as they roast together.  You can use, turnips, potatoes, corn, parsnips, carrots, whatever you fancy.  Since its fall, I have been into the seasonal root veggies.  I found some Parsnips and Rainbow Carrots at the produce market, so that’s what I am using along side two smallish yellow onions, and the half empty container of baby bella mushrooms I found in the back of my refrigerator (oops).

I started this process by chopping the parsnips and carrots into 1 inch pieces, and quartering the onions.  In a pan I heated up about 3 Tbsp of Olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter.  I browned all of my veggies with some salt and pepper first, just to get some color, and added them to my cooking vessel (dutch oven, deep casserole dish, roasting pan, whatever you are using).

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Then I seasoned (generous sprinkle of salt and pepper) and browned the meat on both sides creating a crust that will keep everything nice and juicy.

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This took about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, medium high heat.

I set this bad boy on top of my veggies, and poured in 1/3 of a cup of chicken stock into the sizzling hot pan to pull up all the yummy brown bits that stuck to the bottom, and then poured it all over the meat and veggies. You can substitute the Chicken stock for beef, veggie, a nice dark beer, or even water.

I added 1 can of diced tomatoes, a few dashes of Worcester Sauce, a few dashes of red wine vinegar, and enough chicken stock to come up about half way on the meat (about 2 cups).

This is going to cook at 275 until done.  Like I said, about 3 hours/lb, so mine will cook about 6 hours.

The finished product!  Now time to eat.

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Pot Roast Dinner for Two

2 Medium Yellow Onions

2 Parsnips

4 Rainbow Carrots

Any amount of Baby Bella Mushrooms (I used about 1 cup)

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

2 Lb Chuck Roast

1 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes

2 1/3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock

1 Tbsp Worcester Sauce

1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

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Autumnal Bliss

As the leaves begin their transformation from shades of green to their brilliant display of reds, pinks and oranges, so to have my meals shifted towards fall flavors and ingredients.  My supply of fresh veggies from the garden has markedly slowed, and my desire for crockpot stews, hearty rice dishes, and …. chocolate increased.

At the beginning of the week, I sat down to make a week long dinner plan that would help use up the produce in the fridge, stay light and flavorful, and keep me from drifting over to the pizza place when I get home from work.

Monday was Indian food.  We went to a restaurant to bid farewell to a friend. (not on the dinner plan, but it was yummy!)

Tuesday was miso soup filled with veggies, chicken and brown rice.  This too became Wednesday’s lunch.

Wednesday we started ballroom II dance class, so dinner was made for us by a dear friend.  Mushroom Ravioli and baked cabbage and zucchini.

Thursday is my late work night, so dinner was our leftover Lasagna from Sunday’s Game Day meal, as was Tuesday’s lunch.

Last night’s dinner was the perfect combination of healthy veggies and stick to your ribs rice and protein.

Chicken Ravoltini with Avocado Basil Basmati Rice

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Lean chicken cutlets wrapped with a mixture of creamy ricotta cheese and spinach.  I cannot stand spending an extra dollar per pound of chicken to buy my cutlets pre-cut.  I purchased boneless skinless chicken breasts and cut them into cutlets myself.  Not very hard.  I place the cutlets between parchment paper and pounded them out a little too, so I had more surface area to spread the delicious (I never spell that word right the first time, thank god for spellcheck!) cheese mixture on.

Cheese Mixture: This yielded enough to fill around 8 cutlets

1 cup of Part Skim Ricotta Cheese

1/2 package of Frozen Chopped Spinach (thawed and drained)

1 clove of Garlic minced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

zest of1 lemon (1tbsp ish)

Dash of hot sauce (I used Tapatio)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Salt and pepper both sides of your cutlets.  Spread your cheese mixture on the 2/3rds of the cutlet, leaving about an inch at one end.  Start at the end that is all cheesy and roll your way to the not cheesy end. (These are very scientific directions)

No need to use a toothpick, just place the rolled chicken in a oiled baking pan.  Set it down on the not cheesy end, so the roll doesn’t unroll in the baking process.

Bake at 425 for 16 – 18 minutes.  Let it rest before serving so the carryover heat will finish the cooking, and the food is a temperature that wont scald your mouth. ( I have to do this for my husband, or else he burns himself.  Someone is bad at eating)

 

GREEN RICE!

1 cup of Basmati.  You can use brown, white, whatever you want.  Just remember, brown rice takes 3 times longer to cook.

Cook the rice… you know how to do that by now.  2 to 1 liquid to rice, bring it to a boil, turn it down to simmer and cover for 10 – 12 minutes.

What makes the rice green you ask?

In the food processor, toss 1/2 a large avocado or one whole small one, 1 clove of garlic, 1 cup of fresh basil, 1 tbsp. of red wine vinegar (I like a lot of vinegar, use less if you don’t), 1 tsp of lemon juice, salt and pepper,  and 1 tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil.  This is basically like a basil avocado vinaigrette.  Buzz it up until its all well combine, the basil is chopped up and the garlic is discernible only by taste (IE you cant see it). Taste it, adjust to your liking, then pour it in the rice and mix it up.  I added about tbsp. of grated parmesan for a little extra decadence.

Plate yourself and/or your guests a little bed of green rice for the chicken ravoltini to get cozy on, pour the wine and voila!