lola-rugula-easy-braised-arm-roast-recipe

braised arm roast with creamy mashed cauliflower

If you’ve followed my site for a while then you know how much I love braising and oven roasting things, especially in the winter. This year, we joined my parents in going in on a side of beef from Weber Meats in Cuba City, WI so now we have a freezer full of roastable meat, such as short ribs, soup bones, oven roasts and braising roasts.

Behold, the mighty arm roast:

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The arm roast is a humble cut of meat. It’s not typically huge but it’s an inexpensive cut that will yield delicious results if you cook it right. My favorite way to make this is braising it – browning and then slowly roasting with a cover, along with a bit of liquid, veggies and herbs – until it practically falls off the bone. If you’re craving a tender pot roast, this cut works beautifully. This cut is typically marbled with fat, which is part of what eventually helps it break down into a tender chunk of deliciousness.

braised arm roast recipe

  • 1 arm roast 2-3 lbs.
  • 1 teaspoon each coarse sea or kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 can Guinness or other dark stout (you can absolutely replace the beer with stock or even water)
  • 4-6 medium red potatoes

Preheat oven to 350

Pat beef dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and stir, cooking until soft and lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Scoop out and place in a roasting pan. Increase heat to medium-high and add beef. Let brown for at least 5 minutes and then flip, browning at least 5 minutes on the other side. I also like to tip mine on its side with a pair of tongs and brown the fat for a minute or two.

Transfer the beef to the roasting pan and top with some of the onions and garlic. Add the herbs. Making sure the heat is off, add the bottle of beer (or stock) to the hot skillet and stir, scraping up the crispy bits from the bottom. My cast iron pan is usually still pretty hot when I add the beer, so the heat really helps loosen up those bits. Slowly pour the beer and pan drippings over the roast.

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Cover the pan tightly and bake for 1 hour. Add potatoes, replace cover and then reduce the oven temperature to 325. Continue cooking for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until beef is fork-tender. Remove from oven and let rest, covered, for 15 minutes.

lola-rugula-easy-braised-arm-roast-recipe

Although my husband and I both love potatoes, I personally started cutting down on the carbs I eat when I reached my forties. So, a perfect side to pot roast for me is creamy mashed cauliflower (which my husband also loves). Here’s how I make it:

creamy mashed cauliflower recipe

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, main stem removed and cut into large florets
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves pan-roasted garlic (a couple of smashed garlic cloves, pan roasted in a drizzle of olive oil)

Place cauliflower florets in a large pan, add 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a healthy simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork-tender. Drain and return cauliflower to pan.

Add the remaining ingredients and mash well with a potato masher, stirring and mashing as you go, until they’re nice and creamy.

That’s it! Simple, right? Some people like to add chicken or veggie stock to theirs but I like mine with some body to them and not too runny. If these are too thick for you, feel free to add a bit of stock.

Also, if you love braising and oven-roasting as much as I do, here are a few of my other recipes, such as braised beef brisket with caramelized onions,  braised beef brisket with veggies, oven roasted pulled pork, crispy roast duck,  oven roasted Brussels sprouts, and oven roasted tomatoes. You can also roast soup bones for a flavorful and beneficial stock.

Today it’s finally snowing in my neck of the woods for the first time this year, so it’s looking like today will be a perfect day for enjoying the leftovers. Happy eating!

lola-rugula-easy-braised-arm-roast-recipe

stuffed cabbage rolls

Can we just go ahead and admit that most “stuffed” recipes might as well state: “this is going to be time-consuming”? Because, honestly…from dumplings to ravioli to, well…cabbage rolls, stuffing things takes a bit of time and effort. This recipe is no exception. BUT, like it and so many other stuffed recipes, it is well, well, worth it. Behold….stuffed cabbage rolls.

