Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Slow Cooker Beef and Noodles

Deeply savory, beefy and hearty, my Slow Cooker Beef and Noodles is sure to become a family favorite. This is one of the simplest slow cooker dinners that you could probably make. The preparation is beyond easy and quick. And, the list of ingredients is a super short one. All that's required is a beef roast, frozen egg noodles and a few other basic pantry staples. And, with just a few minutes of your time in the morning, you'll have everything set in motion for a hot, comforting meal come dinnertime. No canned soups here. No store-bought seasoning packets. And, no need to even sear the meat on the stove top. Simple, breezy and easy.


Frozen egg noodles are utilized in this recipe and are added during the last couple of hours of cooking. I have been easily able to find them near the frozen ravioli and bread dough at most supermarkets these days. If you can't get your hands on them, I think you could possibly use dried egg noodles from the regular pasta aisle, but I can't truly advise on the exact cooking time for them since I have not tried using them in this recipe. Also, they may not contribute much to the thickening of the "gravy" in this recipe. {I do have a killer stove top Beef and Noodles recipe here on the blog that uses homemade egg noodles if you'd like to go that route.}

NOTE: The recipe begins with five cups of stock when the roast first starts in the slow cooker. However, you may find that you need to pour in some additional liquid as the noodles cook later in the cooking process if your noodles are thickening things too quickly or if you simply prefer a thinner consistency to the "gravy."

Joyously Domestic is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. You can read my full disclosure statement here. This post contains affiliate links to amazon.com.

Yields 6 servings.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Soft Banana Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

These cookies, my friends, are seriously one of the best cookies that you'll ever bake and perhaps the best cookies you may ever consume. I know that there are oodles of cookie recipes out there in baking-land. But, these are something spectacular. This recipe is my mother's ... one that she has made for years and years. The cookies are truly a family favorite {along with her Slow Cooker Steak in Golden Mushroom Cream Sauce recipe}. She is asked to make these particular cookies for most any special gathering. And, when the grandkids show up at her house, it's pretty much a given - almost without fail - that they will ask her for these cookies. She usually keeps batches of them tucked away in her freezer. And, truth be told, they are barely given adequate time to thaw before everyone - including the adults - are diving into them.


Ripe, mashed bananas - lending both amazing flavor and extra moisture - are used in the dough. Mini chocolate chips lend just the right amount of crunch as you make your way through each chewy, soft bite. These are not dense like some traditional chocolate chip cookies. Rather, the texture is light, fluffy and ultra-soft.

I highly urge you to try this recipe. And, I'd love for you to come back and let me know how you like these. I think you'll find that these become a family favorite for you, too.

Yields 4 dozen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Potluck-Style Crunchy Asian Ramen Salad

This recipe is a throw-back to the hip-happenin' days when this salad was a staple at so many church potlucks, family gatherings, summer picnics and reunions. Perhaps it is still a mainstay in some circles at get-togethers today, but it's been quite awhile since I've seen it around. It happened to cross my mind the other day when I was cutting up cabbage for our St. Patrick's Day dinner. I had not eaten this salad in years, so I was excited to make it for my family to see if they'd love it as much as I remember loving it.


The salad is a marriage of thinly-sliced cabbage, lots of crunchy vegetables, sliced almonds, a little fruit for sweetness and crushed, toasted ramen noodles. The whole shebang gets dressed with a simple Asian-style dressing that probably uses ingredients most of us tend to keep on hand.

Many recipes call for inclusion in the dressing of the actual chicken-flavored seasoning packet from the ramen noodle package. I have had the dressing both with it and without. Both are good. I opted to make the dressing without it for nutritional reasons. {If you would like to include it as it does add a little something "extra" that isn't present when omitting it, I recommend lessening the soy sauce called for in the dressing to only 1 tablespoon and using only ONE packet of the chicken flavoring.}

TIME SAVING TIP:  If desired, packaged coleslaw mix can be subbed in for the hand-prepped shredded cabbage and carrots.

SERVES 6 - 8.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pan-Roasted Purple Potatoes and Carrots with Garlic-Lemon Aioli

My mother knows that I love to work with unique, fun ingredients in the kitchen. So, it was no surprise that she picked me up a bag of stunning purple potatoes this past week and said, "I knew you could do something cool with them." I decided on pan-roasting them with some carrots in my large cast iron pan. I knew I wanted some type of dipping sauce, so I whipped up a super-quick aioli that totally elevates this dish.


The mayo-based aioli is lemon-y, creamy and garlicky. Having it alongside of the vegetables is a necessity. Plunging those perfectly-roasted potatoes and carrots into that sauce is pretty much heaven on earth. The vegetables themselves come out super tender on the interior, but are not mushy. And, they have just the right amount of crusty sear and crispness on the exterior.

This is a fabulous side dish that takes little prep work and truly highlights beautiful, fresh produce in a simple, yet delicious way.

NOTE: Baby gold/yellow or red potatoes can be utilized for this dish if you can't get your hands on the purple variety.

Yields 2 - 3 servings.

Joyously Domestic is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. You can read my full disclosure statement here. This post contains an affiliate link to amazon.com.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Puff Pastry Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

If you’re a sucker for Chicken Pot Pie, this recipe is one that you must try. Store-bought puff pastry dough stands in for traditional pie crust here. And, it’s nothing short of magical. I’ve made pot pie with puff pastry in the past, but simply laid the giant piece of dough across the top of the baking dish. While that was good, I really like cutting the dough into small squares, then layering them up on top of the filling. Yes, the result is prettier – in my opinion – but, more importantly, I just love all of those flaky nooks and crannies that are created.


The recipe starts with gently cooking onions, celery and carrots in butter, then sprinkling in a little flour. This is the base of the gravy that will be created. After stirring in milk and a little heavy cream, the sauce gets flavored with bouillon, a pinch of Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. A handful of frozen peas and tender, cooked chicken are added to the party before the gravy gets transferred to a baking dish. Store-bought puff pastry that has been cut into cute, little squares gets haphazardly layered on top, then into the oven it all goes.

NOTE:  The recipe calls for a couple of cups of cooked chicken. A store-bought rotisserie chicken can be a great time-saver. Just remove the meat, then either shred or cube per your preference. To prepare the chicken at home, I simply roast two boneless and skinless chicken breasts - coated in a little olive oil, salt and pepper - for 30 - 40 minutes {or until fully cooked through} in a 400-degree oven.
 
Yields 4 servings.
 
Joyously Domestic is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. You can read my full disclosure statement here. This post contains an affiliate link to amazon.com.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Cold Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce

I've gotten into the habit in recent months of spending my Mondays prepping lunches for myself for the week. With the kids gone to school and the hubby at work all during the week, it's just me at home throughout the day. One of my New Year's resolutions was to eat more purposely and with greater intention. {I'm trying for lunch for myself not to be just a string cheese and a protein bar.} Some weeks I roast off a bunch of veggies and cook up some grains so that I can throw together a quick grain bowl on an given day. I often make up pasta salads, too, for myself. And, I keep quick, homemade vinaigrettes on hand and lots of prepped, fresh vegetables.


Over the past week, I worked on developing and testing this Cold Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce recipe. It's loaded with tons of fresh vegetables and is served tossed with a killer peanut butter dressing.

It is a super versatile salad ... whatever crisp veggies that you like or have on hand work here. In addition to what I've listed, some suggestions would be sugar snap peas, sliced cabbage, edamame or even some chopped apples. And, if you like things spicy, toss in some sliced chili peppers in place of the sweet ones I've used.

The peanut butter sauce is simple to whip up and really makes this salad the winner that it truly is. Its base is a blend of sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice and peanut butter.

Preparing this whole thing will require boiling off your noodles, whisking up the dressing and a little effort chopping up your veggies - maybe twenty minutes or so total. Then, you can tuck the leftovers away in the fridge and enjoy a healthful, hearty, fresh lunch for the next couple of days without any work at all.

Yields 4 servings.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ultimate Drop Blackstrap Molasses Cookies

Soft molasses cookies have been my husband's favorite sweet treat for many years. Both his mother and my mother make amazing versions that are super similar. They often pass a dozen or so his way. {He devours them in less than a day.} I sometimes refer to this as his "molasses cookie fix." After twenty-plus years of he and I being together, I figured it was time for me to step up and attempt to master the recipe.


These cookies - truth be told - are one of my favorites, as well. {I just rarely get any when he is gifted them.} They are deep and rich in flavor. Almost magically, they manage to be both ultra moist {almost brownie-like in texture - especially when warm} on the inside while presenting a bumpy, slightly crisp exterior {especially fresh from the oven}. Utilizing blackstrap molasses yields such a deeply developed molasses flavor here. And, the inclusion of cold, strong coffee contributes to the moistness of the batter and helps boost the already-exuberant molasses flavor.

These do freeze well, too. And, they thaw super quickly. So they are a wonderful treat to have on hand for when company stops by or when you may need some goodies on the fly.

Yields 5 dozen cookies.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Banana Baked Oatmeal

"Crazy" has been the word of the week in our house. Not that our lives are typically slow-moving, relaxing or boring. But, recent days have been particularly busy and a bit chaotic. Zayne ended wrestling season this week with a team party and a youth wrestling tournament at which the high school boys worked at all day today. He, also, had a first date. {Dying.} Allanah had her final Snowball Dance this weekend. Our van was stolen from my husband's workplace {and thankfully, recovered a few days later}. All three kids are in the same play production, which means practices galore these days. And, I must mention that the kiddos and I have all been battling some type of flu for the past few weeks at varying times.


Having grab-and-go meals and snacks are a must for me these days. Since we are a huge oatmeal-loving family, baked oatmeal is a great option for us. It reheats pretty well and provides major fuel to power us through our day.

The combo of chocolate, peanut butter and banana here is pretty awesome. All three are incorporated into the oatmeal itself, then it gets topped with fresh bananas, chocolate chips and a peanut butter/honey dollop at time of service. I do have a couple of kids who prefer this without the toppings, however. They like a slice of this as-is to throw on a napkin on their way out the door.

Think of this as a cross between a bowl of traditional oatmeal AND oatmeal cookies ... just maybe not quite as sweet as normal cookies. Plan to adjust how you serve and top this based upon your family's preferences. My youngest asked to drizzle her slice with caramel sauce. {Quite the treat.} It is pretty moist when it is first baked. But, we actually prefer it cooled, the pieces individually wrapped up, stored in the fridge and reheated in the oven the next day. It becomes a little drier and more bar-like.

Serves 6 - 8.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Refreshing Fennel Citrus Salad with Orange Maple Dressing

As we dance between winter and spring, life can feel dreary and lackluster. The excitement of Christmas, the new year and Valentine's Day is behind us. The promise of warmth, new life and green-hued landscape taunts us as we wait in the ending days of February. Glimpses of sunshine and occasional above-average temps remind us that winter's bitter cold is almost in our rear-view mirrors. Spring is just within reach. We stagger between the desire for stews and casseroles while pining for fresh, vibrant salads and the unleashing of our grills from our sheds. This particular salad is a beautiful ideal bridge between the seasons. All in one a nod to winter produce and yet, a welcome "hello" to the beginning of traditional salad season.


And, it truly could not be easier to assemble. I've presented it within this post as a side salad, but one could easily add a beautifully-cooked filet of salmon on top for a more-complete meal. The salad itself consists of just four fresh ingredients. And, the dressing is comprised of stuff most of us keep on hand. Between the two components, you'll need maybe ten minutes to get this on the table from start to finish.

Yields 2 - 3 servings.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

No-Bake Cranberry Crunch Energy Bites

With three kids still living at home, we stay pretty busy. Two teenagers and a nine-year old make for an often hectic schedule. I don't think there are very many extra-curricular activities that my kids don't do {or, at least, haven't tried}. Currently, we are knee-deep in varsity wrestling for Zayne {our fourteen-year old}. Wrestling can be demanding and grueling on kids {as well as the families}. Weeknights are filled with practices and conditioning. Weekends consist of all-day tournaments that we often travel quite a distance to attend. To maintain his energy and fuel him through his day, our son needs lots of protein. And, typically, he needs food that he can take on the go.


When it comes to breakfast and snacks, these are his "go-to" many days. Actually, all of us munch on these and I always pack some when we're headed to sports activities. You'll seldom not find a batch of these in my freezer. They are full of pretty wholesome ingredients and they do a good job of keeping us full until mealtime.

RECIPE NOTES:  I prefer a combination of peanut butter AND almond butter for this recipe. However, I have made these just using peanut butter and they turn out well. {I really wouldn't recommend utilizing just almond butter.} Also, I use a combination of cacao nibs {found at health food stores or online} AND mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can simply use chocolate chips, if desired. This recipe is pretty versatile as long as you follow the basics with regards to the peanut butter, oats, honey and rice cereal. Basically, taste as you go along and look for a texture that can be easily shaped into balls, but isn't too sticky. I find that the exact measurements for this recipe can change depending on what brand/style of peanut butter or almond butter that I use.

Yields 2 - 2 1/2  dozen "bites" {balls}.