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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Quick Pressure Cooker Grits

Quick Pressure Cooker Grits

My husband and I both love grits. When I make a big breakfast at home, usually on the weekends, we typically go for eggs over hard, bacon and/or sausage, grits, english muffins and perhaps some fresh fruit. That being said, have you ever attempted to cook all of those things at the same time by yourself?


Huge respect goes out to short order cooks at breakfast restaurants! All of the items I mentioned are relatively easy to cook. However, they all go pretty fast and they all need attention at the same time. It is a full hands on sprint of a prepare!


That being said, I figured if I could do the grits in my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker, it could make my short order cooking wife-life that much easier!


I use 5-minute grits when I cook on the stove top - boil the water, add the salt and grits slowly while whisking the entire time, then simmer and whisk every 20-30 seconds for 5 minutes. It’s non-stop attention seeking…


Well, my Instant Pot pressure cooker came through again, making my life just a little easier. I was able to throw the ingredients into my Instant Pot, set it and go pay attention to my other breakfast items while it came to pressure and did it’s thing. All I had to do was stir once before and after cook time was complete and voila!




Quick Pressure Cooker Grits


Ingredients

Makes 3 generous servings
-you can double or triple this recipe

1/2 cup Quick 5-minute grits*
1 1/2 - 2 cups water*
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
pinch cayenne, optional
1 T butter, cut in small pieces
shredded cheddar cheese, optional
extra butter, optional

*I use a 1:3 1/2-4 ratio of quick grits:water
Example: 1/2 cup grits : 1 1/2 - 2 cups water

*Why the range of water? - it depends how you like your grits!
We like ours nice and thick, so I use the 1: 3 1/2 grits to water ratio. If you like them thinner/creamier, add another 1/2 ratio of water ( 1:4 grits to water ratio), OR stir in some cream after cook time is complete

Directions

Add grits, water, salt, pepper, cayenne and butter to pressure cooker pot. Stir lightly.


For this method, use quick 5 minute grits!


Close lid to pressure cooker, and close vent knob.
For Instant Pot, turn vent knob to “Sealing”


Set cook time to 2 minutes on High Pressure. For Instant Pot, press “Manual”, then use “+/-“ buttons to adjust cook time.

Pressure cooker will take a few minute to come to pressure, then cook time will begin.

When cook time is complete, turn off pressure cooker and quickly release pressure (QPR) by opening vent knob.

For Instant Pot, turn vent knob to “Venting” - I always place a towel over vent knob.


Open lid, add shredded cheese, if desired, and stir until cheese melts and combines well. I use about 1/4 cup sharp cheddar.

You can also add extra butter or a splash of cream at this time.

Serve with the rest of your breakfast! 

Or, serve with shrimp and sauce of choice for some shrimp and grits! 
I’ll have to work on a recipe for that!


Quick Pressure Cooker Grits





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Friday, December 30, 2016

Simply Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette [Whole30 approved]

Simply Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette

I am historically a pre-made dressing kinda gal. They are quick and easy and tempting.

Sure, you can find premade’s with low calorie counts and even fat free. It has always been super tempting to purchase the lowest calorie dressing and then use 2-3 times the serving amount of 2 T.  I felt no guilt using them. HOWEVER, I started to think: What could they possibly put in here to make it seemingly a vinaigrette if it only has 20 calories per 2 T? It can’t be oil, but it looks like oil… what the heck is in there?

Have YOU ever thought about what they are putting in those mixes to make them taste good WITHOUT those calories and fat (et cetera)?

Have you ever looked at the labels of some of those bottles?

Plenty of sodium, soybean oils, high fructose corn syrup, other sugar, sometimes a TON of BAD fat, preservatives and words I can’t pronounce nor understand.


Simply Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette



Ingredients

3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 T good balsamic vinegar
2 t spicy brown or dijon mustard
1 T water
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t dried basil
1/4 t dried oregano
1/8 t onion powder
1/8 t garlic powder
pinch (or 3) crushed red pepper, optional


Directions

Add all ingredients to tupperware, close lid, and shake shake shake!


With this recipe, you have enough for 4, 2 T servings.

You can certainly double, triple, quadruple this recipe!

I also use it for my Italian Farro Salad!

Simply Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette




Nutrition Facts per serving (4 total)
Calories: 115
Fat: 10.5 g
Sat Fat: 1.5 g
Sodium: 175mg
Carbs: 4g
Sugar: 1.5g
Protein: 0g



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Italian Farro Salad


Italian Farro Salad

Pronounced Fahr-Oh, it is one of the oldest cultivated grains on the planet.

It is such a delicious grain, somewhere between barley and rice in texture, and it soaks up any flavor you give it! If you haven’t tried it, I totally encourage it! When I buy it, I buy more than one - it can be somewhat hard to find at my local grocery store, so sometimes I opt to buy it online. My favorite brand is Nature’s Earthly Choice Organic Farro, and I usually opt for the 6-pack!


