Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pot Roast

It's snowing. It's cold (it's only 15 degrees), and I'm sick of cooking, but don't really want to go out. Time to re-discover the good old Crock Pot!! I had a craving for beef and so made this pot roast, which I think turned out really well. Here's the recipe for my future memory and for you to try! 

Pot Roast 


1.5-2 lbs of brisket, trimmed of fat 
1 onion, cut into chunks
2-3 cups of beef broth (enough to cover the meat but not to fill the whole crock pot)
3 Tablespoons olive oil 
3 bay leafs (leaves?)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or thyme)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon salt (if beef broth not too salty) - more to taste if needed, esp at the end with the gravy
pepper, to taste 
2-3 parsnips cut into french-fry type shapes
2-3 carrots cut into french-fry type shapes 
1/4 cup flour & 1/4 cup water, mixed into thickish paste

Mashed potatoes to your liking if you want. 

1. Get out your crock pot and make sure it's not dusty. 

2. Trim any fat off of the brisket. In a large flat-bottomed pan / skillet, heat the oil until just before its smoking point. Add the brisket and quickly brown on each side (max 1 minute each side). Take the brisket off of the pan and put it into the crock pot. (Don't transfer any excess oil).  

3. Put the rest of the ingredients except the parsnips and carrots into the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

4. 1-2 hours before dinner, put in the parsnips and carrots and cook for 1-2 hours. (Start the mashed potatoes soon if you want them). 

5. Take out the brisket and place on a cutting board and allow to rest for a bit. Then, cut against the grain into strips for eating. 

6. Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon and place them in a pan. 

7. Transfer the juice from the crockpot into a pot. When boiling, add the flour-water mixture and whisk until thick like a gravy. You may need to add more flour-water mixture or cornstarch-water mixture to get to the gravy consistency. There is no exact science. 

8. Serve the brisket and veggies topped with gravy and mashed potatoes on the side. Mmm. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Miso, Ginger, and Pine Nut Dressing

My husband again has managed to make something delicious that I must document in an attempt to replicate on my own. Here is his dressing: 


2 cloves garlic 
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder 
2 Tablespoons yellow miso 
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (dark)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons water 
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice 
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili oil 
2 Tablespoons pine nuts 
1 green onion


1. Put into a blender, mix with an emersion blender, or whisk well together in a bowl. Serve over lettuce, other salad, or as a marinade / finishing sauce for chicken or fish. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes

I am in love with my husband's cauliflower curry. He always makes it perfectly. I'm copying his recipe here so that hopefully I can make it on my own in the future. 


1 onion, chopped small 
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into approximately 1/2-inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 medium potatoes, diced small
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup of frozen peas 
1/4 cup coconut oil 
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons curry powder 
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon asafetida
1/2 teaspoon mango powder (optional)
2 teaspoons black cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 1/2 teaspoon salt 


1. Add one-third of the coconut oil to a large sauce-type pan. Raise heat to medium-high. Add cumin seed and mustard seed for 1 minute, until the seeds start to pop some but do not burn. Then, add onion. Saute until the onion begins to caramelized, approximately 5 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and set aside. 

2. Place one-third more of the coconut oil into the pan. Add the cauliflower, tumeric, 1 teaspoon salt, and saute for approximately 7 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally. Stir in the potatoes. Continue to saute for 10-15 more, until the potatoes are soft, stirring regularly with a scraper, to get the little bits off of the bottom of the pan. You do not want to add water. When potatoes are tender enough to eat, add remaining ingredients and the onion mixture. Cook until the tomatoes begin to fall apart. 

3. Serve on its own or over rice. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Roasted Chicken Tacos with Mexican Gravy

This weekend, the hubs decided that he was going to buy more tomatoes (because canning 120 pounds of them wasn't enough) in order to try making his own salsa for the first time. It went well, although I think next year we will be making some changes to the recipe. In any event, we wanted to make a dinner dish in order to highlight the salsa and settled on trying to replicate our favorite Mexican restaurant's chicken that they put into their tamales, tacos, enchiladas, etc. The chicken is always so moist, and their seasoning of it is perfect. We obviously don't know the secrets to their sauces and seasoning, but the hubs is pretty good spices and came up with this close - and delicious - mix. We particularly like roasting whole chickens as you tend to get more meat, the price per pound is cheaper, and the meat stays juicier. This also allows you to keep all the juices to make gravy or other sauces with, which is an added bonus. We will definitely keep this method of making taco meat in our recipe-box, and hopefully will branch out from tacos to other entrees to highlight the meat in the future. 


Roasted Chicken Tacos with Mexican Gravy


For the spice mixture:

2 Tablespoons chili powder 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon onion powder 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon cumin 
1 teaspoon celery seed 
2 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons black pepper 

For the chicken:

1 whole chicken (4 pounds about), fresh or thawed 
1/4 cup of canola or grapeseed oil
2 1/2 cup water 

thickening agent (flour, potato starch, corn starch)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees 
2. Loosen the skin of the chicken with the back of a wooden spoon. Smear 1/4 cup of canola or grapeseed oil under and on top of the skin. Take 1/2 of the spice mixture and rub it under and on top of the skin.
3. Place the spiced-up chicken in a dutch oven and pour water into the base so that there is about an inch of water under the bird. Cover the dutch oven with a lid and close the oven door (you want to steam cook the bird). 
4. Bake for about  hour 15 minutes (or per the directions with the bird) or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165. Would recommend flipping the bird half way through the cooking process. 
5. Take the chicken out of the oven when done. Remove the chicken from the dutch oven, draining any liquid from the cavity of the chicken back into the dutch oven. (Save this liquid for below. Do not discard.) Place the chicken on a plate, cooling rack, or bowl and allow it to cool some until it's at a comfortable enough temperature for you to start to remove the meat from the chicken with your hands. 
6. When it is cool enough, remove the skin from the bird and then use your hands to remove the pieces of the meat from all parts of the bird and place it in a separate bowl. Shred any larger pieces of meat with two forks. 
7. Toss the newly shredded meat with the remaining spice seasoning. 
8. Place the dutch oven with the seasoned drippings from the bird on the stovetop. Turn the heat to medium-high, and allow it to come to a soft boil. Once boiling, whisk in your choice of thickening agent (we use Egg-replacer, which is a potato starch and tapioca start based thickener, but you could also use either potato starch, corn starch, or about 1/4-1/3 cup flour mixed with 1/4-1/3 cup water). Whisk this until the gravy is thickened. Don't worry about bits of chicken in the gravy (yum!). Salt to taste. 
9. Assemble your tacos with your choice of sides:  Guacamole, salsa, onions, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce (or other greens), and/or sour cream. Use the gravy inside the tacos or drizzled over multiple tacos for presentation. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wild Rice Salad

Several months ago the hubs and I went to a local museum, where they were highlighting a chef who works for a neighborhood food kitchen. He has brought nutricious, delicious, and free (!) lunches to an area of town that was a healthy food desert. He made this salad to highlight our local Minnesota wild rice, which was so delicious. 

There are many types of wild rice that are commercially available, but we have found that the rice harvested by hand from the northern river beds of Minnesota is the best. Many of the local native tribes are active in the harvest and selling of the rice, which is fun. The native rice cooks the fastest and has the best flavor. We really fell in love with this salad and now make it - and versions of it - frequently at home. Enjoy! 

(Minnesota) Wild Rice Salad


1.5 cups wild rice 
4 cups water 
(1 broth cube)
1 carrot 
1 onion 
3 large swiss chard leaves (or spinach)
1/3 cup chopped mixed nuts (preferably walnuts, almonds, or pecans)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/4 cup raisins, dried cherries, or other fruit


1 cup cilanto (1/2 bunch)
1/2 cup olive oil 
3 Tablespoons champagne vinegar 
3 cloves garlic 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 Tablespoon agave syrup (or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon mustard (stone ground)


1.) 2-3 hours ahead of time, cook the rice in the water with a broth cube (optional). To do this, bring the rice, water, and broth cube to a boil in a large sized pan. Once it comes to a boil, turn down and cover. Cook on low until the rice is fluffy and soft (how long depends on the rice). Drain any extra water. Place the rice in a medium sized bowl and allow it to sit at room temperature until it's completely cooled. Then, fluff. We have found that putting it in the fridge works against the consistency of the rice and instead we just let it cool to room temperature on the counter. 
2.) 30 minutes or so before wanting to serve the dish, Chop the onion into 1 centimeter pieces. Place some canola or olive oil in a saute pan and over low-to-medium heat, sautee the onions until they are soft, brown, and somewhat sweet. Then, place them aside. Grate/shave the carrot into small pieces. Roll the swiss chard leaves length-wise into a little tube and chop/slice the tube into little strips (chiffonade-style). Chop the nuts. 
3.) Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a bowl and then mixing with an electric mixer or - even better - an immersion blender until a dressing is made. The most important part of the dressing is keeping the oil to vinegar ratio 3:1 and putting in mustard to help as an emulsifyer. The other ingredients can be played with as you like. 
4.) Assemble the salad by combining the rice, veggies, dried fruit, and nuts. Pour over the dressing and stir all together.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Rhubarb is something new that I've gotten into since moving to Minnesota. I'm not sure why I never tried it before, but I think it was people constantly saying how sour it was. My mother-in-law made some great dishes, however, so this year when the rhubarb was ripe behind our our 'country' house, Chris picked some for me to experiment with. For my first baking experiment with rhubarb, I wanted something that was a classic, and what's more classic than strawberry-rhubarb pie? Unfortunately, pie is not totally my thing. I don't have the knack for the crust like my Aunt Lori does, and I don't have the talent at lattice work like my mother-in-law. Luckily, though, I came across this recipe by Joy the Baker, and was brave enough to try it. The crust (amazingly!) turned out really flaky and the filling was sweet but not overpowering. Plus, who doesn't love a great oaty crumble on top? (I particularly liked it because it saved me from having to roll out a top!) I decided to bring the finished product into work with me, and let's just say, it was gone by lunchtime. So, if you have some time on an afternoon to bake and putter, then give this recipe a try!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Adapted slightly from Joy the Baker 


For the Crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounce) COLD unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
juice of 1/3 lemon
1/4 cup milk 

For the Filling:
3 cups rhubarb sliced into 0.5cm chunk (sorry, we measure skin lesions in millimeters, so that's what I'm used to....) 
1 pound (1 box) strawberries with the green part cut off and then cut in half
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
large pinch of salt 
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
large pinch of salt 
large pinch of cinnamon 
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks


Make the crust:
1.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and either using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are the size of small peas or oat flakes. Pour in the lemon and the milk and use your hands or a fork to bring together coarsely. Don't over do it. You're not kneading dough here. Just try to moisten all of the flour bits. 
2.) Flour a work-surface and dump the pie crust mixture onto the work surface, shape it into a small disk (can be quite coarse), and then wrap that in plastic wrap and put into the fridge for 1 hour. 
3.) When ready, roll out the pie crust on a well floured surface until it's about 1/8 inch thick and 12 inches across. Transfer to a pie plate. Trim the edges and fold with your fingers to make a pretty design. Place in the fridge. 

Make the Filling:
4.) In a medium bowl, toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, cornstarch, lemon, and salt. Mix until all the fruit/rhubarb is covered with the sugars and cornstarch. Allow to rest as you make the crumble topping. 

Make the Topping:
5.) In another bowl, mix together the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the cold butter chunks and work them into the flour mixture by hand until the butter is the size of peas. 

Assemble the Pie:
6.) Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
7.) Remove the pie crust from the fridge.
8.) Take a big handful of the topping mixture and put it into the fruit mixture. Stir. 
9.) Pour the fruit mixture into the pie crust. Sprinkle the crumble evenly on top of the fruit mixture. 
10.) Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place it on the bottom rack of the oven (this will catch any drippings and prevent them from burning and stinking up your oven). Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven (v. important that it's the middle rack). 
11.) Bake the pie at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 35-40 minutes longer, or until the pie is juicy, bubbling, and golden brown. 
12.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before serving. This will help congeal the juices and allow them to mellow. 
13.) Serve with vanilla ice cream or store in the fridge. 

This will seriously make your house smell wonderful. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Homemade Pasta

Maybe the cooking / baking slump is over? Today, I decided for Sunday dinner (by myself since the hubs is up camping with his high school friends) to make pasta from scratch. I had tried in the past to make pasta and always horribly failed or never got it thin enough. Then last year, one of my co-interns, Dr. Erin, kindly invited me over to her house and went through the ins and outs of how to make a great pasta. It took me a little time to get down all the steps again, but once I got my muscle memory going, the pasta turned out great. It's actually quite easy and doesn't take that long once you get the hang of it. The results are so worth it. Homemade pasta tastes so much better than the boxed stuff. Plus, you can throw in any herb or even finely chopped sundried tomatoes to make an exquisite dish. Here's the recipe and the steps: 

Homemade Pasta (basic)


4 eggs 
4 cups of all-purpose flour 
4-6 Tablespoons of water. 


1. Place all ingredients into a bowl or mixer affixed with a dough hook and mix until the ingredients just start to come together into little clumps. It should be VERY crumbly. 

2. Take a about a baseball sized amount of crumbly dough and pack it together into a little flat-topped mound:

3. Squish this mound through your dough machine at the widest setting (mine is 7). It should come out like a really coarse, fat piece of pasta dough:

3. Fold this piece of dough into halves or thirds to make another little packet of dough:

Run this through the pasta machine at the same wide setting. 

4. Now you should have a smoother, but still thick piece of pasta dough. If you don't, keep folding and running the packet through the dough machine at the widest setting until there are no "runs" or other major imperfections in the dough. (It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, but shouldn't have any holes, etc.) It should look something like this: 

5. Now, once you have a piece of pasta like this, you WILL NOT fold it any more before putting it through the pasta maker. You'll just put one end in and glide it through. So, put the pasta through the maker, again (one more time) on the widest setting to smoothen it out. Then, adjust the setting to the next narrowest and run the pasta through end-to-end (no folding). Keep doing this with one or two passes per each narrowing of settings until you get down a thickeness that you like. (I don't like to use the smallest setting. I usually stop a little before that). It often helps to have two sets of hands helping as the pasta sheet gets longer:  One to crank the machine and one to feed the dough / catch the dough on the other end to ensure that it goes through smoothly. Eventually, you will end up with a REALLY long piece of thin perfect pasta dough! 

6. Now, you can use this piece of pasta to make raviloli or lasagna, or you can run it through the "chopper" part of the pasta maker and make it into strands of spaghetti or linguine. 

7. Once you have your pasta, cut it to the desired length and either boil it right away for 3-4 minutes or hang it on hangers to dry and then store in the fridge for another day.