Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pressure Cooker Experiment - #2

Today, (after working for a bit), I stopped at the store picking up the necessary items to make 3 pressure cooker dishes. Dish number one: Spaghetti Sauce. It turned out quite yummy and made enough for two nights. We had spaghetti for dinner tonight, and put the rest of the sauce in the freezer for another night. Love being able to do that.

I also made another dish - this one an Alton Brown Pressure Cooker Chili. Larry and I had to sample, a tad on the spicy side. I'll need some sour cream to cool the spice a bit. It is going in the freezer as well.

I purchased the ingredients to make an enchilada dish (yes - in the pressure cooker too), but that will have to wait for another day.

Spring break over... work tomorrow with a busy week ahead; laundry done and put away; bathrooms cleaned; dusting done; and taxes done too. The only thing I didn't do that I had planned on? Exercise! I really wanted to start exercising again. Oh well, there is always tomorrow!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A New Kitchen Gadget - The Pressure Cooker

Well, darn that QVC kitchen show! It made me start thinking I needed a new kitchen toy. So, started shopping around for an electric pressure cooker. There was not one single model in town, so off to internet shopping. Macy's did the trick - they had a Cuisnart Electric Pressure Cooker on sale. Yipee! It was delivered yesterday, Friday. At the same time, came 3 new cookbooks all about pressure cooking.

Have we tried it out yet - you bet! Last night I tried the Risotto. Hmmm - tasty, but not as good as the kind you stand at the stove for 35 minutes nonstop stirring... that is true risotto. But this modified version (ok the easy way) is still quite tasty.

Todays experiment is Boston Baked Beans and BBQ Ribs. The beans are done, and staying warm in the oven. The ribs are in the cooker right now. They say - 40 minutes and you will have fall off the bone ribs as if they have been slow cooking/smoking all day. We shall see!

Don't ya love new toys that are supposed to make your life easier?

Here is the recipe.

Saucy Ribs Pressure Cooker Style

3 lbs ribs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup beer
12 oz barbecue sauce

Cut ribs into serving pieces. Mix spices and create a dry rub. Rub onto ribs. Heat oil in pressure cooker. Brown the ribs, all sides. Put in the cooking rack. Pour the beer into the cooking pot. Add the ribs. Lock lid in place, and cook on high pressure 40 minutes. Let cooker depressurize naturally (about 15 minutes). Remove lid. Drain some of the liquid. Add barbecue sauce and ribs back in. Simmer 10-15 minutes. The beer is supposed to be the secret to the unique flavor, so the recipe says to make certain you do not leave it out.

I'll let you know how it goes! So far, so good...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Break CHILI NIGHT!

This year we are not going away for Spring Break. It feels good to be home, get things done that I need to get done (ok, like taxes), and have some time for being lazy as well. I've also been doing working a little too... webinar yesterday, meeting today, meeting tomorrow, and need to work on some paperwork too. But, having time is so nice!

I actually had time to cook yesterday - which I love to do, but doesn't happen often. I browsed recipes on the Food Network and found an interesting chili recipe by Rachael Ray. I added a dollop of sour cream to calm the chili down (I may have used too much chipotle chili powder. Pretty spicy..) I also made a cornbread recipe by Paula Deen - boy, was it YUMMY!

So, if you are in the market for a great chili night, give these recipes a try! DELICIOUS...

Paula Deen, Food Network

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
1 (8-ounce) package cornbread/muffin mix
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion until tender, but not browned, for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the muffin mix, egg, milk, sour cream, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the salt, and dill weed. Stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until set and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into squares.

Rachael Ray, Food Network

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds ground sirloin
2 tablespoons grill seasoning(recommended: McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning) a palm full
1/2 pound baby Portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/4 pound shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped, with their juices or 1 generous palm full ground chipotle chili powder, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon ground cumin, half a palm full
1 bottle imported beer (recommended: Stella Artois (...imported just 'cause we're Uptown and that's all they drink here.)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup beef stock (8-ounce box)
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
8-ounce piece smoked Gouda, shredded
1 small white onion, finely chopped
Heat a deep, large skillet or a pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and the meat. Season it with grill seasoning and sear it up, browning and crumbling it, for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate and return pot to stove. Reduce heat to medium- high and add another tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Add the mushrooms and begin to brown them before adding the other veggies. After 2 or 3 minutes the mushrooms will begin to shirk and soften. Push the mushrooms off to one side of the pot and add all the remaining veggies to the opposite side of the pot surface. Once the onions, celery, peppers and garlic have been working for a few minutes as well, mix the veggies with the mushrooms. Add the meat back, season with Worcestershire sauce, chipotle in adobo or chipotle powder and cumin. Add in beer to deglaze the pot, scraping up all the pan drippings. Reduce the beer by half, about 2 minutes. Add the black beans, tomatoes, stock and thyme to chili and simmer 10 minutes for flavors to combine. Taste to adjust seasonings. Top bowls of the chili with shredded smoked Gouda and finely chopped raw onions.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Recipe Night! Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Well, tonight was a new recipe attempt. I modified the original recipe some (trying to make it a bit healthier). In retrospect, not sure I accomplished my goal. But, it was very tasty!

The original recipe is listed here:

Here is my attempt to recreate Marcela Valladolid's recipe from MEXICAN MADE EASY.


2 chicken breasts, salt/pepper and bake 15 minutes. Shred chicken into bite size pieces.

4 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 1/2 cup HOT water
2 handfuls of tortilla chips
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 3/4 cups chicken stock
3 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
5 oz Mexican chocolate (Ibarra)

12 corn tortillas
Olive Oil Nonstick spray
Feta cheese

Queso Fresco cheese
Chopped cilantro
Light sour cream

Soak the dried pasilla chiles by soaking in 1 1/2 cups HOT water for at least 15 minutes. Drain, set aside.

In large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add chopped onion and saute until translucent. (3 minutes or so) Add garlic. Cook another 2 -3 minutes. Do not burn garlic.

Transfer the following to blender:
Onion/garlic mixture
Tortilla chips
1 3/4 cup chicken stock (save rest for later)
Peanut Butter
Blend until very smooth and creamy.

Transfer sauce to the large saucepan. Bring to boil - be careful! It will splatter. (I know from experience.) Reduce heat to simmer. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the chocolate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the rest of the chicken broth as needed - mixture can become too thick. I added one additional cup of chicken broth.

Cover bottom of 9x13 baking pan with thin layer of mole sauce. Heat up large flat nonstick griddle. Spray both sides of tortillas with olive oil nonstick spray. Put the tortillas on the hot griddle and saute both sides to soften the tortillas. I did all the tortillas as Larry filled and rolled. Put a spoonful of chicken in the center of tortilla with a tad bit of feta cheese. Roll and place seam side down in the 9x13 dish. Repeat procedure with all tortillas. Ladle mole sauce over top of enchiladas. Top with Queso Fresco (crumbled) cheese and cilantro. Bake at 375 degrees about 15 minutes until warm.

Serve with light sour cream.

We had refried beans w/cheese and warmed tortillas with our enchiladas. Delicious!

**HINDSIGHT: When I repeat this recipe, I will add a bit more salt than I did, a little less feta cheese. The flavors were very interesting together, but I think we might have overdone the feta. I'm wondering if gorgonzola would be milder than the feta??? Still have some playing around to do with perfecting this recipe, but it is pretty darn good!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Weekends are for...

Weekends are multi-faceted. They are for resting, relaxation, getting everything done at home (such as laundry, cleaning, bills, shopping, the list goes on...). Well, this time of year it is time to add another "to do" to the list! Taxes... So, today was my organizing day. I did pretty well, not done - more to do, but have a good start! I bet by next weekend, I'll be ready to drop everything off. Even though I started the year of 2009 very organized for taxes, I need to follow through all year and stay up to date and organized.

Why is it so hard to stay organized all the time? It seems I used to be very organized... (my nickname is Planner Patty after all), but now I can't keep up. (Sadly enough!)

Well, Abby had a great weekend of resting. I would like to be a dog owned by me! Good comfie life to be sure. The picture signifies Abby's favorite things... the couch; the blanket (have to be warm after all); and her favorite toy - the squirrel. A DOG'S LIFE as they say...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Recipe Night!

Tonight was Caribbean night in the house! We had a very tasty dinner, another easy one at that. (The best kind after all...) One little mishap with the propane on the BBQ - ran out, so had to drag out the George Foreman grill for the shrimp.

Asparagus pieces
Quartered mushrooms
Sliced Zuchini
Spike Seasoning
Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Pepper
Jerk Seasoning

Mix all together. Put in casserole dish (13x9). Sprinkle with just a tad of parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until veggies are done.

1 # raw shrimp (deveined & cleaned)
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
Freshly ground pepper
tiny bit of sugar
Ground nutmeg
Olive Oil

Mix together all ingredients (except the shrimp) in a bowl. Toss the shrimp in the seasoning/olive oil mixture. Put on skewer and bbq until done.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chipotle Beef & Black Bean Dinner

By popular request, here is the recipe for a very easy dinner! (and delicious too...) Get a large glass of water and enjoy!

2-3 lb chuck roast
15 oz beef broth
7 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (can be spicy! if you don't like spice, use less...)

In a nonstick skillet, spray with Pam. Salt and pepper the chuck roast. Saute the chuck roast in the skillet for about 3-5 minutes per side. It will NOT be done. When both sides are browned, put meat into crockpot. Pour over the beef broth, and empty the can of chipotle peppers (and sauce) into the crockpot. Cook on low all day.

2 cans of black beans
chopped garlic to taste
1/2 cup of salsa

Stir together. Put in casserole dish, cover with foil, bake on low heat (225 degrees) for an hour to an hour and a half.

Serve with a salad - wah laa - you have a complete dinner. Low cal, tasty and healthy.