Monday, November 28, 2011

Italian Pot Roast

Braised, slow-cooked meats always remind me of my grandmom. The wonderful aroma from all-day cooking, the rich flavors, and the meat that just melts when you eat it. When we ate this pot roast, my mom said it was like eating her mother's food.

I was inspired to make this recipe by a recipe I saw on the blog What's Cooking Chicago. I changed it from a crockpot recipe to a stovetop and oven recipe, and also used the cooking method from my Guinness Beef Stew Recipe. The original recipe did not call for searing the beef, but I really like searing any meats before any sort of slow cooking which is the main reason I made the changes I did. Below is my adaptation.

Note: I gave this post a one-pot tag; although 2 pots are used, it ultimately cooks for hours in just one pot, so by the time you eat the first pan is already washed and put away!


  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • Handful of white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, chopped into large pieces
  • One 3-lb pot roast
  • Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning (I love McCormick's Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • One 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c dry red wine
  • 1.5 c beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Equipment: Dutch oven and a large stainless saute pan
  • Put Dutch oven on stovetop over medium-high heat. Add bacon, cook until crispy. Remove bacon. Add carrots, celery, potatoes, mushrooms. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  • Heat olive oil in the stainless pan. Season the beef with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Sear beef in pan until browned on all sides.
  • Transfer the beef to the Dutch oven, nestling it into the veggies. Add tomatoes and broth.
  • Back in the stainless pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add garlic and onions, saute 4-5 minutes. Add red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up all brown bits. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes, and then transfer wine/onion mixture to the Dutch oven.
  • Add bay leaf to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Cover beef and transfer to the oven. I cooked it for a total of 5 hours - one hour on 300, two hours on 250, and two hours on 200. It was perfectly cooked and falling apart.
  • Remove beef from the Dutch oven and let rest. Transfer the veggies to another dish. Let the sauce simmer on low until ready to serve.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beer Braised Sausages with Warm Potato Salad

I'm having a lot of fun participating in the Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swaps, and the main reason I like them so much is that sometimes the recipes I am given are things I wouldn't necessarily choose to make. Like the one I got for the most recent swap featuring One-Pot Cooking. I was given a recipe for Beer Braised Sausages with Warm Potato Salad.

I like sausage, but had never had it braised in beer so I was intrigued when I first read the recipe. I had also never had warm potato salad - my grandmom made the best cold potato salad that has been passed down through the family over the years. It's a simple recipe, but so good that I really don't eat any other potato salad (even Jon will now only eat my potato salad!). So for that reason alone I wouldn't choose to make another potato salad. But the swaps push me out of my comfort zone and I was excited to try this recipe.

The sausage was SO good - even more flavorful from braising in the beer, juicy, and just delicious. I loved the sauce that came out of the beer once I reduced the liquid. The potato salad was good, just not my thing - I am not the biggest fan of vinegar on hot foods (fries and vinegar, not for me!). I would definitely make this again, however, and would just let the potatoes simmer in the sauce instead of tossing them with a dressing.

The recipe below is the exact recipe with 2 changes noted in italics.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages (I used hot Italian sausages)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces pale ale beer
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used dried parsley flakes)


  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add sausages and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add beer, potatoes, and 2 cups water; season with salt and pepper and press to submerge potatoes in cooking liquid. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer sausages to a serving platter and keep warm. In a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, and parsley. With a slotted spoon, transfer potato mixture to dressing (reserve cooking liquid) and toss to combine.
  3. Return pot to high heat; boil cooking liquid until reduced to 1 cup, about 12 minutes. Return sausages to pot and cook until heated through, 2 minutes. Place sausages and dressed potatoes on serving platter; drizzle half the sauce over top. Serve sausages and potatoes with remaining sauce alongside.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sauteed Spinach with Bacon

Thanksgiving is only two weeks away! Where has this year gone? To get ready, A Taste of Home Cooking hosted a Thanksgiving Sides Recipe Swap. I'm really, really late making and posting this. I tried to get to it twice last week, but with last minute things and my daughter getting sick, and then my husband's surprise birthday weekend, it just didn't happen. I finally got to it tonight - I apologize to those waiting to see the post!!

Anyway, the recipe I was given was for
Sauteed Spinach with Bacon from the blog Life and Kitchen; it is originally a Martha Stewart Recipe. I shared my recipe for Green Beans with Bacon and Caramelized Shallots.

I love spinach, and I love bacon, so was really excited to make this. Bacon makes everything better, right? Well, I am really sorry to say that bacon didn't do it for us in this recipe. Spinach is so delicate and light that sauteing it in bacon grease was just too overwhelming (however this technique works great for heartier veggies, like Brussels sprouts or green beans). I even removed half of the grease from the pan, but it was still just too much. I did, however, love the crispy bacon mixed in with the spinach. So while I won't wilt spinach in bacon grease again, I will add crispy, crumbled bacon to spinach.

Please excuse the picture - now that I don't have natural light for taking pictures because it gets dark so darn early, my pictures suffer a bit.


  • 2 slices of bacon (I used low sodium bacon)
  • Bag of spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar (I omitted this)
  • Added: 1 tbsp light olive oil (since I removed some of the bacon grease)
  • Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy; about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Crumble and set aside.
  • Remove some of the bacon grease (about half) from the pan, add olive oil.
  • Add spinach, season with salt and pepper. saute 1-2 minutes until wilted.
  • If using it, add white wine vinegar
  • Top with crumbled bacon