Truthfully, you could throw in anything you like with cooked Farro, toss with a little vinaigrette and it’s sure to be delicious. It’s so great to have something scrumptious and healthy to grab and eat in the fridge, too!


Something that is extra AWESOME about this Italian Farro Salad is the combination of textures and flavors - crunchy, nutty walnuts - sweet, chewy cranberries or sun-dried tomatoess - slightly chewy, satisfying farro - tangy dressing - sharpness from the onion - creamy cannelloni beans.

I mean, seriously… this Italian Farro Salad is so freaking DELISHAnd, HEALTHY!

One of my favorite things about this Italian Farro salad - I cooked the Farro using my Instant Pot! Here is how to cook Farro in the Instant Pot.


Without further ado…


Italian Farro Salad


Salad Ingredients
about 3 cups Cooked Farro, how to cook Farro in the Instant Pot
1/2 cup cannellini beans
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes or dried cranberries*, chopped
3 T walnuts, chopped
3 T Italian vinaigrette (your fave or my Simply Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette)
pinch garlic salt
1/4 t black pepper
pinch to 1/4 t crushed red pepper, optional for spice
Fresh basil, chiffonnade (aka cut into strips), optional garnish

*I use whichever I have on-hand. 
Today it was dried cranberries — you want that sweet, chewy bite


Essential Tools

Pressure Cooker, I have the IP-60DUO 7-in-1 Instant Pot

Directions

Cook Farro - you can use my Pressure Cooker method, or cook the farro on your stovetop according to the Farro's package directions.

Allow Farro to cool slightly while you prepare salad ingredients.

Add Farro and salad ingredients to mixing bowl. Mix together.

That is it!


Transfer to storage dish(es) (tupperware or a lidded bowl). I love using these 6 ounce Anchor custard bowls with lids for portion control! I also love these Sagler mixing bowls (set of 3 in 1.5, 3 & 5 quart) because they have lids!

Chill for at least an hour, then ENJOY. This can also be eaten warm, but chilling it helps develop more flavor.

Confession: I didn’t wait... I ate a bowl right away!


Italian Farro Salad



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Thursday, December 29, 2016

S’mores Pie [Instant Pot Pressure Cooker]

S’mores Pie

Who doesn’t love Smores?


Sweet, Gooey marshmallow, crunchy, sugary graham crackers, luscious, melty chocolate… you want one now, don’t you?! 


I love the flavors, but let’s be honest… how often do you really actually make Smores? Perhaps you do often, but I admit that I do not.


#1: I live in Florida - when do you think we EVER have an opportunity to have a bonfire let alone have the need to sit close enough to one to roast marshmallows? Not very often.


On that note, us Floridians are hunkering down for our coldest day in December coming tomorrow - the high where I live is set to be 63 and the low 41 - perhaps tomorrow should be National Smores-for-real Day in Florida! I’ll let my husband know to connect the propane to our faux fire pit.


#2: When else do you make Smores? While camping perhaps? Well, again with the admissions… I admit my idea of camping is, well, non-existent… but if it existed, I’d hope it would involve A/C and my hair straightener. Don’t judge me.


But, who doesn’t love Smores?! Especially if there was an easier way to make and eat them.


Well, alas… I believe in this Smores Pie. It satisfies the flavor desires, yet involves no fire. And since I have become obsessed with my Pressure Cooker, I am happy to report I make it in my Instant Pot!



S’mores Pie


Ingredients

1 cup graham cracker crumbs, about 8 cracker sheets
4 T melted butter
1 box brownie mix
ingredients called for on brownie mix box
about 1 cup mini marshmallows

1 1/2 cups water - for bottom of pressure cooker




Essential Tools

Pressure Cooker, I have the IP-60DUO 6 qt Instant Pot
Springform pan, I have this Nordic Ware 7 inch nonstick
meat tenderizer, or rolling pin - whatever works to crush your graham crackers into crumbs
Pyrex bowl, for storage of leftovers


Directions

Place graham crackers in resealable bag, like a sandwich or quart size ziplock. Crush into crumbs using flat side of meat tenderizer or rolling pin, or whatever you have that will work.


Pour crumbs into small mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter. Mix until combined.


Press evenly on bottom and slightly up the sides, about 1 inch, of springform pan.


Mix brownie batter as directed on box. Pour into springform pan over graham cracker crust.


Tap pan lightly on counter to get rid of air bubbles and evenly disperse batter.


Cover tightly with foil.

Pour 1 1/2 cups water in bottom of pressure cooker inner pot, place trivet over water, then place springform pan on trivet over water.


Close lid of pressure cooker, and close vent knob. On Instant pot, turn vent knob to “Sealing”.


