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.

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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.

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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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“Mess o’ Golden Fish” in Buttery Lemon Sauce

Mess o’ Golden Fish in Buttery Lemon Sauce

(Becky, the Mama.)

Yesterday was one of those Sunday afternoons that Greg and I love.  I’d popped a roast in the oven before church and then Greg’s sons, a  daughter-in-law , one nephew and one grandson showed up to enjoy a meal on the back porch.  These are special days as we know summer is waning, the leaves are turning, but for now there are still flowers and green grass and perfect 70 degree weather.

Meals for our big gang of kids (even half our crew) means lots of food, mess, dishes. A virtual kitchen disaster, since I am a fast cook, but not a tidy one.   In addition to lunch, I decided to make a quick casserole for my stepson to take home to his family as well.  (Tortilla Flower Pie.) They adopted little six-year-old Anthony this year, and suddenly became foster parents to a toddler last week.  At minimum, I felt, they deserved a night off from cooking.  So more pots and pans were added to the sink creating a virtual mountain dirty dishes.

I took a deep breath and dove in to Dish Mountain, rinsing and washing with gusto, when I felt… not a few drops, not a trickle,  but a sudden wave of warm water flooding my feet.  A broken pipe. Several trips to the hardware store, lots of under-sink-laboring, not a few choice words, and many hours  later…the pipes still leaked like an artsy under-the-sink fountain.

I loaded the dirty dishes into a big ice chest on wheels and alerted my neighbor that I might be rolling up to her door,  the Bag Lady of Dirty Dishes, to borrow her sink. Thankfully a plumber showed up today and miraculously fixed the issue, to the tune of $200.00.

Welcome to reality. It is messy.  “Mama said there’d be days like this,” and all that.   I’ve found, however, that life’s “little aggravating interruptions” get a lot easier to deal with once you accept this truth: About 20 to 30 percent of life is handling hassles.

I’ve found I don’t lose my cool over life’s inconveniences when I…

1) Take care of it – or delegate….or hire someone to take care of it ASAP without wasting time stewing

2) Find something funny in the situation to write and laugh about

3) Remember that it is not a Greek tragedy, it is not cancer,  it is not permanent. (This post will appear on 9-11, a reminder of how petty almost all our so-called ‘problems’ really are.)

4) I am not being picked on by God, stuff happens to everybody.  Build “yucky interruptions” into weekly expectations

5) Try to think of myself as Molly Brown, and do my best to be that jolly, comforting, brave woman who makes the best of a sinking ship situation.

Or in my case, a sinking sink situation.

I had just a few minutes tonight to prepare dinner after the plumber left and the kitchen was put back in order. (Thank you to my husband and nephew for doing this for me. A gift!)  What I wanted to make for supper was four perfectly formed and nicely browned fish fillets.  What I got, instead, was a mess, as some of the fish stuck to the pan, and the meat was so fresh and flakey that it began falling apart.  Then I remembered something a pro photographer said at the Foodista Blogging convention, “Life is messy. Make some of your photos messy.” Well, then…O-KAY!

Though this “mess o’ fish” dish did not turn out perfectly formed fillets, it tasted amazing.  In fact, the broken pieces allowed the lemon-butter-wine sauce to better saturate the fresh white cod,  resulting in moistness and flavor in every bite.  The family served themselves whatever bits and pieces that looked most tempting to them.

The moral of today’s post is this: When life gives you lemons, slice them and use them to decorate your latest culinary mess.  You might find you’ve fouled up your way into a new recipe masterpiece.

“Mess o’  Golden Fish” in Buttery Lemon Sauce

Serves 4

2 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter for browning fish

2 smashed garlic cloves

1.5 lb. white flakey fish fillets (I used cod, but you could use halibut, tilapia, mahi-mahi, catfish or sea bass)

1 large lemon, cut in half

2/3 cup white wine

1 T. butter (for sauce)

1 T. brown sugar

Sea Salt to taste

Few basil leaves or parsley for garnish

Directions:

Sprinkle fish fillets very lightly with sea salt on both sides.

Put 2 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter and 2 smashed garlic cloves into a large skillet over medium high heat.  As soon as it is nice and bubbly, stir to let garlic permeate the oil and butter, then add fish.  Turn fish when it is golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes or less.  Don’t worry if it comes apart when you turn it: messy is fineMessy is good.

Brown the other side of the fish.  With a wide spatula, remove fish from pan to a large serving platter with about 1 inch high sides, and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. (I used a round Corning Ware tart pan.)  In the same skillet, add 2/3 cup white wine, another tablespoon of butter, 1 T. brown sugar and juice from ½ the lemon.  Let this mixture simmer and bubble until the sauce is reduced by about a third.  Season with salt to taste at this point.  Pour the sauce over the “mess o’ golden fish” and garnish with lemon slices (from the other ½ lemon) and a few sprigs of fresh parsley or basil.  Serve family style with a spoon for dipping sauce.

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