Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Crock Pot Italian-Style Beef with Cheesy Polenta


I adore this dinner. Simple, slow-cooked, tangy, and cheesy.


These are adjectives to live by! 


Are you, like me, a fool who forgets all about her beloved Crock Pot in the summer? Why do we neglect the one device in our kitchen that cooks our food entirely without an oven?! Well today, we are fixing this problem. 


This Crock Pot Italian-Style Beef with Cheesy Polenta is familiar yet intriguing. Comforting Italian flavors like oregano, parsley, and tangy crushed tomatoes meet boneless chuck steak, make a wonderfully rich ragu as they simmer away while we are at work, THEN get piled high atop a polenta packed with garlic, mozzarella cheese and cracked black pepper. What's not to love?


Oh, I nearly forgot, if you--this time, unlike me--are handy with your summer garden and find it overflooowing with fresh basil, please please PLEASE tear up a bunch and throw it on top. Please? Thank you. 


So, here's how this all goes down:

The night before your delicious dinner: Set out your Crock Pot/slow cooker, the exact spices you need, a can of tomatoes, and honey so you don't have to fumble in the pantry early in the morning. Chop an onion and a clove or two of garlic, then stick them in the fridge in a zip top baggie.
The morning of: Dump onion, garlic, tomatoes, spices, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of your slow cooker. Whisk until combined, then nestle in the steak. Turn on low, go live your life for 8 hours.
Just before dinner: Prepare the most delicious, creamy polenta known to man. Shred up your beef. EAT! 

It's meals like this that remind me why I l.o.v.e. food! Let's eat.

Here's what you need for Crock Pot Italian-Style Beef with Cheese Polenta* (Print Recipe!)

for the beef
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck steak 
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil and grated parmesan for serving

for the polenta
3 tablespoons butter
1 gloves garlic
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and lots of black pepper to taste

Here's what you do

for the beef: Whisk together the onions, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, honey, and spices in the bowl of a slow cooker. Place the beef in the sauce, being sure to cover completely. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred beef with two forks. Keep warm until ready to serve. 

for the polenta: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Pour in the water and milk and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta and parmesan cheese then reduce heat to low and stir in salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened and polenta is cooked through. Whisk in the mozzarella until melted and combined, then adjust seasonings to taste. 

to serve: Scoop polenta into a big bowl then top with shredded beef and extra sauce from the pot. Garnish with basil and parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a light salad. The beef would also be great over pasta or on a sandwich! 

*Beef recipe adapted from the Crock Pot website

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mixed Berry Red Wine Popsicles


It's Fri-YAY so I made red wine popsicles!!


Specifically, I made Mixed Berry Red Wine Popsicles to help us beat the mid-August heat.

P.S. Can I just say, real quick, how much I hate summer? I did a complete switch sometime after graduating college and now I simply cannot stand it. It no longer has the carefree, "school's out" joy surrounding it. I hate being hot, and sweaty, and uncomfortable, and dehydrated all the dang time! Enough! Give me cold weather now I say!!


At the risk of sounding dramatic, let's just talk about these popsicles. An adult spin on a childhood classic. No matter the flavor, popsicles have a way of brightening your day. Plus they can offer us a fleeting minute or two of chilly comfort in the late summer humidity.


Now, I made these popsicles with the intent of them really tasting like red wine, with just a hint of berries and orange juice in the background to give them a sort of sangria-like flare. Because of this there is more wine than other liquids in the popsicles, and--although they do indeed freeze solid--the melt time on these bad boys is preeetty quick. No worries though, just enjoy them with a small plate or cup underneath to catch any drips!


Dessert and drinks all in one? I'd say we are doing something right this summer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Breaded Pork Chops with Warm Bulgar Wheat and Arugula Salad


Let's talk dinner!


Really good, incredibly tasty, fast and wholesome dinner.


That, after all, is exactly what this recipe is! It's comfort food, but lightened up. It's fresh but fulfilling. The flavors are bold and full of that summer brightness. I just love it, and I'm sure you will too!


I served this recipe for Breaded Pork Chops with Warm Bulgar Wheat and Arugula Salad for Monday night dinner and it was the perfect start to a busy week. I had a couple of 3 ounce pork chops that I sliced in half lengthwise then pounded them out thin. I breaded them the way all good cutlets are breaded: dredged in flour, dipped in egg, pressed into whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs. Fool-proof and delicious.


Along with the crispy and juicy chops, we need a light and refreshing salad. Summertime means lemon, tomatoes, arugula and basil are plentiful, so we must be sure to utilize this season's bounty. For a nutty bite, try ditching the quinoa or rice or barley and walk on the wild side with a bit of bulgar wheat. Bulgar wheat is a whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially cooked. It has a texture similar to cous cous but is less starchy and a bit more flavorful.


Summer, if you can believe it, is flying by but you can really savor it with this dish. It's quick enough to enjoy on a weeknight, but pretty (and pretty delicious!) enough to serve for a dinner party. Break out a chilled bottle of prosecco or sauvignon blanc and savor every bite!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Recent Eats - Volume 2

A round-up of my favorite bites and other food drama from the past few weeks

Guys, are you enjoying your summer? Are you going to the beach, eating a bit too much ice cream and cheeseburgers, getting a tan, getting bug bites, and overall loving life? I hope you are! That's what summer is about. I've spent a lot of time with family and friends on little but wonderful long weekend trips and, of course, eating!

Golden Harvest in East Lansing, MI

My best friend recently moved out to Michigan where her boyfriend is pursuing his PhD. Not too long after she moved, we planned a weekend for me to come visit and the trip didn't disappoint! We went to a beach along Lake Michigan, drank wine slushies and lots of beer, and ate some great food. The best of it all was Sunday breakfast at Golden Harvest.


This small and eclectic diner-style joint is, as I understand it, pretty famous in the Lansing area. They have outrageous breakfast and brunch-style dishes and their specials are to die for! We started the meal with an order of the biscuits and gravy (OMG) and then I had a Monte Cristo sandwich with a side of homefries. I mean...they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I'll just leave you with this:


*hearts eyes emoji*

Pulled BBQ Chicken


Cory takes trips up to Rochester for work from time to time, and during his last visit a coworker sent him home with three local barbecue sauces to try. BBQ is my favorite kind of food so I couldn't wait to put these sauces to good use. I used this Country Sweet Mild Cooking Sauce to make some of the best pulled chicken ever!


I started by searing a couple of pounds of seasoned boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a quartered onion in a big dutch oven. When the chicken was golden brown, I dumped in a whole bottle of this amazing cooking sauce and let it simmer away for over an hour. The chicken then shredded like a dream and was perfect for sandwiches, salads, even tacos!

Peach Cobbler Popsicles

We recently threw a party for some friends who were moving away from Boston out west. The theme was Wild Wild West, because who doesn't love a themed party?! For dessert, I whipped up these delicious Peach Cobbler Popsicles.


I adapted the recipe from Billy over at Wit and Vinegar, replacing the berries with chopped peaches. This was my first go around making homemade popsicles and it worked like a dream! Have some patience when you are trying to unmold the pops...run the bottom of the mold under warm water for a quick 15-25 seconds then use a little elbow grease to pull them right out. These popsicles were sweet, decadent, and truly delicious!

Slide By Food Truck in Boston, MA


My friend and I started a little tradition last summer where we visited a new food truck near our office every week and posted our lunches on Instagram with the hashtag #JessAndIvyFoodTruckAdventure. While we haven't been as consistent this year, we recently tried the Slide By food truck. They offer 3 to 4 different sliders each week, each meal coming with 2 sliders and french fries - a perfect lunch portion! I had panko-crusted chicken sliders with bacon. I have never had a more perfectly fried piece of chicken, and from a truck no less! Absolutely recommend :-)

A beer, for good measure


Cory and I took a trip to Cooperstown, NY, for the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony this year to see my all-time favorite player, Mike Piazza, get inducted. It was an awesome weekend filled with baseball and beer. On our way out, we stopped at the Saranac Brewery in Utica, NY. They are currently offering the most amazing Cold Brew Coffee Lager that any and all coffee lovers MUST get their hands on! It is smooth and rich, yet somehow a bit refreshing.

P.S. I'll be back with new recipes next week! But in the meantime...how about Nutella Ice Cream?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Nutella Ice Cream


I want you to know that I am both very, very sorry and very, very NOT sorry about this.


I've made dreams come true. And it hardly takes any time at all!


So, yes, it's true - I made Nutella Ice Cream. And it is so, so simple. More than that, though, it is delicious. The ingredient list is short, which allows that wonderful chocolate hazelnut spread we all know and love to shine through.


This is a "simple" ice cream, which is made up of a base of just milk and heavy cream - no need to temper egg yolks or create any kind of custard. This recipe is a complete riff off my wildly popular and just as mouth-watering peanut butter ice cream, replacing the peanut butter with Nutella.

Look, there are no two ways around this: if you love Nutella and if you love ice cream, you are going to flip head over heels (over and over and over) when you lay your mouth on this. Part of me didn't even want to try making this at the risk that it would be this good. Then I thought...it's summer. We're hot. We want ice cream. Why deny ourselves?!


In addition to Nutella, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and heavy cream, you will need an ice cream maker before this magic can be in your life. There are lots of options out there, but I haven't had any trouble with this Cuisinart model. It's not a terribly large gadget and well worth it for homemade ice cream (in my humble opinion!)


Enough talking...we're making NUTELLA ICE CREAM!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Farmer's Market Spaghetti with Garlic Scape Pesto


Have you jumped on the farmer's market bandwagon?



Other than being a spectacular Instagram stop, these markets are the best way to get fresh, affordable, local and in-season fruits and veggies during the year. My favorite way to tackle the farmer's markets in Boston is to go take a slow stroll through each stand; rather than going with a list, I go in and simply choose whatever produce looks the best to me that day.



This recipe for Farmer's Market Spaghetti with Garlic Scape Pesto is the perfect base for any vegetables you fancy! It's fresh and light, yet fulfilling and packed with great flavor. 


My market had giant beautiful zucchinis this week, so I knew I had to come away with a few of those. I also was in love with the bunches of onions, fresh fennel, and big bundles of basil. With basil in hand, pesto was certainly in my near future. To put a fun, fresh spin on an old classic, I grabbed a few garlic scapes--that is, the bud of the flower on a garlic plant. This isn't a particularly common grocery store ingredient, but in late June and early July, farmer's markets are brimming with them! They have a softer garlic flavor and can be used in any way you might use a scallion or fresh herb...so, of course...PESTO!


Along with the pesto, I chop and dice the zucchinis, onions and fennel then saute them in a bit of butter and olive oil. Since the sauce is packed with flavor, I lightly season the veggies with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes for a nice kick. A little lemon juice and a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese are the cherry on top of these twirly tasty noodles--don't be shy!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fourth of July Recipe Round-up!

Can you believe it is almost the Fourth of July?! For me, July 4th is really the official kick-off to summer. We are hot, we are sweaty, and we want to spend long days on the beach or by the pool with a cocktail in hand! Whether you are hosting or heading to a cook-out, spending the day on a boat or a beach, or just want something delicious to eat this weekend, I have rounded up some winning recipes below. Add one, two or a few to your menu! 

Mains



These delicious sammies are a perfect picnic treat! Grill up some chicken breasts, assemble, and pack your cooler for a (delicious) day in the sun!



When it's too hot to put on the stove, oven, or grill, don't forget about your trusty slow-cooker! Pulled pork is a true crowd pleaser and serves a ton! Let everyone make up their own plates by putting out a spread of seeded buns, coleslaw, pickles, banana peppers, and extra BBQ sauce.



This is a tropical paradise on a plate, and a lighter alternative for your grill. Mangoes are sweet and juicy this time of year - the perfect side dish! Make extra and serve with tortilla chips. 

Salads and Sides



This is a perennial favorite here on Gas Stove Girl. Sweet summer corn, salty tangy pesto, crunchy peppers and juicy tomatoes - my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Perfect for any outdoor buffet table.



If you've never had watermelon and feta in the same dish, you are missing out! This classy and pretty little salad is as refreshing as it is tasty. Hosting a dinner party al fresco? I have your first course right here!



This is hummus' lesser known but more deliciously creamy older brother. Pack this dip with all the fresh herbs you can get your hands on, serve with homemade foccaccia bread or pita chips, and watch it disappear! 



I have a saying that pretty much goes: anything that starts with cream cheese and ends with melted, oozing cheddar cheese is the way to a man's heart. Bring this along to a backyard BBQ, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes, whip up a batch of margaritas and be the real MVP.



Dunk anything and everything you can get your hands on in this dip! Two universally loved dips come together in amazing harmony. Best for those who can't decide between two of their favorite things!

Dessert



It does not get any more patriotic than this! Just look at these amazing, beautiful cookies that you can make from scratch! Sure, they make require a bit of prep work, but they are guaranteed to be the biggest hit no matter where you serve 'em.



I could eat Lemon Bars all day, every day. They allow us to highlight one of summers best fruits - lemons! Plop a few blueberries or raspberries into the custard for a delightfully patriotic twist on an old classic. Salty shortbread, gooey lemon custard, a lovely dusting of powdered sugar - there's a reason this dessert has stood the test of time!



Pink Lemonade is a quintessential summer beverage, so why not delight children and adults alike by putting this tangy sweet treat into a cupcake?! Precious decorations absolutely required!

A Cocktail, for good measure



Serve a crowd with this fruit packed, boozy creation! Gin, raspberry liqueur, and champagne get the party started. Fill this pitcher with any delicious fruit you can get your hands on, and drink responsibly!