Blog Archives

Pushing the Limits: One Pot Dinners

DSC_1850 [1024x768]

JeffreyW plates up a good-looking Pot Roast Dinner

I love to cook in my pressure cooker – rice, beans, soups – they all get their start in my pressure cooker. But my favorite thing to do is that quick dinner that tastes like it’s been in the slow cooker all day, even though I completely forgot to even take the meat out to thaw.

My usual meal is to add about 1 cup of water to the pan, add a bunch of spices and herbs to the water, put the tray in and then layer halved potatoes, FROZEN skinless chicken breast or thighs (boneless or not, doesn’t change cooking time much), throw a couple of halved carrots on top and pressurize. Twenty minutes later, dinner is ready. The spices and herbs in the water infuse everything with flavor. It’s not as complex as roasted chicken, but for a quick dinner, it’s great.

Today I was wandering through the freezer, reorganizing to make room for holiday stuff and counting my bags of cranberries – which I stockpile in case there is a great cranberry shortage in the future. I pulled out a nice chuck roast I bought on sale a few weeks ago, half of which I used for the beef stew last week, half I tucked away for a nice pot roast dinner. I thought it would be nice to make tomorrow. Then I decided I wanted it today.


This is the newest model comparable to the one I own. Pretty.

So I pulled out the pressure cooker. This would be a first, starting with a frozen roast. It was either going to work or I was going to end up with one tough piece of beef. But I wouldn’t know if I didn’t give it try. (I do these things so you don’t have to).

I put the roast on the tray, poured a little bourbon over it (since it worked so well with the beef stew) added water, bay leaf, salt, pepper, onion, halved potatoes and carrots. I pressurized it for 55 minutes. I was guessing at the time because I wasn’t sure with it frozen how much extra time I should add.

At the 55 minute mark, I turned off the heat and let it depressurize slowly (instead of cold bath method). When I opened it, the beef was perfect. Again, the flavor was not as complex as if I had been able to brown it ahead of time. But it was tender and moist.

The carrots and potatoes were good, although if I did it again, I would probably add them at the twenty or thirty minute mark and re-pressurize for another twenty minutes.

So I’ll mark this down as a win and know that if I need a quick dinner, I can put pot roast on the list of recipes that will go from frozen to dinner in an hour.



Dinner Menu: Spicy Potato Soup and Gooey Chocolate Treat

Spicy Potato Soup_Snap2Well, in parts of the Front Range there was 10 inches of snow. Here…rain. Bixby was disappointed but I was not. Still cold enough to keep the soups going.

I rifled through my files and decided on another soup for the dinner menu this week:

When the cold weather hits, it is great to hunker down with some hot soup, buttery biscuits and finish with some melt-in-your-mouth cake warm from the oven. This is my go-to potato soup, over the traditional cream of potato soup; I like the spiciness and the sautéed onions add a deep, rich flavor. The garlic biscuits are a nice complement to the soup. I was going to find a healthy dessert for tonight, but then thought to heck with it, it’s cold and we need chocolate.  Rich, gooey, chocolaty goodness.

JeffW's awesome biscuit photo. So beautiful I wouldn't even try to compete with my own.

JeffW’s awesome biscuit photo.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Potato Soup
  2. Garlic Biscuits
  3. Salad
  4. Mocha Cake

Spicy Potato Soup

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • ½ lb spicy ground sausage, browned and drained
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (opt)
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 6 potatoes, well scrubbed, unpeeled and cubed
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar or jack


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and lightly golden, about five minutes. Add sausage, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, garlic, broth, & potatoes. Mix milk & flour, add. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until potatoes are soft. If it’s too thick, add water. With a potato masher, slightly mash a few of the potatoes. Serve with cheese to garnish.

Garlic Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp buttermilk powder*
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup milk*

bowl and baking sheet or cast iron skillet, greased

I prefer using butter over shortening because it gives the biscuits a buttery, garlic flavor that is irresistible.

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in butter, stir in garlic, add milk. Stir quickly with a fork until completely moistened, don’t over mix. Knead gently on floured surface for 10-12 strokes. Roll out to ½ inch thick, cut into biscuits. Place on baking sheet or cast iron skillet, and bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

*or substitute 1 cup buttermilk,  then omitting buttermilk powder and milk.

Mocha Cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup very hot coffee**
  • 8×8 inch baking dish, lightly oiled

Preheat oven to 350°

This is a pudding style cake, so you don’t want to over bake it. You’ll serve it warm and directly from the pan. When you cut into it a thick, gooey chocolate center will be revealed.

From the top list: combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Combine milk, oil, & vanilla, mix well and add to flour mixture. Stir well. Pour batter into baking dish. From the bottom list: combine sugar & cocoa and sprinkle over batter. Pour hot coffee over batter – DO NOT stir. Bake for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched, do not over bake.

** for a stronger coffee flavor, double the ground coffee to water ratio, or use espresso.

Shopping list:

  • Salad fixin’s
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • ½ lb spicy ground sausage
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 6 potatoes (russets work best)
  • 5-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar or jack
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • Coffee or espresso to make 1 strong cup

Also: flour, sugar, crushed garlic, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, cayenne, salt, pepper, baking powder, oil, vanilla

Originally posted on February 2011


Friday Recipe Exchange: Bourbon Beef Stew

Bourbon Beef Stew

Just got back from an awesome play date for Bixby and lunch with friends for me. It sounds like we are in for a big snow storm next week and I am not ready. But the weekend is supposed to be nice, so we’ll get out and enjoy it while we can.

Speaking of snow, we had our first real snow this week, along with thunder, wind and rain. Although the inch of snow is long gone, the temperatures stayed cold enough for several days to make soups and stews the recipes of choice this week.

I began the week out by making Cream of Chicken Soup, recipe here.

Next up, the weekly dinner menu was Hearty Tomato Soup and Awesome Grilled Cheese, full menu, recipes and shopping list are all here.

DSC_1332 (1600x1060)

JeffreyW went with the ultimate comfort food (above), Baked Macaroni and Cheese, click here.

And if you want to spice things up, my friend Alton (not that one) makes Carne en su Jugo, recipe here –  there is also a full dinner menu and recipes at that link.

For the pet lovers, there is a Bixby update this week – he discovered piles of fall leaves.

How is your Friday the 13th going? What’s on your menu this weekend? We have a new movie theater opening, so that and a pottery show are on the agenda here. Are there good things cooking in your kitchen? Share your favorite soups and stews, I can always use something new for my recipe box. Especially with more cold on the way.

For tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at the top of the post), I played around with my basic stew recipe to make it bit more fun when friends came over for dinner this week. I didn’t have any wine handy, but always keep a bottle of good whisky in the pantry, so that became the little something extra for this one.

Bourbon Beef Stew

  • 1 lb chuck roast
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (more as desired)
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 rutabaga or parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into large chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour

skillet, dutch oven or slow cooker

Trim fat from chuck roast and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add beef and quickly brown on all sides. Reduce heat, add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add beef and garlic to dutch over or slow cooker. Deglaze skillet and add liquid to the beef mixture.

Add bourbon, vegetables, bay leaf and then add enough water to cover everything.

For stove top, bring to a low boil and stir occasionally. Once it begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium low cover and cook for 1 hour (longer will give you more flavor – reduce heat to low after 1 hour).  Stir occasionally.

For slow cooker – cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Then add the thickening sauce (below) and cook on high, uncovered, until thickened.

To thicken, heat 1 tbsp of butter and 1/4 quarter cup flour in skillet, stirring constantly until the flour is golden. Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup broth from the stew until smooth. Whisk mixture into the stew, bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until stew is thickened. Reduced heat and let simmer 10 minutes and serve.

That’s it for this week. Have a terrific weekend – TaMara









DSC_1277 (1600x1060)Mmm… chili!  I’m convinced this is the only way to prepare chili: Chop up a beef roast, add pork, onions, chili powder, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, chili sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, anchovy paste, fish sauce, salt, and whatever else that looks appropriate because I’m sure my list isn’t exhaustive.  Let all that marinate over night and cook it with more onions and chopped peppers before adding beans and more of whatever it needs in the way of chili powders and garlic.  This batch has minced bell peppers and a couple of jalapenos and is relatively mild.  Serranos or habaneros will up the heat to suit a more jaded palate.DSC_1264 (1600x1060)It’s hard to beat a decent ribeye.  Easy to cook and easy to eat.  We’ve taken to roasting potato halves cut side down with olive oil and kosher salt.20151030_082843[1] (1600x1060)Here’s Homer! He thinks he’s a dog.  Yet to catch a mole but not for lack of effort.  I have to say, we have plenty of moles for everyone to chase.  Jack is a champion mole catcher and Annie lends a hand.  I just wish they would fill the holes back up.DSC_1279 (1600x1060)Usually I make chili mac with plain boiled pasta but this time I ladled the chili over mac ‘n cheese.  I like these new dishes.PICT2464 (1600x1060)Mrs J has just organized a dog walk and the crew charges out into the yard, eager to see what’s new.  First stop is always the spot where she dumps corn and sunflower seeds – there are always new scents to savor.PICT1433 (1600x1060)I’m going to throw this up again, just because.  The shutter has tripped for some reason during that period where the light is low enough that the camera sensor has switched to night IR mode but there is still plenty to illuminate the whole scene.DSC_1268 (1600x1060)Burritos!  These are filled with roast pork, refried beans, and cheddar cheese.  We like burritos, they make an easy meal out of leftovers of all kinds – just about anything you can wrap a tortilla around.DSC_1281 (1600x1060)

