Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crock Pot Tuesday: Marmalade-Glazed Corned Beef with Carrots & Potatoes

Crock Pot Tuesday is here! Adapted again from Cuisine magazine:
***highly recommend serving with beer bread!!***

Marmalade-Glazed Corned Beef with Carrots & Potatoes

3 lb corned beef brisket, rinsed and trimmed
1 1/2 lb red potatoes, skin left on and scrubbed (about 4-5)
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces (about 3-4)- I pretty much doubled this because I LOVE carrots
1 c. lager style beer
seasoning packet (optional)- I did not use

For the glaze:
1/2 c. orange marmalade
1/4 c. whiskey or apple juice- you can guess which one I used
2 Tbs. Ketchup
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar

Combine beef, potatoes, carrots, and beer in a 4-6 qt slow cooker (add seasoning packet if desired). Cover and cook until beef is fork-tender on high setting 4-5 hrs or low heat setting 8-9 hrs. Remove beef and vegetables; discard liquid (I saved a little to drizzle over meat to keep extra moist in fridge).
Whisk together marmalade, whiskey, ketchup, and vinegar; brush over corned beef. Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 6-8" from the heating element. Transfer meat to broiler pan coated with nonstick spray (I covered my broiler pan in foil then nonstick spray for quick easy clean-up). Broil until glaze caramelizes, about 5 minutes.
Thinly slice corned beef against the grain; quarter potatoes. Serve beef with carrots, potatoes, and buttered cabbage (the below recipe was included but I just sauteed cabbage, butter, salt, and pepper).

Buttered Cabbage
1 head cabbage, cored and sliced
1 c. chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 whole cloves
pinch red pepper flakes
2 Tbs butter
salt and pepper to taste

Combine cabbage through red pepper flakes in a large pot. Simmer, covered, over medium heat until cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover pot, simmer approx. 3 minutes to remove excess moisture. Stir in butter, salt, and pepper. Discard cloves and crushed garlic.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crock Pot Tuesday: Pork Chops with Brats and Sauerkraut

Adapted from Cuisine Magazine (Bistro-Style Pork Chops)

This is a fantastic recipe when making a meal for two, although there's no doubt you could double or triple the recipe. Just remember, as a general rule with slow cookers, when doubling a recipe you most likely will not need to add any additional liquid to the pot other than the initial recommended amount. Adding more will just make your dish soupy! Here's Cuisine's recipe with my modifications (and name change).

Pork Chops with Brats and Sauerkraut

1 Tbs. olive oil
2 bone-in pork chops (about 1/2"thick and 5-6oz each)
6 oz. cooked, smoked bratwurst, cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 c. quartered small red potatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp each kosher salt and pepper
1/2 c. apple juice (I used cider!)
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 c. drained sauerkraut

Brown chops in oil until browned; set aside. Combine brats through thyme in a 1 1/2-2 Qt slow cooker (I used my 4qt). Place chops on top of vegetables; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir together apple juice and vinegar; pour over chops. Cover and cook until chops are tender and nearly falling off the bone- about 2-2.5hrs on high heat or 3-4 on low heat.
Add sauerkraut to cooker, covering chops, cover, and cook an additional 30 minutes on high setting.

***notes: Next time I would use approx. 8 or so oz. of brats as they were a great flavor. Also I will make them with BEER brats for a bit more flavor ooomph. I love sauerkraut, yep straight cold out of the can unrinsed and all, so I cannot be sure the amount I used after doing "a little bit for the dish and a little bit for me" dance. I wouldn't be shy and would add the full can of kraut to the dish- it tastes fabulous. I didn't have apple juice on hand but I did have cider so that substitute was wonderful.***

Reuben Toasts (serve with chops)
2 slices pumpernickle bread
1 Tbs. Thousand Island dressing
shredded Jarlsburg or Swiss Cheese

Toast bread, remove before fully toasted. Spread on dressing and top with cheese. Broil til golden. Cut each piece in half before serving.

On a side note, did you know that sauerkraut is chocked full of incredibly gut-healthy probiotic bacteria from fermentation? It has been known to:
1. help with the pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea/constipation of IBS
2. increases immunity
3. provide Vitamin C (sailors used to eat this long ago to beat scurvy and also found that shipmates whose diet consisted of sauerkraut tended to be less inclined to the famously nasty GI symptoms other shipmates had who didn't eat the fermented cabbage).

"One of the main benefits of sauerkraut is that it is rich in vitamin C, enzymes, and lactobacilli (the essential probiotics we’re seeking).  In fact, this is true of any fermented cabbage dish.  It is said to be healthier to eat lactic cabbage than any raw vegetable!  This means the continued benefits of sauerkraut are boosting the immune system and better overall digestion." 

It also provides various cancer-fighting compounds including isothiocyanate and sulphoraphane

Friday, November 18, 2011

Teaching Our Children: A Conversational Piece

A good friend of mine posted this article to me the other day and, after reading it, felt it was a good conversational message to pass on. The basis of the story is questioning whether we are teaching our children to ignore their instincts, intuition, and self-trust in order to be polite and acknowledge or validate the feelings of another.

 I recall in my childhood being told to kiss or hug a particular aunt and uncle even though I fervently refused because, frankly, I just didn't want to. The couple gave me the heebie jeebies, were always drunk and obnoxious at holiday gatherings, and just were not friendly individuals. I was probably around the age of 6 or 7. My parents, meaning well, insisted I give them affection so as not to be rude and hurt their feelings. I finally relented and pecked their cheeks and hugged them as distantly as I could to get it over with. They beamed and cooed over it, making a big display. I thought it was so incredibly annoying and uncomfortable.

Reading this article reminded me of this instance and I had to question our tendencies to continuously force our kids' affection on others in order to not be rude.

"At that moment, we are telling them, “Forget about how you feel. Do something that makes you feel uncertain and uncomfortable, so that someone else (an adult) can feel acknowledged and respected.”

Thankfully I have never been molested or abused by any family members, but I can see where this could really confuse a child into falsely trusting the adults in their lives. A hug leading to a kiss, leading to inappropriate touching all in the name of not hurting the elder's feelings. Eventually the child does not know what is good or bad touching and feels guilt if they don't perform to the adult's liking.

If you haven't read it yet, I suggest Gavin de Becker's book "The Gift of Fear". It touches quite a bit on these lines and now I wished he discussed this aspect on children more. I wonder if his other book "Protecting the Gift" which does involve children has this mentioned in it.

Do I agree with the article 100%? Mostly, but I can see a few small holes.There is a point to be made that it is important for the parents to educate the child on good/bad touching, what is appropriate, and to encourage the child to be affectionate by living in a loving home (affection being shown and given to the right people without forcing it). You can live in an aware state without being paranoid. The crux of the matter is trying to find a balance between nurturing the  child's ability to trust his instinct and yet preventing him from being afraid of everyone and everything.

Myself, guilty as sin of encouraging a hug out of friends' little ones, will start to be more self-conscious of allowing a child to say "no" and acknowledging their wishes.What I felt before was innocent affection on my part, I now see as me being very self-centered with no regards to the discomfort this may put on the child. All I can do is offer my affection, or let it be known it is always there, but leave it to the child to accept it on his own terms. This, in essence, could build a very healthy and trusting relationship empowering the child to make his own decisions while learning to trust his gut feelings.

As for my own (future) children, I will take my friend's wise words to heart and teach them to be polite with a simple "no thank you...if someone pushes for it they look like an ass. Anybody who does not honor that is not safe."

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crock Pot Tuesday: Gyro Beef Brisket Sandwich with Lemon-Feta Tzatziki

Yet another fabulous slow cooker recipe adapted from my Cuisine magazine:

Gyro Beef Brisket Sandwich with Lemon-Feta Tzatziki

2 Tbs olive oil
3 lb beef brisket, trimmed- coated with 1 tsp each: kosher salt, dried oregano, and black pepper
1 c. beef broth
1 large onion, sliced

1 c. plain yogurt
1 c. crumbled Feta cheese
1 c. peeled, chopped cucumber
4 scallions, chopped
minced zest of one lemon
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs minced fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet, add brisket and sear 5 minutes per side. Transfer meat to 4-6qt slow cooker. Deglaze skillet with broth and add that plus onions to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat setting for 4-5 hrs or low heat setting for 8-9 hrs. Remove meat and onion to a plate and shred with two forks (I added about 1/4c. broth back to the meat to keep moist). Puree all ingredients for Tzatziki in a food processor. Season to taste. 

To serve: Divide meat and onion among flatbread rounds (I used basic tortillas). Top each with shredded romaine, diced tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce. Yummmm.

Sorry no pics, it was eaten faster than I could break out the camera!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crock Pot Tuesday: Open-Faced Pot Roast Sandwich

Holy crap this is good and super easy!

Open-Faced Pot Roast Sandwich
adapted from Cuisine's Slow Cooker Magazine

2 onions, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. dried thyme
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 dried bay leaf
1 boneless chuck pot roast (approx. 4 lbs) trimmed, cut in half, and seasoned

For the sandwich: rolls or texas toast, cheese (I used large whole wheat rolls, Swiss, and Sharp Cheddar cheese)

Place onions through bay leaf in 4-6 Qt (I used my Kitchenaid 7Qt) slow cooker. Lay pot roast overtop vegetables. Cover and cook on high-heat for 4-5 hours or on low-heat 6-7 hours. Transfer meat to a large bowl and pull meat apart (toss any fatty sections). Strain sauce, discarding solids. Use gravy strainer if needed to eliminate most of grease. Put 2-4 Tbs "gravy" in meat to keep the meat moist. *I combined meat with all sauce and then strained out the meat with a slotted spoon when putting on sandwich. This worked well to store only one container in the fridge for leftovers.

Preheat broiler to high with rack 6-8 inches from element.

Toast the rolls or Texas toast first. The recipe calls for a mixture of mayo and horseradish sauce but I combined mayo with about a Tbs. of jarred minced garlic. Spread mayo onto toasted rolls, top with meat, then place sliced cheese over all. Swiss was yummy and Sharp Cheddar was extra yummy. Broil until melty and delish!
Serve open faced and with a side of gravy, if preferred, to dip.

Sooooo heavenly. Maybe next time I will precook an additional carrot and/or onion and add to sandwich when preparing for a full pot roast effect (the discarded solids are useless since their flavor is zapped).