Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

End of the Day

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It’s 7:40pm and the end of the day here in beautiful Los Gatos CA. I’ve been making homemade pizza and tonight had a hot steaming piece with some fresh arugula and an avocado out on my swing watching my birds. What a nice end to the day…💗💗💗💗💗.

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Shelley’s Rich & Flavorful Chuck Roast

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I made this last week and it was amazing. The taste was rich, and the meat was incredibly tender.  I need to disclose that I used meat that was grass fed in Vermont, so the quality was exquisite. But either way, I’m sure it will still taste wonderful.  This was the full dinner with a simple, deconstructed side salad.

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When I cook, I figure out what I’m going to make, review multiple recipes and then combine the ingredients that I like. I’m not someone who’s exact and will taste as I move along, adding spices as I go.  I always figure that if you’re using good ingredients you can’t go wrong. The recipe below is a guide to use and I know you’ll have great results.  Put on some music, pour a glass of Merlot and let’s get started! (You could get everything ready the night before and power up the slow cooker in the morning)

Ingredients

1 bone-in (5 lbs) or boneless (3-4 lbs) chuck roast

Used to brown the meat

  • 5 teaspoons course salt (My favorite is Maldon)
  • 5 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Ghee clarified butter (You can find at any grocery store. It has a high burn rate so perfect for browning meat.  Ordinary butter can burn)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (grape seed or avocado as examples)
  • ¼ cup chardonnay to deglaze the pan plus another glass for you…

Aioli sauce to coat the meat in the slow cooker (adjust to your taste)

  • 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Bragg apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk, optional
  • 1 package of Knorr classic brown gravy mix (or a packaged gravy mix you like)
  • 2 teaspoon “Better than Bouillon” beef flavor
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken seasoning (I use the chicken vs. the beef because it’s not so strong in flavor but you could use either. Add more if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons of butter (optional to deglaze)

Vegetables

 Stay in the cooker the entire time

  • 1 -2 large shallots sliced
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion sliced

Add ½ way through

  • Carrots sliced in chunks (I used 6 and added one extra)
  • Yukon potatoes slides in chunks (I used around 5)

Cook separately and serve with the meat

  • Mushrooms – I love to mix them, shiitake, portobello, brown button, etc to get a more complex flavor. Slice thin and sauté in Ghee (1 tablespoon) and grape seed or avocado oil (1 tablespoon)
  • Shelley’s world-famous Jalapenos – These are optional but are wonderful with the meat if you like spice. To make these, cut open, cut out the seeds, toss in grape seed oil, add course salt and bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes or until tender. Serve on the side.
  • Chopped up Italian parsley to use as garnish

Side Dishes

  • Egg noodles: Cook the noodles in heavily salted water (this is what flavors the noodles, otherwise they will be bland). To bring the water to a boil more quickly, cover the pot. When you drain do not rinse with water. If you do, you’ll lose the flavor. Toss with some grape seed or avocado oil to keep the noodles from sticking.  Serve immediately.
  • Fresh green salad

Steps – This looks like a lot but it goes fast!

  1.  Brown the Meat
  • Dry the meat before you start. This is really important to get a nice sear.
  • Liberally salt, pepper and flour each side of the meat. I realize I noted # of teaspoons above but I take a few pinches of salt and grinds of pepper for each side. This does note need to be exact.
  • Heat the Ghee and oil in a pan. Add more if needed.
  • Sear the meat on each side for about 4-5 minutes each until golden brown.
  • Use a “splatter cover” to help keep your stove top clean.

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     2.  Layer the Slow Cooker

  • Place the sliced onion and shallot on the bottom of the slow cooker. In the photo below  you’ll see some potatoes under the meat. I learned the hard way and put them in first. They were cooked about 4 hours in and I had to fish them out. Just add the shallots and onions now and wait on the rest of the vegetables.
  • Carefully move the meat from the pan that you used to sear it to the slow cooker.
  • Deglaze the pan you cooked the meat in with the chardonnay and drizzle it over the meat. I use chardonnay vs. red wine because it adds a milder flavor. I also added a little butter. To deglaze a pan simple pour the wine into the pan and take a spatula or wooden spoon and scrape / stir the browned bits from the pan over a moderate-high heat to melt all the cooking residues into the liquid.

