Dinners

Recipe—Crock-Pot Italian Pot Roast and Parmesan Risotto

Italian Pot Roast and Parmesan Risotto

The first time I actually made this recipe was Christmas Eve. Some of you might be thinking, who makes a crock-pot meal on Christmas Eve? The answer is, this lady! Why is it that people feel the need to spend half the day in the kitchen and half their paychecks on holiday dinners? You can have an amazing meal with minimal time in the kitchen and by spending less than $25. Thennnnnnn you can use that money you saved on groceries and buy some nice red wine that will compliment this dinner perfectly.

That Christmas Eve I just wanted to be able to fully relax and enjoy the day with my family. I didn’t want to be in the kitchen for most of the day slaving over the oven. And guess what, this dinner was just as good as many of the dinners I spent the entire day making. And best of all, my family loved it!

The meat had so much flavor and was so juicy! The sauce is a very mild tomato-based sauce that goes so fabulously with the parmesan risotto. This is probably in the top 5 recipes I have ever made. It is so filling and hearty. A perfect comfort meal for the cooler weather. I love that this recipe is “fancy” enough for a special occasion or a holiday but is quick and easy enough that you can pull it off on a Thursday night after a long day of work. Literally an all occasion dinner.

POT ROAST INGREDIENTS
3 lb beef chuck roast
1 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 (.6 oz) package au jus mix
1 (.7 oz) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
2 tsp black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c tomato juice (like V8)

RISOTTO INGREDIENTS
3 tsp olive oil
1 lb arborio rice
6 c chicken broth, room temperature
1 c parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion powder
ground pepper

GARNISH INGREDIENTS
1/2 c parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Spray your crock-pot with cooking spray.
  • Place the pot roast in the crock-pot.
  • In a bowl, whisk together all the remaining pot roast ingredients.
  • Pour the tomato mixture over the top of the roast.
  • Cook on low heat for 8–10 hours, or high heat for 5–6 hours.
  • When the roast is done cooking, transfer it to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Using two forks, shred the roast and place back into the crock-pot.
  • Cover the crock-pot and keep on low.
  • While the meat is soaking in all that yummy sauce, begin to prepare the risotto by putting the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
  • Add the rice and stir to evenly coat the rice with the oil.
  • Cook for about 2–3 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of the broth and simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth has completely reduced and the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes.
  • Repeat the above step incrementally using 1 cup of broth at a time. The gradual addition of broth is key to getting the rice to develop a nice and creamy sauce.
  • Once all the broth is cooked down, stir in the cheese and onion powder and season with pepper.
  • Scoop a large spoonful of risotto into a serving dish and top with the shredded meat, additional parmesan cheese, and some parsley.

 

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken.

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Dinners

Recipe—The Perfect Turkey

To brine or not to brine? That is the ongoing question I have people ask me about cooking a turkey. Well here is your answer, I am a briner. I have prepared turkeys both brined and not. While I am no professional chef I would consider my self very versed in eating. I personally think brined turkeys come out with more flavor and are more moist than that of a turkey that is not brined. Some of you may be asking, “what the heck is brining?”

Brining is the process of soaking your turkey in a salt (and sometimes herb) infused bath for several hours prior to cooking. I find that your bird will be more evenly flavored and it will also be the moistest bird you ever have.

I make an awesome citrus herb rub (see recipe below) for my turkey. It is flavor packed and will make all your dinner guests ohhhh and ahhhh. The orange zest is not overpowering at all. It actually is a really nice complement to all the other flavors of a thanksgiving dinner. Trust me. I know how to make a delicious turkey.

Notes: Do not brine your turkey if it is self basting, pre seasoned, or kosher. If you do not have a pan that is large enough you may use an oversized bowl, ice chest, or even a baking bag tied off. The key is that the bird is completely submerged.

BRINING INGREDIENTS
1 c kosher salt
2 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp pepper
thawed turkey

STEPS FOR BRINING

  • Find a large pot that will hold your turkey making sure you have at least an inch or two of room at the top.
  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in your pot.
  • Add the salt and sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Remove the pan from heat and add in 8 cups of cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper.
  • Place the pot in your sink (this will help in case any liquid overflows).
  • Remove all of the giblets and neck from your turkey and gently lower it into the pot.
  • Cover the pot with a lid or saran wrap.
  • Place the pot in the fridge and marinade for 12–16 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey and pat dry.

TURKEY INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp garlic, minced
2 c Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 oranges, zested and quartered
1 c butter, softened
1 brined turkey

STEPS FOR TURKEY

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a small bowl combine the garlic, parsley, kosher salt, pepper, chili powder, orange zest, and butter and mix until well combined.
  • Starting from the neck of the turkey, carefully separate the skin from the breast meat with your fingers.
  • Push about half of the herbed butter mixture under the skin and spread it out evenly. (Don’t be afraid really get it all over in there! The butter will melt and all those yummy flavors will just seep into the meat.)
  • Use the other half of the mixture to evenly cover the top and sides of the turkey.
  • Place the orange quarters inside the turkey’s cavity.
  • Place the seasoned turkey in a roasting pan and loosely cover with foil.
  • Roast the turkey for 20–23 minutes per pound and baste every 45 minutes. (Note: If you are running out of juices in the pan just add some chicken broth or cubes of butter.)
  • Remove the foil for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
  • When the temperature in the meatiest part of the turkey reaches 165º remove it from oven and allow it to rest for 25–30 minutes.
  • Carve and gobble up.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

Side Dishes

Recipe—Cheesy Mac Attack A.K.A. Macaroni N’ Cheese

When I think classic comfort food, I think of macaroni n’ cheese. Not the orange powdery stuff in a box that one might consider to be cheese, I’m talkin’ the real deal here. I’m talkin’ down right delicious oven baked mac n’ cheese that has a perfectly crunchy topping covering ooey gooey cheesy noodle goodness. If you are on a diet, do yourself a favor and don’t make this! You will not have the self-control to only eat one bite let alone resist it. Once you try this macaroni n’ cheese you will never need or want another recipe ever again. It is so good! It has now even become a regular item at our holiday dinners so keep it in mind come the holidays. I hope you and your family enjoy this favorite recipe of mine.

Note: I will warn you, this makes A LOT of ridiculously divine macaroni n’ cheese. It’s not a bad thing, just be warned! I actually follow the recipe and then split it into two 9”x 9” dishes and freeze one since it freezes great! The disposable foil containers you get at the grocery store are perfect for this and I love that they fit in the seal o’ meal bags allowing them to last well over 6 months in the freezer, not that it will last that long, but it could.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb pasta of choice (I like rotini because the cheese sticks to it really well)
2 c small curd cottage cheese
1 c sour cream
2 eggs
1 c Swiss cheese, shredded
3 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c bread crumbs (I like crushed croutons)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta noodles al dente according to package instructions.
  • While pasta is cooking combine cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, cheeses, and seasonings in a large bowl.
  • When your pasta is done cooking add it to the cheesy mixture and stir well.
  • Place macaroni n’ cheese in a 9” x 13” baking dish, or two 9” x 9” dishes if you wish to freeze one for later.
  • Top with breadcrumbs.
  • Place in oven and bake for 25–30 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly browned on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. (Good luck waiting that long!)