Apple and Onion Pot Roast

Today I am sharing one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. I have been making this for over 10 years!

I have made it with both beef and pork roasts. Both great! It is based on a recipe from Fix-It and Forget it, Recipes for Entertaining by Phyllis Pellman Good and Dawn J. Ranck. Not much to change when making it gluten free other than just ensuring the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and spices are safe.

Apple and Onion Pot Roast


2 Tablespoons of olive oil

3 pound beef or pork roast

1 cup of beef or chicken broth

2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon of brown sugar

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 large apple, peeled and sliced

1 large onion, sliced

3 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

2 Tablespoons of water

1 Tablespoon of butter


In a measuring cup mix together broth, vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown roast on each side. Put roast into slow cooker. Pour broth mixture into the pan and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom. Add apple and onion to pan and stir for a couple of minutes then pour over the roast in the slow cooker. Add thyme sprigs, if using, and cook on low for 5-7 hours. Remove the roast and onions. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Strain the cooking liquid into a pan. Mix the water and cornstarch and then pour into the cooking liquid. Heat and whisk the gravy until thickened. Take off the heat and whisk in butter. Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta and a side of green beans or salad.

This is comfort food at its best!

There are so many great Fix-It and Forget-It cookbooks to help you expand your slow cooker repertoire. I also love Stephanie O’Dea’s cookbooks and food blog,  Every recipe I have made from her site has been delicious and they are gluten free!

Here are some of my past slow cooker recipes:

BBQ pulled pork in the slow cooker

Crowd Pleasing Chili

Comfort Food and a Cookbook!

As the weather gets colder I really start to crave comfort food. My kids love french fries. Who doesn’t? I’ve been testing recipes and came up with these Baked Shoestring Sweet Potatoes. To cut them I use my OXO mandolin or julienne peeler (see picture below) or you can use a spiralizer and then just cut to desired length of fries.

Baked Shoestring Sweet Potato fries
1 large sweet potato, julienned
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut up the sweet potato and soak in water for 15 minutes. Dry between towels for 5 minutes. Toss with olive oil and spices, then spread out on cookie sheet. Cover with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on your oven and how crispy you want them.

These sweet potato fries pair very well with the grilled pork chop recipe below or even just hot dogs or sausage. Whatever works for your timing or tastes.You can also also substitute chicken for the pork and it will be delicious! Too much food for your family? Cut this recipe in half.

Grilled pork with Peach Sauce
3 pounds of pork chops or chicken breasts/thighs
1 Tablespoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of cumin
¼ teaspoon of pepper
¼ teaspoon of paprika
6 Tablespoons peach preserves, I like to use Bon Maman.
3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar


Combine spices in a small bowl with a fork. Rub spice mixture on the meat and let sit about 10-15 minutes, while you prepare the sauce. In another bowl mix the peach preserves (apricot would also be good) and apple cider vinegar.  Grill the pork chops 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Top with the sauce and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve. 

Some of my favorite comfort foods are appetizers or small bites. A great new cookbook is coming out at the end of this month from Nicole Hunn of Gluten Free On A Shoestring called “Gluten Free Small Bites: Sweet and Savory Hand Held Treats for On-The-Go Lifestyles and Entertaining.” I have had a chance to preview the book and it is amazing! If you pre-order the book, you can also get a sneak peek of some of the recipes and some other goodies, like a GF flour calculator, shopping list and menu plan! I have made a couple of recipes from the book and they are amazing! Cannot wait to try more. Share with anyone you know will be interested!

I made the cheese puffs from the cookbook for the kids as a snack after school one day and plan on making the crab rangoon today! The two trays of cheese puffs disappeared in about 15 minutes. Amazing! Very addicting. Keep an eye to my Instagram this week for more photos and reviews of recipes from the Small Bite’s Cookbook!

If you haven’t made anything from Gluten Free on a Shoestring before, you definitely need to visit the website and check out Nicole’s other cookbooks! I have made so many of her recipes: puff pastry, wonton wrappers, pretzel rolls and most recently chocolate cake donuts!

What are your favorite comfort foods? What are your favorite comfort food cookbooks? We learn from sharing with each other, so let me know!

