Monday, January 16, 2017

Pan Seared Filet Mignon & Roasted Butternut Squash

This evening I kept dinner pretty simple. I'm still feeling a bit under the weather and don't have my usual energy back yet. Yesterday, we had picked up some beautiful filet mignon steaks to make for dinner but I didn't have the appetite or desire to make them yesterday. I'm so happy I waited until this evening because I actually enjoyed the meal. The only seasoning I used for both the steaks and the roasted butternut squash was sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I used olive oil and butter to cook the steaks with and just olive oil to coat the squash before roasting.

To prepare the squash, I tossed 1-inch cubes of fresh butternut squash with olive oil and spread them out on a parchment lined large baking pan and then seasoned them with sea salt and black pepper. I popped them into a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes and then raised the oven temp to 425 degrees and cooked them for about another 10 minutes so they would get nice and brown and caramelized.

While the squash was in the oven, I seasoned my steaks with sea salt and black pepper on both sides. I added a couple tablespoons olive oil and couple tablespoons butter to a heavy dutch oven (you could also use an ovenproof skillet or cast iron skillet since it gets finished in the oven). I heated the oil and butter over medium-high heat and added the 1-1/2" thick steaks and cooked them for approximately 8 minutes on one side until they were nice and browned, then turned them over and cooked for about 5 minutes on the other side. I then placed them in a 425 degree oven to cook for approximately 10 minutes and turned the heat off and let them sit for about 5 minutes or so in the hot oven. They came out cooked medium to medium-well (a thin line of pink inside). I'm not crazy about rare meat but don't mind a little pink inside. Simply increase or decrease the cooking time depending on whether you like your steak more or less done and also depending on the thickness of your steaks. These steaks turned out so tender and juicy.

I snapped a couple of quick photos of tonight's meal below. Enjoy!



            

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Happy Sunday - Instant Pot Greek Yogurt for Breakfast

Happy Sunday!  A number of you have told me that you are anxious for my Instant Pot recipes since many of you know that I purchased one a few months ago (I have the Instant Pot IP-DUO80 model which is their largest 8-quart version). So, while I haven't written up my Instant Pot recipes yet, I do want you to know that I have used it many times and have been enjoying experimenting with it and plan to start posting them in the near future.

While I don't have this yogurt recipe ready to share with you yet, I thought that since it is what I'm having for breakfast this morning, I'd take a quick photo for you since it just happens to be Greek yogurt that I made using my Instant Pot. I've made it numerous times already and while it is easy as pie to make, it's something that you probably want to make on a day when you are hanging around the house since you need to bring the milk up to a specific temp and often tweak it to get to the right temp. It then needs to cool down to a certain temp before you add starter (fancy word for adding "already made yogurt") and then let it ferment overnight in the Instant Pot. So, while very easy to do, it kind of keeps you close by your kitchen until you get to the fermentation stage which I do for 10 hours in the Instant Pot. I've made it using organic whole milk, 2% milk, etc. and I honestly can't tell much difference between using whole or 2% milk, so I'd use whatever you prefer. So far, every time I've made it, I have made it with 1 gallon of milk because after straining the yogurt to make Greek yogurt, you lose a lot of volume. It was quite shocking to me when I realized how much whey gets strained off; literally several cups of liquid. This batch I'm eating now is made with 2% milk. I swirled a scant tablespoon of no sugar added peach preserves and then topped it with some fresh blackberries. It was delicious. I promise to post my recipe and steps soon. Check out my home made yogurt below. Enjoy!



            

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happy 2017 - Saturday Night's Cheese Head Pizza

Greetings and Happy New Year! Long time, no see, right? I've really, really, REALLY missed blogging, but I took a much needed break and, like it or not...I'm back! If you contacted me and I didn't respond, I apologize because as most of my regular followers know, for the past 4-1/2 years, I have been steadfast in posting almost daily and responding to everyone promptly. 

As some of you know, this past year has been difficult for a multitude of reasons. It's been a year filled with loss, a lot of change, and a whole lot of work. No matter how much we have in front of us to do...we only have 24 hours in a single day to do it. I essentially burned myself out and was just plain exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, I am one of those people that rarely (if ever) says no, and I have the tendency to take on more than I should and still maintain some sense of sanity. As many of you know I lost my mother a year ago, and we also moved, which involved both selling a home and purchasing a new home and all of the projects that we had done in the new home once we got moved in. Not to mention, something that I detest immensely...MOVING! I feel like all I did every single day was work, pack, clean and try to keep my home looking like nobody lived there. There was only one little problem was....we did live there! 

As a food blogger, one of the things you understand is what havoc blogging does to your kitchen. Basically, by the time you get done cooking, photographing, writing up your recipe and your blog post...oh, and actually get the chance to eat what you prepared...it looks like a bomb went off in your kitchen; a really big bomb at that. And that scenario repeats itself almost EVERY...SINGLE...DAY! I also work full time and am gone for almost 10 hours a day, so all of this goes on in my "spare time". I have to squeeze a little sleep in there as well and more often than not, never got more than about 4 hours on any given night. Throw in the little fact I also take on various other food projects...some small and some large. Regardless of how much work all of this is, for me it is a labor of love and I really enjoy it. I couldn't or wouldn't have invested this much time in this for all these years in this if I didn't. But this past year, with the addition of both selling my home and buying a new one, and all that entailed just pushed me to my limits and something had to give. But, we are now pretty well settled in and are finally beginning to feel like we don't just work here, but actually live here. 

I decided to start my first post of 2017 off with what I made for dinner this evening and what also happens to be one of my absolute favorite recipes...Cheese Head Pizza! It's one of those recipes that you can serve to all of your friends and family that aren't grain or gluten free as well because you honestly can't tell that it is grain and gluten free. I've made it so frequently now that I can usually make it and bake it and have it on the table in about 30 minutes. I topped tonight's pizza with large sandwich-sized slices of Boar's Head pepperoni, sliced yellow bell peppers and sliced fresh mini San Marzano tomatoes. I've been sick this past week with some kind of virus and am still not feeling too snappy, but tonight's pizza is about the only thing that has actually tasted good to me all week. I actually enjoyed it. I've included the recipe below and a few photos I snapped as well. Oh, and if you didn't already read between the lines...I really missed all of you and wish all of you a very happy and healthy new year! Enjoy! 


Ready for the oven...baked crust 11 minutes, then topped and baked another 10 minutes
Fresh out of the oven
CHEESE HEAD PIZZA – My Take on Fat Head Pizza

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella (whole milk or part skim)
3 ounces brick style cream cheese
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (powdery style)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 large egg
1 tablespoon olive oil (to oil hands before pressing out dough)
Desired toppings (pizza sauce, pepperoni, cooked peppers, onions, mushrooms, additional cheese, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper

Place mozzarella and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Heat cheese in microwave on high for 45 seconds; stir and heat an additional 30 to 45 seconds or until a hot melty mass of cheese is formed.

While cheese is melting in microwave, stir almond flour, Parmesan, salt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning together in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and egg to bowl of hot melted cheese. Working quickly, fold and stir mixture together with a rubber spatula until a ball of dough is formed (make sure cheese mixture is hot before adding flour and egg).   

Place ball of dough in center of parchment lined baking sheet (or on a non-stick baking sheet or pizza pan). Oil hands with olive oil (*see note/updated instructions below) and press dough out into desired shape (round, oval or rectangular) until about ¼-inch thick or pour the tablespoon of olive oil on top of the dough after placing it in the center of baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to press and spread the dough out evenly. Prick holes all over crust surface with a fork to prevent crust from bubbling up. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown (rotate pan half way through for even browning). Remove crust and top with pizza sauce, additional cheese, and any desired toppings. Bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until heated through. Run briefly under the broiler, if browning is desired.

*Note/Update: Rather than oiling hands with olive oil to press dough out, a much easier (and less messy) way to press it out is to pour the tablespoon of olive oil on top of the dough after placing it in the center of baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to press and spread the dough out evenly. If necessary, lightly oil the rubber spatula to keep from sticking.

