Friday, September 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Beer-Braised Pot Roast with Vegetables

I was talking to my co-worker Colleen and she was raving about her dinner she had prepared the evening before- a beer-braised pot roast. Beer in pot roast? I've made several different pot roast recipes, but never tried one with beer in it. I quickly adjusted my weekly meal plan to include this dish.

She explained to me how she made it and replicated it at home. The pot roast turned out flavorful and fork tender. You could definitely taste a bit of the stout beer which I really liked, and it is a nice change from the usual cream of mushroom and onion soup mix version. It doesn't replace my favorite pot roast recipe but it's definitely worth sharing with others.


  1. Trim roast of excess fat and silver skin. (Since you're braising this, you won't need or miss the fat.)
  2. Rub the Italian salad dressing mix into both sides of the roast well.
  3. Using a crockpot liner, line your crockpot. Place your seasoned roast on the bottom.
  4. Add the chopped vegetables, and sprinkle the Garlic & Herb seasoning packet.
  5. Pour the bottle of beer on top, and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours.
We like to pair pot roasts with our Garlic Cheese Biscuits or pour it over cooked rice and sprinkle some sharp Cheddar Cheese. 

Source: Co-worker Colleen

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Corn & Kielbasa Chowder

Photo courtesy of Rachael Ray Magazine
I had read so many good blogger reviews on this, and finally remembered to make this on a cool, crisp fall evening. I love Rachael's recipes since she gears her recipes for "30 minutes" (ha)- they usually take me more time- and his one truly was only 30 minutes to make. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal!

  • 8-oz kielbasa, halved length-wise and thinly sliced (I used 14-oz turkey kielbasa)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 14.5-oz chicken broth
  • 1 large baking potato (about 12-oz), peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 lb (16-oz) bag frozen corn, thawed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped fresh dill, for garnish (I used dried dill weed)
1. Heat a deep skillet or a wide 4- to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add the onions and butter to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. 
3. Add the broth and potato and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes. 
4. Add the half-and-half and corn and cook, stirring, until heated through.
5. Using a blender or food processor, puree 2 cups chowder until smooth. Stir the puree back into the chowder along with the browned kielbasa and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
6. Top with the dill.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

Slow Cooker 3-Ingredient Soft Chicken Tacos

I don't know why I associate my slow cooker for cooler weather, but I do. I keep the slow cooker in my cabinet year-round (taking up valuable cabinet space), but it just never seems to come out during the warm summer months. We enjoy hot meals every day regardless of season but for some reason, crockpot meals only come out when the leaves turn orange, the air turns brisk, and cooler temperatures start settling in. We had a cool flow coming in this week, and with working out after work, crockpot meals are the my go-to cooking method.

I love its "I'll work while you work" mentality (who doesn't love coming home to a savory aroma in the kitchen and a meal ready and awaiting?), but finding good recipes a challenge. They include a lot of pre-packaged ingredients (I fall victim to the occasional cream of... soups, I admit) and I like to be able to control what goes into my meals. I saw this recipe and thought- healthy, light, and filling. Darin loves Mexican food so I thought it wouldn't hurt to try.

Lucky for us, the chicken cooked up tender and moist, and shredding was a breeze. We just customized our soft tacos with our toppings of choice and it took 10 minutes from kitchen to table. This is what a call an easy (and healthy) weeknight meal.


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (I use 3 Tbsp of my homemade version)
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes (or 16-oz of your favorite salsa)
  • (12) 6" white corn tortillas
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese
  • Low-fat sour cream (optional)
  1. Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker liner
  2. Arrange the chicken at the bottom of your slow cooker.
  3. Sprinkle the packet of taco seasoning.
  4. Dump your tomatoes (juice included) or salsa.
  5. Cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or high 4-5 hours).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Double Lemon Chicken with Tomato Basil Salsa

Every Saturday, I spend a few hours meal planning for the following week. On a normal week (with nothing going on during the week), I will usually plan 4-5 meals knowing that we'll have leftovers one night and go out 1 or 2 nights during the week. Sometimes, I'll find so many recipes I need to try right now so I schedule 6 meals for the week. Nonetheless, as life has it, I always tend to have rollovers (as I call it) for recipes that didn't get worked into the week and thus get rolled over to the following week.
This recipe has been one of them. I just don't know why- The ingredients are straightforward. I have everything always stocked in my pantry except for 1 ingredient (lemon). It's cost effective. It's light. The recipe isn't complicated. But for some reason, I just always tended to skip over this recipe and decide to make something else.
Mmm, perfect crusted and sauteed

Even when I made this over the weekend, it was Sunday and I told Darin- "I just don't want to make this recipe." Sigh. But it was getting to be around 7:30pm and we were getting hungry. Darin, so kindly, offered to cook it for me, but he was still sick and battling bad head congestion, stuffy nose, tiredness- he was in no shape to cook. So I wearily headed towards the kitchen and started cooking.

The end result? Nothing I was expecting. Even though the recipe was straightforward (make salsa, bread chicken, fry chicken, done), I could have kicked myself for almost not making it at all. I loved the coarse breading from the panko breadcrumbs with the slight hint of lemon, and the tomato basil salsa was fantastic. The meal was very light, crisp, and fresh.

For the Tomato Basil Salsa
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
10 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
4-5 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • Pinch of salt

  • Pinch of pepper
For the Lemon Chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (1 medium lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast fillets, pounded until 1/2 inch thick

  • Olive oil for cooking
1-2 lemons, halved
  1. To make the salsa, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the chicken, combine the bread crumbs and lemon zest on a flat dinner plate. Using a fork, mix together until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pat chicken breasts dry. Season well with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge each fillet in the bread crumb mixture, making sure to coat both sides. (I patted the crumbs on to the chicken a couple of times to make sure the coat was even.) 
  4. Put the breaded chicken in the fridge for about 5 minutes on a baking sheet. (I found this helps keep the breading from coming off.)
  5. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, using just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken fillets in batches and fry until golden brown and cooked through. (I fried two pieces at a time, then after each set of chicken I cleaned out the old oil and added new oil to coat the pan. I kept the cooked chicken in a warm oven while finishing the last two pieces.)
  6. Squeeze generous amounts of lemon juice over each piece. Serve topped with the tomato basil salsa.
 Source: Originally from Anne Getty's Easy Green Organic, as seen on Gourmet: Day To Day

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