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My paternal grandma used to make stuffed cabbage rolls and it’s taken me quite a while to nail down the same amazing rolls. The secret to these is the tomato sauce, which is made with brown sugar and white vinegar, which gives them a sweet and sour appeal. I’ve seen them called German-style, although there’s a whole other German-style cabbage roll made with brown gravy. Whatever their origin, I’m just glad that I finally figured these out. I like to make them in a big batch, which can easily be reheated or frozen, depending on your preference.

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stuffed cabbage rolls recipe

This recipe makes about 2 dozen rolls

rice
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1   cup rice

In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add rice, stir well, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, while you prepare everything else.

cabbage
  • 1 medium head of cabbage, whole but with the core carefully removed. I use a sharp knife to cut carefully around the core to remove it.

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Add cabbage, cored-side down, and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the whole cabbage to a colander to drain and cool.

tomato sauce
  • 3 cups pureed tomatoes, with their juice (canned or fresh)
  • 1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a good simmer, uncovered,  and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the stuffing.

stuffing
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large skillet or stockpot. Add onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Increase heat to medium-high and add pork. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring just a couple of times. Add beef and cook just until both are cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat. Add beaten eggs and rice and mix well.  Set aside while you prepare the cabbage leaves.

Carefully peel off each cabbage leaf, keeping them as intact as possible. Some of them may tear just a bit, but that’s okay – they will all come together when you roll them. You may need to slice each leaf at the thick rib near the core to remove them. Remove at least 2 dozen leaves and then chop up the rest of the cabbage.

In two 13 x 9 baking dishes, drop a tablespoon or so of tomato sauce in the bottom of each dish and swirl it around.  Add chopped cabbage.This gives you a base layer of tomato sauce to put your rolls on and helps keep the cabbage from browning too much.

Preparing the cabbage rolls

Take a cabbage leaf and fill with a couple of healthy tablespoons of stuffing mix. Fold in edges and roll as tightly as possible without tearing the leaves. Place prepared roll, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining leaves and stuffing.

Cover baking dishes with lids or foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour. Remove covers and bake for 10 more minutes.

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Voila! Yes, these are a bit of work but they’re seriously worth it.

I like to make mine with a combination of beef and pork for 2 reasons – one is that I like the mix of flavors and two that it makes this dish a little lighter and healthier. If you prefer beef over pork or vice versa, feel free to add what you prefer.

I’m not a fan of all the added sugar that pervades our food these days but it’s definitely key, along with the vinegar, in this recipe. The sweet and sour aspect of the sauce is what makes these flavorful and unique.

I hope if you catch any missed steps or not-clear points, you’ll let me know. These aren’t nearly as complicated as they sound, really just time-consuming.

Oh, and if you like stuffing things, here’s my steamed dumpling recipe, here’s my homemade classic ravioli recipe, and here’s my mushroom ravioli recipe.

Never, ever be afraid to play with your food! Enjoy!

lola-rugula-easy-braised-arm-roast-recipe

easy apple pie tarts

Have you recovered from your Thanksgiving food overload yet? I hope you all had a great day. I’m blessed to be able to be the host for our families each year and this year was one of my best turkeys ever. I’ve played around with different recipes throughout the years and have finally settled on fresh Amish turkey with a dry salt brine being the best way to go for flavor and juiciness. I splayed my turkey this year, which is the “new” part and it definitely helped the turkey cook more quickly and evenly.

If you’re not familiar with splaying a whole turkey or chicken, it’s cutting the skin between the leg/thigh and breast and then pushing down on the thighs until they pop and lay flat in the pan. My dry salt brine is a tablespoon each of chopped rosemary, parsley and sage, a tablespoon of minced garlic, 3 tablespoons kosher salt (use 1 tablespoon for every 5 lbs. of turkey), and about a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. On Tuesday, 2 days before the holiday, I pat the turkey dry, rub it all over with the salt mixture, getting under the skin where I can and also in the cavity. Place in a bag (I use turkey roasting bags) and refrigerate. Wednesday morning, flip the bird over and leave refrigerated. Remove the turkey from the fridge and bag, pat dry and let it come to room temperature 40 minutes before roasting. Place bird directly in the pan (no rack), put into a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 350. Add 2 cups of broth (your choice) and 1 cup of wine to bottom of roasting pan and roast until the thigh temperature reaches 165. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 30 minutes before carving. Delicious!

Anyway, I’m not really here to talk best turkey recipe ever, so, let’s talk dessert.

lola-rugula-easy-apple-dessert-recipe

I’m not much of a dessert eater, so my mom typically brings dessert for Thanksgiving. This year, however, I already had some apple pie filling that I made and froze just a month or two ago. I also have these adorable mini-tart pans, so I knew they’d be perfect for some individual apple pies. Since I needed something easy for a crust, I picked up some frozen puff pastry. Now, I didn’t write down exactly how I made these, but this will give you the general idea. These photos are actually from the test run I did of my tarts, the weekend before Thanksgiving. These are a little more rustic looking than the final tarts, on which I did a little fancier lattice work top.

lola-rugula-apple-pie-tarrts

Let the puff pastry come to room temperature but not completely warm – about 30 to 40 minutes. Carefully unfold each sheet. Divide each sheet into thirds, cutting at the fold line. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each section a bit, until more than wide enough to cover the tart pan. Cut sheet in half, so that you basically have 2 squares of pastry. Each square will fit one mini tart pan. Repeat with remaining sections, leaving at least one section forslicing up for decorative lattice work, if desired.

Grease your tart pans with cold butter. Line each pan with a square of puffed pastry. Add a couple of big heaping tablespoons of apple pie filling. Fold overhanging edges in, adding some lattice work from a strip of pastry, if desired. Top with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon.

When all of the tarts are made, place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake immediately or refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

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Now, obviously you can make these with canned pie filling and any fruit should work here. I served these with vanilla bean ice cream and everyone really loved them. I threw them in the oven while we were all enjoying our dinner, so our house smelled super delicious and they were still warm to enjoy for dessert.

So, if you need an easy fruit and puff pastry dessert recipe, hopefully this helps you out. We’re all ready for the next round of holidays, right? Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone!

lola-rugula-easy-braised-arm-roast-recipe

popped sorghum

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, I’ll bet you’re more likely than most carnivores to have either had or least heard of sorghum. It’s somewhat of a “fringe” grain….not very mainstream but popular in certain circles.

According to the Whole Grains Council, the benefits of adding sorghum to your diet are many. Some of the benefits they list are:

  1. May inhibit cancer tumor growth
  2. May protect against diabetes and insulin resistance
  3. Safe for people with Celiac
  4. May help manage cholesterol
  5. High in antioxidants compared to other grains
  6. May help treat melanoma

Impressive, right? I’m an advocate of eating a wide variety of whole, healthy foods and if you’re not already eating it, this is a great addition to your diet. One of the best ways to enjoy sorghum is to simply pop it, just like popcorn. Crazy, right? Popcorn has a ton of benefits on its own, the biggest being polyphenols, which are a fantastic antioxidant. But today, we’re talking about sorghum…particularly popped sorghum. And if you’re looking for how to pop sorghum, well…here you go.

lola_rugula_how-to-pop-sorghum

How to pop sorghum

  • 1/4 cup sorghum
  • brown paper bag or heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid
Microwave method:
  • place sorghum into a small brown paper bag and fold the top down a couple of times. Place in microwave, fold side down, and cook on high for 3-4 minutes, until there’s at least 10 seconds between pops. Remove bag from microwave and let cool before opening.
Stovetop method:
  • Heat a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add sorghum, replace lid and shake often, until there’s at least 10 seconds between pops.

Popped sorghum tastes very much like popcorn.  For an additional nutritional punch, toss with a bit of olive or coconut oil and  nutritional yeast flakes.

Shake up your food repertoire and give popped sorghum a try. Never be afraid to play with your food!

lola-rugula-easy-braised-arm-roast-recipe

asian style steak and veggie rolls

I had steak and vegetable rolls similar to this many moons ago and finally decided to make them myself. The steak is sliced thin, pounded thinner, then marinated and stuffed with barely-cooked veggies that add a flavorful, nutritional punch. These work as an appetizer or a meal and all of the work is in the prep. They’re a little time-consuming to put together but once there, these cook in under 5 minutes.

You don’t want to skimp out on the meat for these – I use Black Angus Sirloin and it’s worth it, even if it makes these more of a “special occasion” treat than an every day treat. These 2 steaks were 1 inch,  3/4 of a pound and well-marbled.

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Beef (and veggies!)…It’s what’s for dinner.

The steaks here have been trimmed of excess fat and frozen for 40 minutes, making them ready for easy and consistent slicing. When I slice them, I slice the steak on the diagonal at an angle.

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The steaks are the easy part of this. The vegetables require a bit more effort.

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Julienne the veggies into about 2-3 inch long strips.  I don’t get overly worked up about the length, as long as they’re approximate. Lifes’ too short to go crazy over julienned veggies. Besides, I like them to look a little crazy sticking out of my rolls. 🙂

The best way to prepare these – at least for me – is to get the meat sliced and marinating and the veggies cleaned and cut the day before making them. This way, everything is ready to go and throwing them together and cooking them takes me less than 30 minutes.

Are you ready to put together some awesome steak and veggie rolls? Okay…let’s do this thing.

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asian-style steak and vegetable rolls recipe

Marinade

For the marinade, I use my basic marinade recipe, with a few additions, to add some Asian flair.

  • 1/2 cup oil – I typically use olive oil (+ 2 tablespoons for cooking rolls)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (+ 1-2 tablespoons for cooking rolls)
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste
Prepare the Beef:
  • 2 sirloin steaks, about 1 inch thick and 3/4 pounds each, frozen for 40 minutes and sliced thinly on the diagonal (see photo above)
  • When steaks are sliced, pound them on both sides until thin
  • Place beef slices in a shallow dish and cover with marinade. Cover dish and marinate for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.
Prepare the Veggies:
  • 8 asparagus spears, julienned
  • 8 scallions, whites and greens, julienned
  • 8 small sweet peppers, julienned
  • 10 baby carrots, julienned

Quantities are approximate and attributed to what I actually had on hand when recording it for this post. Obviously, if you’re using regular bell peppers, it will only take 1 or 2, the same with regular size carrots. For the record, I also added some fresh pea tendrils to some of this batch, but hey…I like to play with my food.

To Make the rolls:
  • Meat
  • Veggies
  • Toothpicks
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Remove the beef slices from the marinade and blot well well with paper towels. Set aside.

In a heavy pan or grill pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and some minced garlic over medium-high heat. Add julienned vegetables, keeping them in groups, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. I prefer my peppers and carrots cooked a minute or so longer and my onions cooked about a minute less…adjust to your preference. Set aside.

Place a few pieces of each veggie on the end of a slice of beef and roll, securing with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining beef slices and vegetables. Now we’re going to cook our rolls.

Heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat and saute 1/2 batch of rolls for about 2 minutes on each side. Repeat with 2nd batch. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and sliced scallions.

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This made about 35 rolls for me, There are so many veggies that will work in these – you should use whatever you have on hand and truly love. Broccoli or broccolini, mushrooms (especially shiitake or enoki), baby leeks, kohlrabi, cabbage, greens, and even eggplant will all work. Think of the veggies you love and put them to work here. Fresh cilantro or parsley…Yes! Add them. Greens, such as kale, pea tendrils or arugula (my favorite!) – please add them.

I’d love to hear your variations on these – I’ve had a lot of fun playing with different variations.

Do you play with your food? I hope so. Enjoy!