Happy Holidays To All!

Due the the holidays there will be no new recipe this weekend.

However, if you happen to be looking for a Black Eyed Peas recipe for New Year’s day, you’ve come to the right place!

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For Your Consideration, check out my recipe for Not My Mother’s Black Eyed Peas.

We will return next week for our regularly scheduled blog!

White Beans

White Beans + Ham Shank=Delicious!

Beans Bowl

A couple months ago, a reader asked if I could post some simple bean recipes. At that time we were in the middle of a scorching heat wave, so I put any bean recipes on the back burner (figuratively of course, if the beans had actually been on the back burner they would be quite scorched by now). But now that we are starting to see the beginning of El Niño, which I believe is Spanish for “crappy weather”, it is now the perfect time to be trotting out some bean recipes. This here one is super simple but quite flavorful thanks to smoked ham shank and a couple common herbs and spices.

White Beans Ingredients

I used a ham shank that weighed in at 1-1/4 pounds. You could substitute ham hocks (is there actually a difference anyway?), or you could use an equivalent size of smoked turkey thigh.

For the beans, I highly recommend soaking in salted water. I know, it has always been a hard and fast rule that you shouldn’t add salt until after cooking or your beans will be tough. Lately, however, I have been seeing a lot of people suggest soaking the beans in salt water (brining). And by George I think they are onto something. Normally I would soak the beans overnight, but I didn’t buy them until the morning that I was going to make this. I used a pound of beans, sorted them and removed the weird ones, rinsed them, covered them with water by about 2 inches above the beans and added 2 tablespoons of salt and stirred it all together. I let them soak for about 5 hours and that was plenty of time. Rinse them again before adding to the dish.Pork Shank Onions

Heat a little oil in the pressure cooker pot, then add a ham shank and some chopped onions. Sauté, turning the ham shank occasionally until the onions are translucent and the shank is browned.

Run 5 cloves of garlic through a press, toss in the pot and sauté for another minute.

Garlic Pressed

Put some paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt (that should be plenty, remember that we already salted the beans) and a little black pepper into the onion mixture and stir for 30 seconds.

Dump in the beans, pour in 6 cups of water, then toss in the thyme and bay leaves.

Bay Leaves

Lock the top on the cooker and bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure.

Set the time for 35 minutes.

When the time is up, let the pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes then do a quick release.

Pork Shank Meat

Uncover and remove the ham shank to a plate and let it cool enough to pull the meat from the bones.

In the meantime, put the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

When cool enough, pull the meat from the shank and stir into the beans. Continue to simmer for a couple more minutes to thicken slightly.

Beans and Herbs

Remove from heat, and ladle into bowls. Serve with biscuits or corn bread.

I like it with a little hot sauce.

White Beans
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Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 ham shank (approximately 1.25 pounds), you can also use ham hocks or smoked turkey thigh
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 pound great northern beans, sorted, brined and rinsed
  • 1 level teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat
  2. Add the ham shank and onions to the pot
  3. Sauté, turning the ham shank occasionally, until the onions become translucent and ham shank is browned (about 5 minutes)
  4. Toss in the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute
  5. Sprinkle in the paprika, salt and and pepper and sauté for 30 seconds or so
  6. Dump in the beans
  7. Add in the water, then toss in the thyme and bay leaves
  8. Lock top on pressure cooker and bring to high pressure
  9. Set time for 35 minutes
  10. When time is up, remove pressure cooker from heat and let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release
  11. Remove the ham shank to a plate and let it cool a couple minutes
  12. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems
  13. Put pot over medium high heat for a couple minutes while waiting for the shank to cool
  14. Pull the meat off the bones and stir into the beans
  15. Simmer for just a couple more minutes to let it thicken slightly
  16. Serve in bowls with biscuits or corn bread

 

30 Minute Chili

OK, make that 30-ish

Chili In Bowl

The last time I made this it took 34 minutes, but I will round it down to 30 anyway. It will vary slightly depending on whether you are using an electric or stove top pressure cooker.

This is another one of my super quick weeknight recipes. With no fewer than 3 canned or jarred items, the entire dish takes around a half hour. In the electric it took about 34 minutes. It is a little quicker on the stove top model, since it comes up to pressure a little quicker.

Chili Ingredients

This recipe can easily be doubled. When I do that, I usually use one can of kidney beans and one can of pinto beans. Of course, doubling the recipe will increase the time a bit since there is more liquid to bring to a boil.

Start by heating a little oil in the pressure cooker over medium high heat. If using an electric pressure cooker, set sauté mode to high.

Beef Browning

Add the beef and brown. It’s ok if there’s a little pink, it will finish cooking under pressure.

Add 1-1/2 tablespoons of your favorite chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Adjust salt before serving. Depending on the salt in your salsa and beans you may need to add a little more. Sauté for a minute or so.

Kidney Beans

Drain and rinse the beans, then dump them in.

Now add a can of Ro-Tel and a 16 ounce jar of salsa. I find it works best with a medium-heat chunky salsa. Pace medium picante sauce works well.

Rotel

Add 1/2 cup water and stir it all together.

Lock the top on the cooker and bring to high pressure.

Set time for 8 minutes.

Chili Finished

When time is up, do a quick release.

Serve in bowls with your favorite toppings, such as onion, sour cream and grated cheese.

I usually serve it with tortilla chips or corn bread.

30 Minute Chili
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Author:
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Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
A super quick chili, perfect for a weeknight meal
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (I use 85-15 ratio)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon of your favorite chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste) it will vary depending on the salt in your beans and salsa
  • 1 can Ro-Tel chopped tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 jar (16 ounce) salsa (I like a medium heat chunky style best)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup water
Toppings
  • Diced sweet onion
  • Sliced green onions
  • Grated cheddar or pepper-jack cheese
  • Sour cream
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in pressure cooker pot on medium-high heat (on electric use the high sauté setting)
  2. Brown the beef (it is ok if there is some pink, just so it is broken up)
  3. If there is a lot of fat, drain some of it (with 15% fat beef, I usually don't drain at all)
  4. Add the chili powder and salt and stir in with the beef. Sauté for a minute or so
  5. Dump in the Ro-Tel, the salsa and the beans
  6. Pour in ½ cup water, stir, and lock cover
  7. Bring to high pressure and set time for 8 minutes
  8. When time is up, do a quick release
  9. Serve in bowls with toppings of your choice and tortilla chips or cornbread on the side

 

Sneak Peek – 30 Minute Chili

Speedy, Spicy, Scrumptious Chili in Less Than 30 Minutes!

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I know what you’re thinking, “Yet another chili recipe?”

The thing about this one is that it is the quickest chili to make out of all my chilis. In less than 30 minutes including the time it takes to come up to pressure and release the pressure, you can have a tasty meal ready and on the table!

Check back on the weekend for the whole scoop!

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

A Hearty Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

Soup_Bowl1

I was looking for something hearty to make for dinner befitting this cool weather we’ve been having lately. The weather plummeted to 72 degrees today. But really, it has been getting down to the 50s at night, so it really is soup weather. I didn’t want to make chili again since I already had that  twice this week. I was pondering what to prepare while having a beer and for some reason it came to me, I will make something with barley it it!

Barley_Soup_Ingredients

Mushrooms are a natural and classic combination with barley. And I added beef to add even more to the heartiness and to make it a full meal. Just add some sort of bread and you’re set.

Stew_Beef

I used pre-cut stew beef because I am lazy, but chuck cut into cubes will work as well.

Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in pressure cooker on medium-high heat. I used the electric pressure cooker, so I used the Sauté setting on HIGH.

Beef_Browning

Next, brown the beef on one side, seasoning with salt and pepper while it is browning, then remove to plate. Browning just one side is enough to give it the browned flavor.

If there is a lot of fat from the meat, drain all but 2 tablespoons. Mine was pretty lean, so I didn’t drain at all.

Sauté some diced onion until translucent.

Onions_Sauteeing

Add the Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Stir it in with the onions and sauté for about 30 seconds.

Splash in a little wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Just a couple tablespoons of wine is plenty.

Peas_And_Carrots

Add some frozen peas and carrots, sliced crimini mushrooms and barley.

Sliced_Mushrooms

Add the meat back into the pan then pour in some beef broth and a little water.

Meat_Veg_Mush

Toss the bay leaves on top.

Barley_Soup_ReadytoCook

Lock the cover on the pressure cooker, and set to high pressure for 18 minutes.

When time is up let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.

Soup_Bowl2

Serve in bowls with crusty bread or corn bread.

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
A hearty soup perfect for a chilly winter night
Ingredients
  • 1 pound beef stew meat (or chuck cut into cubes)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb mix (I used Penzey's Tuscan Sunset
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 splash red wine (a couple tablespoons, optional)
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 ounces frozen peas and carrots
  • ¾ cup pearl barley
  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in pressure cooker on medium heat
  2. Brown beef on 1 side, seasoning with salt and pepper while it is browning, then remove to plate
  3. If there is a lot of fat from the meat, drain all but 2 tablespoons
  4. Sauté the onion until translucent
  5. Add the Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper
  6. Continue to sauté for 30 seconds or so
  7. Splash in a little red wine to deglaze pan, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan
  8. Add frozen peas and carrots, mushrooms and barley
  9. Add the meat back into the pan
  10. Pour in beef broth and water
  11. Toss the bay leaves on top
  12. Lock cover on pressure cooker and set to high pressure for 18 minutes
  13. When time is up let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release
  14. Serve in bowls with crusty bread or corn bread

 

Quick Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and Cheese, Made Quicker in the Pressure Cooker!

Mac and Cheese Plate

There is nothing better than a big pan of macaroni and cheese, made with a roux and then baked in the oven until the cheese on top is crusty and the breadcrumbs are nicely browned.

But what if you need the comfort of mac and cheese on a weeknight and you don’t have a couple of spare hours to make dinner? What then, huh?

There is always the dreaded “Blue Box”, but you can do better than that, a lot better.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

I based this recipe on Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac-n-Cheese, but made it even quicker by cooking the pasta in the pressure cooker. I used the Instant Pot, which is perfect for this recipe. I also doubled it from Alton Brown’s recipe and added a little garlic powder. Of course, nothing is as good as good old baked mac and cheese, but this is much, much, much better than the blue box.

Pasta and Water

Start by cooking the pasta. Dump the pasta into the inner pot of the electric pressure cooker and pour in enough water to cover. 4 cups was the right amount for me. Since you are going to drain it, it doesn’t have to be an exact amount. Salt the water as you would when cooking any pasta.

For the timing, whatever time the package states for al dente, divide that in half and that is the time you should use for your pressure cooker. Set at LOW pressure and set time (it was 6 minutes for my pasta).

Grated Cheese

While the pasta is cooking you can get the cheese and sauce ready.

Grate about a pound of cheese, whatever kind you like. I find sharp cheddar and pepper jack to be a good combo. Set this aside and put the sauce together.

In a large bowl, combine 4 beaten eggs, a can (12 ounces) of evaporated milk, some salt, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder and some hot sauce. Stir until blended.

Mac and Cheese Liquid

When the time is up for your pasta, do a quick release and drain the pasta.

Replace the inner pot in the pressure cooker and change to the sauté mode set to medium. I tried low, but it wasn’t quite hot enough once I started adding the cheese, so you will have to be diligent with your stirring responsibilities to prevent burning.

Pasta Draining

Dump the pasta back into the pressure cooker and plop in the stick of butter. Yes, I know what you are thinking, “A whole stick of butter!!!?”. Yes, that’s right. We are making macaroni and cheese after all. If this makes you squeamish just chuck the whole thing and go steam some kale.

Pasta With Butter

Stir frequently until the butter is melted.

Pour in the egg and milk mixture and stir frequently until it just reaches a simmer.

Now, add in the cheese a handful at a time and as it melts drop in another handful. Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted and it looks smooth.

Mac and Cheese Finished

Stir for another minute or so after all the cheese is incorporated and melted, then turn off the pressure cooker and remove the inner pot so that it stops cooking.

Like most mac and cheese, this is best served right away. Spoon on plates and add a vegetable on the side to appease your conscience.

I happened to have some corn chips so I put a few on top to add a little crunch.

So, next time you go reaching for the Blue Box, remember that you could have some creamy, tasty, gooey homemade macaroni and cheese instead, Sure, it won’t have that radioactive orange color, but the flavor will more than make up for it!

Quick Macaroni and Cheese
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
A quick version of the favorite, adapted from Alton Brown's Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 pound macaroni (any tubular or shell pasta will work)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 pound grated cheese (I used a combination of sharp cheddar and pepper jack)
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus a little for the pasta water)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Habanero Tabasco)
Instructions
  1. Put pasta in the pressure cooker pot and cover with water (about 4 cups)
  2. Sprinkle some salt in the water
  3. Lock the top on the pressure cooker
  4. Bring to LOW pressure and set time for half the cooking time listed on the pasta package (mine said 12 minutes, so I set the time for 6 minutes)
  5. While pasta is cooking, grate the cheese and set aside, then whisk together the evaporated milk, eggs, salt, dry mustard, pepper, garlic powder and hot sauce
  6. When time is up on the pasta, do a quick release
  7. Dump the pasta in a colander and drain
  8. Put the inner pot back in the pressure cooker and set sauté mode to medium
  9. Add butter into the pot and stir into the pasta
  10. Add the milk mixture into the pot and bring just to a simmer, stirring often
  11. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring constantly until it is melted into the milk mixture and smooth
  12. Continue stirring for another minute or so
  13. Turn off pressure cooker and remove inner pot from the pressure cooker
  14. Serve immediately