I’m still here and still cooking

Hello everyone! I am still here, grilling, spending time with the family and working. I’m hoping to kick the blog up again this fall!

As we head in to the end of summer, I pledge to write again. I have been cooking and taking photos, so watch for fun school lunches, easy dinners, easy entertaining meals, breakfasts and more! I will finish my cooking bucket list, even though I haven’t started it yet! I will enter new worlds (for me) of technology like instagram and ramp up my presence on Facebook and Twitter. So stay with me! If there is anything you would like me to write about or try to cook for you all, send me a an email, or like me on Facebook and tell me there!

The picture above is a pork sirloin roast marinated in an Asian-style sauce and basted each time I turned it on the grill. I served it with cooked spaghetti, extra sauce (not used to marinade) and steamed broccoli. The Asian-style sauce is a version of one of my go to sauces, but with a minced garlic clove added and a little extra brown sugar to caramelize on the outside. Make sure you keep some of the marinade aside to use for basting and for tossing with the noodles.

Happy 100th Birthday to Julia Child!

Next Wednesday, August 15, 2012 marks the date that would have been JuliaChild’s 100th birthday. Restaurants around the country are doingspecial menus to honor Julia Child. PBS has lots of specials on TV among otherfun things on their website. Cooks and Bloggers around the country are writingand cooking to honor her memory. Here is one with 8 ideas on how to honor Julia from Robin Shreeves at the Mother Nature Network. I am going to try to make one recipe a daynext week from one of her cookbooks to honor her legacy. The French Chef was the first cooking show Iwatched on TV growing up. We watched a lot of PBS. She pioneered the era of cooking shows whichhas now exploded with popularity to a point I’m sure she probably couldn’t evenhave imagined. We all like to pretend we are cooking on a cooking show in thekitchen (don’t tell me you have never done it!) while making a meal and veryfew of us will ever get the chance to, but she made gourmet cooking accessibleto home cooks.

I have been reviewing Julie Child recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking to find some easyones and maybe one challenging one to make this week. If you are bored with your regular weeklymeals, picking a theme and sticking to it one week a month or however often youhave the energy for, can help spice things up (pun intended)! Or choose one night a week to make a newrecipe or make one of those hundreds you have pinned on Pinterest.
Pick a Julia Child recipe to make this week inhonor of what would have been her 100th birthday. Don’t beintimidated. You don’t have to pick sweet breads or duck, or a fancy multi-step,multi-ingredient recipe. Make a quiche, roast chicken, pork chops, boiledartichokes or buttered green beans. It’s still a Julia Child recipe. Her goalwas to make gourmet cooking accessible to home cooks.
These are some of the recipes I’m hoping to make this week:
Chocolate Almond Cake, p677. Supposedly one Julia’sfavorites.
Boeuf Bourguignon, p.315. I’ve never made it and think Iwill while watching Julie and Julia.
Potato Leek Soup, p.37. One of my favorites. I’ve never madeJulia’s recipe though.
Quiche au fruits de mer, p.149. Sounds really fancy, butreally is just eggs, shallots or onions, butter (of course), lobster, shrimp orcrab, cheese, cream, tomato paste, salt and pepper. She also adds Madeira ordry vermouth, but I don’t have those and don’t usually by whole bottles ofthings for a couple of tablespoons, so I’ll use something else like whitebalsamic vinegar. I might even buy the crust. Shhh…don’t tell.
Crepes, p.190. These are just fancy pancakes that my kidswill hopefully love!
Moules A La Mariniere, p. 227. This is one of the onlyrecipes that I am repeating. I’ve made it before and loved it!
Poulets Grilles a la diable (Chicken Broiled with Mustard,Herbs, and Bread Crumbs), p.265. I chose this recipe because I already haveeverything for this in the house! It is similar to how I usually make chicken,but with basting. I don’t usually baste. Maybe I’ll do it, if I can stop thetwins from reaching into the oven.
Roasted Pork marinated in Marinade Simple (Lemon Juice andHerb Marinade), p.376. I also chose this one because I have most of the ingredients.
Artichauts au Naturel (whole boiled artichokes), p. 424. Probablythe easiest of the recipes. We’ll see what the kids think of these.
I’ll probably pick a couple other vegetable recipes too.
If you don’t want to cook, go out and have some oysters anda glass of champagne and have a toast to Julia Child!

Back online, still cooking and blogging about feeding kids while traveling

Ever have those days where you can’t get anything accomplished besides basic care for yourself and whomever you care for? Two year old twins who are not regularly napping have thrown me into that feeling on a daily basis. I have a pile of laundry, that has been dubbed “Mt. Laundry” and a growing to do list that I don’t even look at most days! Now, I love to cook and have not had the energy for it lately, so props to all of you who don’t like to cook and get it done when you don’t have the time or energy for it! Since returning from our drive down to Atlanta (yes my husband and I are crazy and drove with 3 children under 5 and all their gear in our car with no storage space) we are just getting back in our groove.

BT (Before the Trip) I was cooking to clean out the fridge so that we wouldn’t leave things that could spoil and cooking meals without leftovers so there wouldn’t be food to spoil. The weekend before we left, I made grilled pork with twice baked mashed potatoes and peas. Stressed about the impending drive, I wanted comfort food.
The pork was grilled on the indoor grill and seasoned with salt, pepper and coriander. The twice baked potato recipe is based on one I found on Pinterest and is amazing! Here is the Pinterest version from TastyKitchen. I just make my usual mashed potatoes and then put them in a casserole dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake. The peas were frozen and steamed in the microwave. I enjoyed the meal with my favorite Riesling. My son is enjoying his milk in the background 🙂

To use up the potatoes and pork, I had them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast with a poached egg on top. At lunch I put some pork over a bed of romaine with a little feta and light italian dressing and at dinner in a quesadilla.

DT (During the trip) we ate lots of fast food. Luckily on the road between Boston and DC, our first stop, there are choices of fast food. My kids enjoyed the Subway sandwiches with apples and the fun little reusable bags the kid’s meals come in. I packed lots and lots of Happy Baby pouches so I would feel like the kids were not eating all junk. They ate apple carrot and butternut squash and pear and spinach as well as squirted lots of it on themselves making for fun clean up 🙂 The pouches are good in theory but sometimes can create a mess. I also packed grapes, whole apples, whole grain goldfish and craisins mixed and fruit leathers.

We had a great night with friends in DC (along with an amazing cheese plate and a great pizza dinner! Caramelized onions on pizza = delicious). We all had breakfast and then got on the road to Atlanta.  Again we ate fast food along the way. The McDonald’s 20 piece chicken nuggets was a good deal for $4.99. We had other snacks and drinks with us, so the nuggets just rounded out the meal, a little 🙂

In Atlanta we were treated to amazing food made by my brother and sister-in-law, along with lots of cake and fun with cousins. One of the standout meals in my mind was the peri peri chicken on the grill. If you have never had peri peri, go out to the store now or go online and order a bottle of Nando’s medium peri peri sauce. Put chicken breasts in a bag. Pour enough sauce to cover the chicken. Marinade for about 20 minutes. Grill to perfection (like my brother did) and serve. So easy and sooo good!

Three days later we were back on the road to Richmond, VA. Fasts food and healthy snacks again. Then we made it to family in Richmond where we were greeted by some delicious sangria, a great pizza dinner, salad and red velvet cupcakes to celebrate a special 3 year old’s birthday! The pizza was from a great take out place in Richmond. The spinach and feta was definitely my favorite!

Early the next morning we were on the road again after a healthy breakfast of cereal, fruit, yogurt and whole grain waffles. More fast food and then we finally made it home, somewhat unscathed 🙂 It was hard to make sure the kids were eating healthy the whole time, that is why I packed mostly healthy snacks and had them get as much fruit and vegetables as I could get in them when were at someone’s house. The pouches do work well, when they eat them.

IPT (Immediately Post Trip) I did not have the energy to cook, so unfortunately some of our unhealthy eating habits from the road persisted a little. We ate quesadillas and pasta a lot. I did try to throw in some veggies, like shredded carrots and zucchini. We had way to much take out though.
PT (Post Trip) I am now finally getting back in the groove, planning my menu and doing thoughtful grocery shopping instead of just going through the store as fast as I can so the boys don’t start screaming. I have been making some foods inspired by good meals we ate on our trip. I made pizza with spinach and feta and peri peri chicken. My energy level is still low (see above re: boys not napping) so I have been making no fuss meals. A great one is my sausage, veggie and potato bake. My husband has already had me make this twice in the last week. I cut up about 4 already cooked chicken apple sausages in small enough pieces for the kids and set aside. Then in a saute pan, that can go into the oven, I saute 1/2 an onion (any onion you have on hand), 1 clove of garlic (minced), 2 cups of chopped veggies that you have on hand (I used zucchini and carrots last night), 2 diced potatoes (sweet or regular), olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika or coriander or your favorite spice blend. Once mixed together and starting to cook, throw in sausage, cover and put in a 400 degree oven for 20-40 minutes depending on amount and size of veggies. Check after 20 minutes and cook uncovered if it needs more time. Sorry I forgot to take pictures!

Another easy and tasty meal is baked citrus dill salmon with couscous and veggies. Salmon was on sale this week, so I bought a piece that weighed about .8lbs. This was plenty for our family of 5.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take a paper lunch bag and rub with olive oil until completely covered. Remember to get all the creases. Place bag in casserole dish. Mix the zest and juice of one lemon, zest and juice of one lime, 1 Tbsp of sugar, couple of splashes of olive oil, and a handful of freeze dried dill. Take 2 pats of butter and place in paper bag. Place salmon, skin side down, on top of the butter, in the bag. Pour citrus and dill mixture onto salmon and fold paper bag closed. Bake for about 20 minutes. While that is baking, make your favorite easy side dish. I had a box of roasted garlic and olive oil couscous, which takes not even 10 minutes to make. After I took the couscous off of the heat, I added a couple of handfuls of frozen peas and diced carrots, closed the lid and let the heat of the couscous defrost and soften the peas and carrots.

I have been, kind of, going through my cooking bucket list for 2012. I will finish them all by the end of the year, just more in some months than others 🙂 Here is how things stand:
Cooking bucket list 2012
Bread – January, Done, Very successful
Gnocchi – February, Done, Very successful
Meringues – March, Done, Kind of successful (delicious, but couldn’t quite get the consistency right)
Pork Belly
Short ribs
Chocolate truffles
I am hoping this month to tackle Calamari and Flan, so June can be all about Lobstah! I know the month is more than half over, but all I need is one afternoon with a burst of energy and my husband to take the kids and I will be set!

More leftover ideas and some comfort food for those cold snowy nights

I feel like I’m finally getting a hang of using up all my leftovers and not just as the same dish it was, but transformed so my family doesn’t get bored. There are a couple of dishes that are great for transforming meats, veggies, like quesadillas or chili or a baked pasta dish. Here are a couple of things I have made recently.

Eggplant Rolotini with Orzo
Olive oil
1 small onion diced
1 small/medium eggplant sliced thin to make rolls, and extra pieces chopped
1 28oz can of tomatoes (diced or crushed. Substitute 3-4 medium tomatoes in the summer)
Garlic powder (can use fresh garlic, 1-2 cloves minced depending on how garlicky you like it)
1-1/2 cups Fresh ricotta
1 egg
12 ounces orzo
4 cups of stock (veggie or chicken) or water
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add chopped pieces of eggplant and more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle salt, pepper, oregano and thyme onto eggplant and onion mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add in tomatoes. While that is cooking, take ricotta cheese and egg and mix together with a little pepper, garlic powder and salt. Take mixture and spread across top of long, thin piece of eggplant and roll up. Take the sauce off of the heat and place roll up in the sauce. Repeat.  Drizzle eggplant roll ups with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and place in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
Make orzo according to package. Serve with eggplant and sauce.
I made this recently for a cooking club and we had to bring something that started with the same letter as your last name. Very fun!

Leftovers: Added the orzo and some of the diced cooked eggplant in with a white pork chili (see below)
Barley risotto, Roasted Butternut Squash and Balsamic Garlic Pork Tenderloin
(a recipe for when you have lots of time to cook. If you don’t, make some baked potatoes or even sweet potatoes instead of the risotto)

2-3 lb pork tenderloin (you could also use beef or boneless chicken or turkey breast)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 medium sized onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced salt
lemon pepper
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
olive oil
2 cups pearl barley
8-10 cups broth (veggie, chicken or beef or even water or a mixture), heated

Turn crockpot onto low. Pour in balsamic, apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, thyme, 1/2 of the onion and 2 of the garlic cloves. Mix the sauce and taste. If too acidic for your taste, add more apple juice. If you want it to have a little more of a savory bite add more Worcestershire sauce. Dry the pork and rub it with salt and lemon pepper and then place it in the sauce in the crockpot. It should cover it about 3/4 or so the way up the pork. Close and let cook 6-8 hours on low. When it reads 170-180 degrees on a meat thermometer, the pork is done. Take it out to rest. If you want gravy, add the cooking liquid to a large saucepan and bring to a boil to reduce by about 1/2. Then strain. I use a spoon that is a large strainer since its easier than pouring it out and then back in the pan. Taste. I usually add a little more apple juice, a Tbsp of brown sugar and some black pepper. Lastly add a cornstarch mixture (2 Tbsp cornstarch to 1/2 cup water) and whisk until thick.

Spread the squash out on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and lemon pepper. Roast in oven at 375 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.

In a medium sized sauce pan on medium high heat, put enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Add remainder of onion and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add barley and cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add about 1 cup of the broth and stir until absorbed. Keep adding a ladle or 2 of broth at a time until absorbed and the barley is the consistency that you like to eat it. This can take about 45 minutes. Finish with a handful of parmesan.

Leftovers: I used the pork and barley, along with the eggplant and some orzo from another meal to add to 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 diced zucchini, 1/2 jalepeno (seeded and taken out before eating), cumin and chili powder to make chili. I put everything in the crockpot and cooked on low for 2-3 hours. I used the butternut squash in a quesadilla with cheddar. The kids loved it! Well, 2 out of 3 did at least 🙂

Another good idea for leftovers is to make an Asian noodle dish. For some reason, my 4 year old has decided she LOVES Asian food, so I’m trying to make it more. The other day for a quick week night meal, I took some shredded turkey out of the freezer (from the holidays) and made a turkey, broccoli and edamame noodle dish with whole wheat spaghetti noodles.


 Cook the noodles as directed on package. Put a little bit of vegetable oil in a large sauce pan or a wok if you have one, on medium high heat. Add 1/2 onion sliced thinly and 1 clove of garlic, minced. Cook until onions are translucent. Add turkey and cook until heated through. Throw in a handful of frozen broccoli and a handful of frozen edamame (shelled). Then add sauce. I made a sauce with leftover pineapple juice I had in the fridge, with terriyaki sauce, soy sauce, a little brown sugar and a drop of sesame oil. It was so good! Let cook for 5-10 minutes on medium. Add a little cornstarch if you want the sauce thicker. Add noddles to pan, mix and serve!

Easy Entertaining and Introducing….Ask Mamma!

In another attempt to improve my blog, I would like to make it more interactive. As much as I love cooking, I love talking with people about cooking and sharing ideas. So this is the launch of Ask Mamma! If you have a question about what to cook for dinner when you have x, y, z ingredients on hand or what to make for your next playdate/dinner party/birthday party, click on my email to the right and I’ll answer.

I will post questions and answers for everyone to read (keeping you anonymous, unless you want me to include your name and/or blog)! We all have our own ways of cooking, so someone’s boring every Wednesday night meal, is someone else’s new discovery!

This past week I got a question from a reader about what to make for her son’s 4th birthday party at their house (kids and adults present).

Mamma’s Answer

Making a dinner or lunch party for young kids…Here are three options:

(1) Mexican

Pasta salad – fun shapes for kids or the tri colored (I made one for the boys’ birthday party + added black beans, corn, tomatoes and feta and a mild honey lime vinaigrette). Cook 1 box of pasta, cool and then toss in a can of black beans (rinsed), about a cup and 1/2 of corn (use frozen, canned or fresh), about a cup and a 1/2 of diced tomatoes and about 3/4 cup of feta. To make the vinaigrette add equal parts (about a 1/3 of a cup) lime juice, white balsamic (or white wine vinegar) and olive oil. Whisk together. Then add 2-3 Tablespoons honey (or sugar if kids under 1 are going to be eating it), taste and add more sugar or honey if not sweet enough. If too sweet add a little more vinegar. Add salt and pepper to your taste, whisk all together and then toss with pasta.

