Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roasted Vegetables with Couscous

These vegetables are soon to become world famous, I swear. When I take them to work (yes, I have an actual 8-5, Monday thru Friday job) & someone sees me eating them they say "is that your famous vegetables?" I say groaning "yes", cover my food & quickly turn the other way, I don't like an audience when I eat at work, plus I'm stingy with my food & don't like to share.

My mother requests them every time I cook for her. My boyfriend gets very excited when he finds out I'm cooking them so I make sure to fix enough so he (we) can have leftovers. But he rarely if ever eats them for leftovers.

That's a whole 'nother talk-show, the boyfriend vs. the leftovers.

Here I have mixed the vegetables with couscous. For those of you who aren't sure what couscous is, it's actually a pasta, some think it's a grain but it's not. It's a finely ground semolina pasta. You see it more in Indian & Middle Eastern dishes. I love the stuff & do not eat it that often because the boyfriend doesn't care for it either. He's a sweet guy though, he'll eat couscous when I fix it but certainly not more than the one time & I love him for that.

Enough about him, why am I talking about his food quirks, although I love his food quirks. But this is not about him, it's about the food. So on to the food. 

The vegetables of choice are zucchini, white mushrooms, yellow squash, red bell pepper & red (I call it purple) onion. This is great in the summer because all of these vegetables are super fresh, but it's just as easy to find them any other time of the year too.

And don't you love my artsy vegetable picture? I do, I was experimenting with the light, whatcha think?

You'll chop all the vegetables, except the mushrooms. Be sure to chop them all as close to the same size as you can. This will help them cook evenly so things like you're peppers getting done before your zucchini will not happen.

You're going to be using my house seasoning on this, like we did with the baked fish. So you're gonna need your seasoned salt, black pepper, italian seasoning & garlic powder. No table salt is in this as the amount of seasoned salt you use is sufficient.

Aren't the colors beautiful, that's the other reason I love this recipe so much, it's just plain purdy, that's pretty for all you non-southern/country folks. I don't really say it that way either, not that there's anything wrong with it if you did. Just sayin'.

I digress.

Sprinkle all of the seasonings on the vegetables with some olive oil & mix them up really well. I use the same pan that I will be cooking in to mix, that way the oil will grease the pan for you a little bit. Feel free to use some non-stick cooking spray though if you don't trust your pan. Also, be sure they are as close to being in a single layer as you can get them. You can use a broiling pan too if you like. Using the broiler pan just helps them to get a little more crisp.

Next roast them in a 450 degree oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, give or take.

They will come out looking like this. Delicious, nutritious & beautiful. Now you can stop here if you like & just have the vegetables, we do that most often, again because the BF doesn't care so much for couscous. Or you can continue for an extra special treat...

While you're vegetables are roasting you may prepare the couscous.

This is the brand I prefer & it's the most readily available. I usually use the pine nut flavored couscous, it has a lovely nutty flavor & just mixes well with the vegetables. But as you can see this time I used Garlic & Olive Oil because they did not have my beloved pine nut at my local grocer.

Big sigh, sad face, I miss the pine nut.

So just follow the directions on the back of the box, it's really simple, 5-10 minutes & you've got couscous. I do use chicken broth instead of water though & I usually 86 the oil too.

Now toss the vegetables & couscous together & there you have it. How simple is that?!?

Note: I used just less than half of the vegetables to mix with the couscous. I like to keep the amount of each equal. I just kept adding spoonfuls until I reached my desired amount. You may use all or less of the vegetables, whatever you choose is perfectly fine.


Roasted Vegetables with Couscous
2 yellow squash
2 small zucchini
1 large red onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 large container fresh white mushrooms
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 box of flavored couscous

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a baking pan (I used a 9x13) with non-stick cooking spray. Chop the squash, zucchini, pepper & onion being sure to make them a fairly substantial size, a chunk if you will, and of equal size. Place vegetables in baking pan. Sprinkle with the season salt, pepper, italian seasoning, garlic & oil. Toss well but be gentle as the mushrooms may break easily. Spread vegetables in a single layer. Place in middle rack of oven & roast for 30-40 mins.

Prepare couscous according to package directions using chicken broth in place of water & omitting the oil.

Once vegetables & couscous are done, mix chosen amount of vegetables with the couscous & serve.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Garlic Sesame Green Beans

This recipe is a true, "all me" creation that came about out of necessity for variety. You see, I follow an eating plan that is low carb...except on weekends sometimes & when I get lazy, but most of the time I try to follow it. Eating low carb requires you to be creative with your food, because you can be limited as to what you can eat. I love green beans, but plain ole green beans can get boring. The creative juices started flowing as they often do & I came up with this. It's simple, see for yourself.

And the ingredients are...

Frozen whole green beans, sesame oil (one of my many favorites), soy sauce & minced garlic. Yep, that's it & it's gets easier...

On a side note: Sesame oil is fantastic & it smells great when you cook with it. Just be sure not to do what I do, get carried away with how great it smells & taste & end up making your green beans to oily.

The frozen green beans are steamers & can be thrown in the microwave following the directions, but only for about half the time it calls for. In this case I steamed them for about 4 minutes.

Whiles the beans are steaming, heat your pan. You'll use a skillet or frying pan or whatever you prefer to call it, cooking over medium heat. Add about 1 Tablespoon of the sesame oil, heat for about a minute. This is my first action shot by the way, I know, it didn't turn out great, got some work to do in that area. I promise it will be better next time.

Then add about a teaspoon of the minced garlic & cook for no more than 2 minutes or so.

The oil will be fairly hot & cooking the garlic too long will cause it to burn & take away the flavor.

Toss in the beans & stir. Personally I like to use tongs for, it just makes it easier. Keep tossing the beans around for a minute or two, then add the soy sauce. Keep tossing the beans around until most of the soy sauce seems to be absorbed. At this point you can add a little more sesame oil & garlic if you like it garlicy. I add a little more sesame oil, again because I love it so.

Also feel free to add a little regular salt if you're not a big fan of soy & some black pepper. Whatever your taste buds are calling for.

You'll want the beans to still have a little bit of a crunch to them, not be mushy & not lose their vibrant color. This will not require alot of time so after about 8 minutes or so you are done.

You end up with tasty green beans that will compliment anything.

Bon appetite!

Garlic Sesame Green Beans

1 pkg steamer pack frozen whole green beans
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp soy sauce

Prepare green beans according to package directions but only cooking about half of the specified time. Warm a pan over medium heat, add the oil & heat for about 1 minute. Add the garlic & heat 1-2 minutes. Toss in the green beans cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, tossing well & cooking for another 3-4 minutes or until green beans have reached desired tenderness & soy sauce has been absorbed. These beans are great when they still have some vibrant color & a little crunch.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Roast Beef In It's Own Gravy

This recipe is one that I grew up with, it's my Mother's recipe. I never really knew roast could be fixed any other way nor did I think it would be as good if it was. To me this was the best. (Apologies to all those whose roast I hate that wasn't fixed like this, I know yours was delicious as well, just in a different way).

Every time I fix this, until now, I have to call my mother to check the type of roast that's the tastiest & to find out about how long it should cook, other than that it is a snap to prepare. Actually those parts aren't hard either, I just can't always quite remember the answers to those questions. I did use a different type of roast once & it wasn't near as good, so I encourage you to take my advice on this, use a chuck roast.

At this point I feel it's my duty to inform you that I did add my own little touch to this one & this is where the southern portion of this whole blog thing I'm doing comes in. With that introduction I shall present to you...drum roll please...bacon grease. (Insert dramatic music here) Yes, I said bacon grease. Call yourself fortunate that I'm NOT including a picture of the small jelly jar of cold bacon grease I keep in my fridge. I thought I would spare you that...this time.

I know this sounds gross but you shouldn't be afraid, just trust me when I tell you bacon grease is the best seasoning, next to seasoned salt, for almost anything. It adds a ton of flavor. It's what makes southern food, southern. It puts the soul in soul food & it puts the calories in all of the above, but you must try it. Run out now, fry a ton of bacon & save the grease. Use it in this recipe or on any vegetables you are cooking on the stove or any meats you need to sear or eggs you need to fry. I challenge you to tell me it's not fantastic.

Now with that said let's get on with it, shall we?

The cast of characters is...

Per Mother you will use a 2-3lb chuck roast. As mentioned earlier, this part is very important, so pay close attention. The chuck roast is the most tender & will fall apart when it's cooked, no knife needed. It is well marbled which lends to the tenderness. You certainly can use any roast you like, but don't call me when it's not completely falling apart & melting in your mouth. You will also use minced garlic, seasoned salt, black pepper, bacon grease (not shown), cream of celery soup & golden mushroom soup. Campbell's is the only brand that sells the golden mushroom soup, as far as I know.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees & pull out a baking dish, I used a 9x13. You'll also need a skillet big enough for the roast. Drop about a teaspoon or so of bacon grease in the skillet over high heat. Keep an eye on it so you don't burn it. If it's getting too hot too quick, just pull the skillet off the stove for a minute.

Now you will rinse the roast off with water. I don't know why, my grandfather was a butcher & he told us too, so that's what we do. Pat it dry & begin your seasoning.

Excuse my oh so delicate hands being in this picture, I was trying to demonstrate. Rub her down with the seasoned salt, pepper & garlic.

Be sure to season all sides of the roast, head to toe, front to back. 

Now flop her down in the hot skillet. She's gonna be heavy so you may need to use the tongs or a heavy duty spatula.

Why am I calling the roast a she?

Let that sear for about 2-3 minutes. Until it looks like this-

Then flip it over & sear for another 2-3 minutes on the other side.

Searing helps seal in the juices & ensures you get that nice caramelized crust on it, plus it just adds alot of flavor. Especially with the bacon grease. Challenge me...remember!

Now while that finishes searing grab your cans of soup & a small mixing bowl.

Pour both soups in the bowl & mix them together really good.

You're probably needing to pull that skillet off the stove about now so do that.

Grab your baking dish for the roast.

Spread a couple of tablespoons of the soup mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. There's that oh so delicate hand again, be prepared, you're gonna see it alot.

Now place the roast in the dish on top of the soup. See how nice & brown that gets after a good sear in bacon grease. Amazing!

Take the soup mixture & pour over the top of the roast.

Be sure to cover the entire thing, the whole head to toe, front to back thing again.

Cover with foil & put her in the oven & do not pay attention to how dirty my oven is or the oh so delicate hand, again, or the fact that I'm still calling the roast a she.

This will bake about 2 1/2-3 hours, probably closer to 3. Just be sure to use your meat thermometer to check he internal temperature which should reach 170 degrees.

Use this time to rest from all the hard work you've done preparing this wonderful meal & to get "all the fixins" ready.

Once it's done pull it out of the oven, leave it covered & let it rest for about 8-10 mins.

Letting meat rest helps to redistribute the juices & helps prevent it from becoming dry. The rule of thumb is at least 10 minutes but due to the way we've prepared this with the gravy, a little less time will do.

Isn't she beautiful, swimming in all that gravy goodness. The juice from the roast cooks out & mixes with the soup to make an absolutely delicious gravy. The meat will be tender & juicy & will truly fall apart with the touch of a fork. Well, maybe not quite that tender, but it'll be close.

Mother usually served this with rice, it's a great compliment to the gravy. But by special request of my boyfriend, who we will affectionately refer to as The Hunk, I fixed mashed potatoes. They were almost as good as the rice, but that's personal preference. Since this recipe brings me back home a little bit, rice would be my first choice simply due to the nostalgia of the whole thing.

That's it, hope you enjoy & as always, I would love to hear from you!

Roast Beef In It's Own Gravy
  • 1 2-3lb Chuck Roast
  • 1/8 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp bacon grease (may be substituted with vegetable or canola oil)
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can golden mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place bacon grease in skillet over high heat.

Rub roast on all sides with garlic, salt & pepper. Place roast in skillet to sear, 2-3 minutes. Flip roast over & sear another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, combine soups. Spread about 2 Tbsp of soup mixture in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, (a smaller baking dish is fine too).  Place roast in baking dish. Pour remaining soup mixture over roast. Cover & bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove from oven & let rest for 8-10 minutes. Roast should be fork tender. Uncover & serve.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Simple Baked Fish with House Seasoning

My first post!!! Are you as excited as I am...don't answer that!

Okay, so first let me say that in my introductory post I never promised that the "southern" part of my cooking & the "twist" part of my cooking would ever collide in one post. I just promised that they each would be there at some point in time. I also never promised that either or both would always make an appearance. So when you read through this recipe please keep those things in mind.

What I did say is that I would share my original recipes with you.

Don't get excited, it's not as big of a secret as the Colonel's Original Recipe, not anymore anyway. Not to mention, I don't fry alot of things, if anything. So, there you go.

I digress.

Back to the food.

Okay, the seasoning I use has become a staple in my house. It goes on fish, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, you name it, it's great on it. So I strongly suggest you try it on something besides fish, you'll love it, I promise. Here goes...

The line up:

You'll be using non-stick spray, Lawry's seasoned salt (I really do not know how anyone cooks without the stuff, it's wonderful), italian seasoning, lemon pepper, regular salt & black pepper, butter & your fish.

I use the individually frozen fillets of tilapia. You can find them in any grocery store, the brands vary, but the fish taste the same. It's tilapia, everyone loves it, even non-fish eating people. It really is the perfect fish & my house seasoning just adds to it's perfection, or so I think. In this particular recipe I used 2 fillets because that's all we had left in the freezer. You can use any fish you like as well, I'm not going to chase you down & interrogate you if you choose to use something else.


Liberally spray a baking dish, I prefer glass, with non-stick spray. Place the fish in the baking dish & begin to season.

Here's where it gets tricky for me. I have always eye-balled my seasoning & because I used a smaller amount of fish this time the amount of seasoning was obviously reduced as well. So please keep that in mind when you prepare this. Feel free to put as little or as much of each seasoning element as you would like too. Remember you are working with two different salts & two different peppers, so be cautious or liberal with the distribution, whatever floats your boat. Be sure to season both sides of the fillet. Once you've done that you'll spray each fillet with the non-stick cooking spray. Trust me on this, it helps give it just a little crispness. I also prefer to bake the fish skin side up which with tilapia is the pink side, these fillets don't actually have skin on them, I was trying to make it easy to follow. Anyway. Then top each fillet with a small pat or two of butter depending on how rich you think you might like it. You can 86 the butter too if you're trying to cut back on that sort of thing.

You'll bake this for about 15 mins at 375 degrees.

When you remove it from the oven it should look something like this.

TA-DA! The rich butter helps all the spices melt together & into the fish & it is delicious. Like I said before even non-fish eaters have raved about this fish.

So good luck & feel free to ask any questions.

Your feedback is much appreciated, as long as it doesn't hurt my feelings too much.

Simple Baked Fish with House Seasoning
  • 2 - 4oz. tilapia fillets (if using frozen, thaw first for best results)
  • 1/4 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt (Lawry's is my preference, your own preference is perfectly fine)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp of Lemon Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp salt, approx
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, approx
  • 2-3 small pats of butter  
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a baking dish, preferably glass, with non-stick cooking spray. Place fillets in dish. Sprinkle with seasoned salt, lemon pepper, italian seasoning, salt & pepper. Spray the top of each fillet with the non-stick spray. Place a pat of butter on each fillet. Put dish in oven.

Bake for about 15 mins or until desired doneness.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Just the beginning...

Hi there! Thank you for visiting & welcome to Gone With the Whisk. My name is Lesley, I'm from the south & embrace that in every way I can. I love to cook & this blog will be the story of my cooking adventures. The name of my blog comes from my style of cooking, which is southern (surprise, surprise) with a twist, & I don't bake much...yet. You'll find out more about the twist part & maybe the southern part & the part about me not baking much as you follow.

Like most folks that do this type of thing, cooking is one of my passions. I am self-taught through much trial & error & want to share that with the world! I know that sounds quite dramatic, but it's true. I started cooking on my own about 16 years ago & through the years I have watched my family members & friends, collected cookbooks (which I read as if it's a novel. if you don't believe me, ask my mother she does it too), watched many a cooking show & absorbed everything I possibly could to help me learn what I have. I'm certainly no expert & still have alot to learn but I'm here to share what I know with you & learn from you as well.

I follow several other blogs & one day the light went off & I thought "I can do that". So here I am. Here to share my Les'd-up recipes with you. Les'd-up is a term you may hear often. My boyfriend calls my food Les'd-up because I never can follow a recipe exactly. I always have to do something to make it my own, but I'm proud of that, it doesn't get me many complaints & in fact I get quite a bit of praise for my food. Not to mention, it has led me to this blog & I'm very excited to see where this goes.

Okay, enough about me, let's get to the food. You will soon see my first post. So stay tuned, there's lots more to come, this is just the beginning!