Giada’s Pot Roast (better than Grandma’s!) Seriously!

On Sunday, I happened to have The Food Network on while I was doing some housework (OK, it is either The Food network or HGTV on most of the time!) Giada was making Cipollini Onion and Fennel Pot Roast and for whatever reason it made me crave comfort food!

Those of you who know me well know that I am not a naturally good cook but I am willing to try and I LOVE to eat!  I have learned a lot over the years and now consider myself adequate. I am a recipe follower and I am not ashamed!

So I tried it and it was hands down the best Pot Roast I have ever had and my family agreed. This is a MUST TRY! Below I added my little cheats to the Giada’s Food Network Recipe.

Cipollini Onion and Fennel Pot Roast

Herb rub:

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound (about 2 cups) cipollini, boiler, or pearl onions, peeled (I used frozen Pearl onions)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed (I use Garlic from the jar, don’t tell!)
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth, plus extra, as needed (I use beef bouillon granules in boiling water, it is cheaper and I always have it on hand)
  • 2 dried bay leaves


For the rub: In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, thyme, oil, salt, and pepper until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and rub on all sides with the herb rub. In a heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, onion, carrots, and fennel to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the sherry and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth and bay leaves. Return the beef and any juices to the pot and bring the liquids to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 4 hours, turning the beef over halfway through and adding extra broth, as needed, to keep the beef halfway covered in liquid.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Using an immersion blender (I put mine in a regular blender), blend the vegetables and cooking juices together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep warm over low heat.

Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Mine is not so pretty but it tasted fantastic! :)

Mine is not so pretty but it tasted fantastic! :)

Thank you Giada!



And so it begins…

Back in December I posted my wish list for the my Master Suite Refresh, well I am happy to say we are making progress…slow progress…but progress none the less! :) We have started the Bedroom portion of the refresh. Let’s review my wish list:


• Paint walls   Check! Painted my favorite warm white called Delicate Lace by Behr at Home Depot.
• New bedding Check! Bargains galore!
• Grey-wash existing night stands Check! I did this a while back and they look great! Used Varathane wood stain in Weathered Gray.5d1ffc520a4611e2ac3022000a1e868a_5

• New chair and ottoman    Haven’t found it yet! May have an old chair recovered.
• Build in bookcases   Tomorrow!…Heading to Houston on business with a side trip to IKEA for Billy Bookcases!
• Ultimate Wish List but not likely…new flooring, 5” baseboards and crown molding.   Surprise! Surprise! My wonderful neighbors bought too much black bamboo flooring from Lowe’s and they sold their leftovers to us for $2.00/sq. ft.! Thank you Steve and Diane!!!

We have finished the floors and will get the baseboards and crown moulding up this week!


Next stop the bathroom!



Happy New Year!

As I reflect on 2012, I realize how many major milestones happened for my family and I. Our oldest son graduated from high school and was accepted to Texas A & M University where he just finished his first semester successfully. Our daughter who is a sophomore in high school created some of the most incredible drawings and actually got paid for her work. Plus a beautiful and caring stepdaughter who has a heart of gold and is a successful medical professional. I  have am so proud and blessed to have these wonderful children, husband and family in my life.

I can’t neglect to mention my special friends who have been honest and supportive during a year of professional ups and downs and are always willing to say “Go for it!” even when I resolve that 2013 will also be a year of professional changes!  Thank you, I am truly grateful!

Happy New Year Everyone and 2013…Bring it on!



Makenna's Girl 1

Makenna’s Girl 1

Makenna's Ship

Makenna’s Ship

Makenna's Girl 2

Makenna’s Girl 2

Makenna's Superman

Makenna’s Superman

Master Suite Refresh!

After just shy of 10 years in my current home, I am finally about to embark on a master bath and bedroom redo. Due to my budgetary restrictions, basically I have no budget, I will  have to be creative and frugal with my refresh! In case you didn’t know I have a son at a very nice University for the next four years among other things. I intend to do this by bargain hunting and using my creative skills to make the bedroom and bath an oasis.

One other problem I face is that after 10 years is that my bathroom is dated. You know…light fixtures that have the round ball lights like a showgirl’s dressing room, carpet on the floor (gasp!!) and just a general ugliness! So I am trying to salvage what I can and give it a makeover.

Time to post the LOTTD (List of Things To Do!) The list is long so here goes:


• Tear out carpet and linoleum
• Paint everything including ceiling, walls and vanity (if I can’t find a new one!)
• Install new flooring
• New light fixtures
• New faucets
• New sinks (if I get the new vanity referenced above!)
• New fixtures (towel holders)
• New hardware for cabinets
• Ultimate Wish List but not likely…new vanity, sinks, mirror and shower doors.


• Paint walls
• New bedding
• Grey-wash existing night stands
• New chair and ottoman
• Build in bookcases
• Ultimate Wish List but not likely…new flooring, 5” baseboards and crown molding.

I intend to do this in stages because maybe then I can find some budget! Next time…”Before” pictures!

Here are a couple of lovely rooms that I aspire to recreate with the Sophisticated Mama twist!

Bedrooms Courtesy of Pinterest

Bathrooms Courtesy of

What is your fantasy Master Suite? Send me a pic!

Luxury for Less!

Have you ever seen something (a pair of shoes, jewelry, food, a person) and just fallen in love? And your first reaction is “I have to have it!”? Well, this happens to me almost daily! Recently, I came across this BEEEAAAUUUTIFUL turquoise Coach bag, the Madison Leather Lindsey Satchel. I said a little prayer with the hope that it was somehow within my budget. I know, I know nothing is within my budget now that I just sent my son off to a very nice university for the next four years!

The $398 price tag just ticked me off! Who really can afford such luxury?? So now I was on a mission!! I needed that turquoise bag with every fiber of my being! My hunt started at one of my top three bargain hunting paradises! Can you guess? Ross, Marshalls, and of course T. J. Maxx.

LOOOOOK what I found!

I think I like it even better than the Coach satchel. It fits my laptop, iPad, work files and it just so pretty I can almost cry! And…drum roll please…$39.99!

Maxxinista for life!

Tell me about your luxury for less find.

The Best EVER Mushroom Soup!!!

Hello my name is Vicki and I am a Pinterest Addict! I know there are more than a few of us out there. I have sort of turned my magazine obsession into Pinterest addiction. I don’t need any help with my addiction, I will be fine. :) I especially love to try the recipes because it is an easy way to actually accomplish recreating something on this wonderfully inspirational site.  I would love to try Centsational Girl’s staircase remodel or take a trip to the big apple like Iowa Girl Eats and some day I will but last night all I could accomplish successfully was making this seriously tasty Best Ever Mushroom Soup posted by Season With Spice. If you love mushrooms and need a comfort fix, this one’s for you!

Here are the ingredients:

Now the steps:

Chop 2 cups of fresh mushrooms (I used good old button mushrooms) Use whichever you prefer!

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add butter and lightly sauté garlic on medium heat. 

Add in mushrooms, thyme, bay leaf and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the moisture from the mushrooms disappears.

Add in chicken broth. Stir occasionally until broth boils, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add diluted flour in, and stir constantly (while simmering) until the mixture thickens. Season with salt and nutmeg (or All Spice!) Taste and adjust seasoning.

Finally, add milk and heavy cream, and bring to a simmer. Turn heat off.

Serve hot in your soup bowl. Add freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme if you have them on hand.


The Best EVER Mushroom Soup

Serves 2

300g or 2 cups fresh mushrooms – cleaned and chopped finely (I used a mix of swiss brown and white button)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 – 2 bay leaf
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp flour dissolved in 1 tbsp water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
Dash of nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or thyme for garnish

Hello Friends!!

Hello my name is Vicki (aka The Sophisticated Mama!) I decided to start this blog to chronicle my love of design, decorating, food and my attempts at DIY projects and just to talk about things in my life that others may relate to. I am the mother of two wonderful teenagers, yes, wonderful! I know you don’t hear those two words together often but I am one of the lucky ones who can say that with a straight face. That makes me a 40+ year old woman, not old…but Sophisticated! Voilà, the title of this blog!

Every day I am inspired by the world around me and hope to inspire others as I go on this blogging adventure! Please email me with comments, suggestions and your inspiring moments, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by!


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