Tuesday, February 09, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Lee Ann! (2016 Instant Pot Edition)

My dear friend and office mate Lee Ann's birthday was this past Sunday, so I decided to host a little celebratory luncheon at work yesterday. I made a delicious beef, barley and mushroom soup in the Instant Pot, and a Waldorf chicken salad, with chicken also prepared in the magic pot. Then our mutual friend, Vicky, brought the fixin's for an ice cream sundae bar (as Lee Ann is not a big fan of cake).  Everything was very well-received, especially by the birthday gal. YAY!

For the soup, I loosely followed a recipe from the IP web site that calls for sour cream at the end. It makes it taste like stroganoff soup (second pic), and that's yummy, but next time, I think I'd just use the sour cream as an optional garnish. I kinda like the deeper, beefier/mushroomy flavor without it (first pic).

Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup
(Source: Adapted from Sharon W. on the IP web site)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
8 cups beef broth, divided
1 package Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauce, Tavern Pot Roast flavor
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste
2 bay leaves
small bundle of fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
pinch of cayenne
8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 cup (uncooked) pearled barley
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Toss the beef cubes with Cajun seasoning and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and brown the meat. Strain the meat out and add to the IP. In the leftover oil, saute the onions for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Deglaze the pan with two cups of beef broth, scraping up all the brown bits. Pour into the IP. Add everything else, except the sour cream and parsley, and cook for 25 minutes on the Meat setting. Let release naturally. Stir in the sour cream and parsley, then taste to correct seasoning before serving. 

For the Waldorf Chicken Salad:

I cooked the boneless, skinless breasts in the IP on the trivet over a cup and a half of chicken broth for 20 minutes on high, because they were really big. So, after you cook the chicken (4 boneless/skinless breasts sprinkled with seasoned salt), cool and cut into chunks. Add half of a finely minced onion (or a few scallions, if you prefer). Make a dressing of about a cup of mayo, the juice of a lemon, a teaspoon each of ground celery, celery seeds, and sugar (or honey), and a 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Combine with the chicken mixture, then chill the salad for a few hours or overnight. Before serving, add two seeded and diced Granny Smith apples. In a dry skillet, toast a cup of chopped walnuts. Cool, then add those to the salad as well. Season with salt to taste.

P.S. I don't care for celery, but if you like it, chop up a couple of stalks and throw that in, too.


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