Monday, April 11, 2016

Frugal Femme Two Week Menu #2: Week Two, Sunday: Classic Pot Roast for Two, Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and Itlian Bread Salad

Hello Everyone!
So, I asked my husband to get ham for the meal that I prepared on Thursday.  Why?  Because the foil wrapped object that I had in the freezer and thought was ham, turned out to be some meat thing that someone had given us that was not ham. (I should have been suspicious by the lack of labeling-there is a lesson learned.)  It didn't really matter what type of ham that he got because, really, you can fry up any type of  ham.  Instead of getting ham slices, like I assumed he would do so that we would have sandwich makings for the week-end, he got us an entire ham.  This thing is huge, and I am easily going to make ALOT of meals out of this ham.  But first, I have to get through the rest of the Frugal Femme Two Week Menu that I had planned, and ham was not on the menu except for one dish.  So, I thought I would show you how I divide large pieces of meat so that they are the correct size that I need to prepare my frugal femme dinners.

Little did I know what I was in for......  Usually, I get a boneless ham, this ham had a bone.  Ummmmm......  I don't know how to carve that. 

I could have gone on the internet and found a video, that would have been the intelligent thing to do.  Instead, I went after it like John Belushi as the samurai in Saturday Night Live.  After thirty minutes of hacking, slicing, and cursing under my breath I had cut apart the ham and had what looked like a graveyard where ham goes to die.

I then had to proceed to turn these "remains" into serviceable meats that I could use for dinners.
What I ended up with was:  1 ham bone and two cups of cubed ham (for a hambone soup)
2 packets of miscellaneous small cuts of ham that I can use in frittatas and other dishes that call for diced ham
   4 ham "roasts"

From the first option, I can create one soup, which we can freeze the leftovers and eat at least twice.  I can make 2 meals each out of the packets, so that means 4 meals there, and I can make 8 meals out of the "roasts".  So that means that, out of that one $10 ham that my husband purchased, I can create between 12-13 meals, depending on what I cook.  Doing the math,  this ham divides in to a cost of $0.42 per person (about $0.83 per couple) for each meal that I prepare with it! 

But, tonight was not scheduled to be ham night, it was scheduled to be beef roast night, so I packaged all the ham, labeled it, and put it in the freezer to have on hand when I plan another two week menu for myself and my husband.  ( I won't be posting another Two Week Frugal Femme Menu on the blog until about June, because I have some other things that I am itching to blog about.)

Here is the meal that was cooking while I was battling the ham.

Classic Pot Roast

I got the idea for this from the "America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two Cookbook". I modified the ingredients to use things that I had more commonly in my kitchen, added ingredients and removed ingredients and came up with this recipe.

1 (1 to 1 1/2 pound) boneless beef roast
1 tbsp. butter, preferably unsalted (If you use salted butter, taste, taste, taste before you add any additional sauce.)
1 large shallot halved and sliced thin  ( I have also used giant green onions and yellow and white onions.  If you use a yellow or white onion, mince the onion.)
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch coins
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup beef broth, divided
1/4 cup plus one tablespoon Dry Sherry
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus 1/4-1/2 tsp. minced
1 tsp. red wine vinegar (This is also very delicious with balsamic vinegar, I use either one depending on my mood or what I have on hand in the cabinet.)

1.  Season roast with 1/2 tsp. salt and let set at room temperature for 1 hour.
2.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees and set the oven rack so that it sits in a lower middle position in your oven.
3.  Melt butter in a medium size stock pot over medium heat.
4. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown (about 3-5 minutes).
5.  Stir in carrots and cook for 5 minutes.

6.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
7.  Stir in 1/2 cup beef broth, 1/4 cup sherry, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, and thyme sprig.  Scrape up any brown bits and begin to simmer.

Herbs from my herb garden.

I always use the tomato paste in a tube because I almost never use the amount that is provided in the can when I make a dish.  This you can open, use as little as you need and then keep in the refrigerator for quite some time.

8. Pat the roast dry with paper towels and season with pepper.
9.  Place the roast on top of the vegetables.

10.  Cover the Dutch oven tightly with aluminum folder and cover with a lid. 
11.  Place the Dutch oven in the oven and bake for about 1 hr.  (If you would like the roast more well done, cook for 1.5 or 2 hours.)
12.  Remove Dutch oven from the oven and remove the roast from the pan.  Put the roast on a carving board and tent with aluminum foil.  (I use the same aluminum foil that covered the pot during cooking in the oven.)  VERY CAREFULLY, strain the remaining liquid in the pot through a fine- mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup.

13.  Discard the bay leaf and the thyme sprig--transfer the vegetables to a blender.
14.  Let the liquid sit for about 5 minutes.  The fat will rise to the top.  Remove the fat by skimming over the top with a spoon.  You will most likely need to add the remaining beef stock that you had on reserve to make about 3/4 cup liquid.
15.  Add the liquid to the blender with the vegetables and blend until smooth. (This will take about 1 minute.)
I love my Magic Bullet.  I use it more than my big blender because, more often than not, the stuff that I have to blend is less than two cups worth of fluid.  I got two for my wedding shower and seriously thought of keeping both.  I did not.

16.  Transfer the liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

17.  Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tbsp. sherry, the minced thyme and the red wine vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  (Depending on the beef broth you used, and whether your butter was salted or not, you may not find it necessary to add any salt.).

To Serve:  Slice the roast into 1/2 inch slice and spoon the gravy over the meat.  (I also spoon the gravy over the mashed potatoes that I make to go along with this dish.)

My phone died while I was making this dish, so I have no photos of the other two dishes :-(

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

2 medium golden potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces (With golden potatoes, I do not remove the skin.  If you use russet potatoes, make certain that you skin them.)
1 tbsp.butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup sour cream
1 green onion, sliced
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

1.  In a medium pot, put water in pot so that potatoes will be submerged when cooking.  (The amount of water this will take, depends upon your pot.)  Bring the water to a boil.
2.  Place potatoes in water and boil until the potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes).
3.  Once potatoes are fork tender, drain in a colander.
4.  In a large bowl, spoon in the butter, sour cream and green onion. Add the potatoes and mash with a potatoes masher or fork to desired consistency.  (I like mine a little creamy.)


Italian Bread Salad

This is another recipe that was inspired by the "America's Test Kitchen The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook".  In fact, I have done little to change this except to substitute the stuffing bread that we made the evening before for our chicken dinner.  If you did not make the bread, you can use rustic Italian bread or French bread.  I also switched out the types of tomatoes used.

2 cups stuffing bread, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half  (The original recipe called for 2 tomatoes cored, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces.  But I think its easier to use the cherry tomatoes.)
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (Or two tsp. dried basil.)
1small shallot, sliced thin

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Make certain that your oven rack is in the center of the oven.
2.  Toss bread pieces with 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1/8 tsp. salt.
3.  Spread bread over rimmed baking sheet and bake until a light golden brown, 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally.
4.  Take out of oven and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
5.  While the bread is in the oven, toss tomatoes and 1/8 tsp. salt together, transfer to a colander set over a large bowl and let drain for 15 minutes.
6.  Whisk remaining 3 tbsp. oil, vinegar, and 1/8 tsp. pepper into drained tomato juices.  Add cooled bread, toss to coat, and let sit for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
7.  Add drained tomatoes, cucumber, basil and shallots to bread and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Well, there you have it.

This picture is minus the salad. 

The first dinner for the second week of the two week menu.  Tomorrow we do chicken salad and roasted tomatoes using our chicken from Saturday's meal and the leftover tomatoes from tonight's meal.

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