Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Slow Cooked Beef Ragu

I have to thank my friend Peg for this recipe.  She knows I like to cook so she recently shared this yummy recipe with me.  You will have to visit Little Leopard Book and check out all of Whitney's great recipes.  I loved looking around.

Chris and I enjoyed this meal three different nights.  He is a patient man.  With fewer of us at home, I feel like we eat the same meal for several nights!  The first night, I served it over the extra wide egg noodles you see in the picture.  The second time, we enjoyed it over polenta.  I just bought polenta in the tube, sliced it and roasted it in the oven like I do other vegetables.  The polenta was a nice change. I think I might make a bowl of creamy polenta next time.  The third time, we enjoyed it over Texmati rice.  I think that was Chris's favorite - he loves rice.

We thought this Beef Ragu had a great flavor.  I followed the recipe to a T.  My friend Peg thought it looked a little weak as it was cooking so she added one more can of tomato paste, doubled the wine, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp sugar.  She loved hers too.

Give it a try and be sure to visit Little Leopard Book to check out some of Whitney's other recipes.


Yummy - you could choose to thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch


We served it over sliced polenta that we roasted with a little olive oil in the oven.  I think making a recipe of creamy polenta (kind of like grits for those that haven't eaten or heard of polenta) would be great.

Slow Cooked Beef Ragu

1 large onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced or whole
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 lb beef chuck roast
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup red wine
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
pasta, polenta or rice
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
sprinkling of fresh rosemary, chopped for garnish

Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray.  Add onion and garlic to bottom of slow cooker. Sprinkle fresh rosemary over the top of the onions.  Season beef with salt and pepper and add to slow cooker.  In a medium bowl, mix broth, red wine and tomato paste.  Pour mixture over the beef.  Pour in the diced tomatoes. (I cooked mine on low all day for about 8 - 9 hours.  Whitney recommends high for 6- 8 hours.  You know your crockpot or slow cooker)  Using a fork, see if the beef pulls apart easily.  When tender, use two forks and shred the beef.  Serve it over pasta, creamy polenta or rice.  Top with grated fresh Parmesan cheese and chopped rosemary.  

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Cheesy Italian Meatloaf

I have to say... I am not a huge meatloaf fan.  My hubby lovesit so I do try to make it every now and then.  I think it is a texture issue with me.  I saw this recipe on Facebook and thought the Italian flavors and cheeses might be the perfect added touch.  Chris loved it.  I enjoyed it too - I especially liked the cheesy crunchy edges!


Cheesy Italian Meatloaf

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage ( I used hot)
1 small onion, finely chopped ( I used minced onion)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (I used Italian Panko bread crumbs)
2 slices white bread, crumbled
1 T. milk
8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese, reserve 3/4 cup for topping
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (maybe a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1 cup marinara sauce, plus 1/2 cup or so for topping

In a small skillet, brown the onion in olive oil until tender, remove from heat.  In a large bowl, combine meat, onion, and remaining ingredient,s reserving 3/4 cup of cheese for topping.  Using your hands, combine everything very well.  Pat mixture into baking dish of your choice.  Top with the extra marinara sauce.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 - 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with reserved Mozzarella cheese, a sprinkling of Parmesan and a little dried basil.  Return to the oven and bake for about 10 more minutes.  

*Make sure meat isn't pink when serving.  Cooking times may vary.  I baked mine in a meatloaf pan that drains the fat - I love it.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Smoked Almond Cheese Spread

I love smoked almonds and I think everyone loves cheese.  I tasted a Smoked Almond Cheese spread at an event and decided I would come up with one.  Feel free to tweak it with different cheeses.  I like serving it with crackers but I totally think you could add a little more mayonnaise, spoon the mixture into a baking dish, top with chopped smoked almonds and baked it for a hot appetizer.


Smoked Almond Cheese Spread

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups swiss cheese, grated
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz sharp cheese, grated (I used white aged cheddar but any sharp cheese)
4- 6 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 oz can smoked almonds, chopped (divided)

Mix all ingredients with about 3/4 of the smoked almonds.  Mix well.  Spoon into one larger crock or two smaller crocks and sprinkle with chopped almonds.  Serve with favorite crackers or vegetables.

* I don't like to serve this right out of the refrigerator.  The cheeses are too hard and you can taste the flavors.  Allow dish to sit out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving
*We enjoyed one crock at home and I took the other crock to a party

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Mexican Chicken Pot Pie

We love chicken pot pie so I had to try this Mexican version.  I did change it up.  I decided to do it the traditional way with one crust on the bottom and one on the top.  I baked it in a round quiche dish.  I had extra "inside" so I am saving it to make one of our favorites - Chicken Pockets .  I thought about baking the extra in a dish with cheese on top - for a dip.  I thought about heating it and serving it in a warm tortilla.


Mexican Chicken Pot Pie

2 refrigerated pie crusts
1  16 oz jar of favorite salsa
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (16 oz) pkg of frozen corn (I used the frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe's)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups diced chicken or 2 cans chunk white chicken, drained

Let pie crusts sit at room temperature to soften.   Mix the salsa, soup, sour cream cheese, corn, beans and chicken.

Option 1 - Spray a round quiche pan with cooking spray and bake the bottom crust according to pkg directions.   Pour 3/4 of the mixture into the baked pie crust.  Top with 2nd crust and bake at 400 for 30 - 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Save the extra inside to make Chicken Pockets or top with cheese and bake as a dip or heat and serve in a warm tortilla.

Option 2 - Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.  Unfold the pie crusts on a lightly floured surface side by side so they overlay by about three inches in the cneter.  Press the seam to seal and roll the pie crust to form a 10 x14 inch rectangle.  Place the rectangle over the mixture in the pan.  Seal edges or trim off extra dough. Cut a few slits in crust.  Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden brown.

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