Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Another Way to Deal with Your Garden Zucchini (You're Welcome)

    I picked my first--and maybe only--zucchini of the season the other day (I'm battling pests this year that are eating the flowers before they fruit). I really should've picked it earlier, because it was pretty big! Since then, I had been trying to decide what to do with it, and a friend mentioned that he liked it with stewed tomatoes, which I had actually never tried before. So I whipped this up in my magic pot--easy and delish! (And so good for you!)
    P.S. Take a stick blender to this, and it would have made a lovely sauce for pasta.
    P.P.S.Next time I make this, I am going to add an 8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms to the initial veggie sauté. I think that would be yummy!
    P.P.S. A friend suggested that mixing this with rice would make a nice vegetarian main dish. I concur!
Instant Pot Zucchini and Stewed Tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (I used an Italian frying pepper for some kick!)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or 2 smaller zucchini, unpeeled, cored, and cubed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

To the IP on high saute, add the olive oil, celery, onion, sweet or hot pepper, and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Then add the zucchini, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Italian herbs. Pressure cook on manual for one minute. Let release naturally--no peeking! Stir in the balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and serve.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Final Feast for Orphan Black

Tonight was our final Orphan Black gathering. I'm so sad it's over, but it ended in a very satisfying way. As for our finale feast with my seestras, I was originally planning on doing something fabulously thematic. But I couldn't go to the grocery store to get stuff yesterday because my car died. (Boo hiss.) So I had to make do with what I had on hand. It was like my own episode of Chopped!

First, I looked through the freezer, and I found a spiral ham and a turkey. (LOL! Of course I did.) Now, I couldn't thaw a turkey by today, but I could make the ham (glazed with Dijon mustard and brown sugar). And I made fresh bruschetta for an appetizer (and bought crostini to serve it on from Hannaford's bakery). For sides, I had some of my favorite broccoli salad leftover from a potluck yesterday (based on a friend's mom's recipe), and I also unearthed a package of frozen hash browns, so I made what the Mormons call Funeral Potatoes. Funeral potatoes for the ending of my beloved Orphan Black seemed quite fitting, and all in all, I think I cobbled together an excellent feast!




The ham was about nine pounds and pre-cooked, of course. I pitched the glaze packet that comes with (I always do--I don't usually care for the spices they use), then all I did was slather the ham with Dijon mustard, coated it with brown sugar, wrapped it in foil, and heated it at 325 degrees for about an hour and a half (10-12 minutes per pound). It was sweet, succulent, and delicious!

Funeral Potatoes
(Source: adapted from Cooking Channel)

4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 30-ounce bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, lightly thawed (I used cubed "southern-style" hash browns)
1 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used seasoned salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar (I used 1 cup each Monterey Jack and cheddar, plus I added about 4 oz. of goat cheese/chevre)
1 1/2 cups lightly crushed corn flake cereal (I omitted the topping)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat two tablespoons butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about six minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant and softened, an additional two minutes. 

In a bowl, toss together the cooked onions and garlic, hash brown potatoes, condensed soup, sour cream, Parmesan, salt, pepper and 1 1/2 cups cheddar. Spread the mixture in a sprayed 9-by-13 inch casserole dish. Melt the remaining two tablespoons butter. Top the casserole with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, corn flake cereal and melted butter. 

Bake in the oven until it bubbles around the sides, about one hour.

Party-Sized Broccoli Salad
(Source: adapted from Ivel Kelly)

2 bunches/heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered red onion
8-10 slices cooked bacon, chopped

Cole Slaw Dressing*:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon granulated garlic, optional
squirt of sriracha, optional

Combine the first set of ingredients, then mix the dressing. Stir everything together and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

*I usually make about half again as much of the dressing, depending on how big my broccoli bunches are.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Product Recommendations!

Product Recommendation #1:
I recently watched Bobby Flay, very atypically, get beaten trying to make gnudi, which is a little like a ravioli filling without the pasta around it, or like very light gnocchi. This left me with a profound hankering for gnocchi, and I remembered that I had a package of sweet potato gnocchi from Trader Joe's in the freezer. So I sautéed them in brown butter, chopped onion, and slivers of fresh sage from my garden, and finished the dish with salt and pepper and shredded Parmesan. And honestly, it was one of the best things I've ever had! Put this product on your TJ's shopping list immediately! SO YUMMY!!














Product Recommendation #2:
Cyd was always the grill master--the only cooking I could get her to do most times. But a friend recently commented that I don't seem to grill out much, and that made me stop and think: True enough, I probably haven't grilled out since Cyd passed away. So by the hardest, I managed to fire up my rusty old grill that only lights up on one side, and cooked some jerk pork using Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning that I bought on Amazon. I used country-style pork ribs coated liberally with the seasoning and refrigerated overnight. I must say, I usually make my own jerk marinade, but this stuff was DELICIOUS, without all the cutting and chopping! But I'm sure glad I bought the MILD Walkerswood jerk rub. YIKES! 🔥🔥🔥


Friday, August 11, 2017

Impatiently Awaiting the September Tomato

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the world's tiniest Caprese salad! I made it with two large (homegrown) cherry tomatoes, four small slices of fresh mozzarella, one ginormous piece of lettuce leaf basil from my garden, EVOO, herbed seasoned salt, and some of my beloved Saratoga Olive Oil's Neapolitan Herb Balsamic Vinegar. SO DELISH, and yet...so small and so quickly consumed. *sigh* I might have to break down and BUY some local tomatoes to tide me over until mine are ready to harvest.




Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Orphan Black Viewing Demands Southern-Style Feast!


Tonight was the first Orphan Black gathering we've had in ages, and we watched three episodes back-to-back! So I decided that the momentous occasion called for a veritable feast--a Southern meat-and-three extravaganza for my soul seestras. I prepared Ham Hock and Fava Bean Soup, Magic Pot Baby Back Ribs with Jamaican BBQ Sauce, Magic Pot Four Cheese Mac and Cheese, and Spicy Sautéed Kale (the kale and hot pepper were from my garden). And of course, we topped it all off with sweet tea pie!

First, I will tell you about the soup, which was an IP experiment that turned into an IP fail...and then into a soupy success. I tried to cook a bag of frozen (thawed) fava beans with onions, garlic, yellow peppers, a can of Rotel, a packet of Sazon, and a ham hock in some chicken stock, on manual for five minutes, but they came out really mushy--very flavorful, but sadly mushy. Plus, they had those awful, tough skins! So I sliced open and squeezed out each one of those darn beans, added another couple of cups of chicken stock, and used a stick blender to purée. Lastly, I stirred in a little heavy cream. It ended up tasting just like split pea with ham soup. Delish!















I bought two racks of frozen, pre-marinated (Kansas City BBQ) ribs, and I thawed them overnight in the fridge. To cook them, put the metal rack into the IP, pour in a cup of apple cider vinegar, then CURL the racks of ribs into the pot. Cook on either meat or manual for 27 minutes, then brush with your favorite BBQ sauce and broil for five to ten minutes in the oven until browned and crispy on top.



















Monday, August 07, 2017

A Sweet Tea Pie Experiment


I bought two frozen pie crusts to make a birthday pie for a friend, but I didn't have room in the freezer to store the other crust. So what else could I do but make another pie? There was recently a whole pie episode on a show I watch called "Food Porn," and they featured a bakery called The Pie Hole in L.A. that makes an unusual item called Earl Grey Tea Pie. They didn't give an exact recipe, but they showed the steps of the process. Of course, I thought, "I could make that!" So I did. The pie has a bittersweet ganache layer and roasted/salted pistachios on the bottom, an Earl Grey-infused white chocolate mousse filling, and it's topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream and more chopped pistachios.













And I must say, I am so pleased with myself and how my Earl Grey Tea Pie experiment turned out so beautifully! It's light as feather (how could it not be, as it's mostly comprised of whipped cream?) with a little dark chocolate bitterness and some pistachio crunch on the bottom, and the tea flavor in the white chocolate mousse filling is more subtle than I had feared. The only thing that would perfect this pie is a homemade crust, which I will be sure to do next time.

Earl Grey Tea Pie
(Source: inspired by The Pie Hole's signature pie)

one 9-inch pie crust*, blind-baked and cooled

1 cup half-n-half
4 Earl Grey tea bags
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted and salted pistachio, roughly chopped (divided)
3/4 cup chopped white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

While you are baking and cooling your pie crust, bring the half-n-half and the teas bags just to a boil, remove from the heat, and let the tea steep for at least an hour until the half-n-half is a tan color. Remove the tea bags and discard.

Bring the infused half-n-half back to just before the boiling point. Add 1/4 cup to the bttersweet chocolate chips, and the other 3/4 cup to the chopped white chocolate (in separate bowls). Whisk until smooth. Spread two or three tablespoons of the bittersweet ganache into the bottom and up the sides of the baked and cooled pie shell. Sprinkle on two tablespoons of chopped pistachios. Place the pie shell in the fridge while you continue with the rest of the pie.

Whip two cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Don't worry about tiny bits of tea in your ganache--I like how that looks--but if larger pieces have escaped the tea bags, strain it through a mesh strainer.) Once the tea-infused white chocolate ganache has cooled to room temperature and has been strained (if necessary), whisk in one quarter of the whipped cream, then gently fold in another quarter of it. Remove pie shell from the fridge and add the white chocolate mousse filling.

Gently fold in the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste to the remaining whipped cream, and then top the pie with that mixture, and the other two tablespoons of chopped pistachios. Chill at least two hours or, preferably, overnight.

*I used a frozen pie crust, But according to the "Food Porn" pie episode, The Pie Hole's two-crust recipe is as follows:
3 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup cold water

Mix ingredients until it feels "like a baby's bottom" then chill. Roll out, fit into a pan, weight down, and blind bake for 20 minutes until GB&D.





Sunday, March 26, 2017

YO! Philly Cheesesteak Pasta in the Instant Pot

I tried something new in my magic pot tonight, an adaptation of another one of those recipe videos that was going around Facebook, called Philly Cheesesteak Pasta. It turned out well, but it basically tastes like Beef Stroganoff. (That's okay. I like Beef Stroganoff. Tee hee.)

Instant Pot Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
(Source: Adapted from Twisted Food)

Brown in a large skillet over medium heat in two tablespoons olive oil:
1 3/4 lbs. stew meat (I used chuck)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Add browned meat to the IP. In the pan drippings plus one tablespoon butter, cook until tender:
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced (I prefer a Cubanelle)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Add the sauteed veggies to the pot, plus:
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cook on stew mode for 35 minutes, then let release naturally.

Leave pot on warm and add:
1 lb. penne, cooked to al dente and drained
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste