Savory Italian Pot Roast Pasta

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(Becky, the Mama.)

What do you get when you put two of mama’s best comfort foods — pot roast and marinara/ pasta — together?

Heaven in a bowl.

This has to be one of my all-time favorite creations using any left-over beef you have in the fridge from pot roast to steak. (I had some grilled flank steak left-over that I cut into pieces and used for this recipe. )  The addition of wine and beef broth (or Lipton onion soup, which is what I had on hand) and splash of heavy cream creates an extra layer of homey warmth to a traditional marinara.  The wide Pappardelle noodles create the perfect nest for this dish.

I am about to head to my daughter Rachel’s home in Texas this weekend awaiting the birth of her second child, a little girl (!) who will be named Corabelle.

rach preg cora

While Rachel is busy and recovering and nursing a newborn,  I plan to whip up some comfort food with the help of my sous chef, Corabelle’s big almost-4-year-old brother, Jackson.

nonny jackson 3

Rachel and Jared are still mostly vegans, so I will often make things like rice bowls or pasta dishes that are easy to tweak for vegans and carnivores alike. At Rachel’s house, I am going to try subbing Miso for the beef broth. (Miso is the closest thing I have found to bringing out a “meaty” flavor in vegetarian  cooking. In  fact, I love the butter, savory flavor that Miso imparts so much that I often add it to meat-based dishes to upgrade the richness. ) I will probably substitute my favorite vegan meat, Field Roast sausages, sliced and browned in olive oil, then sprinkled on top. (Other options: lentils; or chick peas, roasted in the oven first.)  For creaminess,  I will likely blend up some raw cashews with a little cashew or almond milk, or use use canned whole fat coconut milk.  Either makes a nice substitute for a splash of cream!

No matter how you tweak this dish to make it your own, I think you will love it and that it will soon become one of your go-to favorites!

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P.S.  If you happen to be looking for some funny, uplifting, soul-and-body nourishing books to tuck in your beach bag this summer,  you may enjoy one of our recent books!

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Savory Italian Pot Roast Pasta

1 large 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes with basil added)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cups beef broth or 1/2 package Lipton onion soup mix with 1 cup hot water

1/2 cup red wine

2 t. brown sugar

2 t. oregano or Italian seasoning

A handful of chopped fresh basil if you have it on hand

1 cup diced beef, already cooked (such as leftover roast or steak, or even pulled pork or pork loin would work as well )

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup cream

Pappardelle pasta to yield 4 servings, cooked

Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a big skillet, add the crushed tomatoes, broth (or Lipton soup mixture), garlic, red wine,  beef, and Italian seasonings and brown sugar. Bring to a low boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until it is the thickness you like for pasta sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off the heat and add cream.  Ladle over Pappardelle pasta in low flat bowls, then grate Parmesan cheese over all.  I am purposely messy with the Parm cheese as I think it makes the dish look rustic and beautiful.

Variations: Add bits of cooked carrots, peas and potatoes to make this a one-bowl meal, and add to the “Sunday pot roast with veggies” feel.

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Ultimate, Everything Pumpkin Bread (with cherries, nuts, sunflower seeds and cream cheese)

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(Becky, the Mama.)

Yesterday, Colorado was cool, misty and alive with Fall color.  I snapped this picture out my upstairs bedroom window . Through the window pane and the mist, the photo came out looking like a painting, so beautiful it seemed almost unreal.
Room with an Autumn View

On a day like that, what else is there to do but curl up with a book and a blanket, take a long nap, then wake up, pad to the kitchen and bake pumpkin bread?

I searched for what I hoped would be the perfect recipe for pumpkin bread: I wanted it to be moist, spicy and full of tasty surprises.  I narrowed it down to six recipes.  In the end,  I threw elements from all six recipes into the bowl and pans, adding special tweaks of my own. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I’d doubled the spices, used both brown and white sugar plus a tad of maple syrup, folded chopped pecans and dried cherries into the batter.  Then I thought, “Why not?”  as I plopped dollops of whipped cream cheese in the middle of the batter. Then I wondered, “What could make a nice sweet n’ salty crunchy top crust?” I reached for brown sugar and roasted salted sunflower seed kernels.  Then I popped the loaves into the oven and waited.  I had created either a masterpiece, or disaster.  I worried I might  have tweaked this recipe to death.

Well, I am pleased to announce the results are in and they are a 10.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is the BEST pumpkin bread I have ever tasted, moist with deep flavor and so many treats-to-the-senses per bite: the sweet tartness of the cherries, the smooth bits of cream cheese and satisfying chew of baked-in-pecans.  The crunchy crust… with a hint of salt and sugar..oh. my.

But don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself next time the baking mood hits you on one of these cool fall days that beckon you to the kitchen. And feel free to tweak away and make the recipe even more your own– switch out the dried cherries for any dried fruit you like, or use chocolate chips (hmmm… white chocolate chips? Butterscotch chips?).  Use nuts you prefer or have on hand.  I never let what’s not in my pantry keep me from making a recipe.  Go with what you’ve got,  what sounds good… and most of all,have fun.

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Becky’s Epic Pumpkin Bread

(Makes 2 loaves)

3 cups flour 

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ginger

1/2 t. cloves

1 t. nutmeg

1 t. almond extract (optional)

1 1/2 t. salt 

3 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

4 eggs

2 T. maple syrup

2 cans (16 oz each) pumpkin 

2/3 cup light oil  (I used olive oil as it was all I had on hand.  Worked beautifully.) 

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (can use up to 2/3 cup if you love nuts)

1/2 cup roughly dried cherries or cranberries  (can use up to 2/3 cup if you prefer more dried-fruit-per-bite)

whipped cream cheese ( I used a light variety that comes in a tub)…  about 1/2  to 2/3 cup

For Topping:  

1/4 to 1/3 cup brown or turbinado sugar 

1/3 to 1/2  cup roasted, salted sunflower seed kernels  (If you can find fresh roasted pumpkin seeds this are also delicious instead of the sunflower seed kernels,  as are sliced almonds.)

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add eggs, syrup, pumpkin, oil.  Whisk the wet ingredients together as you slowly incorporate the dry ingredients as well.  Finish stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula, slowly folding in pecans and dried cherries.  

Grease and flour two loaf pans.  Pour (or spoon) 1/4 of the batter into each pan, and spread evenly.  Then dollop heaping teaspoons of whipped cream cheese across the surface of the batter in both pans.  Pour the remaining batter over the top of the cream cheese, dividing it evenly between the two pans. Smooth with spatula.

Sprinkle the tops of the batter with brown or turbinado sugar and sunflower seeds.  

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until top is golden and a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. 

Cool thoroughly before serving.  I think the flavors of this bread get better as it sits and cools.   Freezes beautifully. 

Note: I made this at high altitude with no problem.  Many quick breads use more baking soda, but I just hate the after-taste of baking soda. This option rises perfectly, but without that funky  soda aftertaste…

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“Carrot Cake” Chutney (Topping for Cream Cheese & Crackers)

Carrot Cake Chutney served on atop crackers and whipped cream cheese

(Becky, The Mama)

I named my wonderful daughter “Rachel,”  after my wonderful sister Rachel St. John-Gilbert. 

My sister Rachel, with my grandson Georgie, on our Girlfriend Getaway to Seattle

Little did I know when my baby girl was born,  that one day she and my sister and I would all write books. My sister’s newest book has just been released: The Well-Lived Laugh: Designing a Life that Keeps You Smiling.  I think it is her best book to date. You’ll laugh, you’ll be inspired, you’ll let go of unnecessary pressures. Just trust me. Buy it or download it (click on picture of book, below,  to go to Amazon), beg or borrow it.  Or enter to win a copy right here. (Details to follow.)

KINDLE EDITION JUST $2.99 TODAY ONLY

My sister describes herself as an “offbeat observer who uses her wit to weave together comic takes on the ordinary.” I can testify that she is a connoisseur of life’s small joys, squeezing every drop of happiness from any tiny, remotely fun or interesting experience.  Here is a picture that my grandson George took of my sister on a recent trip to Seattle. This was our first stop, a quiet Asian tea house down the street from Pike’s Market.  I swear, she’d only had one sip of a mild jasmine tea. But leave it to my sister to find it a euphoric experience.

My sister in joyous rapture after a sip of green tea. (Julie, my daughter-in-law laughs and looks on. My grandson George, age 5, snapped the picture!)

I love receiving presents from my sister Rachel, because she thinks of the most unusual, wonderful, slighty quirky gifts.  For my birthday this year she gave me a little battery-powered milk foamer and a tiny Vietnamese coffee maker. (Which she promises to show me how to operate someday.)  She may send adorable comical napkins for me to use at my next party,  or a unique and tasty gourmet treat. One year on my birthday, she mailed me pretty jar of something called Carrot Cake Jam. Or was it Carrot Cake Chutney? Anyway, whatever it was called, it was AMAZING. Rach told me to put some cream cheese on a cracker, top it with the carrot mixture, and wait for my mouth to get very happy. So I did as I was told and about twenty minutes later, there was nothing left in the jar. Years later, I would sometimes think about that “perfect bite” of sweet-piquant cinnamon and slighty crunchy carroty-raisin goodness, mixed with the smooth salty flavor of cream cheese and crackers….   and feel sad that I’d probably never come across a jar of that yummy Carrot Cake Watchamacallit ever again.

Then last night I decided to create, to the best of my ability, a similar version.  Eureka!  I did it!  This stuff is amazing on crackers, but also a fun carrot cake “mix-in” for yogurt or ice cream or atop almond buttered toast.  An easy and unique treat to serve at your next party or bring to a hostess. . 

Now, before I forget: For a chance to win my sister’s new book, simply leave a comment below letting us know that you re-tweeted or pinned or facebooked this post (or any other you like from our blog), or liked my sister’s fan page. We’ll put your name in “the bowl” and pick the lucky winner to be announced next week.

Carrot Cake Chutney

Carrot Cake Chutney

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

5 medium sized carrots (preferably organic) peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces

1/3 cup well drained crushed pineapple

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 T. brown sugar

Pinch salt

½ t. vanilla

2 t. cinnamon

3 T. raisins

2 T. white vinegar

Directions:

Process carrots in a food processor or blender until they are about the size of oatmeal flakes, small and just a little bit chunky.

 

Processed carrots to a tiny dice

Mix the carrots with all the ingredients above and simmer in a skillet on medium low for about 5-8 minutes or until the carrots are tender-crisp and the syrup is thick and reduced by at least half, most of it absorbed into the carrots and raisins. (With only a tablespoon or two of syrup remaining in pan.) If you’d like your chutney to have a bit more kick to it, add another teaspoon of vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon, once you’ve removed the pan from the burner. Cool and put in a tightly covered container in the fridge to let the flavors mingle and intensify. Serve cold with a small spoon, along side a plate of crackers and a small bowl of whipped cream cheese. 

 

 

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: “Carrot Cake” Chutney
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-BY
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos

Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos

If you, like me, served a big bunch of family and friends a large Easter dinner yesterday, then I declare tonight to be “Cook’s Night Off!” If, however, like me, the thought of getting dressed, driving to a restaurant, and making polite conversation with other human beings sounds like it would take more energy than you currently have leftover, this AMAZING and easy sandwich recipe will help you get out of the kitchen and onto the comfy couch quick.

Sorry about the long name. I tried to work with just the initials (a la the “BLT”) but “CCNCMC Sandwiches” sounded like robot food.

I also give you permission to eat this buttery deliciousness in your most comfy T-shirt and stretchy pants. Or better yet, just wear your PJs and ratty old robe.  Home chefs that serve big holiday meals deserve to be as lazy as you want to be the next day. Wallow in it, I say!

Feel free to substitute ham if you’ve got lots of it leftover and want to use it in place of chicken or as an addition to it. I am personally a little “hammed out” today.

A vegan version also follows, because I love my daughter and I want her to taste this dynamite flavor combo!

Becky’s Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 slices good bread (I like the round sliced French boule from Whole Foods, a light and airy artisan bread)

1/2 c. whipped cream cheese (Toffuti “Better than Cream Cheese” if you are vegan)

1/4 c. chopped walnuts, pecans, or pistachios

1 T. chopped green onions

4  slices turkey or chicken  (use extra portion of of chopped nuts in place of meat for vegans)

1/3 c. whole cranberry sauce

2 eggs beaten with a dash milk (vegans use egg-replacer  of choice and 1/3 c. non-dairy milk)

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter (Earth Balance for vegans)

1/4 c. arugala or other lettuce greens

1 T. powdered sugar

Directions:

Mix whipped cream cheese or Tofutti with chopped nuts and green onions. Spread 4 pieces of bread with this mixture on one side. Lay two slices of chicken or turkey on two slices of the bread. (Add extra layer of chopped nuts in place of meat if you are vegan.) Spread cranberry sauce on the other two slices. Put together to make two chicken-cheese-walnut-cranberry sandwiches.

Melt butter or Earth Balance and oil together in  a skillet big enough to hold two sandwiches. In a wide shallow bowl, beat the two eggs with milk (or substitutes if you are vegan). Carefully dip both sides of the sandwiches in the egg mixture as you would for French toast. Place the sandwiches, gently, into the skillet and let cook at medium heat until one side is golden brown. Carefully turn over the sandwiches and grill the other side (adding more oil and butter if needed.)

Sizzling Sandwich

Cut in half, tuck in a few arugula leaves, sprinkle tops lightly with powdered sugar. Serve with extra dollop of cranberry sauce if desired.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos
The URL:https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/09/chicken-cream-cheese-nut-cranberry-monte-cristos/