Monday, February 12, 2018

Bacon Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas {Instant Pot}

If I had to vote today on what would be my favorite thing to make in the Instant Pot, I would vote for risotto. I love risotto - the creamy rice, the endless meat and veggie combos, the "comfort food" component - I love everything about it. But I don't often have 30 minutes to stand at the stove and stir it. Enter the Instant Pot! It creates beautiful, creamy, delicious risotto with the cover on and sealed, and you can do something else in the meantime!

I have recipes here for risotto in the IP featuring shrimp and asparagus, Italian sausage, and I regularly adapt my favorite shrimp and spinach version for the IP too. But I knew there had to be other winning combinations.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and I had a few things to use up in the fridge. And it worked out beautifully. Salty bacon pairs well with mushrooms and peas - I like the textures, the colors and the flavors! A win-win-win all around.

Have you made risotto in your IP yet? I hope you'll try it, I know you'll love it!

There are more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Show and Share, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul.

Bacon Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas

6 slices bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Set an electric pressure cooker to browning or saute, and add the cut up bacon. Stir and cook until bacon is almost done. Stir in the onion, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Add the rice and the mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes, until the rice is very lightly browning. Pour in the wine, which will bubble immediately. Stir for 1 minute, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Then add the chicken broth all at once.

Lock the cover and turn the pressure valve (so it's not on venting.) Set on High Pressure for 6 minutes.

When the cooker switches to Keep Warm, immediately release the pressure. After the pressure indicator drops, remove the cover.

Stir in the peas and parmesan cheese until the cheese is melted and peas are warmed through. Serve immediately. (Risotto left in the pot will thicken substantially.) Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Creme Brulee Cheesecake {Instant Pot!}

The Instant Pot is great for so many things: my favorites are risotto, mashed potatoes, short ribs, and steel cut oats. And now, cheesecake. That's right, you can make cheesecake in your pressure cooker, and it turns out wonderfully! It is so creamy! I dislike heavy, dry cheesecake, and this one is anything but! All the steam inside the pressure cooker guarantees the perfect texture.

There are so many adaptations you could make to this basic recipe. You could add a fruit topping, chocolate ganache, salted caramel sauce, the possibilities are endless. I did a creme brulee topping, which you add after the cheesecake has been removed from the pressure cooker and cooled a bit. You could also make individual cheesecakes in custard cups or silicone muffin cups.

Because of the build up of steam, you probably will end up with some water on top of the cheesecake, especially where the crust meets the filling. Simply dab a paper towel around the edges, and it will soak up all the water. If you line your pan (both bottom and sides) with parchment, that may help as well.

A note about pans: I have a springform pan that is just under 8 inches and it fits in my 6 quart Instant Pot. Most recipes call for a 6" pan which would likely sit on the trivet inside the pot; mine fits snugly near the top. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly if your pan is smaller, because your cheesecake will be deeper. The great thing is, you can experiment and make this recipe several times until you get it perfect. And you can eat all the trial runs...with different toppings.

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Creme Brulee Cheesecake

8 graham crackers, finely ground
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
pinch salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup flour

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (low fat works well too!)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

Combine the crushed graham crackers, salt, brown sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and mix with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Pat into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a greased 7" springform pan. (Alternatively, you can line the bottom and sides with parchment.)

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until golden. Let cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the sugar, sour cream, cornstarch, vanilla and salt, and mix until well combined and very creamy.

Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Place 1 cup of water in the bottom of an electric pressure cooker and insert the trivet. Fold aluminum foil to make a "sling" for your pan - you want the foil to go under the pan and up the sides. You'll need this to get the pan out later. Use the sling to insert the pan into the pressure cooker, then fold down the foil sides.

Secure the lid, ensure the toggle knob is set to "sealing" and set for manual pressure for 26 minutes. When the cycle is completed, let the pressure release naturally.

Remove the lid, being careful not to drip any of the accumulated water from the lid onto the cheesecake. Carefully remove the cake using the foil sling and transfer to a wire rack. Use a folded up paper towel to carefully dab away any water on the cheesecake. Let cool completely.

Sprinkle with the sugar and then place under a broiler or use a hand torch to brown the top. Watch carefully if it's in your oven! Refrigerate for several hours to fully set. Serves 12.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Baked Brie with Balsamic Blackberries

One of my favorite things about Super Bowl weekend is deciding what snacks to make for the big game. Meatballs, wings, and dips of various kinds seem to make the list, but sometimes I like to class it up a little with a high falutin' snack like brie.

I love brie. I love it on grilled cheese, I love it in omelets, I love it on crackers. And I especially love it warm and melty. This preparation adds beautiful berries that have been reduced in a balsamic syrup.

The great thing about this appetizer? It's SOOOO easy to make, and it's ready very quickly. And, it's also purple. My favorite purple team won't be playing this weekend, but it will still be fun to watch the game being played in our home stadium. And eating brie makes just about any sorrow seem less sad, even it is football.

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Inspire Me, Busy Monday, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Full Plate, Sugar and Spice, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Life.

Baked Brie with Balsamic Blackberries

1 cup blackberries
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
8 ounce round of brie

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the berries, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook stirring occasionally while the juices cook down slightly and the berries soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove packing from brie round. Carefully slice the rind off of the brie. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Top with balsamic berries (leave the spare liquid in the saucepan!) and bake an additional 3 minutes. Serve with bread or crackers.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Lately, I have really been into making stirfry dishes IF they include noodles. And sometimes, I just add noodles and adapt a dish! I love that stirfry "recipes" are really just a guideline - you can use whatever meat and vegetables you like and have on-hand, especially if the sauce is versatile. For me, peanut sauce works well with chicken, steak and pork - not so well with fish - but that's just a matter of preference!

For this version, I used up some leftovers which included steak, broccoli, zucchini and mushrooms. Carrots, peppers, asparagus etc would all be delicious additions as well. Consider this recipe your template, and then make it your own.

I used rice noodles here because I had them in my cupboard but you can easily sub linguine, soba noodles, udon, again, whatever is your preference! So clean out your crisper drawer, get out the pb, and have a delicious dinner in no time at all. (If your family is spice-averse, use only half of the chili garlic sauce...)

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Busy Monday, Fabulous, Show and Share, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Hearth and Soul.

Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce

12 ounces linguine or rice noodles
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup julienned zucchini
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 pound sirloin steak, cut into 1/2" cubes
3 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Toss with 1 tsp. sesame oil.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and cook, for 3 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate. Heat remaining sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add green onions, peppers, broccoli, zucchini, garlic and ginger. Saute until vegetables soften, about 4 minutes.

In a large measuring cup (2 cup capacity, or a small bowl) combine honey, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar and chili-garlic sauce and whisk well. You may want to microwave for 30 seconds to make the peanut butter easier to stir. Add to the vegetables, and add the steak back to the skillet. Simmer sauce 2 minutes.

Add noodles to the skillet and toss well. Transfer to platter and serve warm. Garnish with additional green onions and chopped peanuts, if desired.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cuban Quesadillas

I love everything about a Cuban sandwich, and I order them whenever I get a chance at a restaurant. So when I saw this recipe for Cuban Quesadillas, I knew I had to try them.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I thought I would like them, but I didn't realize I would L.O.V.E. them. Seriously, folks. I made the quesadillas FOUR TIMES in 10 days. That's 2/5. And nobody complained - in fact, every time, there were comments about how delicious these were, how they were the best quesadillas ever, etc., etc.

This has everything that is great about a Cuban sandwich and puts it between tortillas - so there's even more meat and cheesy goodness. And don't forget the pickles - they are what "makes" the sandwich.

The amounts below are really just guidelines - if you don't want to use pulled pork, you could sub sliced pork tenderloin or use leftover roast pork, whatever. Use as much ham as you want - I think I used up to 4 slices because it was really thinly sliced. Just pile on that meat and cheese goodness, top with pickles and honey mustard (regular mustard is standard, but I really like the zing that the honey mustard gives these quesadillas!) and griddle 'em up. That's all there is to it.

And we all lived happily ever after.

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Cuban Quesadillas

8 flour tortillas (or use 4 large burrito tortillas and just fold in half)
1 heaping cup fully cooked shredded pork (or pulled pork)
4-8 slices cooked ham (depending on thickness)
8 "sandwich slices" dill pickles (or just slice regular dills)
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 Tbsp. honey mustard

Heat a grill pan, sandwich press or large skillet. Place 4 tortillas on a flat surface, top each tortilla with 1/4 cup swiss cheese. Divide the pork, pickles and ham evenly between the 4 tortillas, squeeze the mustard on top of the ham. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of mozzarella on each tortilla, then place the 4 remaining tortillas on top.

Cook each quesadilla for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese has melted. Serves 4.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Roasted Vegetable and Bacon Breakfast Bake

I love roasted vegetables and recently decided to try them in a breakfast casserole. It was a great idea! This hearty casserole has potatoes, bacon, vegetables, eggs and cheese - it is super satisfying and delicious. And leftovers are equally good for lunch as for breakfast! This would also make a hearty dinner.

I especially like to have breakfast casseroles when entertaining overnight guests as they can be made ahead of time and just baked in the morning. Do be aware that you'll likely need to bake this one slightly longer if it comes from the fridge - but that's just more time to drink coffee and/or make muffins!

Start the New Year out right with a good, hearty breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.

Find more inspiration at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Fabulous, Show and Share, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Hearth and Soul, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Roasted Vegetable and Bacon Breakfast Bake

1/2 lb bacon, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup red pepper, diced
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, divided
12 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese
3 cups frozen hash browns

Combine the broccoli, onions and peppers in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over and stir well so that all the vegetables are coated. Transfer to a large baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Roast at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

In a large skillet cook the bacon on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly and whisk in the half and half and milk. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt, and black pepper.

In a greased 9x13 baking dish, layer the potatoes, vegetables, bacon and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through and set.

You may refrigerate the casserole overnight before baking. Adjust the baking time to add 5-10 minutes more. Serves 12.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Chocolate, Caramel and Toffee 7-Layer Bars

You may be thinking about roasted vegetables, winter salads, waking up early to exercise and what not now that it's the New Year. But I'm still thinking about desserts. Specifically, I needed to find a way to use a partial can of sweetened condensed milk that was languishing in the fridge, leftover from some holiday baking.

And it came to me in a lightbulb moment - why not make 7-layer bars using up stuff I have in the cupboard? It was a genius idea if I do say so myself, so I went in search of what I had on-hand that would also taste good together. I think I came up with a winning combination! The 7-layer bar starts with a graham cracker crust and is eventually topped with coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Those are 3 layers. So now you have 4 middle layers that could use some creativity. I chose chocolate chips, caramel bits, toffee bits and peanuts. Peanuts may seem like an odd addition, but personally, I'm not a huge fan of pecans, which is usually what is in 7-layer bars. And I really love how the saltiness of the peanuts offsets the incredible sweetness of all the other ingredients.

So there's my New Year's take on 7-layer bars! I hope it inspires you to come up with a new "treatment" for a great recipe sometime this year!

Find more great ideas at Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday.

Chocolate, Caramel and Toffee 7-Layer Bars

4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup caramel bits
1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup toffee bits
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until evenly coated. Press onto the bottom of a greased 8x8 pan.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the crust in an even layer. Then top with caramel bits, peanuts, toffee bits and coconut. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 for 25-28 minutes or until coconut is golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Place in refrigerator for about 2 hours to help the bars set. Makes 12 bars.
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