            

Saturday, November 5, 2016

November Morning's Breakfast - Easy Low Carb

Happy first Saturday in November! This morning we awoke to temps in the 50s for a change. It finally feels like fall. The leaves are changing colors and falling and hopefully our unseasonably hot weather is behind us. We've had temps in the 80s, near 90 this past week which is entirely too hot for this time of year. The poor little trick or treaters were sweating as they ran from house to house this past Monday night. When I awoke to a chill in the air, I was actually in the mood to make a hot breakfast. Last night hubby and I went to Costco after work and picked up bags of fresh cranberries and baby brussels sprouts. So, the only logical thing to make for breakfast this morning was Brussels-Bacon & Onion Hash, a red bell pepper and spicy cheese omelet and Cranberry Pecan Twirls! It was YUMMY! I snapped a quick photo of my plate this morning. This past week I made yogurt in my Instant Pot for the second time. I've got it straining in the fridge now to make it into Greek Yogurt, The first time I made vanilla bean yogurt and this time I made just plain. It turned out great but I've decided it is definitely not a weeknight project for me and next time I will make it on the weekend.

Now that the temps are cool today, we've got one more crape myrtle to plant outside and we are done with yard work for the season. I have all winter long to ponder what to plant in the spring!  We are finally settling into the new house after 3 months. We actually have pictures on the wall and it's beginning to look and feel like home. It is still a work in progress. I thought I had the last kitchen project done a few weeks ago (or so I thought). We replaced the old white kitchen sink with a huge single bowl black cast iron sink and new faucet (my granite counters are black with silver, gray and copper flecks). Unfortunately we found the sink was cracked on one corner after it was installed, so we've got a new one on order. Check out my first November weekend breakfast. It has all my favorite things in it!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Cranberry Pecan Breakfast Twirls - NEW RECIPE!

Today I'm debuting my new recipe for Cranberry Pecan Breakfast Twirls as my guest post for Honeyville...just in time for you to add to your holiday breakfast menus. Cranberries are my favorite fall fruit flavor. I began by making my easy recipe for sugar free Cranberry Orange Coconut Sauce (I omitted the coconut for these rolls but you could leave it in if you prefer). They turned out amazing! I made a Cinnamon Vanilla Glaze (soft frosting) to top half of them with because I actually like them "as is". They go great with a big mug of coffee. They are so very easy to make. To experiment a bit, I placed the sliced unbaked rolls in a round cake pan to bake together like cinnamon rolls (where they spread and touch each other as they bake). I also placed some rolls in a muffin tin and baked them as individual rolls where you get a nice golden brown crust on all the edges, much like traditional pecan twirls. They bake taller and more uniform when baked individually in muffin cups. So, depending on which way you prefer them, you can decide what type of pan to use. To get to the recipe for these beauties, please click here:  Cranberry Pecan Breakfast Twirls.












            

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sausage & Slaw - Quick and Easy Stir-Fry

This evening I made one of my favorite "fast food" meals. Sausage & Slaw that I simply stir-fry in butter or oil until the sliced Aidell's sausages are browned and the shredded cabbage and carrots (bag of fresh coleslaw mix) is wilted and still tender-crisp for texture. I also make this same dish with sliced brussels sprouts and broccoli in place of the cabbage mixture.

I simply slice and brown Aidell's Chicken Sausage Links and brown in butter or oil (I used Kerrygold butter this evening). I move the browned sausages over to a bowl while I saute a bag of fresh coleslaw mix (shredded green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots) in butter. I actually used a 2-pound bag of coleslaw mix this evening instead of the usual 1 pound bag. Once it's wilted to my satisfaction, I season it with a bit of salt and pepper and add the browned sausages back in, mix, and serve. That's all there is to it. I made it last week using fresh broccoli florets that I lightly steamed before tossing with the sausage. This evening we enjoyed it alongside some of my lightly toasted Cheese Pinwheel Rolls. It only took about 15 minutes to get this meal on the table. I snapped a couple photos below. Enjoy!



