Spicy Slow Cooker Brisket with Texas Caviar

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I’ve had some black-eyed peas in the pantry for a few months. I don’t cook with them often and wasn’t really sure what to do with them. This seemed like the perfect solution.

The original recipe involved a bunch of pre-cooking before adding everything to the slow cooker. I adapted things slightly so I didn’t have to pre-cook to make the recipe easier for a busy day. I was really surprised how much we enjoyed this. I’m now a fan of black-eyed peas, apparently!

Spicy Slow Cooker Brisket with Texas Caviar
(adapted from Food & Wine)
Serves 4

2 1/2 lbs. top brisket
2 T. plus 1 t. Cajun spice blend
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 c. chicken stock
1  28oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. black-eyed peas

Rub the brisket with the spice blend and place it in the slow cooker. Top with chopped onions, garlic, chicken stock and diced tomatoes.

Cook on high for one hour then switch to low for another hour. Stir in black eyed peas and cook for an additional 3 1/2 hours.

BLT Hot Dogs

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The latest recipe swap theme was “Too Hot to Cook”. We’re lucky enough to have central air, so it’s very rarely too hot for me to turn on the oven. More likely, when the warm weather hits in force, I’ll get lazy and not want to stand over the stove.

This meal is really perfect for days like that. I’ll admit I wasn’t really sure how well this would go over, but the fresh lettuce and tomatoes, something I wouldn’t normally put on a hotdog, really gave it a nice, fresh taste. As an added bonus, my husband fastly prefers his hot dogs microwaved so this meal took just about five minutes to put together, start to finish.

BLT Hot Dogs
(from Tastetastic Voyage)
Serves 1

1 Hot Dog
1-2 slices Bacon, cooked
1 Hot Dog Bun
1 t. Mayonnaise
1/4 c. shredded lettuce
2 T. chopped tomatoes

Cook hot dog as desired. (We microwave ours!)

While the hot dog is cooking, spread mayonnaise inside hot dog roll.  Pop in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 minutes, until outside of the bun is lightly toasted and mayonnaise is melty. (Optional, but this step totally makes it for me!)

Place shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes inside the toasted bun. Wrap the cooked hot dog with bacon and add to bun.

Linked up with Eat at Home’s Bacon-Fest.

Roast Beef and Cheddar Panini

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This was another quick and easy dinner that helped me get through June. I love paninis on busy nights because I can easily make myself one when I walk in the door and then make one for Mark when he gets home. Made fresh is always better, but it’s not always easy when you’re trying to cook for people on different schedules!

At first glace, this recipe looks like nothing special but the caramelized onions and chipotle mayonnaise really make it. Alongside a big salad it’s a fast and filling dinner option.

Roast Beef & Cheddar Panini
(from Williams Sonoma)
Serves 1

3 T. olive oil
2 large yellow onions, about 1 1/2 lb. total, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
2 slices country-style bread
2 T. mayonnaise
1/2 t. chipotle sauce
3 thin slices roast beef
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 slices aged cheddar cheese

In a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are completely limp, 10 to 15 minutes.

Uncover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and sweet, 35 to 45 minutes; do not allow them to burn.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the onions cool to room temperature. Set aside 1/4 cup of the onions for the panini; reserve the rest for another use.

Preheat an electric panini maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stir chipotle sauce into mayonnaise.

Spray one side of each bread slice with cooking spray. Lay the slices, oiled side down, on a clean work surface. Spread the top of each slice with 1 T. mayonnaise mixture and a peice of cheese. Place the roast beef on one slice and season with salt and pepper. Top with the 1/4 cup caramelized onions. Top with the other bread slice, oiled side up.

Place the sandwich on the preheated panini maker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately.

Island Jerk Burgers with Zesty Coleslaw

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Oh, how I loved these burgers. There’s really not much else to say.

The warm jerk-seasoned burgers coupled with the cool, crunchy  coleslaw is not a combo I would have ever thought up myself, but it works so well. I used the homemade jerk seasoning listed below, but a store-bought seasoning would also work fine.

Island Jerk Burgers with Zesty Coleslaw
(from Pennies on a Platter)
Serves 4

2 c. shredded cabbage mixture for coleslaw
1/2 medium red onion, peeled, halved and sliced very thin
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1/2 c. mayonnaise (homemade or store-bought)
1 t. hot sauce
Zest and juice of 1 small lime
1 t. honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1.5 pounds ground beef
4 t. jerk seasoning (recipe below)
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 burger buns

Combine the cabbage, red onion and bell pepper in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime zest and juice, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss it into the cabbage mixture to coat. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.

Heat up your grill. Shape the beef into 4 individual patties. Rub each patty with the jerk seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper as desired. Grill the burgers until cooked to desired doneness, flipping once. Lightly toast the buns of the grill. Place a slice of cheese on the bottom half of the buns and heat briefly to melt. Assemble burgers on top of the cheese and topped with a pile of coleslaw.

Jerk Seasoning
(from Pennies on a Platter)
Makes 1/4 cup

2 T. dried minced onion
1 1/2 t. dried thyme
2 t. ground allspice
2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt

Place all ingredients in a small jar. Secure the lid and shake to thoroughly combine. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to use.

To use: Rub surface of meat with oil and then the seasoning. Or, use in any recipe calling for jerk seasoning.

Lazy Lasagna Bake

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The summer before my junior year of college, I moved into an apartment with two fabulous girls – Jackie and Isabel. We were all out on our own for the first time and, as you’d expect, we really weren’t the best cooks. They are also Filipino, so a lot of their normal was downright foreign to me. I remember cleaning out the fridge one day and finding a cake that was bright purple – and quickly pitching it, wondering how long it had managed to sit there to turn that color. When Isabel went looking for it later that night, I told her what an awful color it had turned. She stared at me dumbfounded before telling me it was from a Filipino bakery and was supposed to be that color… oops!

One day that first summer, I came home to dinner – Jackie had made lasagna. Except, instead of lasagna noodles she’d used elbow macaroni and her version of “layer the noodles, meat and cheese” was all the noodles, all the meat, all the cheese. It was our first home-cooked meal in a while and we devoured it, but I remember being really amused at her interpretation of the recipe.

So, I had to laugh when I got my latest swap recipe for a Ground Beef Ricotta Bake from Cooking for Fun. I imagine that Jackie really had a recipe like this and didn’t botch it as badly as I was imagining. I’m so sorry for doubting you, Roomie!

I made a few adjustments to make this more lasagna-like: I used broken lasagna noodles and swapped the tomato and ketchup for canned tomatos and pasta sauce. It’s got all of the flavor of lasagna without the tedious step of layering things properly – aka, Lazy Lasagna.

Lazy Lasagna Bake
(adapted from Cooking for Fun)
Serves 6

8 oz. Lasagna noodles, broken into pieces
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. basil
1 T. oregano
1 (14oz.) can diced tomatoes
3/4 c. ricotta cheese
3/4 c. pasta sauce
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. mozarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Cook lasagna according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef and drain any excess fat. Add garlic and onion to skillet and cook until onions are transluent and soft. Stir in basil, oregano and tomatoes and heat through. Mix in ricotta cheese. Remove from heat.

Add the cooked lasagna pieces and pasta sauce to the pan. Toss until everything is well combined.

Spread in prepared baking pan and top with parmesan and mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

Mongolian Beef

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P.F. Chang’s is one of my favorite chain restaurants. A few weeks ago, I was supposed to meet a friend there for lunch but we ended up having to cancel because of work scheduling conflicts. Ever since, I’d been dreaming of their Mongolian beef. Lucky for me, though, I found this copycat recipe. It totally hit the spot!

Mongolian Beef
(from Chaos in the Kitchen)
Serves 4

2 lbs. flank or skirt steak
1/4 c. corn starch
2 t. vegetable or peanut oil
1 t. fresh ginger, minced
1 T. garlic, minced
1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. vegetable or peanut oil
1 bunch green onions, green part only, cut in half

Trim all fat and silver skin from meat. Cut the meat opposite the grain (horizontal) into two bite-sized pieces. Dust steak pieces lightly in cornstarch and set aside while preparing the sauce.

In a small sauce pan heat oil over medium high heat. Add ginger and garlic. Add soy sauce and water to the ginger and garlic before it browns. Add brown sugar and whisk until dissolved. Bring sauce to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat and reserve.

In a large skillet or wok heat 1 cup oil over medium high heat. Working in batches, add the steak a few at a time to the hot oil. Cook about 1 minute without touching the meat then flip each piece and cook 1 minute more. Remove meat while still rare inside, and continue with next batch. Once all meat is browned, pour off oil and wipe out skillet.

Heat skillet over high heat. Add steak to the hot pan and cook about 1 minute. Add sauce to the pan and simmer and toss meat and sauce about 1 minute. Add green onions. Toss with steak and sauce and heat 1 minute.

Use tongs to remove meat and veggies to a serving dish, leaving excess sauce in the pan. Serve over rice.

Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast

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A few weeks ago, my Aunt’s father passed away. The wake was on a miserably rainy, chilly day – the first like that we’d had in a while.  My parents and grandmother came over for dinner after the wake so I wanted something warm and comforting that would be ready soon after we walked in the door.

This slow cooker dish hit the spot. I did all of the prep earlier in the day and when we walked in after the wake, the house smelled awesome and dinner was pretty much ready – I just had to reduce the gravy a bit. It got rave reviews from the crowd. My parents made fun of me for snapping pictures of it before we ate, but I’d bet anything that my Mom makes this in the future!

Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast
(From Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Serves 6

3-4 lb. boneless chuck roast
1-2 T. steak rub
Black pepper to taste
1-2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. water to deglaze pan
2 large onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 c. beef stock, reduced to 1/2 cup
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. tomato sauce

Trim as much fat as you can from roast, and cut if necessary to fit into your slow cooker. Rub meat well with steak seasoning and black pepper. Heat heavy pan with small amount of olive oil and brown roast well on both sides.
While roast browns put 1 cup beef stock in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, then let cool slightly and mix in balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce. Deglaze pan with 1/4 cup water and add to sauce mixture. Peel onions and cut into thick slices.
Place onions in bottom of the slow cooker. Put meat on top of onions and pour beef stock mixture over. Set slow cooker to low and cook 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, until beef is tender. The meat might be partly submerged in liquid after this much time.
Remove meat from slow cooker and cover with foil to keep warm. Drain liquid from slow cooker and remove as much of the fat as you can with fat separator or skimmer. Cook down liquid by about 1/3, and serve sauce with meat and onions.

Beef Enchiladas

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I’m really loving recipes that are bulked up with veggies lately. I think it’s the result of starting to plan the garden. I keep wandering down the produce aisle thinking, I’ll have that in my garden in a few months!

These enchiladas have zucchini in addition to the ground beef and it’s hidden enough that picky eaters won’t object. I made the enchilada sauce too, so I could control the spice level, but canned would work just as well.

Beef Enchiladas
(from Recipe Diaries)
Makes 10

1 1/2 lbs.  lean ground beef
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 c. tomato sauce
2 cloves of garlic
2 recipes enchilada sauce
10 6″ flour tortillas
8 oz. Mexican cheese blend
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

In a pan, brown ground beef and drain any extra fat. Add zucchini, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of tomato sauce and 1 cup of enchilada sauce.

Place about 1/2 cup of beef mix onto a flour tortilla and roll up like a burrito and lay seem-side down in a 9×13 baking dish. When all flour tortillas are done spray tops with cooking spray.

Cook enchiladas for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, and pour on remaining enchilada sauce and top with cheese. Place back in oven until the cheese melts.

Korean Beef Tacos

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I really love having my slow cooker to lean on when I have a busy day. Walking in the house after a long day and smelling dinner simmering is such a mood booster for me. I also love slow cooker recipes that I can whip together in five minutes – the longer I get to sleep in the morning, the better. This recipe was perfect on both accounts.

I really loved this. The sweetness of the sauce of the beef paired well with the slight spiciness of the cucumber slaw. Leftover were gone in record time!

Korean Beef Tacos
(from Pink Parsley)

1 1/2 lbs. boneless short ribs
3/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
5 cloves garlic
1-2 in. piece of fresh ginger, peeled
6 T. rice vinegar
2 T. dark sesame oil
1-2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

For the cucumber slaw:

1 hot house cucumber
4 t. rice vinegar
1 t. sugar
2 pinches of salt
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

In the bowl of a small food processor, pulse the garlic and ginger until finely chopped.

Add the ribs to the crock pot. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the cooking liquid. Pour over the ribs.

Set the crock pot to low and cook about 8 hours. When ready to serve, shred into bite-sized pieces.

Skim the fat off the top of the liquid and add to a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat until thickened and reduced. Pour over the shredded meat and serve.

For the cucumber slaw, slice the cucumber as thinly as possible, using a mandoline if you have one. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Toss the cucumbers in the mixture and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, warm tortillas and fill with the shredded meat and top with cucumbers.

Chili Garlic Burgers

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Last Monday, we were in the midst of a more than 3 day blackout, courtesy of Hurricane Irene. We had access to a generator so we keep our fridge cold but all of my kitchen appliances and stove were  not an option. Still, we made a nice home-cooked dinner every night of the power outage. There were certainly other options – like hitting up local restaurants that didn’t lose power – but being able to sit down to a hot meal at home was a much-needed few minutes of normalcy in those crazy days.

These burgers were one of the meals I made during the blackout. Prepping only took a few minutes and then we sat out on the back deck grilling. The original recipe called for the onions to be caramelized. I think that would have been fantastic, but in the interest of making things quick and easy, we just threw the onions on the grill until they were soft.  They were great this way, but when I make these again I’ll definitely try the caramelization route!

Chili Garlic Burgers
(adapted from PreventionRD)
Serves 2

1/2 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 t. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T + 1/4 t. chili garlic sauce, divided
3/4 t. black pepper
2 slices bacon
2 slices sweet onion
2 T. bleu cheese dressing
2 burger buns
2 slices Swiss cheese

Preheat grill. Mix the ground beef, soy sauce, the black pepper and 1 tablespoons of the chili garlic sauce. Form into two patties.

In a small bowl, mix the bleu cheese dressing and the remaining chili garlic sauce.

Grill burgers, bacon and onions over medium heat, removing to a plate when done. (The bacon should finish before the onions and bacon.) In the last two minutes of grilling, melt the cheese over the burgers and toast the buns.