Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Slow-Cooker Italian Giardiniera Beef Sandwiches

Where has this sandwich been all my life?!  Honestly the single only thing that I would change about this beef sandwich, is not having thought of it sooner.  I could have sworn that my Mom had told me that she does her beef sandwiches in her slow-cooker with a jar of giardiniera.  And this was maybe about a couple of months ago.  Well, since then I have thought about it on and off and finally decided to give it a go here at our home.  So, I went to the market and bought all of the ingredients that I wanted to use and gave my Mom a call cause I was really starting to second guess the combination myself.  I was really afraid that it would be way too greasy from the oil of the giardiniera.  Well, I got her on the phone and asked her again how she did hers this way and of course, I was mistaken.  She had said that she uses a whole jar of pepperchini's and their juice to make hers, not giardiniera.  Now, since the apple does not fall far from the tree on it's own, it is up to debate on whether I misheard her (very very possible for me) or if she meant pepperchini's and accidentally said giardiniera (I would and can not pass this one up, that is so her for as far back as I can remember and because of that I smile when I think about it).  Either way, someway somehow, I heard someone at some point say that they used giardiniera to make their beef sandwiches.  So, anyhow, I did it.  And it was phenomenal.  It was so full of flavor and such an amazing texture.  This cut of a beef roast pulls down perfectly.  All of the fat (which there was not much to start with) melts down cooking it this low and slow and for the full length of time.  And the exterior of the roast browns and crisps up from the oil in the jar of giardiniera.  It really did taste and look as though I had seared it prior to placing in my slow-cooker even though I did not (forgot to honestly).  I don't know for sure, but I can say that probably 98% of you that try this one out is gonna check it off as a keeper.  Maybe even your new favorite just like me.
1- 3 1/2-4lb. beef top round roast (perfect texture of a cut for these sandwiches)
1 tall jar of giardiniera (liquid and all- I used mild, but there is also medium and hot too)
1/2 lb. of thickly sliced deli provolone cheese
12 French bread rolls (I used Milano rolls)
real un-salted butter (softened)
garlic salt

-Place your beef roast in your slow-cooker.  Pour the entire bottle of giardiniera over the top of the roast and cover with the lid.  Set your slow-cooker to go Low and slow for 8-10 hours (I went 10 and it was amazingly tender and very easy to shred).  Once it is done, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350* (for toasting the bread).  Cut the wrapping strings that are tied around the roast, remove and discard them.  Using two large forks, shred the roast into long thin strips and then mix it well with the juices and the giardiniera veggies.  Cover two large baking sheets with some aluminum foil.  Slice your french breads in half lengthwise, but not quite all the way through the back edge.  Lay them out flat on the foil-lined baking sheets, open side facing up.  Spread the tops with a thin even layer of butter all the way to the edges and give them all a healthy sprinkle of garlic salt.  Toss them into your oven and bake at 350* for 5 minutes.  Then place two slices of the provolone cheese on top of each one and return them back to the oven for 1-2 more minutes (to just melt the cheese).  Once the cheese is melted, remove them from the oven.  Fill them with the shredded beef and veggies (I made sure to let the juices drip off the meat some before filling them into the buns so they didn't get overly soggy).  Serves 10-12.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ham and Cheese Stromboli with Jalapeno Pepper Jam

Talk about your ultimate hot ham and cheese sandwich alright.  Because this here concoction takes the cake for sure.  It is rolled layers of hot ooey gooey cheese and sweet smokey ham that is followed with a slight tang from the mayo and pimentos.  And lest we forget to mention the jalapeno pepper jam.  With it's sweetness and it's tangyness that fits right in with everyone else, yet stands out on it's own as well.  Then you take something like pizza dough and wrap it all up inside.  Well that sounds like heaven to me.  And it pretty much tasted that way as well.

2 refrigerated pizza dough crusts (comes in a tube by the biscuits)
real mayonnaise (I only use Hellman's)
about 2 cups of cooked ham (diced, I used some leftover praline-mustard glazed smoked shank ham that I had defrosted from my deep freeze)
12 slices of Colby-jack deli cheese
1 1/2 tsp. of pimentos (optional)
1-2 tsp. of jalapeno pepper jam (optional)
1 egg (at room temperature and beaten)

-Preheat your oven to 375*.  Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and set to the side.   Lightly flour a 12"x12" area on your clean counter top.  Remove pizza dough from it's packaging and carefully unroll, making sure not to unevenly stretch it's shape.  Place it on your floured surface and kind of pat and stretch it out some, keeping it in a squarish (that's a word to me) shape.  Go ahead and spread a nice thin and even layer of mayo over the crust, keeping it about an inch or so from the edges.  Sprinkle on 1/2 of your ham, half of your pimentos, and about a teaspoon drizzle of your jalapeno pepper jam all over the mayo.  Then just blanket the top of it all with your cheese slices, again keeping the outer inch of the crust clear of the goodies.  Starting from one side, using both hands, start to roll it up like if you were making homemade cinnamon rolls (you don't want it to be too tight, not too loose, but somewhere in between).  Go ahead and pinch the seam and open ends closed and carefully place it on your foil-lined baking sheet with the pinched seam down.  Then I just lightly patted it down a bit to flatten it out a smidgen (I was afraid of air pockets).  Repeat these directions with your second crust and the remaining ingredients (except the egg) so that you have two stromboli 'logs' on your baking sheet with space between them.  Go ahead and brush your beaten egg onto the tops and the sides of each 'log' in a nice evenly thin layer.  Place it in the center of your oven and bake at 375* for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown.  Remove them from the oven once they are done and allow them to sit and stand for about 5-7 minutes before slicing.  Slice them on the diagonal just like you would for French bread (makes it look fancier).  Serves 4-6.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baked Sweet Onion Dip

There are times when I crave things like this.  Appetizers that is.  Things that are not supposed to be a meal.  Things that are too rich and, well yes, too fattening (honesty is the best policy) for an every day affair.  Well, hogwash!  If I had to wait for the right occasion, I may never get some of my most favorite things.  So, I like to declare an appetizer spread super every so often, maybe about two or three times a year.  And I go around and ask each of our four children and my husband what is their own personal appetizer request.  Then I go ahead and make all of them and spread it all out down the counter with little plates and pickle forks.  It's orange juice in wine glasses for them and, well, wine in wine glasses for us (the kids get the biggest kick out of their 'special' drink, just like I did when I was little and my Mom gave me my orange juice in a wine glass once in a blue moon).  And then it's sitting down and pigging out on something that we don't get very often, appetizers.  And this particular appetizer here, well this is one on my rotating list of favorites.  It is absolutely, positively amazing in each and every way.  You just gotta try it.

1 large sweet vidalia onion (diced)
1- 2 cup bag of shredded 5 Italian cheese's
2 cups of real mayonnaise (I only use Hellman's)
assorted crackers

-Preheat your oven to 400*.  Combine all ingredients together inside of a 2 qt. baking dish, then spread out evenly.  Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown all over.  Serve warm with assorted crackers (I like it best on large wheat rounds).  Serves many.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

1 Pot Pot Roast

There are a million different ways to flavor and prepare a pot roast.  And I, personally, am on a quest to try them all out.  Or at least that is how I feel right now, at the end of a long hot summer anxiously awaiting fall.  Sometimes I hope that if I start cooking for it, that I will magically begin to change the season to my most favorite time of the year......autumn.  So far it's not working so well since it is still about 90* outside, but I will continue to try as I cook yet another new pot roast today.  It's not a bad way to spend a rainy day inside, cooking an amazing meal and filling my home with its amazing aroma. 

1/3 cup of light balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (divided)
1/4 cup + 2 T. of all-purpose flour (divided)
1- 3lb. beef chuck roast
1 cup of peeled baby carrots
1 cup of zucchini (chopped)
1- 8oz. carton of sliced mushrroms
1 large green sweet pepper (thickly sliced)
1 large vidalia sweet onion (chopped )
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
5 cloves of garlic (minced)
1- 14oz. can of Italian stewed tomatoes (un-drained)
2 tsp. of dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup of water

-Heat up about 4 T. of the salad dressing in a large deep stockpot or dutch oven (I use a cast iron one) over medium heat.  Spread out 2 T. of the flour onto a large plate and flip the roast on both sides on it to coat it evenly with flour.  Once the dressing is hot in your pot, toss the roast in and sear it for about 4-5 minutes on each side (leave it be in the pan so you can develope a nice brown crusting to seal in all the juices).  Remove the seared roast to a clean plate; set aside.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup of salad dressing  into the still hot pot and follow with the carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet peppers and onion.  Give them all a nice healthy bit of salt and pepper to sweat out the vegetables natural juices.  Saute them for about 5 minutes, stirring often and go ahead and add in the garlic in the last minute or so.  Pour in the stewed tomatoes along with their juices and the Italian seasonings.  Bring this all to a boil and using a wooden spoon, scrap all that flavor off the bottom of the pan (that's where it is all at).  Replace your seared roast right ontop of all your sauted veggies, cover and simmer on low for about 2 1/2 hours.  Once the roast is finished and super tender, go ahead and remove it to a large plate, cover it with foil, strain out your veggies and place onto your dinner plates, increase your heat back up to medium, add in the remaining flour and the water and stir it often to bring it all together (you are thickening up the juices into a sauce here).  Once your sauce is to your liking (adding in more flour by 1 T. at a time if you want it thicker), go ahead and slice up your roast across the grain of the meat and plate it over the veggies with a drizzle of sauce over it all.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!