Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Slow Cooker Pot Roast Bolognese & A Red Gold GIVEAWAY

I'm not sure about where you are, but here in Chicago fall has arrived-- and quickly. It seems that as soon as Labor Day weekend was over, the crisp cool air rolled in and it hasn't left yet. So, perhaps fall is here to stay? I can't say that I would hate it. I love fall (as you probably know if you're a regular A Squared reader) and especially love cooking at this time of year. It's the perfect time to transition out of salads and grilling to heartier comfort foods. So, I'm pulling my slow cooker out for today's dinner recipe: A hearty and flavorful slow cooker beef pot roast, prepared Bolognese-style.

A slow cooker is a wonderful kitchen tool. It's the perfect way to create slow roasted flavor with very little work. So since fall is upon us and busy evenings when your kids come home from school, I'm partnering with Red Gold Tomatoes to share a cozy low maintenance meal that can be prepped in your slow cooker in the morning and ready at dinnertime. This dish is a combination of two classic comfort foods: a slow cooked beef pot roast and hearty flavorful Italian Bolognese sauce. Normally you'll see a Bolognese sauce chock full of ground meat and chunky veggies. In this case a fork tender roast simmers in a meatless Bolognese sauce of Red Gold tomatoes, herbs, and diced fresh vegetables all day. I'm a little picky about ground meat, so after tasting this dish I have decided that I prefer it to a traditional Bolognese sauce!

And to help you get into fall slow cooking mode, Red Gold is offering an awesome giveaway for A Squared readers today! Use the Rafflecopter widget below (and be patient-- sometimes it takes a few seconds to load) to enter to win a Red Gold gift pack including a selection of Red Gold tomato products, wooden spoon, and apron! And for even more Red Gold goodies, head on over to their Facebook page where they will be giving away 2 Crock Pots a day for the next 3 weeks. Awesome!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Bolognese


  • 1 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 1.5-2 lb. beef roast, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 baby bella or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can Red Gold diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can Red Gold crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dry basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dry oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs (or 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season roast with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Sear until brown on all sides-- about 2 -3 minutes per side. Transfer the pot roast into the base of a slow cooker. Note: If you have a multi-functional slow cooker and can sear the pot roast in it and omit the use of the skillet.

Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and mushrooms to the slow cooker.

Combine both cans of tomatoes, wine, broth, pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the roast and vegetables. Add bay leaves, cover, and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

In a small bowl, combine milk and breadcrumbs. Stir into the slow cooker mixture and cook on high for 1 additional hour (covered or uncovered) until sauce reaches desired thickness.

Serve with pasta, noodles, potatoes, or polenta.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Tastemaker Top 10 with Peter of Feed Your Soul Too

The Tastemaker Top 10 is a collection of 10 questions asked by me and answered by some of my favorite bloggers. Here they will tell you a little bit about themselves, their blogs, and of course, their favorite foods and restaurants. Today we are talking to Peter Block, blogger behind Feed Your Soul Too. Like me, Peter is a fellow food lover working in real estate by day and cooking away and blogging by night. Take some time to meet Peter today!

Name: Peter Block

Blog: Feed Your Soul Too

Location: Deerfield, IL

Now, tell us about your...

1. Favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
Hard one but gotta say Cajun. Love a good gumbo.

2. Least favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
Anything with nuts. My dad is allergic and I have a huge mental block to anything with nuts.

3. Favorite restaurant in your city: If I am limited to Deerifeld, then I would have to say Bobby’s

4. Favorite restaurant outside of your city:
 Lockover’s in Boston – recently closed; Corky’s in Nashville.
5. Favorite food memory: Eating BBQ through Nashville and Memphis on a family trip

6. Favorite guilty pleasure food: Anything chocolate.
7. Favorite ingredient (something you love to cook with, or something you see on a menu and know you have to order): Smoked Paprika.

8. Favorite kitchen tool, utensil, product, etc.: My Kitchen Aid mix master.

9. Favorite recipe: Love to smoke food with my smoker. These are Smoked Beef Ribs:

10. Favorite thing about blogging: The people I touch or said better, the people that I get touched by. The reach is so broad, so amazing. This past week, one of my mom’s oldest friends somehow found my blog. Have not probably talked to this person in 30 years. Pretty cool.

