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!


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.


Easiest Dessert Ever!

Easy Cookie/Berry Crumble

Easy Cookie/Berry Crumble


I have always been an admirer of Jaques Pepin. The man is a culinary technique master of masters. Today, I happened to catch an episode of his PBS television show “Fast Food, My Way” and watched him prepare the following recipe. It was SO simple, that I had to prepare it immediately! I didn’t catch a name for the dish, but it’s basically a berry crumble. I can’t imagine a dessert being any easier, and still being “homemade”.

Ready to bake...blackberries, crumbled shortbread, sugar, and butter.

Ready to bake…blackberries, crumbled shortbread, sugar, and butter.

Easy Cookie/Berry Crumble

2 small containers of fresh or individually frozen berries, plus/minus (I used frozen blackberries.)

1/3 cup sugar, more or less, depending on sweetness of berries

Your choice of cookies, crumbled. (I used my homemade shortbread) About 1/2 cup plus/minus

4 T. butter

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center. In a pyrex or similar baking dish, around 8″x8″ or 9″x9″, add enough berries to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle cookie crumbles over to evenly cover the berries. Sprinkle sugar over, evenly, Break up the butter into pieces and dot around the top of the crumble. Bake about 30-35 minutes, until fruit is bubbling throughout the dish. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to warm or room temperature.

Somebody get me some vanilla ice cream!!!

Somebody get me some vanilla ice cream!!!

Serve with your choice of accompaniment, such as ice cream, whipped cream, crème fraiche, etc. I can see doing these in individual mini dishes for guests. Enjoy!


Cherry Fruit Leather from Fresh Cherries

Sugar, water, cherries

Sugar, water, cherries (There’s a few Mt. Raniers in there.)

With cherries in season and some deals here and there, I had some on hand. Unfortunately, nobody was eating them and they were just passing their prime. Having recently discovered that my almost 15 month old grandson was very enthusiastic with the discovery of “Fruit by the Foot” snacks, I decided to pull out the dehydrator and give it a shot. By coincidence, I happened to find a deal on some Presto brand liners for making fruit leather and had bought a couple. That probably spurred me on a bit as well. My dehydrator is a Nesco brand, however, and it has a bigger center hole than the Presto model, so the dehydrator motor would not fit through the Presto accessory’s center hole.

Presto liner on a Nesco dehydrator. Presto has a smaller hole...oops.

Presto liner on a Nesco dehydrator. Presto has a smaller hole…oops.

Having already poured the fruit puree, my best bet was to put the trays at the bottom with the empty ones on top. Those, plus the lid, got me close…still sticking up a little, but enough for the dehydrator to work.

Put fruit leather trays on bottom. Note small gap between lid and motor.

Put fruit leather trays on bottom. Note small gap between lid and motor.

As for the fruit leather, I looked around on Pinterest and found a recipe that looked like what I was searching for. The recipe, at http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/cherry-fruit-leather/  (credit where due!), specifies using an oven at 170F and sheet pans with silicone liners, but I figured that substituting a dehydrator would be no problem. I will admit  that I didn’t really measure my cherries…but I think I was in the neighborhood of four cups. In the end, I perfectly lined the 2 inserts, with none left over.

One tip: double check your cherries for pits. I thought I was careful, but a couple made it into the blender and I had  to run the puree through a sieve. I left behind a little fiber and peel, I guess, but I think I would add that step anyway, for a smoother puree. So, here’s the recipe:


Cherry Fruit Leather

4 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup granulated sugar



Add the water and the fruit to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Use a potato masher to mash the cherries as they cook. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until well broken down. (I must admit that I added the sugar also and it seems to have turned out okay, though it was supposed to be added later.)

Mashed cherries simmering.

Mashed cherries simmering.

Transfer the cooked fruit to a blender, in batches, and blend until smooth. I did mine in 2 batches. Be careful with hot stuff in blenders! I left the center hole open and covered with a towel, to avoid building pressure and causing a hot fruit puree explosion.

Pureed and strained.

Pureed and strained.

Return the puree to the saucepan…after passing through a sieve, if necessary or desired. Add the sugar…if you didn’t do it when I did, by mistake. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened some. Remove from heat and stir bubbles down a bit.

Simmered on reduced heat for 10 minutes.

Simmered on reduced heat for 10 minutes.

Lightly spray your dehydrator disks with a nonstick spray or lightly brush with oil and place on dehydrator trays. Ladle the puree onto disks and carefully give a jiggle to even out puree.

Ladled onto nonstick sprayed liner.

Ladled onto nonstick sprayed liner.

