Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Down Home with the Parents

Strawberries, whipped cream and sour cream pound cake.
Only the best for Mom and Dad.

Sometimes, it’s best to keep things basic.
And that’s what I do when Mom and Dad head “to the other side of town” and join The Husband and me for dinner.

The Hubs and I live about five minutes from my parents. We had the good/amazing fortune to be able to actually build a house while we were engaged. Upon taking Mom and Dad to see the land, their initial response was, “But it’s all the way over on the other side of town.”

Five minutes, people. Five minutes.

Fortunately, Mom and Dad came to their senses, realizing that their middle child truly is a hop, skip and a few traffic lights away from home. And, we LOVE having them over for dinner.
We haven’t seen my parents since Christmas, because they headed down to Florida for a month. This scenario has Jerry Seinfeld’s TV parents burned in my brain. My parents had a fab time despite the normally way hot Florida weather taking a turn for the way chilly.

The highlights of their trip including meeting the Cake Boss’s mom while out at dinner.
“She’s exactly like she is on the show,” my observant Mom declared.

Other fun times were had at Elvis impersonator concerts and Anna Nicole Smith’s haunt, the Hard Rock Casino.

For their welcome-home dinner, Roast Beast was served. OK, really it’s a roast beef, but the Whos in Whoville say Roast Beast and they’re only like one of my most fav fictional families ever. So, Roast Beast it is.

With the Roast Beast came Roasted Potatoes with Red Onions, Sautéed Broccoli Rabe and a fab salad.

And, you didn’t think I forgot dessert, did you?

Homemade Pound Cake with Whipped Cream and Strawberries.

My Dad asked if the pound cake was from a store.

Seriously, Dad?!?

To which I replied, “I would never serve you store pound cake.”
Store-bought desserts go against all I believe in. Shudder.

During dinner, my Mom asked, “Do you eat like this everyday?”

She asks this EVERY TIME she comes over for dinner.

My parents totally enjoyed din, which is the only thing that matters.

My sister Monica marvels at us hosting Mom and Pops.

“Cooking for Dad would totally stress me out,” Monica has claimed on the phone from her far-away, parent-free home in Alexandria, Va.

But pleasing my Mom and Dad with food really isn’t that challenging. Rules of thumb are:

1. Do not overcook the protein. Dad will tell you if you do this. My parents are really good at pointing out our missteps. LOL.

2. Do not go all multicultural, trendy or fashionable with your food. Mom and Dad won’t get it.

3. Always have good wine and/or Gentleman Jack, Limoncello and Sambucca on hand. Drinking runs in the family.

4. Add a special touch. Dad loves blue cheese, so I put some on the salad. He also digs horseradish. I put it on the side for the Roast Beast.

5. Make a pot of coffee for dessert. Mom and Dad love their coffee.

6. Expect dinner discussion to revolve around politics (national, state and local).

7. If yelling ensues, just carry on.

These tips work with my amazingly awesome fantastic parents. Maybe they will help you out as well.

Now, on to the dinner at hand. I will share with you my recipes for my Easy Roast Beef and the Roasted Potatoes. The beauty of this is that you can put both in the oven at the same time. Yay! The potatoes take about 45 to 60 minutes to cook.

Regarding the roast beef: Cooking time may vary based on your oven and your meat doneness preference. It is best to check on the roast with a meat thermometer during the cooking process. I cooked mine, which was almost 4 pounds, for just about 2 hours. This produced a perfectly medium-rare roast beef. Yay!
If you’ve never made a roast before, here are my pointers:

1. Let the roast rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing it. Cover it with your roast pan lid or aluminum while it rests.

2. It’s good to have someone else slice the roast (i.e., The Husband), while you get on with the gravy. Then, everything is timed perfectly.

3. Season your roast early in the day. I do it at least four hours ahead.

4. Use a meat thermometer to check on your meat. Remember, a roast continues to cook when you remove it from the oven. I took mine out when the thermometer read 139 degrees.

5. Be prepared to get your paws up in the raw roast beef to season it. If this skeeves you, well, maybe you shouldn’t cook a roast.

I will also share the Sour Cream Pound Cake recipe from the “Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.” It’s the red-and-white checkered cookbook. As soon as Mark proposed to me, I went out and bought it in my quest to be transformed into a Stepford Wife.


Stepford Wives just sit there and shut up and look pretty, right? Yeah. That’s so NOT me. Never has been, never will be.

But, the cookbook rocks. I will also give you a how-to on making Homemade Whipped Cream. It’s SO easy, even a caveman can do it. And, I feel like all Domestic Goddesses and Gods out there should know how to make whipped cream. For reals.

Dig in!

Easy Roast Beef
Serves 6

1 rump roast beef, just shy 4 pounds
6 to 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. oregano
scant ½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, small dice
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. flour

To season roast:
Note: You should season roast at least four hours ahead.

In a small bowl, combine Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and salt. Mix together.

With a small paring knife, score your roast on all sides except the fat side by making an “X” measuring a quarter-inch. Space out your “X”s by about a half-inch. Insert garlic slices into each “X.” Be sure to push the garlic inside the roast so that the garlic is not sticking out. If it sticks out, it will scorch in the oven.

With your hands, rub the seasoning all over the roast.

Place the roast in the roasting pan, fat side up. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

When ready to roast:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drizzle olive oil over roast.

Place roast, uncovered, in oven. Cook for about 30 minutes per pound. (Cooking time may vary.)

When you have about 40 minutes left, remove roast from oven. Scatter chopped onion throughout the pan. Return roast to oven.

Remove roast from oven. Immediate temperature reading should be between 135 degrees to 140 degrees for medium rare. Cover with lid or aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.

The roast is about to be sliced.

When ready to serve:

Slice roast and arrange on serving tray.

To make gravy:

Place roasting pan on oven burner over medium heat. Add flour to drippings and onions. Whisk together.

Add water. You may also add a bouillon or a gravy enhancer, such as Gravy Mate. Bring to a simmer. Whisk until gravy thickens a bit. Pour into gravy boat.

This is The Husband's fav potato dish.

Fabulous Roasted Potatoes with Red Onions
(Serves 6)

5-6 medium russet or white potatoes, peeled and quartered into 1 ½-inch pieces
6-8 garlic cloves, skins removed
1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 ½ tsp. dried rosemary
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: You may peel and quarter the potatoes ahead of time. Place in a large bowl of cold water to prevent potatoes from discoloring. Dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel before cooking.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place butter and olive oil in a large rectangular baking dish. Place dish in oven for about 8 to 10 minutes so that butter melts.

Remove dish from oven.

Place potatoes, onion, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in pan. Toss so that mixture is evenly coated in butter, oil and seasonings. Be careful, since the dish is hot!

Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove every 15 minutes or so, to toss mixture.

The Sour Cream Pound Cake looks basic, but tastes fab.

Sour Cream Pound Cake
From “The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook”

½ cup butter (1 stick)
3 eggs
½ cup dairy sour cream
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla

Allow butter, eggs and sour cream to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour an 8x4x2-inch or 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, beating about 10 minutes or until very light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition and scraping bowl frequently. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture, beating on low to medium speed after each addition just until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in a 325-degree oven for 60 to 75 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool.

Serve with sliced fruit or berries.

Whipped Cream
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

1 cup heavy whipping cream, super cold
1 Tbsp. sugar

Place a glass bowl and the beaters from a hand mixer in the freezer. Do this at least 2 hours before you make whipped cream.

Remove bowl from freezer. Place cream and sugar in bowl. Beat on high with your hand mixer for about 1 to 2 minutes until soft peaks form. Serve.

It’s not hard, see?!

Be sure to not overbeat your whipped cream, because then it turns into butta. Just, taste it after a minute or so. If it looks like whipped cream and smells like whipped cream and tastes like whipped cream, then it’s whipped cream.

Keeping your bowl and beaters and cream super cold is key to the success of whipped cream!


  1. I totally enjoyed reading this one, Sue! Even if it had been about PB&J (which I know you'd never make anyway!), I got pleasure out of reading about your parents. For who has joined your family for many noisy holiday gatherings, this brought back a lot funny memories!

  2. Thanks, doll! I hope you are doing well. Thank you for visiting my blog. LOL.

  3. I'm going to try the Roast Beast this weekend, and the cake. I am a dunce with the cooking but your explanations look like they are fool proof.
    Love the thing about your parents. You know exactly where the land mines are and are quick with the defense! Love it!

  4. Susan,
    I wish I was your neighbor, your food always looks so good, and I am sure it's delicious as well. Love the post.