Friday, May 26, 2017

Instant Pot: Thai Basil Chicken

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There aren't many Thai places we love in the suburbs, so when I'm craving Thai food, I find myself making it at home. I recently prepared this Thai Basil Chicken for my family and loved how quickly it came together. Thai cuisine has such a freshness about it that I really enjoy. The use of fresh herbs such as basil and mint really lend a vibrant, bright flavor in Thai dishes. Basil is one heavily used herb in this dish and even though there's 2 cups of basil, it doesn't overpower the dish as much as you'd think.

The dish starts out by processing 1 cup of fresh basil (or fresh Thai basil) with garlic cloves and chili garlic sauce. I chose to use chili garlic sauce since I didn't want the dish to be spicy at all. Using only 1/2 teaspoon of the chili garlic sauce gave just a subtle heat which was perfect for me. If you like the spice and heat of Thai cuisine, feel free to add more chili garlic sauce or use Thai or serrano peppers instead. A tablespoon of this basil/garlic mixture is placed in the Instant Pot while the remaining mixture is set aside to use later. Next, the ground chicken is mixed with a little fish sauce and chilled for a few minutes before sauteeing with the basil/garlic mixture. The chicken then is pressure cooked and the basil/garlic mixture that was previously set aside is added to the Instant Pot to flavor the chicken. Just before serving, more fresh basil is added and allowed to wilt. Then, it's ready to serve! We liked this over steamed jasmine rice or you can serve this in lettuce cups!


Thai Basil Chicken
recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

2 cups basil leaves, packed (Thai preferred)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 lbs ground chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth



In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Place the ground chicken in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.


Place garlic, 1 cup fresh basil leaves and the chili garlic sauce in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping bowl one time. Transfer mixture to a small bowl with the 1 tablespoon fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar. Transfer to IP.


Press SAUTE on the IP and add oil to basil garlic mixture; Saute and allow herbs and onion to soften.

Once onion is softened, add the chilled ground chicken, and stirring constantly, break chicken up as it cooks. Continue stirring until chicken is no longer pink.

Add chicken broth to IP.

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.


Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 7 minute on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

When the IP has beeped after pressure cooking for 7 minutes, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.


Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen). The IP will automatically default to the WARM mode.

Meanwhile, chiffonade the remaining cup of basil leaves and add to the IP to cook 1 additional minute or so, until the basil wilts. Serve over rice.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Instant Pot: Cilantro Pork Tamales

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I have found a new favorite ingredient - masa harina! Masa harina is a common flour made out of corn and is used to make quite a few Mexican specialities such as tortillas, tamales, arepas, etc. I've been playing around in the kitchen with masa harina for more gluten free dishes and it's been such a delicious adventure. The most recent dish I made using masa harina includes these Cilantro Pork Tamales. Pressure cooked pork is cooked with a cilantro and tomato salsa before using as a flavorful tamale filling...

I've made tamales a number of times and it never fails. Each time I make them, I fall in love with tamales all over again - even moreso when cooking them in the Instant Pot. For these tamales, be prepared to really use your Instant Pot for pressuring cooking the filling and again for steaming the tamales once assembled.


When pressure cooking the pork filling, the cilantro flavor is absorbed as the pork cooks in a puree of cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, onion, lime juice and seasonings. While the pork cooks, you can prepare the masa dough. The dough itself requires some patience to get the right consistency. If you want that fluffy masa, plan to chill the dough for an hour before assembling. The dried corn husks in which the tamales are wrapped will also need to be soaked in warm water so they become pliable and easy to fill. Lastly, the most fun part of making tamales is assembling them. If you have some extra friends that want to help assembling, use them! A lot of great conversations can be had while assembling tamales.


As you assemble them, have your Instant Pot ready then steam the tamales all at once. After they're done, cool them slightly before enjoying or cool them completely before packing them for the freezer.


To serve, garnish them with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese and a little touch of chopped fresh cilantro and tomatoes.



Cilantro Pork Tamales
adapted from Rick Bayless

For the filling:

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
4-6 small to medium sized Roma tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the batter:

1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening or lard, slightly softened but not melted
1 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 cups MASECA brand corn masa
8 cups hot water or broth
1-pound package dried corn husks, soaked in warm water to soften


1. Preparing the filling. In a large blender or food processor (or working in batches), combine the filling ingredients except the pork. Cover and blend to a smooth puree. 


In your Instant Pot:


Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Transfer puree to IP and add pork.

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 60 minutes on HIGH pressure.


The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 60 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.


When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 60 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. 

When the display reflects L10:00 (which is 10 minutes since the IP has beeped), turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).


The IP will automatically default to the WARM setting.


Remove the pork from IP and allow to cool enough to handle with your hands or forks. Shred pork and place in a large bowl.

2. Preparing the masa dough. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine together the shortening/lard, salt, powder and masa on medium speed. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add 1/2 cup of the broth. Continue beating for another minute or so, until the water or broth is used up. To test that the masa is ready, place a 1/2-teaspoon dollop in cold water (if it floats you can be sure the tamales will be tender and light). Beat in enough additional broth to give the mixture the consistency of soft (not runny) cake batter; it should hold its shape in a spoon. Taste the batter and season with additional salt if you think necessary.

* For the lightest textured tamales, refrigerate the batter for an hour or so, then rebeat, adding enough additional broth or water to bring the mixture to the soft consistency it had before.

3. Preparing the corn husks. Soak the dried corn husks in warm water to soften and make pliable for filling.


4. Setting up the steamer.  Steaming tamales can be done in batches in a collapsible vegetable steamer set in your Instant Pot. It is best to line the steamer with leftover scraps of softened corn husks to protect the tamales from direct contact with the steam and to add more flavor. Make sure to leave tiny spaces between husks so condensing steam can drain off.


5. Forming the tamales. Cut twenty thin strips of soften corn husks. One at a time, form the tamales: Lay out a husk, smooth-side up, and spread 1/3 cup of the batter into an 8x4-inch rectangle over the middle section. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling over the left side of the rectangle of batter, then fold in the right third of the leaf so that the batter encloses the filling. Fold in the uncovered third of the leaf, then fold in the top and bottom. Loosely tie the tamales with husk strips and set them in the steamer.


6. Steaming and serving the tamales. 


In your Instant Pot:


Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Place collapsible steamer inside the IP and 2 cups of water.


Place the tamales upright/standing up in the steamer; Cover them with a layer of corn husk scraps or leftovers. 

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 20 minutes on HIGH pressure.


The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 20 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.


When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 20 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure completely - allow several minutes for this to complete. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).


The IP will automatically default to the WARM setting. Turn OFF IP and unplug.

Allow the tamales stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up. For the best textured tamales, let them cool completely, then re-steam about 15 minutes to heat through.


Working Ahead: Both filling and batter can be made several days ahead, as can the finished tamales; refrigerate, well covered. Re-steam (or even microwave) tamales before serving. For even more flexibility, batter, filling or finished tamales can be frozen. Defrost finished tamales in the refrigerator overnight before re-steaming.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Instant Pot: Stuffed Pork Chops

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Finally, a night where I can cook at home! I've been craving pork chops lately and decided to make a special dinner of Stuffed Pork Chops for my family. Using some random ingredients in the fridge, I made a stuffing with blue cheese, roasted red peppers and spinach. It came out deliciously and the extra step of brining my pork chops made them super tender and moist...

Brining is probably a term many hear during Thanksgiving. Essentially, it's when meat is marinated in salty water before cooking. Taking the time to brine meats makes a big difference. It tenderizes the meat and adds some flavor too. When it comes to stuffing foods, be it pastas, calzones or even meats like pork chops, I found that fillings can be used interchangeably. In this case, the combination of blue cheese, roasted red peppers and spinach is a favorite of mine that I used even to top pizzas. I knew it would work just as well stuffed in pork chops. Preparing this in my Instant Pot sealed the moisture and flavor in, resulting in a great and easy weeknight meal. To serve with my pork chops, I oven roasted potatoes with a garlic & herb butter.



Stuffed Pork Chops
recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

4 bone-in pork rib chops (12 to 14 ounces each), 1 1/2 inches thick

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
table salt

Stuffing:

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
5oz (1/2 a standard package) frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 tablespoon melted butter

To prep and brine the pork chops:

Insert sharp paring or boning knife through side of chop until tip touches bone. Carefully cut opening to width of about 1 inch. Swing knife tip through chop to create pocket, being careful not to widen opening. Turn knife and swing blade in oppposite direction. The finished pocket should be as large as possible. Dissolve sugar and 1/4 cup salt in 6 cups water in large bowl or container; submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the stuffing, in a bowl, combine the ingredients until fully incorporated; set aside.


In your Instant Pot:


Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Remove chops from brine and rinse under cool running water; pat dry with paper towels. Place one-quarter of stuffing in pocket of each chop. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper.

Press SAUTE on the IP and add oil and butter; heat until shimmering. Arrange chops in IP and cook without moving chops until well browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip chops and cook until well browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth or water to the IP.


Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 10 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 10 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.


When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 10 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. 

When the display reflects L10:00 (which is 10 minutes since the IP has beeped), turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).


The IP will automatically default to the WARM setting.


Using tongs, transfer chops to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 10 minutes (internal temperature will climb to 165 degrees). Serve immediately.



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Instant Pot: Old Bay Fish Tacos

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Warmer weather is now here consistently (finally!) and that calls for one of my favorite summertime meals - fish tacos! I made the following recipe the other day for lunch to use the cod fillets that have been hiding out in my freezer. I don't even recall why I purchased it to begin with. There must have been some recipe I wanted to try but never got around to it. (Don't you hate when that happens?) In an effort to make something quick, I seasoned the fillets with Old Bay seasoning*, steamed it in my Instant Pot, and stuffed it into a couple heated corn tortillas. Alternatively, you can solely use the sauté function to cook the fish too. When steamed, it came out wonderful and so easy! I served our fish tacos with a pico de gallo and cumin chile guacamole - both recipes are also included below.


Old Bay Fish Tacos
with pico de gallo & cumin chile guacamole
original Joelen recipe


2 large cod fillets (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1-2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
6-8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup quesadilla cheese

Pico de gallo:

1-2 ripe, medium tomatoes, seeded & diced
2-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 medium white onion, diced
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Cumin Chile Guacamole - makes 1 cup:

2 ripe, medium avocados, pitted
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons salsa verde (green chile salsa)
salt and pepper to taste


For the fish tacos in your Instant Pot:


Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Add 1 cup of water in the IP.

Season both sides of the cod fillets with Old Bay Seasoning. Transfer seasoned fish into a metal collapsible steamer basket and place in the IP.

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press STEAM and adjust the time to 3 minutes on HIGH pressure if fish is fresh (or 6 minutes on HIGH pressure if fish is frozen.)

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 3 (the number of minutes you initially set - or 6 if frozen) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.


When the IP beeps after steaming for 3 minutes (or 6 if frozen), turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Meanwhile, Heat the tortillas as desired (whether its in a hot, dry skillet, oven or even microwave). I use two tortillas for each tacos to have a sturdy base for all the fillings.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen). The IP will automatically default to the WARM mode.


Remove the steamed fish and portion out among the tortillas and top with the pico de gallo and/or guacamole


*Alternately, you can solely use the SAUTE mode to prepare the fish:

Press SAUTE on the IP and add oil and butter; heat until shimmering. Place the seasoned fillets in the skillet and brown on both sides. Cook through. Once the fish has cooked through, remove from the pan and cut into pieces to fit inside the tortillas for the tacos. 



For the pico de gallo:
Combine all the pico de gallo ingredients in a bowl and use over tacos or eat with tortilla chips.


For the Cumin Chile Guacamole: Combine all the cumin chile guacamole ingredients in a bowl and mash well to incorporate. Use over tacos or eat with tortilla chips.




Monday, May 22, 2017

Instant Pot: Beef & Green Bean Stir Fry

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The latest dish coming out of my Instant Pot is this Beef & Green Bean Stir Fry. Marinated beef is sautéed with onions and tender fresh green beans with a garlicky sweet sauce. It's easy, quick and well, even good for you!...

Making stir fried dishes comes pretty easily for me without the use of recipes. It's just a matter of throwing in whatever you have, adjusting the seasonings to taste and serving it over rice. But I wanted to branch out and try some different recipes in my Instant Pot, especially ones that incorporate untraditional ingredients. This recipe involves a marinade made with soy sauce (or tamari for those gluten free), white wine, honey and garlic. The wine in the marinade intrigued me and it came out delicious. For this recipe, I used fresh green beans and I don't recommend substituting frozen unless you absolutely have no choice. The fresh beans really add nice texture and vibrant color after they have blanched briefly before cooking. Not a fan of green beans? You can also substitute with fresh snow or snap peas too. The original recipe called for sliced red bell pepper. I didn't have any on hand but I assume it would be delicious and would add a nice pop of color to the dish. If anything, you can use your favorite mix of stir fry vegetables in this recipe but the key is the marinade and beef. This would also go well with the use of chicken, pork or even shrimp.



Beef & Green Bean Stir Fry
recipe adapted from Whole Foods Market

Marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean steak, cut into cubes or thin slices
1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1/2 cup yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Cooked Jasmine rice

In your Instant Pot:


Whisk together soy sauce (or tamari), wine, honey and garlic in large bowl. Add steak and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.


Drain meat well, reserving marinade. Add cornstarch to reserved marinade and stir until smooth; set aside.


Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Press SAUTE on the IP and add 1 tablespoon sesame oil; heat until shimmering. When hot, Add drained steak to IP and sauté until almost cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add 1 cup beef broth to the IP.



Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 7 minute on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

When the IP has beeped after pressure cooking for 7 minutes, turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen). The IP will automatically default to the WARM mode.

Press SAUTE and add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil to the IP, onion and green beans. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. 


Stir in the reserved marinade and add to the IP. Stir until sauce thickens and coats meat and vegetables, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and pepper; serve over rice.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Things I've Loving: Weekend Recap!

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It's been awhile since I've posted about items I've been into and I figured I'd just jump in to share! Here are some of the things I've recently used and loved. Hope you find something that interests you...

My son had his 7th birthday recently and I had the intent to use this Party Disco Ball to add some fun to his Minecraft Party Theme. I had 30+ first graders to entertain and in the midst of all the chaos, I didn't get a chance to use the disco ball. But as a family at home, we did have our own special Dance Party where we used it! It was a blast and so much fun. The disco ball offered 7 different lighting settings, making it great for variety and such a colorful way to liven up the room with music blasting. I plan on using this during the summer and out on our backyard deck to continue our dance parties!


You can never have too many cutting boards or wooden utensils! I love this Clasier Organic Bamboo cutting board which came with 4 bamboo utensils. The wood is sturdy and the perfect size for a variety of cutting needs. It fits nicely over my kitchen sink to allow me to wash and chop as I need. It also works well on my stovetop to allow for more counter space as needed. The bamboo utensils are great too and useful. Overall, I love the strength of this wood, which is stronger than others on the market. The additional groove carved into the board makes it easy to use as a carving board to catch any juices. If there's a cutting board I'll reach for first in my kitchen, it's this one!


Another kitchen item I can never have too many of are measuring cups and spoons. This Sweet Home & Kitchen Measuring Cups & Spoons set is not only study and colorful, they are accurate too. I love that they are made out of stainless steel with a nice weight and the handles are heat resistant too. Easy to clean and store, this set is a winner in my kitchen tool collection!


Grilling season has already begun in our part of the country (yay!) and I have been looking for some good grilling accessories. One I recently got was this Grill Mat Set by La-Chef. What's awesome about this grill mat set is that it makes the typical grill more versatile in cooking foods you wouldn't think to put on a grill! The set comes with 4 mats - 2 grill mats, 1 mesh mat and 1 baking mat. With these different surfaces to cook on your grill, you can grill pretty much anything. I've made breakfast on the grill using the grill mats to make pancakes, eggs and bacon. The mesh mat was perfect to grill vegetables like peppers, onions, shrimp and asparagus without worrying about them falling through. Overall, I love this set and it makes clean up so easy too. I highly encourage others to consider getting this before grilling season is in full swing!



Kitchen shears are a must in my kitchen. I have a pair for specific uses - herbs, poultry, veggies, etc. That said, I have multiple ones and my newest Heavy Duty Kitchen Shears from TianHeng are great! They are stainless steel blades with a micro-serrated edge which are great for various things to cut through. Specifically, one edge is perfect to scale fish, the other blade has a notch to use as a bottle cap opener and the handles come together to use as a nut cracker. I especially like how comfortable and super sharp they are. Included with the shears is a protective case as well. This is my favorite pair of kitchen shears that can do so much!


Late last year I greatly decreased my coffee intake and started loving the clean taste of teas. Good teas, I found, didn't require any cream or sugar and were completely flavorful on their own. One particular brand I've always enjoyed was Adagio Teas. They have quite a selection of teas from herbal, greens, blacks, chais, oolong, etc. I recently ordered from their website and loved the loose teas I received. One that particularly caught my eye was the Genmai Cha. This is a Japanese green tea that's blended with toasted rice. Together, it makes for a delicious tea with nutty notes. It's not too strong and for me, it's just right. Some other teas I got included the almond oolong, vanilla chai and jasmin yin hao. One thing I also enjoy using when I make tea is the Adagio IngenuiTEA teapot. It really does a good job in allowing loose tea to infuse the water. If you're looking for a good tea, I highly recommend those from Adagio Tea! They've got something for everyone I'm sure you'll find a favorite one as well!
Lastly, for those who are avid international travelers need to be prepared to adapt electronically. This Travel Adapter from Globaza is ideal to pack along. It works in outlets around the world including United States, Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia. Aside from plugging in items like a hair dryer, clothes iron and the like, more importantly, the USB outlets allow you to connect electronically and digitally too! 



Speaking of travel, my boys have a love of maps. I recently got this Julio's Adventures Map to pinpoint our travels as a fun activity to track! It came with flag pins and it's large enough to mark places easily without having to strain your eyes. The size is roughly 1.5ft by 2 ft, which is great for a child's bedroom wall without taking up too much space. What makes this map unique is that it's made of high quality paper and each country is covered in a gold foil coating. As you visit a country, you can use the enclosed scratching tools to gently rub off the country or state visited, your next vacation or even one you recently learned about. The foil coating is easy to remove, flaking off only when scratched. Bodies of water are kept white and the bottom of the map includes 207 flags from around the world. This map has been great for my little one (who's now 7 years old) and I foresee a lot of time with the up this summer!

I've always loved French Pressed coffee over drip. But since I've switched from coffee to tea, I still get a lot of use with my French press because it's perfect for steeping tea. I do this mostly when I intend on enjoying more than a cup and it works with either bags or loose leaf teas!  I recently picked up a French press that I use specifically for my teas and I love this one from Coffee Coffee. It's well made, sturdy and has a classic look I love.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Instant Pot: Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks

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Sandwiches aren't exactly a food my husband likes. He's not exactly picky but he is particular about sandwiches. For me, I like them a lot - hot, cold, sweet, savory... they're so versatile, what's not to like?! When I thought about making sandwiches for lunch the other day, he was relieved that I chose to make cheesesteaks. These Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks are a nice spin from the traditional beef philly cheesesteaks. With caramelized onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and a creamy blanket of melted mozzarella and provolone cheeses topping succulent chicken breast, these are sandwiches to satisfy any hungry man...


This recipe is pretty straightforward, which good food should be, right? For this recipe, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are sautéed in the Instant Pot - but you can grill or even bake the chicken to your preference. The key thing is to make sure it's fully cooked for the sandwiches. Once cooked, the chicken is placed on a toasty bun. The toppings are what make this sandwich - onions, peppers, mushrooms and melted cheese. I caramelized the onions, peppers and mushrooms to really add a depth of flavor to the sandwich. As for the cheeses, I used a combination of mozzarella and provolone, which was shredded. You can use slices if you prefer too. I found the shredded cheeses make it easier to melt. Top the chicken with this mixture and you've got yourself a tasty sandwich!


Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

1 pound chicken breast, boneless and skinless, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup white button mushroom, sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 ounces sliced provolone cheese
4 soft hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
1/4 cup unsalted butter

In your Instant Pot:


Plug in the IP with insert set in place. Preheat broiler.


Toss chicken with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. 


Press SAUTE on the IP and add seasoned chicken and saute until cooked through.

Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss together peppers, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and remaining tablespoon oil. Add to IP tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender and slightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper. 

Transfer chicken and bell pepper mixture to baking sheet. Top chicken and vegetables with cheese; Broil until cheese is bubbling, 30 seconds to 1 minute. 


Scoop out most of the doughy center from both halves of rolls; discard. Spread rolls with butter ; fill with chicken and bell pepper mixture. Serve immediately.


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