Rustic Italian Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

I know, I was just going on and on about grilled steak and not wanting to give up summer.  Then what do I do?  Mix it up with a rich, hearty comfort food that would be perfect for winter.  I can’t explain it, I just goes with what speaks to me as I’m coming up with the weekly menu, then factor in time and schedules.  The beauty of this is that the braised ribs were done in a slow cooker. Believe me, I’m shocked too.  And, I was able to do the major prep work the night before. This is an incredible meal for sitting down with your family, and it would be equally appealing for guests.  I’m already planning my next dinner party!  (PS – Cheesy Polenta to follow in another post)  Update my friends – The short ribs reheated fabulously for lunch!  Polenta, not so much.


2 cups chopped onion
10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I’m sorry, as a working mom. I just don’t have time for this.  I subbed minced garlic [by Spice Island] and no one ran from the table covering their mouths)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional, especially if you have a 6 & 7-year-old that will act as if you are trying to perform some ancient ritualistic punishment)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
4 (10 oz) boneless beef short ribs (definitely go boneless.  The meat is fall off the bone, so the bones, well, just become a problem)
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered fresh basil, to taste


In a medium skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 8-9 hours.  Less time?  5-6 hours on high is just as good.

Transfer short ribs to serving dish and tent with foil.  Strain sauce into fat separator, reserving  tomatoes, and let stand 5 minutes.  Add reserved tomatoes back to empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with a wooden spoon (I used a square face potato masher and it worked just fine!). Stir in defatted sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over short ribs and sprinkle with basil.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon

Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes; Inactive time: 9 hours

Braised Short Ribs

*From America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution

Super Easy Slow Cooker Roast

We’ve all had those weeks (or sometimes months) where we are just buried.  Buried at work.  Buried at home.  And it seems like that is when other things start to go wrong too.  Kids waking up from bad dreams.  Or little Angel Girls getting up even earlier than usual.  Well, the past couple of weeks have been my turn.  I’m buried at work and have so much on my agenda at home.  Angel Girl’s birthday is on the 31st (of October, yes.  We’ve got a Halloween girl) and I’m hosting a Fairy Party for her.  At our house.  What was I thinking??  First was the research of what to do for a Fairy Party.  Then the race was on to gather all the things needed for the Fairy crafts.  eVites to go out.  Oh, and with it being Halloween, there was the all day Carnival at the kids’ school.  48 treat bags of Kettle Corn later . . .  My office is also hosting a Halloween Potluck.  Bundt cake for that.  Friends coming over on Halloween for trick-or-treating.  The Hubs is trying to finish the doorway we’re arching before the party on Saturday.  The dinner with friends and family after Angel Girl’s party.  Wwoooo.  I’ll be so ready for Sunday and the chance to put my feet up and recover.  Then to start getting ready for my favorite day of the year:  Thanksgiving!


5lb beef roast
1 Brown Gravy packet
1 Ranch Dressing packet
1 Italian Dressing packet


Mix gravy, Ranch and Italian dressing packets with 1/2 cup of water.  Pour over roast and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Pinot Noir
Syrah / Shiraz

Serves 6 large portions

Prep time: 5 minutes; Cook time: 7 hours


*Derived from Pinterest

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Slow Cooker Chicken with Cashews

Sometimes I think the slow cooker is a working family’s best friend. Or, almost like a built-in chef. You just have to do the prep work. What I like to do is get everything prepped the night before and put in zip lock bags in the refrigerator. Then, the next morning before I leave for work or the gym, I just have to put it all in the slow cooker and set the timer. There is nothing better than coming home and your house smells like dinner! It’s also nice if no one knows you are making dinner in the slow cooker, beat them home, and hide the slow cooker evidence. Everyone is so thrilled with all of the hard work that went into this wonderful meal that YOU get to put your feet up with a glass of wine while they do the dishes! But that’s our little secret

Cashew Chicken - Serving Bowl


1 lb skinless boneless breasts, cut into 1″ pieces (I used thighs, it was what was in the freezer)
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (I also replaced the water in the rice cooker with chicken broth, it added some creaminess to the flavor)
2 cups peeled baby carrots
4 Tbs ginger-flavored soy sauce (or reduced sodium soy sauce)*
8 oz snow peas, trimmed
2 (8 oz) cans pineapple tidbits, drained, with 2 Tbs juice reserved
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 cup roasted cashews
3 cups hot cooked rice (optional)


In a 4-5 quart slow cooker, combine chicken, carrots, broth, and 2 Tbs of the soy sauce. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. Stir in snow peas, pineapple, and bell pepper. Cover and cook for additional 20 minutes

During that last 20 minutes, in a small bowl combine remaining 2 Tbs soy sauce, the reserved pineapple juice, and the cornstarch. Stir into slow cooker. Stir in cashews, Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until liquid is thickened. If serving with rice, this is the perfect time to get the rice cooker going.

*Try to get the ginger-flavored if you can, it is really worth it and adds a wonderful dimension to the dish

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes, Slow Cooker time: 3 1/2 – 5 1/2 hours

Cashew Chicken - Served

*From Family Circle via magazine

Ruby’s ‘Flip’ Roast

When I first shared with my firm that I had put together a blog (with a lot of tape and bandaids, meaning I’m new at blogging) and was interested in their feedback, I was surprised with the showering of support I received.  And most of the support were from people in another office that I had never worked with or even crossed-paths with.  One such person was Ruby Tecson, who so graciously shared this recipe with me.  I can tell you, I’ve been waiting for the just the right time to try it.  Yesterday was just the right time.  The hubs 1) could not eat fast enough and 2) could not stop raving about it.  Thanks Ruby!  This will become a staple in the Soto-Maynez house



3 lbs or bigger chuck roast
2 packets Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbs minced garlic (I always use jarred to save time)
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 Tbs oyster sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Chinese Broccoli:

3 big stalks of Chinese Broccoli (I used froze, cut-up broccoli that I had on hand)
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 Tbs sesame oil
2 Tbs oyster sauce
1 cup chicken broth


*I’m going to put in all the preparation, even if I didn’t do that step myself because of time (and I’ll let you know which steps they are).  I know Ruby did them all and I have great faith in her cooking!

Roast: Mix 2 packets of Lipton onion soup mix with 1 1/2 cups of warm water and set aside.  This is the portion I skipped. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and brown garlic. Lightly season pot roast on both sides with salt and pepper.  Brown roast on both sides. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to bottom of slow cooker, spreading evenly.  Place roast in cooker and pour soup over the top being sure to spread the onion mixture around.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce.  Cook for 8 hours on low.

Chinese Broccoli: Chop broccoli by separating the leaf from the stalks.  Then cut stalks in a diagonal fashion, about 1/2″ thick per slice.  Leave the leaves as is. (I cheated and used precut frozen broccoli.  It’s what I had on hand and saved a few minutes on a busy week night) Heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Lightly brown garlic, then add broccoli stalks and stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Add broth and cover for about 3 minutes, or until slightly tender but still firm.  Increase heat to high, add leaves and continue to stir fry uncovered on high while drizzling 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce over the broccoli.  When leaves are almost cooked, remove from heat.

Serve all of this amazing food over jasmine rice (and do it in your rice cooker while making the broccoli to save time).

Serves 6

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 8 hours


*Original Recipe Courtesy of Ruby Tecson



This was amazing and so simple! I knew it was truly a hit when my Mexican husband gave it two thumbs up. Another major bonus? Leftovers to be used in countless ways. This will be added to my rotation, for sure.


2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
Salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Mexican blend seasoning
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 minced cloves of garlic
1 orange, halved


After pork has been rinsed and patted dry, generously add salt & pepper. Mix oregano and Mexican blend seasoning with olive oil and all over rub pork. Place pork in slow cooker and top with onion and garlic. Squeeze the juice of the orange and drop in the two halves. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker.  After it has cooled slightly, pull pork apart with fork.

*Derived from Food Network

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

Everyone likes a “sure thing”, right?  Well, this is my “sure thing.”  This is what I make when I have no idea what is going to be for dinner the next day.  Since it’s in the slow cooker, there does have to be a little thought, but not much.  It uses ingredients I always have on hand and comes together so quickly.  Put the chicken in the slow cooker, mix the sauce ingredients, dump that in over the chicken.  Set the slow cooker and . . .  wait for it . . . GO!  Go do what you need to do.  Go spend time with the family.  Go get a pumpkin spice latte  🙂   Go to lunch with your friends.  Or, my personal favorite, Go buy a new pair of shoes. 


12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 3 lbs)
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
6 Tbs cider vinegar
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
4 1/2 tsp cornstarch
4 1/2 tsp cold water


Place chicken in a 4 qt slow cooker.  In a large bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic, and pepper.  Pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on low 4 – 5 hours, or until chicken is tender.  Remove chicken to a serving platter, keep warm. Skim fat from cooking liquid. Place liquid in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Gradually stir into liquid and stir until sauce is thickened.  Serve with chicken over rice.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Grüner Veltliner

Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 4 hours

*Derived from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen