Sunday, March 28, 2010

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

My husband is the official mashed potato maker in our home. That's because he is VERY good at it! The other night we invited my brother over for dinner since his wife was out of town. I realized as I was planning the menu that we always make mashed potatoes when he visits since it's an effort to step up the meal quality. Since the meal I had planned was pot-roast and who doesn't like potatoes with their roast I decided to try a new recipe to give my ol' brother some variation. To make things even more exciting I made the potatoes instead of my husband. ("Ooooooooo! Ahhhhhhh!) End result: these were a HIT!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
(Pioneer Woman)

5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
3⁄4 cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened*
1⁄2 cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
1⁄2 teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1⁄2 teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients. Turn off the stove and add 1 1⁄2 sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about 1⁄2 cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about 1⁄2 teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and 1⁄2 a teaspoon of black pepper. Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

(When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.)

*My Note: I didn't do the last step of warming it in the oven because of a lack of time. Thankfully my mashed 'taters were still steaming hot for service at dinner.

Pot Roast

I have always struggled to cook the perfect pot roast. I'm not sure why I struggle since it's not like I'm attempting rocket science! I cook a moderately good roast but what I really love is the beef that just shreds with a fork and is moist. This recipe is what I can confidently call a fool-proof recipe! There are no onion flavor packets or confusing techniques. This is just simple searing and roasting...and mmmm was it good!

Ree appeared on the today show this month to demonstrate this recipe. She commented that she doesn't like to put potatoes in with the roast to cook since they get soggy.  I agree! Leaving them out allows for the juices to pool and later be used in a delicious gravy.

Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast
(source: PW)

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

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 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.

Round Steak with Vegetable Gravy in the Slow Cooker

I love a good family-friendly recipe, meaning my kids clean their plates with a smile and the food is healthy. I found this recipe the other day on Eat at Home and I was convinced I should make it when Tiffany said: "I found this recipe stuck in my tattered recipe binder, jotted on a calendar page from 1998. I used to make it quite a bit, but somehow forgot about it. With those two sentences I was sold! We made this today for Sunday dinner and everyone loved it!

 We served this with penne pasta since we have eaten a lot of potatoes this week. My only comment is that the round steaks shrink, a lot, so plan accordingly.

Round Steak with Vegetable Gravy in the Slow Cooker 

Recipe from Eat at Home

   * 3 carrots, peeled and diced
    * onion, diced
    * small green pepper, diced
    * 2 stalks celery, diced
    * 2 lb. round steaks
    * 1/2 cup ketchup
    * 1 Tbs. vinegar
    * 1/3 cup water
    * salt and pepper
    * 2 Tbs. flour
    * 1/2 cup water

Place the meat in the crockpot.  Put the diced veggies on top.  Mix the ketchup, vinegar, water and salt and pepper together.  Pour over the meat and veggies.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

Remove the meat from the slow cooker.  Turn it up to high.  Mix the flour and 1/2 cup water together in a container with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake it to combine until smooth.  Whisk into the broth in the slow cooker and let it cook just a few minutes until it’s thickened a bit.
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