Friday, September 22, 2017

Instant Pot: Asian Beef Noodle Soup

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It's officially fall and I've been craving soup. Lots of soup. This Asian Beef Noodle Soup is one I made recently and it reminded me of the Vietnamese soup known as 'pho.' Hearty rice noodles swim in a flavorful beef broth with thin slices of beef and fresh cilantro, giving it the perfect Asian twist to a beef noodle soup...

The recipe below uses beef sirloin which is fairly easy to find at local supermarket chains. Another time, I made this with beef oxtails - a more unique cut of beef that you might be able to find or perhaps order from your butcher. I happen to enjoy oxtails and when I used it in this recipe in place of the sirloin, I found it had much more beef flavor. To use with oxtails, season about 3-4 pounds of oxtails with salt and pepper. 
Asian Beef Noodle Soup
recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen
serves 4


6 cups low sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce or gluten free tamari
2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce (or to taste depending on your preferred spice/heat level)
1 pound beef sirloin, thinly cut
8 oz of fresh or dry rice noodles, cooked or warmed per package directions
3 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
pinch of red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)


In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Press MANUAL and add broth, soy sauce/tamari, mirin, ginger, and chili garlic sauce (if using) to the IP. 

Add the beef to the pot and stir.

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

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 2 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 2 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 2 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).

Add noodles into the broth; cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. Stir in the scallions and cilantro and serve in bowls. 

Garnish each bowl with additional fresh cilantro leaves and a drizzle of 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil. If you like things on the spicy side, sprinkle a few red pepper flakes for garnish too.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Classic Key Lime Pie #foodbloggers4FL

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Florida is a state that is near and dear to my heart. I'd had the opportunity to visit Florida a few times and my favorite visit was a family vacation to Marco Island, FL. We escaped the cold spring of Chicago and headed south for some spring sun on the beach a few years ago. It was a special vacation for my family so I think of Marco Island with so much nostalgia.

When Hurricane Irma plowed through Marco Island and left a trail of devastation, my heart sank. I can't imagine what the residents of Marco Island and the other areas who were affected by Hurricane Irma's wrath are dealing with now. But leave it to my fellow food bloggers to once again come together to bring awareness and help spread the word of resources and charities to help those impacted by Irma. We've collaborated with our favorite recipes inspired by Florida, Southern US and also the Caribbean Islands who were affected.


One of my favorite desserts that captures quintessential Florida for me is a Classic Key Lime Pie. My husband absolutely loves this particular pie as well and I recently made this dessert to a special date night menu we had at home. It's wonderful for any occasion because it's light, refreshing and makes me wish I were back lounging on the beaches of Marco Island, FL...




There's quite a few recipes for key lime pie, but this one is legit. I got this recipe from a Florida local who I met at a bookstore while we visited Marco Island during spring break a few years back. She and I got to talking while we were perusing cookbooks at the bookstore and she graciously shared her key lime pie recipe with me. It was amazing. AHmazing! So after trying it myself, I knew I had to share it here. Thank you Marge!



Classic Key Lime Pie
Margaret H. of Naples, FL

Crust:
1 1/2 cups ground graham cracker crust
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter


Filling:
2 (14oz) cans of condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup fresh key lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest

Topping:
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
fresh strawberries for garnish


For the crust - combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until moistened and press into a 9 inch pie pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 7 minutes and remove; set aside. Keep oven on, still at 350 degrees.

For the filling - combine condensed milk, sour cream, key lime juice and lime zest. Pour mixture into cooled graham cracker crust. Bake into 350 degree oven for 5-8 minutes and do not brown the pie. Remove from oven and chill completely for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

For the topping - whip heavy cream in a cold, large metal bowl with cold metal beaters until the cream becomes slightly stiff and spreadable. Spread whipped cream on top of the chilled pie. Garnish with fresh lime zest and fresh strawberries to serve.


It was a lot of fun celebrating the deliciousness of Florida, the Southern US and Caribbean Islands! Be sure to check out other food bloggers who are participating today, which can be found by search the hashtag: #foodbloggers4FL or view the recipe links attached below! To learn more about charities dedicated to helping our fellow Floridians, Southerners and Caribbean Islanders rebuilding their families and lives, please check out this list as well:

Volunteer Florida - https://www.volunteerflorida.org/irma/…
Miami Diaper Bank - http://www.miamidiaperbank.com/?fref=gc&dti=1935898469984009 
Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida - http://www.harrychapinfoodbank.org/… 
South Florida Wildlife Center - http://www.southfloridawildlifecenter.org/how_you_can_help…
Heart of Florida United Way - http://www.hfuw.org/
All Faiths Food Bank - https://www.allfaithsfoodbank.org/
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida - http://www.feedhopenow.org/site/PageServer
Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency - http://www.cdema.org/
Fondos Unidos - http://www.fondosunidos.org/
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands - http://www.cfvi.net/
St. John Community Foundation - http://www.thestjohnfoundation.org/
Anguilla Beaches - http://www.anguilla-beaches.com/




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chemo Comfort Bag Fundraiser Event

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I'm taking a brief non-food moment so if you're here to check out today's recipe, please come back tomorrow! However, if you don't mind, I'd like to share something near and dear to my heart...

For those that are familiar with the challenging journey of cancer patients, you can imagine how difficult it is physically, emotionally, financially and socially. I know the cancer journey is difficult and I've been inspired to help in a special way. I'm hosting a special online fundraiser focused on elderly cancer patients with friend & nurse, Jami Lynn, who owns a Thirty One Gifts business


I encourage you take a look at the online party I'm hosting with Jami and consider purchases for yourself or gifts for the upcoming holidays. Profits from this Thirty One online party will be used to purchase items for Chemo Comfort Bags or you're welcome to donate towards a purchase of a Thirty One bag that will be filled as a Chemo Comfort Bag.


Chemo Comfort Bags will include essential items patients will need, such as a Blanket, Chapstick, Hand Sanitizer, Hard Candies, Warm Socks & Kleenex. Patients can also use these great bags to carry their personal items (books, electronics, drinks, and supplies) to and from their treatment appointments throughout their journey.


Attached are pictures of some Chemo Comfort Bags and I hope to have more made and distributed to local elderly cancer patients with your help! Thank you in advance for helping my friends, family and many others who are going through their cancer journey.
Please feel free to share & spread the word!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Instant Pot: Pumpkin Praline Dessert Tamales

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Who says tamales have to be savory all the time? When I hosted a culinary tour of the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago a while back, I had the opportunity to try a sweet dessert tamale made with pineapple and pecans. Much to my surprise it was really good and worked so well with the masa. I started thinking that masa is really a great neutral base to build flavors upon so it made sense that sweet tamales work just as well as savory ones. Although we made quite a few tamales at our tamale party, I didn't have a chance to share a sweet recipe. So when I got home, I made these Pumpkin Praline Dessert Tamales to highlight some flavors of fall...

Pumpkin is quite a popular ingredient this time of year so I decided to try my hand at incorporating it in a tamale. I sweetened my masa with a touch of sugar and cinnamon and created a simple filling made with canned pumpkin pie mix, chopped toasted pecan pieces and some brown sugar. After preparing a good handful of these tamales, I hoped for the best and steamed them in my Instant Pot until done. Sure enough, after taking a bite, they were perfect! The masa held it's own with a subtle sweetness and that hint of cinnamon really carried through. The filling itself was just the taste of fall I was looking for. The pumpkin and brown sugar worked worked well with the crunchy bits of toasted pecan pieces. To finish them off, I garnished these tamales with some homemade whipped cream and a sinful drizzle of buttery caramel sauce. That put these dessert tamales over the top!

Pumpkin Praline Dessert Tamales
original Joelen recipe

2 cups pumpkin pie filling
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
2 cups masa (prepared as directed on package)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
corn husks, soaked
caramel sauce for serving (optional)
whipped cream for serving (optional)


To prepare the pumpkin praline filling, combine the pie filling, brown sugar, and pecan pieces in a bowl.

Prepare the masa as directed on the package for 2 cups of masa and add the cinnamon and sugar. and soak the corn husks in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Drain the water from the corn husks and start to assemble.


To assemble, spread a heaping tablespoon of masa across the widest part of the corn husk. Spread it to a nice thin layer. Down the middle of the masa, place your filling in a line, being careful not to overfill! Take the sides of the tamale and fold it over towards the middle. Fold up the narrow bottom and tie it with a sliver of corn husk.

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.


To serve, open up the tamale and tuck in the corn husks, laying the tamale on top. Top with whipped cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.

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.


* Since a batch of tamales makes quite a bit, you can definitely freeze them to enjoy later. The tamales should be cooked completely before freezing. I recommended cooling the tamales completely before packing them into a freezer bag. To enjoy, remove from the freezer and run the tamales over some water to get the husks wet. Wrap the wet tamale in a paper towel and microwave for 1-2 minutes or until hot and softened.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Instant Pot: Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Lately, I've been flipping through cookbooks for inspiration on our meals. One of the recipes that caught my eye was this one for Broccoli Cheese Soup. I've been craving soup lately so a bowl of this soup was perfect for lunch. It was creamy, a vibrant green and flavorful with a faint hint of heat. One thing you won't find in this particular recipe is a lot of heavy cream like traditional recipes. Instead, this version has everything you love about broccoli cheese soup, only healthier!

For this soup, the first time I made it, I thought it was slightly bland. As a result, I added a little bit more garlic, some garlic and onion powder and changed up the cheeses. I definitely preferred my adapted recipe since it added some flavor it was missing initially. If you must, you could substitute frozen broccoli but I prefer fresh for the flavor and color. Even though the broccoli is cooked down, the baking soda called for in the recipe will help retain the green color. Should you use frozen broccoli, you may have to increase the amount of baking soda to prevent it from having the already processed broccoli turning a grayish color. I served this soup with some toasted slices of French bread, sprinkled with sharp cheddar cheese.


