Thursday, March 31, 2011

Restaurant Knock-Off: Texas Roadhouse House Salad

I love the House Salad at Texas Roadhouse so when I was stumped for what to serve with dinner one night I decided to recreate it at home.

It's a very simple salad made infinitely better by their homemade Ranch dressing and croutons made from their delicious rolls (two things I haven't tried recreating at home yet). It's just greens (romaine), tomato, hardboiled eggs, cheddar cheese and croutons.

Next step - make my own Ranch dressing and find a knock-off for their rolls.
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Recipe Swap - Green Chile Cheeseburgers

Want to see what other Easy Weeknight Meals were made during the swap? Here is the link to the Easy Weeknight Recipe Swap Roundup.

This week's cooking board recipe swap theme was Easy Weeknight Meals. I was thrilled to end up with a burger recipe, especially one as simple as Green Chile Cheeseburgers. The original Bobby Flay recipe sounds great, but too labor-intensive for me. Thankfully, Jenna simplified it into something I could easily make over and over again.

Whenever I see a green chile cheeseburger on a Food Network or Travel channel show they keep it simple with the cheeseburger, chiles, bun and mayo so I did the same. I'm sure it's because this recipe calls for canned chiles, but I thought the burgers could use even more chiles on top. Next time I'd use 2 cans for 4 burgers.

Green Chile Cheeseburgers
Adapted from Bobbly Flay

2 pounds ground chuck
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 thin slices provolone
4 hamburger buns, toasted
2 cans green chiles
Romaine lettuce leaves, optional
4 thick slices tomatoes, optional

Heat grill to high. Form meat into 4 (8-ounce) burgers and season each burger on both sides with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Grill until charred on both sides and cooked to desired doneness.

Divide the cans of green chiles onto the burgers. Place 2 slices of the cheese on each burger, close the lid or tent with foil, and cook until the cheese has just melted and chiles are warmed, about 1 minute. Place burgers on buns and top with mayo, lettuce and tomato, if desired.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Caesar Salad Dressing

I love Caesar salad, especially now that I've taken to making my own dressing. I served these salads with the Portobello Parmesan I made for the vegetarian recipe swap.

I combined two recipes awhile ago to make use of ingredients I always have on hand. I usually throw everything into my mini food processor. I've started grating large slices of Pecorino cheese over the lettuce and croutons and it's been a huge hit.

Caesar Salad Dressing

1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons anchovy paste (or 2 anchovy filets)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayo
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine lemon juice, anchovy paste, cheese, mayo, garlic, white wine vinegar and Worcestershie sauce in blender. Blend until smooth and then drizzle in oil while blender is on. Season with salt and pepper.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recipe Swap - Portobello Parmesan

I love participating in recipe swaps but I have to admit I was nervous about doing the vegetarian-themed one. We are a meat and potatoes family and I was worried we'd end up with something involving a lot of ingredients I don't normally cook with. Imagine my relief when my recipe was for Portobello Parmesan, courtesy of Lishie over at DeLish!

As you know by now, SP is a serious mushroom fan so this was right up his alley. And it couldn't be easier to make. I think it took me 10 minutes from wiping the mushrooms to putting the casserole dish in the oven. I love meals like that! Thanks for a real winner, Lishie!

Portobello Parmesan

8 small OR 4 large portobello mushrooms, wiped, stems removed
olive oil
salt & pepper
3-4 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup shredded parmesan

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large skillet or grill over medium heat. Brush the portobello caps with the olive oil on both sides. Salt and pepper each cap. Place in the skillet or grill about 5 minutes per side.

In an oiled baking dish, spread 1 cup marinara sauce. Place the mushroom caps, bottom facing up, on the sauce. Ladle more sauce into each cap. Place shredded mozzarella onto each cap, then top with shredded parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted, bubbling and browned
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Spicy Scallion and Brie Burgers

I love a good burger. This is nothing new if you've read my blog recently. Someone on my cooking board recently asked for burger recommendations and these Spicy Scallion and Brie Burgers were mentioned. I immediately put them on the menu for the following week. I love anything with Brie in it.

I left out the jalapeno in the scallion paste. It was still spicy from the cayenne and I figured that was enough heat for me. The Brie melted nicely and added a really nice flavor to the meat.

Spicy Scallion and Brie Burgers
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces Brie, rind removed, cheese cut into 4 slices
1/4 cup Spicy Scallion Paste (recipe below)
Vegetable oil, for brushing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 hamburger buns, split
Tomato slices and lettuce, for serving

Light a grill. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and form into eight 4-inch patties that are slightly thicker in the center. Top 4 of the patties with a slice of Brie and a scant tablespoon of the scallion paste. Top with the 4 remaining patties, pinching the edges to seal.

Brush the burgers with oil and grill over high heat, turning once or twice, about 8 minutes for medium-rare meat.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise with the remaining scallion paste. Grill the buns until toasted. Spread the mayonnaise on the bottoms of the buns and top with the burgers, tomatoes and lettuce. Close the burgers and serve.

Spicy Scallion Paste
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh hot chile, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine the scallions with the garlic, chile, lemon zest and cayenne, mashing slightly with the back of a spoon. Stir in the olive oil and salt. The paste can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

I served the burgers with oven fries:

I used a new recipe from Cook's Country and did a much better job getting them evenly brown. I'm still working on cutting the fries evenly.

Crispy Oven Fries
Cook's Country

4 russet potatoes (6 to 8 oz. each), peeled and cut into 1/2" slices
6 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place potatoes in a bowl, wrap tightly with plastic, and microwave until translucent around edges, 3 to 5 mins, shaking bowl half-way through to redistribute potatoes.

Transfer potatoes to cooling rack and thoroughly blot dry with paper towels. Coat rimmed baking sheet with 5 tablespoons of oil. Transfer to oven and heat until just smoking, 5 to 7 mins. Meanwhile, whisk remaining oil,cornstarch and salt in large bowl. Add potatoes and toss to coat.

Arrange in single layer on hot baking sheet and bake till deep, golden brown and crisp, 25 to 35 mins, flipping potatoes half-way through cooking time. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and blot with additional paper towels.
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pork Chop and Hashbrown Bake

I haven't eaten pork chops in a very long time. I can't remember how long it's been, but I think it was before I was pregnant with Baby Girl. I'll admit, when I saw this recipe for Pork Chop and Hashbrown Bake on Carrie's blog I considered making it with chicken instead, but SP talked me into using pork chops. I'm glad he did - this was a great dinner.

This is not the most photogenic meal, and it calls for something a lot of food bloggers turn their nose up at, but it was absolutely delicious. Seriously. SP cleaned his plate and told me I could make this dish once a week for him. High praise!

Pork Chop and Hashbrown Bake
Modified from Carrie's Sweet Life

Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
24oz frozen shredded hashbrowns, thawed
6 boneless pork chops, 1 1/2-2 inches thick
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 large can dried onion pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add thawed hashbrowns. Season with salt and pepper and cook until evenly browned, stirring occassionally. Remove to a large bowl, reserving skillet.

Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the now empty skillet. Pat each pork chop dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown pork in skillet. Don't cook through since the pork will be cooking in the oven.

Combine soup, milk and sour cream and add to the bowl with the hashbrowns. Add half of the cheese and half of the onion pieces. Spoon mixture into prepared 9×13 baking dish. Arrange pork over potato mixture. Cover with foil.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Top with remaining onion pieces and cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Nutty Chicken Stir-Fry and Egg Drop Soup

I really wanted to like this recipe for Nutty Chickn Stir-Fry. It looked delicious and smelled even better, but the flavors just weren't there. I've yet to find a recipe for noodles or stir-fry involving peanut butter that really wows me. It never has enough peanut flavor for me.

It didn't help that the recipe failed to specify what type of stir-fry vegetables to use. The bag of Asian stir-fry veggies in my freezer didn't match the picture, so my guess is there's another mix that might be better suited for this dish. In the magazine where I first saw this recipe they pair it with Egg Drop Soup, so I did, too.

I'm pretty sure my chicken broth wasn't low-sodium but it might as well have been for the absolute absence of flavor. Even adding salt at the table did little to save this soup from flavor boredom. Maybe this is a sign that I need to just give up trying to cook Chinese food at home and stick with our favorite local take-out.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pizza Friday - Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Of all the pizzas I make, Buffalo Chicken Pizza is SP's favorite. Now that I've reinstated Pizza Fridays this was his first choice when I asked him what kind of pizza he wanted.

I recently stocked up on frozen dough from my favorite Italian bakery (one of these days I need to try making my own dough), and I'm so glad I did. I missed their perfect crust. I was particularly proud of this pizza, especially its roundness and thin, crispy crust.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recipe Swap - Indian Chicken Curry

Want to see what other chicken dishes were made during the swap? Here is the link for the Chicken Recipe Swap Roundup.

I've been enjoying the recipe swap I've been participating in so much I decided to see if the women on the cooking board I frequent wanted to start one. The response was overwhelmingly positive so off we went. I hosted this week's swap and chose chicken as the theme. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new and exciting chicken recipes, like this one for Indian Chicken Curry from J Bean Cuisine.

I knew SP would love this dish and it didn't disappoint. I served it with basmati rice and store-bought naan. The only change I made was to use dry spices for the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom since that's what I had on hand.

We've found that, for some reason, curry dishes tend to taste better the next day. We had the leftovers for lunch the next day and it was outstanding - nice depth of flavor and everything came together. Next time I'll make this dish the day before we want to eat and reheat before serving.

Chicken Curry
JBean Cuisine

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated green jalapeño
3 tsp garam masala
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
3 lbs of chicken (thighs and breasts), chopped into bite-sized pieces

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cardamoms
2 cloves
4 black peppercorns
3 medium onions, diced
1 cup of water
1 medium tomato, diced
1.5 cups of plain tomato sauce

In a large glass or metal bowl, make a paste by mixing 3 tbsp of olive oil with the ginger, garlic, jalapeño, garam masala, thana jeeroo, red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt.

Add chicken pieces to the paste and mix very well, ensuring that each piece of chicken is coated with marinade. Cover and marinade in fridge for 2hrs.

In a large dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil for one minute over medium heat. Add the cassia sticks, cardamoms, cloves and black peppercorns. Allow spices to infuse the oil for 2–3 minutes. Add the chopped onions to the oil mixture and sauté until translucent (about 10 minutes). A bit of color on the onions is fine.

Add the marinated chicken and stir well. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to have the heat too high, as your chicken will stick.

After 20 minutes, add 1 cup of water to the chicken. Give a good stir and scrape any bits of flavour off the bottom of your pan. After a minute or so, add tomato sauce and diced tomato to the chicken curry.

Cover again, lower heat to a simmer and cook for an additional 20 – 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice, naan, roti or paratha.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And the winner is...

The winner of the Redpack gift set is Melissa at I Was Born to Cook!

Melissa, please email me your mailing address and I will forward it to Redpack. I hope you enjoy your prize!

Look for my next giveaway in April.
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Saucy Garlic Chicken

Sometimes I see a recipe in a magazine and it sounds so delicious I can almost taste it. Saucy Garlic Chicken was one of those dishes.

I made the sauce over the weekend so all I had to do was cook the chicken, assemble the dish and bake. I loved the combination of the roasted garlic sauce, the spinach and the fresh tomato. Since I prefer bite-size pieces of chicken, next time I'll cut up the chicken breasts and mix it with the sauce.

Saucy Garlic Chicken
Taste of Home Magazine

4 whole garlic bulbs
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 package (9 ounces) fresh baby spinach
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, divided
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups 2% milk
2 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Hot cooked pasta
Chopped tomato and minced fresh parsley, optional

Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut tops off of garlic bulbs; brush bulbs with 1 tablespoon oil. Wrap each bulb in heavy-duty foil. Bake at 425° for 30-35 minutes or until softened. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place spinach in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown chicken in remaining oil on both sides; place over spinach.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 2 cups cheese, nutmeg and remaining salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender; squeeze softened garlic into blender. Cover and process until smooth. Pour mixture over chicken.

Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160° and sauce is bubbly. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer. Serve with pasta. Sprinkle with tomato and parsley if desired.
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Fried Chicken and Herbed Veggie Mix-Up

This was not one of my best meals.

I wanted something to make with my Recipe Swap recipe other then the typical roast chicken. In retrospect, I should have gone traditional because those potatoes probably work best with that meal. I asked SP for his thoughts and he said fried chicken. Since all I had were boneless, skinless chicken breasts I went to Google for inspiration. I found this recipe on and gave it a whirl, along with a recipe for Herbed Veggie Mix-Up I've been wanting to try.

All the different components of the meal were good on their own, but put together into one meal and they failed to meld into a cohesive dinner. SP wasn't a fan of the veggies at all, but he liked the fried chicken quite a bit. I'll make that recipe again, just not with these sides.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese Sandwich

My friend Melissa over at I Was Born to Cook recently posted about the infamous Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese Sandwich. Those of you from the NJ area are probably quite familiar with this NJ diner classic.

Reading her blog post sent my stomach into craving overdrive. And my shameful secret is that I was never a big fan of pork roll, despite growing up in NJ. I know, I know, how is that possible?

SP picked up some Taylor Ham (aka pork roll) for me at the supermarket and I made us both pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches. I opted for two eggs, one slice of pork roll and a slice of American cheese with salt and pepper on a toasted, buttered roll. It was heavenly. I can't wait to make another.
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Giveaway - Redpack Tomato Gift Set

I am SO excited about this giveaway. I've been a fan of Redpack Tomatoes for years, ever since hearing a rumor that one of my favorite restaurants uses them on their tomato pies. When they go on sale at my supermarket I buy them by the case.

This gift set is pretty amazing. For starters, everything comes in a large tin shaped like a can of Redpack tomatoes. When you open it up you see a pool of red confetti packing material made to simulate a can full of sauce. As you dig through you'll find two cans of tomatoes, a can opener, a mini spatula, a pasta server, a pizza cutter and Redpack magnets.

Redpack will ship an identical gift set to the winner of this giveaway. Pretty sweet, huh?

To enter the giveaway: leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite recipe using canned tomatoes. Please include the link to a blog post if you have one to share.

For a second entry: leave another comment on this post telling me which canned tomato product you use most often when cooking - whole, diced, crushed, stewed, tomato sauce, tomato paste or tomato puree.

The Rules: Maximum of two entries per person, U.S. residents only. Each question should be answered in a separate post for you to receive credit for each entry. Commenting will close on Friday, March 11, at 4:00 pm, EST. Entries that do not follow the entry requirements will not be considered. One winner will be chosen at random and announced next week. The winner must be willing to provide a mailing address. Good luck!

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. All opinions expressed are soley my own and were not influenced in any way by Redpack. I am not responsible for the winner receiving the gift set, which will be sent directly from Redpack.
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Recipe Swap - Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

This week's recipe swap theme was side dishes. Even though I love sweet potatoes I only cook them once a year at Thanksgiving. This recipe was reminiscent of the traditional sweet potato casserole, which I've never had (my family simply roasts the potatoes and serves them with butter).

Even though I eliminated the butter and sugar from the sweet potato mixture, the topping made the dish too sweet for my tastes. I think this would be really good as a side at Thanksgiving since there are so many other savory dishes to cut the sweetness.

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred, I used walnuts)
1/4 cup butter, melted

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 3 large sweet potatoes)
1 cup sugar (I eliminated this)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted (I eliminated this)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub potatoes, prick all over with a fork, place on foil-lined baking sheet and roast for an hour. Allow to coil, peel and mash. Lower oven to 350 degrees.

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine sweet potatoes, salt, vanilla and eggs (and butter and sugar, if using) in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
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Monday, March 07, 2011

Fire Island Ziti

This recipe for Fire Island Ziti is my current favorite throw-together meal. It's always delicious and comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

I made the mistake of cooking the whole 1-lb box of pasta so I used a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes instead of a 15-oz. It actually worked well, despite only having a pound of sausage and two broccoli crowns cut into florets.

Fire Island Ziti
Modified from Taste of Home

1 15oz can diced tomatoes, juice reserved
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces uncooked ziti
2 broccoli crowns cut into florets
1 pound Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ziti according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage in oil until no longer pink. Add pepper flakes; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in tomatoes with the juice and heat through.

Drain ziti mixture; toss with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
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Friday, March 04, 2011

Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas

I love quesadillas. They're so versatile. You can put pretty much anything between two tortillas, add some cheese and you've got a delicious and easy dinner.

I never liked pineapple before I was pregnant with Baby Girl, but now I can't get enough of it. Before seeing this recipe for Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas, I never would have thought to add it to a quesadilla but you know what, it works. It really works.

I've been thinking about these quesadillas all week and can't wait to make them again. Even SP loved them and he was pretty skeptical about the recipe when he saw it on this week's menu.

I left out the sliced jalapenos because I just can't handle spice the way I used to, but I'm sure they'd make a nice addition to counter the sweetness of the pineapple. Make these tonight! And if you have leftovers, they're even better the next day reheated in the oven.

Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadilla
Pioneer Woman

8 whole Flour Tortillas
Butter Or Margarine
2 cups Grilled Pineapple, Sliced
3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Salt And Pepper, to taste
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
1 whole Jalapeno, Sliced
3 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce

To grill pineapple: cut wedges, stick on skewers, and grill over low heat. Cut into slices.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and Cajun spice (or cumin/cayenne, etc.) Drizzle olive oil on a grill pan and grill on both sides until done, brushing with barbecue sauce. Set aside and slice into very thin slices.

Warm griddle over medium heat and put sizzling butter or margarine in the pan. Slightly warm and toast tortillas on both sides, then remove from griddle and set aside.

To assemble, sprinkle four browned tortillas with grated Monterey Jack. Arrange chicken slices evenly over the surface. Add pineapple slices and jalapeno slices. Sprinkle on cilantro. If desired, drizzle extra barbecue sauce over the top. Add second browned tortilla on top of each one. (You’ll have four complete quesadillas at this point.)

Add to oven to warm, or back to skillet to warm, until cheese is melted. Cut each quesadilla into six wedges. Serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, and lime wedges.
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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Pot Roast and Popovers

I love Sunday dinners. I love spending the day in the kitchen cooking and I really love the wonderful smells that come from long-simmering dishes like pot roast. As much as I'm excited for the bounty of produce that heralds the start of spring and summer, I'm going to miss meals like this one.

I served the pot roast with mashed potatoes, green beans and the carrots, onion and mushrooms from the sauce. I also made these popovers that are basically the same as the Yorkshire Pudding I make at Christmas and were just as delicious:

I love how they puff up and get golden brown. SP and I fought over these.

Pot Roast
Adapted from Vintage Victuals and Food Network

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1 1/2 - 2 lb. chuck roast
4-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 3″ pieces
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 cup mushrooms, stems removed and sliced in half
1 large can crushed tomatoes
16 ounces beef broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt and pepper on a plate. Dry the roast and then coat all sides in the flour mixture. Brown the roast on all sides in the hot oil.

Pour in the tomatoes and the beef broth. Scatter the vegetables, thyme and bay leaves around the pot roast and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Braise for about 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork tender.

Slice the pot roast and arrange on platter surrounded by the vegetables. Serve with the pot juices.
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