Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Musings on the Instantpot

I made chicken jambalaya the other night for dinner. It's one of my favorite one pot dishes but I haven't made it much the last couple of years because Sarah doesn't like it. I think I've already made it twice this fall. It's a really easy recipe, cook the veggies, add the broth, rice, and seasonings, let it cook then add cooked chicken at the end and heat through. Easy.

So as I was cooking it the other night I was thinking that this was a dish I could probably make in my instantpot - sauté the veggies, add the rest of the stuff, cook for some amount of time, add the chicken. But the more I thought about it I began to wonder why? It wouldn't really save me that much time and it's so easy as it is. I think it would save only a few minutes and it would save stirring a couple of times. But is it worth it? I don't think so and this is why I'm not in love with the instantpot.

Except that it makes perfect hard boiled eggs I haven't really found a reason to love my instantpot. I did makes beans again and this time they came out much better. I think it's just a different way of cooking, learning different recipes, and I still haven't put in a concerted effort. The example above of the jambalaya is one case of why I'm not jumping on the bandwagon. Another is a beef and broccoli dish I made. It was good in the instantpot, although I remember thinking it was kind of a pain to sauté the meat, take it out, then put everything in to cook. Another time I was making the same dish, didn't feel like pulling out the instantpot and make it in a skillet. It worked just fine, was just as fast if not faster since the skillet could fit all the meat in it at once. I'm just not sold.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls

The perfect fall breakfast, pumpkin flavors in a cinnamon roll. These are easy to make ahead the night before; let them rise in the fridge overnight, then pop in the oven in the morning to finish rising and bake.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls
makes 8

For the rolls:
1/4 c warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
3 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 c pureed pumpkin
1/4 c white sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp melted butter

For the filling:
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 c brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 c maple syrup

Combine the warm water, yeast, and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir gently just until all the yeast is moistened then set aside for 3-5 minutes. In a separate bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt and mix until combined.

To the yeast mixture add the pumpkin, egg, sugar, and melted butter. Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl of the mixer on top of the wet ingredients. Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on low to combine the ingredients into a soft, sticky dough. Knead for about 5 minutes; if the dough seems a little too sticky add a bit of flour, up to 1/4 cup.

Remove the dough hook, form the dough into a ball, and return to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm, dry place and let rise for 90 minutes or until it has doubled.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a large square, about 18 by 18 inches. Combing the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Brush the melted butter over the dough then spread the brown sugar mixture over. Roll the dough up gently then slice into 8 equal slices.

Grease a round cake pan with some butter. Drizzle the maple syrup over the bottom of the pan and place the rolls in the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap to rise.

To bake now - let the rolls rise about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350* and bake 25-30 minutes.

To bake later - place the covered rolls into the fridge. When ready to bake, set the oven to 350* and place the rolls in while it's preheating. Once the oven reaches 350* set the timer for 25-30 minutes.

When the rolls are done turn them out onto a plate for serving, letting the maple syrup drip over the rolls.

modified from The Busy Baker

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Roasted Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach & Cranberries

I found this recipe in Wegman's magazine, the Thanksgiving issue. It looked good and since I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner and we both love squash I thought I'd make it tonight. I don't usually do "fancy" side veggie dishes during the week but this was worth the bit of extra effort. It was easy to make and I cooked the chicken as the same time; one way to ensure all the dishes are ready at the same time. I modified the recipe from Wegman's and now it's one of those "use a bit of this, a handful of that" kind of recipes.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach & Cranberries

1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper
a couple of handfuls of baby spinach
1/3 c dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 400*. Toss the squash and onion with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned and tender. Put the squash into a bowl, add spinach and dried cranberries then toss to combine.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

White Bean Tuna Salad

Summer has hung around too long this year and this was a great late summer salad. Beans and tuna for protein, an easy dressing, very refreshing. Great served with some crusty bread.

White Bean Tuna Salad
serves 4

1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and
2 5 oz. cans tuna packed in water, drained
2 cups lightly packed arugula or spinach
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 c red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried leaf oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 lemon

In a large bowl combine, beans, tuna, arugula, red onion, and parsley. For dressing, in a screw top jar combine vinegar, oil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Shake well to combine. Pour dressing over tuna mixture; toss gently to combine. Squeeze juice from half of the lemon over salad.

from Better Homes & Gardens

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Barley, Black Bean, and Corn Burritos

It's been a while since I've made these but they're really good, freeze well, and it makes a lot of burritos. Plus they're easy since the filling is cooked in the crockpot. I need to make some soon so I can take them to work for lunch.

Barley, Black Bean, and Corn Burritos
makes 18 burritos

15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 c barley, uncooked (not the quick cooking type)
2 c chicken broth
3/4 c frozen corn
1/4 c green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
18 small flour tortillas
1 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
for serving - salsa and sour cream

Place first 11 ingredients in crockpot, stir well. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir in cilantro.

If serving right away heat the tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1/3 cup of the barley mixture down the center of each tortilla, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of cheese, and roll up. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

If making to freeze, spoon 1/3 cup of the barley mixture down the center of each tortilla, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of cheese, and roll up. Roll the burrito in wax paper and place in a zip lock freezer bag. Reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave or in the oven at 350* for 20 minutes or until hot. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Instantpot Beef and Broccoli

Last week I told Jen, my cousin's wife, that I was about to give up on my instantpot. It's great for hard boiled eggs, the corn came out good, rice has done well, but some other things it's really not worked well for me - beans were totally a mixed bag, chicken didn't work well. I made one other recipe that worked fine but we just didn't like it. She insisted that I had to try this one before I give up. Honestly? I'm still not sold on it. Ok, the dish was really good but the work to get it there? I don't think it really saved me any time; I could have cooked it up in my wok in just about the same time or less. I'm still on the fence, sorry, Jen!

I'll still post the recipe here so I can find it again because it was good.

Beef and Broccoli
serves 6

1 1/2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, well trimmed and sliced into thin strips
salt & pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c beef broth
1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb broccoli florets
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp cornstarch
toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional

Season beef with salt and pepper. Put olive oil in the cooking pot and select sauté. When oil begins to sizzle, brown meat in batches until all the meat is browned - do not crowd the meat. Transfer meat to a plate when browned.

When all the meat is browned add chopped onion to the pot. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Add beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes to the pot Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add browned beef and any accumulated juices. Select High Pressure and set timer for 12 minutes.

Place broccoli in microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 c water. Microwave 3-4 minutes until broccoli is tender.

When beep sounds turn the instantpot off and use quick pressure release. When valve drops carefully remove the lid.

In a small bowl/cup combine cornstarch and water, stirring until smooth. Add to pot and stir well to combine. Select sauté and stir until sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Add steamed broccoli and stir to combine.

Serve hot over cooked rice and garnish with sesame seeds.

Notes: You can use flank steak, skirt steak, or London boil instead of chuck roast. Freeze the meat for about 15 minutes to make slicing thinly easier.

Nan's Chocolate Mousse

This is such an easy and delicious dessert. It can be a bit on the sweet side so don't make it into two portions, not matter how much you want to! Just a little is enough. It's a great dessert for that romantic dinner you're planning.

Nan's Chocolate Mousse
serves 4

1 6-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier, etc (optional)
1 egg
2 Tbsp sugar

Dump all the dry ingredients and the egg into a blender. Heat milk to scalding*. Add milk to blender; whir for about 1 minute. Pour into custard cups, fancy drink glasses, etc. and chill until set. A shaved curl of orange peel or a small dollop of whipped cream is a nice garnish.

*I zapped mine in the microwave for 2 minutes, makes it plenty hot.