Thursday, November 7, 2013

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

As the weather gets cooler, my slow cooker gets more use. I've been hunting for great slow cooker recipes and I've certainly found a few. But you can't beat a tried and true one like a classic pot roast. This is another recipe which I've tried many variations until I felt the need to come up with my own. There are plenty of great pot roast recipes out there, even one that isn't for the slow cooker that I especially love from The Pioneer Woman. But on one of those days when you just want the slow cooker to do the work for you, give this simple slow cooker pot roast a try.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo
Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 6; Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 8 1/2 hours

Taste in Bloom Original
  • 2 1/2 lbs roasting meat (I prefer chuck roast or brisket for this. I find eye roast turns out too tough).
  • 1 1/4 cup water or beef stock (I used, and prefer, water)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp or more Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp or more garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 russett potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch chunks, or a bag of baby carrots
  • 1/2 a bag or more of frozen peas


Place roasting meat in the bottom of a slow cooker with the water (or beef stock) and Worcestershire sauce. Season with Italian seasoning (or herbes de Provence), onion powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and pepper. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 7 hours.

Prepare vegetables. Carefully remove the pot roast to a cutting board and put all of the vegetables into the slow cooker in the broth. Return the pot roast to the slow cooker. Cover and set the slow cooker on high and cook for an hour or slightly longer, until the vegetables are fork tender.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Banana Pumpkin Bread

This is a lovely Fall take on the banana bread recipe I posted earlier this year. I used a homemade pumpkin purée, the recipe for which I've included in case you have a spare pumpkin or two. You can very easily freeze any extra purée in small batches and thaw out and use as needed. If you prefer the canned variety, that works just as well.

The original banana bread recipe called for 1/2 cup of oil. In this recipe, the pumpkin purée replaces the oil. As a result, there wasn't a popping pumpkin flavor, but rather a minor change in consistency. Maybe, if you want more pumpkin flavor, try scaling back the bananas and add more pumpkin purée 1/4 cup at a time. This recipe is worth experimenting with in multiple batches because the odds of each loaf turning out delicious are pretty high. 

Taste in Bloom Original Photo

For the Pumpkin Purée:
For the pumpkin purée: Difficulty: Easy; Makes: 4 (1/2 cup) servings depending on the size of pumpkins; Total time: 50 mins
Barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 2 small to medium sized pumpkins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the top off of each pumpkin and cut them in half. Scoop out the seeds and pulp and slice the pumpkins into quarters. Place the pumpkin quarters on a baking sheet. I put them skin-side down, but they can go on the pan any way you'd like. 

Roast pumpkin pieces in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the flesh is fork tender.

Once the pumpkins are cool enough to handle, gently peel back the skin with a knife and slice the roasted pumpkin into chunks.

Purée the pumpkin, a few chunks at a time, with a blender or food processor, adding water as needed to make the purée smooth. If storing the pumpkin purée, measure out 1/2 - 1 cup at a time into freezer bags and store in the freezer.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo
For the Banana Pumpkin Bread:
For the bread: Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 1 loaf; Total time: 2 hrs 20 mins
Adapted from *Food Network: Flour's Famous Banana Bread

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (fresh or canned)
  • 3 1/2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped (opt. - I left them out)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Sift dry ingredients together: flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. 

Whisk together sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Stir in pumpkin purée and add mashed bananas, crème fraiche or sour cream and vanilla extract.

Pour into lined loaf pan and bake about 45-50 minutes, up to one hour. Test doneness with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Poke the middle of the loaf and make sure no batter sticks to the toothpick or skewer.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Basic Beef Stew

Fall is in the air. It's my favorite season. There's just something about the cooler weather that adds an extra bounce to my step. So, I've been up and bustling about since the crack of dawn. Yesterday, we went pumpkin picking and while my husband carved a pumpkin as our 15-month old son looked on, I cooked up a pot of delicious beef stew.

In the past, I've tried different variations of beef stew. There have been some that added crushed or diced tomatoes or tomato paste to the base. Other recipes instructed searing the beef on such high heat that the outsides would char and burn and stick to the pot. Needless to say, I haven't had much luck with finding the right beef stew recipe.

This time, instead of trying to find the perfect beef stew recipe online and in cookbooks, I decided to take the knowledge learned from past mistakes and combine it with my general knowledge of cooking gained over the past few years of experience. I also read a lot of comments posted by reviewers of recipes until I came up with a recipe of my own. I got just what I wanted: a simple, hearty beef stew that my whole family, especially myself, could love. And we all loved it. Even the 15-month old.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo

Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 8; Total time: 45 minutes 

Taste in Bloom Original
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 lbs sirloin steak, chuck roast, or London broil chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 - 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence or oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced 
  • 5oz frozen peas
  • 4 cups beef stock


In a large Ziploc bag, combine the pieces of meat with  flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Shake the bag until all the meat pieces are thoroughly covered with flour and seasonings.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, melt one tablespoon of butter in the pot.

Sear half of the meat pieces, stirring frequently, until they are completely browned, about two to five minutes. Remove the seared meat to a plate.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil and another tablespoon of butter to the pot. It will get hot quickly, so be prepared to add the other half of meat pieces to the pot. Sear the meat as before.

Once the second batch of meat is seared, add the first batch back to the pot and add the beef stock. Bring to a boil and add all of the vegetables. Reduce heat to medium-low, bringing the broth to a simmer.

Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender. Serve hot.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bacon Chicken Caesar Salad

There's few things that don't go well with bacon. And though bacon has become something of an epidemic in the U.S. finding it's way into just about everything you can imagine, spreading from the brunch plate into desserts such as brownies and ice cream, I try to keep it under control in my own cooking. Seriously though, bacon in salad is delicious. And if you disagree, this salad is still delicious without it.

This recipe might seem a bit  labor intensive and indeed it might feel like it is the first time you make it. Once you've made it a couple of times, it becomes a simple weeknight dinner that becomes almost second nature to create. Enjoy.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo
Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 4-6 Total time: 45 minutes

Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons, strained
  • 1/4 - 1/2 loaf of good quality white bread: Italian, French, Sourdough, etc.
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • seasoned salt
  • 2 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped (optional - I omitted them)
  • 8 chicken tenderloins
  • 4-8 slices of bacon (4 slices if you want to use a ratio of half bacon to chicken)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 lb romaine lettuce hearts


For the croutons: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the bread into slices. Slice each piece lengthwise in half or quarters to make strips. Cut each strip into bite-size pieces. Put the pieces into a mixing bowl.

Mince one of the garlic cloves with a little salt and add it to the bread pieces. Sprinkle bread pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and toss it to coat the bread pieces evenly.

Spread the coated bread pieces onto a rimmed baking sheet (works really well lined with parchment paper). Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing about halfway through baking time, until golden. Allow to cool.

For the Bacon Chicken

Rinse the chicken tenderloins and pat dry with paper towels. Season one side with seasoned salt and black pepper. Wrap each tenderloin with a strip of bacon.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Place tenders, seasoned side down, and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Turn each tender over and cook the other side for an additional 6 minutes. Drain off the fat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice the tenderloins into bite-size pieces.

For the salad and dressing: 

Pull apart the romaine lettuce leaves and slice them crosswise into 1-inch ribbons. Wash and dry the lettuce ribbons and put them into a large mixing bowl.

In a blender, combine the freshly squeezed lemon juice, mayonnaise, freshly grated Parmesan, anchovy fillets (if using), and the remaining garlic clove. Blend until smooth. 

If you are making the salad ahead of time and storing it in the refrigerator, see note before proceeding.

Once the chicken and croutons have cooled, toss them with the lettuce and dressing until thoroughly combined. Top with freshly sliced or grated Parmesan and season with more salt and freshly ground pepper if desired. 

