Beef Burgundy, Crockpot Style


This was another hit from the Cooking Light Slow Cooker cookbook. I have made this dish twice now in a very short amount of time, and both Nick and I really enjoy it. The meat becomes very tender and the sauce is extremely flavorful. Nick’s favorite parts are the whole pearl onions and mushrooms – they both cook down and really taste wonderful. And I’m totally sold on using my crock pot – it’s so nice to spend a little time early in the day and have dinner done and waiting for you when you’re ready to sit down and eat!

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Pot Roast in the Crock Pot


I absolutely adore my crock pot. I love being able to devote a small amount of time in the morning in order to have a hot, hearty, and delicious meal done and waiting for us when we’re ready to sit down and eat. It’s genius, really. That being said, I don’t use it nearly enough. Last Christmas my cousin bought me the Cooking Light Slow Cooker cookbook for our gift exchange, and it’s full of amazing recipes. I have finally begun to try to get the most out of it and try some new recipes. I can’t say enough good things about this cookbook – there hasn’t been one thing that I’ve tried that we haven’t loved. And I couldn’t have picked a better day to test out this pot roast, because it was the day that our wonderful March Blizzard started. We were stuck in the house and it was such a wonderfully hearty and cozy meal. Perfect for a day like that!

I got a late start on getting this into the crock pot and as a result, it ended up cooking for 8 hours instead of 10, but it was still fabulously tender and falling apart. All of the vegetables were cooked to perfection – soft, and incredibly tasty. At first I found it odd that the meat was to marinade in soy sauce, as I was skeptical of an Asian pot roast, but you couldn’t even taste the soy sauce in the finished product. I also didn’t use dried mushrooms, but instead threw some creminis in with the rest of the raw vegetables and simply combined the beef broth with reserved marinade and tomato paste. We both agreed that this was absolutely a recipe to keep and add into our regular rotation.

Lis over at La Mia Cucina is hosting this month’s Weekend Cookbook Challenge, and has chosen the theme of Crock Pots, Dutch Ovens, and Pressure Cookers. I couldn’t think of a better dish to enter into this blogging event! So go on and dig through your cookbooks and find a recipe that uses one of these great inventions, and shoot it over to Lis! Goodbye winter! Ta Ta!


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Spaghetti & Meatballs


The ultimate in Italian comfort food.

Growing up, our extended family would gather at my Grandma’s every Sunday for the traditional Sunday dinner (which, in contrast to common nomenclature, is actually eaten by Italians at what is typically lunchtime). While there was always some type of meat on the table, some potatoes and vegetables, the star of dinner was always pasta. It may have been ravioli, gnocchi, manicotti, lasagna, spaghetti (all homemade, of course), or some other variation of pasta, but without a doubt, you could always count on a great pasta dish. Forty miles south, Nick was growing up in an equally Italian household, with the tradition of spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday. So what else would naturally occur when we’d get married and move two hours away from our families than our own tradition of pasta each Sunday? In our house it usually takes the form of spaghetti and meatballs, accompanied by homemade marinara sauce. It feels warm, comfortable, cozy, and just like home to us. And for that reason I am submitting my spaghetti and meatballs into What’s For Lunch Honey’s Monthly Mingle Comfort Foods blog event.


Meeta asked fellow bloggers to celebrate the foods that pick us up when we are down, warms us when we are feeling lost, and blurs out the bad mood. This is what spaghetti and meatballs represent in our house… the warmth of family, memories of childhood, and a connection to our heritage.

I hope you enjoy these simple and classic recipes – the meatballs are an adaptation of the recipe that my mother-in-law uses, and the spaghetti sauce is one I have developed over time through trial and error.

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Hearty Beef Stew


Beef stew always reminds me of having fall and winter dinners at my Grandma’s. She would make a dish similar to this and I would always take as little meat and vegetables as possible and lots of juice so that I could soak it up with lots of bread! Stew is definitely a comfort food for me, and as fall started to roll in yesterday it was a perfect night to enjoy it. This recipe produced the classic flavors that I always associate with stew, and the meat was beyond tender – absolutely perfect! Thank you to Good Things Catered for sharing such a fabulous recipe – one that I will be saving as my standard stew recipe!

I went all out and baked homemade dinner rolls to serve with the stew. Stay tuned for another blog post dedicated to the rolls!

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An Non-Traditional Take on Chili

There are a million different versions of chili and most people have their tried and true favorite. Nick and I typically don’t like very spicy dishes, so this chili recipe that my mom passed along to me from another family member fits the bill for us. It’s warm, hearty and not too spicy (not spicy at all if you leave out the chili powder!). The addition of rice and omition of beans certainly make this nontraditional! This chili can be thrown together in less than 30 minutes so it’s also perfect for a quick meal!

Chili-Rice Dinner
(Source: My Mom)

3/4 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pkg (10-oz) frozen sweet whole kernel corn
1 cup diced green pepper
1 can (15-oz) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 cup instant rice
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Brown beef and onion in a skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add spices, corn, green pepper, tomato sauce and water. Cover and bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

The weekly soup continues with a recipe for Beef Mushroom Barley soup, adapted from Elly. I couldn’t believe how fabulous this soup turned out. The flavor was amazing, the meat perfectly tender and it was amazingly easy to put together. This rivals homemade wedding soup as my current favorite – it was THAT good! It does take about 2.5 hours from start to finish, but trust me when I tell you that the waiting is well worth it!

The substitution you find below for the red wine was found in Cook’s Illustrated Fall 2007 issue. To replace wine in a dish, use the following ratio:

1/2 cup wine = 1/2 cup broth + 1 teaspoon wine vinegar (red or white, based on recipe)

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup
(Source: Elly Says Opa!)

1 lb. beef (I used stew meat)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 cup water
1 cup red wine (I substituted 1 cup beef broth + 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar)

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced (about 3 carrots)
1 cup celery, sliced (about 3 ribs)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper

1/2 cup barley
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add meat and brown. Pour in water and red wine (or broth/vinegar mixture) and simmer for approximately 1 hour.

2. Remove beef and cut into bite-size pieces. Skim fat and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid; discard remaining liquid.

3. Melt butter in the stockpot. Add onion, carrots and celery and saute until tender. Stir in garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in beef broth and add thyme, basil, bay leaf, beef and reserved cooking liquid. Simmer for 20-30 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add barley and mushrooms and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.

Miniature Italian Meatloaves


(sorry for the dark pics tonight)

A classic American dish with more varieties than Heinz 57 (yes, a shameless plug for my hometown!). These individual-sized meatloaves cooked up significantly faster than a large traditional meatloaf and the seasoning mix made them taste like huge meatballs! An additional benefit is having leftovers ready to go and not needing to be sliced up.

I served these with garlic mashed potatoes – the recipe is also posted below.

Teeny Tiny Italian Meatloaves
(adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights)

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1 cup spaghetti sauce, divided
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 onion, grated
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Gently mix 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce with the remaining ingredients.

3) Divide into four equal portions and form into desired shape. Place onto greased baking pan.

4) Smother each loaf with remaining spaghetti sauce and top with extra mozzarella cheese.

5) Bake for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.


Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(source: Sugar & Spice)

4 medium sized red potatoes (about 3.5 cups cubed), scrubbed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

1) Cube potatoes and place in pot with peeled garlic cloves. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes; drain.

2) Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients and mash or beat with electric mixer.