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Apple Crisp for Breakfast, That’s a Thing, Right?

…asking for a friend. 🤔

A few weeks back, the city once again sent out an alert: the apples in the city apple orchard were ready to be picked. So for the love of all that is holy, come and relieve them of these apples. Branches break, people get zonked by falling apples, the ground gets covered, so they seriously encourage people to “come and get it.” They are as organic as they come – other than some pruning, the city does nothing to them.

Photo from City of Longmont

Roger’s Grove Nature Area consists of 54.9 acres adjacent to the St. Vrain Greenway and includes Fairgrounds Lake, trails, a shelter, outdoor amphitheater, restrooms, native landscaping, demonstration gardens and an apple grove with fruit free for your harvest! Design and construction of the nature area was primarily funded by the Roger and Roberta Jones Foundation. Roger Jones (1915-1995), enjoyed walking along the river with his wife Roberta (1913-1992). Both educators in the St. Vrain Valley School system, the Jones’ wanted to contribute an environment for children and adults to visit, learn and enjoy. Roger’s Grove was developed as a nature area, arboretum and outdoor learning center.

…there are about 50 apple trees, of eight varieties, planted at Roger’s Grove, and they have not been sprayed with pesticides.

With all my apples, I made my Perfect Apple Crisp, recipe here, with a bit of twist. I came away with quite a few apples, and while a few are good to eat, most are better for baking. They sat in my fruit drawer for a week, and I decided I needed to do something with them, especially since I didn’t know if any of them were buggy – I didn’t want the bugs to multiply.

So I dumped them all in the sink, washed them and then sliced them up. I put them in my Multi-Pot (Instant Pot twin) and threw in about 1/2 cup of brown sugar, a dash of salt and just enough water to keep it from burning before the apples let go their juice. I set it for three minutes, assuming much of the cooking would take place while it pressurized. It was a good call.

I did the fast-release method, and the apples were perfect. Still had some shape and I thought would be great for baking. I had planned to freeze some, but best-laid plans and all, I instead went on an apple crisp spree. I’ve baked three in the last two weeks. Mmm–mmmm.

Oh, and those chicken thighs – I’ll put that recipe up later. Until then…



 

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Multi-Pot Recipes: Ropa Vieja

I love ropa vieja salad bowls. I made two big batches the past few weeks in the Multi-Pot electric pressure cooker. The second batch, pictured above, I forgot the onions. Not sure how I did that! I thought about putting grilled onions in after the fact, but that would have meant more cooking. I always omit the olives, no mistake there.

For whatever reason, and you can probably deduce from my minimal posting the last few months, but I’m really off cooking. The best I do each week is either grill up a bunch of things one night or make large batches of something in the multi-pot and serve it over rice or lettuce for the next few days. It’s not necessarily pretty, but gets us through the week, along with the fresh veggies that are abundant. We are just about out of corn-on-the-cob season, and I’m sad.

Meanwhile, I’m so not in the cooking mood, that is a store-bought tortilla bowl. Which I never do, it’s so easy to make your own.

Ropa Vieja

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3 lbs chuck roast, round roast or flank steak
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped or pureed (1 can crushed tomatoes substitute)
  • 1/4 cup green olives (oh, so very optional)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh leaves)
  • 1 tsp salt (more if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (more if desired)
  • cilantro for garnish

In the pressure cooker, heat oil and brown meat on all sides. Add remaining ingredients (except cilantro…and in my case, olives). Check your electric cooker guide, I cooked mine on the meat setting for 1-1/2 hours. I let it depressurize and then shredded the beef with a fork.

You can also use the slow-cooker method and slow cook for 8-10 hours.

Serve with tortillas, over rice or on a salad. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

 

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…



 

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…



 

Multi-Pot Electric Pressure Cooker

I finally got my new pressure cooker/slow cooker. I was going to get the Instant Pot, but every time I went to order it, it was back ordered. Then I stumbled on the Multi-Pot and it had all the features I was looking for – stainless steel insert, steaming rack and stackable pot to cook two items at once. It also came with some fun accessories – silicone mitts, which I found invaluable, and utensils.

Operation is very intuitive, so I’ve barely opened the instruction manual, so that was a plus and it comes with a link to a website with hundreds of recipes. My thought going forward is that I will try out a recipe a week, rate it and offer my tweaks.

We’ll have to see if I’m able to maintain that…so far I’ve made beef and barley soup, rice, chicken tortilla soup and used the slow-cooker for pasta sauce which was waiting for us when we got back from the “Ice Castle” adventure up in the mountains last night. I’ll share a few of those photos later. Until then…



 

InstaPot Moroccan Chicken

This was pretty good.  I wanted to do something in the Instant Pot with a whole chicken I bought the other day. (Those poultry shears worked great.)  I liked this recipe when I skimmed it for ingredients, pretty much everything it called for I had on hand.  Subbed regular raisins for the golden kind, and used green olives instead of ripe, and added turmeric to the spice mix, maybe 1/2 tsp.

The couscous was from a box mix with a packet of garlic powder and other spices, it worked pretty well and was in keeping with the Mediterranean feel of the dinner.  They eat broccoli in Morocco?  Well, I like broccoli.

InstaStock

Just a reminder for those with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker – you can make a nice stock out of those chicken bones you are saving.I set it for an hour and that seems sufficient.  The Food Lab has much more!