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!


Loroco Filling for Pupusas

Loroco, thawing in water.

Someone from El Salvador told me that my Pupusas are pretty good. He tried to describe one thing that was missing, though. Something his mother used. He didn’t know the name…didn’t know how to describe it. What I took from his attempt was that it was some kind of small pepper that you ate with the pupusas. But he said you couldn’t find them locally. The closest store was more than 20 miles away. He asked his mother for the name and she said it’s called “loroco”.

Now, I had a name and could do some research! It turns out that it’s an unopened flower bud…similar idea to a caper, but not pickled. It does have a kind of briny, slightly sour flavor. It’s vegetal and very distinctive. I happened to find a package of frozen loroco at a local Latino store. You aren’t likely to find it in any other type of store. But, if you find it, I recommend you try it! If you’re exploring pupusas, this filling is pretty simple.

The pupusa techniques take a little more practice. It’s basically corn tortilla dough, made from masa harina, a bit thicker than a tortilla. It starts as a ball, about the size of a golf ball, formed into a little cup shape, a small amount of filling, cup closed, and then flattened…but not too thin. I use a tortilla press, but don’t flatten it completely. If a little filling is visible, its not a problem.

The pupusas are cooked on a hot griddle, a few minutes on each side, until browned. I have made a meat filling previously, and a cheese one. The loroco one is a variation on a cheese filling. I just kind of made it up, but had read a couple of recipes that call for farmer cheese. I used cottage cheese instead.

Started with about 1/3 cup frozen of loroco, thawed in some water, and drained. Add 1/2 cup of whole milk mozzarella, shredded.

Loroco and shredded mozzarella.

The next thing is 1/3 cup of cottage cheese, a pinch of salt, and stir to combine. While the pupusas are cooking, you can really smell the loroco. In fact, the person that told me about it, walked by while mine were on the griddle, and he recognized the smell! He tried the first one and I got his enthusiastic stamp of approval!

Loroco Pupusa

While in process, I missed the opportunity to get some photos that I should have, but I thought this would be worth posting anyway. There are instructions on making pupusas, elsewhere on the interwebs.


Corn and Salsa Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

Southwest Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

A spiralizer has been sitting around in my closet for quite some time, gathering dust. Something recently caught my attention and prompted me to buy a couple of zucchinis and dust that puppy off. Being that it is Summer, and the height of fresh veggie season, now is the time to do it!

First thing I did was set up the spiralizer with the smaller of the string settings.

Spiralizer and a few ingredients

I washed and trimmed the ends off of two zucchinis and ran them through the process.

Zucchini “noodles”

The center remains as a long “rod”, about the thickness of a pencil. I cut those into little chunks and set them aside. I added two or three good pinches of salt to the “noodles” and tossed them well. I set those aside, while I assembled my other ingredients: about a half of a cup of corn (fresh, cooked on the cobb, and removed), a half cup of salsa, the zucchini core pieces, a minced garlic glove, and a few grinds of black pepper.

In a 10″ nonstick skillet (or wok, if you prefer), add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. When melted and bubbling, add the veggies, except for the “noodles”.

Corn, zucchini pieces fron core, garlic clove.

Toss to saute for a minute, the add salsa. Make sure it’s all heated through, then add the zucchini noodles.

Almost done!

If there isn’t too much salt, it should be okay to toss straight in. If you think you added too much, rinse and drain before adding to the skillet. Toss the mixture a couple of times, to coat the noodles, cooking for a minute or so. Cover and steam for a minute. Add the black pepper and adjust seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with cheese of your choice, if desired. If I had some fresh cilantro on hand, I would have added a handful of leaves at the last minute.

The Final product…yum!

And let me say, if you’ve never tried the spiralized zucchini noodle thing, you will be pretty amazed. They really do feel like noodles, with just a slight crunch. Both my wife and daughter thought I had mixed regular thin spaghetti noodles in with the zucchini. Of course, this could be sauced an endless number of ways, and with different veggies. Also, with or without meat. I might try an alfredo next….



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.



Pickled Green Beans, AKA “Dilly Beans”

Dilly Beans (I left out the optional red pepper flakes.)

Dilly Beans (I left out the optional red pepper flakes.)

I didn’t take a bunch of “process” photos, but I made 2 pint jars of pickled green beans, AKA “Dilly Beans”. I think Dilly Beans sounds kind of silly…although, it is quicker to say than pickled green beans. Anyway, I decided to give this recipe a try, because I got some green beans on sale and they looked pretty good. Plus, I have some dill in my garden that needed trimming back. I didn’t measure my beans, but I’m assuming it was a maybe a pound to a pound and a half?

Dilly Beans

Fresh green beans, trimmed both ends. Enough to firmly pack (2) pint jars.

1/8 c. kosher or pickling salt

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled, lightly crushed

2 fresh dill heads/fronds

1 t. mustard seeds

(optional: pinch of red pepper flakes per jar)

1-1/2 c. white vinegar

3/4 c. water


Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and mustard seeds in a small, non-reactive sauce pan (like stainless steel). Bring to a boil and reserve, keeping hot. Prepare a water bath canner with enough water to cover jars by an inch or two. Prepare two pint jars, lids, and screw rings. Divide the garlic, dill, and red pepper flakes (if using) between the two jars. Trim the green beans to fit the jars vertically, leaving 1/2 to 1/4 inch space from jar’s rim. Pack the jar tightly, so the green beans won’t float.

Ladle the hot brine over the beans, trying to distribute the mustard seeds evenly. Bring the brine up to 1/4″ below the jar’s rim and covering the beans. Use a skewer or a knife to make sure there are no trapped air bubbles and add more brine, if necessary. Using a paper towel or clean cloth, wipe the threads and rim. Place a prepared lid on each jar and install the screw ring to “finger tight”. Add to boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes. Leave jars in the hot water, off heat for another 5 minutes. Remove to a kitchen towel on a counter top and leave for 24 hours. When cool enough to touch, tighten lids. If lids do not “pop” to indicate seal, store in refrigerator. If properly sealed, remove the rings and store in a cool, dark place until ready to use. (I would wait at least 2 weeks and maybe a month before opening.)

I had a little leftover brine and the bean ends that I trimmed to make the beans fit the jars, so I put them in a plastic container and let them sit on the counter for a few minutes, then I popped them in the fridge. I’ll have them as a snack in a few days.



Soup for One from Home Canned Pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

I have several pint jars of pumpkin sitting in my pantry that I canned after Halloween this year. I decided to pop open a jar and make some soup!

First, I drained the liquid from the pumpkin and transferred it to a small saucepan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

(If you substitute store-bought canned pumpkin, you might need to ADD a little water, as it is “solid pack”, meaning that it has had a bunch of water removed.) Then I added about 1/3 cup of buttermilk and a pinch each of powdered ginger, garlic powder, salt, fresh black pepper, and ground coriander.

Spices and buttermilk added.

Spices and buttermilk added.

I combined those ingredients until smooth, using a hand blender, while I brought the soup up to temperature over medium-high heat. I decided to add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of half’n’half and blend that in as well.

Blended, with half'n'half added.

Blended, with half’n’half added.

To have a little more fun, I added croutons to the glass canning jar that the pumpkin had been in, and topped them with about a 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

I poured the soup over the cheese and croutons and stirred. It was stringy with hot cheese and tasted like a soup and grilled cheese sandwich, all blended together!



Obviously, you could just eat the soup, without the croutons and cheese. You could vary the flavor by changing the flavor of croutons and/or the type of cheese. Also, you could vary the spices added to the soup. Cumin, instead of coriander; mustard powder, rather than garlic; add some chicken stock for a non-vegetarian option. It’s a versatile little soup that you can spice to suit your tastes, plus it’s quick and easy! Enjoy!


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.)