Make your own taco bar – have peppers + onions at room temperature, either chicken or beef (I also did this for the boys’ party and made a beef roast in the slow cooker the day before and then just shredded it and reheated it for the day of the party), shredded cheese, salsa and tortillas. Let people build it themselves. To make the shredded beef or chicken, rub with salt, pepper, coriander, cumin and oregano. Sear meat in pan, then transfer to crock pot with 2-3 cups of beef or chicken stock flavored with coriander, cumin and oregano and keep on low until meat is cooked through (use a meat thermometer!). Once cooled, use a fork to shred meat.

Chips and salsa and guacamole for snacking.

Super simple. Make as much as you want or buy already made 🙂

(2) Greek

Meatloaf with greek seasoning (McCormicks make’s a great one) and feta (Rachel Ray has a great recipe that I wrote about here). I actually made this the other night but made meatballs instead of meatloaf. So good!

Tomato, cucumber and feta salad (onion optional). Dice a couple of vine ripe tomatoes, one cucumber and throw in a couple of handfuls of feta. Mix with a couple of splashes of red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. If you like raw onion, dice about 1/2 a medium onion and add in as well. I’m not a big raw onion fan, so I only diced 1/4 of a medium onion.

Yogurt sauce (make or buy). To make, add yogurt, minced cucumber, greek seasoning and a little lemon juice).

Serve with pita bread.
hummus, pita chips, carrots, cucumber, etc for snacking.

(3) Asian

Shrimp and pork lettuce wraps – Marinate cooked shrimp (I used frozen shrimp that had been thawed) + cooked pork or beef (grill or just cook with salt and pepper) + shredded carrots + shredded slaw (I buy pre-shredded) in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, white balsamic, sugar, lemon juice, ginger and olive oil. Marinate separately for at least an hour. (Can cook it all the day before and then just let it marinate starting in the morning of the party and serve room temp)

Serve with lettuce for lettuce wraps and I LOVE the Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili sauce for dipping. So good!

Coconut rice on the side with edamame if you like. Here is a good recipe I found on a blog I recently discovered, Weelicious.
Dried snap peas, shrimp chips, edamame for snacking.

All of these ideas can be made the day before, leaving you with less to do on the day of the party and may actually allow you to enjoy the party instead of being stuck in the kitchen!

Send me your questions!

Easy comfort food

Continuing with my “choose your own adventure” meals, today I’m writing about comfort food. Comfort food is different for each person. It is whatever food is soul satisfying to you. For some its fried food, a good steak, chicken pot pie or pizza. I am a meat and potatoes girl! With veggies on the side now for the kids 🙂

Whether you are cooking pork, beef or chicken, this recipe works well.



Worcestershire sauce
Vinegar (Balsamic, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar – whatever you have on hand)
Soy sauce

Olive oil (when searing meat and making marinade)
Butter (optional, add to finish gravy)
Onion powder (optional, or chopped onion, caramelized onions, shallots – whatever you have)
Cornstarch/flour (optional, depending if you like a thicker sauce/gravy)
Chicken Stock/Beef stock (optional, if you want to mellow out the flavor a little. I keep bouillon cubes on hand, so I can make as many cups as a I need of stock).

I used these ingredients the other night to make an easy version of chicken pot pie.

First you start a basic rue, which I learned how to do a couple of years ago for making mac-n-cheese. Melt butter in large sauce pan and then whisk in an equal amount of flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. I think it did about a 1/3 of a cup of each here. Then add a couple of cups of chicken stock and keep adding if too thick. Continue whisking. Add in about a palm full of coriander, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 2-3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tablespoons vinegar, 3 Tablespoons soy sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Toss in 2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables, let cook for a few minutes. Then toss in leftover chicken that has been cubed or shredded (I used the Garlic chicken I made the night before). Take a can of biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury) and peel each biscuit in half and bake in the oven (I baked it directly on top of the sauce and it didn’t cook through, so this way will work much better!). After baked, place on top of chicken, vegetable and sauce mixture and serve! I kept a couple of biscuits aside and filled them with some extra chicken + frozen veggies that I thawed separately in the microwave, and then cooked them. These were great little pockets for the boys to pick up and eat. Much less messy than the pot pie would have been!

