Slow-Cooker Maple Dijon Pot Roast

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Pot roast with Dijon mustard, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, even bacon if you choose. I served this one for our Easter dinner and we loved it. I didn’t bother with the bacon (mostly out of laziness) and it was wonderful. I can only imagine how crazy good it would be with bacon. You sear the beef and brown the onions in the morning and after 8 hours in the slow-cooker your dinner is ready. It just takes a few minutes to simmer and reduce the juices into gravy. Excellent over mashed potatoes with roasted carrots and a simple spinach salad (as pictured). Leftovers we had Chicago-style, piled high on a bun with giardiniera and sauce on the side for dipping.

Slow-Cooker Maple Dijon Pot Roast

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2- 3 lbs. beef chuck roast
4-5 slices bacon, diced (optional- I used 2 Tbsp. olive oil)
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 1/2- 2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh thyme, for garnish (or a few pinches dried thyme)

for serving: mashed potatoes, creamy grits, egg noodles, or roasted carrots, etc.

DIRECTIONS

1. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.

2. Set a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. If using bacon, add the bacon and cook until some fat starts rendering and it begins to turn golden. Push the bacon to the sides and add the beef. If using oil, heat the oil with the pan before adding the beef. Sear both sides of the beef until golden brown, about 10 minutes per side, and transfer all the meat to the bowl of the slow cooker.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat (if necessary). Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in a few tablespoons of chicken stock and bring to a boil, scraping up any of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the onions and pan juices into the bowl of the slow cooker.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining chicken stock, Dijon, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, paprika, salt, and pepper until combined. Pour the liquid mixture over the roast. Close the lid and cook on LOW heat until the meat falls apart and is meltingly tender, about 8 hours.

5. Transfer the roast to a serving bowl or platter and cover with foil. Pour the cooking liquids into large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the gravy is reduced to desired thickness. (I used a little cornstarch + water to help the gravy thicken.) Cut the roast into chunks and pour hot gravy over the top.

Serves 6-8.

(Adapted from TheKitchn)

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Sausage, Cheese, and Veggie Egg Bake

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I’ve made this versatile breakfast casserole twice now with completely different ingredients and both times it was delicious. The base doesn’t change: eggs, milk, cheese, and veggies. What variety of melty cheese and handful of veggies go in is up to you. You can make it with sausage or ham or no meat at all. I halve the recipe to feed the 3 of us. Leftovers make an amazing breakfast sandwich on a toasted English muffin.

Sausage, Cheese, and Veggie Egg Bake

INGREDIENTS

8 oz. sweet or spicy Italian chicken sausage (or diced ham, etc.)
2 cups mozzarella (or fontina, Cheddar, Montery Jack, etc.), shredded (I used a combo of Swiss and Colby Jack)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup chopped shallots (or green onion)
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 cup diced red bell pepper (or roasted red pepper)
1 1/2 cups chopped veggie (broccoli, spinach, tomato, or zucchini- I used yellow squash)
10 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning (optional, but recommended)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place half of cheese into the baking dish.

2. Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, cook the sausage over medium heat breaking up as it cooks until browned and cooked through. Set aside.

3. Add the oil to the skillet with the shallots/onion and saute several minutes until tender. Add the mushrooms, peppers, and remaining veggies and saute until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Return the sausage, cook 1 minute; mix well and remove from heat. Spread evenly over the cheese mixture.

4. In a large bowl combine the eggs, milk, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and whisk well. Slowly pour over the vegetables in the baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

5. Bake until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let stand several minutes before slicing.

Serves 8.

(Adapted from Skinnytaste)

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Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

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A healthy double chocolate muffin today! I know it sounds unlikely, but these muffins are still light on sugar/fat/calories. They’re made with whole wheat flour (I added flax as usual), cocoa powder, and sweetened with honey and a few mini chocolate chips. The zucchini keeps them extra moist, as does a bit of coconut oil and applesauce. I’ve made half a dozen muffins now from Ambitious Kitchen and loved them all! Check out her site for lots more good-for-you treats.

p.s. High altitude adjustments included below.*

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour (I replaced 2 Tbsp. flour with ground flaxseed)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
1/4- 1/3 cup honey (I used 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular milk)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. Squeeze shredded zucchini of excess water with a paper towel (or just use your hands).

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour (and flaxseed, if using), cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut oil, honey, vanilla, egg and egg white until well combined. Add in zucchini, applesauce, and almond milk; mix again. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

5. Evenly divide batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

*for high altitude: +1 Tbsp. flour, halve baking soda, +1 Tbsp. milk, increase baking temp to 375, and decrease baking time slightly

Makes 12 muffins.

(Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

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Chicken Tikka Naan Pizza

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A quick-simmered Chicken Tikka Masala, spread on naan (or pita) and baked under a layer of mozzarella. Meet Chicken Tikka Pizza. I didn’t doubt this would be amazing. A little strange? Yes, maybe. I like to think of it as BBQ Chicken Pizza with an Indian flare.

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If you’re in a hurry, you could skip the yogurt/garam masala marinade and grill time and just use a rotisserie chicken. With a sauce this flavorful, I doubt you’ll notice a difference. But you can prep the chicken while the sauce is simmering or do both ahead of time. I’ll use fire-roasted tomatoes for extra flavor next time and I found 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper just right for a bit of heat (but nothing Clara couldn’t handle). I usually don’t measure cheese when I’m making pizza because how much cheese you prefer is rather personal. Cooking Light suggests 3/4 cup, which much be a typo or it’s for a single pita. I mean come on, that might be “healthy” but that’s not pizza! Also of note: I stretched this recipe to make six pizzas, and easily. But all will depend on the size of your naan/pita and how saucy you go.

Chicken Tikka Naan Pizza

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt)
2 tsp. garam masala, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained (I used crushed tomatoes- fire roasted recommended for even more flavor)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (more if you like it hot)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream (I used sour cream, yogurt would also work)
6 whole-wheat pitas or naan
thinly sliced red onion
shredded mozzarella cheese
chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS

1. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally (or into several large strips) and season with salt and pepper.  Combine chicken, yogurt, and 1/2 tsp. garam masala. Marinate several minutes (or several hours if you want to prep it head of time) while the grill or oven preheats. Grill or broil chicken until the juices run clear. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. If using diced tomatoes, using a chopper or food processor pulse or blend until almost smooth. Add oil to pan. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tsp. garam masala, ginger, red pepper, and garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; simmer 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 tsp. salt and cream; cook 1 minute. Cut chicken into pieces. Add chicken to pan; toss.

4. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place pitas on baking sheet(s)- this recipe makes enough sauce for approx. six pitas, depending on size and how much sauce you want on each. Spread some of the chicken and sauce onto each pita. Top with onion and cheese. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the pita is crisp on the edges and the cheese is golden and bubbling. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Makes ~6 pita/naan pizzas.

(Adapted from Cooking Light via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

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Cuban Rice with Black Beans

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Here’s the recipe for the Cuban Rice with Black Beans to accompany the Slow-Cooker Cuban Pork I posted last. I prefer this combo of beans and rice to serving them separately. But that’s me. I didn’t strictly follow the directions on this one because it asks you to throw in the whole can of beans- juices and all. To put it politely, my digestive system reacts poorly to beans that aren’t thoroughly rinsed. So I drained and rinsed and then replaced the bean juice with chicken broth in order to keep the liquid ratio the same. The result was still super flavorful and the texture was perfect- the rice just didn’t turn as black. If you want dark rice, don’t drain the beans.

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Cuban Rice with Black Beans

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (I used all red pepper)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice (If you use brown you’ll have to increase the cooking time accordingly)
15 oz. can black beans (Goya recommended- don’t drain, or if you do drain and rinse then replace the drained liquid with chicken broth)
1 1/2 cups water or homemade or low-sodium chicken broth (I used 1 cup broth + 1/2 cup water)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
pinch oregano
salt and pepper, to taste (I used 3/4 tsp. kosher salt)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a heavy medium sized pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion, peppers, and garlic and saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add rice, beans, water, cumin, bay leaf, oregano and salt and pepper. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice absorbs most of the water and just barely skims the top of the rice.

2. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, shut the heat off and let it sit, covered another 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Serves 6.

(Adapted from Skinnytaste)

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