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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Bowl

A Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Recipe Packed with Flavor

When the cool weather of fall arrives in my neck of the woods, I know it is time to pull out my slow cooker.   One of my favorite slow cooker meals is this Southwest Chicken Bowl.  It's packed with Southwest flavor and lots of yummy vegetables.  This recipe will feed an army.  If you don't have an army to feed, you will have leftovers that can be used for another meal or two.   For taco night, place the shredded chicken and lettuce in soft flour tortillas and top with the flavorful vegetable mixture.  You can also easily turn the leftovers into a delicious soup by adding six to eight cups of chicken broth.   Do you crave the flavors of the Southwest, but don't want the extra usual extra calories?  Make this recipe without the garnishes.  Use a bowl instead of tortillas or taco shells and skip the rice.  I love the versatility!

A Southwest Chicken Bowl
A Southwest Chicken Bowl

In celebration of fall and slow cooker recipes, I've teamed up with Jennifer Cowan from And Hattie Makes Three and Breeze Leonard from Little Feet Big Adventures to share our favorite slow cooker recipes with our readers.  Check out Jennifer's recipe for White Chicken Chili.  I love that it includes tomatillo salsa.  Yum!

White Chicken Chili
White Chicken Chili from And Hattie Makes Three

Breeze is sharing a recipe for Ultimate Slow Cooker Potato Soup that I can't wait to try.  She loves it because takes only a few ingredients, it has a rich bold flavor, and you can change it up a little each time for a different experience.

Ultimate Slow Cooker Potato Soup
Ultimate Slow Cooker Potato Soup from Little Feet Big Adventures

A Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Bowl
We've also collaborated on a Slow Cooker Recipes Pinterest board to share with you.  It's a great collection of more than one hundred slow cooker recipes.  Check it out for some slow cooker inspiration and remember to follow me on Pinterest for more recipes and tips for creating a nurturing home.

Let's get back to this yummy Southwest Chicken Bowl.  The preparation is easy as one-two-three.

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Bowl
Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves Many

Southwest Chicken
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 colorful bell pepper, red, yellow or orange, chopped
  • 1 lb package frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • One handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving
  • Garnishes: chopped avocado, red onion, sliced black peppers, shredded cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Layer all the vegetables and diced tomatoes in your six-quart slow cooker.  Mix together the spices. Season the chicken breasts generously with the spice mixture.  Stir the remaining spice mixture into the vegetables. Nestle the seasoned chicken breasts into the vegetable mixture.  Cook on the high setting for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily.

Serve in a bowl over cooked brown rice and topped with the garnishes of your choice.  Leftovers will freeze well, too.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Salmon

An Easy, Delicious Salmon Recipe

I'm a salmon fan.  I could eat salmon every day of the week.  I don't, but I could.  I know salmon isn't everybody's favorite, but eating salmon is so healthy for you that I encourage you to find a recipe or two that works for you.  That way, salmon can be part of your menu rotation.  My hubby isn't a big salmon fan.  He eats it when I make it because he's good like that.  Whenever I'm serving him salmon I use a recipe that packs lots and lots of flavor so he'll be distracted by the flavor and forget he's eating salmon.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Salmon

That's where this recipe began.  I was making salmon for Hubby and me and I wanted to change it up a little. The recipe is so easy I'm a little embarrassed to even call it a recipe.  I think it is a little different, in that the combination of ingredients for the topping is not one you might usually think about making.  This sweet and spicy topping, made with brown sugar, chili powder, and cumin can be addictive.  For those of you who are salmon lovers, like me, this recipe will make you happy, happy, happy.  For those at your dinner table who may not be salmon enthusiasts, this recipe might make them ask for seconds.
Sweet and Spicy Salmon

While we're talking salmon, I want to tell you about my favorite kitchen tool for cooking salmon.  It is a fish spatula.  A fish spatula has a flexible, oversized head with a beveled edge that slips easily under delicate foods. The head is slotted which makes it perfect for draining foods. My spatula is a LamsonSharp Pro fish spatula.  It's pricey for a spatula, but if you check around you may be able to find one that would work as well for less money, like this OXO fish spatula.  Just be sure the front edge is thin and sharp.  It makes scooping the fish off your pan or grill without any skin attached as easy as can be.  You'll also find this spatula to be a perfect tool when baking cookies.

Sweet and Spicy Salmon Prepped for the Oven

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4

  • 4 portions of fresh salmon, skin on, 6-8 ounces each
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark will work
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  Mix together the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, and salt in a small bowl until well combined.  Set aside.  

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.   Drizzle a little olive oil onto the foil.  Place the salmon on the pan, skin side down.  Spoon the brown sugar and spice mixture onto each piece of salmon, dividing the brown sugar mixture evenly among the salmon pieces.

Sweet and Spicy Salmon baked in the oven.
The Topping Makes a Sweet and Spicy Sauce as it Cooks

Place the salmon into your oven on the center rack.  Cook until the salmon reaches your preferred level of doneness, about 20 minutes for medium. The sugar in the topping will bubble and melt from the heat of the oven.  This is why you want to cover your baking sheet with foil.  Let the salmon sit for five minutes before serving.

We had our salmon paired with oven roasted Brussels sprouts.   Brussels sprouts are perfect with this salmon. The Brussels sprouts cooked in the oven along with the salmon and both were ready at the same time.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Mixed Berry Trifle to Wow Your Guests

Impress Your Holiday Guests with an Amazing Mixed Berry Trifle

I've started to think about holiday menus.  The other day while shopping, I was greeted by a sales associate reminding me that there are only ten weeks until Christmas.  What happened to Halloween?  What happened to Thanksgiving?  Yes, it is true that the fall and winter holidays my family celebrates come in rapid succession, but I do like to deal with them one at a time.  Even so, I like to start thinking about my dessert options for our family celebrations well in advance.  One of my favorite celebration desserts is this mixed berry trifle.  Do you want a delicious, fancy-pants dessert?  This mixed berry trifle is as delicious as it is pretty.

Mixed Berry Trifle
An Impressive Mixed Berry Trifle 

The mixed berry trifle starts with a buttery pound cake.  You can make your own or buy a prepared pound cake.  I suggest you make your pound cake in advance and freeze it so you have it ready when you need it.
A Mixed Berry Trifle is an impressive dessert.

The element that makes all the difference with this dessert is the Cognac cream.  There is only one teaspoon of Cognac in the recipe but it adds so much flavor it would be a shame to leave it out.  You can double the vanilla, if you prefer.

Frozen berries work in this recipe.  Berries can be expensive during the fall and winter.  I have found beautiful frozen berries that have been perfect in this trifle.  You'll want to choose the best strawberries, blackberries and raspberries you can find.  If you choose frozen berries, treat your bags of berries gently so that the berries don't get broken into pieces.

The crowning glory for the trifle are the pillows of fresh whipped cream placed in dollops over the top of the trifle.  Make your own whipped cream for this very special dessert. You can be fancy and pipe your whipped cream over the top of your trifle, but I really like the easy casualness of the spoonfuls of whipped cream.

Mixed Berry Trifle

Serves eight to ten
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Step 1:  Plain Pound Cake

Freezer Ready Pound Cake
Freezer Ready Pound Cake
Makes 2 pound cakes 
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper for easier removal from the pan.
Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about five minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Don't over-bake.  When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans, place them on a baking rack and allow them to cool completely. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Step Two:  Make the Cognac Cream

In my opinion, the Cognac cream is essential to your trifle.  It adds just enough Cognac flavor to make a difference.  If you prefer, omit the Cognac and double the vanilla.

Cognac Cream

  • 3 cups milk 
  • 10 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons sifted cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Cognac
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Heat the milk in a medium stainless-steel saucepan over medium heat and bring almost to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and thick, about five minutes. With the mixer on low speed, sprinkle on the cornstarch. Beat on medium-low speed until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture.  Pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, five to seven minutes.  I cook on an electric stove.  I found heating the mixture on medium heat worked best.

You really want the mixture to get very hot. You'll feel it thicken up to pudding consistency.  Don't rush this step.  Immediately, pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream.  Stir to combine.  Go ahead and stick your finger in to taste.  You know you want to.  Yummy!  Place plastic wrap directly on the custard to keep it from forming a skin.  Refrigerate until cold.  This step can be done a day in advance.

Step 3:  Assemble the Trifle

    Preparing to assemble the mixed berry trifle.
    Ready to Assemble the Mixed Berry Trifle
  • 1 plain pound cake
  • 1 cup good seedless raspberry jam
  • Framboise
  • 4 cups frozen berries, a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Cognac Cream
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Cut the pound cake into nine (3/4-inch) slices.  You may find it helpful to cut each slice into 3 pieces to be able to fit them more snugly into your serving bowl.  Spread each slice on one side with raspberry jam, using all the jam. Make sure you use a good quality seedless raspberry jam.  Set aside.

Place a layer of cake, jam-side up, in the bottom of a 2 1/2-to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit.  Sprinkle the cake with Framboise. Top with a layer of berries and Cognac Cream, using one-third of each. Repeat the layers of cake sprinkled with Framboise, then the berries and Cognac Cream, ending with a third layer of cake placed jam-side down and then the mixed berries.

The layers of the mixed berry trifle.
The Layers of the Mixed Berry Trifle

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the cream starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Decorate the trifle with the whipped cream. Chill until ready to serve.

You can get fancy with your whipped cream, but I didn't.  Generous spoonfuls placed around the top look lovely as well.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

A Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

How to Make a Better Chocolate Chip Cookie

If there is one bakery good that is a weakness for me it is a chocolate chip cookie.  My love of a good chocolate chip cookie has been well known and documented for a very long time.  I've been known to be influenced by a good chocolate chip cookie.  Oh yes, co-workers in the past would often bring me a chocolate chip cookie as a good-natured "bribe".

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

My go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe is the traditional Toll House cookie recipe.  You know the one.  It's on the Nestle semi-sweet chips package.  That's the recipe my mom always made and it is the one I've made for my family for years and years.  As a result, the Toll House cookie is the standard by which I measure all other chocolate chip cookies.
The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie is Yummy

Even though I've made the Toll House chocolate chip cookie for years and years, it doesn't mean I'm not open to suggestions for an improved cookie.  When I saw the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe by Cook's Illustrated I sat up and took notice.  After all, they called it the "perfect" cookie.  That sounded like a challenge to me and I decided to bite.  Literally.  If this recipe could improve upon the Toll House cookie even better.  I went into "test kitchen" mode and wanted to share my results with you.  Who doesn't want a "perfect" chocolate chip cookie?

Four Ways to Make a Better Chocolate Chip Cookie

When you read through the CI recipe and you'll see there are four specific differences in this recipe's method when compared to the original Toll House cookie recipe.
          1.  It uses a greater amount of brown sugar to increase chewiness.
          2.  The butter is melted and browned for enhanced flavor and chewiness.
          3.  One egg plus one egg yolk is used instead of two eggs, again to enhance chewiness.
          4.  There is a whisk and wait approach in this recipe that allows for the sugar to dissolve more                  before baking for better flavor and texture.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 16 cookies
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (8.75 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/1/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  Ordinarily, I would place my chocolate chip cookies directly on an ungreased cookie sheet, but I decided to follow the recommended approach.  Measure your flour.  The recipe recommends measuring by weight, so that is what I did.  Whisk the flour and baking soda together.  Set aside.

Heat ten tablespoons of butter in skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.   Swirl the pan constantly, cooking the butter until it is golden brown and has a nutty aroma.  That will take 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your stove.  Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the butter into a heatproof bowl.  Add the remaining butter and stir to melt.

Add the sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl.  I made a substitution here.  I only had light brown sugar in my pantry so I used that instead of dark brown sugar.  Stir to combine.  Add the egg and egg yolk whisking to combine, about 30 seconds.  Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes.  I actually used a timer for this.  Repeat this 30-second whisk/3 minute rest process two more times.

With a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until combined and no flour is visible, then add the nuts and chocolate chips.  Stir to combine.  Divide the dough into sixteen portions or about 3 tablespoons each.  I used a scoop to measure out my portions and ended up with fifteen cookies instead of sixteen.

Scooping the chocolate chip cookie batter.
Measure Sixteen Portions

The recipe cautioned to cook only one tray of cookies at a time for 10-14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time.  I baked my cookies for the full 14 minutes.

The baked Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Fresh from the Oven

The verdict?  Delicious!  Yes, these are very, very good.  They do not taste the same as the Nestle Toll House cookie.  This technique results in a different, but very delicious, crisp and chewy chocolate chip cookie.  I love the cracked tops.  These cookies look beautiful.  This recipe is definitely worth trying.  I'll be making them again, for sure!

Click the link for the Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie original recipe.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Italian Wedding Soup

A Quick, Hearty Soup Made with Tortellini and Meatballs

Soup season is upon us and one of my favorite soups is this version of Italian Wedding Soup, made with cheese tortellini and frozen Italian meatballs.  It can be made with absolutely minimal effort by choosing prepared ingredients from the grocery store.  Assemble the ingredients, and in approximately 30 minutes you will have a hearty, delicious soup.   This is the number one requested soup in my family, so I am confident your family will love it as well.

Tortellini Meatball Soup
Italian Wedding Soup with Cheese Tortellini and Italian Meatballs
When I'm in a hurry to make this soup I make it completely with store bought prepared ingredients. It is quick and delicious. When I have a little extra time I'll make my own chicken stock for a deeper, richer chicken flavor. Occasionally,  I'll make my own chicken meatballs, as well.  I'm including the recipe for my chicken meatballs in the recipe link in case you want ever to make your own meatballs.

For additional versatility, substitute other forms of pasta in the soup.  I like to use either orzo or tubetini when I'm changing it up.  Escarole is a nice substitution for the spinach.  Be sure to chop the escarole before adding it to the broth and know that it will take longer than the spinach to cook.  One thing you'll want to be careful about is the amount of salt you use.  The amount of sodium in your chicken broth will determine how much salt you need to add.  The only way to tell how much salt you need is to taste the soup.  A tablespoon of salt usually works for me, but you may need more or less.
My Italian Wedding Soup

Tweet: Tip:  Cook pasta separately from your soup and add it to your soup bowl just before serving to keep your pasta from absorbing all the broth.

Tip:  Cook pasta separately from your soup and add it to your soup bowl just before serving to keep your pasta from absorbing all the broth.

Italian Wedding Soup with Cheese Tortellini

Cooking the tortellini in the soup works well if you are going to serve the soup right away.  If not, the tortellini will absorb the broth and you may find yourself with less broth than you like.  You can cook the tortellini separately in another pot and then add it to the soup just before serving.

Italian Wedding Soup

Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 8
Italian Wedding Soup Ingredients
Italian Wedding Soup Ingredients
  • 24, 1/2-ounce Italian meatballs (your own or frozen)
  • 1 pound of carrots, diced (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 large (20 ounce) package of fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (1 package), stems removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft and tender.  Add the broth, water, and carrots to the pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for five minutes.  Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste.  One tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper usually work for me.

Add the meatballs (no need to thaw) to the pot and cook for 18 minutes.  Add the tortellini, parsley and basil.  Cook gently for 8 minutes, until the tortellini is tender.  Stir in the spinach and remove the pot from the heat.  Cover the pot and let stand until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

A Pot of Italian Wedding Soup
A Pot of Italian Wedding Soup

Sprinkle with some grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.  Add some crusty bread for dunking.  Yum!

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Get 100 Yummy Slow Cooker Recipes

Fall Slow Cooker Recipe Inspiration on Pinterest

I love Pinterest.  If you are a food lover and haven't yet opened a Pinterest account you are missing out. Pinterest is a terrific place to find lots of recipe inspiration and how-to information about your hobbies and passions.  I particularly love Pinterest for food inspiration because I can build my own customized "cookbook" boards filled with all the recipes I either love or want to try.

100 Slow Cooker Recipes

Today, I want to share a Pinterest board I have been working on that is chock-full of fall-themed recipes.  My fall slow cooker board has been curated by me and three blogger friends. Jen from And Hattie Makes Three, Breeze from Little Feet Big Adventures, and Heather from Country Life City Wife, and I have been hard at work to pull together a collection of mouth-watering, slow cooker recipes to share with our readers.  We've been working on the board for more than a month.

I think my favorites among all the recipes in the slow cooker Pinterest board are the soups.  Fall and winter are soup seasons for me.  I make at least one pot of soup a week and this Pinterest board has so many soup options I'll never get bored with soup on the menu.  I hope you'll check out one of my favorites, Slow Cooker Corn Chowder.  There's also a recipe for Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana I can't wait to try.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
My Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
If you want a hearty main dish, check out my Slow Cooker Pot Roast recipe.  It's perfect comfort food for a chilly fall day.  If you prefer chicken you might like the Slow Cooker Chicken Marsala recipe.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Follow me on Pinterest and check out the many other boards I have been working on.  You are certain to find inspiration from many of my boards.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Slow Cooker Pot Roast for Dinner

A Tender, Savory Pot Roast Made in a Slow Cooker

Do you love to have a pot roast for dinner every once in a while?  I certainly do, especially as the weather turns to cooler temperatures.  The cool temperatures of fall make this a great time to break out your slow cooker.  As you probably know, pot roast is most often made with a chuck roast.  Chuck is flavorful, but a relatively tough cut of beef.  The key to a delicious post roast is to use flavorful ingredients and to cook the roast till the cows come home...so to speak.  That makes pot roast a perfect recipe for the slow cooker.  A long, slow roast is necessary to break down the tough connective tissue.  You want to cook your roast until you can pull it apart with a fork.  No knife should be required.

A slow cooked pot roast dinner
Slow Cooker Pot Roast Dinner

Cooking a delicious pot roast is really easy to do as long as you give yourself enough time for the long, slow roasting of the meat.  A plus to a pot roast meal is that you can make it a one pot dinner.  Everything can be cooked in the slow cooker with the roast.  That makes for easy preparation and easy clean up.  What's not to love about that?
Slow Cooker Pot Roast Dinner

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Dinner

Printer Friendly Recipe
  • Pot roast dinner starts with a chuck roast.
    Pot Roast Ingredients
    1 beef chuck roast, approximately 4 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chopped tomatoes, and their juice
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Assorted vegetables

If your slow cooker has a stovetop function you'll be able to complete the entire cooking process in your slow cooker.  If not, you will need to brown your roast on your stove over medium-high heat. Click this link for directions to make your pot roast in your oven.

Set the stovetop function on your slow cooker to high.  Add the oil.  Season the meat generously with salt and ground black pepper.  Don't be shy with your seasoning.  A delicious pot roast has layers of flavor and this will be your first layer.  Remember your roast has two sides.  Season both sides, friends.  Add the oil to the pan and carefully place the meat in the pot.  Sear both sides until they are brown.  This will take 8-10 minutes.  The meat will release itself from the pan when it is seared enough so don't struggle with it or rush the searing process.  Remove the meat to a plate.  You may need to pour off some of the fat.  You want to have 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan.

Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the pan.  Cook the vegetables until they are tender, about 8 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the wine and the tomatoes, cooking until the liquid thickens, about 5 minutes.  

Next add the beef broth, thyme, Italian seasoning, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Nestle the roast in the liquid.  The liquid will surround, but not cover the roast.  Cover the slow cooker and set the cook time to 8 hours. 
Prepare the vegetables you plan to serve with your pot roast.  I used potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onion wedges.  Peel and quarter the potatoes and carrots.  Depending on the size of the mushrooms you can either leave them whole or cut them in half.    After four hours, add your vegetables around the roast, cover the slow cooker and continue cooking for four more hours. Before serving, stir in the vinegar to add brightness to the sauce.

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