Balsamic Pot Roast

For years I’ve stuck by my tried and true pot roast recipe – it’s good. Real good. But a few months ago I went looking for something a little different where I could rely on my crock pot to do most the work. I came across this recipe on Pinterest, and it was instantly a crowd-pleaser. The meat is super tender, and the flavor is awesome. It’s very simple – mix up the sauce, pour it over the meat in the crock pot, turn it on and forget about it. If you like a gravy with your meat, you remove the drippings at the end and simmer it on the stove with some corn starch. Last night was probably my 6th time I’ve made this, and every time I go to my blog to find the recipe, only to be reminded that I haven’t blogged this recipe yet. Well darn it, I’m finally doing it – partly to share with others… and partly so that in a few weeks when I want to make this again and I don’t have to search through hundreds of my pins 🙂 Since one of my kiddos is on a gluten-free diet, I just subbed gluten free soy sauce for the regular variety, and my whole family can eat it. Hope you enjoy!

Balsamic Pot Roast

1 3-lb boneless chuck roast
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce (regular OK too)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp corn starch (for gravy)

1.) In a medium bowl, whisk together beef broth, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, honey, garlic and pepper.
2.) Place chuck roast in crock pot and pour sauce over top.
3.) Set crock pot to Low and cook for about 6 hours.

To make gravy:
Take 1 1/2 cups of the drippings from the roast and place in a small saucepan. Mix the 2 tbsp corn starch with a few tbsps of cold water in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Whisk into drippings, and heat over medium high-heat until it simmers and sauce begins to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

Balsamic pot roast sauce

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Balsamic Pot Roast

Balsamic pot roast gravy

Adapted from Add a Pinch’s Balsamic Roast Beef recipe

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

I finally decided to start making some new dishes this week and so I’m excited to share another Pinterest win!  Fresh on being infatuated with my recent Salisbury Steak Meatballs, when I saw this recipe with the mushroom gravy, I couldn’t wait to try it. This dish is pure comfort food. I served it over mashed potatoes and it was plate-licking good. Hope you enjoy!

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Salisbury Steak
1 1/3 lb ground beef
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/3 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter (to fry up the beef)

Mushroom Gravy
1 tbsp butter
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp flour
2 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1.) Add all salisbury steak ingredients (except butter) in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix all ingredients well. Form into 6 patties and set aside.
2.) In an electric skillet or large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add patties and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on a plate.
3.) In the skillet you cooked the meat in, add 1 tbsp butter, mushrooms, shallots and thyme and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir to combine. Add in beef broth and stir well. Bring to simmer to allow sauce to thicken. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Place salisbury steak patties back in the skillet and cover them with gravy. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Adapted from Lemony Thyme’s Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

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Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Chili – The Official Meal of Fall

For me, chili is the official meal of the fall. It’s hearty and warm and the smell of it cooking on the stove just makes me happy. I make almost the same chili recipe that I had growing up, except the main differences are now I add some celery (because I love the flavor it brings) and beef stock (instead of not draining my beans). It still brings me back to the fall and winter in Florida and one of my favorite meals my mom would make for our family.


1 1/3 lbs ground beef
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 26-oz boxes of diced tomatoes
3 14-oz cans kidney beans, drained
1 cup beef broth
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp pepper
Top with saltines and shredded cheese

1.) In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add ground beef, onion, celery and garlic and cook until meat is brown. Use a spatula to break apart the meat as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.
2.) Add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, beef broth, chili powder, sugar and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
3.) Serve with crumbled saltines and shredded cheese and enjoy!




Salisbury Steak Meatballs

Have I ever mentioned how much I like beef? Well, I like it a lot. I love hearty meals that just make you feel good inside, and this is one of those dishes. I stumbled upon this Pioneer Woman recipe on Pinterest and was instantly intrigued. It’s been quite a while since I had salisbury steak, and frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever made it as an adult. But there was something nostalgic about the concept and so I figured I’d give it a try… jackpot! I mixed up and formed my meatballs yesterday (Sunday) to help make it easier on myself for the craziness that I knew would be Monday evening. So tonight it only took me 30 minutes to finish these up – not too bad.

I modified the recipe slightly with what I had on hand, and it still turned out great. The meatballs were tender and both the meat and gravy were really, really flavorful. I served them over egg noodles and it was a total comfort food dish. It went over well with the boys, and I’m pretty pumped about my leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Hope you enjoy!

Salisbury Steak Meatballs

2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (I use 4C’s Seasoned Panko because it’s all natural)
1/4 cup brown mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

The rest of the meal… 
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
2 1/2 cup beef broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp brown mustard
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 lb egg noodles, cooked to al dente and drained
Fresh parsley, minced

1.) Combine meatball ingredients well with hands and form into medium sized meatballs (about 1-inch in diameter).
2.) In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp butter and add meatballs in a single layer.  If they don’t fit in a single layer, cook them in two batches. Brown for about 2 to 3 minutes and then turn over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
3.) Add onion to the dutch oven with the meat drippings and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until onions are soft. While onions are cooking, combine 1/2 cup of beef broth and cornstarch and mix to create a slurry. Set aside.
4.) Add 2 cups beef broth to onions and scrape bottom to release the brown bits. Add 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp ketchup and 2 tsp brown mustard and bring to a simmer. Add cornstarch slurry and mix well. Add back meatballs and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.
5.) Add remaining 2 tbsp butter and parsley to warm egg noodles and top with meatballs and gravy.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman’s Salisbury Steak Meatballs

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Salisbury Meatballs

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni

Anyone else have fond memories of Hamburger Helper growing up? Yeah. Me too. So when I came across this from-scratch recipe on Pinterest I was so, so, so excited. This is a super simple weeknight dish – it’s a one pot meal that takes 20 minutes start to finish. It was also a crowd pleaser… Brogan shouted, “Mommy, this is the best dinner ever! I want you to make this again!” Now it’s not the first time he’s flattered me with such a compliment, but regardless, he really liked it. Even the adults around here went back for seconds. I ate it as leftovers for lunch today and it was great reheated. I stuck really close to the original recipe, except that I added some diced onion to the ground beef, and used black pepper instead of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes (it would have been too spicy for my boys). Hope you enjoy!

Cheeseburger Macaroni

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni

1 1/3 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.) In a large skillet or dutch oven, add onion and brown meat over medium-high. Drain off any fat.
2.) Add milk, water, macaroni, corn starch, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, sugar, paprika and pepper. Stir well, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until macaroni is done. Stir occasionally to make sure the macaroni does not stick to the bottom.
3.) When macaroni is finished, remove form heat, and stir in cheddar cheese.

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Adapted from Farmgirl Gourmet’s Homemade Hamburger Helper

Shepherd’s Pie

I am a meat and potatoes kind of girl, so Shepherd’s Pie is right up my alley. I grew up eating it and have made it dozens of times, but never before like this. This is the kind of Shepherd’s Pie I’ve enjoyed at authentic Irish pubs. And while I’m not knocking what I grew up on (which was ground beef, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes and cheese all served with ketchup), the Shepherd’s Pie I’ve been craving as of late is of the meat with gravy, peas and potatoes variety…. this Shepherd’s Pie.

It took me about an hour to prepare (cooking time included). I served it with drop biscuits and sliced tomatoes and it was really a great meal. The kids (and hubs) enjoyed it, and I’m thrilled to have come up with a solid go-to Shepherd’s Pie recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

Meat Layer
1 1/3 lbs ground beef
1 stalk of celery, diced small
2 carrots, diced small
1/2 a large sweet onion, diced small
8 oz mushrooms, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
3 tbsp flour
1 cup beef broth
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup frozen peas

Potato Layer
2 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (to top, not mix in)

1.) Place potatoes in a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) While potatoes are cooking, brown ground beef in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When meat is almost browned, add celery, carrots, onion, mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and continue cooking until meat is fully cooked. Sprinkle flour over meat and stir well, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef broth and stir again. Add Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and simmer for about 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in frozen peas.
3.) Once potatoes are fully cooked, drain and return to pot. Add butter, heavy cream, salt, pepper and onion powder. Use an electric mixer to whip until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Add egg yolk and whip for about a minute longer.
4.) To assemble, use a deep dish pie plate and place the meat mixture in the bottom. Next add the potatoes and top with cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.

As I mentioned, I served with drop biscuits. They are from my Chicken Pot Pie recipe, but do great on their own. I mixed them up after I put the Shepherd’s Pie in the oven, and then cooked them along side it (at 400) for about 15 minutes.