You can also use these ingredients to make a marinade. To marinade steak, pour equal parts Worcestershire sauce, vinegar (balsamic or red wine vinegar is best here), soy sauce and olive oil into a large Ziploc bag. Add a couple of tablespoons of coriander, a teaspoon of minced garlic and a ¼ teaspoon pepper. Close bag and shake (make sure its closed!) or massage with your hand. Insert steaks and make sure covered. Marinade at least 4 hours, but can do it over night.

I used this on Father’s day with petit sirloin (seared on the indoor grill and then baked at 400 degrees for 7 minutes for rare to medium rare). I served the steak with a sweet potato salad (bake equal amounts of sweet potatoes and white or yellow potatoes, cube, mix with miracle whip, mustard, salt and pepper) and roasted corn on the cob.

These ingredients are very versatile. You can use them as I have mentioned above to make a thick gravy for chick pot pie or a marinade for steak. Most often however, I use the dry spices on pork, beef or chicken and then use the wet ingredients to make a braising liquid. I usually prep dinner while the kids are taking their afternoon nap and braising takes 2-3 hours, so it is perfect timing for getting the food on the table for dinner. Sear the meat + then pour in braising liquid (1 part Worcestershire sauce, 1 part vinegar, 1 part soy sauce and 2 parts beef or chicken broth, a couple of tablespoons of coriander, a teaspoon of minced garlic and a ¼ teaspoon pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt.) Cover and put in low oven (around 275/300) for a couple of hours. When done (use a meat thermometer) take meat out to rest and add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch to a mug and pour in some of the braising liquid and mix together, then add back to the saucepan and rest of braising liquid and bring to a boil. Taste and add more spices as you need. Finish off with a pat of butter and take off heat for the perfect gravy!

Easy biscuit recipe, frittatas and braised pork

I am not much of a baker (too exact for me) but this is the easiest biscuit recipe! I needed some bread and didn’t have any in the house or any butter, so I just googled “easy biscuit recipe” and this was one of the results. Takes 20-25 minutes, including baking.


2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar (2nd time I made this I used 1 and 1/2 Tbsp sugar and used onion powder and garlic powder to make the biscuits a little more savory)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup of oil
2/3 cups of milk


  • Mix dry ingredients.
  • Put oil in measuring cup and add milk. Do not stir.
  • Add to dry ingredients.
  • Mix lightly to moisten ingredients and knead one or two times to form ball.
  • Roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap to about 1/2″ thick. [I didn’t even roll them out, just kneaded the dough and flattened it with my hands to the right thickness]
  • Cut into 2″ biscuits.
  • Bake on an ungreased pan at 475F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • So easy! Karina loved it with some peanut butter and jelly on it. I ate it with some leftover gravy for breakfast and tonight I made a batch to have with pasta. I think next, I may try to sweeten them up with a little more sugar + add some blueberries, almost like scones.

    I have been making a lot of wheat pasta bakes and frittatas, things that are easy for the boys (who will be a year old in a couple of weeks!) to eat with their hands. Frittatas are great and so easy. You can use up any leftover meat, potatoes, veggies you have and throw it in with some eggs that you have beaten with a little milk and a handful of shredded cheese and bake it until the center is firm.

    Earlier this week I made some braised pork ribs with peas and harvest blend (from Trader Joe’s).

    Rub pork with coriander, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

    Brown pork in pan. Then pour about 2-3 cups of braising liquid. I used 2 cups of beef stock, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and 2 bay leaves. Cover and put in 200 degree oven for 2-3 hours (for 2lbs bone in – use meat thermometer to make sure temperature is safe). Let rest and then serve.

    This is the boys (11 months old) meal, shredded up the pork into bite size pieces.

    This is Karina’s (3.5 years old) plate…looking like an adult plate now 🙂

    This is the adult plate, with gravy! Took the braising liquid and reduced it, added a little more of each of the spices in the pork rub + a touch of apple cider vinegar, then thickened it with a little corn starch and finished with a pat of butter. Sooo good! This is what I put over the biscuits (above) the next morning 🙂