11. BONUS! Five favorite blogs/blogs that A Squared readers should know about:
Desserts Required; Creole Contessa; Turmeric N Spice; An Affair From The Heart and Aunt Bee’s Recipes

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Peter!

Do you have a blogger that you'd recommend to be featured on the Tastemaker Top 10? Or are you a blogger that would like to participate? Email me at and let me know!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Tropical Breakfast Smoothie

I don't post too many breakfast recipes here on A Squared because my typical breakfast routine is a little boring. I love a hot bowl of oatmeal or a cold bowl of granola or Kashi with fresh fruit and that's usually my 'go to.' Occasionally though-- and especially at the end of the week when I have a lot of ripe leftover produce-- I like to make a big breakfast smoothies.

Smoothies often get a bad rap for being unhealthy food disguised as healthy, which can be true if you're hitting up one of those chain smoothie bars. I totally believe that if you make one at home and you know what's going into it, a smoothie can be a nutrient-packed breakfast. This tropical breakfast smoothie is the perfect example.

Fresh fruit and superfood kale are blended up with pulpy coconut water (which is super hydrating and full of potassium) and an almond/coconut milk blend make for a power-packed smoothie. The combination of fresh pineapple and coconut milk and water give this smoothie a distinctly tropical flavor. The frozen banana helps to add sweetness and to thicken up the smoothie.

For this smoothie, I used Amy & Brian's Coconut Juice, a 100% natural coconut water from young Thai coconuts. A pulp-free version is also available, but I love the flavor and texture of a little coconut meat in this smoothie!

  • 1 frozen banana, broken into smaller chunks
  • 1/4 cup kale, chopped
  • 4-6 strawberries, leaves removed and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup Amy & Brian's Coconut Juice with Pulp
  • 1/4 cup almond/coconut milk blend*Vanilla or unsweetened will work

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.*

*Note that if you chill and drink later, the smoothie will taste fine but the greens may turn it a slightly less appealing color.

Editor's Note: Complimentary samples of Amy & Brian's Coconut Juice were provided to me to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sweet Corn, Tomato & Roasted Pepper Salad

This sweet and savory salad is delicious on its own or as a side dish and it incorporates some of the best of fresh summer flavors.

I can't believe it's Friday already. This week was a long one beginning with a few very early mornings last weekend, a migraine headache sick day in the middle of the week, and a ton of travel looming for the upcoming week... I'm looking forward to a little R&R this weekend. And why the 5 AM wake up calls last weekend? Because Alex and I drove to Michigan to pick out a puppy!! We are over the moon to finally be adding a furry member to our little family. We won't be bringing him home for a month, which will probably be one of the longest months ever. If you want to see how adorable he is or if you want to keep up with him (and me) in general, be sure to follow me on Instagram for all the latest!

Friday also means it's the last day of Salad Week here on A Squared. And we're ending the week on a sweeter note. I love this fresh corn, tomato & roasted pepper salad. This salad is as flavorful as it is colorful and to me, it just says 'summer.' This salad is filled with sweet corn, tomatoes, and peppers, which get a savory bite from the addition of red onion and fresh basil. I kept the dressing super simple here as I wanted the flavors of the veggies to really shine. So, a little white wine vinegar and a drizzle of olive is all you need.

This salad was delicious as a side dish for grilled pesto chicken breasts. I loved having the flavor of basil in both dishes, but highlighted so differently in each. I took the leftovers for lunch the following day and I have to say that the salad flavor was even a little better after sitting in the refrigerator overnight.

Regardless of how you choose to enjoy it, this salad is the perfect dish for celebrating the end of summer!


  • 3 ears of sweet corn, shucked and fibers removed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted sweet bell peppers (orange, red, and/or yellow), chopped *If you're not familiar with roasting peppers, you can reference these instructions.
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for preparing corn
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat broiler to high. Brush corn lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet. Place corn under the broil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until corn begins to burn and slightly blister.  Remove from heat and let corn cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob and place in a large bowl.

To the bowl, add tomatoes, chopped peppers, onion, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil, add vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine and serve chilled or at room temperature.

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