Broccoli Cheese Soup
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds broccoli
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
3 cups water
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or chicken stock
2 oz baby spinach (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese plus more for garnish
3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Mozzarella)


Prepare the broccoli by cutting the florets cut into bite sized pieces. For the stalks, peel and also cut into bit sized pieces. This will make it faster to cook through and easier to blend later in the recipe.

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Press SAUTE and melt the butter.

Once butter has melted, add the broccoli, onion, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. 

Add 1 cup of water and baking soda, stir.

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

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 0 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 0 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.


When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 0 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).

Press SAUTE and add the broth (or stock) and the remaining 2 cups of water; bring to a boil. 

Add the spinach, and cook until wilted, about 1 minute, if not less. Using a stick or immersion blender, puree until smooth. 

Turn IP off and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cheeses until melted through. 

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with additional cheddar.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Instant Pot: Apple Cider Glazed Pot Roast

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The best part of fall is being able to taste the seasonal flavors in one dish. For me, I love this time of year when apples are in it's prime picking season, apple cider is readily available and butternut squash is part of my grocery list. Together, apples and butternut squash make a delicious backdrop to slow braised pot roast. To tie everything together, a blend of apple cider, ginger and brown sugar make a lovely glaze to finish the dish. This Apple Cider Glazed Pot Roast will have you taste the best of fall and the best part is it takes little effort to get it on the table!

I'm using my Instant Pot once again and this time I'm highlighting the flavor of apples. Apples and butternut squash is set as the bed for a beef roast to pressure cook in. If you're not a fan of beef, feel free to use a pork roast which will pair with the apples even more. (I used beef since it's what I had and it worked very well with the apple flavors.) After pressure cooking, the juices are used to flavor the mashed apple and butternut squash that will serve as the side dish. It's truly a one pot meal that's perfect for this season!

Apple Cider Glazed Pot Roast
recipe adapted from ABC


1 beef chuck roast, 3 pounds
Kosher salt and pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped herbs such as thyme and parsley
2 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons cornstarch



In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Rub both sides of roast with salt, pepper and garlic powder and place in the hot skillet to sear, 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer seared roast to the slow cooker and place on top of the apples and squash.

Press SAUTE and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the seasoned roast; searing to brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the roast from the IP and set aside.

Place apples and squash on the bottom of the IP.

Return the browned roasted to the IP and set on top of the apples and squash.

Combine the cider, vinegar, ginger and brown sugar and pour alongside the roast.

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 20 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. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.


When the display reflects L00:20 (which is 20 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).

Remove the roast from the IP, cover with foil to keep warm.

Ladle out as much of the juices from the IP but don't throw it away. (I transferred it to a 4 cup measuring cup or use another bowl.)

Using a potato masher, mash the apples and squash together. Add the reserved juices to achieve the mashed consistency you prefer. Transfer to a serving dish.

In the now empty IP, press SAUTE and add the remaining juices left. Bring to a boil to thicken slightly and then turn off the IP. 

Combine 2 tablespoons water + 2 tablespoons cornstarch to create a slurry. Slowly pour this mixture into the IP and stir until the remaining juices has thickened to a glaze consistency.

Serve slices of roast on top of mashed apples and butternut squash with the glaze.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Instant Pot: Chicken & Potato Chowder

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Chowda. Some days I wish I lived in Boston, Mass. because they really know how to make a good chowda. The thick and creamy consistency is nothing less than comforting, especially on a cool, fall night. When I think of chowder, the first thing that comes to mind is a clam chowder. However, I came across a recipe for Chicken & Potato Chowder with Thyme- a different spin on the chowder I'm familiar with. I loved that the recipe highlighted fresh thyme!  With a few changes, my adapted recipe for Chicken & Potato Chowder will now be in my fall recipe collection...

Typical chowders consist of bacon, milk or cream and has a thick consistency. I'm not sure I would really classify this as a true chowder since it lacks a thick consistency. Instead, it is rich with flavor from bacon, chicken, potato, half & half and a few vegetables for good measure. For this recipe, the major change was using frozen mixed vegetables instead of corn. This added more color and texture to the dish. And since bacon and half & half are already in the mix, why stop there? I garnished each serving with a sprinkling of shredded cheese. So it may not be a true chowda but it's good eats nonetheless!

Chicken & Potato Chowder
recipe adapted from AllRecipes

6 slices bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced fine
1 onion, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 large potatoes, diced
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into cubes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 cups half-and-half
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
shredded cheese for garnish
crisp bacon crumbles for garnish (optional)



In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.


Press SAUTE and add the bacon, onions and garlic, allowing it to cook until the onions soften and bacon is slightly crisp, about 3-5 minutes. 

Add broth, potatoes, chicken and fresh thyme 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 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 7 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.


When the IP beeps 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).

Press SAUTE.

Add the mixed vegetables and stir half and half into the soup; allowing it to come to a boil. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with the shredded cheese and bacon (if using). Serve hot.