Saturday, February 20, 2016

Instant Pot Hodgepodge Soup to Share with Work Colleagues

I wanted to make a big batch of soup to take to a lunch meeting at work yesterday, but I wanted it to be easy and to make use of whatever odds and ends I had in the vegetable bin and pantry. I came up with the following, and my co-workers raved. I didn't have the heart to tell them it was just a crazy hodge-podge that I made up as I went along. (But a tasty hodgepodge nevertheless!)

Instant Pot Italian Chicken, Veggie and Wild Rice Soup

1 1/2 cups wild rice, barley, and dried veggie* mix
8-12 cups homemade chicken broth, divided
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (with garlic and onions)
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable soup base (Better Than Bouillon), or more to taste
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
four handfuls of fresh spinach (or chopped kale)

*The soup mix I used had carrots in it, otherwise, I would have diced some fresh carrots to add in at the same time as the celery and onion and all.

Pressure cook the wild rice mix in four cups of chicken broth on Manual/high for 20 minutes. Add all of the other ingredients including another four cups of chicken broth, but not the spinach. Cook on Manual/high for another five minutes. Thin with more broth, remove the rosemary stems and bay leaves, correct seasonings, and stir in the spinach just before serving.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Real Food Real Fast Using the Instant Pot!

I have a class that goes until 8:45pm, so I got home late, but I still wanted a proper dinner. So I put two FROZEN Creole-seasoned chicken halves layered with sliced onions in the insta-pot on the trivet over a cup of water laced with 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar and maybe a tablespoon of hot sauce. I pressure-cooked it for 18 minutes, then broiled it in the oven for a few minutes on both sides until crispy. While the chicken was in the pot, I threw together a corn, chili bean, and avocado salad as my side dish. In about 30 minutes, I had real! YAY! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Magic Pot Meatloaf: Homely but Tasty!

I had play and choir rehearsals back-to-back today with just a half hour at home in between, so I thought I might make a quickie meatloaf in the Instant Pot. It may not have been the most gorgeous meatloaf I've ever made, but the taste and texture were both lovely!

I made the meatloaf in an eight-inch spring form pan lined with foil.
I removed the meatloaf from the IP, then put it in a foil-lined sheet pan.
I broiled the meatloaf for a few minutes until the top was browned and crispy.
I glazed the meatloaf with BBQ sauce, then broiled it for a couple of minutes until set.
I brushed it with more BBQ sauce and broiled it one more time.

Here's what it looked like on the inside. (It's going to slice beautifully for sandwiches tomorrow!)

TA-DAH! Quick and easy, delicious, hearty, and comforting dinner!

Instant Pot Meatloaf

2.25 lbs. ground chuck
1 lb. hot Italian sausage (or mild, if you prefer)
1 small onion, finely diced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce (or to taste)
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

your favorite BBQ sauce (to glaze the top)

Mix everything together and pack into an oven-proof vessel (not too tight!) that will fit in the IP; I used an eight-inch spring form pan lined with foil. Cook for 30 minutes on the "Meat" setting, then NPR. Transfer to a lined sheet pan and broil for a few minutes until brown and crispy. Then brush with BBQ sauce and return to the oven for a couple of minutes to set the glaze (and repeat).

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I Want My Baby Back, Baby Back, Baby the Instant Pot!

I can't believe it's taken me this long to make baby back ribs in the Instant Pot! They are SO easy and yummy! Now, protesters, I can already hear you: Yes, ribs are better smoked for hours low and slow, but I think IP ribs are perfect for weeknights and especially for the winter, when one might die standing outside manning the smoker.  

Instant Pot Ribs

Put a cup of apple cider vinegar in the IP, then curl a rack of ribs in there (with the membrane removed, then seasoned with granulated garlic and black pepper), and pour a small bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce over the meat (I used Lawry's Sweet Asian BBQ Marinade). Cook them on the Meat setting for 32 minutes. Then carefully transfer the rack to a sheet pan lined with foil. Broil them in the oven for a few minutes until browned and crispy. Meanwhile, reduce the sauce in the pot on high Saute mode until syrupy. Glaze the ribs three times with the reduced sauce, each time returning them to the broiler for a minute or two to set the glaze. Finish them with one more baste of glaze, et VOILA! 

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.


Monday, February 08, 2016

A Cheesy Treat for Your Sportsy Gatherings

I didn't have time yesterday to make a big spread of football food, because I was hosting a birthday luncheon today at school for my dear friend and office mate, Lee Ann, and I was cooking stuff for that. But here is a quick and easy cheeseburger dip--it really tastes just like a cheeseburger--that's not all that attractive, but it makes a flavor touchdown! (See what I did there?)

Here is the dip after the ingredients are mixed together and baked until brown around the edges and bubbly.

You might choose to top your dip with green onions and crumbled bacon as the recipe below suggests, but I went with finely-diced sweet onion and a crowning layer of guacamole. The recipe says to serve with pita chips, but I used regular tortilla chips. YUMMY!

Cheeseburger Dip
(Source: adapted from French's)

1 lb. ground beef (seasoned with 1 t Cajun spice, 1/2 t black pepper and 1 t granulated garlic)
1 (8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
(the original recipe called for 1/2 cup American "cheese")
1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
(I used my homemade green tomato relish)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot sauce, optional 
Brown meat in skillet; drain and set aside. Combine all other ingredients in deep pie dish. Fold in meat. Heat in 350°F oven for 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with bacon crumbles and green onions , if desired. Serve with pita chips.