pot roast with carrots & potatoes

i don't use my slow cooker a whole lot, but it is the only way i make pot roast.  i've done dozens of variations on this recipe, & it's never come out bad!  i use a 6-quart slow cooker, but you can adjust the amounts to fit in whatever size you have.

2-4 pounds pot roast
5-6 small red potatoes, chopped into 1" pieces
1 pound baby carrots
1 onion, sliced thin {or 1 box lipton onion soup mix}
worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
4-6 cups liquid {water, beef broth, coffee}

1. if your meat is frozen {which mine always is}, thaw it at least enough to be able to rub salt & pepper on it.  i generally put my roast in mostly frozen.

2. create a generous bed of potatoes & carrots {& onions, if desired} on the bottom of the slow cooker. leaving just enough room for your roast to sit in the middle.  salt & pepper them.

3. rub salt & pepper into your roast & set on top of the veggies.  {some recipes call for searing the outsides of the roast - i never do this & mine still comes out great, so it saves you time & a dirty pan!}

4. cover your roast with a generous sprinkling {about 1/4 cup} of worcestershire sauce {the one ingredient i never ever change}.  sprinkle on onion soup mix, if desired.

5. add liquid. usually, i use 1 cup coffee {don't know why, but it's good} & the rest water.  but i just made  it this week with only water, & you can also use beef broth instead.  use however much liquid it takes to cover the vegetables & half-way submerge the roast.

6. turn the slow cooker on.  cook on high heat for 3-4 hours if thawed, for 5-6 hours if frozen.  cook on low heat for approximately 2-3 hours longer.  i cook mine until it registers a temperature of 175F which is well-done, but it's never dry.  you can turn it down to "keep warm" until you're ready to serve it.


rustic vegetable tart

my friend olivia's favorite day of the year is october 1st because it symbolizes for her the beginning of autumn! every year, she enjoys various autumn rituals on this day, including an earthy fall-inspired meal with friends. my sister, vanessa, is rooming with olivia now & so got to share in this feast. she called me up for this recipe, & it was a hit along with olivia's pumpkin soup. it's great as an appetizer for several people or a meal for 2-4 people. {this recipe is not original to me, but it is - of course - modified. i *think* it's from rachael ray.}

olive oil
4 c. vegetables, chopped into 1/2" cubes
   - sweet potato
   - turnip
   - carrot
   - red onion
   - eggplant
   - parsnip
   - butternut squash
   - acorn squash
   - cauliflower
2-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped {optional}
1 t. dried rosemary {or other earthy herb of choice}
1/2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 9" pie crust {store-bought}

{i usually pick 4-5 veggies that look good in the store, & i mix & match the recipe each time i make it.}

1. mix together chopped vegetables with olive oil, garlic if desired, & the rosemary. coat thoroughly, & spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
2. roast vegetables at 350F for 30-35 minutes, turning once halfway through.
3. roll out pie crust - you can make this as one large tart or as several individual appetizers. one tart: place crust on baking sheet. smaller servings: cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter, & place each one in a muffin tin.
4. pour vegetables into the center of the tart(s), leaving a 1" border for the large tart. sprinkle with crumbled feta, & fold edges over the vegetable mixture.
5. bake tart(s) according to pie crust directions.

serve large tart for dinner with a wilted lettuce salad or a serving of roasted meat. serve appetizers along side any hearty meal - especially great with soups!


black bean stoup

this is quick & easy, made with mostly pantry staples!
{the recipe is modified from a rachael ray cookbook.}

olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & diced
1/2 red pepper, seeded & chopped
3 celery ribs, diced
1 dried bay leaf
1 can corn kernels, drained
2 cans black beans {do not drain!}
2 T. ground cumin
2 t. ground coriander
2-4 c. vegetable stock
chipotle tabasco, to taste {optional}
salt & pepper, to taste

1. heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with a coating of olive oil.
2. add the onion, garlic, jalapeno, red pepper, celery, & bay leaf to the pot. cook until tender.
3. add corn & black beans, along with cumin & coriander. warm through.
4. add 2-4 cups of vegetable stock to desired consistency. {we like it with less liquid.} add hot sauce plus salt & pepper, to taste.
5. turn down heat to medium or low, & simmer until ready to eat {10-20 minutes}.

serve with grilled cheese sandwiches!