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Drop Biscuits

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

I’m pretty sure that spaghetti makes it on most people’s weekly dinner plan. Why? It’s easy. Even when it’s from scratch, it’s easy. I only recently started making my spaghetti sauce from scratch. I’m not against the jar – and truthfully, I keep a couple jars in the pantry in case I’m ever in a pinch – but I’ve come to like the taste of my homemade better. I timed myself tonight from start to finish and the sauce is truly a 30-minute meal. However, I forgot to get my water boiling for the pasta when I first started the sauce, so dinner was a little delayed. This recipe makes a pretty large pot of sauce. I will use it for leftovers, but it also freezes really well in a gallon Ziploc bag if you’re not a leftover person. Hope you enjoy!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

1 lb angel hair pasta (if you plan to freeze half your sauce, use 1/2 lb)
1 1/3 lb ground beef
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 26-oz boxes of petite cut tomatoes (or 4 14-oz cans)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine
Parmesan cheese, for topping

1.) Start heating a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to the box.
2.) In another large pot, brown ground beef over medium-high heat and drain if needed. Add diced onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3.) Add remaining ingredients (except parm), stir well and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes.
4.) Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

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To get other dinner ideas, see my 4 weeks of (different) home-cooked meals post.

(Homemade) Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are just. so. good. They remind me of growing up and it’s simply one of those foods that  tastes just as good as an adult. I first made these from scratch when I was having a major craving for SJ’s and didn’t have any Manwich on hand. Bummer. Or so I thought. I did a quick search online and came across a simple recipe with ingredients I had on hand (it’s been so long, I can’t remember the source). I’ve adapted it slightly over the years and am excited to share it!

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup minced sweet onion (about 1 small onion)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional – packs a kick! I used to do this, but too spicy for the kids)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (pureed in a food processor)
2 tbsp tomato paste

1.) In a saute pan, brown ground beef. Add onion and cook until translucent. Drain any excess fat.
2.) In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, pepper, salt, paprika, and garlic powder. Sprinkle over ground beef. Stir in vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in tomato puree and tomato paste and simmer for 5 minutes.
3.) Serve on a hamburger bun with sliced cheddar cheese.

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Tomato Paste
By the way – this is the coolest idea ever! No more wasting a can when you only need a tablespoon or two!

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Meatballs and Marinara

So I actually made this a while ago… I even typed out the recipe, uploaded the pictures and everything, but apparently I forgot to post it! Well, it’s too good to not share, so here it is!

My boys love, love, love meatballs, so this goes over really well in my house. I’ve played around with this recipe a lot over the years – sometimes with pork and/or veal – but I really just like it best with a high quality ground beef. The parmesan cheese and fresh herbs add a lot of flavor, and overall, they’re pretty easy to throw together. I made these along with marinara, so the instructions below are how I did both in about 45 minutes. Hope you enjoy!



1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper


3 14-oz cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2.) Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. While onions are sautéing, in a large bowl,  combine all ingredients for the meatballs.
3.) Add tomatoes to onions in the dutch oven and reduce heat to medium; simmer while you form meatballs into 1 1/2″ – 2″ balls.
4.) Place meatballs on a baking sheet about an inch apart and bake for 35 to 40 minutes (depending on how big you make the meatballs).
5.) To the sauce, add red wine, mushrooms, herbs, salt, pepper and sugar. Sauté for 30 minutes.
6.) With an emersion blender (or by using a normal blender to blend in batches), puree sauce to desired consistency (I like mine a little chunky, so I didn’t totally puree).
7.) When meatballs are done, add them to pot and coat with sauce. Serve over pasta.

I was able to make 15 meatballs at this size.

The sauce after simmering, before blending.

The finished sauce – yum!


Love this chili weather

To me there are two staples of fall – pumpkin and chili. And so I’m a little ashamed to admit that we are 30 days into autumn and I just made my first pot of chili. But better late than never, I suppose. It got down into the 40’s last night and so we awoke to a cold house (we hadn’t turned on the heater yet this season) and it just got me thinking that I needed to make some chili.  So I did.  My (old) go-to chili recipe is really good, but really basic, and so I decided I’d take today’s chili to another level. A couple of years ago my work put together a recipe book and we had a couple of different chili submissions. I decided to incorporate some of those flavors that were so great (red wine, green pepper, green chilies, cumin) into my basic (ground beef, tomatoes, kidney beans and chili powder) and wouldn’t you know that this chili blew my old recipe out of the water.  So I now have a new go-to and here it is…

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1 1/3 lb ground beef
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 4-oz can diced green chilies
1 cup red wine
2 26-oz boxes of diced tomatoes (undrained)
3 14.5-oz cans kidney beans (undrained)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper

1.) In a large soup pot or dutch oven, brown ground beef. Add onion, garlic and green pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add green chilies and red wine. Simmer for about 5 more minutes.
2.) Add tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, paprika and sugar. Stir well and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
3.) Top with sour cream, cheese or saltines and enjoy!

Chili Ingredients

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As you may notice, I have a slight sour cream obsession. It’s probably prudent to reduce your sour cream portion by about half of this. I just can’t help myself.