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     3.  Create and Add Your Aioli

  • Mix all ingredients together as noted above and blend well using a fork or whisk
  • Evenly spoon the mixture over the meat so it covers the entire surface

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     4.  Cook on low in a slow cooker for 7-8 hours or until the meat breaks apart

  • With about 3 hours to go add the vegetables on top of the meat and cover the cooker.

    5. Tips for serving

  • Before your guests arrive take the meat and vegetables out of the slow cooker.
  • Cut away any fat and the bone and discard.
  • Break the meat into pieces. The meat should be tender so this should be easy to do. If it’s not tender and you’re getting close to serving time then put it back in and kick the heat to high.  That should tenderize the meat faster.
  • Pour the juice that’s in the slow cooker into a separator and separate out the fat. Discard the fat and return the juice to the slow cooker.
  • If you like a thicker gravy, pull 1 cup of the juice out and add 1 tablespoon of corn starch to it and whisk until you remove any lumps. Stir back into the slow cooker and cook on high for 15 minutes or until the juice thickens. Repeat to create a thicker sauce.
  • Put the meat and vegetables in a serving dish and either pour the gravy over everything or serve the gravy on the side.
  • Sprinkle the mushrooms and cut up Italian parsley over the top.
  • Serve with egg noodles

That’s it! Serve with a nice light salad and the drink of your choice. Let me know in the comments section if you try this and if you have any tips.  And of course, what your drink of choice is.  XO and Cheers!!!! Photogirl 

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Vegetarian BACON Lasagna!

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For those of you who know me – you know I LOVE bacon. I’ve been in this relationship since I was a child. It wasn’t one I had to constantly work on.  No, no, no… It seems to always just be there. In my drawer, at the store, on a plate on my desk….So it just made sense one day, bacon would be the perfect 5th food group – in lasagna! And hence it was born… My special Vegetarian Bacon Lasagna.

I hope I’m not posting this too late for those of you trying to decide what to cook for Super Bowl Sunday. As I sit at my desk it’s early morning on that exact day. I’m sure men and women had sleepless nights, tossing and turning, and dreaming the color of the team they are hoping to win. But as you check your email, Facebook, Linked In pages – wrapped under your covers, I hope this will give you the perfect recipe. Imagine sitting in front of the TV with a huge plate of steaming Bacon Lasagna, ice cold beer in your hand, watching your favorite team play. This recipe is packed with fresh vegetables, multiple cheeses and a few surprises, capers being one.

My Vegetarian Bacon Lasagna Recipe

Your shopping list:

  • Package of bacon – cooked so it’s crispy (pre-cooked, microwave ready, or standard is fine)
  • Lasagna noodles – 1 box – I like the kind you don’t have to boil but if you like to boil then go for it
  • Ricotta cheese – larger sized container
  • 2 eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Jar of capers
  • Vegetables: Whatever you like but here are some ideas: These are ones you’ll want to sauté first: Eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, onion, garlic. I also love spinach but don’t cook it first. You’re just going to layer it raw.
  • Pasta sauce: Either make it yourself or get a jar. I like Newman’s tomato basil
  • Can of chicken broth to sauté things in
  • I think that’s it

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How To:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  • First I prep everything, sauté onions, add sliced zucchini, mushrooms and whatever else you think you’d like
  • I slice the eggplant into thin discs and sauté them with a little chicken broth
  • Cook the bacon (I guess you could cook it first and then use the oil to sauté the veggies but that just doesn’t seem quite right)
  • Prepare the Ricotta cheese by adding 2 eggs and mixing it up
  • Once everything is ready, you just layer. I put the pasta sauce on first, then the noodles, then the ricotta cheese, veggies, bacon, other cheeses, a few capers, spinach, a dollop of sour cream.
  • If you use the no boil noodles you need to make sure they are by something moist (pasta sauce or ricotta cheese)
  • The last layer should have pasta sauce and cheese on top.
  • Save out a few pieces of bacon to put on top

Cook!

