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Last week I decided to try something new when planning my weekly dinner menu. I grabbed one large cut of meat, Jude picked out a few green and starchy vegetables. The challenge was to see how many dinners I could cook with one cut of meat (braised beef), to see if I could shorten my time cooking, AND to see what the outcome of my grocery bill was. (this is one of those weird food challenges I do with myself. Remember the Cookie butter cookies and scrambled eggs?)Â
Cooking is my love language and favorite hobby so it was tricky to convince myself that I did not need to plan 5 completely different meals. NO Kait, you do not need to have Thai Curry one night and Morrocan chicken the next. I know it sounds fun but NO.Â
My hope is that this will empower you, whoever you are, to cook dinner for yourself. I think there is nothing more loving that you can do for yourself or your loved ones than cooking a hot meal at the end of a long day. So letâ€™s walk through this together step by step and day by day.
Because I was home all day Sunday I cooked mine in my Le Creuset Click HERE for the one I use. But on a weekday I throw this into my Slow-cooker and let it go all day. It’s a treat to come home from work and have dinner ready!
Dinner #1 Braised Beef and Vegetables
- Chuck roast 5-6 LBS
- 1 onion
- 1 bunch celery
- 4 carrots
- 1 tomato
- 32 oz box of broth- I use chicken, but other veggies and beef will work too
- veggies of your choice- I suggest a starch and veggie Â
Dinner #2 Sandwiches
- 1 bag of Buns
- Sliced cheese- get creative
Dinner #3 Sweet Potato Hash and EggsÂ
- 1 Sweet potato
- 1 Yam
- 1 onion
- Borsari Salt
AM: In the morning I pulled the chuck out of the refrigerator and salted it, put it back in the refrigerator until I was ready to get cooking.
2:00 PM Braised and popped in the ovenÂ
6 tsp of salt- I coated the top and bottom of the chuck. You can do this the day of but it is best if you can salt your meat the day before. I should note that I use kosher salt when salting raw meat.
Braised Beef is a classic recipe. If you are new to cooking this recipe is simple but will give you some serious street cred when serving. After you have got the hang of this classic dish you can get creative with the seasonings. Depending on the season, what type of cuisine you are craving simply change the seasonings and you will have a compleatly new recipe!
- Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker/Crockpot
- 3 tbsp butter/oil/ or lard (for brasing )
- 5-6 LBS chuck roast
- 6 tsp kosher salt
- 1 onion
- 2 sticks celery
- 2 carrots
- 1 tomato
- 3 cloves garlic
- 32 oz stock (chicken, beef or vegtable )
Salt your meat the day before or the morning of.
Preheat oven to 425
Brown the meat: In your le creuset (dutch oven) heat 3 tbs of butter on stovetop, and brown all sides of the chuck.
Set the meat aside and deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup liquid. I used chicken broth. To add more flavor use an acid such as wine or white wine vinager. Turn off the heat and add aromatics.
Aromatics are the vegetables and herbs. Make a mirepoix (50 percent onion, 25 percent celery and 25 percent carrots) Because the veggies will be in the oven for a long period of time I cut them into sticks (roughly julliened) and added 3 garlic cloves whole.
In the bottom of your pot add mirepoix, tomato and garlic. Place roast ontop of veggies, add stock 1/3 of the way up your meat. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 10 minutes
Lower the heat to 325 and bake for one hour. Take the lid off and bake for another hour.
Set your table because you deserve it. Prep and start your veggies
Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Adjust seasonings and serve
Salt your meat the day before or the morning of.
In a pan on your stovetop, melt the butter, and brown the meat on all sides.
Make a mirepoix (50 percent onion, 25 percent celery and 25 percent carrots) Because the veggies will be in the oven for a long period of time I cut them into sticks (roughly julliened) and added 3 garlic cloves whole.
In the bottom of your slowcooker add mirepoix, tomato and garlic. Place roast ontop of veggies, add stock 1/3 of the way up your meat. Cover with a lid and set low and slow. I Like to start mine in the morning and let it go for 8 hours.
What an oxymoron, Date Night Sloppy Joes… after you try these you will see how you can have an elegant sloppy joe after all. This dinner cooks fast! Set your table, light your candles, pour a glass of rosÃ©, and then get cooking. You’ll have a hip elegant dinner on the table in no time.
It’s a Date
A few days ago I listened to a podcast encouraging the idea of taking yourself on a date. Today I got off work and had two hours before a dental appointment. I jumped at the opportunity! Usually, I would fill this time with a quick trip home to do the laundry or run errands. NOT TODAY!
East Liberty Tap House
I took myself to East Liberty Tap House, my new favorite spot to eat. Have you been? It is the absolute best place to take yourself for a date or grab a soul mate (lover or friend) and enjoy the atmosphere.
The music is rockin and makes you feel like you are pregaming for an amazing night. I’m here and they are playing disco but don’t worry it’s the fun ironic kind. The outdoor patio is perfect for these COVID days. The energy from the goings on of 9th and 9th only adds to the funky atmosphere. Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with my choice. I orderedâ€¦ can you guess, the sloppy joe. I ended with a cup of coffee and their chocolate pudding and now I am done eating for 10 days ha!Â
Date Night Sloppy-Joe
Letâ€™s talk about the lady of the hourâ€¦ Sloppy Joe herself (goodness I hope no one ever calls me sloppy joe). Before you say a sloppy joe has no place in the world when planning a date night listen up. This lamb-based sloppy joe is full of elegant flavors like rosemary and honey. I add dijon and shallots to mine and let’s just say it takes it to the next level.Â Â
Ok, now that I have sold you on this sloppy Joe if you are in Salt Lake I need you to promise me you will take yourself to East Liberty Taphouse. I think my version is pretty darn good but you can’t beat their atmosphere, french fries, and a dish-free sink. Follow them on Instagram show them some love and then run right over and grab a table.
Lamb Sloppy Joes
- frying pan
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot (sliced into rings )
- chevre cheese
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 tsp Borsari Original Seasoning
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Dijon
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 sprig rosemary (finely chopped )
- 1/2 cup beef broth
Start by prepping all of your fixings (toppings). Heat the oil in the frying pan, add the shallot rings and let carmilize. Remove from pan.
Add the ground lamb to the same pan, season with Borsari, and brown it up! Once the meat is browned add tomato paste, mustard, coconut aminos, and rosemary saute for 3 minutes.
Add beef broth and continue cooking until the consistency is well… sloppy joe. Turn the heat off and plate immediately.
I toasted my buns and let the chevre melt just the tiniest bit, then I slather it in honey before enjoying.Â Â
You asked for it. Here it is… Vodka Sauce! I love this sauce with all my heart. The first time I made this I was delighted with how simple it was and then a little confused as to why I had not always made my own vodka sauce.
I have made this several times now using a variety of different cheeses (don’t tell anyone but I have even used Laughing Cow Cheese!). But that’s the beauty of this vodka sauce I can usually open up my refrigerator and find the ingredients I’m looking for to make this sauce.
Kitchen Sink Dinner
I bet you’re thinking you need pasta to make this sauce, on the contrary! We love this over veggies, salmon, chicken, or meatballs. That’s why I call it a kitchen sink dinner open up that refrigerator and see what you have in there and either add it to your pasta for extra veggies or enjoy a gluten-free or keto meal with this rich sauce over the top.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 finely diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/3 cup vodka
- 1/2 cup cheese (Parmesan, cheddar, or cream cheese will work )
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 ladles pasta water
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (optional )
In a saute pan heat butter on medium-high heat, once melted add garlic and onions. Saute until translucent.
2. Stir in tomato paste. Add vodka and stir (at this point I throw in any veggies I would like and let them saute for 2 minutes).
3. Add cream let it come to temperature before adding the cheese. Add pepper flakes for a kick and hand ripped basil.
4. Add one or two ladles of pasta water to the sauce. Enjoy on top of your favorite pasta!
Want to take your chocolate chip cookies to the next level? Brown the Butter! This step takes the tiniest amount of time but gives you big results. The smell of your Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies is to die for!
A Quick Story
My brother-in-law was a bit of an instigator a few months ago. He made a bet with me that I couldn’t whip up a batch of cookies faster than they could be delivered to our house. GAME ON! While he was typing away ordering a batch of his favorite cookies I busted a move in the kitchen… long story short I was able to make bake and eat my cookie before theirs showed up. Well ever since then I have been on a cookie-making bender. I am experimenting with so many different flavors and recipes but I wanted to share this utterly perfect Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe with you first.
When making Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies the first step is, drum roll… brown your butter! Place your butter in a saucepan. Set the heat to medium. Don’t touch it! I know you are going to want to stir it, the less you stir the browner it gets and the faster it will be. The butter will bubble/foam (your instincts are going to be TURN DOWN THE HEAT! Don’t listen to them!) The bubbles will dissipate, you will be able to see how brown the butter is. From here you get to decide on how browned you want it. I like mine pretty dark. When you have the color of your butter to your liking transfer it to your mixing bowl. If you are using a standard mixer I pour it directly into the bowl that attaches to my mixer. Let it cool completely.
I am becoming a bit of a salt weirdo. I use a wide variety of salts when cooking and baking. When it comes to making cookies I use Fleur de Sel Salt. It gives your cookies the perfect salty-sweet that leaves you wanting more. Fleur de Sel holds its crystal shape even after being bakes and gives you a burst of flavor. Normally Fleur de Sel is meant for garnishing but I’ve gone rogue and insist you swap this out in your cookie recipes!
I recommend using a variety of chocolate chips. It changes the look of your cookies giving them the look of a professional! I use a mix of mini, regular and large baking chips. If you only have one type you can chop a few up to give you a variety of sizes. For this recipe, I use one cup total. I save the large ones to place on top. This way I can manipulate the look of my cookies. You of course can throw them all in while mixing and call it good.
Click HERE for more tips and tricks when it comes to baking cookies!
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Standard Mixer or Mixing bowl
- 1 stick butter (8oz)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 cup AP Flour
- 1/2 cup Cake Flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp fleur de sel salt
- 1 cup mixed sizes chocolate chips
- sea salt (for garnishing (optional) )
Measure out all ingredients (trust me it will make everything easier)
Brown the butter. See above for step-by-step. Let cool completeley.
In a standard mixer; add butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Using a paddle attachment mix on medium-high for 2 minutes. Mix in flour (AP and cake), baking soda, and salt.
Mix in small chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, form into balls, place on a cookie sheet. Add larger chocolate chips to the top of mounds by hand. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (or if your impatient like me bake a few off right away) Freeze the leftovers and bake up to a month later.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350. Bake from chilled or frozen for 15- 20 minutes. Enjoy!
If baking fresh soft dough (not chilled or frozen) bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.Â
Have you ever made homemade granola before? I sure hadn’t until I started reading the ingredient list on the store-bought packages! EEKK! If that wasn’t a good enough reason I don’t know what is.
There are so many reasons I’ve fallen in love with making my own granola. Like you may have guessed my number one reason is I get to be in control of the ingredients. I hate looking at a label and seeing oils that are not serving me. In this recipe, I use coconut oil. I also hate seeing sugars where I didn’t expect them. I use honey and make sure it’s local. Did you know that using local honey can help with seasonal allergies? Second I can make it seasonal! The recipe below is my everyday granola, it’s basic. This summer I can’t wait to play around by adding different spices. I think a dried blueberry and lavender combination is calling my name. This fall I will add pumpkin seeds and nutmeg.
I keep my homemade granola in these charming mason jars. They are darling sitting out on my counter/in my cupboards and even make a sweet gift. Last year a parent in my class brought me a jar of homemade granola as a little thank you and it was BEYOND charming! I absolutely love getting homemade little somethings over store-bought. This batch of granola gives me two 32oz mason jars worth. One for you and one for a loved one.
Breakfast Snack or Dessert
I’m not much of a breakfast gal myself, but this goes perfectly over a bowl of yogurt. If you have followed me for a while you know I love Bulgarian yogurt. Generally, I enjoy mine as a snack after lunch. My husband on the other hand has taken this to a whole other level and pours a cup over a big ole bowl of vanilla ice cream. This might be my new favorite dessert!
- mixing bowl
- parchment paper
- 2 baking sheets
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup flax seeds
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted )
- 1/3 cup honey (*extra for drizzling )
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 425Â°.
In a large mixing bowl add all dry ingredients (oats, chia, flax, almonds, walnuts, salt, and dried cranberries.
Drizzle coconut oil over dry ingredients and mix well. Add your honey and repeat.
Pour a thin layer onto each of your baking sheets. Drizzle a bit of extra honey on top. This will help form clusters. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Let cool completely and break into clusters.
Beyond simple brownies are exactly what the name suggests: beyond simple to make! This was one of the first baking party tricks that I learned, dating all the way back to when I was in middle school. Full disclosure I did not make this brownie recipe up on my own. I wish I knew where I wrangled this luscious recipe from, so I could personally thank whoever came up with it. I know my mother had something to do with it, but that’s where the trail goes cold.
I do remember inviting a group of the ‘popular’ girls over to my house in High School. I thought I’d really impress them by making brownies from scratch, but they spent the whole time talking about boys and an exclusive club they were a part of. Why they weren’t amazed by my baking techniques was beyond me! Turns out they were definitely not my people. A few days later my girlfriend Michelle was over and I thought I’d give it another try, I baked them for her and she was over the moon. She was definitely my person.
Like I said this recipe is an old stand-by for me. I have used it in bake sales, when I don’t want to walk into someone’s house empty-handed or when someone stops by for a quick cup of coffee. Recently I gave this mix out as party favors for Jude’s second birthday. After all, these are Beyond Simple Brownies!
Tips and Tricks
- Give it away as a party favor! Using a 32 oz Mason Jar (the same ones I use for Jar Salads) I measured out the dry ingredients and poured them into layers; flour-cocoa- sugar- cocoa etc. Note: I doubled the recipe so it filled up the entire jar. I tied twine and a tag with instructions on the outside (add 1 stick melted butter, 1 egg, and vanilla. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes)
- Make a nest with a wet towel so your bowl doesn’t slide around. Simply wet and ring out a hand towel, twist and make a circle (like a nest for your bowl to sit on top of and set your mixing bowl on top. Now when mixing your bowl won’t go flying. this step is especially handy if you have little ones helping.
- Use high-quality ingredients. Believe me, high-quality ingredients can completely change your baking game. You will go from meh.. to DELICIOUS just by this simple step. Most people don’t bake often. Think of buying high-quality ingredients as an investment. I promise it will pay off!
These are hands down my favorite brownies. They are everything you want when it comes to a brownie. They are delicate, dense but not too dense, cakey but not too cakey you get where I'm going with this right?! Just trust me you won't find a better brownie recipe around.
- 8×8 baking dish
- parchment paper
- mixing bowl
- 1 stick butter (melted )
- 1/3 cup baking cocoa
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350
Melt butter, mix in cocoa, sugar, and one egg.
Add vanilla, flour, and salt.
Grease and line an 8×8 baking dish. Bake for 25-35 minutes.
Enjoy! Tag me, I would love to see your creations!
When it came to Potato Leek Soup I have never been that motivated to make it. I thought it would be bland, and not hearty enough for a main dish kind of soup, oh boy was I wrong! This soup filled my home with the beautiful smell of dinner. My family enjoyed this dinner a la carte but our favorite was when we complemented it with a turkey melt we spiced up with horseradish and it was one of our favorite dinners this winter. Check out my 5 Tips for upgrading your grilled cheese game Here. Click here to for a quick tutorial on how to clean leeks.
Potato Leek Soup
In light of St. Patrick's Day, I was inspired to make this soup and it is DELICIOUS! I have a feeling it will be in my soup rotation for a while. This soup is simple to make and is packed with flavor!
- Large Stockpot
- large mixing bowl
- Cooking Twine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 stocks celery (roughly diced )
- 3 leeks (washed and sliced )
- 3 russet potatoes (peeled and cubed )
- 1 tbsp salt
- 64 ounces chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Start by prepping all of your ingredients, wash and chop your vegetables, measure out your liquids, and assemble your bouquet. Because you will be blending all the ingredients you do not need to worry about the look but more about the uniform size so they cook evenly. (you will not be blending the bouquet)
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat melt the butter. Add celery and leeks. SautÃ© until fragrant. Add potatoes, salt, and stock. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add parsley.
Blend the soup. Be really careful with this part, I suggest doing it in small batches. Return blended liquid to your pot and add heavy cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
These are the perfect morning muffins… ok, who am I kidding I ate these muffins all day long. These muffins are infused with Irish breakfast tea. Usually I infuse them with earl-gray but, with St. Patricks day around the corner I decided I would have a little fun with it. YES this is what I consider fun!
Tips and Tricks
Don’t Over Stir
When making muffins I use two bowls. I add my dry ingredients to one and my wet ingredients in another. When I mix the two together I mix until just combined. Next I fold in my “flavors” blueberries, bananas, chocolate chips etc. I do this in one or two folds.
Use an Ice Cream Scoop
I am a huge fan of using a cookie scoop. I use one when scooping out cookie dough, pancake batter, cakes, and muffins. By using one they will give your baked goods a uniformed look, like you see in bakeries.
The Rule of 3/4
When filling cakes, cupcakes and muffins filling them 3/4 of the way full will insure that your muffins wont over flow, or look silly because they were under-filled.
Irish Tea Muffins with Blueberries and Orange Zest
These muffins are so incredibly moist and perfect along side your coffee AND are a must with your afternoon tea.
- muffin tins
- muffin pan
- 1/2 cup milk
- 5 bags of tea (I used Irish breakfast but earl gray is nice too)
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- zest of one orange (I used a blood orange )
Preheat the oven to 350Â°
In a microwave safe bowl heat your milk and steep all five bags of tea in it for 10 minutes.
While your tea is steeping. Prep your ingredients.
Mix and sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt). In a separate bowl combine all your wet ingredients (milk, butter, eggs, and sour cream). Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry.
Gently fold in your blueberries and oranges.
Place muffin liners in a muffin pan. Using a cookie scoop fill each muffin 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 30 minutes or until cake tester is inserted and comes out clean.
All master chefs know how to make the 5 mother sauces. While in culinary school one of the five sauces really spoke my love language. BÃ©chamel! This sauce is a creamy, indulgent full fat sauce that no one can resist. Once you have this sauce under your belt the sky is the limit. Think of any of your favorite creamy cheese sauces… yup, you start with a BÃ©chamel. Do you feel the power you have now? I sure do!
Once you have made your BÃ©chamel you can start to play with it. In the fall I make a big pan of roasted vegetables to dip in a chevre cheese BÃ©chamel sauce. When friends and family ask you what you ate for dinner you can tell them you at a huge plate of vegetables, just leave out the part of the beautifully creamy sauce no one needs to know about this.
Because St. Patrick’s day is this Wednesday I took the opportunity to enjoy a reason to cook with Guinness and Kerrygold and smoked gouda cheese… who doesn’t like gouda? You can tailor this recipe to how you like. You can drop the Guinness, and gouda replacing it with classic sharp cheddar cheese.
When it comes to mac&cheese you need to make it yours. I spun this dish by adding the Guinness and smoked gouda cheese. I didn’t want to overwhelm it with too many toppings, I settled on fresh parsley. Looking back, bacon crumbs would have elevated it.
In the mood for meals with an Irish flair this week? Click here for my Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
Smoked Gouda and Guinness Mac & Cheese
While making this dish you will learn how simple it is to make home made macaroni and cheese and while doing so you will learn how to make one of the five Mother Sauces, Bechamel. While making your Bechamel you will learn how to make a roux and by the end of it your friends and family better darn well call you chef!
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 onion (sliced in half )
- fresh cracked pepper
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 cup smoked gouda cheese (you can do a mix of smoked gouda and Irish cheese. )
- 1/2 cup Guiness Beer
- 1 LB macaroni noodles
Prep all ingredients, you can thank me later.
In a large sauce pan add milk. Cut the onion in half, remove the outer layer of skin. Push the cloves into the freshly cut flat side of the onion. Add fresh cracked pepper. Place the onion face side down in the milk. Turn heat to low and stir occasionally.
While the milk and onion are getting to know each other you will make the roux. In a small saute pan heat your butter over medium high heat. Once fully melted add flour and whisk until well combined. The consistency should be similar to frosting. Set aside.
Cook noodles accordingly. Strain set aside. At this point I put mine into the serving dish I will be using and drizzle with a tich of olive oil to prevent sticking. (Not to much olive oil or your cheese sauce wont stick to the noodles.
Let's get back to the milk. Discard the onion and cloves. Turn heat to medium low, whisking contiulusly. You will need to give your sauce your full attention now or disaster could be on the horizon. Once you can see a beautiful steam coming off the milk it's time to add your roux, KEEP WHISKING! As soon as you get a hint of thickening turn off the heat and add the beer, and cheese Switch to a spatula and mix until well combined. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and enjoy!