Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

There are some things that I’ve never or have almost never cooked; one of them is a roast. I know, it’s shocking! I’ve made soufflés, Beef Wellington, risottos, and many other dishes that are supposed to be complicated or “expert level” long before I made my first roast. Why? Because all my life my mother, the in-laws, or my HH have made it. Recently the grocery store had chuck roasts on sale, and I decided it was finally time to make my first roast. A search of my Pinterest pins for roasts brought up lots of recipes, but most of them were slow cooker recipes and I wanted a traditional oven-roasted version. Thankfully I had pinned this pin for Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon by Kristy of The Wicked Noodle. It was just what I was looking for; oven-roasted with carrots, potatoes, and a self-made gravy.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

The Pintesting:

I don’t know why, but I thought that roasts required magical ingredients to make them turn out delicious. I was so wrong. These basic ingredients are all that’s needed. The peas are my own addition, but I’ll get to that later.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

First season the roast with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Next, heat the pan and oil to sear the roast on one side.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Then sear the other side.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Remove the roast and add onions.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Cook the onions until they are soft.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Next, add the balsamic vinegar and cook until it’s reduced and syrupy, then add the Dijon mustard.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Put the meat back in, add the broth and thyme, then roast in the oven.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

The meat should be tender and fall apart.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Add the potatoes and carrots and cook longer.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

When the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, you’re all done.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Plate your dinner and show off your masterpiece.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Now for the peas. This is one thing that my HH prefers to NOT be cooked with the roast. I’ve always liked them with the roasted veggies. Since one of the keys to a great marriage is knowing when and how to compromise, I cooked the peas separately and served them smothered in the gravy. We both agreed that this was a delicious recipe and as the resident roast maker, he declared my first roast a complete success. High praise, indeed.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.4 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

Accuracy:  This recipe turned out exactly like Kristy’s pictures. The roast was very tender and juicy. The balsamic and dijon gave a nice twist to the traditional chuck roast. The potatoes and carrots were perfectly tender without being mushy. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  There are no difficult techniques to this dish. However, I am giving this 4 Pins because you transfer a hot dutch oven from the stovetop to the oven.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  Preparing the roast took very little time; about 15 minutes. Since this takes several hours to cook, however, I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  I happened to get my chuck roast on sale, but even so it was more than $16 just for the meat. The dish made 6 servings and the total cost was about $25 which is $4 per serving. That’s not bad for a full dinner. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: This is a great dinner and worth the time it takes to make. The next time I try this I’ll make it in the slow cooker since they cook themselves all day on low. The flavor and texture were perfect – just like Sunday Supper. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

The simple recipe of True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy is pretty standard fare in Ireland and the U.K; it’s classic comfort food. My local Fresh Market had a variety of sausages on sale recently; including Irish Bangers. My HH had never heard of them and asked what they were like, so we picked up a couple and decided to try the famous dish.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

After searching several recipes on Pinterest and pinning a few, I saw this pin that claimed to be the True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy recipe which was submitted by wsf” on All Recipes. Since I’ve never tried Bangers & Mash before, I wanted to try the “True” real deal recipe. Bia Maith is Irish for Good Food; let’s get on with the Pintesting.

The Pintesting:

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

The ingredients list wasn’t too long and most of it was already in my kitchen.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

This all started because I saw the bangers sausage on sale at The Fresh Market. If you’re lucky enough to find Irish bangers then use them. If you can’t, you can substitute any milder pork sausage.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Cook the bangers, turning them until they’re browned on all sides.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Boil potatoes for the mash.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Make the mash (mashed potatoes). A unique ingredient was dry mustard for the mashed potatoes. I’ve never used it that way before, but the mash was delicious.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

The recipe called for two large onions. I don’t know about you, but that’s a LOT of onions in my book. They filled up the whole skillet pan. The next time I make this I’ll use one large or two medium onions.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Once the onions are sweated and just browned add the beef broth…

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

…and the wine. Let it reduce for a while.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

According to the recipe submitter, wsf, “Please note that this is a very thin gravy, as is traditional. It will still be very liquidy.” He was right.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

After simmering for 12 minutes the gravy smelled great but was much thinner than my usual gravy. Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

If “wsf” wouldn’t have mentioned how thin the gravy was, I’d have thought that I’d done something wrong. The flavor was wonderful, though. I thought the banger sausages were mild but flavorful and were complimented by the flavors of the onions, beef broth, and wine. The mashed potatoes were fluffy, creamy, and just what I needed to soak up the gravy.

Pintesting Variation #2:

My HH and I decided to get our Irish on before the sale was over and made a second variation just to test a different gravy. I searched several other recipes and found  “Onion Gravy for British Bangers and Mash,” also from All Recipes (Lupin Pooter).  This recipe called for chicken broth rather than beef broth, dijon mustard instead of dry mustard, added Worcestershire sauce, and used a roux as a thickener. Not wanting to risk another thin gravy, I skipped the wine and added 3 cubes of beef bouillon to the chicken broth to add richness instead. THIS is the gravy we were looking for. When we make this again, and we absolutely will, we’ll use the “True Bangers and Mash” recipe with the “Onion Gravy for British Bangers and Mash” (plus the beef bullion) for the gravy.

Sláinte!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.3 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  The recipe gave the warning that the gravy would be thin (aka runny), but the gravy in the photo looked a bit thicker than mine turned out. I checked with some Irish friends who’ve had real and proper Irish Bangers. They said that the gravy should be thicker rather than thinner. “It should flow like lava as you pour it over the food.”  I omitted the red wine to make the recipe thicker but, I was told, it’s traditional to the gravy. The next time I try this I’ll add the red wine and use a cornstarch slurry to thicken up the gravy. Due to the questionable thinness of the gravy, this gets 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  There’s a reason Bangers and Mash is common fare in the U.K. Brown the sausage, make the gravy, and serve with mashed potatoes. It reminds me of  Salisbury Steak, but with Irish sausage – simpler since you don’t have to make the patties. There is a bit of chopping with the potatoes and onions, and the boiling, browning, and reducing takes a wee bit of cooking. Therefore this gets 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  Dinner took roughly an hour from start to finish with either recipe. The second gravy took a little less time because of the roux. An hour for dinner isn’t bad, but I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  The Irish banger sausages were the most expensive part of the meal(s), and you can see that 2 sausages were $2.81. The wine was the second most costly ingredient, but you don’t have to use an expensive wine. This transforms simple ingredients into a hearty and tasty meal with leftovers at a cost of ~$3.00 per serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This was a simple yet flavorful meal that would go well with peas or other veggies. If you have kids you can either omit the wine from the sauce or let it simmer long enough to cook the alcohol off. It’s the kind of hearty home-style cooking that makes me think of pubs, pints, fireplaces, and family. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

If you’re a foodie or have watched TV in the last decade, then you’ve likely heard Gordon Ramsay yelling at the contestants on his reality show, Hell’s Kitchen.  After watching for many years and seasons, one thing that I learned is that you can’t be considered a serious cook unless you can make an excellent Risotto and Beef Wellington. Eating at 5-star restaurants is a bit out of my normal budget, so the opportunity to try Beef Wellington in a restaurant is rather slim. Fortunately, the ingredients aren’t overly expensive, nor are the techniques difficult. (Thank you, YouTube!) So in order to up my culinary game and finally try some fine dining, a few years ago I decided to conquer both of these dishes; risotto for my birthday and the wellington for Valentine’s Day. But that was the OLD Beef Wellington – the NEW dish is Salmon Wellington.

In an effort to eat healthier, we are trying to have fish and seafood a couple of times a week. Not only is it healthy, but also delicious with so many varieties from which to choose: grilled shrimp on a salad, oven roasted Italian herbed white fish, pan seared scallops, fried catfish, parmesan crusted tilapia with lemon and caper sauce (post to come), and now… *drumroll, please* …Salmon Wellington.

Yes, it deserves a drumroll.

This pin by BuzzFeed Tasty has been all over Pinterest and I’ve seen the video on Facebook and Twitter. With this much notoriety, and because it just looks delicious, and because we love salmon, and because I had almost all of the ingredients on hand, I had to try this. Plus doesn’t puff pastry make everyday food look elegant? Let’s begin the fancy food Pintesting!

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

The Pintesting:

The ingredients list was surprisingly small and simple compared to beef wellington. There is no Foie Gras or duxelles in this recipe.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Saute the aromatics and then wilt the spinach.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Add the breadcrumbs, seasonings, and cheeses.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Stir to mix well. Set the spinach mixture to the side.

NOTE: It’s a lot easier if you add the cream cheese first to let it get a bit melty before adding the rest. You can see that mine is a bit clumpy. This didn’t seem to affect the taste, but it will look a lot nicer.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

The recipe doesn’t specify whether to get the salmon with or without the skin. Mine had skin so I trimmed it since I don’t want to eat it hiding under puff pastry. I recommend asking your butcher/fishmonger for salmon without the skin if you want to avoid this step.

Season with salt and pepper, then lay the salmon in the center of the puff pastry.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Top the salmon with the spinach mixture. I went back and forth between spooning it on and shaping it on top with my hands. Once it’s all on, fold the puff pastry over in thirds to cover and seal everything.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Place the filled pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet seam  side down, tucking in the seams, and then give it a good egg wash.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Use a sharp knife to make a crosshatch pattern on the top of the pastry, then give it a final egg wash.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Bake it in a preheated oven until your house smells incredible and you’re drooling.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

DON’T cut right into this immediately. You’ll want to give it at least 5 minutes to rest in order to keep the pastry from smooshing under the knife and the filling from oozing all over the cutting board or plate.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Slice it in half to make two impressive and generous servings. (See? No smooshing or oozing.)

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Plate it. Serve it. Become a superhero – or a supper-hero. There is a serious amount of wow factor with this dish, so enjoy. You deserve it.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

“This is the best thing you’ve ever made!” said my HH as he quickly tucked in for the next bite. “I could eat this every day!”

Wow! I was expecting a positive response, but the best thing ever?! There you have it. Please excuse me. I’m going to go straighten my cape, gloat in my glory, and see if Gordon Ramsey wants to work in my kitchen.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

The Pintesting Results:

OVERALL RATING:  4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The end result was precisely what the recipe, pictures, and video promised. The puff pastry crust was light and flakey. The salmon was cooked to perfection; juicy but done. The spinach mixture gave a nice brightness to balance the whole dish. I also want to point out that 2 servings are extremely generous – neither of us could finish our portion, which just meant that we got to enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: The recipe was easy to follow, and the video made it even easier. Although not mentioned, you would definitely want to remove the skin from the salmon. And while none of the steps are difficult, it does take a few steps to put this together. Due to these factors, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: Although there are a few steps to this recipe, it took 40 minutes from start to finish. This included the 20 minutes of baking time and all of my picture taking. Since 30 minutes is considered a standard for a quick meal and this was only 10 minutes longer for such elegance, I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: I was surprised at how low-cost this dish is! The salmon is the most expensive component, but it’s usually on sale at one of our local grocers. My fillet was too large for the puff pastry, so I had to cut it in half which made it an even better deal. The puff pastry can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores, and you get 2 sheets for less than $4. The rest of the ingredients are common to most kitchens and I had them all on hand. The final cost per serving comes to $2.50 if you make 4 servings (like we did) or $5.00 if you make 2 servings. Either way, that’s a fantastic price for a high-end restaurant quality dish. But since the salmon and puff pastry aren’t common to most kitchens, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  The best thing about this dish (aside from the great flavor, the loving accolades, and the surprising ease of preparation) is that it works just as well for a quick weeknight supper as it does for an impressive special meal. After all, who doesn’t want to be a supper-hero?  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

 

 

 

Tuscan Lentil Soup

There is something very comforting about soup; it seems to nourish your soul as it feeds your body. You’ve never heard of a book series called, “Chicken Casserole for the Soul.” Don’t get me wrong, I love casseroles, but there’s just something about soup. Tuscan Lentil Soup.

Most soups fall into one of two categories: the kind that takes all day to cook (usually in the crock pot), and the kind that you can whip up in short order but still tastes delicious. I had picked up a bag of lentils while shopping because they’re high in protein, high in fiber, have vitamins and mineral, and are low in calories – perfect for our healthy diet. I’ve used them in salads before (Salad Swag: 3 Cures for the Common Salad) but we were looking for something warm and hearty for supper.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup

When searching for lentil soup recipes, I found this Pin by Natalie of Life Made Simple. Our family is trying to stick to a Mediterranian diet because it’s very healthy and still tasty, so this recipe really stood out. One look at the picture and my HH gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. It helped that we also had most of the ingredients on hand, so a quick trip to the store was all that was needed to start dinner.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - ORIGINAL PIN

The Pintesting:

The ingredients include lots of veggies and aromatics, lentils, and Italian sausage. We had mild sausage, so I used that instead. I had some Progresso Tuscany chicken broth on hand and thought this would be the perfect use for it. (Take a look at those cute tomatoes that came from our garden!)

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Ingredients

Brown the sausage and onion.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage

Add the garlic and seasonings.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage & Seasonings

Stir in the broth, lentils, and potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini; simmer for 15 more minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Broth & Veggies

Wilt in the spinach for a couple of minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Spinach

Remove the bay leaf and the soup is done.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Done

Natalie recommends serving with parmesan shavings, so I grated some onto the soup.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Served

I served this with a hot-from-the-oven, crusty baguette. My HH loved the flavors and went back for seconds. This will be a regular in this family. And now for the Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.7 Pins

5 Pins Overall - MED.

Accuracy: The soup turned out exactly like the recipe, including the estimated prep and cook times. It was hearty and had a lot of flavor for less than an hour of cook time. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty:  There is a fair amount of prep work in cutting up the vegetables. Natalie uses a mandoline for her zucchini, but I’ve nearly lost fingertips using mine, and since I already had my French Chef knife out for the other ingredients I just used my trusty tool of choice. Once the prep work was done, this recipe was very simple to make. There wasn’t any pre-soaking of the lentils (I’m not sure why I thought there would be) or other extra steps. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Time:  From start to finish this took less than an hour. The prep work took about 10 minutes and the cook time was just under 40 minutes (of which roughly half an hour was for simmering). 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are common to my kitchen and this makes a BIG pot of soup. I had already bought the lentils and just needed to pick the tomatoes from our garden and buy a couple of ingredients – and the bread to go with it. When I put the leftovers in the refrigerator, the lentils soaked up so much of the chicken broth that I had to add another 3 or 4 cups to make it into soup again. We had supper and two lunches from this pot before we froze the rest so it wouldn’t go to waste. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This recipe is definitely going to be a regular for us. It is delicious, makes a lot, is low cost, and is healthy. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

There seems to be a new obsession with short food videos on social media, especially Facebook. Videos made by Tasty, Buzzfeed, and Tip Hero are bringing food porn to a whole new level.

We like and share them thinking, “What a great idea. I need to try this,” but rarely follow through and make it.

Then I saw this pin for  One Pan Mexican Quinoa also make it onto my Pinterest feed, and I knew it was time to put it to the test. Here’s the video.

This recipe video is by Tip Hero, but they gave the inspiration credit to Chungah of Damn Delicious. I’ve tested her Egg Salad BLTA Sandwich and Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli and both got great results. This made me more confident in the probability of success.

The Pintesting:

The ingredients are straight forward and easy to find.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Sauté the aromatics, then add the beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Then add the quinoa, seasonings, and broth.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Cover and cook for 20 minutes and it’s done.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This was going to be served with diced avocado as the recipe suggested, but the one we got was over-ripe so we had to throw it out. Here’s how it looked without any toppings.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This has a bonus of being super healthy without trying hard. Don’t be scared to try it even though it’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It’s also versatile. You can change or add more veggies, switch the broths, play with toppings; make it your own.

***UPDATE 08/17/2016***  I’ve had several questions about quinoa from those who aren’t familiar with this ancient grain. Marry Spencer of Health & Fitness Shop has a great article, 7 Health Benefits of Quinoa, that answers many of the questions. For example; it’s high in fiber, nutrient rich, great for gluten intolerance, helps with weight loss and diabetes, and more. In other words, it’s packed with all kinds of goodness.

The Results:

OVERALL RESULTS: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as delicious, easy, and fast as the video showed. 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This is an easy recipe with little cutting/chopping. Using canned beans and veggies really simplified things. However, using jalapenos or other hot peppers requires caution as the juices can cause burning to your skin or eyes. Many sources say to always wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping hot peppers. Because of this, I’m giving it 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  This took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It required minimal prep work, and most of the time was just for simmering. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are less than a dollar. At $9.50 for 30-oz, the quinoa was the most expensive ingredient, but I only needed 3 out of 29 quarter-cup servings, and that’s less than a dollar for the quinoa. Total cost was less than $2/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  When I served this, HH ate two bites and gave it a thumbs up. He ate two more bites and gave it two thumbs up. This is fast, easy, healthy and delicious. It’s a perfect dinner for busy weeknights. 5 PinsPintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

I’m a Daddy’s Girl. Always have been, always will be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom very dearly, and as I get older, I see the best parts of her in me. I know I’m blessed beyond words to have the parents that I do. But daddy was the first man in my life, and he set a very high bar as a standard for what to look for in a man. Even though it’s been more than 10 years since he’s walked this earth, I still get excited on his birthday. The quirky little memorable things are what I love to celebrate. He loved God, his family, Tab (does anyone remember that diet cola before there was Diet Coke or Pepsi?), butter pecan ice cream, Fritos & bean dip, mom’s chili when it was so spicy that the steam would peel paint, and he always seemed happy.

His favorite canned soup was Bean & Bacon. I’m pretty sure that Campbell’s has changed the recipe over the years, because it just doesn’t taste the same, nor does it have the same texture. Our family has been avoiding canned soups since they’re usually high in sodium and other “stuff” that we don’t want as a part of our diet. So when I saw this pin for Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup by Deborah of Taste and Tell, I looked up and smiled into the heavens and told dad that I was going to make this for him.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

You know how they say that girls usually marry a man like their dad? Yes! My HH is like my dad in so many ways – including a love of butter pecan ice cream, Fritos & bean dip, HE makes the chili, and he used to drink Tab. And guess what his favorite canned soup is. Go on – guess… Yup! So with my HH cheering me on, and daddy watching from above, let’s get on with this Pin Test!

There aren’t a lot of ingredients, which means that the flavors come from simple ingredients and should shine through (I hope).

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

 

Start with the bacon, cooking it until it’s rendered a good amount of fat and is nice and crispy.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Remove the bacon and most of the drippings, leaving a couple of tablespoons of the rendered fat to give flavor and to cook the mirepoix. (That’s equal parts of onions, carrots, and celery.) I seasoned with salt and pepper at this stage rather than waiting until the end. Once the aromatics are softened, add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Add the beans and broth and let it cook for an hour. The recipe says to remove half of the soup and blend in a blender or food processor, but that makes a lot of extra dishes and (in my world) potentially puts me in harms way. Instead, I used my immersion blender to pulse it enough times that it looks like it was about half blended and half whole beans and veggies.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Add the tomato sauce and 3/4 of the bacon, and let it heat through for another 5 minutes or so.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

Serve and garnish with the reserved bacon.

Pintesting Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

You can’t really see the beans in the bowl because they sink to the bottom and are covered by the broth, but they’re there. (Did you catch that beautifully correct grammar?) I have to say that daddy would have loved this soup – probably a lot more than the canned variety. I know the HH and I did. It was hearty, flavorful, and filling without being heavy. I liked that I could control the sodium levels (and add more bacon garnish, if I want to). So now for the Pintesting results.

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This soup brought back the memory of how the canned name-sake in my past used to taste. It was like a time machine in a bowl. The flavors were spot on, and the texture was creamy and rich. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The steps weren’t hard, but it’s not something for kids in the kitchen. Cooking bacon can cause grease burns from the popping and splattering if you have the heat too high. Also, the extra step of blending half of the soup, while necessary, comes with it’s risks. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The prep work only took about 20 minutes, but then add an hour of simmering time after that, plus one more time of heating it through and you’re looking at 1 1/2 hours to make from start to finish. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: This is a great soup if you’re on a budget The most expensive ingredient was the bacon, which I got on sale for less than $5, and I had leftover bacon for BLTs. The cans of beans were about $1 each, and I had the rest of the ingredients on hand. We can estimate them at $5 for everything. The recipe says 4 servings, but the HH and I got 6 good-sized servings out of the pot of soup. That’s less than $2 per serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

 

Practicality: If you like bacon, or have fond memories of bean and bacon soup, or if you like soup, this is a must-try recipe. My HH and I love this recipe, now one of our favorites, and I’ve made it twice now. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops

Sometimes Pinspiration strikes at the most random times; for example, while walking through the grocery store at 5:15 pm while you have no idea what you’re going to make for supper. There were these beautiful thick boneless pork chops on sale. When I say thick, I mean about 2 inches thick – perfect for splitting and stuffing.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - THICK Pork Chops

After a quick search on my cell phone, I found this pin for Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops by Mary Kay of Homemade Cravings. Our family loves Mediterranean flavors, we had most of the ingredients, and it appeared simple and healthy, so this seemed like a great choice.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Original Pin

 

The are only 6 ingredients. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup chopped spinach, but doesn’t specify fresh or frozen. I had frozen chopped spinach on hand, so that’s what I used. It also calls for 4 pork chops, but since it’s just the HH and me we used two and saved the extra stuffing to use in omelettes. Also, the recipe called for pork chops with the bone in. I think these work well with or without the bone.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Ingredients

 

You really want to use thick chops for this recipe. You can see that they’re thicker than my 1/2 cup measuring cup.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - THICK Chops

Mix the spinach, feta, and sundried tomatoes in a bowl.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Filling

 

Season with salt and pepper

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Filling Mixed

Cut a slit in the pork chops, season with salt and pepper, and stuff them.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Chops stuffed

The recipe says to soak toothpicks and secure the chops, then grill them. Our grill happened to be out of gas, so we chose to bake them standing up like they’re pictured.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Supper

As you can see, this worked very well. The meat was moist and flavorful, and the stuffing was delicious. I served these with couscous and broccoli. I’d like to try them grilled the next time we make them just to see if it adds another level of flavor.

Overall results:  4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  As I hoped, this was a simple yet delicious entree. The pork chops were juicy, and the flavors of the stuffing really made a delicious combination. It executed just as the recipe said. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: You get a lot of taste for as simple as this recipe is. Mix a few ingredients, season, slice, stuff, and grill (or bake). You want to use caution when cutting the chop so that you don’t go all the way through, but i didn’t feel that was increasing the difficulty level. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: This would be perfect for a 30-minute-meal if you’re grilling. Since I baked them, it took a bit longer – about 45 minutes. Still, that isn’t very long for supper. The rest of the meal came together while they were in the oven. As a bonus, the extra stuffing ingredients make a fantastic omelette filling, so that cuts down on breakfast time the next day. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: I was fortunate to get the thick boneless pork chops on sale – BECAUSE they were on sale. I also lucked out because I had bought sundried tomatoes on a buy one get one free sale, too. I don’t know that every kitchen normally stocks feta and sundried tomatoes, so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: The simplicity, fast preparation, and delicious flavors of this were wonderful. The HH really enjoyed it and said he’d like to have it again. I also love that, in our case, we could use the filling as a way to get extra veggies and pump up the flavor of breakfast, too.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

 

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

I love our neighborhood Chinese take out place for a quick dinner that doesn’t make me feel completely guilty for not cooking. One of our family favorites is Beef and Broccoli. It’s got broccoli, therefore it must be healthy.

Sure, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

When I saw this pin by Damn Delicious for Beef and Broccoli in the slow cooker my first reaction was skeptical at best. Beef and Broccoli is a stir fry… but then I read Chung-Ah’s post and recipe in detail and it sounded extremely plausible. Why not? Definitely worth giving a test. To the wok crock pot!

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli - Original Pin

The Pintesting:

The ingredients were easy to find at my local grocer. (There’s also brown sugar that didn’t make it into the picture, but did make it into the dish.)

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Trim and thinly slice the meat, and put in the crock pot.

NOTE: The recipe called for 2 lbs of chuck roast. By the time I trimmed it to my liking, I had 1 1/2 pounds left. There was still a LOT of meat.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Make the sauce together.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Toss the meat with sauce and cook for 90 minutes. Crock pot cooking usually takes a minimum of 4-6 hours and up to 10-12 hours, depending on the recipe. I was a little concerned that this wouldn’t be long enough, but…

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

This is what the meat looked like after cooking for 90 minutes. Oh, and I forgot to mention how amazing the sauce smelled.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Add the broccoli and cornstarch slurry (to thicken the sauce).

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Cook for another 30 minutes.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Serve w/ rice – OMG!!!