Add the cover and the motor and dehydrate until a little tacky to touch, but not dried out completely. (Although…it needed to be a little drier than I thought.) Should be between 4 to 7 hours, depending on your dehydrator, humidity, etc. (Mine actually took more like nine hours.) Allow to cool. Peel from dehydrator inserts and store, rolled in wax paper or parchment and stored in an airtight container, up to one month. (Cut in smaller strips, if desired.) Enjoy!

Ready to eat cherry fruit leather. Rolled in parchment paper.

Ready to eat cherry fruit leather. Rolled in parchment paper.

I did need to go to the longer period of time for the dehydrator…actually, well beyond. One tray was a little thicker than the other and, when I touched it, it kind of schmudged it some. Yeah…made up that word. And I turned it off after about 5 hours, thinking it was done. I decided it wasn’t done, later, after it had cooled. I popped the trays back in the dehydrator and let them go another 3 or 4 hours. The thicker one then went another hour. But they turned out fine, in the end, and taste good. Live and learn. Next time, the process will be smoother.



Peanut Butter and Honey Caramel Popcorn

Peanut Butter and Honey Caramel Popcorn

Peanut Butter and Honey Caramel Popcorn

About a week ago, my wife was looking for a box of Crunch ‘n’ Munch Caramel Popcorn that I had bought. I had bought two boxes and she had eaten one over the course of a couple of days. She assumed that the second box was hers, too, since I know she likes it. A reasonable assumption, but one that was proven wrong, because I had a craving the night before. Poor thing was so disappointed!

Never wanting to leave a woman disappointed(*wink, wink*), I decided to pop onto the computer and do a little secret research. Most of the recipes called for corn syrup, which I didn’t have on hand, or exact temperatures and extra steps that I just didn’t want to deal with for a quick recipe to surprise my wife with on short notice. To the rescue came a recipeI found through Pinterest at http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/04/23/peanut-butter-caramel-corn/ . Take a look, if you have a chance, you may find something else you like there as well! I like to give credit, where credit is due, and support those people who have helped me with a great recipe.

This recipe is simple, easy, and can be done in a matter of about 20 minutes with pretty common ingredients and equipment. There’s no need for a thermometer or precision. What you will need is some measuring cups, a small sauce pot for the caramel, a medium sauce pot with a lid for popping the corn (or you can use microwaved or air popped), a large mixing bowl for combing the popcorn and caramel a spoon or wire whip and a rubber spatula.

Here’s the recipe:

Peanut Butter and Honey Caramel Popcorn


  • 10 cups unflavored popped popcorn (homemade or 1 standard size bag)*
  • 2/3 cup dry-roasted peanuts, optional
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
 *I think I use a little more popcorn and stretch the caramel out a little thinner.

Pop the popcorn, remove any unpopped kernels, and set aside.

Popped a good sized bowl of popcorn and leave room for mixing!

Popped a good sized bowl of popcorn and leave room for mixing!

Line a sheet pan with parchment and a little non-stick spray. Put the sugar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. You can cover it initially to help it come to a boil, but it isn’t required. Once the mixture comes to a boil, let it go for about three minutes.
Boiling sugar and honey...HOT!!! Be careful.

Boiling sugar and honey…HOT!!! Be careful.


Carefully remove the mixture from heat and add the salt, peanut butter and, if using, the optional peanuts.* Stir until well-combined.
Peanuts, salt, and peanut butter added and stirred well.

Peanuts, salt, and peanut butter added and stirred well.

Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and, using a rubber spatula, turn the popcorn until the caramel is evenly distributed.
Pour the popcorn onto the prepared sheet pan and carefully spread the hot mass out evenly to cool completely. (See header photo) When cool, break up the caramel corn into bite-sized clusters and try not to consume it all in one sitting!
*The recipe actually calls for the peanuts to be added after the caramel is poured on the popcorn, I think…but I wanted mine coated with the caramel as well.
So, I dove into the recipe and knocked it out. I have to admit, It wasn’t *quite* completely cool when I broke mine up into clusters and presented it to my wife…so it was just a tiny bit chewy. But that didn’t really matter…my wife was suitably amazed and impressed with my thoughtfulness and effort. Then she tasted the popcorn…amazing! She could not put it down. It was a MAJOR success! Eventually, she made me take it away from her, so she wouldn’t eat it all. Again, being the loving husband, I finished the rest of it. This one really is a winner. I hope you’ll try it and enjoy!

Finally Made Wrangler Jelly!

Ingredients, except for sugar, for the Wrangler Jelly.

Ingredients, except for sugar, for the Wrangler Jelly.

It’s been about three years ago, that I pinned an interesting sounding recipe on Pinterest to my “MMMFoodies Canning Stuff. https://www.pinterest.com/mattmmille/mmm-foodies-canned-stuff/ Even though the recipe called for canned crushed pineapple, I had a fresh one and I was going to try it. Well, I wound up using that pineapple for something else and that recipe sat there, unused…except that it was one of the two most re-pinned recipes from my collection!  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/516928863450185549/

Well, it’s getting down to freezing temperatures overnight, in my area, and I just picked a few small poblanos and a couple of small, green tomatoes ahead of the freeze. Looking at them, the Wrangler Jelly recipe came to mind. I had the canned pineapple and pectin on hand, so I decided to give it a try. I followed the recipe as linked above with the substitution of the poblanos for the jalapenos and the addition of the little green tomatoes. I chopped all of them fairly fine.

Fine chopped poblanos and green tomatoes.

Fine chopped poblanos and green tomatoes.

The recipe says to add all the ingredients, except the pectin, and bring to a boil. Then add the pectin and boil for one minute. In my jelly and jam making experience, I always held back the sugar until the boil was reached,

Bringing the ingredients together.

Bringing the ingredients together. (Including seeds from ONE of the peppers.)

…added the sugar, returned to the boil, added the pectin and brought back to the boil for one minute. I don’t know if it makes a big difference, but that’s what I did.

Four cups of sugar. (Used dry measure... glass liquid measure was just for pouring).

Four cups of sugar. (Used dry measure… glass liquid measure was just for pouring).

Bringing back to a boil with the sugar added.

Bringing to a boil just before the sugar is added.

After canning, I actually got 4 half pint jars and two 4oz jars. I always prepare more jars/lids/rings than what is called for in the recipe, for just such a situation. (The recipe said it would make the 4 half pints.) I tasted a tiny bit that was left in the pot, and the cayenne pepper plus the poblanos made it plenty spicy! I think the green tomato will add a small citrusy component and a touch of added texture…and probably accounts for some of the excess volume.

Yielded 4 half pints and two 4oz jars.

Yielded 4 half pints and two 4oz jars.

My plans for this batch include a cream cheese and Wrangler Jelly appetizer with crackers at Thanksgiving, maybe some glazed pork chops, and possibly a Wrangler Baked Brie. This may not be the best jelly for your morning toast, but I don’t think I will have any problem finding uses for this versatile little jelly! And I may gift a jar or two. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to make it…it was so easy! If you decide to save this recipe, don’t put it off…make it! And enjoy!

Update: I may have to try this again and add the sugar at the same time as the other ingredients…or something. The jelly didn’t really set and I have more like a candied relish product; sort of like that pineapple topping used on ice cream sundaes. It will still work for some of my intended recipes, but I would still like to figure it out!

Hmmm...still tasty, but didn't gel. (With a whole box of pectin!)

Hmmm…still tasty, but didn’t gel. (With a whole box of pectin!)


Ratatouille…Sort Of

It doesn't HAVE to be a vegetarian meal...but it could have been.

It doesn’t HAVE to be a vegetarian meal…but it could have been.

Time to put together a Crock Pot vegetarian meal with some items I have laying around. I particularly want to use an eggplant that is still good, but might not last much longer. I went with a ratatouille…sort of. There’s eggplant, of course, and onions; but, instead of the other Summer vegetables, I went with Yukon Gold potatoes and acorn squash. I guess that pushes it from a Summer to an early Fall version of ratatouille. Vegetarian comfort food…enjoy! (But it doesn’t HAVE to be vegetarian! My plate wasn’t!)


3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, large dice

1 large eggplant, peeled, large dice

1 large acorn squash, peeled, large dice

1 medium to large sweet onion, peeled, large dice

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon Kosher salt


Set up Crock Pot and preheat on “low”.*  Prep vegetables. I put eggplant in a colander and toss with the Kosher salt. As I prep the other vegetables, I just toss them on top of the eggplant.

The veggies.

The veggies.

By the time I’m done, the salt has had time to draw a little moisture and bitterness out of the eggplant. I then toss all the vegetables together and rinse under cold water to remove the excess salt. Enough salt will hang on so that no additional salt will be needed, unless it needs adjusting before serving.

Add all the vegetables to the Crock Pot, add the tomatoes, and sprinkle the herbs and spices over the top.

Ready to cook.

Ready to cook.

Make a couple of holes and bury the bay leaves. Drizzle in vinegar and honey. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring every couple of hours.

After about 4 to 5 hours on "low" setting.

After about 4 to 5 hours on “low” setting.

Ready to serve,

Ready to serve,

Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with rice or pasta, if desired.

*(After about 4 hours, maybe a little more, I decided to turn the Crock Pot heat setting to “High”. In retrospect, I probably should have started on high and lowered after an hour or two. On this particular occasion, it was 4:00 p.m. and I wanted to have the stew ready for dinner.)