Archive | January, 2012

Chianti Marinated Pulled Beef Stew

26 Jan


As per a request, next week I will be posting a recipe for vegan chili just in time for super bowl Sunday.  I was going to make it this past weekend until Giada sucked me into her delicious world during an appearance on the Today Show.  She made this amazing looking stew that I could not get out of my head for the rest of the week.  So on Saturday morning, while everyone else in the northeast  was inside hiding from the snowstorm, I dragged Steve out of our warm, comfy bed to go to the food store.  Along with everything else we needed for the upcoming week, I also got a beautiful piece of meat for the stew.  After a quick stop at our local liquor store for the bottle of chianti, I was home and got crackin’.

Of course I changed her original recipe a bit, so here is what I did:

Chianti Marinated Pulled Beef Stew

Yield: 6-8 servings


2 1/2 lbs beef brisket

1 bottle chianti

4 tbsp EVOO

salt and pepper

4-5 strips of bacon, chopped

2 cups chopped carrots

1 garlic glove, minced

8 oz green beans, cut in thirds

5 red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes

4 cups beef broth

Place beef in a baking dish and pour the wine over it.  Place in fridge for an hour and a half, turn over, and marinate for another hour and a half.  Set meat aside and reserve the wine.  Heat the EVOO in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the meat and brown on each side (about 2 minutes per side).  Remove meat.  Place the bacon in the dutch oven and cook until crispy.  Add the carrots, garlic, green beans, and potatoes and toss around for a few minutes.  Add the wine, tomatoes, rosemary, and beef broth, and stir thoroughly.  Add the meat, bring to a boil, and simmer (covered) for 3 1/2 hours.

Remove meat and pull apart with two forks.  Place meat back in the pot and let warm back up, about 5 minutes.






Do you believe that I don’t have a single picture of the final product?  Maybe it’s because we inhaled it.

For the meat lovers out there, this is the one the best stews I’ve ever had.  Highly recommended for any super bowl party.  If you don’t eat meat or dairy, stay tuned – I got you covered!


Eggplant Rollups

19 Jan

Has anyone noticed that it is really hard to make any meal that is covered in tomato sauce look appealing?  Any tips are welcome!

TGI-Thursday night!  Although we don’t have any significant plans this weekend, I’m just looking forward to relaxing, clearing my head, and hopefully a little snow.  This winter has been mild to say the least – especially compared to last year’s wild winter.  Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I want is a repeat of winter 2011, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t check the weather obsessively in hopes of hearing that a snowstorm is coming.  Oh well!

Anyway, how many people have found old produce-gone-bad hiding in the fridge when you were putting your groceries away?  Me too.  Too many times.  Want to know the solution?  Meal plan.  Meal planning is the answer to so many things.  Want to eat healthier?  Meal plan.  Want to eat out less?  Meal plan.  Want to minimize wasting perfectly good food and money?  Meal plan!  I realize that it can be time consuming, but it’s really worth it.  One of my resolutions was to dust off all of my cookbooks and sit down once a week and write out all of our dinners for the upcoming week.  This way we can go food shopping for exactly what we need for the week.  No waste and no last minute runs to the food store for missing ingredients.  What a novel idea!  This recipe popped in my head the last time I was meal planning.  The best part is that you can use whatever leftover goodies you have lying around for the filling.

Eggplant Rollups

Yield: 4 servings


1 large eggplant, sliced thinly length-wise

1 large tomato, chopped and with the water squeezed out

1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

4 oz soft cheese (I used mascarpone, but you can use ricotta or goat cheese)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

4-5 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped

Salt, to taste

Salt the eggplant slices on both sides and place in a colander.  Let sit for a half hour (salting the eggplant will make it sweat).  Preheat oven to 450F.  Pat the eggplant slices dry and set aside.  In a small bowl, add the tomato, baby spinach, basil, mascarpone (or other soft cheese), mozzarella, and bacon and mix until fully combined.  Lay the eggplant strips on a sprayed cooking sheet.  Add about 3 tbsp of the filling to the fat end of the strip.  Gently roll up and leave it seam side down.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove and add about 1-2 tbsp of the tomato sauce on top of each roll, and then bake for another 10-15 minutes.

One large eggplant made enough for dinner and lunch for both Steve and I.  That’s four meals!  Not too shabby for those of us looking to stretch our dollars.

Have a good weekend!

Strawberry Balsamic Smoothie

14 Jan

Well, the stomach bug that’s been hanging around these parts finally got to me.  And Steve.  And my brother, brother in law, and mom’s husband.  Yeah.  Let me tell you, there is nothing like a good old stomach virus to get you back to eating healthy after the holidays.  Once this bad boy gets a hold of you, the last thing in the world you want is greasy, overly fatty, overly sugary foods.  Although don’t get me wrong, I would have much rather gotten back on track in my own, slow, non-vomiting way.  So needless to say, the food around here hasn’t been all that interesting or tasty since Sunday.  A lot of smoothies loaded with all kinds if craziness.  And then tonight I had this strawberry balsamic smoothie.

Strawberries and balsamic is a classic combination that rarely fails.  Especially since discovering balsamic glaze from my sister a few years back.  Because the balsamic is reduced, it takes some of the bitterness and acidity out and works even better with strawberries and other sweets.  The idea for this smoothie came to me when I was walking to my car this morning, and I thought about it every half hour until I got home.

*Warning: This smoothie will make you long for spring and summer in a serious way

Strawberry-Balsamic Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving


1 banana

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup milk

1 scoop chocolate or vanilla protein powder

1 tsp balsamic glaze

1 small bunch of fresh basil

2 tbsp chia seeds

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

This came out so good, I see an obsession forming.  Try it the next time you want a post workout smoothie, or even a dessert when you want something sweet that isn’t loaded with refined sugars.  You can even add 1/4 cup of rolled oats and have it as a meal replacement.

Scallops Gratin

6 Jan
I love scallops. Seriously, love them, but have never actually cooked them until last month. They scared me. Not the undercooking so much as the overcooking.  It amazes me how quickly and easily a buttery, soft, delicious, perfect scallop can be turned into something that would resemble chewing on a ball of rubber bands in consistency and taste. Being that I’m on a budget, it was never worth the risk for me to attempt on my own. That is until last month when my friend and her boyfriend were coming over for dinner. It was the weekend before Christmas an I was feeling saucy, so I hit up my friend Google for advice. I came across a recipe from Ina Garten that despite my inner voice screaming “no!”(not a fan of miss Ina) actually gave me a good starting off point. What’s my beef with Ina, you ask? Well for those of you who don’t know, a 7 year old boy with leukemia wanted to meet her and cook with her. However, Make A Wish Foundation reached out to Ina and she declined. Twice. Too busy. I think what irked me the most about this story was that after the story went public (real public), 2 weeks of public outcry and thousands upon thousands of people vowing to never watch her show or buy her books ever again, she came out and announced that she would meet him. What a doll! Anyway, the family gracefully declined and the boy was able to swim with the dolphins which was his back up wish.
Ok, I’m very sorry for the rant. Moving on.
Ah yes, scallops. So here’s what was made. Follow this to a T and you will have perfectly cooked scallops. No worries!
Scallops Gratin
Yield: 4 big servings


  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • ¼ pound prosciutto, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup EVOO
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 20 -24 fresh sea scallops
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat oven to 425F. Place the butter in a large bowl and start to whip with a hand mixer.  Add the garlic, shallots, prosciutto, parsley, and salt and pepper and mix until combined. Squeeze the juice from your lemon into to mixture along with the EVOO.  Using a spatula, fold in the panko crumbs last.

Pour the wine in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Rinse the scallops and dry them with a paper towel.  Cut each scallop in half and place them evenly in the bottom of your casserole dish.  Take your butter mixture and spoon it evenly on top of the scallops.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

*Good, fresh scallops can be eaten raw so it is definitely better to undercook a bit than overcook.  I found 11 minutes was perfect.

Make sure you have a good, fresh baguette to serve with this, although it would also be good over pasta or risotto.  The only thing I will definitely change next time is that I will use less garlic. I don’t mind garlic as a side note in a recipe, but I do not enjoy when it is literally all I taste. Why waste money on the other ingredients then?
I also came across this balsamic onion marmalade the last time I was in Williams Sonoma and paired it with some assorted cheeses and water crackers.  If you come across this, I highly recommend it!  A little bit goes a long way, so keep that in mind.

Shepards Pie and Resolutions

2 Jan

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday spent with family, friends, and great food!  Friday was the first night in a week (literally) that I ate dinner at home.  Although I have been continuing to run on a somewhat regular basis, I have still been eating way too much and am starting to feel like a stuffed sausage.  Not to mention the fact that my body is starting to crave real nutrition and normalcy.  And I’m not talking about “milk chocolate contains milk, which contains calcium, so it must be healthy” nutrition.  However, this past week I have been eating pretty much whatever I want and my mind seems to be used to that mindset (funny how quickly that happens), so I couldn’t just have a salad for dinner.  Small steps!  That is why this shepards pie recipe is so great.  It tastes just like comfort food, but it really has a lot of veggies and nutrition packed in there.  Trickery!

Shepards Pie


6 red potatoes

2 tbsp earth balance

1/2 cup skim milk

1 1/4 pound lean ground beef

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 cup peas

1/2 cup corn

2 tsp EVOO

1 tbsp tomato paste

2-3 tbsp worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup vegetable stock

Rinse and chop red potatoes, cover with water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Cook until potatoes are fork tender, then drain and place back in the pot.  Using a fork, lightly mash the potatoes.  Add the milk and earth balance and whip with a hand mixer until completely smooth.  Cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Saute the onion, carrots, and bell pepper in the EVOO on medium high heat for about 10 minutes.  Next add the beef, peas and corn and cook until the beef is browned.  Finally, add the vegetable stock, tomato paste, and worcestershire sauce.  Cook everything for an additional 5 minutes.  Transfer meat mixture into an oven safe casserole dish.  Spoon the mashed potato mixture on top of the meat until you have an even layer that completely covers the meat.  Place in oven for 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.

So let’s all resolve to not get down on ourselves and dwell on the overeating we have all been participating in over the past week or so.  Instead, we’ll move on and back right on our balanced eating and regular exercising horse!

Check this out