Another week down and as I go through my Happiness Journal (one that I received as a free gift thanks to Manduka), from what I would typically describe as a boring week was actually full of fun and activity. Writing down your schedule, things you look forward to, good things that have happened, and things you are grateful for each day are a great way to keep track of the positive so you don’t get lost in all the negative. As I reflect, one of the best things that happened this week was volunteering with a local DC charity called Martha’s Table with a couple of my yoga teacher peers. We went and baked nearly 150 peanut butter oatmeal muffins to be handed out with dinner for the homeless.

Muffins

Seva is the Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service”. As part of our yoga teacher training, we are required to complete a minimum of two hours of seva. Often times, we as a society get so caught up with our desire for outcomes that we perform actions solely for the sake of the outcome. Working ourselves into the ground for a promotion just so we can have a job title or pretending to be something we aren’t for more Facebook likes. Does the end truly justify the means? Sometimes it is rewarding to take a break from expecting a certain outcome and just do something because it feels right – doesn’t necessarily have to be volunteering, but do something that makes you feel right. The upside to volunteering though is that you put action behind your words or beliefs and make your community better in your own way. Don’t like something? Work to change it. Just posting constant status on Facebook really isn’t going to generate much change, but actions can.

And more!

So..yeah…back to food. Hahaha. Since we celebrated President’s Day this week, I wanted to make something from Back to Basics that was unmistakably American.  Ina’s Pot Roast and Baked Potato sealed the deal. Nothing screams “AMERICA” more than meat and potatoes and leave it to Ina to bump up the flavor on both. OF COURSE, I made changes. Has anyone paid attention to meat prices? Some beef roast at Trader Joe’s is like $14 PER POUND, and Ina’s over here wanting me to get like 5 pounds. Nah, I’m good. No wonder people become vegetarians. I stuck with about 1 pound on this and it did make quite a bit. I recommend scaling back the meat because the vegetables and sauce help fill out the recipe and it cooks in less time. 😀

This thing was like $13 and it was hardly a pound -_-

The recipe calls for leeks which I know can be difficult to find, so if you can’t find them, you can easily just use onions because that is exactly what they are. Think of them a giant spring onions, just make sure you cut them in half and wash them out in the center really well as dirt can get trapped in there. Also, you’ll want to remove the really dark green leaves. They are tough and not very flavorful, if you can find ones like I did that are already trimmed, even better because that work is done for you!

Leeks aka GINORMOUS spring onions

For the sauce, I used Winc’s Altre Mon – a red wine from Spain. It’s very rich and has a lot of soft berry flavors. It kind of reminds me of a Merlot to give you some perspective. I learned in a recent wine tasting at a local wine shop that Spanish wines make for great value right now. I started paying some attention to it in the stores and most wines from Spain are sold cheaply. I’m not sure whether it has to do with import/export laws or possibly that Spain doesn’t carry the same mystique when it comes to wine like Italy or France, but hey, I’ll take it. I actually enjoyed drinking it after about 20 minutes of letting it aerate in my glass so it was perfect for sipping while the pot roast cooked away. If you’ve never tried using red wine to braise meat in, you are seriously missing out. It adds a great depth of flavor when combined with beef/chicken/veggie stock. You don’t really know that it is in there, but the sauce just tastes more savory (make sure to stay away from sweet wines otherwise the sauce will turn out sweet – ew).

To go along side the pot roast, a simple baked potato worked out very well. Ina whipped up a mixture of yogurt and sour cream to top hers, but I simplified it and it tastes just as good. Plain yogurt, salt, pepper, garlic, and chive is all you need to make a delish (and relatively healthy) topping for your potato…add butter if you want.

Well, that’s it for this week folks. Enjoy your weekend and try out that pot roast this weekend as the leftovers are great for lunch during the week 😀 Ciao!

 

For these recipes, I recommend the following items: 

 

Print Recipe
Pot Roast
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 116
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2.5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with salt and pepper. Dredge each side in 1 tablespoon of flour, coating the sides as well. In a large Dutch oven, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side to brown. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add all the veggies including the garlic to the pan and season with some salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until tender. Add about 2tablespoons of flour to the vegetables and cook for a minute. Add the wine and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Place the roast back into the pot and add the beef or chicken stock. Add enough liquid to make sure that the roast is covered completely. Add the thyme and rosemary and bring to a boil. Cover and place in the oven for 2 hours until the meat is fork tender.
  4. Remove the roast to a plate or cutting board. Remove the rosemary stalks and discard. Transfer half of the sauce and vegetables to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. If you’re using a blender, make sure to take the plastic part out of the middle of the lid, otherwise the pressure will cause the lid to pop off and it a literal hot mess. Pour the puree back into the pot and return the sauce to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Slice the meat and serve warm with the sauce and vegetables on the side.
Recipe Notes

Blending half of the sauce helps to thicken it. If you wish to skip this, mash 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of soft butter together and add to the sauce after removing the roast when done. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

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Print Recipe
Baked Potatoes with Yogurt
Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten, Page 166
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the potatoes and place them directly on the oven baking rack. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until very tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, garlic, and chives in a bowl and garnish with chives. Chill.
  4. When the potatoes are done, cut them down the middle to open. Sprinkle with salt and pepper ans serve hot with the cold garlic chive yogurt.
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