Recipe Review: Slow-Cooker Balsamic Roast Beef

There’s just something about best friends, isn’t there? They always know your quirks and qualms. So when one of my closest, dearest friends sent me this recipe the other day, I thought: “She knows me way too well!”

My friend just invested in her first slow cooker and was researching recipes when she came across this one. Knowing about my not-so-secret love affair with my own slow cooker, she passed it along to me.

Balsamic Roast Beef

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I never thought I would say this — but I’m getting sick of pulled pork.  It’s probably my favorite thing to make in my crock pot because it’s so easy and delicious.  But we have it ALL OF THE TIME and I’m starting to OD on it.  So when my friend sent me this recipe, it spoke to me. It’s uncomplicated AND involves a meat that falls apart when cooked low-and-slow. Yum.

Her colleague gave her this recipe for Balsamic Roast Beef from www.addapinch.com. Take a look — you’ll see it’s incredibly easy.

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Honestly, it took me 5 minutes to throw the ingredients into the crock pot, set it to 6 hours on high, and then run out the door to run my errands.

I served it with baked sweet potato rounds, sautéed mushrooms, and steamed broccoli. photo 4-24

But would the family like it?

YES!

The Results:

  • my 7-and-5-year-olds really liked it, saying “it’s great!” and cleaned their plates!
  • my 3-year-old said “It’s Yucky!” with that sly little smile that means she’s saying something she doesn’t mean.  You know — the smile that only 3-year-olds can give. Then she cleaned her plate! (veggies and all!)
  • The Hubs thought it was great and had seconds!
  • my friend, who I invited over to try, loved it.

So thumbs up all around, right? Wrong.

Personally… I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it.  Not because it’s a bad recipe, but because I’m just not a fan of ‘sour’ meat. I’ve never been.  I try, but it’s just not my thing.  But, in this recipe’s defense, the sourness was very subtle.

I also thought it turned out too dry.  It didn’t pull apart as easily as, say, my pulled pork. I think it would be helpful if I used a smaller cut of meat in the recipe so there would be more liquid to make it more moist.  That might help.. in my book.photo 1-43

So I’ll make it again for my family who loved it — it just might be on a night when I have book club.

Give it a try… you might think differently!  Then, tell me I was wrong!

Happy eatings!

Sharon

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Make Ahead Meals: Part 4 — Low and Slow (but quick and easy!!)

Back to Basics

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Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

OK — so cold soups aren’t your cup of tea?  Let’s get back to basic, old-school family dinners.  Let’s get back to Old Trusty – The Crock Pot.

I thought this recipe for BBQ Ribs would be just what my family craves as a break from the more unconventional meals we have had lately.  After all, I already know my family loves pulled pork. But I’ve never made ribs in my crock pot and wasn’t quite sure how it would work.

I usually post what ingredients I use and how I made the dish — but for this post, I followed the recipe step-by-step. Following directions is not easy for me (just ask any of my teachers over the years!) but I really felt like I had something to learn here.  So I’m linking to the recipe again to make sure my lovely co-blogger can get some well-deserved credit for her recipe.

It could not have been easier.  It, literally, took me 3 minutes to put this all into the crock pot and turn it on.  And the ribs were DELICIOUS!!!  No joke — everyone asked for 2nd helpings!  The ribs were moist and succulent and fell off the bone.

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The key was standing them on their end in the crock pot — like they’re a picket fence — and cooking them for 8 hours on low. Brushing them with some additional BBQ sauce before serving really added a little somthin’-somethin’.

Now, my main dish was all set. But I had NO idea what to make for a side.

So I hit the pantry — and here’s where I got a little more creative with some help from my friends on the internet.  A quick google search for “Rice + Spinach + Salad” came up with some nice options. So I took a couple of those recipes (including this one) and combined them and tweaked them to come up with this:

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice:

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

For the salad….

  • Boil-in-a-Bag Brown Rice
  • about 1/2 of a bag of fresh Spinach (chopped)
  • sprinkling of feta cheese
  • Handful of slivered almonds
  • Red Onion (about 1/4 of a large red onion)
  • Cilantro (handful)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • fresh-ground pepper

To prepare:  Boil the rice according to the package directions.  While the rice is boiling, make your dressing in a jar or cruet so it emulsifies.  Then put the salad ingredients into a bowl.  When the rice is done cooking, run it under cold water. (I squeezed the bag of rice to remove any excess liquid.)  Toss the rice into the salad bowl and drizzle with the dressing (I only used about 1/3 of what I made.)

The results:  my entire family loved this recipe.  I was surprised that the Hubs liked it, because he notoriously dislikes brown rice.  But, he loved it!

Score!

This pairing of ribs and rice salad will definitely go into our rotation!

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Rice

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Rice

Guess what — I’m beat.  This has been a lot of cooking (and blogging!)  So I’m taking tomorrow night off to have dinner with friends!  The Hubs and kids can fend for themselves.  I’d say there are leftovers… but there aren’t!

Chicken Nuggets it is!  (yes… that happens in our house.  A. LOT.)

Happy Eatings!

Sharon

Keep it simple…

Grilled Pork Chops with Honey Glaze and

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Citrus Vinaigrette

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When I worked in TV news, there was a cardinal rule we would adhere to.  KISS:  Keep It Simple, Stupid.

The thought — that when you make your show complicated, bad things happen. Live shots crash. Complicated graphic effects freeze on air. Politicians can be identified as crooks accidentally.  It can get ugly.

So, tonight, as on so many nights, I made dinner and remembered the mantra: KISS.  And it was all thanks to my food processor!

Tonight’s meal was 20 minutes: prep to table.

The Main Course:  Grilled Pork Chops With Honey Glaze Recipe – Food.com – 127539 —photo-36

This was as simple as taking 3 minutes to make a glaze, brushing the glaze onto the pork chops and then grilling them. Very, VERY, easy!!!

The Side Dish:  Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette – Alaska from ScratchAlaska from Scratch.  Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Citrus Vinaigrette

The trick to this is using the food processor to shred the brussels sprouts. This was all finished in about 5 minutes!  photo-34

I made a couple of changes to this recipe.. including adding turkey bacon instead of regular bacon.  I also added shredded carrots to the mix.  I also served it with the leftover Yellow Jasmine Rice we had last night.

I was a little skeptical of what would come of this meal, but my family really liked it — especially the brussels sprout slaw.  The Hubs says he prefers when I pan-fry the brussels sprouts, but that he likes these as a way of switching it up.

So, this one is being added into the summer grilling rotation. Because what’s summer without simplicity?

Happy eatings!

Sharon