Sunday, January 31, 2010

Crock Pot Pot Roast


Right now, everyone seems to be getting snow but us poor Charleston kids.  I've been waiting for a good comfort food type-day to post this recipe, and I think the time has finally come. Plus, my sister is whining for me to post again.  Which I understand, because I get sad when my favorite bloggers (see left sidebar) wait more than a few days between posts.

So, pot roast it is.  This is a great, easy, ridiculously cheap recipe that takes very little effort.  One of my mother's.  To make this, I woke up before working a morning shift, seared the beef, threw it in the crockpot.  9 hours later, voila!

I used a 3-ish pound bottom round roast, but really, you could use any cheap, large, tough cut of beef.  I tend to buy different cuts when they are on sale at the grocery store and freeze them for later.  This roast was like $6 or $7, a serious bargain.  Obviously, you can adjust the recipe to make it the kitchen sink type- that's definitely what I did. So, here is what I ended up using:

Crock Pot Pot Roast

3 to 4 pound cut of beef, such as bottom round roast or chuck roast
flour, for dredging
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
several cloves chopped garlic
3 bay leaves
herbs to taste (I used a good amount of crushed red pepper, dried oregano, and a few sprigs fresh rosemary)

Dredge pot roast with flour and sear in hot oil in heavy frying pan.

Place in crock pot with remaining ingredients. 

Yes, there is actually beef under there!

Cook on low at least 8 hours.  I cooked mine 9, but I don't think it would have hurt to have left it on a couple more hours.  

smells so good!

In the last 15 minutes, remove meat.  Mix 1/2 cup of pot juices with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.  Add to pot.  Cook on high, and stir until thickened.


I served this with some delicious rosemary mashed potatoes and some green beans sauteed with bacon.  Don't think I've mentioned this yet, but rosemary is my favorite herb for wintertime.  

This made SO many servings! I ate this for like 3 days straight.  Even after all the meat was gone, there was still a ton of hearty, meaty tomato gravy.  So, I decided to serve it on top of some pasta.  Finish with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese, and you have another meal! 


Cheap, cheap, cheap. College kids, I'm talking to you! Impress your friends and cook dinner one night.  Everyone will go home happy and stuffed.

Ya'll say hi to the snow for me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Culinary School Update: Knife Skills & a Delicious Breakfast

Today we went over basic knife skills in Food Production class.  Aren't you proud of me for bringing my camera, charged and ready to go?  The top row is potatoes; from left to right are Brunoise, Julienne, and Batonette (french fry cut).  Bottom row I have carrots, both Brunoise and Julienne, and fine minced garlic.  

I've been trying to work on my knife skills at home for a while now.  I've been small dicing everything I can get away with.  Overall, a pretty easy, fun day at school.


Yesterday, I made a rather indulgent breakfast for Brandon and myself: steak and eggs!  I had one lonely New York strip tucked away in the freezer, left over from some steak night dinner, which I tried to Pittsburgh because its Brandon's favorite way to eat steak.  I think I'm slowly mastering the art of Pittsburgh-ing steak, if I may say so myself :)

I made a cheesy potato hash with the Simply Potato pre-shredded stuff (hey, it was a workday people) and some frozen peas (getting down to the nitty-gritty, grocery-wise).  I would have felt guilty if I hadn't incorporated some sort of veggie!  An over-easy egg finishes if off!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Culinary School Update: Dinner Rolls, Whole Wheat Bread, & an Easy Weeknight Dinner

This week I was determined to be overly prepared for my baking class.  I did not indulge in one single drink before bed, and checked my alarm at least 3 times so as not to repeat last week's oversleeping incident.  FYI, 7:30 a.m. is very early for us Food & Bev kids. Plus, this campus is a solid 20 minutes away, so this is not like CofC where I could roll out of bed and stumble to class in my jammies.  Not that I ever did that...

The last thing I did before I went to bed last night was check my camera battery to make sure it was charged (which it was).  

At 5:30 this morning, I woke up anxiously and well before my alarm clock, deathly afraid of oversleeping.  Three cups of coffee and several hours later I found myself taking my first batch of yeast rolls out of the extra-industrial-sized classroom oven.  I rummaged around in my pocketbook for a fairly ridiculous amount of time before I finally accepted, with disbelief, that I left my camera at home.  Thankfully, again, this week's baking lesson produced results that were small enough to take home in a paper bag.  I need to get this routine figured out before we start getting into the larger, less portable goods.  Geez Dani, get it together and bring the camera, charged and ready, to class!  On time!

All griping aside, don't you especially like my double-knot technique on the white rolls? I was proud of myself. I've always been pretty intimidated by bread.  Can't really say I've ever made any kind of  yeast bread at all.

Side note - no cooking class this week because of MLK Jr. Day.  Remember, cooking class on Mondays, baking class on Wednesdays.  Once I actually start getting involved in cooking class I will start keeping you posted on it as well. 


I thought I would also include a random photo of a dinner Brandon and I enjoyed this week.  I was craving fish, so we stopped by Crosby's Seafood and picked up some really pretty local red snapper.  Diced and blanched some carrots and broccoli I had laying around.  Threw them in a saute pan with a chopped onion, thawed frozen peas, butter, mint, and parsley.  Cooked some wild rice with chicken stock.  And finally, seared the snapper, skin-on, and made a very easy parsley lemon butter sauce in the same pan.  

Easy, easy dinner, and all we paid for was the fish and a cheap white burgundy to go with it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daring Cooks January Challenge: Satays!


This challenge was hosted by Cuppy from Cuppylicious, and it was actually really fun to plan out.  I decided to make 2 different marinades, one for beef and one for chicken, and 2 different dipping sauces.  I marinated the beef in the Daring Cooks' recommended recipe, and for the chicken I decided on a coconut curry inspired marinade.  I made the peanut sauce posted on Daring Cooks, and decided on an herbed cucumber Raita-style sauce as well.  I know I kind of blended Thai and Indian flavors, but the recipes seemed really tasty, and well, I can do what I want!

So, here are the recipes:

Beef Satay Marinade 
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tablespoons ginger root, finely diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
I chose to use a top sirlion steak- it was much cheaper than even a flank steak or a skirt steak

Mix ingredients well.  Cut beef into 1 inch strips, against the grain.  Cover and chill.

Chicken Satay Marinade
Adapted from 

1/2 cup coconut milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded, and cut into 1 inch strips

Mix marinade until brown sugar has dissolved.  Toss marinade with the chicken, cover and chill.

Herbed Cucumber Raita
I looked at several different Raita/chutney recipes, and kind of took elements from all of them to make this sauce.

10 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup minced mint leaves
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder 
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoons cumin 
salt and pepper to taste
pinch paprika

Blend all ingredients, and adjust components to your liking.  Chill.  Before serving, sprinkle with paprika.


Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons peanut b utter
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 dried chilies, finely chopped
Sriracha to taste

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, and mix well.  

Just before you are getting ready to serve, combine coconut milk, peanut butter, and your soy-lemon-seasoning in a small pan.  Warm over low heat, stirring well.  Add Sriracha to adjust heat. 

Cooking Instructions

Just before you're ready to cook the satays, soak your wooden skewers in warm water for 20 minutes.  This keeps them from catching on fire.  Thread the meat onto the skewers, accordian-style.

You choose whether to grill or broil them.  I used a grill-pan because I don't have an outdoor grill.  Cook over medium-high heat until done.

I served mine with some simply steamed baby bok choy and jasmine rice with coconut milk.  Both sauces were good, but I loved the cucumber Raita.  It had a nice cooling effect against the heat of the satays.  These were pretty easy to make, but there was a lot of prep involved.  They would be a good weeknight recipe if you had the forethought to get the marinade going before work.  Overall, this was a fun, tasty, and slightly unusual dinner!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Culinary School Update: Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins & My First Week!


Check out the sour cream blueberry muffins I made today in baking class!  They actually turned out really well - muffins aren't usually my thing, but these were so light and fluffy!  I had mine with a tall glass of milk :)

This semester, I have Principles of Food Production on Mondays, and Bakeshop Production on Wednesdays.  Monday we didn't do too much- it was your typical first day introduction and orientation stuff.  Today we still had a bunch of housekeeping things to go over, but we did at least have time to make these muffins.  Everyone else put chocolate chips in theirs, but I was a little hungover, er, under-the-weather, so chocolate wasn't really working for me. I was going to just leave mine plain sour cream, but the chef asked if I would prefer to use blueberries. Which, I do, always, or at least when it comes to muffins.

I brought my camera to class, but the battery died as soon as I turned it on. At least Chef Vagasky let us take some muffins home so I could snap this shot.  I'm going to try to keep up with the things I'm doing in class so I can show it to you guys.  I can't promise I won't fall behind, but the goal at least is to post the pictures of what I make in class on a regular basis.  We'll see how it goes!

Don't forget to log on tomorrow to check out my second Daring Cooks challenge!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shrimp Scampi

I start culinary school tomorrow!  I'm really excited.  I'm taking Principles of Food Production and Bakeshop Production, and online I'm taking Nutrition, Safety and Sanitation, and Intro to Baking Science.  So, a pretty basic first semester. I'll keep you posted on how classes go.

I chose to make this shrimp scampi the other night because its easy and delicious. A good school-night recipe, perhaps :)  This is adapted from one of my mom's recipes:

Shrimp Scampi

2 pounds fresh jumbo shrimp
1 medium onion, finely chopped
7 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter
zest and juice from one lemon
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon steak sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1 pound hot cooked fettuccine
chopped fresh parsley, about 1/4 cup

Peel and devein shrimp.  Melt butter in large skillet.  Add onion and garlic, and saute over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes.

Add lemon juice, zest and next 5 ingredients.  Adjust flavors to your liking.  Bring to a boil; add shrimp.

Cook shrimp, stirring constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.  

Season with salt and pepper and adjust lemon juice if desired.  Add parsley.  Toss with cooked fettuccine.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hearty Breakfast Oatmeal

So, I'm still sick. And my tooth is still kind of bothering me, so I've been brainstorming on hearty, easy to eat, feel-better foods to make myself.  When I thought of oatmeal! Not the cinnamon & brown sugar variety that comes in a packet (which does have a place in my heart), but the real stuff, the kind that takes a little patience to make.  

I went as far as to go to the store just to get said real stuff, along with some blueberries and cream (antioxidants!).  As far as anyone in the Craig family is concerned, there is only one brand to get.

While Mom typically does most of the cooking, Dad always seems to make the oatmeal.  And he only buys this kind.  Its a little more expensive, but I was okay with a splurge.

Looks a bit like hamster food

So, its pretty easy to make, but like good grits, it takes a little time.  Stir one cup oatmeal into four cups briskly boiling water.  Stir well.

Be patient...

When the oatmeal begins to thicken, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

That's more like it

About 10 minutes before the oatmeal is finished cooking, I like to add a touch of heavy cream and a pat of butter.  Stir well, and add water if you feel like its getting too thick.

That's about it! Everyone likes to eat theirs differently. First, I added some honey.

Brown sugar is nice too

Then, lots of blueberries and a little cream floated on top!

And there you have it! Brandon was gearing up to watch his Gamecocks play, so he ate his like a true Irishman, with a dark porter in hand. I kid you not.  As for me, hot tea is all I'm drinking these days. Sigh.