Stir-Fried Sausage & Slaw

Ingredients:

2 to 3 tablespoons butter, divided
4 to 5 smoked sausage links, sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch slices (like Aidell's Chicken & Apple Sausage)
16-ounce bag coleslaw mix

Directions:

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add sliced sausage links. Cook, stirring frequently until browned on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in coleslaw mix and about 1/4 cup water; cover and cook until cabbage is tender-crisp or desired doneness, about 5 minutes. Uncover and add remaining butter and cook another minute or until all liquid is cooked off. 

         

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Instant Pot Chicken Lettuce Wraps - Easy Low Carb

This evening I made Southwestern Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps for dinner. They were so quick and easy to make, thanks to my Instant Pot. I typically like to use leftover rotisserie or roasted chicken instead of cooking chicken to make these, but decided to take advantage of using my Instant Pot to cook the chicken from scratch. I simply placed 4 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs in the bottom of my stainless pot insert, added a couple tablespoons of water, seasoned them with salt and pepper, then topped the chicken with 1 cup of Hatch Green Chili Salsa, and scattered 2 small diced jalapeno peppers and 2 sliced green onions on top. I closed the pot, hit the poultry button, adjusted the cook time and then walked away. A little over 35 minutes later, the chicken was cooked to perfection for shredding. I simply removed the chicken with a slotted spoon, placed it on a large platter and shredded it with 2 forks. I filled baby romaine lettuce leaves with the shredded chicken and topped them with Sargento's shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream. They were delicious and so very simple to make. If you wanted, you could season them with taco seasoning before cooking, to make easy chicken tacos. I snapped a few photos below as well as the easy peasy recipe. Enjoy!







Instant Pot Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup salsa
2 small diced jalapeno peppers, optional
2 sliced green spring onions
Lettuce leaves
Desired toppings such as diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc.

Directions:

Place chicken thighs in bottom of Instant Pot stainless steel insert. Add water and season with salt and pepper. Spoon salsa over top of chicken. Top with jalapenos and onions. Close and lock the lid. 

Press the "Poultry" button; then press the "plus" button to increase cooking time to 28 minutes (from the preset 15 minutes). The pot will take about 5 to 10 minutes to come up to pressure as the float valve rises up, then it will begin counting down the 28 minutes cook time (it will beep when done) and automatically switch over to "Keep Warm". Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to turn the pot off (or leave it on until ready to serve). Allow the pot to release pressure naturally which will take approximately 15 minutes as the float valve returns to its original recessed position; alternatively you can do a quick pressure release, if desired, by carefully following the manufacturers directions. Unlock the lid and remove. Shred with 2 forks. Fill lettuce leaves with shredded chicken and top with desired toppings.

*Note: If you have a smaller Instant Pot or a different brand of pressure cooker, your "come to pressure" time and "release pressure" times may be different. 


            

Monday, October 3, 2016

Cheese Pinwheel Rolls - Chewy, Doughy & Cheesy Low Carb Bread

This evening I made another batch of my Cheese Pinwheel Rolls and tweaked them slightly. They turned out great! We enjoyed them fresh and hot out of the oven along with last night's leftover Instant Pot Spicy Chicken Chili. These rolls are based on a slightly modified version of my Cheese Head Pizza Crust dough. I've increased the eggs, added baking powder and made a few other changes. You simply press or roll the dough out to an approximate 10" x 15" rectangle and scatter shredded cheese over top of the dough (I used shredded 3-Alarm Spicy Pepper Jack Cheese and Parmesan). After spreading a layer of cheese on top of the dough, you gently roll and nudge the dough with a rubber spatula on one end to begin rolling it into a log that you cut into pinwheels and lay flat on a baking sheet to bake. They turned out unbelievably good! They were flavorful and bready with the familiar chewiness found in regular bread. They can be easily be modified and you can change them up by adding other ingredients to them as well. You could easily scatter some browned ground sausage along with the shredded cheese and make Sausage Cheese Pinwheels to enjoy alongside your eggs in the morning. I may give that a try soon myself. They are super easy to make and if you lightly oil the sheet of parchment that's used to assist rolling the dough into a log it's as easy as pie to do. I hope you give these rolls a try and enjoy them as much as we did. I snapped a couple photos of tonight's Cheese Pinwheel Rolls below as well as included the recipe. Enjoy!

Fresh out of the oven
Ready to be popped into the oven for 20-25 minutes

Cheese Pinwheel Rolls

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella (whole milk or part skim)
3 ounces brick style cream cheese
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (powdery style), divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, Pepper Jack, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a sheet of parchment paper with olive oil spray and place on counter. Line a large baking sheet with another sheet of parchment paper and set aside

Place mozzarella and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Heat cheese in microwave on high for 45 seconds; stir and heat an additional 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until a hot melted mass of cheese is formed.

While cheese is melting in microwave, combine almond flour, 1/4 cup Parmesan, salt, baking powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning together in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture, beaten eggs, and 1 tablespoon olive oil to bowl of hot melted cheese. Quickly fold and stir mixture together with a rubber spatula until a ball of dough is formed (make sure cheese mixture is hot before adding flour and egg). If necessary, microwave for an additional 15 seconds to keep cheese pliable and melted as it is mixed together.

Place ball of dough in center of the lightly oiled parchment paper. Pour remaining tablespoon of olive oil on top of the dough and press and spread the dough out evenly into a rectangular shape about 10" x 15" using a rubber spatula (if necessary, lightly oil rubber spatula to keep it from sticking to dough). Spread or roll dough out to a rectangle about ¼-inch thick. 

Lightly scatter 1 tablespoon Parmesan over top of dough. Top evenly with shredded cheese. Begin lifting the narrower 10" end of parchment, using your rubber spatula to gently nudge the end of dough over to begin rolling. Roll the dough by steadily lifting the parchment paper as you go, rolling it into a log. Once it's completely rolled into a log, use a sharp knife to cut dough log into approximately 10 1-inch thick round pinwheels (or 12 3/4-inch thick pinwheels). Place on parchment lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet, spacing about 1 to 2 inches apart. Sprinkle lightly with remaining tablespoon of Parmesan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and done. 


         

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Instant Pot Spicy Chicken Chili w/ Veggies

This weekend was a top 10 beautiful weekend for a change! It actually FELT like autumn. It was cool at night and in the morning, low humidity and sunny. We are still working on projects around the house but nothing pressing, which is nice for a change. This morning I got up early and made a new recipe for Cheese Rolls. I opened up the door from the kitchen to the screened porch to let the chilly morning air in while the smell of bread baking wafted throughout the house. They turned out amazing! I'll share the recipe with you tomorrow (I posted a photo of them below).

I was in the mood for chili this evening and wanted to try it out in my Instant Pot. It, too, turned out amazing! I made Instant Pot Spicy Chicken Chili w/ Veggies. Besides the usual onions, bell peppers and jalapeno peppers, I added diced yellow crookneck squash and some finely diced carrots for a bit of natural sweetness to balance the spiciness of the chili. When my children were young, I used to sneak veggies into chili, spaghetti sauce, and other things. The veggies tend to pick up the flavor of whatever you are cooking them in, so it's a great way to get some extra veggies into your kids (and husband) without them even really knowing. I loved how tender and melded the flavors were after pressure cooking it in the Instant Pot for 30 minutes. It tasted like it had slow cooked all day long. I served the chili with a basket of toasted Parmesan Biscuits and Cheese Rolls. Of course, you could always make this chili on the stove top or in the slow cooker if you don't own an Instant Pot. You can also slow cook it in the Instant Pot if you don't want to pressure cook it. If you prefer beef chili, just swap out the ground chicken for beef. It was the perfect meal to end a beautiful fall weekend with. I even snapped a few photos of my baby Spike. I tried to get him to look at the camera which naturally made him look the opposite way (he's good like that). Whenever I pull out the camera and point it at him, he refuses to look at it and turns his head away. I have to act like a semi-crazy woman to make him even glance my way for a split second. The recipe for the Instant Pot Chili is below as well as a bunch of photos. Stay tuned for the Cheese Rolls recipe tomorrow. Enjoy!


Cheese Rolls (recipe coming tomorrow)


Fire roasted diced tomatoes on the left and crushed on the right









Instant Pot Spicy Chicken Chili w/ Veggies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds ground chicken (I used ground chicken breast), or substitute ground beef
4 tablespoons oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 large sweet bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), diced
3 small yellow summer crookneck squash, optional
3 jalapeno peppers, finely diced (or to taste)
4 cloves garlic, minced
Spices:
   1 tablespoon chili powder
   1 teaspoon "Mexican style chili powder"
   1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
   1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
   1 teaspoon ground coriander
   1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin
   1 teaspoon dried oregano
   1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
   1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 23-oz jar diced fire roasted tomatoes, including juice (I used Muir Glen Organic Diced Fire Roasted tomatoes)
1 14.5-oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic Crushed Fire Roasted Tomatoes)
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water (more or less, depending on preferred thickness)
1 16-oz can kidney beans, drained (optional)

Directions:
Press the "Saute" button and heat 2 tablespoons oil in stainless steel pot insert in Instant Pot. Cook ground chicken, breaking up with a large spoon, until no longer pink. Transfer cooked chicken to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Add additional 2 tablespoons oil and saute onion, carrots, sweet bell peppers, squash, and jalapeno peppers until slightly softened. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Return cooked chicken to Instant Pot.

Add all of the spices, diced and crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock, and water. Stir in beans. Close and lock lid. Press "Bean/Chili" button. Timer will begin counting down the preset 30 minutes cook time as soon as the pot has reached pressure. When the cook time is completed, pot will beep and then automatically switch over to "Keep Warm/Cancel" and stay warm until you are ready to serve (if serving immediately, allow float valve to return to recessed position indicating pressure has been released naturally). If desired, chili can be slow cooked instead of pressure cooked for 4 hours using the "Slow Cooker" button instead.

Ladle chili into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese and dollop of sour cream, if desired.


            

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Official Instant Pot Debut - Easy 2 Ingredient Pulled Beef

Well, for those of you that don't follow me on Facebook, I finally broke down and bought an Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker). I have been looking at it for a couple of years now and it has been in and out of my Amazon cart no less than 50 times...LOL. I know many of you own one and have told me that you loved it. It has over 11,000 good reviews on Amazon and I took my own little poll on Facebook and asked my followers if they had one, and if so, did they like it...yay or nay. I didn't get any nays...nothing but yays! So, without further adieu, I ordered it. I chose their newer 8-quart IP-DUO80. It's a "7-in-1" pot and has a number of different preset buttons for various things including YOGURT! That is most definitely on my "must try" list. It can also be used as a slow cooker and you can saute and brown your meats and other frequently cooked add-ins like onions, peppers, etc. It came last week and I can't tell you how excited I was to see it sitting on my doorstep when I came home (am I a nerd or what)! 

I am currently nursing a badly sprained ankle and a few other minor injuries from a fall I took late Sunday night while trying to get a cob web I spotted above the fireplace mantle. So much for trying to be tidy, huh? Anyway...I didn't want to spend a lot of time on my feet cooking last night so I decided to break out the Instant Pot and give it a test drive because I had a chuck roast in the fridge that needed to be used. Chuck roasts as a rule tend to scare me (except for arm shoulder roasts). I can not tell you how many regular chuck roasts I have tried over the years and literally threw away without eating because no matter how I prepared them they always came out like a rubber chew toy. Even our old golden retriever couldn't chew one that I made many years ago. So, this was "THE" true test for me with the Instant Pot. I decide to keep it super duper easy because my goal was to make tender pulled beef that could be easily shredded with only 2 forks. OMG...I could have shredded it with a spoon if I wanted. It was unbelievably tender, moist and flavorful. I seasoned the 3-lb roast with salt and pepper and seared it in a bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes IN THE POT (not on the stove). I then poured about 1/2 of a jar of my favorite Hatch Green Chili Salsa (by Heritage Foods), about 1 to 1-1/2 cups over top of the beef, closed the lid and set it for 40 minutes. After the pressure came down I opened the lid to the most tender meat you could imagine. I am officially in love with my Instant Pot...plain and simple. It passed the "old chuck roast" test. I made a batch of my Parmesan Biscuits when I got home from work today and enjoyed one split and topped with leftover pulled beef, simply topped with a piece of Sargento Pepper Jack Cheese. It was AMAZING! I snapped a few photos and included the easiest peasiest recipe below. Enjoy!



