Archive for the ‘Main Dishes’ Category

Beer Roast

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I feel a bit slackery with all these “easy” recipes but… well I am. This isn’t your mom’s fancy food blog. I’m just keepin’ it real over here. As much as I appreciate a fancy meal, with 5 kids and a dog and all my hobbies and oh look there’s the internet, it just doesn’t happen much around here. Just saying.

Anyway, here’s one of my old standbys. It’s quite possible I make this just so I can have the gravy, but I’d never admit that. Try not to get overwhelmed at the sheer number of ingredients, I know it’s a lot to take in at once.

Also, I cooked and photographed this meal over 2 months ago and am just now getting to the typing part. Good thing this is the internet, because it hasn’t spoiled while we waited!

What to gather: 2-3lb chuck roast (or could be labeled as pot roast), 1 bay leaf, 2-3 (or 4 or 5) cloves of garlic, 1 bottle of beer, olive oil. If you are taking a picture, try to take it as cockeyed as possible so you can be like me.

I know. Very complicated and diverse shopping list.

Lets begin. Hopefully you slept well last night, because this prep is going to take literally minutes. You might need a nap after we’re done, so clear your calendar.

Chop up some garlic. Or mince. Or slice. Or smash like the Hulk. Who cares, just make it smaller.

Now, heat up your cooking vessel with some olive oil and brown the roast on all sides. Even the side sides. Err. All sides.

See, all of them. I mean it!

Dump some beer in there. 1 bottle is a good start. Don’t drink it. Luckily they come in 6 packs, so if you really WANT to drink one, you can. It’s ok to drink whatever alcohol you’re cooking with while you cook, I think I read that somewhere.

Now toss in a bayleaf. Except, it would be better if it were in the beer and not just sitting on the top of the roast all beached and sad. Don’t be like me.

Simmer all of this on low. After one hour, presumably at the end of your post-prep nap, turn the roast over.

Let it go for 2 more hours. You can add more beer if needed, provided you didn’t drink the other 5 bottles already. I’m sure you haven’t, you’re not like that. At the end of the 3 total hours, you should have this:

Now we can make some gravy, if you’re so moved. I normally can’t be bothered, but the gravy from this beer/beef/happiness combo is just too good for me to pass up. I gotta have it. So, pour what is left in the pan aside from the roast, which you’ve removed, and the bay leaf, which you do not want to eat. Not tasty.

You will notice that the fat will conveniently float to the top for easy removal. You can use a turkey baster if a) you feel like cleaning it after and b) your boys haven’t stolen it for some science experiment that you really really don’t want to know about. I don’t ever find myself experiencing a) and b) seems to happen to me far more often than I care to think about, so I use a spoon. I’m very high tech.

Now pour a small amount of the drippings back into the pan. And add some flour. Roughly the same amount as the drippings, but no one is counting here.

Now we are making roux. Do you feel french and fancy? Me either. Whisk this together until it combines and cooks and thickens and whatever else it wants to do. The Roux is the boss of you. Poetry, my friends.

Once that is all worked out, we slowly add the rest of the drippings while whisking. If you whisked your roux right like I said, you will have no lumps. I really mean it! This is the same basic way I make my Thanksgiving gravy and it comes out perfect every time! Just keep adding and whisking until it’s the consistency you desire. Once it boils, it’s reached it’s thickening power, so you can add if it’s too thick, and repeat.

At this point you’ll want to taste it and see if it needs salt and pepper, but I doubt it will. Definitely not salt, it should be plenty salty.

Hopefully you experience what I did: the magical appearance of mashed potatoes.


Bowties in Tomato Sausage Cream Sauce

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Or something. I put those words in a different order everytime I make/think about/mention this recipe. Good thing the title means nothing! Woot!

This is my husband’s mostest favoritestest bestest food ever. Or something. In fact, when he sees this post and realizes I made this while he was out of town… well I just don’t know what will happen. He might do something drastic, like send me a nasty IM or something. It won’t be pretty.

