I Would Refute It, But It’s True

Guess who’s number one on Google for “greatest pot roast“? Yup, me again. And unlike the last time, I’m not refuting this one. Not only is it true, it truly is the world’s greatest pot roast. Really, no kidding.

The best part is that the recipe, with minor alterations, works for pork and chicken too. Just modify the bouillon used to marinate and baste. Oh, and if you don’t own a crockpot, you should.

Categorized as cooking

The World’s Greatest Pot Roast

Because someone asked how I made my perfect roast, I figured I’d share my recipe. This recipe is for a 5 quart crockpot. If you have a smaller one, use enough to fill up your crockpot and that’s it. If you don’t have a crockpot… why not? Go get one, now! So, here goes:


  • 1 \~5 pound beef roast

  • 5 – 6 medium sized potatos

  • 12-18 mini carrots

  • 5 large stalks of celery from the outside of a celery bunch (don’t buy the celery hearts, get the real stuff. The stalks on the outside have a stronger flavor.

  • 1 smallish red onion

  • 1 smallish yellow onion

  • 2 beef boullion cubes

  • 1 vegetable boullion cubes

First, dissolve one cube of beef boullion and the vegetable cube in two cups of boiling water. In a glass baking dish or large bowl, put the roast in, and pour in the two cups of broth. The roast shouldn’t be completely covered by the broth. Now, cover the top in a healthy dose of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cover the dish and put in the fridge for at least two hours (mine was in overnight).

While your roast is marinating, let’s do potatos. Wash them, and then chop them up into 2-by-2 inch chunks (cubes are for the French… rest assured, they’ll be yummy no matter what the shape). Then, take the long celery stalks, wash them, and then cut to fit in the bottom of the crockpot (I just had to break them in half). Skin your onions and chop off the ends.

Dissolve the last beef boullion cube in one cup boiling water, set aside for now.

In a large skillet pour about two tablespoons of olive oil and turn on to high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, take the roast out of the marinade and drop it in the skillet (then step back). Turn heat down to medium high, and brown on one side for five minutes, then flip and brown it for five more minutes. Turn off the heat and let the roast rest for a minute.

Here’s the fun part. line the bottom of the crockpot with the celery stalks, then enough carrots to cover the bottom. Now, take the roast out of the skillet and plop it into the crockpot on top of the carrots and celery. Cram your two onions between the roast and the side of the pot, and then dump in your potatos. Your potatos shouldn’t be so high they’re overflowing (your top should fit snugly). Right before you turn your crockpot on and put the lid on, pour the beef broth over the whole thing.

Turn your crockpot on high, and leave alone for no less than 5 hours (I think mine was in for 7 or 8). When it’s done cookin’, plop the whole mess, minus the celery on a big platter and serve. You’ll freakin’ love it.

Categorized as cooking

Porky’s Roasters

I’m making a pork shoulder roast. Yes, I know it’s almost 11pm on a Saturday night. Max and I went out to breakfast this morning and then to the grocery store, where pork shoulder roasts were on sale! So, being the mad food scientist and Molto Mario fan that I am, I figured I would try braising. Mario loves him some pork roasts. The problem is, I don’t have a dutch oven. But, I figured I could brown the roast in a skillet, remove it, brown the veggies and mix in the broth in the skillet. Then, I put everything in the fridge (veggies in broth and roast on a plate). Tomorrow, before we go to church, I’ll throw it all in the crock pot, turn it on high and hope the house smells like Heaven when we get home.

The roast already looks amazing. Oh, you wanna know what I did? Ok, here’s my “suit myself” version of Mario’s braising method:

  1. Turn the burner on medium high heat and throw your biggest skillet on it.

  2. After the skillet’s good and hot (you know, flick water on it – if it dances, it’s ready), put three or four tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. If it starts smoking, it’s a little too hot, turn the heat down just enough to stop the smoking – no one wants a fire.

  3. Take the pork roast out of the lovely grocery store packaging, wash it off, and then liberally cover it in salt and pepper and plop it in the skillet. Be careful, the oil might splatter, so plop and run.

  4. Brown the roast on all sides… it should be a deep dark golden brown (Mario’s favorite phrase).

  5. While the roast is browning, chop up one onion, one red pepper, three celery stalks and one big tomato into pretty large pieces (these are all crockpotting tomorrow, so they shouldn’t be dainty little things).

  6. Once the roast is done browning, move it to a plate or pan.

  7. Now, add all those veggies to the pan and cook until the onions start to caramelize.

  8. If you don’t have vegetable broth handy, boil two cups of water, and drop two vegetable boullion cubes into the water. Once the broth is ready, pour it into the cooked vegetables.

  9. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to get up all the yummy stuck bits that didn’t come up with the veggies, and then pour the broth and veggies into a bowl.

  10. Put everything in the fridge until tomorrow.

That’s pretty much what I did tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll get out the crockpot, dump in the veggies and the broth and then the roast and cook it on high for three to four hours. I expect much yumminess. I, of course, will let you know how it turns out.

Categorized as cooking

Easy Meatballs for Fun and Profit

I made meatballs tonight. I made them once before and made way too big a deal out of them. They’re frightfully easy to make (shhh, don’t tell anyone), and will impress your spouse, date, friends, boss, or whoever you have to cook for. Here’s my quick and easy recipe that leaves lots and lots of room for substitutions, replacements and deletions. There are only a couple required elements: ground meat of some kind (sausage, ground beef, veal or turkey or some combination thereof), an egg, and some fairly dry shredded cheese (parmesan, dry mozzarella, etc).

The Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add one egg, garlic to taste (1/4 teaspoon to start), a healthy dash of pepper and two shakes of salt. Whisk until egg is scrambled, but good.

  2. Now, I have a food processor, and like throwing a little veggie matter in my meatballs. For example, tonight I took some mushroom pieces and half a vidalia onion and threw them in the food processor until they were in itty bitty chunks, and then added them to the bowl. I’ve tried green peppers, but their high water content kinda screwed up the consistency o’ de balls. Play around and see what you see. If you come up with something really good, let me know.

  3. Now, add about a pound of your ground meat to the bowl, along with a handful of your cheese (tonight it was the four-cheese Italian blend from the grocery store. Last time, I did a nice mix of freshly grated parmesan and pecorino. Fancy, boring, it’s up to you.

  4. Before you mix everything up (which is coming, don’t worry), throw a large skillet on the stove and turn the fire on somewhere between medium and medium high. Dump a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and let it heat up (this isn’t an exact science… should be enough to put a thin coating on the bottom of the skillet).

  5. While the pan is heating up wash your hands, then go over to your bowl o’ stuff and dig in. Mix up everything so it’s of pretty even consistency throughout and everything’s mixed in nicely.

  6. Next, take your bowl of mess over to the stove. It’s time to make meatballs!! My meatballs usually end up about the size of ping-pong balls, but hey, your balls may be larger or smaller. It’s really up to you.

  7. Fill the skillet with your balls, and let them brown almost completely on the side you put them on. Be sure to flip them over a few times to get each side of your eventually slightly lop-sided pyramids cooked. It usually takes about 15 minutes (five minutes between flippings) to finish the whole pan.

Meatballs freeze really well but we usually make just enough for one meal. After they’re cooked all the way through and we’ve sampled one or two, we dump in our favorite tomato-based sauce (Jen makes a great one), let it simmer while the pasta cooks and then fall into a meatball-induced stupor. For something so easy to make, they’re heavenly. If you’ve got any meatball-related suggestions, I’d love to hear ’em.

Categorized as cooking


Because it was someone else’s birthday, I got to pick where we went to lunch today. No, really. Apparently, I picked good places for lunch, so I was given the responsibility of choosing where we are lunch. Because I’d heard good things about it from the little girls at church, I decided to try Nagoya in Ashburn. It’s a sushi/hibachi place and was delightfully uncrowded for 12:30 on a Wednesday. The ten of us sat around a big hibachi table and listened to Coldplay on the house sound system (no really, a Japanese restaurant was playing Coldplay – no lie). Most of us got stuff that was Hibachi-i-fied, and boy were we not disappointed!! The chef was amazing, and the food was delicious. The scallops I had were done perfectly: slightly crunchy on the outside, but still juicy and tender on the inside. The steak was perfectly medium, and the accompanying veggies and fried rice were excellent.

So, if you’re ever at the corner of Waxpool and Claiborne Parkway and feel the need to watch someone make your food in front of you – go for it.

And, I hate null pointers in Java. They suck.

Categorized as cooking

Wild Sage Cafe

Max and I went out today to gather some last-minute Mother’s Day stuff and to get out of the house to give Jen the day off. We went to work to pick up some presents I’d stashed there, and play foosball. Then, we went to lunch at The Wild Sage Cafe. It’s right down the street, and I’ve been meaning to go in since they opened a few months ago. The place wasn’t crowded, and is very nicely decorated. The menu isn’t gigantic, but has enough to variety to please pretty much anyone. Max got the kid’s chicken tenders and fries, and I got the pulled pork sandwich. Let’s talk about the sandwich. It was huge, almost three inches tall before I squashed it down. There was a healthy portion of pork (half a pound, maybe?) with a homemade barbecue sauce, with coleslaw under the meat and crispy onion strips on top, all contained in a lovely soft kaiser roll. On top of that, the fries were perfect: crunchy on the outside without being too crunchy on the inside.

Even Max’s chicken tenders were breaded there by hand, and were very good. We got gelato for dessert. I’m not sure it was homemade, but the chocolate was very good.

It’s on Church, two blocks from the corner of 28 and Church/Waxpool. If you’re in Sterling, please check it out.

Categorized as cooking

Three Cooking Undertakings

Last night, Max and I made cookies. Our pantry was against us, however and we were missing two important ingredients: brown sugar and rolled oats. Being the creative culinary maverick that I am, I substituted regular sugar mixed with maple syrup (it made the sugar brown, and kind of brown-sugar-esque) and crushed pecans. The cookies turned out a little flat and runny, but they’re still yummy. The maple syrup added a great flavor.

Today, I decided to try out Mr. Allen’s yummy-sounding soup recipe. Of course, being American, I couldn’t just follow directions. Instead of making chicken stock, I used some store bought beef and chicken broths left over from my braising experiment. I used broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms as my veggies of choice, along with a healthy heaping of spices: white and black peppercorns, green chili powder, red chili powder, a pinch of curry, and some sea salt. I simmered for two hours, then added two little containers of heavy whipping cream, whipped with my little kitchenaid thingy, and voila – the most amazing soup I’ve ever made. Jen is floored.

On top of the soup, I decided that Max and I would enjoy making bread together. Unfortunately, Max decided to take a nap, and I got to make bread by myself. It was my first time making homemade bread from scratch aaa-aaall alone. I decided to go old school and mix everything by hand. I’m not sure it’s going to turn out, but it was fun to try just the same.

Oh, there’s the timer. Time to go see how it turned out.

Categorized as cooking

Pork It With Ham

I had a great birthday. We had gourmet pizza from Emilio’s, a fantastic cake made by mom and lots of fun. Work has been really busy, which hopefully explains my lack of content here the past few days. Not that you need an explanation, right?

Today, I decided to make Jen a nice dinner for our “date” (mom’s got Max; we’ve got the house). We got a pork roast on sale, and I decided to try out another Molto Mario idea and braise it. Thankfully, Jen got me Mario’s book for my birthday, so I didn’t have to make it all up. Here’s the menu:

  • Bruschetta: fresh roma tomatoes, fresh mozarella cut into small cubes, shredded fresh basil and grated parmesan on toasted baguette slices.

  • Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus: I got the prosciutto thick-sliced at the deli (too thick, but I asked for it that way). I wrapped the asparagus up in the slices and sauteed them in a little olive oil. The ham got a little hard. If I do this again, I’m using thinner meat.

  • Fresh linquine covered in the braising liquid with vegetables. I used the carrots, mushrooms, onions (Spanish and Red), and celery in the tomato-based braising liquid. I reduced it a little in a sauce pan and then threw in the cooked noodles.

  • Braised Pork Roast: We don’t drink, so I used pureed and diced tomatoes and olive oil as the braising liquid. I used too much; the roasting pan overflowed; the house filled with smoke; I opened windows. Other than that, the pork came out really tender, and the sauce that came out of the pan is heavenly (because pork is gooooo-oood).

Other than the too-thick prosciutto and the smoke, it was really yummy. I have a couple other recipes I want to post, I just haven’t found the time. I made a really yummy salmon filet with red onions and fresh orange juice that I came up with off the top of my head. It was great (if I do say so myself). I also made homemade meatballs that blew me away. They were unbelievable, and I’ll share the recipe when I can get around to getting it down on paper. I’ve still got some in the freezer for subs later… mmmmm, meatball sub.

Categorized as cooking

Chili To Make You Smile

As bad as the first batch of chili was, the second was much better. We were all out of veggies, so I couldn’t put my usual green peppers in the new batch. I ended up making very traditional ground beef/kidney bean chili with healthy portions of ground green and red chili my friend brought back from her trip to New Mexico. Instead of green peppers, I added a small can of diced green chilis. It was the best idea ever, I swear. The chili ended up having a nice but not over-powering kick to it and the ground green chili gave it a lovely earthy flavor that gave it a lot of body.

My best idea though is Jen’s fault. If you remember, I took Jen to the Eiffel Tower Cafe for Valentine’s Day. We had the French Onion soup. If you don’t know (and who knows, you might not), the theory behind French Onion soup is you have this big oven-safe bowl, fill it with soup, put a piece of bread on the top, cover the bread in cheese and then bake the bowl until the cheese is nice and toasted. I thought to myself, hey, this could work with chili!! Take a piece of Texas Toast, toast it, drop it on a bowl of chili, cover it in cheddar and jack and pop it in the oven. Heaven, right? Exactly. We had the fam over last night for the grand experiment and it went over like gangbuster. The weak-lipped commented on the spices, but overall enjoyed the experience immensely. It was a lot of fun, and made the chili something other than just plain old chili.

Categorized as cooking