Chicken Pr0n

DSC_1234 (1600x1060)


DSC_0734 (1600x1060)I’ve been on a fruit salad kick.  Lots of fresh fruit at the market this time of year.  Grapes are a mainstay, I use both red and green grapes and I like to cut them in half unless they are really tiny.  Seedless grapes are easier but I have spent a lot of time scraping seeds away when those aren’t available.  Also in this one are pears, peaches, kiwis, pineapple, oranges, and bananas.DSC02695 (1600x1200)

Kitteh!  Here’s a 3 month old male.  Mrs J says they named him Diti but she will not swear to the spelling.  D. T.?  DeeTee? Ditty?DSC_0723 (1600x1060)Mmm… cheeseburger.  This one has Swiss cheese and a pile of pickled peppers.DSC_0718 (1600x1060)More of those roasted rosemary Parmesan potatoes.  These are Yukon Golds and they are plated with sesame green beans and a piece of roasted chicken.DSC02699 (1600x1200)Moar Kitteh!  This is Kaitlyn, an 8 week old female with interesting coloration, a tabby/calico look.IMG_20150806_113021225 (1600x1200)That’s Kaitlyn there – right up against the blue watchband on this kitten house staffer.  They call that staffer “the cat whisperer” because she can really get a feral cat calmed down and purring.DSC_0728 (1600x1060)Country ribs and fries.  I have my best luck with these pork “logs” when I braise them, covered, in a low oven, say 225 to 250.  I use broth as the braising liquid, adding bbq sauce at the end and uncovering them to help reduce the sauce.  These were finished on the outside grill but they can be done under a broiler – watch them close so they don’t char.DSC_0653 [1600x1060]Here’s another cheeseburger, this one is garnished with some of those refrigerator pickles.  On the side is one of my favorite summer salads of tomatoes and cucumbers with onions in a vinaigrette.  It’s better the next day but isn’t bad when freshly made like this one.

Grilled Sweet Peppers & Potatoes

Grilled Potatoes and Peppers3

From May 2012. Updated with photo.

I know I promised to start a series on basic cooking techniques this week, but as I will explain later in the summer, my work situation is changing rapidly so this week has been consumed with those changes. Thursday’s recipe exchange ingredient is going to be potatoes, so I’m getting the ball rolling tonight with foil wrapped grilled potatoes and sweet peppers. Absolutely one of my favorite grilled vegetable recipes.  Yummy. Now I’m going to have to go make some.

Grilled Sweet Peppers & Potatoes:

  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion (opt. Vidalia or Walla Walla sweets if they’re in season)
  • 4 lg. red potatoes (peeling opt)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • foil

Seed peppers.  Slice peppers & onions into thin rings.  Slice potatoes into thin slices.  Tear 4 sheets of foil, large enough to hold ¼ of all ingredients and fold over.  Add ¼ of peppers, onions & potatoes to each sheet of foil.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper, then drizzle over each serving.  Fold and seal foil.  Grill over medium heat (not directly over flame) for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender, flipping halfway through.

Breakfast Pr0n – Andouille Hash

DSC_9921 (1600x1060)


DSC_9801 (1600x1060)Mmm… rib eye steak with rosemary potatoes fried in duck fat, and stir fried asparagus.  This is about the fifth best photo of this platter but all of the better angles revealed a (gasp!) hair.  It’s still there in this one but the light doesn’t catch it in quite the same manner and it’s not something you would find without some advance notice and some scrutiny at a higher magnification.  Of the three entrees the potatoes took the longest to cook.  Some recipes call for them to be par-boiled but I went with a straight up skillet fry.DSC_9809 (1600x1060)The asparagus we had with the steak came in a sizable bunch so I kept some back and used it this morning in a frittata/omelet with a sliced onion and a bit of ham.  Mrs J took a portion of orange chicken and rice to work with her the other day but brought it back because they had a spread laid out for lunch.DSC_9811 (1600x1060)The leftovers were perfect for a nice fried rice dish – this one has bacon, peas, green onions, and an egg added to the plain rice with a splash of oyster sauce and soy.DSC01684 (1600x1200)St Francis is in the middle of moving out of the old house that the shelter was established in and into their new building.  They’ve been saving up for a while and doing sales and auctions and hitting up local animal lovers for cash, the new headquarters is nearly half paid for already but they could always use more help.DSC01676 (1600x1200)Mrs J says they aren’t quite done with the finish work in the kitteh section of the new digs but these may be the last pictures taken of cats in the old house.  They are taking bids for the demolition.  It really was falling down around them.DSC01692 (1600x1060)We’ll have photos of the new place soon-ish.

Classic Corned Beef Dinner

DSC_9781 (1600x1060)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 736 other followers