What to gather: olive oil, bowtie pasta, heavy cream (DO IT!), diced tomatoes, italian sausage, fresh basil, onion, garlic, salt, parmesan cheese (to be shown later), red pepper flakes

As I’ve done before, we are going to cut everything before we start. It makes it much less stressful when I’m trying to put it all together, plus it makes me feel like I have my own cooking show where people prepared everything and lined it up in little bowls for me so I could just toss it all together and cook it from raw to perfection during the commercial break.

But back to reality, lets start by removing the sausage from the casing. You just squeeze it on out of there.

I remove it in little bits, since we need it in little bits eventually anyway. Save a step / save a life. Not really. Just the step.

During this step, you might find this wily creature. Beware. She’s here for your sausage.

Finish removing all the sausage from the casing, while trying hard to ignore the dog that is currently staring into your soul.

Set it aside, high on a shelf. She’s just waiting for you to look away. Trust me, I know.

Cut the onion and garlic. Feel free to use a yellow onion. In fact I usually do. Today I just happened to have a ‘red’ one. Why do they call them red? Anyone in their right mind can see that this onion is purple.

And the basil. I like to start by rolling it up the long way.

And then chopping it the short way.

Now we’re ready to begin. Note that the pasta cooks for roughly the same time as the sauce simmers. So, now would be a good time to start the water boiling. By the time we get everything else in the pan, hopefully it will be boiling and they’ll both be done at the same time. If not, do not panic. Either of them can wait a couple minutes for the other.

Heat a large and deep skillet (it needs to be big enough to hold everything, including the pasta) and add the olive oil.

Then add the sausage that you so valiantly guarded from predators.

And add a bit of red pepper flakes. As much as you like. I’m a wimp, so I only added a touch. If you want to cry while eating, feel free to add more than this. (You could also use hot italian sausage if you are so inclined. Mine, however, is medium. Again – wimp.)

Saute this deliciousness over medium high heat until brown. Mmm.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and saute until the onions are tender.

Now we start to add the stuff our television staff has so kindly prepared for us. I imagine they’ll be by soon to do the dishes, too.

Drain the excess juice off the tomatoes, and add them.

Then the heavy cream. Yeah, baby.

A pinch or so of salt. Pinch pinch.

And the basil. Note: technically and aesthetically you shouldn’t really add the basil until the end, because it doesn’t need to be cooked to death. I, however, can not be bothered with these details and just threw it in at this step. Don’t be like me. I got excited.

Stir that around and simmer on low for 8-10 minutes. It will thicken slightly. You don’t want it so thick that it doesn’t cover the pasta, though, so don’t get carried away or anything.

Add your bowties to your boiling water. You boiled water, right? I TOLD YOU TO BOIL WATER! *ahem* Sorry. Add your bowties to your boiling water.

Mine took 12 minutes because they were bigger bowties. You might have smaller ones that cook faster. Just go by what the box says. That way I don’t steer you wrong on account of me not knowing the cook time of every single brand of bowties known to man. I know a lot of random crap, but sadly not that.

Once the noodles are done and drained, and the sauce is happily thickened, that’s pretty much it! Add the noodles to the sauce and combine.

Add some freshly grated parmesan just before serving.

Wooo boy. Good stuff.

Please don’t divorce me, honey. I’ll save you some!

Bowties in Tomato Sausage Cream Sauce

12 ounce pkg bowtie pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb sweet or hot (your choice) Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp minced fresh basil
Freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain and set aside. Heat oil in a large, skillet over medium heat.
Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown. Stir in onion and garlic, cook until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, cream, and salt. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through. Sprinkle with basil and freshly grated parmesan.

Curry Vegetable Orzo

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Warning:  This post contains curry. Hence the name.

Curry seems to be a love it or hate it spice.  I love it.  You might not.  Or, maybe you are an enigma, that neither loves nor hates curry.  I will say that the curry in this dish is very subtle as it only uses 1 teaspoon for the whole entire recipe.  If you don’t like it, you have my permission to leave it out.  You don’t have permission to yell at me when the recipe isn’t as good anymore, though.  😉

The great thing about this recipe is that it is totally flexible as far as the veggies go. In the summer when the produce department is plentiful and glorious (notice I didn’t say my vegetable garden, which is rarely plentiful or glorious), I use different vegetables in this, depending on what looks good at the time. I LOVE it with asparagus, so try adding some of that if you’re so inclined. If not, lets just do this thing!

What to gather: Olive oil, garlic, shallots, zucchini, carrots, curry powder (JUST DO IT), vegetable stock, orzo, Parmesan cheese, parsley, frozen peas (pretend they’re there), salt and pepper (this time in a stainless steel bowl so that the dog doesn’t chew it up immediately following this post).

We’re going to start by cutting all our vegetables first, since they all get added to the pot at the same time. Once we have that done, the rest is a cinch! (Yes, I just used the word cinch. Yes, I’m 108 years old.)

Peel, and then shred some carrots. I only ended up using 2 of the 4 I pulled out. And yes, I used this archaic thing on which to shred them. And yes, I do in fact own a food processor. I just don’t really know how to use it and it seems like a lot of clean up just to shred a couple carrots. I gave my shreds a rough dice at the end because I don’t want big chunks of carrot, but don’t feel obligated to do the same. It’s not important to the end game.

Chop some zucchini. I cut it into strips and then diced, but again, you can chop it however it makes you happy.

Now a couple shallots. A shallot is more or less a small, sweet, mild onion, so you could absolutely substitute onion if you can’t find / don’t want / do not believe me about shallots.

And finally, the garlic. You can use your garlic press, I won’t tell.

To the stove, jeeves! Not that I need a ride to the stove, it hasn’t quite come to that. Yet. Drizzle the olive oil into the hot pan.

And dump in all that stuff we just chopped. Just dump it on in there. Throw caution to the wind.

Saute for about 5 minutes, or until everything softens up. It doesn’t have to be completely cooked since we have a ways to go, just softened.

Add the cumin (DO IT!) and the broth and bring to a boil.

Now the orzo, and again bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat, cover, and walk away for 10 minutes while the orzo cooks. You can use this time to clean up the huge mess you’ve made, start knitting a blanket or making a pot of coffee. Or, better yet, you can get the final 3 ingredients ready to go.

Shred some Parmesan cheese. This time, using an even smaller archaic instrument.

Chop up some flat leaf parsley.

And dig the peas out of the bottom of the freezer. Once the orzo has reached the desired state of doneness (doneness?), add the peas, parsley and orzo to the pan. No need to thaw the peas, they’ll heat up in a few stirs while you’re combining all this.

Season with salt and pepper, and you’re done!

I love this stuff.

Curry Vegetable Orzo

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream. Add garlic, shallots, zucchini and carrots. Sauté 5 minutes. Add curry and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Add orzo and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally until pasta absorbs the liquid and is al dente in texture, 10 minutes. Uncover and stir in cheese, parsley and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

White Chicken Chili

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

I love me some chili. Would eat it most every day, winter or summer, white or red, I don’t care. Love it. But my most favorite, I think, is white chili. It could have something to do with the secret love affair I’m having with pepper jack cheese. Or the one I’m having with cannellini beans. I really get around.

Anyway, this one is relatively easy since I start with a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. If you’re extra ambitious, you could certainly cook your own chicken. I prefer to take short cuts and then go watch Forensic Files or type up blog posts, or whatever.


What to gather: Rotisserie chicken (it’s there! it’s in the back!), olive oil, onion, jalapeño, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, cannellini beans, chicken broth, cilantro, pepper jack cheese, sour cream (ok that’s not there, but it’s coming later).

The first step is to shred the chicken. You can use a couple forks and pull it off and shred it that way. Or you can go all inner savage beast on it and pull it off and then apart with your hands. I won’t tell you which one I did, but it wasn’t the fork one.

Now we cut up our vegetables. Lets start with the jalapeño. Incidentally, if you’re feeling risky, you could certainly use more than 1 jalapeño. I, however, am a big wimp, and one is quite enough for me.

Start by slicing it in half down the middle and removing the white (that’s the extra hot part, so if you want it, you can leave it!) and the seeds.

Then chop ‘er up. I like to cut them pretty small, lest I get a big bite of pepper and literally die. Like I said, I’m a big wimp.

If you weren’t wearing gloves when you chopped the jalapeño, go right now and wash your hands 2 dozen times. Then promise me you won’t touch your eye for at least 9 days.

Next, the garlic. I know I say in the recipe to use 4 cloves, but these were wimpy and I love garlic, so I used 5. Sue me. And the onions. I don’t get too hung up on the onions being diced perfectly uniform or anything, it’s chili, it’s supposed to be chunky and funky. Just like me, I think.

Now we’re ready to put it all together! Easy so far, RIGHT? You might want to wash your hands again, they smell like garlic. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onions, peppers and garlic.

Cook until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently. Don’t burn it! We’ve come so far! Mine aren’t QUITE there in this picture, but it’s dark by my stove and I wasn’t having a good time trying to take these photos, so pretend they are. I appreciate it.

Add the chicken to the skillet.

Once you have all that incorporated, add the spices. If you are trying to hold a reflector while standing on a chair and taking a picture while you measure and add the spices, there’s a chance your stuff will start to get a little brown on the bottom. If not, don’t worry! Add the salt, pepper, cumin and oregano.

Stir that around until it’s combined, and then transfer it to your slow cooker (or you can do it on the stove, either way works).

Open your beans, and drain and rinse them. Sometimes I include the… er… juice? But not this time. Get them nice and rinsed! Yay for rinsed beans!

Now take a small amount of the beans, maybe a cup or so (measure, schmeasure), and mash them in a small bowl. You can use a masher, a food processor, blender, whatever. But, I’m all about what dishes I don’t want to do, so I use a fork. Forks are so under appreciated.

There, all mashy. The word invention never ends here on How 2 Stay Fat.

Now add a bit of the chicken broth to the mashed beans, just to make them a bit easier to incorporate. Again, no need to measure here. We’re not building a rocket, after all! /corny jokes off

Start adding everything to the slow cooker (or pot, I haven’t forgotten about you stove top people!). First, the chicken broth.

Then the beans.

Finally, the mashed beans.

Or whatever order you want. I’m not the boss of you.

Stir to combine. Get excited.

…and then cook on low for 2-3 hours (or 30-60 min on the stove). It doesn’t take long, since you really aren’t cooking it (the reasons for using that rotisserie chicken just never end!), just heating it and getting all the flavors to meld together.

If you get bored while you’re waiting, you can clean your kitchen. Or start getting your toppings ready.

Chop some cilantro. Or parsley, if cilantro is not your thing. Cilantro is my thing, so that’s what I went with. Shred some pepper jack cheese, or just regular jack, or even cheddar, I won’t tell!

Sit at the table and bang your spoon on the table for 20 minutes until you remember that you’re the only one home and go check your email and harvest your Farmville crops or whatever it is you do while you’re home alone.

Ahh, finally….

White Chicken Chili

2 cups shredded cooked rotisserie chicken
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
3 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions, garlic and jalapeno, cook until onions are translucent. Add cooked chicken, sprinkle with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, transfer to slow cooker.

In a small bowl, mash a small amount of the beans with a small amount of the broth. Add to the slow cooker.

Add remaining beans and broth to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 2 hours. Stir before serving.

Top with shredded pepper jack cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.

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