* Note: If you are storing the salad in the refrigerator before consuming, allow the chicken and dressing to come to room temperature before tossing it with the romaine lettuce ribbons and croutons. Allow the croutons to sit at room temperature, sealed in a container or plastic bag, so they do not become soggy. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Having grown up in the southern U.S., comfort foods were a staple of my childhood diet. I grew up in south Louisiana where comfort food could be defined as a steaming bowl of gumbo over white rice, a plate full of jambalaya or a tray of freshly boiled spicy crawfish, but I digress. We also spread the table with comfort foods more familiar to the greater U.S. such as fried chicken and meatloaf. This week I made meatloaf. I don't add the traditional bread crumbs to my meatloaf mix, but you can if you like.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo
Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 6 Total time: 1 hr 10 mins (10 mins for prep)

Taste in Bloom Original

For the meatloaf:
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 red apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the topping:
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, egg, onion, garlic, apple, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, salt and freshly ground pepper by hand until thoroughly mixed. 

Using your hands, form mixture into a loaf and place it into a loaf pan, that has been lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover with a lid or foil.

Place the loaf pan in the center of the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping. 

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, spicy brown mustard and brown sugar until thoroughly mixed.

When the meatloaf has cooked for 30 minutes, take it out of the oven and spread the topping evenly over the meatloaf. Replace the cover and return the meatloaf to the oven and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes.

Allow the meatloaf to sit on the counter for a few minutes before removing the cover and slicing. Serve warm.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


When anticipating a busy week, I often like to prepare my breakfasts ahead of time on the weekend. A frittata is a favorite because of its versatility and ease. Each morning, I cut a slice and warm it or allow it to reach room temperature and eat it with some fruit. For variety, I like to try different vegetables and seasonings each time I make it. Frittatas also make a great brunch entrée.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo

Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 8-10 Total time: 30 mins (15 mins for prep)

Taste in Bloom Original

  • 8-10 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3 chicken sausage links or 3 breakfast sausage patties or breakfast meat of your choice, diced (opt.)
  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup fresh steamed broccoli or veggie of your choice
  • 1/4 small onion, diced or minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric or seasoning of your choice
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese or cheese of your choice (opt. - omitted in this recipe)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven broiler on low.

Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet on medium-high heat.

Beat eggs with 1 Tbsp of water. Season the eggs with turmeric or your choice of seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Whisk seasonings into the eggs.

Combine sausage, onion and garlic into skillet and allow to cook until the sausage is heated through and the onion is slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add steamed broccoli or veggies and stir to combine.

Pour the egg mixture slowly into the skillet, making sure it spreads evenly around the sausage and veggies. Cover and reduce heat to low. 

The frittata should only cook long enough for the sides to solidify. The middle should remain runny. Sprinkle a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top if using.

Once the sides have cooked, remove cover and transfer the skillet to the top rack of oven and broil on low just until the top has browned. Remove and allow to sit a few minutes before slicing. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to several days.

Note: Frittatas are a great dishes in which you can exercise creativity with flavor. Instead of using onion and garlic, try mincing a shallot. Diced roasted red pepper or jalapeños also create exciting flavor. Nutmeg and cinnamon can make the frittata more earthy. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Some days I want a substantial meal that isn't overly rich or filling. With summer just around the corner, Ratatouille seems great for its seasonal vegetables. I made a full batch to store half in my refrigerator to enjoy for lunch with a salad of mixed greens for a few days this week and stored the other half in the freezer for later use. Ratatouille is considerably versatile. You can always add protein to it in the form of chicken, beans, cheese, or I'm sure even shellfish would be good. I kept it to a simple vegetable makeup this time. It would be delicious served with bread and maybe even a glass of white wine if the occasion calls for it.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo
Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 4-6 Total time: 45 mins - 1 hr (20-30 for prep)

Adapted from Food Network: Emeril Lagasse

  • 1/4 cup or more olive oil
    Taste in Bloom Original Photo
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced (leave skin on)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and onion and cook until onions are slightly caramelized, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the eggplant and thyme leaves and cook for 5 minutes until the eggplant is slightly cooked, stirring occasionally.

Add the diced peppers, zucchini and yellow squash and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the diced tomatoes, basil, parsley and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cook for 5 more minutes. 

Stir well and serve hot or at room temperature.