Press Manual button on Instant Pot, or high pressure on any pressure cooker, and adjust cook time to 45 minutes.

Pressure cooker will take 5-10 minutes to come to pressure, then cook time countdown will begin.

When cook time completes, allow pressure to naturally release (NPR) for 10 minutes. Quickly release remaining pressure (QPR) by opening vent knob. On Instant Pot, turn to “Venting”.


Uncover and allow pie to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.


Evenly spread marshmallows over brownie - do it neatly for neater presentation if you wish.


Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes - do not take your eye off those marshmallows! They can go from perfectly browned, to ridiculously burnt in the matter of seconds.

Carefully remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes.

Unlatch spring on springform pan, and carefully remove rim. Slide pan onto a plate or storage container lid - why a storage container lid? Because I use a tupperware or this 7 cup round Pyrex oven safe bowl, turned upside down to store the leftovers! (pending there are leftovers) #Genius

(NOTE: because Pyrex bowl is oven safe, you can use this to cook things in your Instant Pot, too! Worth the purchase: 7 cup  Pyrex oven safe bowl, 7 cup, round.
This Pyrex container is just over 7.5 inches in diameter, and the spring form pan is just under 7.5 inches!

Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.



S’mores Pie



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15 Bean Soup with Ham [Instant Pot Pressure Cooker]

15 Bean Soup with Ham

Don’t know what to do with a leftover ham bone, or just some left over ham in any form? Use it to make hearty, savory 15 Bean Soup!

I personally LOVE 15 Bean Soup. The variety of beans make for a great textured soup, and it gets nice and thick and hearty. It’s perfect accompanied by Pressure Cooker Cornbread, or any other bread of your choice.

This recipe for 15 Bean Soup with Ham is incredibly easy, yet definitely does NOT lack in flavor! It could easily feed 8 people, maybe even more. I love preparing this, serving it to my family of 3 (soon to be 4!) and freezing the rest to serve again in a couple weeks.

The BEST part: it takes 1/4 of the time in my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker than it does on the stove! No soaking of the beans, no having to babysit a stove. Total #momwin!

This is a GREAT freeze-for-later meal! Pressure Cooker Cornbread does well in the freezer, too!


15 Bean Soup with Ham


Ingredients

2 T oil (I use olive oil)
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
7-8 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 t dried thyme
2 Bay leaves
1/2 t salt (the ham and bone give plenty of salt)
1 t black pepper
1/2 t paprika
1 package Mixed or 15 Beans (discard any seasoning packet), not soaked
1 ham bone* with some ham remaining
*make sure it will fit in your pressure cooker - my ham was almost 8 lbs, and the bone barely fit
6-7 cups water**
**The amount of water depends on how thick or thin you like your soup - I use 6 cups because I like mine nice and thick!




Essential Tools

Kitchen spoon
Silicone Mitts or other oven mitt


Directions

Dice all veggies, mince garlic.

Press “sauté” button on Instant Pot (or browning setting on other pressure cookers). Add olive oil to inner pot of pressure cooker, then add onion, celery, carrots and garlic along with salt, pepper and paprika. Stir and Sauté for 2-3 minutes while holding the inner pot in place with your silicone mitts, or other oven mitt.


Add diced tomatoes, bay leave and thyme. Stir to combine.


Rinse beans using mesh strainer - you may lose some of the small beans down your sink in other colanders with larger holes. And NO - NO need to soak beans - woohoo!).

Add beans and ham bone to pot.


Add water - no need for broth or stock here. The ham bone gives flavor o’ plenty!


Close lid of pressure cooker and ensure vent knob is closed - for Instant Pot, turn to “Sealing”


Press manual (high pressure) and adjust cook time to 35 minutes.

Your pressure cooker will take about 15 minutes or so to come to pressure - there’s a lot of liquid in there! The more liquid, the longer it takes to come to pressure typically.

Once pressure cooker comes to pressure, cook time countdown will begin.

When cook time completes, Instant Pot will beep and automatically change to Keep Warm setting.

DO NOT MANUALLY or QUICKLY RELEASE PRESSURE!

Allow your Pressure Cooker to naturally release pressure (NPR) for at least 15 minutes. It will probably take 20-25 minutes to release all pressure naturally. At 15 minutes, you can opt to start quickly releasing pressure (QPR) by turning vent knob to “Venting” - I always place a towel over vent knob.

Why am I emphasizing these pressure release stuff? Because if you don’t allow the pressure to release manually, and you try to do it right away, you will likely have a mess on your hands (and cabinets). With soups or stews, you need to allow some of the pressure to come down on it’s own.


Open lid and remove ham bone, thyme springs and bay leaves. 

Take your time, and look VERY carefully through your soup to make sure you get all the bone; sometimes pieces break off, so don’t assume you have it all just by removing the large piece.

I also fish out any fatty pieces of ham and skim the top of the soup for any fat that has sort of gathered on the top with a large spoon.


No - you don’t have to empty this stuff out into a bundt pan 🙈
My bundt pan happened to already be dirty from making my Banana Bread Cake (super YUM!) in my Instant Pot prior to this 15 Bean Soup with Ham!

Stir soup and allow it to cool slightly before serving - it will thicken as it cools (and if you have leftovers to serve the next day, it will be even thicker and even MORE delicious!)

Remember, this is a GREAT freezer meal if you have leftovers, too!

15 Bean Soup with Ham


I recommend serving with my Pressure Cooker Semi-Homemade Cornbread which you could make in advance before the 15 Bean Soup (just make sure you hide it before ready to serve - in my house I have to do those types of things, anyone feel me?). 



I meant to take a picture of my bowl with cornbread in it - but I started eating and forgot because this soup is just THAT good! Sorry (not sorry)!


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Banana Bread Cake [Instant Pot Pressure Cooker]

Banana Bread Cake

Why do I call this Banana Bread Cake made in my Instant Pot both Cake and Bread?

Well, I honestly couldn’t decide… Was it more like cake? Was it more like bread? Truthfully, I make banana bread all the time in the oven, and I use a different recipe. It is typical banana bread, in taste and texture. This recipe is definitely different in texture — its much lighter & more moist. However, it is definitely denser than a light, fluffy vanilla cake.

This Banana Bread Cake is delightfully sweet, delightfully tender, delightfully dense, delightfully moist… delightfully everything!

This Banana Bread Cake is awesome and I made it without ever having to turn on my oven which in turn heats my always-hot-anyways Florida home - winning! Why use my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker and not my oven? The prior sentence is good enough reason for me... Thanks, Instant Pot!

You can eat this plain, dusted with powdered sugar or topped with a frosting of your choice — my fave being cream cheese frosting, but if you have chocolate lovers, go for chocolate; if you have cream cheese haters, go for vanilla — it’s ALL good!

You can make this Banana Bread Cake with a variety of mix-ins to switch it up, too! The world is your oyster; the world is your Banana Bread Cake!

Banana Bread Cake



Ingredients

1/2 cup oil — I use vegetable or canola but you could use coconut, too
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
3 over ripened bananas, mashed — about 1 1/4 cups
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups flour, properly measured
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder

Optional Mix-ins (1/2 cup of mix in of your choice):
cinnamon chips
chocolate chips
walnuts
pecans
shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups water for the bottom of the Pressure Cooker pot

Essential Tools

Bundt Pan, 6 cup — I use this Nordic Ware bundt pan
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer or hand mixer — you can also do this by hand

Directions

Grease and flour bundt pan — I use cooking spray and a couple tablespoons of flour to coat the bundt pan. This will ensure your banana bread cake won’t stick.



In medium sized mixing bowl, whisk all dry ingredients (properly measured flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder). Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, using electric mixer, blend oil, butter and sugars until very well combined, about 45 seconds on medium speed. 

Add vanilla, bananas and sour cream; mix until combined, about 20-30 seconds on medium speed.

Add both eggs, blend until just combined, about 10-15 seconds on medium speed.

Add dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until just combined, perhaps 20 seconds.

Do not over mix!

Add optional mix-in, if desired. I added cinnamon chips!
Mix very lightly to avoid over-mixing batter.


Pour batter into greased and floured bundt pan


Cover with foil


Place bundt pan in Instant Pot on trivet, over water.

Close lid and turn vent knob to “Sealing”


Press Manual (High Pressure), and adjust cook time using “+/-“ to 48* minutes.
I’ve tried 45, not quite enough; 50, a few too many; 48 is where I’ve decided the sweet spot is!

After pressure cooker comes to pressure, cook time countdown will begin.

When cook time countdown is complete, allow pressure cooker to naturally release pressure (NPR) for 5 minutes. Quickly release remaining pressure (QPR).

Open lid, and carefully remove bundt pan — it’s pretty snug in there! I solicit the help of my Silicone mitts and a hand towel. 
I grab a hold of one side of the bundt pan with a towel, and lifting/slighty tipping the pressure cooker inner pot until I can slide the bundt pan out. Be careful, there’s hot water under there!

Remove foil and allow Banana Bread Cake to cool for about an hour.

Look at this Banana Bread Cake!


Once cooled, run knife around the outside edge and inside edge of the cake to loosen. Place a plate over bundt pan, then lift bundt pan and flip over onto plate.


Serve plain, with powdered sugar, or frosting of your choice.

I like to serve a dollop of frosting on the side so the beautiful Banana Bread Cake is exposed in all it’s delicious glory!

Banana Bread Cake 
(with optional Cinnamon chip mix in and a dollop of cream cheese frosting)



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