It's a beauty to behold...LOL
Love this salsa!
Awesome Parmesan Biscuits
This is the view of one corner of my back yard behind the biscuit photo I took above

Instant Pot Pulled Beef

Ingredients:

3 pound boneless chuck roast
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons oil
1 to 1-1/2 cups salsa

Directions:

Press the saute button on your Instant Pot. Season roast with salt and pepper, to taste. Add oil to stainless cooking insert and sear the roast on both sides until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes (if necessary, cut roast into 2 or 3 large pieces to fit in bottom of insert). Pour salsa over top of beef. Cover and lock the lid. 

Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to cancel the Saute function. Press the "Meat/Stew" button; then press the "plus" button to increase cooking time to 40 minutes (from the preset 35 minutes). The pot will take about 5 to 10 minutes or so to come up to pressure as the float valve rises up, then it will begin counting down the 40 minutes cook time (it beeps when done) and automatically switches over to "Keep Warm". Press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to turn the pot off. Allow the pot to release pressure naturally which will take approximately 15 minutes as the float valve returns to its original recessed position. Unlock the lid and season beef to taste. Shred with 2 forks for pulled beef.

*Note: If you have a smaller Instant Pot, your "come to pressure" time and "release pressure" times will be shorter. I have the larger 8 quart pot. 

            

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chicken Enchilada Casserole & Chocolate Cake - A Birthday Celebration!

This morning I woke up early and immediately got to work in the kitchen because we are celebrating my oldest son's birthday later today. He requested my White Chicken Enchilada Casserole for dinner. We are having that along with green beans w/ toasted almonds at his request. Since it's going to be another hot day (low 90s), I awoke early to get much of the prep work done while it was still cool outside. I made 20 of my grain free tortillas (by tripling the recipe). I made a HUGE batch of chicken and cheese filling (diced cooked chicken and shredded cheese). I also sauteed 3 diced Poblano peppers and 2 diced jalapeno peppers to add to the chicken cheese enchilada filling. I stuffed and rolled the enchiladas and arranged them in my casserole dishes and covered them and popped them in the fridge. Before I put them in the oven to bake later, I'll quickly whisk together the sauce to pour over them right before baking. If you haven't made this recipe before, you should definitely try it because it's awesome. I'm so excited because this is the first "family celebration" in our new house. They have come for dinner individually since we've been in the house but this is the first all of us together celebration.

For his birthday cake, I decided to make my MJ's Fourth Generation Chocolate Cake, a special family recipe that I recreated for one of my blog followers last summer. When I made that recipe, it was baked in a jelly roll pan (10" x 15" x 1") and was a thinner cake, similar to a Texas Sheet Cake if you've ever had one of those before. This morning, I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9" x 13" pan. I had to adjust the baking time and I baked it for 45 minutes (about twice as long as in the jelly roll pan). It's cooling on top of the stove now so I can frost it with Chocolate Ganache Frosting and pecans later. So, before noon today I had made 20 tortillas, stuffed 20 enchiladas and baked a cake! How is that for prepping ahead! I snapped a few photos of my work so far this morning as well as a finished photo from when I made these dishes before. I've linked to the recipes in the paragraphs above (the enchilada casserole link is in the first paragraph and the cake recipe link is in the first sentence of this paragraph). Now, I'm off to clean the house. Enjoy!


Stack of 20 grain free tortillas waiting to be stuffed with a bowl of 11 cups diced chicken, 4 cups shredded cheese, 3 sauteed Poblano peppers and 2 jalapeno peppers
Stuffed and ready to be sauced and baked later

Cooling and ready to be "ganached" later