My handsome husband said that this was better than the take-out place, and that’s saying a lot. The meat was unbelievably tender and flavorful and the sauce was perfect. The broccoli was fully cooked but not mushy. We both also like that we knew exactly what is in our food – no mystery ingredients.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: This recipe really captures the flavor of take-out Beef and Broccoli made at home. Using the slow cooker was a brilliant idea on Chung-Ah’s part. The beef was very tender, but not to the point of shredding, the sauce was fantastic, and the broccoli was completely done without being mush. (I don’t like mushy veggies.) 5 PinsRated 5 Pins

Difficulty: The hardest part of this recipe was trimming the roast. I have a tendency to go a bit overboard with that, and since the cooking time (2 hours total) isn’t the normal 6-8 hours in a slow cooker, I didn’t want to have hunks of fat or stringy meat. You don’t have to go to the same lengths of trimming – Chung-Ah didn’t mention it in her recipe. The rest was super simple; whisk together the sauce, toss in the broccoli and cornstarch slurry. Easy Peasy. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Time: Because this is a slow cooker recipe, I look at it with a bit of a curve. The prep time was roughly 10-15 minutes – mostly because of my obsessive trimming of the roast. Still, not bad. Since the crock pot did the rest without my assistance (just the add-ins after 90 minutes), this gets 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: The Roast was the most expensive part of the meal, but I was fortunate to get it on sale for about $7. The broccoli was also on sale. I did have to purchase a lot of the sauce ingredients for the 1st time, but even so this will make a LOT of Beef and Broccoli before you run out. The total cost was less than two orders of take-out, it makes 4 servings, and you’ll be able to re-use lots of the ingredients. But because most kitchens might not have the sauce ingredients as a staple, I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Practicality: If you need a quick fix for Beef and Broccoli take-out, hit up your local restaurant. If you want amazing flavor and are willing to wait 2 hours with minimal work, then this is a great way to go. I like that I know what’s in it, how it makes the house smell amazing, and the “yum” noises of approval. It’s a great recipe to throw into the crock pot before soccer or piano or shopping. I also like that my kitchen isn’t covered in splattered grease from stir frying. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Does anyone else have a busy life? Dumbest. Question. Ever. Trying to balance all of life’s aspects requires about 32 hours a day, but we only get 24. That’s why I LOVE crock pot cooking. It’s a HUGE time saver! Simply dump (or carefully layer) the ingredients into the magical appliance, turn it on, and walk away. Hours later I come home to a house that smells amazing and dinner (or supper, depending on where you are in the world) is DONE! I have some family favorite recipes but am always on the lookout for something new. I found such a recipe while perusing through Pinterest and spotted this pin for Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken from Tammilee’s Tips. Three ingredients that look like a cross between BBQ Chicken in texture and Buffalo Chicken in taste.

THREE INGREDIENTS – I’m in! Let’s try this.

The Pintesting:

http://www.tammileetips.com/2013/01/crock-pot-spicy-buffalo-ranch-chicken/

So here are the ingredients; chicken, buffalo sauce, and ranch mix.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Dump everything into the crock pot.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Turn it on low, then walk away. For those who have an aversion to leaving a kitchen appliance on all day – especially if you’re not home to watch it (yes, I know you’re out there and it’s okay), just put the crock pot on your stove top. I have a friend who just couldn’t leave a crock pot on her counter to cook while she was gone to work. When I suggested this, it made everything okay and she started making crock pot meals 3-4 times a week. Don’t ask or question, just do it.

After you get home (6-8 hours later), it will look like this.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Shred the chicken. I used the two carving forks that came with my knife set because of their long handles which allowed me to shred it in the crock pot without getting my hands too close to the food or the hot sides.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

There, the chicken is DONE! Since this is buffalo chicken, I wanted a side that would balance the spiciness. What could be better than the traditional carrots and celery with ranch? How about a coleslaw salad with lots of carrots and celery and a ranch-slaw dressing? YES! So here’s my non-recipe recipe.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

One bag of coleslaw, about half of a bag of shredded carrots, and 3-4 stalks of celery chopped small.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

For the dressing, I used equal parts of coleslaw dressing and ranch dressing.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Toss it all together and serve. That’s 5 minutes for a super yummy salad!

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

We’re trying to lose some weight in my family, so when I asked if the chicken should be served with or without the buns, the unanimous response was without. Here’s our supper, and I have to say it was amazing! Tons of flavor with a nice balance between the coolness of the slaw and the heat from the chicken. It makes a lot, so it’s perfect for sharing. The next time I make this, I will try making buffalo tacos with the combo. Now, for the Pintesting results.

 

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy:  This captured the fun of Buffalo Wings, but in a form that’s easy to cook and serve without the messy fingers and moist towelettes. My husband and I don’t like lots of heat, so we used the regular buffalo sauce rather than the extra hot. I’d try mild if I could find it. If it’s still too much for your heat index, then try substituting a little barbecue sauce or add a bit of brown sugar. Even though it was spicier than just about anything we usually cook, we couldn’t stop eating – it was that good. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty:  Three ingredients, dump, walk away, shred, eat, good. Folks, it doesn’t get much easier than that. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Time:  I struggled with this because on the one hand, the prep was almost nonexistent. I literally dumped the bag of frozen chicken breasts into the crock pot, poured the bottle of buffalo sauce on top, then sprinkled the ranch mix. Two minutes tops. Once I got home, it took about 3 minutes to open the lid and shred the chicken. That’s 5 minutes, which would normally get 5 Pins. On the other hand, I feel like I have to account for the 8 hours of cook time while I was at work, which would normally get about 2-3 Pins if you were actively cooking for that length of time. I decided to go between the two, and look at it similarly to required chilling time. It’s necessary, but you’re not doing anything so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Cost:  The chicken breasts were about $6.50 for the bag and by far the most expensive ingredient. Total cost was about $10.00. But since this makes a lot of food, and will serve a family of 4 with plenty of leftovers, I’m giving it 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins

Practicality:  Any crock pot meal is very practical for busy weekdays. The lack of chopping or other prep work makes this recipe even easier to throw together. It would also be PERFECT for a Super Bowl party. This would be great for any kind of party! 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Like so many, I’m really trying to make an effort to eat better. Translation, eat more salads – especially ones that have more veggies, fruit and legumes. While strolling through Pinterest (does anyone else stroll through Pinterest?), I saw a pin that showed a blender with an avocado dressing recipe. I LOVE avocados. I was happy eating them sliced and sprinkled with a little kosher salt, but then my wonderful husband went and took it up a notch by making his guacamole. Talk about Holy Guacamole! Even people who don’t like the stuff love my Tony’s guac.

Sorry – sometimes I digress, then need to reign myself back in to the topic at hand.

When I clicked on the link, the recipe shown was different than the one in the comment of the pin. I thought Krista’s recipe for Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing sounded amazing and I had everything on hand, so went for it.

Here is the original pin that I posted from Pinterest.

Original Pin with altered recipe

THIS is picture from Krista’s blog, Krista’s Kitchen – I think it would have been a much better choice.

Original Pin

I gathered the ingredients for the dressing…

Dressing Ingredients WM

and the salad. (Note: I used grape tomatoes rather than slicing roma tomatoes, since I had the grape tomatoes on hand.)

Salad Ingredients WM

The dressing was very easy to make. Krista mentions using a Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick Hand Blender, but I used my regular blender instead.. All of the dressing ingredients went in.

Dressing in the blender WM

Then they were blended until creamy and smooth. This didn’t take very long, which was very good since I had a hungry hubby to feed.

Blended smooth WM

Next came the salad. I didn’t have corn chips, but I did have organic blue corn tortilla chips, so I substituted them so I wouldn’t have to make a trip to the store.

Salad in the bowl WM

Krista used a big, lidded purple bowl to mix her salad in. Mine is green. I didn’t notice any difference. Once everything was in, I lidded the bowl and shook it to toss the ingredients together. (Sorry about the shadow in the picture. I’m working on the food photography.)

Salad tossed WM

Once combined, I added the dressing then shook it up to coat evenly.

Add the dressing WM

Dressed salad WM

I served it with chicken enchiladas, but this could easily be a vegetarian meal on it’s own.

Served with chicken enchiladas WM

The Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing rated as follows:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall - LARGE

Accuracy: The recipe came together just as Krista posted. The avocado dressing was creamy and delicious, with just a hint of heat to let you know it’s there.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: Aside from my bowl being green rather than purple, I had no trouble with this recipe. It was very simple and the instructions were clear.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: Even with all the photography, the salad came together in about 15-20 minutes. This includes removing the avocado flesh, opening cans, etc.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: I had everything on hand, but most kitchens might need a few items. None would be more than a few dollars.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: The recipe was a household hit. I could serve this at a pot luck, as a vegetarian meal, or as a side dish.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL