Thursday, September 27, 2012

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

Oh how I wish I was posting a Friday Cookie Jar recipe today. Or any other recipe. Unfortunately I will be away from this blog for a little while. My husband, Michael, known to all of you as The Picky Eater, has a broken heart. So today I'm waiting while he has multiple bypass surgery to fix the problem.

Michael is a warm, caring Teddy Bear type of man who isn't afraid to love. He is also my strongest defender against Life's difficulties, and the biggest champion of my dreams. He will stop the car to give $20 to someone digging in a trash can. He thinks of our regular waitresses and bank tellers as friends. And he will wrap his strong arms around me whenever I'm in need of comfort and caring.

He is the love of my life. I thank God every day for bringing him to me, and I pray we will have many more loving years ahead.

See you again soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Leek, Apple and Gruyere Tarts for #SundaySupper

With the arrival of autumn comes an overwhelming craving for apples. I eat them more at this time of year than throughout any of the other seasons, perhaps because now is when they are available fresh from the tree. Whether I’m munching on them or cooking with them, I can’t seem to get enough!

I was thrilled that the #SundaySupper group of bloggers decided to celebrate this seasonal fruit in our quest to get people to gather around the table for a meal once a week. (Or more!) In fact, I’m using today’s post as the beginning of an entire week of apple-themed dishes here on There and Back Again. (See the links to the other posts below.)

Lately I’ve been intrigued by the idea of using apples in savory dishes. I remember Mom making fried apples as a side dish for dinner, and I’ve seen a number of recipes pairing apples with pork and in salads. So I decided to give this one a try.

I developed today’s recipe for a recent newspaper article. I found it on the Williams-Sonoma website. The original called for caramelized onions, but I’ve always liked leeks paired with Gruyere cheese and have made little tarts with both in the past.
The sautéed Granny Smith apples add a delicious depth of flavor to this dish. These tarts would make wonderful and easy holiday hors d’oeuvres, or a great snack while watching a movie or football game. For #SundaySupper, I would serve them with drinks as a starter to the meal.

Leek, Apple and Gruyere Tarts
Adapted from one found on

2 tablespoons canola oil
6 cups thinly sliced leeks, the white and light green parts only
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large Granny Smith apples (or other tart apples), peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 package frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water

To clean the leeks, slice off the root and dark green ends. Thinly slice the white and light green parts, and then place the rings into a large bowl of cold water. Toss in the water to separate the layers of leeks and allow the dirt and sand to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Carefully lift the leeks out of the water and onto a clean dish towel. Roll the leeks up into the towel to dry.

In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and salt, and then saute until the leeks are softened and slightly browned. Scoop the leeks into a large bowl to cool.

In the same skillet, melt the butter. Add the apples and sugar, and saute until the apples start to soften and brown slightly. Add them to the bowl with the leeks and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the Gruyere, thyme and black pepper to the bowl, and stir until combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Spread the puff pastry dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut into 2-inch squares, 32 total. Place the squares onto the baking sheets about 1-inch apart, and then brush with the egg mixture. Spoon a tablespoon-full of the leek-apple mixture onto the center of each square.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Rotate the baking sheets half-way through the baking time. Remove from the oven and allow the tarts to cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature.

Be sure to check out my fellow #SundaySupper bloggers to see what they created with apples. And don’t forget to join us at 7:00 pm ET for our live chat on Twitter. Just use the hashtag #Sundaysupper or Tweetchat. We’d also love to feature your apple recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

Soups, Salads, Starters and Breads
Main Meals



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Make-Your-Own Pizza Night: Guest Post at Family Foodie

I'm thrilled Isabel of the Family Foodie blog asked me to create a guest post on her site. She works hard to promote the #SundaySupper movement, which is a group of bloggers from around the world who are dedicated to bringing families together at the dinner table at least once a week. I'm honored to be a part of the group, and this blog goes right along with the theme.

Make-Your-Own Pizza night is a fun way to get the family involved in the evening meal, be it on a Sunday or any other day of the week. I've loved watching kids make their own pizza creations, and seeing the pride on their faces as their very own pizza comes out of the oven. (Grown-ups have a lot of fun with it, too!)

Be sure to visit Isabel's blog for my pizza recipes, and while you're there, check out her other posts. She makes some yummy stuff! And stay tuned: Tomorrow is another #SundaySupper day. This week we are featuring apple recipes!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vanilla Icebox Cookies in the Friday Cookie Jar

I just couldn’t let it happen!

My Friday pre-K class is learning about the theater today (what is an actor, director, props, off-stage, etc) and they will put what they learn to work by performing Little Red Riding Hood. The student who gets to play Little Red will need treats to take to Grandma’s house (and as snacks for her fellow students.) Last year we had the week’s student chef slice up some pre-packaged, store-bought cookie dough for the treats.

Well, I just couldn’t let that happen again. Not when there’s a delicious recipe like vanilla icebox cookies available. Since the dough needs to be rolled into a log and refrigerated, it’s a homemade slice-and-bake cookie!

What I like best about this cookie is its versatility. It tastes wonderful just as it is, baked into a delicate, crispy cookie full of vanilla flavor. But you can do many things with these tasty treats, such as sprinkling colored sugar over the top before baking, rolling the log in nuts before slicing, or icing the cookies with your favorite frosting recipe after they’ve cooled. It’s also easy to turn them into sandwich cookies with just a dollop of jelly, jam, Nutella, lemon curd…whatever! I liked strawberry jam between two cookies, but orange marmalade also tasted great.

Best of all, this recipe only takes a few minutes to mix-up. Then the log of dough can stay in the refrigerator for a day before baking, or hang out in the freezer for a month or two, ready to take out and bake when you need a fresh batch. (Just let it thaw in the refrigerator before slicing.)

Vanilla Icebox Cookies
Adapted from Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla

(Do not preheat the oven since this dough needs to be refrigerated!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Dump the cookie dough onto a piece of waxed paper and shape into a log about 11-inches long. Wrap the log in the waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until firm.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice the dough into circles just a bit less 1/4-inch thick. Place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. Remove the cookies from the oven and let stand on the baking sheets for 1 or 2 minutes, and then place them on a rack to cool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kid-Friendly Corn Muffins

How do you get a child to eat something new that you are uncertain they will like? Have them make it with you!

I am a firm believer that kids who cook are also kids who like good, wholesome food. Not only do they feel a part of the process and take pride in their creations, but they also learn what’s in the food they eat and where it comes from.

For example, I teach part time at Discovery School Montessori School. Fridays are special because only our Pre-K kids attend. This special class not only helps ensure they are prepared for kindergarten the following year, but is also allows us to introduce them to fun topics like artists, the theater, countries around the world, and cooking.

Last Friday I gave our first cooking lesson of the year: corn muffins. I picked this recipe because the corn harvest is finishing up here in Kansas and many of the kids have seen the large combines going through the dried stalks to pick the corn. (Okay, this picture is actually from my parent’s farm in Missouri, but you get the idea.)

How many of your kids like corn muffins? Or would even try them? I wasn’t sure how they would go over with my group of 4 and 5 year-old students either.

When they came into the classroom and saw me setting up, they were immediately excited at the idea of making their snack for the day. Later in the morning, we gathered around a large table and each of my 13 students took turns scooping, measuring, sifting and stirring the ingredients.

Was their technique perfect? Of course not, but they took their work very seriously and tried very hard to get everything right. My job was to show them how, let them try, and then fix their shortcomings to make sure the muffins would come out good enough to eat.

They did! The kids were excited when I brought them from the oven into the classroom—so excited, in fact, that they interrupted a special guest who had come to read them a story. (Sorry!)

When it came time to eat the muffins, all 13 kids dug in. Only one child stopped eating after a couple of bites, but he had been out sick with a stomach virus the previous few days and said his stomach didn’t feel right. One other child, who ate half of his muffin, told me later he didn’t like it, but he still wanted to take an extra one home for his mom!

All the rest of the class ate their entire muffin! Eleven kids ate a plain corn muffin with only a little butter smeared on the top. Nothing else. And they liked it!

What I like about this recipe is it contains honey for sweetness instead of sugar, and it calls for more cornmeal than flour, giving the muffins a wonderful corn taste. You could also add a few corn kernels to the mix if you want additional flavor.

These muffins would make a great addition to a soup, stew or chili meal. They also taste great for breakfast, warm with butter and honey. (I know from personal experience.)

Cooking with kids is such a rewarding adventure. Go ahead. Give it a try. You may be surprised by what you can get them to eat!

Cornmeal Muffins

Make 12 muffins

3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and honey until frothy. Sift the remaining ingredients over the top of the egg mixture, and then whisk in just until smooth.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, dividing the batter evenly between each space. (The muffin spaces will be pretty full, but don’t worry. The muffins don’t rise too much.)

Bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow the muffins to rest for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, and then remove. Serve warm.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies in the Friday Cookie Jar

I adore these oatmeal cookies! This feeling of devotion has existed throughout my entire life. Not only are these cookies delicious, but they also have a history.

Mom brought this recipe into the family in the mid-1950s. She made the cookies for 4-H, so they are kid-friendly both to make and to eat. They were such a hit the recipe made it into Mamaw’s recipe box, which is how I have my copy.

I grew up making these cookies from the card in Mom’s recipe box. They are unlike any other oatmeal cookies I’ve ever eaten. Instead of flat and chewy or crunchy, they are light and puffy—almost cake-like. Everyone I’ve ever made them for, both kids and adults, has immensely enjoyed them.

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fat. I remember as a kid making the cookies with both shortening and margarine, but today I use butter. It also calls for 1/2 cup of dates or raisins. I’ve never tried the dates, but the raisins are terrific. (I use both regular and golden raisins.) The also taste great without the raisins, and I bet they would be very good with nuts or even chocolate chips.

So grab the nearest kid and give this recipe a try. I bet it becomes a part of your family food history, too.

Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the butter in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Gradually add in the sugar and beat until fluffy.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Mix in the oatmeal and raisins. Set aside.

Measure the milk into a measuring cup. Add the egg to the milk and beat to combine.

Alternately add the flour/oatmeal mixture and the milk/egg mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. (1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 milk mixture, 1/3 flour mix, rest of milk mix, rest of flour mix.)

Spoon out the dough by heaping teaspoons and drop them on the baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to stand for 1 or 2 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Home-Canned Salsa

To be honest, I didn’t make this recipe. I want to! In fact, canning is a technique that has intrigued me ever since I discovered Mamaw’s list of the produce she and a friend canned in 1971: Almost 500 pints of jams, pickles, and vegetables packed nice and neat into glass jars.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment to do any canning, and not a lot of space in my apartment kitchen to store the results. Thank goodness my co-worker, Michele, does! We work together at Discovery Montessori Preschool here in Topeka, and we often share and compare our recipes. She lives on a farm outside of the city and grows most of her own vegetables. She does a lot of canning, plus she helps her children prepare canned goods for 4-H competitions.

Recently Michele brought in a jar of her homemade salsa for me to try. My husband, The Picky Eater, and I enjoy salsa and chips weekly. It is one of our favorite snacks. However, my husband isn’t known as The Picky Eater for nothing. He is very particular about his salsa. It has to be mild and one specific brand.

Michele got this recipe a few years ago from one of her mother’s farm-lifestyle magazines. Her family doesn’t like hot salsas, so she leaves out the jalapenos called for in the recipe. This salsa is a big hit with her husband, son, and daughter. In fact, her daughter won’t eat any other salsa but this one! Michele thinks it’s the home-grown tomatoes that make the difference.

I took the jar of salsa home to try, and I loved it! The flavor is different from others I’ve ever tasted, possibly from the cumin and chili powder.
But would it pass The Picky Eater test?

I told my husband how popular the salsa was with Michele’s family. He still looked a bit leery. I also assured him it wasn’t spicy at all, but he was still timid. Then he saw the look of delight on my face when I tried it and decided to give it a try himself.

The Picky Eater loved it, too! In fact, when Michele gave me another jar so I could take photos for this post, he was very happy to hear we got to keep it after I was done.

I guess I’d better invest in that canning equipment after all.

Michele's Home-Canned Salsa

4 to 5 quarts fresh tomatoes, skin removed and chopped
4 large onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)
2 cups white vinegar
12 ounces tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
6 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon powder alum
1/2 cup pickling salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ground pepper
1/2 cup sugar

In a large kettle, bring all the ingredients to a boil; simmer for 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into hot jars, and then place the lid and rings onto the jars. Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. Makes 12 pint jars.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Juicyburgers: #11 From Mamaw’s Recipe Box

For the past month I’ve enjoyed promoting the importance of #Sunday Supper with a large group of bloggers from around the world. I firmly believe that gathering family and friends around the table for a meal at least once a week can make a huge difference in the relationships of everyone involved…plus a lot of wonderful memories.

I also believe it’s important to gather everyone around the table during the week as well, just as my family did throughout my childhood. However, our busy, busy lives can make sitting down to a weekday supper very difficult. Still, as food writer Robin Mather said in a recent interview, “If you can’t get the kids home so everyone can eat a meal together, then maybe they don’t need those activities. After church, sitting down each night for everyone to eat together should be the priority.”

Here’s a quick and easy weeknight meal from Mamaw’s Recipe Box. Juicyburgers is a recipe she got from my mom in 1969, and I grew up often eating this for supper. In fact, it was one of the first dishes I learned to prepare. Juicyburgers are like Sloppy Joe sandwiches, but with just a little more tang thanks to vinegar and mustard. I loved it as a kid and still enjoy it as an adult. Better still, everyone I’ve ever served this tasty hamburger mixture to enjoyed it as well, including my sweet husband, The Picky Eater!

I bet you have all of the ingredients on hand. I’ve served Juicyburgers on both simple and fancy buns, but I often use bread, just like Mom. Choose whole wheat bread (as I did) and serve it with some fresh veggies or a salad, and you will have a healthy meal for the whole family. (Okay, I added potato chips, too, but what’s a sandwich without chips, right?)


2 pounds hamburger
Onion, to taste (I’ve used minced in the past.)
1 cup ketchup (Or catsup, as Mamaw wrote on her recipe card.)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bread or buns, for serving

In a skillet, brown the hamburger and onions. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until hot. Spoon onto buns or bread to serve.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Orange Meltaways in the Friday Cookie Jar

Since I finished my last Friday 50 Women Game-Changers post a few weeks ago, I’ve missed having a theme to cook and blog about for the end of the week. So I went in search of a new topic. I wanted it to either inspire readers to spend time in the kitchen, preferable with family and friends, or to create a dish to share with said family and friends.

Cookies! These yummy little treats are often the first recipe we make as kids and are a great way to spend family time mixing, rolling, and baking. They are also perfect for sharing. Seriously, who doesn’t feel instantly cheerful when given a bag of homemade sweet morsels? I know the folks who live on the seventh floor of our apartment building are very happy and grateful whenever I leave a plate of my latest creation by the elevator for them to enjoy. And it makes me smile every time I go to retrieve my empty plate, knowing I was able to share a little fun treat with my neighbors.

So each week I will post a recipe for the Friday Cookie Jar. (Okay, in all honesty, I don’t own a cookie jar. My cookies go into a plastic container. But I’ve always wanted to have an actual cookie jar, so now I have an excuse to go find one!)

This week features Orange Meltaways. I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Martha Stewart website. She used limes, but since I was out of them, I used oranges. The flavor is a little like a Creamsicle thanks to the addition of vanilla with the orange. Oh, and yes, these tiny, delicate sweets do melt-a-way in your mouth.

Orange Meltaways
Adapted from a recipe featured in Martha Stewart Living, December/January, 1998-1999.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

(Don’t preheat the oven yet! The dough needs at least an hour in the refrigerator before baking.)

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and 1/3 cup of the confectioners’ sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the zest, juice and vanilla, and mix to combine. Turn the mixer speed to low and add in the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into logs 1 1/4-inch in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the parchment paper from the cookie dough logs and slice each log into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place the rounds approximately 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the sheet into the oven and back until the cookies are slightly golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.

Place the cookies on a wire rack and cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Pour the rest of the confectioners’ sugar into a zippered bag. Place the still-warm cookies into the bag, a few at a time, and shake gently to coat in the sugar. Remove the cookies from the bag and place them back on the wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. (Trust me, they won’t last that long!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mystery Cuisine: Simply Crackers Candy

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about how much I enjoy the cozy mystery genre of books, especially the ones with recipes included. Murder, mayhem, and food! Yes, people die, but it’s never so gruesome as to make me loose my appetite. The heroine is often in peril, but she always saves herself and solves the mystery in the end. And the settings and characters are ones you want to revisit again and again, which is why most cozy mysteries are published as a series.

One of my favorite series is Lorna Barrett’s Booktown Mysteries. Her latest is Murder on the Half Shelf, and I think it is her best one yet. Plus, there is a recipe included I just had to try: Simply Crackers Candy.

Early in the book, the protagonist, Tricia (who owns a mystery bookstore) is in need of some serious comfort sweets after discovering a dead body and a former boyfriend who has returned from the dead. Her sister, Angelica (cookbook author and business mogul) digs around in Tricia’s sparse pantry and finds saltines, brown sugar, chocolate chips and butter, which she turns into candy!

I was immediately intrigued.

I knew I had to give the recipe a try when the story continued: “Angelica poked at the cooling crackers, broke off a piece, and offered it to Tricia. She took a bite and her eyes widened with delight. She chewed and swallowed. ‘Whoa—who knew such innocent ingredients could taste so decadent.’”

This candy is amazing! The crackers provide a little crunch and saltiness, while the caramel created by the butter and brown sugar gives it a little toffee sweetness. Of course, the chocolate spread over the top adds to the taste pleasure. Yum!

I plan to take this batch with me today for the staff meeting at the preschool where I teach part time, if for no other reason than to keep me from eating it all!

This recipe just may be this year’s Christmas candy gifts!

Simply Crackers Candy
Adapted from Murder on the Half Shelf: A Booktown Mystery by Lorna Barrett

35 saltine crackers (about 1 sleeve)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips*
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

*I used semisweet chocolate chips. The original recipe used milk chocolate chips, and even suggested peanut butter chips.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 10- by 15-inch baking sheet with foil. Place the crackers on the baking sheet in one layer. Set aside.

In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 3 minutes.

Pour the bubbling mixture over the crackers, trying to cover all of the crackers. (Be careful! The boiling sugar and butter could cause a nasty burn.) Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 5 minutes. The butter-sugar mixture will bubble and spread as it bakes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set on a heat-proof surface. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top as evenly as possible. Wait 5 minutes, and then with a spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top. Lastly, sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and lightly press the nuts into the chocolate.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Break the candy into pieces to serve. Keep refrigerated.     

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pot Roast and #SundaySupper

The tradition of Sunday Supper will last a lifetime.

I know this from personal experience. Growing up, dinner in general was an important meal. We sat down as a family each night at 6 p.m. Sometimes we talked about the day, at other times it was about politics, sports…whatever. Those meals consisted of simple fare easily prepared after a busy day.

However, Sundays were different. Dinner was around noontime, just after church. Most of the time it was at home with just my parents and sister, but sometimes we enjoyed the meal on the farm with Mamaw and Papaw.
Often the entree was a pot roast with potatoes and carrots that had simmered on the stove while we were at worship. Sometimes Mom would cook macaroni in the rich beef broth as a side dish…one of my favorites! These meals were more elaborate that the weekday version, including dessert!

Since those early Sunday Supper days, the tradition of preparing a special meal to start the week has stayed with me. Even when I was single, I would feel the need to cook something special on Sunday and then freeze the extra to have during the week.

Today Sunday Supper often means going out to dinner with my sister in-law and her husband, along with any of my husband’s siblings, nieces or nephews that want to come along. Sometimes we invite people over for a homemade meal. At other times, dinner is just a special meal for the two of us. The companionship and togetherness are as important as the meal itself.

Center stage throughout a lifetime of Sunday Suppers is still pot roast. It's the meal my husband requests the most and is guaranteed to satisfy the need for food and comfort.

My recipe is based on one I found in Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook. Unlike the ones made by Mom and Mamaw, mine is made in the oven, baked in a low and slow method that results in a tender and flavorful dinner. Not to mention the wonderful aroma that fills the house while it cooks.

Take the time to make Sunday Supper a priority in your home, whether it’s for a group or just yourself. It can offer comfort to start the week and memories that last a lifetime.
(The photo is of my husband, Michael, also known as The Picky Eater, my sister in-law, Lisa, and her husband, Don, at a recent Sunday Supper.)
Pot Roast
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond.

2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt
1 3 to 5-pound chuck roast
2 onions, cut half
6 to 8 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 to 6 potatoes, cut into chunks
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 14.5-ounce can low sodium beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, and then the onion halves. Brown on both sides, and then remove and set aside. Do the same to the celery and carrots, just cooking until slightly caramelized, and then remove and set aside with the carrots.

Pat both sides of the chuck roast dry with paper towels, and then sprinkle with salt. Add more oil to the pan if necessary, and then add the chuck roast. Sear on both sides until brown, about a minute per side. Remove and set aside with the vegetables.

Deglaze the pan with the beef broth, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom. Place the roast back into the pan, and then add the vegetables. The broth should cover the meat halfway. If not, add more stock or water. Add the bay leaves, thyme and black pepper.

Cover the pot and place into the oven. Roast for 3 to 5 hours, until the roast is tender and starting to fall apart. (In my oven, a 3 pound roast takes about 4 hours.) Remove the meat to a cutting board to cut. Then place the roast and the vegetables onto a serving platter. Skim the fat from the broth in the pan. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour with cold water to create a slurry that pours like cream. Pour some of the slurry into the broth and bring to a boil to create gravy. Add more of the slurry to get the desired thickness, but know that the mixture will not reach its full thickness until it comes to a boil.