Balsamic Roast Beef with Fresh Green Bean Casserole

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I’m still dreaming about this dinner. I think it’s the most delicious meal we’ve had in a while, and I think it’s almost entirely due to how delicious that roast beef ended up being. I can’t take credit for actually making the meal, but I am responsible for setting up the menu and being a lifeline for my husband as he cooked throughout the day. If you have a beef round hanging out in your freezer like we did, and you’re looking for something to do with it… or if you are just looking for an incredible meaty meal, look no further, my friends.

Balsamic Roast Beef
(Adapted from addapinch.com)

Serves: 5
Total Time: 8 hrs 15 mins

1 3/4 pounds trimmed beef round (ours started off frozen)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c balsamic vinegar (break out the good stuff for this recipe!)
1 c beef broth (we used beef bullion dissolved in a homemade veggie broth)
1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb honey
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1.) Place beef into your slow cooker. In a glass measuring bowl (at least 2 cups in size), mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over beef.

2.) Cook for 4 hours on high and 4 hours on low.

3.) When meat is ready, it should break up easily with two forks. Break meat up somewhat in slow cooker. Break it up the rest of the way in a serving dish/when serving.

4.) Serve with tongs and be sure to ladle some of the sauce overtop.

5.) Save beef and sauce leftovers for sandwiches!

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 7

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From Scratch Fresh Green Bean Casserole
(Adapted from Southern Living online)

Serves: 4
Time: 55 minutes total, 25 active

3/4 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tb butter
1/8 c flour
3/4 c 2% milk
1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 Tb Ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp butter
1 c French fried onions, crushed
1/4 c panko breadcrumbs
1 plum tomato (or 2 small regular tomatoes), seeded & chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook green beans by steaming them until desired doneness (not too soft!). Plunge the beans into an ice bath to stop cooking process. Drain and pat dry.

2. Melt 1 Tb butter in dutch oven over medium heat, whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking constantly, 3-4 minutes or until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and whisk in buttermilk, Ranch dressing mix, thyme, salt, and pepper.

3. Gently toss green beans in buttermilk sauce. Spray a square baking dish or casserole and pour in green bean mixture.

4. Combine French fried onions, panko, and tomatoes. Sprinkle over green bean mixture.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Nutrition: 168 Cal; 8.4 g Fat (3.9 g Sat); 5.7 g Protein; 18.5 g Carb; 3.9 g Fiber; 15 mg Chol; 296 mg Sodium

Weight Watchers Points: 4

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Tomato Bread Casserole

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Another excellent find when perusing random cookbooks: Tomato Bread Casserole. Sounds weird, right? Yeah. And when you’re making it and eating it, it still seems weird. But delicious. And I knew this would be a hit with our 2 year old, because he loves all of the following things, which this recipe has an abundance of: tomatoes, bread, and cheese. I think it could have used a bit more cheese, personally, but still recommend trying this weirdo recipe out.

Adapted from Grandma’s Casseroles, Home-Style Favorites
Serves 4 as Main

1/4 lb loaf French bread, sliced
1 1/2 Tb margarine
7 oz whole peeled tomatoes (half a can), cut up (reserve liquid)
3/4 lb fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 c low fat ricotta cheese
1/8 c olive oil
1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, shredded

1.) Spread bread slices with margarine. Cut into large cubes. Arrange on a cookie sheet. Toast in 350 degree oven about 7 minutes.
2.) Place 1/2 of cubes in greased square baking dish.
3.) Top bread cubes with 1/2 of fresh tomato slices, 1/2 reserved tomato liquid, 1/2 of ricotta cheese, 1/2 oil, 1/2 canned tomatoes, 1/2 of Seasoned Salt, 1/2 oregano, and 1/2 garlic powder.
4.) Repeat layers.
5.) Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
6.) Bake, covered in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
7.) Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer to brown top and get wilted edges on fresh tomatoes.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 7

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Zucchini Garden Chowder

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Drowning in zucchini? We are. (Thanks Stillmans!) Not a bad thing, either. We just have to find creative ways to use a lot of it. So this week I went on a zucchini recipe binge. Good news is that I loved them all and am pleased to share them with you. This one is also super easy for cleanup because it’s basically a one pot meal, which I always love. And, best of all, Desi (almost 2 years old) LOVED it, so you know it’s got to be kid friendly!

(Adapted from Simply in Season)

Serves: 6-8

2 Tb butter
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped (I only had dried)
1 Tb fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes/packages
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (1 can)
2 cups corn (I used frozen)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1.) Melt butter in soup pot or french oven over medium heat.
2.) Add zucchini, onion, parsley, and basil. Saute until tender.
3.) Stir flour and seasonings into vegetables. Gradually stir in water to mak ea smooth stock.
4.) Add lemon juice and bouillon and mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes.
5.) Add tomatoes, evaporated milk, and corn. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until corn is tender.
6.) Add cheese just before serving and stir in.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 8

One pot meal-- just a whole bunch of veggies, cheese, and your french oven.

One pot meal– just a whole bunch of veggies, cheese, and your french oven.

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Greek & Sausage Fennel Skillet

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I tried playing around with fennel a few times last year to use up what we got in our CSA, but I have to admit, I sort of hated it. That’s why I was *so excited* when I made this dish and it turned out to be one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. The original recipe is more of a side item with no protein except the cheese, but I wanted to use up some of the sausage I had in the freezer. I’ve made this dish twice using two different kinds of sausage– Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausage first and sweet Italian sausage the second time. I would highly recommend the former, as odd as it may seem. Both times were delicious, but there was something extra rich about the breakfast sausage that just felt so savory and plain yummy. The other plug I’ll make for this dish is that it makes *excellent* leftovers for lunch at work the next couple of days.

(Adapted from Simply in Season Greek Fennel Skillet)

Serves: 5

1/2 lb sausage (breakfast or sweet Italian)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tb avocado oil
2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced
1 large onion, julienned
1 Tb lemon juice
3 medium plum tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (if you want to go super Greek, you can use feta instead)
1/2 cup olives (I used garlic stuffed ones)

1.) In a medium sized pan, brown sausage.
2.) In a large frying pan saute garlic in olive oil for about a minute.
3.) Add fennel and onion and saute until tender, 5-10 minutes.
4.) Add lemon juice and tomatoes and cook over medium heat until part of liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Pepper to taste. Partway through, add in the sausage.
5.) Stir in cheese.
6.) Slice olives 3/4 of the way through and fan olives out as a garnish on top.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 9

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Chicken Paillard with Summer Salad

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What to do with those delicious cucumbers (or pickling cucumbers, as the case may be) and cherry tomatoes? Like a message from heaven, this recipe found its way into my inbox last week and within 24 hours this dish was on the table. Hopefully this post will be similarly times for you.

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This recipe is adapted from its original version on Weelicious, which is full of family-friendly recipes, often especially geared toward kids.

Crispy Chicken Paillard with Summer Salad (serves 2 normal appetites and 1 lighter)

Prep Time: 15 mins,
Cook Time: 10 mins,

Ingredients

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg, whisked
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tb canola or vegetable oil, for the pan
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 pickling cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1.Place one chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper and pound using a tenderizer until about 1/3 inch and even thickness. Repeat with all the breasts.
2. Season each chicken breast with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
3. In 3 small dishes place flour, egg and breadcrumbs separately.
4. Dredge both sides of chicken breast in flour, followed by egg and then bread crumbs and repeat with remaining breasts.
5. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium high heat and place chicken breasts in skillet (do in batches if needed and add extra oil if needed for second batch)
6. Fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes and flip to brown other side
7. Place tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and cilantro into a mixing bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and toss to coat
8. When chicken is golden brown and fully cooked place on a cooling rack to cool slightly
9. Spoon salad over top and serve immediately.

Source: http://weelicious.com/2014/07/25/chicken-paillard-with-summer-salad-recipe/

So here’s how I would adapt this next time:
* Definitely use seasoned panko or include grated Parmesan cheese in with the panko OR both! The breeding needs a bit more flavor.
* Maybe dice the cucumber instead of slicing. The chunkier pieces were definitely easier to eat.
* If I have corn on hand, I would try to add that into the salad just to try it the way Weelicious does it.

Regardless, I loved the salad itself. I will definitely do that again– a little lemon and cilantro? Done!

Taco Salad

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Handful of tortilla chips (we used blue corn scoops)
3/4 lb ground beef
1 packet mild taco seasoning
1 small head lettuce, torn into small pieces
Tomato, chopped
1/4 avocado, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Salsa

1.) Brown beef, add seasoning packet and water and cook per package instructions. Remove from heat and keep warm.
2.) Lay down a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl.
3.) Layer the lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, and beef.
4.) Allow the eaters to add their own sour cream and salsa per their preference. Instruct them to mix it all up and crush the chips at the bottom. Eat and enjoy!

Total Time: 20 minutes

I always love taco salad and was excited to do this as another salad variation to use up some of the abundance of lettuce we have been getting from our CSA over the pasted few weeks. I highly recommend this and encourage anyone to play with the components to make the salad more to your taste.

Grilled BL(T) Pizza

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Ingredients:
Store bought pizza crust (we used a long rectangular crust from Costco)
1 Tb Olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 lb bacon, chopped into half inch pieces
1/2 large head of Bibb lettuce, chopped into small pieces
1 Tb mayonnaise

1.) Spread the olive oil over the entire top of the pizza crust with a kitchen brush.
2.) Top the center of the crust with both cheeses.
3.) Cook the bacon pieces via stovetop until almost perfectly done and crisp. Blot the bacon with a paper towel, then spread the bacon over the cheese.
4.) Toss the pizza onto the grill (we have a gas grill and used aluminum foil to cover the grill face. I recommend spraying the foil if you go this route to prevent sticking/burning.). Cook until the cheese is totally melted and the crust looks crispy and golden.
5.) Let pizza rest while tossing the chopped lettuce with mayonnaise to completely cover. (This would be the place to add the tomatoes too but we didn’t have any.)
6.) Cover the center of the pizza with the dressed lettuce, then cut to serve.

Total time: About 30 minutes

We were hungry hippos, so the one pizza was perfect for both of us to have 3 pieces each.

Super delicious. I highly recommend!