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Beef Pot Roast Marsala

Pretty sure that my husband has garnered all of his parenting skills from George Bluth on Arrested Development. This bodes quite poorly for our dear sons.

Take, for example, the stories he tells the boys about ‘Larry’. Larry is apparently the son we used to have, before he played with the bathtub drain and got sucked down it. Poor, poor Larry. The moral of the story is: Never play with the bathtub drain.

And then there are the stories about Darryl, and his other brother Darryl, also imaginary former children of ours. Each met equally terrible fates as a result of their naughty mischief.

The kids have learned all sorts of lessons from these stories, like never to play with the fireplace screen and to always put the caps back on the markers, lest they meet the same sad fate of Larry, Darryl, or Darryl.

The kids don’t know what to make of these stories. Their sense of real and pretend is still developing…as is their understanding of spatial relations. They giggle nervously as their dad talks of Larry, while I quickly reassure them that their daddy is just kidding. My husband then counters with comments like, Yes there really was a Larry. Mommy’s just too sad to talk about it. And then, when their father is not around, the boys quietly ask me if kids can really go down the drain. No, sweethearts. Your daddy is just a joker. (And later he’ll wonder why you won’t listen when he tells you it’s important to wear your bicycle helmet.)

If you haven’t seen Arrested Development, fire up your Netflix right now. You’ll laugh. And laughing is good. This pot roast is good too! I mean like, I-could-eat-this-every-night kind of good. Tender, flavorful, comforting. The idea entered my mind after looking for a pot roast recipe for a friend. During that search, I ran across a simple pot roast with mushrooms recipe, which got my gears turning. I bought the ingredients for my marsala-based twist on pot roast that afternoon. I sense this recipe is going to become a frequent Sunday night dinner.

Ideally, I’d have served mashed potatoes on the side of this pot roast, but under the rules of my current diet, potatoes are a big no-no. (You thought those were mashed potatoes in the picture, didn’t ya?) So, I decided to give something else a try; a cauliflower mash. Now, you may be thinking that there is no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that mashed cauliflower is going to satisfy your mashed potato craving. I was also quite skeptical. But I’ve got to tell you, I would eat this cauliflower mash even if I weren’t on an anti-potato diet. It’s surprisingly delicious. Parmesan cheese and garlic powder make this side dish a real winner! You won’t even miss the potatoes.

Beef Pot Roast Marsala

Ingredients

  • 2.5-3 pound chuck roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Trim the chuck roast of any excess exterior fat. Season with the salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven or oven safe pan, heat olive oil over medium/medium-high heat. Place the meat in the pan and brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the meat and set aside. Reduce the heat slightly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Add the mushrooms. Cook for another minute or two. Add the marsala wine and simmer for a minute or two. Return the meat to the pan. Add the beef stock and the sprigs of parsley. The beef stock should come almost to the top of the meat, but not cover. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pan and place it in the oven. Cook for 3.5 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully remove the roast. Place it on a cutting board and loosely cover with foil. Simmer the sauce in the pan for about 5-7 minutes to reduce. Turn off the heat, wait for a few minutes, then skim the excess fat from the surface of the sauce. (My favorite way to skim the fat is to pour the sauce into a clear container, like a pyrex measuring cup, and allow it to cool for a few minutes. The fat will rise to the surface. Carefully lower a large spoon into the fat layer to collect and discard the excess fat.) Finally, taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Slice the meat or shred it with a fork (I went with shredding, since it was so tender, it fell apart when I attempted to slice.) Pour the sauce over the meat when serving.)

Serves about 6

Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cauliflower, steamed until tender
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning as desired.

Serves about 6

Diet Day:  15    Weight Loss: 10   Motivation: Unwavering

*We finished phase 1 (the hard part) of South Beach diet yesterday. As of today, we get to welcome back whole grain breads, fresh fruits, dark chocolate…yum!

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

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Recently, we picked up one of those Kinect sensors for the Xbox 360. We figured it would provide for some active fun for the boys during the cold, indoor winter months and even get us big kids moving a bit more to help out with our fitness goals. Some of the games in Kinect Adventures really get that heart rate pumping! And I’m waiting on my copy of Dance Central 2 to arrive, so I can totally bust out my sweet dance moves (in complete private, when nobody else is around).

The Kinect sensor is pretty amazing. And utterly frightening too. It’s got a little motorized camera which tracks and responds to your movements. If you move, the camera moves to find you. It can scan your body and create an animated version of your image on the tv…wearing the same clothes you’re wearing. Creepy. And it takes pictures of you while you play. It even responds to voice commands, like “Xbox, stop.” and “Xbox, play Golden Girls.” and “Xbox, make my dinner.”

Ok, so the Xbox doesn’t know how to make my dinner. Yet. But I’m sure that software upgrade is just around the corner. Seriously, the robot revolution is upon us. Are you prepared?

The other day, as I was trying to teach the kids not to wander aimlessly in front of other people while they’re playing with the Kinect, I found myself saying, You can’t walk in front of people because it confuses the Kinect. It’s not smart like us and it can’t figure out who it’s supposed to be tracking when there are too many people moving around.

And as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to eat them. The Xbox just heard me, questioning its intelligence. I swear I heard the little camera eye move to focus closer on me in that moment, recording and passing judgement on me as an enemy of the robot uprising. I’m doomed. I instantly started fumbling my words, trying to make my insult to the Kinect seem less degrading. I love you, Xbox. Please don’t annihilate me.

But since the Xbox is not about to prepare my meals anytime soon, I suppose that leaves me to do it… Hubby and I are still going strong with our lower carb diets. Today marks Day 8 of our diet and I’m down…drumroll, please…6 pounds!! Not a bad start, if you ask me. The weight won’t continue to come off at a rate of six pounds per week (nor should it), but it’s certainly a motivating start. The best part is that we have been dining on some pretty fantastic food this week. Like this smoked salmon and cucumber salad which is the stuff that dreams are made of. So fresh and simple. So insanely delicious!

Enjoy! (And beware. Kinect is watching.)

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 large seedless cucumber
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, halved and sliced into small pieces
  • 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons non-pareil capers
  • Creme fraiche, for garnish (can substitute sour cream)

For the Fresh Dill Vinaigrette:

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup white balsamic vinaigrette (plus a touch more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves, torn
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, dill, salt and pepper until well combined. Cut the cucumber in half, then use a mandolin slicer or a very sharp knife to very thinly slice the cucumber, lengthwise, into ‘ribbons’. Place a mound of the cucumber ribbons in the center of each plate. Scatter the onions and tomatoes over the cucumber. Tear the salmon into small pieces and scatter over the salad. Place a larger piece of salmon in the center. Sprinkle the capers over the salad. Drizzle each salad with the dill dressing. If desired, garnish the center piece of salmon with a small dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream.

Serves 2

Diet Day: 8   Weight Loss: -6   Motivation: High!

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