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Easy Instant Pot Quinoa and Corn

Quick quinoa and corn recipe.
1c. Quinoa (“Red Incan”)
1 Knorr vegetable bouillon cube
1 packet Goya Sazon with Saffron
1 can corn with liquid
1-1/4 cups hot water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Add the oil to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Pour in the quinoa and stir. Put the bouillon cube in the hot water and microwave for about a minute, keeping watch that it doesn’t boil over. Stir to dissolve…it doesn’t have to be perfect. Add to the pot, along with the seasoning packet, and the can of corn, with liquid. Stir to combine.

Put the lid in place, twist to lock, close the pressure valve, and set on low pressure for 12 minutes. When finished, turn off the Instant Pot and allow natural release, around 15 minutes, but you could let it go for awhile longer, if you are finishing other stuff. When you open the lid, give the contents a good stir, to combine everything evenly. Something old, something new…served with hot dogs and spaghetti squash.

If I were not cooking for my picky kids, I might have added a can of black beans, drained and rinsed. Maybe a little finely chopped onion? Green chili? And finish with a handful of chopped cilantro, after cooking. Pretty versatile.

I may try using the leftovers to make veggie “burgers”. I’m thinking that some breadcrumbs, smashed black beans and a little cumin would do the trick. I’ll let you know, if I do it!

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Instant Pot Italian Sausage and Cabbage Soup

Let’s give this a try, with some ingredients I have on hand. I would have used a small onion, if I had one, but I didn’t, so I used onion powder. Another option might be some sliced mushrooms, but then my kids wouldn’t eat it. So, here’s what I have:

Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage, sweet or mild

1 can Diced tomatoes

1 small can Tomato paste

1 cup Green cabbage, rough chopped

1 cup Carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup Celery, chopped

1 teaspoon each Onion powder and Granulated garlic

1 teaspoon Dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

6 cups Chicken stock

 

Directions

Brown the sausage in the Instant Pot on the saute setting, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste and stir in, to combine well. Turn off the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir. Put the cover in place and secure. Turn pressure knob to the “sealed” position for pressure cooking. Use the “Soup/Broth” button, with the time on 30 minutes. Allow the soup to natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Manually release to to fully depressurize, if necessary. Enjoy!

I didn’t take a lot of photos…sorry; but it was delicious!

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Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken w/Guajillo-Pasilla BBQ Sauce

Pulled BBQ Chicken

This recipe basically adapts the technique that I used for the enchilada filling, except I made a BBQ sauce from my Guajillo-Pasilla  to add to the chicken, rather  than the enchilada sauce. I offered rolls and flour tortillas with the chicken, and it was a hit…no leftovers!

ingredients:

For the Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts, trimmed

1 T. vegetable oil

1/3 c. Guajillo-Pasilla  sauce

1/3 c. water

1/4 t. each cumin, granulated garlic, black pepper

1/2 t. salt

Set the Instant Pot on Saute. When hot, add the oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Brown the chicken, in a couple of batches.

Brown the chicken pieces.

Add the chili sauce, rinse the sauce container with the water and add to the pot. Add the spices.

Add the flavorings.

Put Instant Pot lid in place, turn vent to “sealed”. Change setting to Pressure Cooking, High, and set timer to 10 minutes.

Cooked chicken

When time is done, either carefully vent pressure, or allow to depressurize naturally. Set aside chicken until cool enough to handle. Also save and refrigerate the cooking liquid for later use.

Set aside to cool…and save the cooking liquid!

For the BBQ Sauce

1 c. Guajillo-Pasilla sauce

1 can tomato sauce

1/2 c. light brown sugar

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. each cumin, granulated garlic. paprika, and black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir to combine well and bring up to a simmer.

Chili sauce and spices.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced; about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

with tomato sauce….simmer

Pull chicken into shreds. Toss with enough BBQ sauce to completely moisten the chicken. (See first photo!) Serve any extra on the side.

Shredded chicken.

By the way, I saved the chicken trimmings, and combined them with a handful each of carrots, onion, and celery, in the Instant Pot, with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and sauteed until browned.

Chicken trimmings with aromatics.

I also added salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. I added water…maybe 5 or 6 cups?

Browning the trimmings and veggies.

Put the lid on, switched to Pressure Cook on High for 10 minutes. When done and depressurized, strain and voila!

Darn close to free chicken stock!

Chicken stock

This and the cooking liquid from the chicken pieces will be refrigerated until I decide to use them…possibly together for a Pazole! Hardly any waste, and very cost effective. Enjoy!

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Instant Pot Guajillo-Pasilla Chili Sauce

Guajillo-Pasilla Chili Sauce

 

This sauce is basically like a liquid version of chili powder. The Instant Pot helps with the toasting of the dried chilies, and then speeds up the process by pressure cooking the chilies briefly, rather than soaking for a half hour to an hour.

Dried chilies, stemmed and seeded.

The rest of the process involves a blender, a strainer and a utensil to force the pulp through the strainer. It can be a little messy, but the result is a “master sauce” that is extremely versatile. This one is pretty mild, but you could do a little research, and change up the dried chili types to get a sauce with more heat, more smokiness, or whatever you prefer. I think I’ll double the recipe next time, so I get more sauce for the same amount of effort. This recipe yielded a little over a half pint. But remember, it’s an ingredient; not a whole dish.

There are SO many things you can do with this sauce…add it to menudo or pazole, add some spices and bake chicken or pork in it, or make enchilada filling. You could use it to make taco meat or chili con carne. I think I may use the smaller amount and pressure cook some boneless chicken breast in the Instant Pot, and use the rest to make a barbecue sauce…add tomato, molasses or brown sugar, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar…and have pulled chicken BBQ!

ingredients:

equal amounts dried peppers, stems and seeds removed. I used Pasilla and Guajillo.

3 cups hot water

Procedure:

Preheat the Instant Pot on the Saute setting. When hot, add the dried chili pods (stems and seeds removed and discarded). Dry toast the chilies until they have softened and become aromatic, turning frequently. CAUTION: Try not to inhale the steam or smoke produced by the chilies or get it in your eyes! It could cause significant irritation!

Chilies “toasting” in the Instant Pot.

Add the 3 cups of hot water and switch the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook, high, for 10 minutes. Put the lid in place and put the vent control in the sealed position.

Pressure cooked chilies in Instant Pot.

When finished, you can let it  depressurize naturally, or carefully open vent. When you have verified that the Instant Pot is completely depressurized, open, and transfer the chilies to a blender container, using tongs. Add about half of the liquid from the pot to the blender.

Sauce being blended. (Not as full as it looks.)

Carefully blend the contents, until smooth. you may need to use a kitchen towel to cover your blender pitcher, and vent to avoid pressure build up from the steam. Now, pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, over a bowl.

Strain the sauce and pulp. (I should’ve used a slightly wider container.)

Use the back of a spoon or ladle and work the sauce through. scrape the bottom of the sieve to get all the sauce! You should have some solids left in the sieve. This is the chili’s skin, and any seed bits that got through.

Almost done. Just have to work a little more through the strainer.

Now you have a nice, smooth, beautiful chili sauce! (See first photo)

I store mine in the refrigerator in glass canning jars until I’m ready to use it. It will keep for at least a couple of weeks! Enjoy!

Here’s how much this batch made. Half pint jars.

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Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Filling

Chicken Enchiladas

Guess who finally got an Instant Pot for Christmas?! Yup, that would be me. Just getting my feet wet and, so far, I’ve made vegetable beef soup, a vegetarian vegetable soup (that really needed some tomato paste), and today’s recipe: Chicken Enchilada Filling.

The ingredients are:

1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast, trimmed

1 can Red Enchilada Sauce

1 can Green Chilies, chopped/diced

1 large garlic clove, crushed, skin removed

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. dried oregano

pinch of salt

Just enough water to rinse cans…maybe a few tablespoons

 

Everybody in the pool!

 

Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot. Set to Pressure Cook, high pressure, for 20 minutes. (Make sure steam vent is closed!) When time is done, you can let the pressure dissipate naturally, or CAREFULLY open the vent to manually release the steam.

20 minutes later….

After cooking, I separated the chicken into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and popped it into the refrigerator to chill, so I will be able to handle it and pull it into shreds later.

Chicken…needs to cool off before pulling.

I poured the sauce into a bowl and refrigerated it, as well.

Spicy sauce!

I tasted the sauce, and it is pretty spicy, for me. I’m assuming that the reason for that is the enchilada sauce. I used Old El Paso brand Red Enchilada Sauce, and it is labeled “medium”. I may wind up using a milder sauce for the enchiladas, and serving this sauce on the side, so people can use it if they want to spice theirs up, or use it on rice. Not all of us like it painfully spicy. Note to self: buy more milk and sour cream.

So, next day…decided to make a mild enchilada sauce that I found online. If anyone is interested, I can give you the link. It was pretty simple.

I warmed the chicken in the microwave briefly…just enough to make it easy to pull apart by hand. I also added some of the mild enchilada sauce to it, to make the filling.

Pulled chicken with some mild enchilada sauce added.

The sauce that resulted from the chicken cooking, I modified with a sprinkle of sugar…maybe a teaspoon, at most… and then I combined a couple tablespoons of olive oil with about a tablespoon of flour. After mixing that in until smooth, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. This mixture was mixed well and then blended into the sauce. I microwaved the sauce for 2-1/2 minutes, covered,  to bring to a simmer. Now, for enchilada assembly. I sprayed  the bottom of my casserole dish non-stick spray and lined it with parchment paper…and sprayed it again. Should make for easy clean-up! Some of my original spicy sauce went on the bottom for a foundation. (It wasn’t much, so it didn’t overpower the dish.) Being a Gringo, I like flour tortillas and they work well for this dish. You could use warmed corn tortillas, if you prefer. The warming makes either type more pliable for rolling.

Ingredients for the Chicken Enchiladas, ready for assembly.

So, a couple of tablespoons of the chicken filling, a sprinkle of finely shredded cheese, and roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until filling is used up, or dish is full.

Fill the tortillas.

Fill the baking dish. (I had a few bits of chicken left, so I sprinkled it on top.)

Next, cover with enchilada sauce…this is the mild stuff…then a layer of cheese.

Oven ready!

Pop into an oven, preheated to 350F for about 25 to 30 minutes. Its just about heating the filling and melting the cheese. When mine was done, I dropped the the oven temperature to 190F, to keep it warm until I was ready to serve it.

Ready to serve!

I served mine with some yellow rice…spicy enchilada sauce was available to anyone who wanted it. (I used up all the mild in assembling the dish.) The final product was delicious! Definitely will do this again. Enjoy!

The basic serving.

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Basic Flan

Basic Flan. Yum!

Flan. Not what most kids want for dessert. But, if you can get them to TRY it, many will like it. As an adult, with more mature tastes, almost everyone will appreciate it. Flan is a custard that is pretty firm, and is baked with caramelized sugar that becomes a syrupy sauce.

Many cultures have a version of flan, especially Latino and Hispanic cuisines. The one I am doing here is a pretty simple, basic Mexican style flan. I ordered a flan pan via the internet to cook mine in; however, you can use an 8″x3″ deep cake pan or something similar, with or without the water bath. Using the water bath, I believe is supposed to give a more even heat and a finer texture.

Here’s the recipe:

Basic Whole Egg Flan

5 whole eggs

1 can of evaporated milk

1 can of condensed milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup granulated white sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to to 350F. Add sugar to a small saucepan, preferably non-stick, over medium heat. Pay close attention and stir often. Adjust heat as necessary.

Starting the caramel.

Sugar starting to melt. Stir!

In a large mixing bowl, add 5 whole eggs. (I remove the little white globs with a fork, or you could strain, after mixing in other ingredients.) Add condensed and evaporated milks and vanilla. Combine well, using a wire whip.

Eggs and milks.

When the sugar is completely melted, it should be a nice amber color. It will burn VERY quickly, so don’t push it too much and pay close attention! It will be extremely hot and sticky, so handle with care! I think I went just a bit too long, as some stuck to the pan and was hardened. (see photo below)

Caramel is ready!

Carefully pour the caramel into the flan pan or baking pan.

Caramel in the pan.

Ladle the egg mixture into the pan. I probably should have let the caramel set-up just a minute or two. We’ll see how it turns out. (see photo below)

Custard mixture added.

If using flan pan and water bath, affix lid to flan pan, place in a larger, oven safe dish, on a sheet pan or other larger baking pan. Add boiling water to the bath pan, coming halfway up the flan pan. Carefully transfer to preheated oven.

In the water bath and oven.

If not using flan pan  or water bath, just put baking pan on a cookie sheet onto the oven rack. Oven rack should be in the center of the oven. Bake for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for a least a couple hours prior to serving.

Out of the oven and cooling.

To serve, run a knife around the sides to release, invert a serving dish onto the flan baking dish. Make sure you have a dish that will hold the caramel liquid, without overflowing!

I used a pie plate to invert my flan onto.

Carefully, but quickly flip over, and then remove the baking dish.

Ta da!!! Looks like I should have let the caramel set for just a minute, but looks pretty good.

Some caramel hardened onto the pan. Next time, remove from heat sooner?

Heading to the fridge for a couple of hours.

Cut into servings, plate, spoon syrup over.

May be served with whipped cream and/or berries, if desired.

You can find versions of flan with various flavors, such as coffee, chocolate, pumpkin, almond, coconut, and more. Once you are comfortable with the basic recipe, try some variations! Enjoy!

UPDATE  (9/2/17)  Since the initial post, I’ve made a couple more flan and experimented a little. First, the hardened caramel kind of bugged me, so I’ve tried to remove it from the heat sooner…just trying to make sure its completely melted. I also have given just a couple of minutes before adding the custard mixture. I’m still getting some hardened caramel, though. But I’ve found that I can break it up, and either eat it like candy, or try to melt it in a sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of water and then pour it back over the flan, after it has cooled. Melting it again takes some time and constant vigilance, though.

Eat it,or melt it?

It has produced a better top surface…nice and smooth.

Nice smooth top.

Other experimentation, has been in flavoring variations. The above photo is actually a coffee flavored flan. I just dissolved some instant coffee, about 1/3 cup, into just enough water to dissolve it. I stirred than into the custard mix until well combined. I think it was very good.

The other variation, that I did today, was chocolate. For this one, I added 1/3 cup cocoa powder directly to the custard. It was a little messy and slow to get mixed in, but I worked at it and prevailed! Here are a few photos of that flan coming out of the pan:

Out of the oven and lid removed.

Smooth, glassy top!

Mmmm…chocolate.

Nice! Definitely has that cocoa powder chocolate flavor.

 

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My New Kitchen Toy: Sous Vide Cooker

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I’ve seen a few people doing sous vide cooking at home for awhile now, on some cooking forums that I follow. I’m not sure of the full potential, but I’m intrigued. With a little Christmas cash to spend, I decided to buy a portable sous vide cooker that I believe was a good buy. After a little research, I settled on a model made by Gourmia that seems to get good reviews. The model number is GSV-140. Amazon was selling it for $99.00…retail is supposedly $199.00, which I probably would not have been willing to pay. A Foodsaver vacuum sealer is handy to have as well, though you could get away with using zippered storage bags…they just would be a little more likely to leak, and the vacuum makes the sous vide process more effective, I think. I’ve had a vacuum sealer for 20+ years. Disclaimer: I am not in any way sponsored by or reimbursed by either Gourmia, Foodsaver, or Amazon.

Okay. So, the sous vide cooker arrived and I unpacked it, and read through the quick start-up guide and some other literature that came with it. I’m not going to cover the definition of sous vide, or all the technical stuff here. You can find tons of information online. This is just to document my experiments and share them, if anyone is interested.

I had a vacuum sealed bag of chicken drumsticks and thighs on hand and decided to make that my first foray into sous vide.

Vacuum sealed chicken pieces.

Vacuum sealed chicken pieces.

It was pretty simple: follow the directions for clamping the cooker to a container (I’m using a stock pot), add water between two marks, using the bagged chicken to get the amount right with volume displacement. Remove the bag. Enter the time and temperature according to the instructions for the cut of chicken I used, and start. When the water is up to temperature, I added the bag back in, and clipped it to the side of the pot.

Dial in the time and temperature.

Dial in the time and temperature.

You will find that sous vide recipes often give a wide range of time for cooking. Without getting bogged down in the technicalities, what you are doing is a long, slow poaching; at a very accurate temperature. You cook for a minimum period of time required, to reach the target temperature throughout the product being cooked. At that minimum time, the food is safe to eat, but you can go to the maximum time in the recipe, without seriously affecting texture and quality of the product. Passed that time, some foods could get overcooked…mushy.

I set the temperature according to directions, at 158F. I cooked it for three hours. I could have stopped at two or gone for five, but I decided to do three hours. It was a bit unsettling that the juices in the bag were not “running clear”, like other cooking methods use as a gauge for chicken being “done”. They were still a murky, dark reddish color.

Chicken, unbagged.

Chicken, unbagged.

Cooked chicken

Cooked chicken

However, when I opened the bag and pulled a piece of meat apart, it was cooked through. It was very moist and had a good texture. At this point, I could have finished on a grill or in a saute pan, if I wanted to brown the meat. I decided to just eat one of the thigh pieces and put the rest into the refrigerator for a later recipe.

Checking to see if cooked through.

Checking to see if cooked through.

Day two, I have done some reading on sous vide cooking eggs. I’m doing four eggs currently at 147F for an hour and a  half.

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The result should be like an over medium egg, or a medium boiled egg. I like a set white…no slime, and a yolk that has begun to gel, but not solid. If I were cooking in a pan, the result should be a yolk that is starting to solidify on the outside and still runny in the middle…so that, when I cut it up, there is enough runny yolk to coat the cut white pieces…but not runny enough to pool on the plate. I get pretty specific about how I like my eggs…I know!  Will update later today.

Egg update: Holy mackeral. The egg yolks are perfect. The texture is creamy and amazing! The whites were a little underdone for my liking, but from my reading, I know that some may remain watery…and I was able to dribble that little bit off. So, now I just need to experiment with adjusting the temperature up a couple of degrees and/or try adding another half hour to the time. It was fairly easy to get the eggs out of the shells. I just cracked them on the large end and removed enough shell to allow the egg to be tipped out into a small bowl.

Tipped out into a small bowl.

Tipped out into a small bowl.

Carefully opening the egg.

Carefully opening the egg.

After I checked the yolk texture, I gently lifted the eggs onto some awaiting toast, leaving that little bit of watery white behind.

Sous vise eggs on toast. Yum.

Sous vise eggs on toast. Yum.

Yolk test...oh, MY!

Yolk test…oh, MY!

I will say that, while the whites were very soft, there were not what I would call “slimy”…that really repulsive stuff on eggs when someone under-cooks the whites. I would just like them set firmer. Overall, I’m very impressed. I have seen sous vide recipes for creme brulee and hollandaise sauce. I haven’t gone through them yet, but I’m betting the texture is remarkable. We’ll see!

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