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Happy New Year! Have you made any resolutions? I’m not the resolution-making type myself, but I do want to continue making good, healthy wholesome food and keep up my routine of working out regularly. After all the indulgence of Christmas week, I feel compelled to focus especially on eating well for the immediate future. I can’t stay away from pasta and cheese forever, but I’m going to be kicking up the healthiness around here for a while.

In that spirit, I bring you roasted chicken and vegetables. Back when I started cooking for myself, I always thought of roast chicken as something I’d have when I was visiting my parents, not something I’d make myself. “Roasted chicken is something mom makes, but it’s too much bother for me,” I’d think, which is kind of sad because roasted chicken is one of my favorite meals and I was avoiding it because I thought it was tricky, or too much work. Guess what? NOT TRUE. It’s actually very easy, worry free, and the results of course are delicious. And with a recipe like this one, also very healthy.

You chop up some veggies and toss them in a pan, then nestle the chicken breasts on top, so the majority of the meal is done in one pan. If you roast some potatoes along side the roasting pan, you’ve got dinner without much fuss. The veggies roast in the drippings from the chicken, which makes them taste divine. The chicken is bone in and skin on, so it cooks up moist and flavorful, and then you just peel off the skin to avoid the excess calories. We really enjoyed this meal, and it was so easy to throw together. There’s really no need to save roasted chicken for special occasions when you have this simple recipe in your arsenal, and it’s so so good and wholesome.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

From Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

Yield: Serves 4 Prep: 10 minutes Total time: 1 hour

1 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved

1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

8 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

4 bone-in chicken breast halves (10 ounces each)

1 tablespoon dried rosemary, crumbled

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the squash, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and oil in a roasting pan; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until the squash is beginning to soften and all the vegetables are heated through, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, lift up the skin from the chicken breasts; rub the flesh with rosemary and some salt and pepper. Replace the skin; season the chicken all over with more salt.
  3. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the vegetables. Return to the oven; continue roasting until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 35 minutes.

Okay, I know this isn’t very pretty, but that doesn’t stop it from being all sorts of delicious. I don’t cook a lot of beef dishes, but this one caught my eye and I knew James would love it. The brisket is braised for four hours until it simply falls apart in tender, savory amazingness. This dish is packed full of fantastic flavors, bright and slightly tart from the cranberries, rich and complex from the wine, this is the definition of umami. I love that it’s very saucy, it basically creates its own gravy. This dish begs to be served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, so that’s what I did – it was awesome.

This is a true Sunday dinner – yes, it does take a lot of time, so it pretty much necessitates weekend cooking. But more than that, this is the kind of meal that you’d have at home with your whole family. This is home cooking comfort. It would be a great dish for company, but I don’t see why I should have to save it just for that, you know? We live about 7 hours away from our nearest family, so we don’t have many occasions for big family meals and it would be easy to just cook fast dishes that are sized more appropriately for our two-person household. But sometimes I just crave those Big Deal Sunday Dinners that my mom makes – this dish fit the bill perfectly, and yes there was a ton of leftovers but they were awesome leftovers.

And while it may seem big and fancy and time-comsuming, the majority of the time is hands off, in the oven. There was probably 15 minutes of work involved in making this, it’s actually remarkably simple after you brown the beef – you just toss a bunch of stuff in the pot and then throw the thing in the oven! And what comes out is magic.

Braised Brisket with Cranberries

From Everyday Food, November 2008

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 4 1/4 hours Yield: Serves 8

3 pounds beef brisket, fat trimmed to a 1/4-inch layer
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries
1 bag (1 pound) frozen pearl onions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lowest position. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high. Add brisket, fat side down. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating once. Transfer brisket to a plate (reserve pot).
  2. Add flour to pot and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add broth, wine, bay leaf, molasses, half the cranberries, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Return brisket to pot, and cover. Transfer to oven; bake 3 hours.
  3. Stir in onions; cover, and return pot to oven. Cook 30 minutes more. Stir in remaining cranberries; return pot to oven. Cook, uncovered, until brisket is fork-tender, 30 minutes more. Discard bay leaf before serving.

We’ve been on a bit of a Mexican kick around here, first with those amazing fish tacos and now with these incredible beef tacos. Oh! And there was also some pork tostadas that I’ll have to blog about soon – all wonderfully delicious, authentic Mexican meals.

I’m sad these tacos are all gone now! They were so, so tasty. And the recipe made a ton so we were basically eating them all week. They are just packed with flavor – the beef is cooked with chipotle chiles in adobo so it is smoky and complex without being too spicy, and all of the toppings combine to add crunch and sweetness and spiciness and creaminess. There’s a corn and tomato salsa, a cilantro-lime crema, and an avocado-red onion relish (which I didn’t make but I’m sure would be awesome).The biggest hit of the toppings was the spicy pineapple salad – it definitely took the tacos to a whole new level. I’d never had pineapple in a taco before, and it was surprisingly amazing. The combination of the smoky meat and the bright, sweet fruit was out of this world.

The recipes, which comes from Everyday Food magazine, also includes instructions for cumin rice and beans, which was a tasty dish to have alongside the tacos. All in all, it was a fabulous and fun meal – something about all those tasty toppings made it seem really festive. This would be a great meal for a dinner party.

This recipe does take a lot of time – almost 3 hours from start to finish, so you have to take that into consideration. However, once you get the beef in the oven, it’s hands off for 2 1/2 hours so you can do other things – like prepare the toppings. The meal can seem to be pretty involved with all of the toppings, but they do come together rather quickly. All of the toppings except maybe the avocado relish can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.

Smoky Beef Tacos

From Everyday Food, March 2009

Serves 8

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 2 3/4 hours

2 -3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo*

1/2 cup ketchup

8 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons dried oregano

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat

16 corn tortillas (6-inch), lightly toasted

toppings (recipes follow)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, stir together chiles, ketchup, 1 cup water, garlic, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Cut beef into 4 equal pieces. Add to pot and turn to coat. Cover and bring to a boil; transfer pot to oven. Bake, covered, until beef is fork-tender, about 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer beef to a bowl. With a large spoon, skim off and discard fat from the cooking liquid. Shred beef with two forks; moisten with cooking liquid as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly toast the tortillas over a low gas flame using tongs or in a dry skillet on medium heat. Serve beef with tortillas and desired toppings.

*I nervously used 2 tablespoons (chipotles are powerful!) and was pleasantly surprised that the beef came out flavorful but not too spicy. If you want your meat to pack a definite punch, go for 3 tablespoons.

Spicy pineapple salad

Serves 8

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pineapple – peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks

2 jalapeno chiles, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced crosswise

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

coarse salt and ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat oil over high. Working in 2 batches, cook pineapple and jalapenos until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with vinegar and salt and pepper.

Avocado-Red Onion Relish

Combine 2 diced avocados and 1 finely chopped medium red onion with 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 3 cups.

Corn and Tomato Salsa

Combine 10 ounces thawed frozen corn with 1 cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 3 cups.

Cilantro-Lime Crema

Stir together 16 ounces reduced-fat sour cream, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 2 cups.

Cumin Rice and Beans

Cook 1 cup of rice, either white or brown, according to package directions, but add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin to the cooking water. I used brown rice, so: bring rice and 2 cups of water , a pinch of coarse salt and the cumin to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, for about 50 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 can of drained and rinsed kidney beans. Cover and let stand for 1 minute.

I recently discovered the wonder that is bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. I never used to cook with them because the boneless, skinless variety is easier and I guess marginally healthier for you. Now I’m cooking with them all the time because cooking the chicken on the bone results in a moister, more flavorful meat. And I’d argue that if you don’t actually eat the skin, the chicken on the bone isn’t much different in terms of fat and calories than the boneless variety.

Plus, the bone-in variety is cheaper than boneless chicken breasts, so what’s not to love?

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, and like every recipe I’ve ever tried from that magazine, it’s a good one. The magicians chefs at Everyday Food always surprise me with the deliciousness they can whip up with so few ingredients. This is one of those “that’s all there is??” recipes: breadcrumbs + parmesan cheese + fresh parsley + lemon = magic. This is an extremely tasty and simple way to have chicken – so simple that if you make it a few times you probably wouldn’t even need to look at the recipe again – but it’s nice enough to serve to company.

Parmesan-stuffed Chicken Breasts

From Everyday Food

Serves 4 (if you can tell by my photos, the breasts I used were massive and James and I split them to get 8 servings)

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (use fresh for best results!)

Grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Coarse salt and ground pepper

4 bone-in chicken breast halves (about 3 lbs)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and zest. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  2. Divide parsley mixture into 4 mounds. Carefully loosen chicken skin with fingers; tuck parsley mixture under skin. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in a 9×13-inch roasting pan.
  3. Bake until skin is crispy, chicken is cooked through, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.

I don’t repeat recipes very often – there are too many new and interesting recipes out there to try! – so the fact that we have had this many times should tell you something. It’s a delicious soup for a cold winter night, hearty and healthy and very satisfying. It’s definitely one of our favorite soups. It’s extremely flavorful and interesting and different from any other chicken noodle soup I’ve ever tasted, unique and impressive enough for company but still simple to prepare.

Swiss chard is so, so good for you and it’s delicious too – it’s a mild leafy green similar in taste and texture to spinach. It’s packed full of iron, vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium and potassium, and fiber. Chickpeas are loaded with fiber, protein, and vitamin B6. This is one healthy soup!! And trust me, you’ll enjoy this soup so much you won’t even notice how good it is for you.

Another reason I love this soup: it’s cheap eats. I always keep canned beans, chicken broth, and egg noodles in our pantry (I’m a big fan of having a well-stocked pantry), and a bunch of Swiss chard will go for about $3, so it’s not an expensive dish to make. You don’t have to pay a lot to eat well. And you don’t have to eat a lot of processed foods to eat cheaply.

I accidentally used beet greens in this soup this last time, and I didn’t even realize it until I went into the fridge for my bunch of beet greens and found a bunch of Swiss chard instead. So feel free to substitute with beet greens or even spinach, if you like. Beet greens will turn your noodles pink after sitting in the fridge overnight, though! My other change to this recipe is that I add about a cup of cooked chicken at the end. I’ll use leftover chicken breast meat, or shredded rotisserie chicken meat, or this last time I roasted two chicken thighs on the bone in the oven with just salt and pepper and cut up the meat. It’s not necessary, but James enjoys the extra meatiness.

You could also easily make this vegetarian by omitting the chicken meat and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Tunisian Soup with Swiss Chard and Egg Noodles

Adapted, just barely, from Batter Splattered

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I use 1 teaspoon ground cumin)

1 bunch Swiss chard or beet greens, stems and center ribs chopped and leaves coarsely chopped (reserve separately)

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

5 cups chicken broth

1 to 2 tablespoons harissa or other hot sauce,to taste (I use 1 tablespoon of Tabasco sauce for a nice kick without being too spicy)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 (19-ounces) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

4 ounce fine egg noodles (about 1 1/2 cups)

Accompaniment: lemon wedges

About 1 cup shredded chicken breast meat, optional

If using seeds rather than powder: toast cumin seeds in a dry small heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat, stirring, until deeply fragrant and dark brown (be careful not to burn). Cool, then grind to a powder in grinder.

Cook chard stems, onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin and salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add stock, harissa (or Tabasco sauce), and lemon juice and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

Add chard leaves, chickpeas, chicken (if using), and noodles with 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered, until tender, about 7 minutes.

Serve soup sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper and remaining cumin.

Chili is one of the best meals for the cold dark days in the middle of winter. They’re hearty, spicy, flavorful, and comforting.I used to make chili from those packets of chili mix that you can get at the grocery store, the ones that are full of MSG and preservatives and who knows what kinds of scary chemicals. I used them because I thought they made making chili easy. HINT: making chili is easy anyway. I mean, how much harder is it to measure out a teaspoon of this, a couple tablespoons of that, than ripping open an envelope of mystery powder? There are so many benefits to mixing the spices yourself rather than relying on the packet: you can adjust the flavors to your liking, you avoid consuming nasty chemicals like MSG, the spices in your cabinet are probably fresher and better tasting than a packet that’s been sitting in the grocery store for who knows how long.

Stepping down off my soap box…

This recipe caught my eye because it’s unlike any chili I’d ever had – it includes cocoa powder in the list of spices and it’s served over spaghetti. I guess this is pretty common in Ohio, but for this Jersey girl, it sounded very unusual and intriguing. The cocoa powder adds a subtle dark chocolatey note to the chili that’s really delicious.

This recipe has a long list of spices, so it could be expensive to make this if your spice cabinet is rather small, but I had everything except for the chipotle chili powder so it was a very reasonably-priced meal. Plus none of the spices in this recipe are uncommon, so if you do have to invest in some spice jars to make this, you’ll easily find other recipes to use them in. The long list of spices gives this chili a deliciously complex spicy flavor.

So here’s the cast of characters: a lot of spices, salt, cocoa powder, canned crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, an onion, some garlic, and of course BEEF. This is a very beefy chili, and the beans are served as a garnish.

You start by chopping up an onion.

Then throw your beef into a big pot.

Add your chopped up onion…

And the minced garlic…

And cook it all up until the beef is browned and the onion is soft.

Now, you’re supposed to add the chili powder with the onion and garlic and cook them all up together, but I forgot so I added it at this point and let it cook up a bit before going on to the next step. It was fine, but: don’t be like me! Follow the recipe!

After you drain the fat from the beef, add the tomatoes. I used crushed tomatoes, but you could also used diced.

Here are all the beautiful spices and the cocoa powder all in one little dish. I measured these all out in advance because mise en place makes my life so much easier. Plus I love having all my ingredients all set up, chopped and minced and ready to go in their own little dishes, because other than making the cooking flow much better, they all look so pretty in their raw stage. And I get to pretend I’m on a cooking show.

Stir in the spices,  cocoa powder, salt, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, and let it simmer for an hour covered, and another half hour with the lid off. And that’s all there is to it! Chop up an onion, mince a few garlic cloves, measure out some spices, mix everything together in a pot and then just sit back and let your house fill with yummy smells. Easy peasy.

Mm, that’s some beefy, spicy deliciousness right there.  Now, to be clear, when I say “spicy,” I don’t mean that this dish is anywhere near a 4-alarm type of chili. It has a nice kick to it but the flavor is a complex melding of spices. This isn’t a hot-hot kind of chili.

And here’s your secondary cast of characters; don’t forget about these guys! Cook up the spaghetti. Drain, rinse, and heat up the beans (I nuke mine in the microwave). Grate up the cheddar cheese. And, well, open up the sour cream.

Serve the chili on top of the spaghetti and then add the toppings of your choice – I like to add the beans, then the cheese, and then the sour cream. You can also serve it with chopped onions, but James and I aren’t big fans of raw onion.

This is a delicious dish! And it makes a lot – James and I probably ate it for dinner for four nights. But we never got tired of it because it’s so good.

The recipe comes from Rachel at Coconut & Lime, so please head over to her blog to get all the details and then MAKE THIS CHILI. It’s so good. You’ll be so glad you did.

Wow, you guys. It has been 9 months since I last posted. Life, and my job, got a bit crazy there for a while. Well, I’m back! And I’m going to do my best to stay on top of this.

So, to kick my little blog into the new year, I bring you a delicious, easy, and unusual dish: spiced couscous and chicken, from the Food Network magazine. I won a subscription to the magazine in a giveaway offered on Beantown Baker’s blog a few months ago. I’m so thrilled I won because the magazine is awesome. I’ve made some dynamite recipes out of the four issues I’ve received so far, and I have a bunch of others on my to do list.

I’ve made this dish twice, and my husband and I love it. It’s easy to put together and it has a wonderful spiciness from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The dish seems to have an Moroccan-influenced flavor, which is very different from our usual fare and a great way to add some variety to our diet. We use Tabasco on this since I’ve never managed to find harissa in the grocery store, and I love that each person adds hot sauce to their own plate according to their tastes. I like mine fairly spicy, but I make liberal use of the Greek yogurt to cool things down again.

The first time I made this, I used Israeli couscous since that’s all I had, even though the recipe called for the regular kind. I made it again with regular couscous, but I decided I like the Israeli kind better.  The original recipe uses only 1 cup of the water, so a lot of that tasty cinnamon and ginger stays in the pot, but my way cooks the pasta in all of the water, so none of the tasty spicy goodness gets wasted. That alteration is reflected in the recipe below. (If you want to use regular couscous, the original recipe is available on the Food Network website.)

The photos depict regular couscous, however, because I guess I didn’t take pictures the first time I made this.

Spiced Couscous and Chicken

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2010

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup golden raisins

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for topping

Greek yogurt and harissa, Tabasco, or other hot sauce, for topping

1. In a large sauce pan, sauté the couscous with 1 tablespoon of butter until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups boiling water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 12 minutes. In the last 4 minutes of the cooking time, quickly stir in the carrots and replace cover.

2. While the couscous is cooking, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add raisins, almonds, scallions, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until the almonds are lightly toasted and the raisins are puffed up and it all smells irresistibly fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

3. In a large bowl, mix together couscous, shredded chicken, and almond mixture. Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkling of cilantro and a shake or two of hot sauce, if desired.

Serves four.

Last Saturday, hubby and I went to a rare, rare gem in New England: a quality Mexican restaurant. Since moving from LA last spring, we’ve been in a Mexican food wasteland. We’d ask locals where we could get the best Mexican, and they’d enthusiastically recommend a place, so we’d go all full of hope and hunger only to be disappointed by their boring ketchup-tasting salsa, and it would only go down from there. A coworker recommended Agave in Newburyport to me, and we went with a bit of trepidation and fully prepared to be disappointed, and, shockingly enough – it was good! So good, in fact, that on Tuesday when we realized I had accidentally left my coat at Agave, we stayed for dinner when we went back to pick up it up.

So why the picture of pot roast and mashed taters?  That dinner is a direct result of our first trip to Agave – the trip where we learned that if you want to go to Agave on a Saturday night, you better make a reservation or you’ll have over an hour and a half wait for a table. So with an absurd amount of time to kill, we wandered  over to the book store next door, where I stumbled across Ree Drummond‘s cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. And I cooed and squealed over it and delighted in all the beautiful photography and drooled over the yummy-looking recipes.

Now, it just so happens that we recently cashed in a bond that my now-deceased elderly cousin Sunny gave me for high school graduation (ten years ago!?) – a bond that would be worth $50… in 2036. So we cashed it out now for something like $30, so I had just the right amount of pocket money to buy myself the book. Woo hoo! As we waited for our table, I read this recipe and decided I just HAD to make it the next day. So I did.

I’d never made pot roast before, and I was rather intimidated by the idea of making such a fancy Sunday-Dinner-With-Grandma kind of meal, but Ree’s step-by-step instructions and pictures it was a piece of cake. It’s actually a surprisingly simple dish – you brown the onions quickly, then the carrots quickly, and then sear the meat nicely, then throw it all together with beef broth and some fresh herbs (definitely don’t skip the fresh herbs!) and let it do its thing in the oven for a few hours.

And when you take it out, hoo boy. It’s amazing. The beef falls apart, the carrots taste so good that my vegetable-hating husband raved about them and got himself  a second serving. This is a fantastic dish and I know I’ll be making it again soon. The recipe is below, but I recommend checking out Ree’s post about it – the photos are so helpful and she even has it formatted to print out nicely at the bottom. Sweet!

Ree’s Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 whole (4 To 5 Pounds) Chuck Roast
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Onions
  • 6 whole Carrots (Up To 8 Carrots)
  • Salt To Taste
  • Pepper To Taste
  • 1 cup Red Wine (optional, You Can Use Beef Broth Instead)
  • 2 cups To 3 Cups Beef Stock
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, or more to taste
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, or more to taste

Preparation Instructions

First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat. This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else. Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).

Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.

When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

Oh, and once it’s all cooked up, be sure to do like Ree advises and taste a bit of everything all in one bite.

Even if you’re like me and don’t like mixing it up like that. Trust me. It’s a little bit of heaven.

Yum! Thanks, Ree! And thanks, Sunny. 🙂

I love Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine. My cousins gave us a subscription as an engagement present about two years ago and ever since then I’ve been hooked. So when I found out that there’s an Everyday Food app for my iPhone, and that it was only a buck, of course I bought it. And I generally only stick to the free apps, so you know this was special.

The app isn’t perfect, but it gives me easy access to recipies from issues that came out before I was a subscriber, and that makes me happy. And it stores an alphebetized list of the recepies I’ve saved, so it’s easy to find my favorites again, which is extremely helpful. On more than one occasion there has been a frantic search for a missing issue of Everyday Food that had a recipe I wanted to try, or – even worse! – a recipe I already tried and loved but didn’t copy down yet. So hopefully the app will cut down on that, although it doesn’t seem to include recipes from the latest issues.

Plus it has a “dinner tonight” tab, which gives you a new recipe every day, so I’ve discovered some tasty-looking recipes that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I love that each recipe has a pretty photo of the food, just like the website or the magazine. I hate not knowing what the dish is supposed to look like.

And you can search through the archives for a particular ingredient. I wish it had a browsing feature though, I’d like to just scroll through their archives without narrowing it down by an arbitrary ingredient.

It was through this app that I discovered the recipe for gemelli with sausage, swiss chard and pine nuts. It looked interesting and very very easy, but it had so few ingredients I didn’t really expect much from it. I wanted to try it because it was something new (and it looked like it be a cinch to throw together), but I thought it’d be one of those recipes that I try and then forget about.

Obviously, I was wrong. It was fantastic. I was actually blown away. The flavors were surprisingly complex for so few ingredients (I think we have the sausage to thank for that), and it was very savory and satisfying. I couldn’t stop raving about how much I enjoyed the dish, and I don’t usually compliment my own cooking that way. I was just so surprised at how tasty this was, given how ridiculously simple it was to put together.

Gemelli with Sausage, Swiss Chard and Pine Nuts

From Martha Stewart Everyday Food (unfortunately the app doesn’t say which issue)

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed

1 lb Swiss chard, tough stems removed*, leaves cut into thin strips

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and Pepper

1 lb gemelli or other short pasta

3/4 cup raisins, plumped in boiling water and drained**

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I think I used 1/2 cup) ***

Directions

1. In a large skillet, toast pine nuts over medium-high heat, shaking the pan to toast evenly, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from skillet.

2. In the same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and cook, breaking it up with a fork, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add chard, garlic, and pepper; cook, tossing, until chard wilts, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover to keep warm.

3. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions, about 12 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Return pasta to pot.

4. Add sausage mixture to pasta with 1/2 cup reserved cooking water, raisins, toasted pine nuts, and cheese; toss to combine. Add more cooking water if pasta seems dry. Serve with more Parmesan.

*and feed to your guinea pig if you have one!

** I almost left the raisins out, and I’m so glad I didn’t. They added a pleasant sweetness to the dish, and they really complimented the sausage. I let them sit in the boiling water for a minute or two before draining and adding them to the dish.

*** I use freshly grated Asiago, which is cheaper than fresh Parmesan (especially Parmesan imported from Italy) but I really can’t taste the difference. I wouldn’t recommend the pre-grated parmesan in a green can – it just wouldn’t give you the awesome flavor that the fresh cheese will.