A New Twist on Mom’s Old Recipe

Old Recipes

Two of my favorite vegetables are potatoes and green beans.  They are an unlikely pair, but I recently created an innovative dish where the two complement each other perfectly.  The recipe has its roots in the Hungarian cooking tradition since it includes paprika, and my mother has been making a variation of it for years.  We refer to it simply as “fried potatoes,” but they really aren’t that at all.  They are much, much more.  (And healthier than they sound.)

Imagine a chilly, fall afternoon when you are trying to decide what to cook for dinner.  You decide to throw some steaks and barbeque chicken on the grill, but what will you make to go with it?  You rummage through your refrigerator and pantry finding, among other things, green beans and potatoes.  You usually cook the two separately, but tonight, you decide to get creative and blend them together.

Ingredients:

Red-eye potatoes – 6 potatoes
Onion – 1 large onion
Parsley – 1 cup, chopped
Green beans – 2 cups
Canola oil – 2 tablespoons
Paprika
Salt
Pepper

Instructions:

 Coat a frying pan in Canola oil and add in your chopped onion.  Cook on medium until onion is browned.  In the meantime, boil potatoes until they are soft but firm and cut them into slices.  You don’t want them perfectly ready to serve because they will cook more in the frying pan.  Once your onion is browned, add the sliced potatoes to the frying pan.  Then, season with salt and pepper and a liberal amount of paprika.

You will also need to boil green beans until they are just right to eat.  When the potatoes are browned, but not quite finished, add the green beans to the mixture.  Season once again with salt, pepper and paprika.  About five minutes before you are ready to take the potato and green bean dish off of the stove, add one cup of chopped parsley.

Mom’s “fried potatoes” are surely more than just fried potatoes, especially when you add green beans.  This dish would be best served as a side to a simple chicken or beef recipe or even a good steak.  The potatoes give it a hearty feel while the green beans and parsley make it taste fresh.  Give it a try and taste for yourself.

 

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Authentic Italian Pot Roast Recipe

Authentic Italian Pot Roast Recipe

Everybody has a favorite type of food, but there are certain types that just seem to taste good to everyone. At the top of that list is Italian food. Everyone seems to love Italian food, but not everyone realizes that there is more to it than pizza and pasta. One notable dish that tastes great when prepared correctly is an authentic Italian pot roast.

What Ingredients Does Italian Pot Roast Require?

One of the keys to any good recipe is to make sure that you have fresh, quality ingredients. For this recipe, there are several things to have prepared. In addition to the chuck roast, you will need these ingredients:

1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 large sweet onion, cut in half and sliced
1 (3- to 4-lb.) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1-oz.) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (14-oz.) can beef broth
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Of course, everyone has different tastes, so these ingredients are just the main ones that you will need. Feel free to adjust the amount of each (within reason) to suit your taste buds. You can also experiment with a few different spices if you choose.

How to Prepare Authentic Italian Pot Roast

Having fresh ingredients does not guarantee that you will concoct a delicious meal, however. You still have to take care to correctly prepare the ingredients and cook them properly. As any good chef can tell you, a slight variation on cooking procedures can have a drastic effect on the taste of a dish, and that is not necessarily a good thing.

  1. Place mushrooms and onion in a lightly greased 5-to 6-qt. slow cooker.
  2. Sprinkle roast with pepper. Cook roast in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
  3. Place roast on top of mushrooms and onion in slow cooker. Sprinkle onion soup mix over roast; pour beef broth and tomato sauce over roast. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork.
  4. Transfer roast to a cutting board; cut into large chunks, removing any large pieces of fat. Keep roast warm.
  5. Skim fat from juices in slow cooker; stir in tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Stir together cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth; add to juices in slow cooker, stirring until blended. Increase slow cooker heat to HIGH. Cover and cook 40 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Stir in roast.

Of course, there is more to a meal than just the featured food item. For an easy side, sauté 2 cups diced zucchini, 1 cup frozen sweet peas, and 1/2 cup diced onion in 3 Tbsp. olive oil until tender. Toss with 20 oz. hot cooked cheese-and-spinach tortellini, and 1/2 cup each shredded Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Carmelized Onions at the Ready

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Caramelized onions are a delicious addition to hundreds of meals. Since this dish takes about thirty minutes to an hour to complete, you can simply opt for this make ahead and freeze recipe that allows you to have this tasty add-on any time. The first step is learning how to make the side dish.

Caramelizing Onions

Caramelized onions are cooked slowly until they turn brown and sweet. You will need more onions than you may expect to make this dish since they will cook down and reduce in volume. For example, to make one batch you will need about four large yellow onions. You can also use red or white varieties if you prefer. To begin, follow these steps:

  • Melt a pat of butter on medium heat in a large sized skillet. Make sure that your skillet isn't too hot, or the sugars will burn instead of caramelizing.
  • Chop each onion into bite sized pieces or short strips and add to the heated pan.
  • Allow the onion to cook slowly, stirring every five to ten minutes. It will take about an hour to carmelize if you are making a large batch. Don't rush it.
  • Watch the bottom of the pan for a brown, sticky substance to begin forming. This is the sugars being released. When you begin to notice the sugar carmelize, you can keep it from burning by adding a tiny bit of water or balsamic vinegar to the pan. Make sure not to add the liquid too early or you may disrupt the process.

After cooking, you will notice that the onions are reduced greatly in volume and are deep brown. If you are planning to freeze the dish, or part of it, you will need to let it cool first. You may freeze the dish in a muffin tin before transferring to plastic bags or simply place them, once cooled, in small freezer  zipper plastic bags.

Thawing and Using

You can use this wonderfully sweet-savory side in pasta, in meatloaf or meatballs, on burgers, or in nearly any dish that you would normally use onions. Freezing in portion sized plastic bags is ideal if you typically cook for one or two people. If you have a family, you may want to opt for freezing in half-cup portions. To thaw, you can simply add the onion to the dish about ten minutes before it is done cooking or thaw ahead of time by placing the sealed bag in hot water. In one hour, you can have enough of this easy make ahead dish to add to several meals throughout the month.