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Blog Archives

New Smoker/Grill

I’ve been wanting one for a while. This week seemed like a good time (why, how would you celebrate your new book?).

It was easy to put together and a breeze to operate. It is electric and uses wood pellets. It has a flame feature so when you want to sear that steak, you can do so easily.  It has temperature settings and a great meat probe.

I’m not sure Bixby approves. He’s suspicious of anything bigger than him.

I’ve grilled chicken, hot dogs and Italian sausage. Tomorrow I’m having a get together and I’m doing Chicken Kebabs.

Looking forward to a lot of summer grilling and I might even try to smoke a brisket.

I’m going to have a house-full all next week and then I’ll be on the road for a while, but I’ll have my computer with me, so I’ll try and do a few posts. I’m sure there will be a lot of good food. I’m wanting to try and create a strawberry-lemonade cake.

Until then…



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Dinner Menu: Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork, Pineapple Slaw and Lemon Tarts

Had company over on Friday and went all out on the menu

On the board:

  1. Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwiches
  2. Pineapple Slaw
  3. Waffle Fries w/special sauce (recipe here)
  4. Spinach Salad
  5. Lemon Tarts

Pulled BBQ Pork

I used the electric pressure cooker for this and it was great. I marinated the pork in apple cider vinegar and adobo seasoning overnight. I browned it in the pressure cooker, than cooked on high for 45 minutes, using the liquid from the marinade and enough water to come up to about 1/2 of the pork loin.

Once it was finished, I released the pressure, shredded the pork, added about 1/2 cup of Baby Rays Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce and turned on the slow-cooker feature and let it sit uncovered for 2 hours until company arrived.

If you don’t have time for the slow-cooker, turn up the heat and let the liquid reduce by half before adding BBQ sauce.

Serve on toasted rolls with Pineapple Slaw 

Pineapple Slaw (pictured above)

I saw a similar recipe when looking for cooking times for the pork. And it was a great addition to the pulled pork sandwiches.

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (I used green, but you can use red or a Napa)
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, crushed
  • 1/2 apple, shredded
  • 4 green onions chopped (including greens)
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (opt)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let set for at least 2 hours for flavors to meld.

Lemon Tarts

When I was in Paris I was on the hunt for tarts – specifically lemon tarts and strawberry tarts. Strawberries were out of season, so I had to settle for raspberry. The lemon were by far my favorite. They had a shortbread tart (the raspberry ones were pastry) that worked well with the tart lemon filling.

Lemon cream filling

  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter in the top of a double boiler set over, but not touching, boiling water. Cook, stirring, until thick and creamy, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Cool thoroughly before putting tarts together.

Okay, so all the recipes for lemon filling wanted a double-boiler.  I started with one, but after 5 minutes of stirring and not thickening, I changed over to a saucepan and whisked it for 5 minutes while it boiled and thickened and had no issues with it burning or sticking.  High altitude may have been the reason for my original troubles.  Water boils at a lower temperature here, so the double boiler may not have offered enough heat to thicken the sauce.

Shortbread Tart

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups flour

baking sheet

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in flour and mix well, then knead for 3-5 minutes until dough forms a ball.

Press dough into mini-tart pans. Prick each with a fork . Bake for 15-20 minutes at 300°  Cool thoroughly before assembling tart.

To assemble – add lemon filling to each cooled tart. Top with whipped cream and serve with crushed raspberries.

This made a lot of tarts, so I refrigerated half of everything and I’ll be making more for dinner guests later this week.



 

Multi-Pot Recipes: Cooking In Two Layers, Shredded BBQ Chicken and Mashed Potatoes

I’ve been using my multi-pot electric pressure cooker a lot. I’ve been making my standard pressure cooker recipes, including a delicious pot roast  (recipe here – although I’ve been using  whiskey instead of wine and really liking the flavor)

My multi-pot came with both a steamer tray and a steam basket. The former is so you can steam instead of boil your food and the latter so  you can cook two items at once. On a busy day, I may not cook fancy, but with a pressure cooker  you can put together a quick flavorful meal in a few minutes.

I thought it was time to give the steamer basket a try.

First up – the steamer tray. The one that came with the multi-pot is basically a wire rack. The one from my stove-top pressure cooker is a flat tray.

I wondered if it would fit and sure enough it did. So I started with that one, since I was more familiar with it. What I love about the steamer tray is you can infuse whatever you’re cooking with lots of flavor by placing a spice packet (I use unbleached coffee filters and string) under the tray, add just enough water to cover the tray and cook as usual.  Super flavorful when pressure cooked.

I made Chicken in BBQ sauce and mashed potatoes:

Shredded BBQ Chicken

  • 3 small boneless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • red wine vinegar
  • water
  • spice packet: rosemary, sage, garlic, oregano – crushed together and tied into a flat spice packet to fit under the tray

Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts. In the multi-pot add enough liquid (1/2 water and 1/2 red wine vinegar) to barely cover the tray. Add spice packet, steaming tray and then chicken breasts.

Now it’s time to add the potatoes in the steaming basket.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 potatoes (I like yukon gold, but any will do), washed and cut into eight pieces each)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the steam basket into the multi-pot and add potatoes.

Now it’s time to attach the lid and cook according to directions – use the time for the longest cooking item, in this case the chicken (15 minutes vs. 10 minutes for the potatoes).

Once the cooker has depressurized, add potatoes to a large bowl to mash, heat milk and butter in microwave until butter is melted and add to potatoes. Mash and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.

For the chicken, remove from the pressure cooker to a plate. Remove spice packet and liquid (I save the liquid and freeze for soup base). Shred chicken (I use two forks, pulling in opposite directions) and then add back into the multi-pot along with BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays – sweet & spicy – is my favorite) and turn the multi-pot to WARM. Let simmer until everything is heated through (a couple of minutes).

Serve with steamed buttered green beans for a quick evening meal.  It’s not fancy, but it’s also not fast food. 😉

This technique can be used with many items – instead of BBQ you can skip the vinegar when cooking and then use the liquid, along with milk, butter and flour to make a quick gravy after the chicken has steamed. Shred the chicken, add to the gravy and serve over potatoes.

Use this two-tier technique with pot roast, ribs, pork roast… etc.

I think I’m going to try lemon juice, chicken and rice for my next concoction.

Note on steamer tray – I made my first batch of mashed potatoes without it and the potatoes were watery. The next batch I switched to the steamer tray and they were smooth and creamy. Lesson: steam whenever you can instead of boil.

For all the Multi-Pot recipes, bookmark this link.

Next Multi-Pot recipe will be Sesame Chicken. Until then…



 

Coconut Lemon Cake Revisited

I visited family for Easter and it seemed like a good time to make my Coconut Lemon Cake. It was a hit – though my niece would have preferred a less tangy lemon curd. I will admit, I made it super lemony because my brother and I both love lemon.

Here’s the original recipe.

I made a few changes.

For the cake, I substituted coconut oil for both the oil and butter. When I originally made the cake, I didn’t keep coconut oil in the house, now it’s a staple. This upped the coconut flavor in the cake itself.

For the lemon curd, I flipped the water/lemon juice amounts. Using 1 cup of lemon juice and only 1/2 cup water. This upped the tartness substantially, so be prepared!

For the layers – this time I cut down from 4 to 3, using pie pans for the cake pans. This made for a much sturdier cake without losing any of the flavor – especially with the super tart curd.

Nom-nom. I really could have eaten the entire cake myself.

I’m off to do more prep on the vegetable garden. I have a hoop and 6 wall of water, so I’m hoping to get a head start later this month.

Depending on how the harvest goes, I’m definitely going to get a vacuum sealer to make freezing veggies easier. I. Do. Not. Can.

Are you planning your garden, yet?



Multi-Pot Recipes: Beef and Barley Soup

Yummy photo by the great JeffreyW

I have used my Multi-Pot consistently for the last few weeks. I made two batches of soup, pulled pork, pasta sauce and two batches of rice. The first batch of rice I was all cocky and used the simple pressure cooker setting and my own time – because you know, I’m the Queen of Pressure Cooking – well, that didn’t turn out very well. I mean, it was great sticky rice, but I was going for light and fluffy. So the next batch I used the Rice Button! I mean, come on, a pot you can just push RICE and 10 minutes later have fluffy rice – why was I fighting it??

The buttons on this brand are easy and intuitive to use. It does help that I’m familiar with what times work well with my stove top cooker and there are good resources in the booklets that came with the machine to help pick timing.

My first batch of soup was to make Beef with Barley Soup:

I used this recipe (click here). I was excited to try out the browning feature and the pressure cooking setting.

I quickly and easily sauteed the onions and browned the beef with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Then added the remainder of the ingredients, sealed it shut and turned it to the Meat/Stew setting and set it for 30 minutes.

It took it 10 minutes to come to pressure – which didn’t surprise me because I filled it to the highest mark allowed.

The soup was delicious – I could easily leave it on warm, open the lid and let sit and fill the house with yummy soup smells as long as I desired.  It was good and tasty. And clean up was a breeze – just tossed the insert into the dishwasher.

The one part of this electric pressure cooker that has been a learning curve for me is the quick -release method. I am so used to taking the pot over to the sink and running cold water over the top. With this, they say to just turn the pressure valve to open. Which sounds easy-peasy.  EXCEPT it spews greasy, starchy steam all over my kitchen cabinets.

The solution is fairly simple – I grabbed an old kitchen towel and cover the valve with that as it releases. Takes a bit longer, but no mess and no risk of a scary steam burn.

So for this recipe, I’d give the Multi-Pot a solid A.

I know, I know I promised a puppy update…give me a few minutes. Until then…



 

Pasta with Spinach Cheese Marinara

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray and store in a freezer bag.



 

Tired of Winter Cooking: Some Fresh Ideas

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

 

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

There will be a puppeh update today or tomorrow. Until then…

Super Bowl Sunday Favorite Snack Recipes

JeffreyW's Awesome Nachos

JeffreyW’s Awesome Nachos

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, when you sit down to stuff your face with favorite snack foods, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl Commercials.  I think there is some football in there somewhere.

It seems to have become a tradition to repost these recipes, some of my favorites. I’ve added JeffreyW’s Hot Wings to the group. Click here for his deep fried wings (pictured above) and Bleu Cheese Dip. For all his Hot Wing variations, click here.

You can’t go wrong with nachos – easy and easy to pile high with your favorites ingredients.

Here’s a kinda healthy version: Black Bean and Corn Nachos, recipe here.

JeffreyW gets creative with his pizzas, here , herehere  and if you want to see them all, here (the man does love a good pizza).

For something a little different, Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe is here.

Now it’s your turn, what are you planning on making this Sunday and more importantly what beer are you serving?  Do you make chicken wings or buy them from a favorite place? Most importantly, Broncos or Panthers?

Tonight’s featured recipes – one traditional, one a bit more creative:

Quick and Easy Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3-5 Jalapenos finely chopped (depending on heat)
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • Lg. can V8 Juice
  • 2 cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Original Ro-Tel
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

Brown ground beef and drain. Saute jalapenos, green pepper, onion and garlic. In large pot combine all ingredients bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for at least 30 minutes.

In my house we serve chili with fritos and shredded cheddar, layered in a bowl – fritos, chili, cheese and more fritos.

Slow Cooker instructions:  Following instructions above, add everything to slow cooker, cook on high for 15 minutes, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 6 to 8 hours.

Also, if you are serving at a party, you can cook in large pot above for 30 minutes and then transfer to slow cooker on low or warm to keep it hot during the festivities.

Looking for a little more kicked up chili? Check out JeffreyW’s Chorizo Chili here.

And my favorites to take to a party:

Basic Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped ham slices

You spread the ingredients on the tortillas, roll them up and slice them into 1 inch pinwheels. Couldn’t get much easier.

So how do we add some dazzle? Flavored tortillas and a variety of fillings.

Here are some ideas I had:

Jalapeño & Cilantro Tortillas and Black Bean Tortillas

  • Cream Cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Sliced green chilies
  • Turkey
  • Salsa
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Roasted Red Pepper Tortillas and Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Tortillas

  • Cream cheese mixed with crushed roasted garlic
  • Spinach
  • Pepperoni
  • Grated Parmesan

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What will you be doing during the big game? Have any fun snack recipes to share? Don’t be shy, I’m always looking for something new and unusual.

I will have a Bixby/Scout update this weekend! And I have the makings for a post on how to overcome the winter cooking blues (when I really need to have some lighter, fresher dinner ingredients about this time of  year). Until then…



 

Glazed Meatloaf

JeffreyW linked to this recipe originally. When I went to make it, I adapted it to what I had on hand.

Glazed Meatloaf

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 stalk celery, rough chopped
  • 1 small carrot, rough chopped
  • 1/2 onion, rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage (pork or ground beef can be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper

Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a skillet, melt butter and saute celery, carrots, onion and garlic until soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly. In a blender, add crushed tomatoes, soy sauce and chopped vegetables. Blend until smooth.

In a bowl, combine oats, beef, sausage, vegetable mixture, spices and eggs, and mix until well combined. You’re probably going to have to use your hands to get it done properly. I don’t have an issue with that, but if you do, kitchen latex-free disposable gloves are a lifesaver (I use them for chopping chiles and such).

You want this to be somewhat firm, but it’s not going to stand up on its own (that would lead to dry meatloaf)

Cover a baking sheet with foil and then top with a sheet of parchment paper. In a loaf pan, form the loaf, tap it on the counter to remove any air pockets. Refrigerate until oven preheats to 350 degrees F. Next put the parchment paper over the top, then place the baking sheet over the top and invert everything. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and gently remove the loaf pan.  It helps to use a thin spatula. Put the meatloaf back in the oven and bake uncovered until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. About 40 minutes.

While it’s baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until it has thickened.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven, turn heat up to 450 degrees F, baste the meatloaf with the glaze, return to the oven and bake for 3 minutes, glaze again, bake for an additional 3 minutes. Then a third time and remove from the oven when the glaze is bubbly and brown.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes so that you can cut it evenly.

The vegetable mixture really gives this meatloaf a silky texture and it is full of flavor.

I think serving it with mashed potatoes should be mandatory. YMMV.



 

Creamy Roasted Poblano Soup

Creamy Roasted Poblano Soup

  • 4-5 poblano peppers – roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water (I used water)
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • salt and pepper
  • limejuice
  • cilantro
  • shredded sharp cheddar or Crema Mexicana

This is so easy. I had frozen, roasted poblano chiles, so all I had to do was thaw, skin and seed them. But if you have fresh chiles, heat them under the broiler for 5 minutes (watch carefully and turn as needed) until the skins are blackened on all sides. Cool and then slip off the skins. Slice open and use the knife to remove seeds and ribs (usually just be scraping with the knife). Rough chop.

In a saucepan, heat butter and add chopped onions. Saute until they are translucent, add chopped garlic and heat through before adding the chiles. Stir for a moment until everything is coated in butter. Remove from heat and add to blender, along with water or stock. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Add back to saucepan, along with milk, and bring to a very low boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Just before serving add the juice of 1/2 lime (more to taste). Garnish each bowl with cilantro and cheese.

Serves 4