Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Merlot Roast (The Best Pot Roast You Will Ever Enjoy!!)

In my family we have a tradition that Sunday dinner is something special.  Usually it's something like a pot roast, roast chicken, london broil, etc.  This past Sunday I felt like making a pot roast but not my usual one which is so easy MJ could probably make it if I let her.  I did some searching and found a recipe on Magical Recipes which is a site with a ton of recipes from the Disney parks, resorts, shopping areas, and cruise line.  You will be amazed with all the recipes that they have.  Funny thing is that I kept finding recipes that had dairy in them and all I could think was I've got a new challenge and that is to make this dairy-free!  So be on the look out for some of those recipes in the future.  

The recipe that I chose, or changed up to fit my tastes, is the Prime Time Pot Roast from the Fifties Prime Time Cafe at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  The original recipe one looked good but I had to make changes to it because there were items in it that picky people in my house would refuse to eat.  One of those ingredients was the chopped up celery.  MJ would refuse to eat it and I can't blame her I'm not really a fan of cooked celery or maybe I should tell the truth an that is I'm not a fan of celery at all. The recipe that came out of the original one I found on Magical Recipes is a little more time consuming but it is AMAZING and well worth the effort.  

The best  review I received was from MJ, pot roast expert,  who was tired an when I asked her what she thought of the pot roast she replied with MORE!  If you are worried about the the wine don't because the alcohol cooks out and if you want you can omit the wine but it will definitely change the flavor.


3 lb beef round roast, excess fat removed (I shop at the commissary so I go with what I can find)
rubbed sage (I don't have a measurement for it because I just shake it on and then rub it in)
ground coarse sea salt (same as above)
ground black pepper (same as above)
6 fresh carrots, peeled and cut
2 red potatoes, cut
1 onion, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry red wine (I love Merlot)
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch

1.  Preheat oven to 375*.  Trim excess fat off of roast (if I don't I hear about it from Rambo) and rub sage, salt and pepper all over the roast.

2.  In a skillet over medium heat add the 2 tbsp of olive oil and brown all sides of the roast.

3.  Put the onion in the roasting pan and then add the roast on top of the onions and then pour the wine and 2 cups of vegetable broth over it.

4.  In the same skillet that you browned the roast in and add 1 cup of vegetable broth and the potatoes & carrots in and cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

5.  Next add the vegetable mix from the skillet to the roasting pan.

I wish you could smell this because it smells soooo good!!!!
6.  Cook roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until internal temp is 155*.  Once it reaches 155* remove it from the oven and put the roast on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.

7.  While the roast is resting you will need to make your gravy.  Remove the carrots and potatoes from the roast pan and set aside.  Take a 1/4 cup of warm water and add the cornstarch to it and stir until it is dissolved.

8.  Pour the liquid that is remaining from the roasting pan into a saucepan and heat it over medium heat and then add the cornstarch mixture to it and stir until it comes to a simmer and thickens.  

Before adding the cornstarch

After adding the cornstarch

Finished Gravy

My yummy roasted veggies!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Banana Bread

I guess every once in a while you have to have a rough week and last week was it.  It started with MJ complaining on Sunday that her throat hurt really bad so I took her to the doctor on Monday, as well as took my mom because she was sick, and she was diagnosed with possible strep throat.  So as you would expect she was put on antibiotics until we got her test results back.  Needless to say MJ was out of school Monday and Tuesday.

Everything was going well and she was feeling a lot better and since it was pretty nice out on  Thursday, and for once I didn't have anything going on, we took Bandit for a walk. day.  After her bath that night I was blow drying her hair and noticed what looked like a scab that was falling off on her neck near her hair line.  I touched the scab and it got her screaming don't touch my boo boo!  what really sucked was it wasn't a boo boo, it was a tick!  I grabbed my tweezers out of my purse and removed the tick from her neck and while I was doing it she was screaming like I was trying to kill her.  Rambo and the family came to investigate the screaming and was astonished that we had found our first tick and it was still February.  Friday morning MJ woke up and when I went to giver her a hug she stopped me and asked me to not touch her neck because it hurt her.  After promising her that I wouldn't touch the spot I checked it and it was red.

So we started and ended the week with a trip to the doctor.  Rambo took her because I didn't feel right asking for another day off and he wasn't on duty.  When I called to schedule her appointment I found out her test results for strep were negative and she could stop the antibiotic.  Then Rambo called me after her appointment and gave me the great news that she should be fine we would just need to keep an eye on it. Then the bad news came, another 10 days of antibiotic!  

Poor MJ had already suffered by not being able to have yogurt for her snack.  So when Rambo informed her that she still couldn't have yogurt yet she was very upset.  So Rambo being the wonderful daddy that he is took his baby girl out for chicken nuggets at McDonalds.  What I did to make her feel better was on Saturday we made banana bread and it made her feel much better.

Feeling much better!  Look mama I drew a picture of you!
We are still on the antibiotic and the bite is no longer red and doesn't hurt anymore.  A word of advice from my pediatrician is to properly remove the tick and then seal it in a bag and take it to your doctors office so that it can be tested for Lyme's disease.  For more info on Lyme's Disease the Center for Disease Control has a good site with useful info.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp ground flax seed

1.  Preheat oven to 375* and grease loaf pan.  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

2.  In another bowl mix together the mashed bananas, sugar, egg and vegetable oil.

3.  Add the flour mix to the banana mix and stir until just combined.  Next gently fold in the flax seed making sure that you don't over stir.  Tough banana bread is horrible!

4.  Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 5.  Let cool and enjoy!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

I swear we make tacos at least once a month and even though we enjoy them a lot I'm always looking for a way to change things up.  This time I decided to see if I could recreate some delicious chicken tacos that I've had at one of our local Mexican restaurants.  I love using my slow cooker because I can put it all together and then forget about it for a couple of hours.

This recipe went for a little more than 6 hours because I started it on Friday after coming home from having some dental work and then I guess it was because of the anesthetic that they gave me I really didn't feel like eating.  So wonderful family that I have knew that I was looking forward to it all week so they decided to move it to today so that I would be feeling better.  I have such a wonderful hubby!  As soon as I got back from the dentist he checked to make sure that I was feeling ok and then made sure that I took a nap so that I could sleep off the effects of the stuff they had given me.  Reminds me when I was pregnant with MJ and had come down with the flu.  I don't know which was worse the flu or morning sickness but all I know is that for two or three days I had a hard time keeping anything down.  But he was really good he made sure that I ate, made sure I drank enough fluids and kept track of my temp and just made sure that I was comfortable as I could be.  

Well like I said the chicken cooked for a little more than 6 hours because it got cooked over 2 days.  I'm happy that I waited because it was delicious!  It was the first time I had made the hard shell tacos and they were better than anything you would purchase in the store.  Well worth the few extra minutes it takes to make.  

I hope you enjoy!!

Taco Filling
4 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in half
3 (10-oz) cans Ro-tel Original diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (38 oz) jar of Pace Chunky Salsa
1 (15.25 oz) can Whole Kernel Corn, drained
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 packet Old El Paso Low Sodium Taco Seasoning 
1 1/2 tsp chili powder

Flour and Corn Tortillas (most of my family likes soft tacos but I prefer to have a hard taco)
cooking spray
Salt, pinch
Chili powder, pinch

1.  Line bottom of slow cooker with boneless skinless chicken breast pieces.

2.  Add chili powder and taco seasoning and mix well.

3.  Add salsa, Ro-tel and corn and mix well.

4.  Set slow cooker to low and cook for approximately 6 hours or until chicken falls apart easily.

5.  When the chicken is done remove the chicken pieces and shred them with a fork.

Leftover chicken I had because I had added 6 chicken cutlets instead of 4.
6.  To make hard taco shells preheat oven to 375*.  Wrap 4 corn tortillas in foil and place in oven for 5-7 minutes.

7.  Next spray one side with cooking spray and sprinkle with a pinch of chili powder and salt.

8.  Place corn tortillas, side that has been sprayed with cooking spray down, hanging over oven rack and cook for 5-7 minutes.

I heat the flour tortillas in my cast-iron skillet over low heat 30 seconds
each side.
9.  Fill tacos with yummy chicken filling and top with your favorite taco toppings!

Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise,
that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have;
God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind.

Heb 13:15

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Silk Chocolate Cream Pie

I guess growing up in a military household and then marrying a soldier I have learned to adapt, overcome, adapt and improvise!  While dad was in the Navy I learned to adapt to changes in duty stations (thankfully there weren't that many of them), overcome prejudice against military students (once had a teacher tell my parents military children weren't worth teaching because they wouldn't be in the school long enough to learn anything), and improvising has really shown up later in life.

I guess you could say the improvising I had to learn was when I had to change my diet so that it wouldn't make me sick.  I'm not the type of person that will just sit there and say good bye to all of the foods that I love but can no longer eat.  I will admit at first it was scary and as anyone who has to change their diet I took baby steps.  I researched what was safe for me and then experimented to see what I liked.  I now take great pleasure in taking recipes that have dairy in them and finding ways to make them dairy-free and delicious.

One of the areas that I find to be the most challenging has been desserts.  The first cake recipes that I experimented with came out all dry and crumbly.  They were flavorless and no one in my family would eat them and I bet if I tried to feed them to the dogs they would have refused.  Well maybe not Bandit who will eat everything and for some reason has a special love for trying to eat dirt and socks.