  • Cover with a sheet of non-stick foil and place the dish on a cookie sheet. I do that so that if it bubbles over, your oven still stays clean
  • Bake at 375 degrees for around 30-45 minutes. It’s hard to say because it depends on how large your baking dish is. It should be bubbling. I also take the foil off when it’s ready and let it cook just a bit longer to brown the top.
  • Let it sit for about 10 minutes to let everything absorb together
  • Put your bacon garnish on
  • Voila! You’re done!
  • Serve with a fabulous red wine or super cold beer!!!  And of course, GO NINERS!!!

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Road Trip to Mendocino: The Marshall Store for BBQ Oysters

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We are driving up Highway 1 to the town of Mendocino! For lunch, I want to show you a fabulous, very casual restaurant that’s right on the water. It’s just over an hour away from San Francisco so an easy day trip if you live in the Bay Area.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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I wanted to thank an incredible blogger – http://laurasconfessions.com/ for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  When I started blogging I had no idea how much I would learn, and the incredibly talented people/writers/photographers I would discover. It has truly changed my life.  I feel very honored Laura, and…the feeling is mutual!

As a blogger, I find I’m sitting with my squinchy, binding my hair up over my head  as I hover over my keyboard (that’s my friend Carla’s vision – not all of us do this but apparently I do :))  I’m guessing a lot of bloggers think about this, but it does feel fun when you write your blog. However, after you tweak, modify, view, preview and then finally hit “publish”, you think (at least I do) is anyone out there???” Mom? Dad? Carla? Here’s what I’ve actually found – there are a lot of people out there. An incredible amount of creativity, inspiration and support. So what I like about this award is that I actually have the opportunity to highlight and nominate other blogs who inspire me.

So here are two things they’d like me to do if I’m nominated. Tell you a little bit about me (as if you need to know more) and tell you about a few of the bloggers that I love, and would nominate for this award.

A little bit about me –

  1. I believe that bacon is the 5th food group
  2. Champagne is the 6th
  3. “Not” jumping out of an airplane and/or hang gliding are on my bucket list
  4. I use extra Downey in my wash so my clothes smell like it
  5. I add too much cream in my coffee and although I’ve tried to change that I just don’t seem to have the will-power
  6. I believe that boots can be worn year-round
  7. I believe time is the greatest gift you can give anyone

Second, the blogs that inspire me and the ones I would nominate –

  1. http://www.myfrenchheaven.com/
  2. http://laurasconfessions.com/
  3. http://uthamz.wordpress.com/
  4. http://midlifedrive.com/
  5. http://arashrecovery.com/
  6. http://tahira007.wordpress.com/
  7. http://gallivance.net/
  8. http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/
  9. http://blog.leannecole.com.au/
  10. http://nicocobell.com/
  11. http://jayjacy.wordpress.com/
  12. http://looneyatoms.com/
  13. http://jordancantelophotography.wordpress.com/
  14. http://maxreynolds.wordpress.com/
  15. http://habitualrunaway.wordpress.com/
  16. I LOVE Canadian Hiking Photography and Patrick Latter’s work but I can only access it through WordPress. Here is the link to his site in case it works for you: www.hikingphoto.com (His work is amazing and he was the first person to follow me 😉

 

There are so many more incredible blogs, these are only a few! Thank you again Laura for this special nomination. xoxox

If you’d like to catch up with me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/photogirltravels.

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Super Bowl Bacon Lasagna…You Know you NEED iT!

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For those of you who know me – you know I LOVE bacon. I’ve been in this relationship since I was a child. It wasn’t one I had to constantly work on.  No, no, no… It seems to always just be there. In my drawer, at the store, on a plate on my desk….So it…

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