Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Roast Beef with Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce (Gluten-Free)

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This dish contains two of Chris' favorite things: beef and red wine vinegar. So of course I had to make it for him. It's another one of those recipes that takes little hands-on time, and more waiting around time. I'm fine with that, though. It gives me more time to play with Bradley :)
The tomatoes are roasted in the oven with the beef, which gives the meat an acidic touch. The cut of beef that Giada suggests in this recipe is a little tough, so next time I would definitely use something else. But the sauce is great! The roasted tomatoes are thrown into a food processor with red wine vinegar, making a tangy sauce to spread over the beef. This helps keep the meat moist and tender. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Roast Beef:

  • 1 (2 to 2 1/2 lb.) sirloin tip or chuck beef roast
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, cut in 1/2
  • 2 tsp. herbs de Provence
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Spicy Parsley Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
To make the beef roast, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.

Place a medium, heavy roasting pan or Dutch oven over high heat. Heat the olive oil. Sear the beef over high heat on all sides. Turn off heat. Place the seasoned tomatoes around the seared beef and place the pan in the oven. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees F. for medium rare, 135 for medium, about 30 to 40 minutes. Take the roast out of the oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat should rise 5 degrees F more and the juices will redistribute into the roast.

To make the sauce, place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, red wine vinegar and the roasted tomatoes from the beef pan and process until pureed. Add the olive oil in a steady stream with the machine running.

To serve, slice the roast and place on a serving platter. Drizzle a little sauce over the meat. Serve the remaining sauce in a small bowl alongside.

Source: Food Network

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

{Tiny Tot Tuesdays} The Great Baby Food Experiment and Why I Don't Give My Baby Jarred Baby Food

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It's the great debate. Homemade baby food vs. jarred baby food.

I need to preface this post a little bit first. I'm in no way judging you if you give your baby store-bought jarred food. I know not everyone has the time or energy to make their own baby food, and that's okay. But I still want to share my reasoning behind my avoidance of jarred baby food.

There are five factors that made me come to this conclusion, and I'll explain them below. In my "experiment," I compared homemade green beans to a jar of green beans from my local grocery store. 


1) Color

Now I'm no scientist, but if these canned foods claim that the only ingredients are the fruit/vegetable and water in them, why is the color so off? 

I opened the jar of green beans and they seriously looked gray. I was aghast. Especially when I put the jar up against my homemade green beans, they were so off-putting. 

Nothing at all looked natural about the color. Green beans are bright green, so why is the stuff in the jar gray-ish? I didn't even want to touch the jarred food, why should I make my poor little baby eat it?


2) Taste

Chris came home from work one day and was blindsided. I asked him to close his eyes and trust me. Luckily I have a very brave husband.

First I gave him a spoonful of the jarred green beans. His immediate reaction was hysterical. To give you a mental image, it was very similar to the face Bradley made when he first tried bananas:
Then he said it tasted like *ahem* dog poop. Awesome. When I asked him to guess what it was, he didn't even have an answer for me. That's how off they were.

I then gave him the homemade green beans, and he immediately knew what they were. One of my best friends and her boyfriend came over the next day, and I had them do the same thing (do I have very trusting people in my life or what?). They had the same exact response to the jarred and homemade green beans.

Not that Bradley knows the difference, but why should he eat something so gross that tastes nothing like the real thing? Especially if his own parents won't even eat it? There's no good reason.

With homemade food, I also like that I can mix combinations on my own. I don't have to rely on what the manufacturer thinks will work together. If I want to give Bradley apples, carrots, oatmeal and pears, I have the freedom to do it! There are no restrictions.

Plus, I (obviously) cook dinner very often, so I think by eating homemade baby food early on, it will get Bradley used to eating the same foods as Chris and me down the road.


3) How on earth do they stay good on the shelf for so long?

Again, I'm no scientist, but this makes absolutely no sense to me. The ingredients only state the fruit/vegetable and water. So why is my homemade version only good in the fridge for 3-5 days, but these jarred foods can sit on a shelf, at room temperature, for 2 years? How does that make sense? Something else has to be in there preserving them, right? Yet I don't see anything listed in the ingredients. 

(Yes, I know that if it contains less that a certain percentage of an ingredient, the FDA does not require companies to list it on their ingredients list, but still...I want to know everything that's going into Bradley's body.)

I personally just don't find that very natural. If I make something, I let it sit in the fridge for 3-5 days, depending on what it is, then I toss it. Same with Bradley's homemade food. But the label on the jarred green beans, which I bought right before testing them out, says they're good until January 2016. 2016!! That's more than a year and a half away! Unbelievable.


4) Time

I know I'm a stay-at-home mom and everyone thinks I have all the time in the world, but that's another argument for another day. Fact is, most of these homemade baby foods take 15 minutes to make, and a majority of that time is just sitting around waiting for the food to cook. So why NOT make it myself? I found no reasonable explanation. 


5) Cost

When I broke it down, I realized it's actually cheaper to make baby food myself. I typically make Bradley organic food, which, yes, is more expensive. But you don't need to buy organic. For the sake of this argument I'm going to use non-organic ingredients since the jarred baby food I purchased isn't organic. 

Let me break it down for you.
  • A 16 oz. bag of green beans costs $2.99. This makes 16 1-oz. servings. This equals approximately $0.18 per 1-oz. serving.
  • A 4-oz. jar of store-bought baby food from the store is on average $1.29. This equals approximately $0.32 per 1-oz. serving.
So that's a savings of $0.14 per ounce! (I feel like Sandra Lee from Money Making Meals right now.) It might not sound like much, but considering how much you feed your baby, it's going to add up! As of now, Bradley eats 8-10 oz. of food a day, so that's a savings of over a dollar per day. That amount is only going to go up!

Plus most baby food jars are typically around the same price, but they shouldn't be. A lot of fruits and vegetables are even less than the green beans were. Bananas, which are something like 20 cents EACH, will save you even MORE money. Cha-ching!
Okay, I'm done with my rant now.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I prefer to not give Bradley jarred baby food. I like to know exactly what's in the food I'm giving him. It might take a little more time and effort, but overall I think it's totally worth it! Now if I'm on-the-go or somehow manage to run out of food, I'm not against giving him something pre-packaged once in a while. That's fine. But overall, I'm sticking to homemade food all the way! 

Click here for the link to get to all my homemade baby food recipes!

Let me know your thoughts/opinions in the comments section below!

Source: SK Original

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pimento Macaroni and Cheese

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This month's Secret Recipe Club blog belongs to Rhonda over at The Kitchen Witch. She's an avid motorcyclist and is currently enjoying her retired life in Montana. She originally started her blog so that all her children could have access to her recipes at any time. One thing that I especially love about her blog is that she lists the Weight Watchers points for each recipe. I don't currently do Weight Watchers, but I have a few family members and friends that follow the point system religiously, so I think it's a super handy feature!
Now, this Pimento Mac and Cheese instantly drew me in. One of my favorite restaurants, Farmers Fishers Bakers in D.C., makes this awesome pretzel appetizer that is served with a pimento cheese dip. I'm seriously obsessed with the stuff. This savory dish instantly reminded me of my favorite appetizer, and I was inclined to try it out. Oh.My.Goodness. It's pure heaven. Velveeta makes it super cheesy and delicious, but the pimentos add that salty, olive-y flavor that I just love. It's a very heavy dish, so I would recommend having it as a main course instead of a side, but still...so good. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients
  • 8 oz. dried elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 16 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup dark beer
  • 1 (4 oz.) jar pimento
  • 1/2 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or butter a 2 qt. casserole dish. 


Over medium high heat in a non-stick pan, heat the cheddar cheese and Velveeta with the Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, beer and pimento, stirring occasionally. Once fully melted and blended, add the cooked macaroni. Stir well to combine. Pour the macaroni and cheese into the prepared casserole dish.

Crush the saltine crackers by placing them into a zipper top bag and using a rolling pin or other heavy object to crush them. Alternatively you can put them in a food processor and pulse them, but not to finely. Mix the cracker crumbs with the melted butter and spread evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. 

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until hot and bubbly. 

Source: Adapted from The Kitchen Witch

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fried Rice Pilaf Balls

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The Rice Pilaf I made a while back is a perfect side for most meals since it doesn't involve very complex flavors yet is still extremely tasty. It goes with almost everything, so it's definitely a good recipe to have on hand. I made a batch for Chris and I recently, and I usually cut recipes in half if I know we won't eat the whole thing, but for some reason I decided to make the whole darn thing this time. It made about four cups of cooked rice. For two people. My bad?
Instead of eating the leftover rice as it was, I decided to replicate one of my other favorite rice dishes: arancini! The original recipe includes tons of cheese, but making it with rice pilaf was beyond good. The onion, chicken broth and seasoned salt give the rice tons of flavor, and frying them gives them a crunchy crust. They're such delicious and fun little bite-sized treats. Dip them in some marinara sauce and you have yourself a cute little appetizer or side dish! These would be an absolutely perfect side dish for this Easter Sunday. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients
Makes about 16 balls
  • 2 cups cold, day-old Rice Pilaf
  • 1/2 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, plus more if necessary
  • Marina sauce, homemade or store-bought, for serving (optional)
Shape the leftover rice into small, walnut-sized balls. Make sure they are compact so they don't fall apart while cooking.

Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Roll the rice balls in the breadcrumbs and shake off excess.

Heat the canola oil so it coats the bottom of a small skillet with about 1/4 inch of oil. Add half of the rice balls in an even layer. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until light brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined dish. Repeat with the remaining rice balls.

Serve immediately with marinara sauce, if desired.

Source: SK Original