Since June I have adapted a cake recipe that was well received and much loved, cookies, little apple pies and now I can shout it from the mountain tops I MAKE A KILLER CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE!!!!!  I'm sorry I didn't mean to get over excited and shout but it's hard not to get excited when you get family members that don't like change or "health food" to try and enjoy something different.  I know it's wrong but I withheld the ingredients of the pie from all of my testers except for my sister because she eats soy products on a regular basis so she would have figured it out anyway.  My picky youngest brother after trying the pie came to me and was bragging how it was the best chocolate cream pie he had ever had!

Well I figured since he liked it it was probably a good time to inform him of what was in it.  When I asked him if he would like to know what was in the pie he looked at me and said "Please don't tell me it's tofu.  Anything but tofu."  I wasn't about to lie to him so I admitted that it was tofu and he said it was still good and that he couldn't believe that it was tofu.

I'm with him, I never thought in a million years that I would ever be cooking with tofu!  I have to say the great thing that I learned about tofu is that it has no taste to it so it will take on the taste of whatever you put it with.  I've used it to make homemade dairy-free ricotta and now as a pie filling and I love it!  If you want the best richest tasting pie do yourself a favor and make a day or two in advance because the more time it has to set the richer the flavor is!

Enjoy and let me know what you think.  Do you eat tofu and if so how do you like it prepared?  I'd love to try your favorites.

1 package Nasoya firm tofu, pressed
1 bag Chocolate Dream chocolate chips
1 graham cracker crust
1 (14 oz) container Soyatoo Topping Cream (heavy cream substitute)

1.  Press tofu by putting it in a dish with a layer of paper towels under and on top of it and then place a heavy dish on top of it.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Chili fixings in the background

Kidney beans are useful for other than going into chili.  Make great weights! 
2.  In a double boiler, or you can make one by putting a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan with 1" of water, melt chocolate chips by stirring constantly until melted.  If you don't constantly stir it it will easily burn!

Yummy melted chocolate!
3. Cut tofu into smaller pieces and add to food processor, wish I had a bigger food processor, and for about a minute or until smooth.

4.   Add melted chocolate and process for about 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is mixed through.

My Ninja is complaining that it can't fit anymore in it!

5.  Pour chocolate tofu mix into pie crust and refrigerate until set.  I let it sit for 2 days and letting it sit that long made it taste so much more rich!  

6.  For the whipped cream scoop the Soyatoo into a bowl and mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer.  Once it resembles whipped cream pour and smooth onto pie.  Enjoy!

They didn't wait for me to get the final picture before digging in!!

Mini Apple Pie Cups

I love apple pie but either I can't find a crust that is dairy-free or call me lazy I really don't feel like making pie crust.  I've done it in the past and probably will again in the future but I just can't get excited about making pie crust.  So I guess you can say that I found a way to cheat but I prefer to call it portion control.

I was extremely happy to find out that Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry is vegan so that means dairy-free!!!  I was trying to come up with a good dessert that everyone would like.  Well I'll admit I did make 2 desserts but after making peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, superbowl chili, apple pie cups, and silk chocolate cream pie, I didn't feel like eating it.  So I let the chocolate pie set in the fridge until Tuesday night which will be another post.  I promise and a yummy one!!

This recipe is very easy to make and if you can't find the puff pastry cups you can still make the apples and enjoy them with a little vanilla soy ice cream or your ice cream of choice.  I don't know about you but baked apples are the best!!

Yummy and easy dessert!!

2 boxes (6 shells per box) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells
5 Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut up
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Ice cream of choice

1.  Preheat oven to 400* and arrange shells on a cookie sheet with a silicone mat (keeps everything from sticking).
Silicone $9.99 at Target saves me a fortune on cooking spray and parchment paper
2.  In a mixing bowl combine apples with light brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and coat well.
apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg
3.  Put apple mix into a casserole dish and cover with foil.

4.  Bake both the shells and the apples in the same oven.  The shells bake for 20 minutes or until golden and puffy.  The apples will take 25-30 minutes or until soft but not mushy.

Nice and puffy an golden!

Soft and oh so yummy!  Makes the house smell sooooo good!!
5.  Let shells cool for about 5 minutes and then using a fork remove the tops of the shells and put aside for later use.

6.  Put a shell in a dish, add some of the baked apples, put top of shell on and serve with ice cream.  My favorite is some yummy So Delicious Vanilla ice cream.  I also like to take some of the juice from the casserole dish and drizzle it over the whole thing.  

Empty shell

Add apples and drizzle with some of the juice

Add shell top, ice cream and drizzle with some more of the apple juice