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  • Recipe Revisited: Slow Cooker Soy-Onion Shredded Beef

    One of the very first recipes I ever posted was for Crock Pot Shredded Beef Sandwiches:
    Slow Cooker Shredded Beef

    I’ve continued to make this dish regularly over the years, but as we’ve tried to eat less starch, I’ve taken to serving the beef by itself with some au jus. I usually do serve it with a roll or biscuit, but that’s mostly for the kids’ benefit.

    Slow Cooker Soy-Onion Shredded Beef
    Serves 6

    3 to 3 1/2 pound chuck roast
    4 smashed garlic cloves {smash with side of knife to remove skin and toss the whole clove into the slow cooker}
    2 tablespoons onion powder
    1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    2 cups water

    1. Place the roast in a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion powder, soy sauce and water. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. For a slightly thicker sauce, prop one edge of the lid up with a toothpick.

    2. Remove the beef from the slow cooker into a shallow dish like a pie plate. Shred the beef with two forks.

    3. If serving au jus on the side, use a ladle or fat separator to remove the layer of oil that’s at the top of the sauce in the slow cooker.

    Note: Leftovers freeze beautifully. I like to freeze big chunks of the meat, then turn it into hash using this recipe. I simply dice the meat into small pieces and start following the recipe in the middle of step 1, with the addition of the spices.

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    Matzo Brittle

    Matzo brittle is a great Hanukkah treat that’s super easy to make. This recipe makes a lot, so you’ll have plenty to share. I’ve adapted a friend’s recipe as follows.

    Matzo Brittle

    Matzo Brittle Recipe from @cfoblog

    1 10.5-oz box of unsalted and/or egg matzo
    3 sticks of butter
    2 1/2 cups brown sugar
    48 oz responsibly-sourced chocolate chips*

    1. Cover two half-sheet pans with foil, leaving overhang for easy cleanup. Line the cookie sheet with matzo sheets (slight overlap is fine).

    2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the matzos in both pans, and bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or until sugar mixture is slightly bubbly.

    3. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the matzos in both pans and place the pans back in the oven for two minutes so the chocolate can melt. Spread the chocolate out,* then place the pans in the refrigerator and let cool for at least one hour. Break into small pieces.

    **The chocolate doesn’t have to be responsibly sourced, but read this Baby Toolkit post to find out why it should be. I was very happy to find bags of responsibly-sourced chocolate chips at Costco.

    **At this point, you could sprinkle on some crushed mints or tiny silver nonpareils. It’s not in the traditional recipe, but would be pretty!

    Super Easy Recipe: Strawberry Jam Pastry Tart

    Without really thinking about what I was going to do with it, I pulled a store-bought rolled pie crust out of the freezer and let it thaw. At dinner time, I had to decide what to make with the pie crust, and though I have a lot of apples, I really didn’t feel like making apple pie. So I decided to make individual pastry tarts instead. They’re really easy, and would be even easier if you have a square sheet of dough, or at least a sheet that holds together. I love Trader Joe’s products, and I’m really glad their frozen pie crust doesn’t have any hydrogenated oils, but I wish it wouldn’t unroll in pieces. If that does happen to you, just leave the dough sandwiched in the wax paper and push the pieces close together, then roll a rolling pin over the wax paper to fuse the pieces together again.

    Easy Jam Pastry Tarts
    Makes 8

    Strawberry Jam Tarts from @cfoblog

    1 pre-made pie crust
    1/2 cup jam (I used strawberry, but use whatever you have on hand)
    2 tablespoons heavy cream, half & half, milk, or egg wash
    2 tablespoons turbinado or other coarse sugar

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. Roll out the pie crust and use a pizza cutter to divide the dough into eight even pieces. Since my pie crust was round, I cut it into triangles, but rectangles would look lovely and might be easier to work with.

    3. On one side of each piece of dough, put 1 tablespoon of jam. Be sure to leave room at the edge for the crust to seal.

    4. Fold each piece of dough in half, covering the jam. Taking care not to squeeze the jam out, press the edges together. Press the tines of a fork along the edges to seal the tarts.

    5. Place tarts on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream or your preferred liquid (use what you have on hand). Sprinkle the tops with sugar.

    6. Bake the tarts for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool at least a little before serving, as the jam will be dangerously hot when you first remove the tarts from the oven.

    Note: I baked these in two batches in my toaster oven. They were better fresh, but the toasted leftovers made for a tasty breakfast the next morning. I think the baked pastries would freeze nicely, but I recommend making sure your dough is on the thicker side to prevent cracking.

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    Cauliflower, Raisins & Anchovies with Pasta

    I’ve been trying to serve less red meat and more fish, so I recently revamped this recipe, which contains a whole can of anchovies. Check out the notes after the recipe to see how I packed a bento the next day.

    Cauliflower, Raisins & Anchovies with Pasta
    Serves 4

    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 cup raisins
    1 cup hot water
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 2-oz can oil-packed anchovies
    8 ounces dried tri-color rotini or other short pasta
    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. In a large bowl or zip top bag, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and salt. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes or until golden brown, turning the cauliflower over halfway through the cooking time.

    2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Also, combine the raisins and hot water in a small bowl.

    3. Drain the pasta, and set aside. In the same pot (in which you cooked the pasta) over medium heat, combine the can of anchovies (including the oil they’re packed in) and garlic. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, smash the anchovies, and cook until they form a paste. Add the pepper flakes and cook for two minutes.

    4. Drain the raisins. Add the cauliflower, raisins, and pasta to the anchovy mixture and toss until well combined. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

    Pasta Bento

    The above picture shows a bento I packed the next day, using a compartmented container from Easy Lunchboxes. The main compartment holds the pasta, topped by a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan. The smaller compartments hold a peeled and segmented clementine, and a mini pumpkin muffin. The leftover pasta is delicious cold, so it’s perfect for a brown-bag lunch.

    Tuna Avocado Salad (Super Easy Recipe)

    Since saving money is a priority around here, it’s hard to justify one of my favorite indulgences, Japanese food. At restaurants, it’s just crazy expensive to order high quality raw fish, whether it’s in sushi or sashimi form. So a while back, I started satisfying my cravings by buying my own fish at the Asian market, and serving it for dinner. Sometimes I make a Tuna Avocado Salad, and I love this version because it’s incredibly easy, and very adaptable.

    Tuna Avocado Salad

    Tuna Avocado Salad

    6 oz. sashimi-grade tuna
    1 ripe avocado
    2 tablespoons ponzu sauce (available in the Asian section of most markets, at least here in SoCal)

    1. Using a very sharp knife, dice the tuna into 1/2-inch cubes. (It’s important that your knife is sharp so that you don’t shred the fish.) Add to a medium size bowl.

    2. Dice the avocado into 1/2 cubes, using your favorite method. (Sometimes I like to dice it in the skin and scoop it out, sometimes I peel the skin off and then dice it. Do whatever works for you.) Add to the bowl with the tuna.

    3. Pour in the ponzu sauce and stir to combine, taking care not to mash the avocado. You may want to add more ponzu to taste.

    4. At this point, you can add any number of ingredients to enhance the flavor to your liking – some things to consider are grated fresh ginger, Sambal, chili flakes, hot sauce, or green onions. Once you’ve added all of the ingredients, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to serve. You can serve it over a bed of greens, maybe with some shredded carrots and boiled bean sprouts, for a complete one-dish meal.