Wednesday, October 17, 2012

crockpot beef & broccoli

I'm always looking for new slow cooker recipes.  We have some crazy weeknight schedules and it's always nice to get the cooking done in the morning when I have time and be able to come home to a warm home cooked meal.

I doubled this recipe and it fed our family nicely with leftovers.


1 lb. boneless, beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consumme or beef broth
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. sauce (from the crockpot after dish is cooked)
Frozen broccoli florets (as many as desired, I believe I used almost 2 cups)
White rice, cooked


  1. In the insert of the crockpot, whisk together beef consume, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic.
  2. Gently place your slices of beef in the liquid and toss to coat.
  3. Turn crockpot on low and cook for 6 hours.
  4. When done, in a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and cooking liquid to create a slurry, pour into crockpot, stir to mix well. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up the sauce.
  5. Toss in your broccoli florets then serve hot over white rice.
*Note about cooking time: Your crockpot may differ in temperature than mine, I suggest cooking this for 4 hours on your first go-round of this dish. 6 hours in the crockpot seems to be giving a lot of people "shredded" beef instead of slices, so decrease cooking time by 2 hours and go from there. Mine turned out fine with 6 hours.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beef stew in a pumpkin

A perfect fall dinner....

We made it tonight and it was yummy

This recipe is from

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup water
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, sliced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled
tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
1 sugar pumpkin
1.Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Place beef in the saucepan and cook until evenly brown. Mix in the water, potatoes, carrots, green bell pepper, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer approximately 2 hours.
2.Dissolve the bouillon into the beef mixture. Stir in the tomatoes.
3.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
4.Cut top off the pumpkin and remove seeds and pulp. Place the pumpkin in a heavy baking pan. Fill the pumpkin with the beef mixture. Brush outside of the pumpkin with remaining oil.
5.Bake in the preheated oven 2 hours, or until tender. Serve the stew from the pumpkin, scraping out some of the pumpkin meat with each serving.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin pie smoothie

It's fall. I love it!

And one of my favorite fall traditions is pumpkin pie. So why not bring that flavor into a healthy breakfast treat?

Here's a recipe I tried out this morning:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
one serving

1/2 banana (frozen, if possible - a great way to keep overripe bananas)
1/2 cup milk or milk plus yogurt (or maybe a little  more to make it blendable, I used some plain Greek for the protein)
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp honey
scoop of vanilla protein powder, if you want
pinch of cinnamon
tiny pinch of nutmeg
blend with a handful of ice

top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Thursday, October 11, 2012

best baked manicotti

A tried an true favorite.  This is one go to recipe when i need to take a meal over to someone.  From mel's kitchen cafe.

Tomato Sauce:
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (in juice)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
Cheese Filling and Pasta:
3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 2 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I use the Barilla brand – apparently they are supposed to be the most similar to homemade pasta and I love them, both in this and in lasagna)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan chese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs; set aside.
To assemble, pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.
Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using soupspoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. (You should be able to fit 8 manicotti in each row, allowing all 16 to fit in the dish). Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.
Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
The manicotti can be prepared right up until the baking step then covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Recipe Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Easy Meat Lasagna with Hearty Tomato-Meat Sauce

This is my favorite lasagna recipe.  Always turns out great!
(Cook's Illustrated)

Meat Sauce

In a dutch oven (I use a 5 qt. one for a single batch, or a 7 qt. one for a double), heat up:
     1 TB olive oil

Add and stir until softened (about 2 minutes):
     1 finely chopped medium onion

Add and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds):
     6 minced medium garlic cloves

Add, stir, and cook about 4 minutes:
     1 pound mixture of ground beef, pork, or veal (I used 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 pound     ground pork)
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp pepper

Add, stir,  and bring to a simmer:
     1/4 C heavy cream
Cook until the liquid evaporates and just the fat is left (about 4 minutes).

Add, stir, and cook for about 3 more minutes:
     1 28 oz can tomato puree
     1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

Set sauce aside.


Get out 1 small bowl, 1 medium bowl, and 1 large bowl.

Fill the small bowl with:
     1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Fill the medium bowl with:
     1 lb. shredded Mozzarella cheese

Fill the large bowl with:
     1 C grated Parmesan cheese
     15 oz whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese (I used part-skim) 
     1 slightly beaten egg
     1/2 C chopped fresh basil
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 tsp pepper
Mix together until creamy.  

Have on hand:
     12 no-boil lasagna noodles from an 8 or 9 oz pack (I used Ronzoni brand)

Assemble Lasagna

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread 1/4 C of the meat sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish.

Place 3 of the noodles on top of the sauce for the first layer.  Spread  blobs of ricotta cheese mixture across the noodles (about 3-4 TB per noodle).  Sprinkle some mozzarella on top of the ricotta (about 1 1/3 C per layer).    Spoon 1 1/2 C of the meat sauce over the cheeses, spreading evenly.

Repeat the layering process.  On top of the last three noodles, spread any remaining sauce, sprinkle with 1 1/3 C mozzarella, and then top with the 1/4 C of Parmesan in the small bowl.

Lightly spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover.

Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.  Remove foil, and continue cooking for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is a spotty brown and the sauce is bubbling. 

Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Freezing:  This freezes well.   Line your baking dish with foil, and prepare the lasagna.  Freeze the baking dish until the lasagna is frozen solid (overnight is great).  Remove the foil "package" from the dish, and wrap in heavy duty foil or vacuum pack with a FoodSaver.    To re-heat, remove the lasagna from the extra foil or the FoodSaver bag.  Place it back in the 9 x 13" pan and allow to defrost.    Follow the cooking directions above.

chocolate-glazed pumpkin cookies

This is a recipe from Martha Stewart.  I made these yesterday and we loved them.  I ate 4 for dinner then another 2 for breakfast this morning.  The have a nice cakelike texture.  For the chocolate on top I used the microwavable dark melting chocolate and drizzled it with an icing bag with the corner snipped off.  Enjoy!!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in two parts and pumpkin puree in one, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined (do not overmix).
  3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto two baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets once during baking. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks, and cool completely.
  4. When cookies have cooled, set them (still on rack) over a baking sheet or waxed paper. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water; stir until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted. Pour chocolate into a resealable plastic bag. Snip off a corner with scissors or a knife to make an 1/8-inch hole; pipe chocolate over cookies. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes