Sunday, January 14, 2018

Corny Game Night Food

In 24 hours' time, we have gone from 50 degrees, to a foot of snow, back down to 13 below. Despite the winter madness, one must do something to stave off cabin fever, so I stoked the fire, turned on a space heater, left the kitchen tap trickling, and headed across town to play cards with some friends last night. I had a fun time playing a rummy-type game called Phase Ten. Like Monopoly, it takes FOREVER, so at 3am (still not having completed Phase Nine), we called it quits and declared the fellow in the lead the winner.

Of course, I never like to go to an event empty-handed, so I Googled “game night snacks” and I found this delicious-looking Pinterest favorite, bacon corn dip. It was easy to throw together and very tasty! I made a few changes based on what I had on hand, but it turned out well and was well-received by my fellow card sharps. I recommend this dish for your next informal gathering.

Bacon Corn Dip 
(Source: Adapted from Damn Delicious)

12 slices bacon 
6 cups corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (I used jarred roasted red peppers)
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (I used 5-6 pickled jalapeno slices)
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
4 tablespoons milk, or more, to taste
*I added one cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. When cool, chop into pieces. Drain excess fat from the pan, reserving one tablespoon.

Add corn, onion, bell pepper and jalapeño(s) to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese and milk until well combined, about two to three minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached. Stir in sugar; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with green onions and bacon.

*To reheat, bake for 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees F, or until completely heated through.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


My friend Sally spied two new Korean marinades at Aldi the other day, and she kindly grabbed me one of each, bulgogi and gochujang. Last night, I thinly sliced two small boneless ribeyes (one pound total) and used about half the bottle of the bulgogi marinade, then I stashed the meat in the fridge overnight. Traditionally, you’re supposed to grill the meat, but the pieces were so small, that I just cooked it in a large, very hot skillet until caramelized and served it over steamed rice (made in my magic pot) with a drizzle of sriracha. So good! YAY, Aldi! (And thanks, Sally!)

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Weeknight Chicken and Dumplings

A friend recently posted some type of chicken and dumplings dish that looked yummy. I asked for the recipe, but as one was not forthcoming (ahem), I decided to try one I found online entitled 30-Minute Chicken and Dumplings. Hmm...too good to be true? Nope! True and truly good! Typically, I prefer my southern family’s rolled out/slider type of dumplings, but this style is faster and still very tasty. They are very much like the kind you get at Cracker Barrel. And of course, I made this dish in my magic pot!

IP 30-Minute Chicken and Dumplings
(Source: Adapted from The Slow-Roasted Italian)

5 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used boneless, skinless thighs)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or mixed vegetables)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
1 cup milk

In the liner of the Instant Pot on saute mode, bring the chicken broth, butter, parsley, poultry seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, ground celery, basil, thyme and black pepper to a boil.
Meanwhile, cut chicken into one-3/4-inch pieces. Add to the pot and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and milk together until smooth. Slowly pour the slurry into the IP, stirring constantly. Add frozen vegetables.

Meanwhile combine dumpling ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix the dry ingredients and the butter with a fork. Gradually add the milk until just combined. Drop dumplings into the soup one tablespoon at a time. Reduce pot to low saute and cook until soup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about ten minutes.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

A Golden Casserole for the Golden Globes

The high holy season for cinephiles has begun! The Golden Globes are tomorrow night, and I have spent my winter break, as always, trying to watch every nominated film and most of the the tv shows. A friend is inviting a few people 'round to watch the show, and I am making two casseroles for the event: my favorite cavatini, and something I just made up that I'm calling Chicken Chile Relleno Casserole. I think it turned out great!

Chicken Chile Relleno Casserole

vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
16 oz. prepared salsa verde
2 cups sour cream
1 rotisserie chicken, deskinned, deboned, and shredded
1 teaspoon each paprika, chili powder, cumin, oregano, granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced or diced
2 cans whole green chiles, drained and sliced
1 lb. shredded colby jack cheese (or Mexican blend)

Heat an inch of vegetable in a large skillet to medium-hot. Fry the corn tortillas in four batches until golden brown, and drain on a paper towel. Set aside. Whisk together the salsa verde and sour cream and set aside. Mix the shredded chicken with all of the spices. Saute the onion in a little of the leftover vegetable oil until tender and starting to color. Reserve.

Assemble: Put a half cup of the salsa verde and sour cream mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Make a layer of six fried corn tortillas. Top with half the chicken, onions, green chiles, and a cup or so of the sauce. Top with half the shredded cheese. Repeat with a second layer, including the rest of the sauce but minus the cheese.

Cover with tin foil and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, add the other half of the cheese on top, place the foil back over the dish, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Brunch Inspiration from the Evergreen State

This turned out to be one of the tastiest dishes I have ever created, and also a special long-distance dedication to my friend whom I lovingly call Dr. Bob. He recently went to brunch at a restaurant called Luna in Spokane and had a dish similar to this and shared the idea with me. My version is Butternut Squash and Parmesan Polenta Topped with Local Curried Winter Squash Sausage from Mace Chasm Farm, Sautéed Baby Bella Mushrooms and Sweet Onions, and Poached Eggs. And I made the polenta and the poached eggs in my magic pot! ALL THE YUM!!

IP Butternut Squash and Parmesan Polenta with Sautéed Sausage, Mushrooms, and Onions and Poached Eggs

2 cups frozen cubed butternut squash
4 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup instant polenta
1 cup shredded Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lb. sausage (I used a curried winter squash variety), casings removed
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 lb. sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
1 teaspoon chopped dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of red pepper flakes
seasoned salt and black pepper, to taste

4-8 eggs (to be poached)

Add the squash, water, bay leaf, salt, and black pepper to the IP liner. Cook on manual for five minutes, release immediately, remove the bay leaf, and puree in the pot with an immersion blender. Add the butter, switch the pot to high saute and bring to a boil. Whisking constantly, add the polenta gradually, then turn off the pot. Keep whisking until the polenta thickens and starts to come away from the sides of the liner. Whisk in the Parmesan. Set aside.

To a large skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the sausage, breaking it up as you go, until browned. Remove the sausage from the skillet, and add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Cook the onions, garlic, and mushrooms with the rosemary, thyme, and red pepper flakes until the vegetables are tender and starting to color. Season to taste with seasoned salt and black pepper. Add the reserved sausage to the mushroom and onion mixture. 

Divide the reserved polenta into four portions and top each with a quarter of the sausage, mushroom, and onion mixture, and one or two poached eggs. (I poached my eggs in the IP for two minutes on steam with an instant release.)

Monday, January 01, 2018

Celebrating 2018 with Tiny Stuffed Birds

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! For my special holiday meal, I decided to fill two Cornish hens with a wild rice stuffing and glaze them with something fruity. Of course, the tradition is to eat things that have lots of small pieces on New Year's Day to symbolize coins or acquiring wealth in the coming year--usually black-eyed peas--but why not grains of rice and a side of green peas?

This was my menu:
Sriracha Deviled Eggs
Cornish Hens with Chorizo and Wild Rice Stuffing
Lemony Green Peas
Brownie Macadamia Sundaes

For the stuffing, I used two boxes of Near East Long Grain and Wild Rice. In the IP liner, I sautéed a large chopped onion, two chopped stalks of celery, and two minced cloves of garlic in two tablespoons of butter with two links of chorizo, casing removed and chopped. When the veggies were tender, I added a tablespoon of poultry seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper to the mixture. I poured in the two boxes of rice, the seasoning packets, and three cups of water. I cooked this on manual for six minutes, then let it release naturally. I cooled the rice stuffing before filling the cavities of the two hens. I put the excess stuffing in an 8x8 baking dish and covered it with foil.

After filling the hens, I trusted them with kitchen twine. I smeared the tops with softened butter and sprinkled them liberally with an herb seasoning blend. I baked them at 350 for about an hour and fifteen minutes until a meat thermometer told me they were done. About 20-30 minutes before that, I glazed them with a mixture of 1/2 cup orange marmalade, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and a squeeze of sriracha. I also put the extra pan of stuffing in the oven at the same time as I glazed the little birds.

For the peas, I steamed a large bag of frozen green peas for two minutes in the IP, then stirred in two tablespoons of butter, a tablespoon or so of Italian vinaigrette, a half teaspoon each of granulated garlic and lemon pepper, and the juice of a small lemon.