Land of Leftovers

Around the second week in October, I had a great idea. At least, I thought I had a great idea. My kitchen had been set on the back burner of my project priorities for too long. It was long past time for me to bite the bullet and repaint the walls and put up the wallpaper border that I had been searching for in every store -- both brick and mortar and online -- for months. At first, it seemed like a small project. After all, I am not one of those lucky cooks who has a designer kitchen that's big enough to host every cooking appliance and gadget ever devised. I figured that I could put in a little extra prep work during the week and tackle it on the weekend -- with a little help from my husband. Okay, a lot of help!

Then, reality set in. I had to start by removing all of the clutter from my kitchen counters and cleaning the walls and ceiling before I could do anything else. That took forever in its own right. I opted to paint the ceiling first since I didn't have to mask anything off with painters' tape before I could proceed. That finished, I had to think about masking the cabinets, trim, counters and anything else that might get tortured with paint. Once I realized that I had to remove the cabinet doors to avoid painting them too, I had another hour or so of work ahead of me! This simple project was turning into a monster!

So, you might imagine that the time-consuming project of bringing food to the table was not at all on my list of priorities. That's when I took my weekend-project-turned-week-long-project as an opportunity to use my crock pot to make a simple roast and stretch the leftovers for another two days. This month's set of recipes is the dinnertime saga of our kitchen-painting days. Fortunately, we only had to do without the stove for the first day and the crock pot did a stunning job of filling any gaps opened by the absence of my stove. Now that the kitchen is finished and looking bright and cheerful, I guess I am glad we tackled the project. Especially when I get a trio of recipes like the ones I'm offering you! Here's my kitchen-painting menu:

As always, I look forward to hearing from you about your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

Garlic-Stuffed Roast

This hearty roast practically cooks itself. Just do a little garlic prep work and pop it in the crock pot! Choose an inexpensive roast -- the crock pot will make it tender and juicy.
  • 2 lb. beef roast
  • 1/2 garlic bulb, sectioned into cloves and peeled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 c. red wine

To prepare the roast, use a sharp knife to create deep slits about 2 inches into the meat. Push individual cloves of garlic into each of the slits. Continue the procedure -- placing the cloves evenly around the roast -- until all of the garlic is used.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, rosemary and pepper. Rub the mixture evenly over the beef roast. Place the roast on a roasting rack in the bottom of a crock pot. Carefully pour the red wine into the bottom of the crock pot.

Cover the crock pot and turn to the LOW setting (#3 on some models). Cook for 7-9 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Reserve half of the roast for the following recipes. Slice the remaining roast across the grain into thin slices.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus cooking time

Individual Beef Pot Pies

Using the leftover beef roast makes the filling for these hearty pot pies fantastic. Use half of the filling in the pot pies and the other half as the base for the soup recipe that follows.
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced carrots
  • 1 c. diced onions
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • Reserved beef roast from previous recipe, cubed into 1" cubes
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • 1/2 c. potato flakes
  • Pastry crust for topping (choose your favorite recipe)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrots, onions and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, but not browned. Add the beef roast, tomato and peas. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes to heat through. Add the beef broth and potato flakes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and mix until the mixture is thickened.

Reserve half of the filling for the following recipe. Split the remaining filling among two small ovenproof dishes.

Roll out your chosen pastry crust to 1/4" thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut out the crust to fit each of the ovenproof dishes. Place the crust over the filling and pinch to the sides of the dishes. Bake the pot pies for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Savory Beef Barley Soup

This soup is so fast to make since it's based on the filling from the previous recipe. It's great on a cold day with crusty bread.
  • Reserved filling from previous recipe
  • 6 c. beef broth
  • 1 c. quick-cooking barley

Combine the filling and the beef broth in a stockpot. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Add the barley and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the barley is tender. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes