Dad’s Pot Roast

November 3, 2011

Margaux says…

For the most part, I tend to cook a new recipe every night.  But there are a few things that I make on a regular basis (meaning, 2-3 times a year), and this is one of them.  I am a meat-and-potatoes kind of gal…have been since the beginning.  Pot roast is one of my favorite things, next to steak and mashed potatoes, and my dad gave me this recipe for it when I was in middle school.  I’m pretty sure it’s my Granny’s recipe, although she may not have put in the garlic or herbs. Anyway, it’s been a standard for me ever since!

You have to get a nice, marble-y piece of meat…that’s what makes it good.  You can add as many potatoes and carrots as your pot will allow…it seems I can never cook enough carrots!  Just add a little more water if you need to when adding the veg.  The water doesn’t have to completely cover, because the tight-fitting lid will create a steam bath in there, but it should almost cover the ingredients.

The best part about pot roast (well, second best, next to the taste!), is that it is super easy to make!  I like to make it on days where I have a lot of other things going on…it only has a few ingredients, and prep time is only about 10-15 minutes.  If you’re making gravy (which is totally necessary, in my book), that will take another few minutes at the end, but it’s worth the trouble.

Dad’s Pot Roast

2- 2 1/2 lb. Boston or chuck roast
1 medium onion, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp oregano
2-4 potatoes, quartered
2-4 carrots, cut into 3″ pieces
2-3 cups water (or more, if needed)

You need a dutch oven, cast iron is best-it adds flavor! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of the meat. On top of the stove, over medium-high heat, heat oil, and brown meat on both sides. Add water to the top of the meat and add onion, herbs, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Place a tight-fitting lid on top and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and add potatoes and carrots (and a little more water if needed), and cook one more hour. Mmm-mmm-good.

Pan Gravy

I like to use Wondra flour for my gravy–it makes it super easy. First thing you need to do is remove the meat and vegetables from the pan, and strain the juices. I usually reserve 2 cups of the juices for gravy, because my family likes gravy…it makes a lot of gravy. Put the 2 cups of strained juices back in the pan, and turn the heat on medium. Whisk together 4 tbsp Wondra flour and 1/2 cup water. Whisking constantly, add flour/water mixture to the pan, and continue stirring until boiling. Boil a few more minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Sometimes I like to get fancy and make red-wine gravy. In this case, just substitute 1/2 cup red wine for 1/2 cup of the juices. It gives the gravy a lot of yummy flavor!

Crunchy Granola

September 4, 2011

Margaux says…

My Aunt Judy makes the most simple and amazing granola ever.  It’s the same recipe she’s been using since the 70’s, and she always has it on hand at her house.  She was my birth doula and came to stay with us for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and the whole time she was with us (which ended up being about a month) she kept our supply stocked. It was so great to have every morning, with fresh fruit and yogurt!  It’s gotten so I can’t even eat store-bought granola anymore, I’ve become such a granola snob.  I try to keep it up, and make a batch as often as possible, but especially in the summer when fruit is in season and tastes oh-so-yummy with this salty sweet crunchy goodness.

Crunchy Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ or flax seed meal
1 cup large flake unsweetened coconut
1 cup cashews (or whatever nut you prefer)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins (optional…I do this in the winter when I eat it with milk instead of fresh fruit and yogurt)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey (or agave syrup)
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 tbsp real maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, minus the salt. Mix together honey, water, oil, salt and maple syrup. Pour over cereal and mix well. Bake in large jellyroll pan at 300 F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then pour into an airtight container.


Margaux says…

This is the ultimate mac n’ cheese recipe for everyone in my family.  Well, at least for me and my siblings…I suppose I shouldn’t speak for everyone, and I know my dad is really fond of his stove top recipe that he has perfected over the years.  But for me, nothing else compares, and I know many of my family members will agree.  It’s the quintessential comfort food, and always reminds me of my childhood when I make it.  Not only that, but it’s easy, cheap, quick, and is a crowd-pleaser no matter who the crowd is!

This macaroni and cheese recipe is a baked version, so it gets all crispy and cheesy on top.  You can serve it as a side dish with a roast or something for a Sunday dinner, or as the main course on a weeknight.  Double the recipe for a crowd and bake in a 9×13″ dish…this recipe serves 4-5 people.  I always serve it with a salad and a vegetable…usually frozen peas!  That makes it really feel like home. I usually use sharp cheddar, but this time I used a mix of colby and monterey jack, and it was really good. Granny always used medium cheddar.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love this recipe for mac ‘n cheese!  Even though it’s quite familiar to our family, I’ve never known anyone else who makes it this way.  I have experimented with other approaches over the years – primarily substituting a white sauce for the butter/milk before baking – but  I keep coming back to what I grew up with!   Back when I was at home and Granny was my Mom, we had this as a main dish with canned green beans (!).  But when Margaux and her siblings were growing up, Granny/Mom would serve it with meatloaf (plus a salad and vegetable).  For some reason, the marriage of the meatloaf and the mac ‘n cheese is perfect to me.  This makes me think we need to make and post Granny’s meatloaf recipe!

Granny’s Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups macaroni
1 cup (or so) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp salted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have an 8″x8″ glass baking dish ready.
Bring medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Boil macaroni for 5 minutes, drain.
Pour drained macaroni (still hot) into baking dish. Stir butter and salt in until butter is melted completely. Stir in half the cheese. Pour milk over the mixture. Top with rest of cheese (I usually use a little more than a half a cup). Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is starting to brown and is crispy.