Monday, May 30, 2016

Menu Monday!

This week's menu is another simple week. Lot's of things to do and easy is the word for my week!

Today we are having leftover fish sticks and mac & cheese. I made a big batch yesterday so we could have the leftovers. I'll also be sharing my mac & cheese made in the Instant Pot later this week!

The rest of the week is looking like this...

Sub Sandwiches
Warm weather is in the forecast and sandwich night with fruit is always an easy go to meal.

It's been a while since pizza was on the menu. It was sounding pretty good to me! A salad on the side makes it a great meal.

A yummy flour tortilla filled with refried beans, seasoned hamburger, salsa, cheese and sour cream. Fresh fruit along with tortillas and extra salsa will round out the meal.

That should do it for the week!!

Happy menu planning!!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Instant Pot Rice Pilaf

Rice is super easy in the Instant Pot (IP). I know a lot of people have rice cookers but I got rid of mine a long time ago. It was not worth it to me to have an extra appliance to store just to cook rice with. It was one of those appliances that collected more dust than it ever got used.  So I gave mine away and just cooked my rice traditionally on the stove top... until now. The Instant Pot makes amazing rice! And it's so easy to do.

I posted a couple days ago about my “roasted” chicken dinner and I served this rice pilaf with it.

I used Jasmine white rice as it is our favorite. Different types of rice take different rice to water ratios. The little booklet that comes with the IP has more info on this.

The first thing I did was chop up a small onion and about a ½ cup or so of celery.

I turned the IP on “Saute” and waited for it to get hot. It will display “HOT” when it is ready...

While the IP was heating up I measured out 2 cups (the little cup that comes with the IP, not a traditional cup) rice and put it in a strainer and ran it under cold water until the water ran clear. This rinses off the starch...

When the IP was ready to go I put a scoop of coconut oil in the pot, let it melt and then added my onions and celery. I let the veggies cook until they were soft...

Then I added my wet rice into the pot and 2 cups (the same cup that I measured the rice with) water. Jasmine rice is a 1 to 1 ratio of rice to water. I also added salt..

Put the lid on, press “Manual” and set it for 10 minutes....

Turn the knob on the top to “Sealing” and wait .. it comes to pressure pretty quickly and will then start to count down on the time.

As soon as it is done cooking you do a Quick Release (QR) of the pressure. You do this by turning the knob to “Venting” and waiting until the little button drops back down.

Remove the lid and you have perfectly cooked rice!

Super easy.. and good!!

Instant Pot Rice Pilaf

1T coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ cup sliced celery
2 cups Jasmine rice (the cup that comes with the IP)
2 cups water (the cups that come with the IP)
2t salt

Turn the Instant Pot (IP) to “Saute” and wait until it reads “HOT”. While the IP is heating up rinse rice under cold water until the water runs clear. When the IP is ready to go add coconut oil and let it melt. Add onions and celery and cook them until they are soft. Turn IP off. Add water and salt and stir.

Put the lid on the IP. Turn the knob on the top to “Sealing”. Push the “Manual” button and set the time to 10 minutes. It will take a few minutes to come to pressure and then the timer will count down. When it is done it will beep. Turn the IP off and do an Instant Release of the pressure. Turn the knob on the top to “Venting” to do this. Open the lid, and your rice is done!

This is the IP I purchased. I'm in love with it! :) This is an affiliate link and I thank you very much for any purchases made through my link. I truly appreciate it. It helps a lot to cover costs of photo storage and such. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Instant Pot “Roasted” Chicken

I'm excited to share some recipes with you using my new Instant Pot. The first one is “Roasted” Chicken. I put roasted in quotes because it is not actually roasted but tastes like it is. This chicken turns out falling apart tender with amazing flavor and moistness. I served rice pilaf with it, also made in the Instant Pot. I'll share that recipe next time.

For now here is the step by step on the chicken. After a few uses with the IP I found it super easy to use. But it does take a bit to get the hang of it.

First of all I gathered together my spices for the rub. The recipe will be posted below.

Measured them out and mixed it all up..

Rub the mixture all over the chicken. Let this sit in the fridge for an hour or more. I made the rice while it was sitting and dry brining.

Now it's time to cook the chicken. Turn the IP on “Saute”. When it is ready it will show “HOT” on the screen.

Add a scoop of coconut oil and let it melt. Then put the chicken in, breast side down to let it brown.

Let the chicken sizzle and brown for about 5 minutes or so and turn it over (breast side up)...

Now add the chicken broth...

Put the lid in place and turn the knob on the top to “Sealing”. It has two settings.. “Sealing” and “Venting”. The little button on the right is all the way down showing there is no pressure.

Now on the front of the IP, press the “Manual” button and set the time to 25 minutes. You do this by pressing the plus or minus to get more time or less time.

Now you wait. The IP will come up to pressure and this takes about 10 to 15 minutes. When it is at pressure the timer will start counting down.

When the time is up the IP will beep to let you know. Turn the IP off. There are two ways to release pressure. One is to wait for it to do it on it's own, this is called Natural Pressure Release (NPR). The other is to manually do it. This is known as Quick Release (QR). You do one or the other depending on what you are cooking. For this recipe just wait for 10 minutes of NPR. Then, turn the knob to “Venting” and let it release the rest of the pressure. You will know it is done when the button on the right drops back down all the way..

Now you can open the lid and see your beautifully cooked to perfection chicken...

Remove the chicken to a platter. Be careful as the chicken is very tender and can start to fall apart as mine did....

In the pot are some amazing wonderful juices. You can either drizzle the juices over your chicken as is or turn the IP back to “Saute” and let the juices boil and add a little cornstarch mixed with water and make some gravy (which is what I did)...

And dinner is ready to serve, with minimal mess and prep time. As I mentioned I served mine with rice pilaf (next blog post :) and a salad...

Instant Pot “Roasted” Chicken

Dry Rub
2t Himalayan pink salt
1T granulated garlic
1T chopped onion
1t black pepper
1t seasoned salt
2t Italian seasonings

1 whole chicken approx 4lbs
2T (approx) coconut oil
1 ½ cups chicken broth

3T cornstarch
¼ cup water

Combine ingredients for dry rub in a small bowl and mix well. Rub all over chicken and let sit in fridge for 1 hour or more.

Turn Instant Pot (IP) to “Saute” and wait until it reads “HOT”. Add coconut oil and let it melt. Place chicken, breast side down, into pot and let it brown for about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over (breast side up). Turn IP off and add chicken broth.

Put lid on and turn knob on lid to “Sealing”. Select “Manual” on front of IP and set time for 25 minutes.

When chicken has finished cooking the IP will beep. Turn IP off and wait 10 minutes. Then turn knob on lid to “Venting” and allow it to release the rest of the pressure. You will know it is done with the little button on the right drops all the way back down.

Remove lid and carefully remove chicken to a platter (it will be tender and easily fall apart).

If you would like to make gravy with the juices in the pan press the “Saute” button and wait for juices to come back up to a boil. Then combine the cornstarch and water and whisk into the juices. Let this cook until it thickens up.

This is the Instant Pot that I have and this is an affiliate link and I thank you so very much for any purchases made through my links.  It is a blessing to me and gives me a little to pay for photo storage and treating my girls to a cup of coffee.. :)  


Monday, May 23, 2016

Menu Monday!

I asked my son what he would like to see on the menu this week and a couple of this weeks choices reflect that. He's pretty easy to please! Ha, ha..  I also want to keep on cooking with my Instant Pot as I'm loving how much time it saves.  I'll be sharing a couple recipes this week for use with the Instant Pot. 

My week is shaping up to be busy so this menu works well with that. Today is grocery shopping and errand day and I'm not usually home until later in the day. So today will be dinner thanks to Costco: Asian Orange Chicken & Egg Rolls. I'll make some chow mein or rice when I get home and throw in a salad. Costco sells a great Asian salad mix that I buy every now and again and it will go great with this meal.

The rest of the week is looking like this...

Easy son request. I'll serve tacos with all the typical trimmings and add tortilla chips and salsa on the side.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
This one is my choice but he'll be happy as it is a favorite. I'll use my new Instant Pot to make these. I serve them with coleslaw and chips.

Fish Sticks
Fish sticks, tater tots (or Instant Pot mac & cheese), salad all make for a quick meal.

Another Instant Pot meal. I'll be messing around with a couple different recipes to see what I come up with. Dinner rolls and a salad will complete dinner.

That should do it for the week! Happy menu planning!! :)


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Instant Pot: Love at First Use! :)

I am slow to come around to kitchen gadgets. I like to keep things simple. I've heard of to many “must have” gadgets in the past that I bought only to be disappointed and have them sit unused on the shelf collecting dust. Eventually I would give them away or take them to Good Will. So a couple years ago I heard that the Instant Pot was all the rage. I read a bit about it. I liked the idea but was just not sure it was worth the money. I was not going to spend that much on a kitchen gadget to have it just sit on the shelf.

If you are not aware of the Instant Pot I'll tell you about it. It is an electric pressure cooker. But it is actually more than that. Mine is a 7 function, 6 quart pot. Not only does it cook food under pressure, but it can also be used as a slow cooker, a rice cooker, it will brown and sauté your food before cooking, you can make yogurt in it and use it as a steamer and warmer.

A friend of mine purchased one a few months ago. She started sharing all the amazing things she was making with it and it peeked my interest once again. I began reading up on it and she continued to share pictures of her daily preparations and eventually I knew this would not be a gadget that would sit and collect dust.

So I made the big step and bought one. By that time I was so excited to get it I had a hard time waiting the 2 days for it to be shipped to me.. ha, ha.

I had my first meal already planned out. I was going to make a pot roast. Now many people pick simpler things when setting out with a new gadget, but I was ready to jump right in. I was over the top impressed with the end results.

I made Mississippi Pot Roast. The cook time for the roast was 35 minutes and another 5 minutes for the carrots. It does take time to come up to pressure, usually about 10 or 15 minutes. But in less than one hour I had a beautiful meal of pot roast, carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy all made. Oh, I also made the gravy from the juices of the roast, right in the Instant Pot. After pulling out the roast I turned it to “saute” and added a little cornstarch and let it cook to thicken up. The roast was falling apart tender and delicious. It was a one pot meal.. well 2 because I made instant mashed potatoes in another pot while the roast was cooking.

That was all it took for me and I was hooked. Since that first maiden voyage I've many things. Hard boiled eggs are a breeze, incredibly easy “fried” rice, I've “roasted” a whole chicken in it, cooked frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts to the falling apart easy to shred stage in 20 minutes, chili and more..

Spaghetti that cooked, pasta and all in 3 minutes....

Sweet pork taco meat that cooked to tender falling apart stage in 25 minutes and refried beans made from dried beans in 30 minutes (plus of course the time needed to come up to pressure)...

The creamiest macaroni and cheese...

And one huge plus for me was chicken bone broth. I made bone broth in 2 hours instead of 2 to 3 days in the crockpot and turned out just beautiful...

I've been using it now for a few weeks. I wanted to try it out and see what I thought of it before sharing about it. I try to only share things that I have personal experience with. All I can say about the Instant Pot is that it has become a total game changer for me in the kitchen. Right now as I write this I am cooking a pork loin roast in my pot. I'm even considering buying a second one so that I can cook some meals simultaneously (like the taco meat and refried beans).  Not only has it saved me hours of time in the kitchen, dishes, but.. I see that as summer comes it will be great to not have to heat up the kitchen when I cook a meal.  There is nothing like walking into the kitchen at 4:00 pm and having a wonderful dinner ready to serve at or before 5:pm.  

This is for sure one kitchen gadget that I do not regret buying. Next on my list is making cheesecake. As I've heard from my friend, they turn out amazing! I most likely will be sharing more about my Instant Pot adventures in the weeks to come.
I'll be sharing more about my Instant Pot soon and sharing recipes.  If you own one I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Here is the one I purchased (and am planning on purchasing a second one in the near future)..

(affiliate link)


Monday, May 16, 2016

Menu Monday!

After a couple busy weeks this week should settle down. The rain and cloudy weather is back and I'm already missing the warm sunny days we had. But I'll make some cool weather comfort food to get us through the gray and wet.

Here is what is on my plan..

Pork Loin Roast
I'll serve this roast with rice pilaf and a salad. It's a pretty big roast so there will be plenty for leftovers or lunches.

Beef Stroganoff
A yummy comfort food that is quick to put together. I'll serve it with my last jar of home canned green beans and dinner rolls.

I'll serve this lasagna with french bread and a nice green salad.

Chicken n Dumplings
Yet another comfort food for the gray wet days. Broccoli sounds like a good side dish for this meal.

That should do it for the week! How's your menu planning coming along?


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The New Guest Room

I want to share what a wonderful job my sister in law did, once again, in helping me create another guest room in my home. As my kids have moved out I've found myself with unused, extra bedrooms. A couple years ago she came and turned one of them into a guest room. You can see her talented work here:

This year it was time to do another room. So at the beginning of the year I called her, because she has the biggest heart ever, and asked if she would come and help me. She was all over it. But weather and other issues kept her from coming here (she lives in Montana) until this month. She came with totes full of decorating stuff and the motivation to paint and turn this room around!

The room previous belonged to my daughter Leanne. She had painted it her favorite color combo several years ago, red and brown. Now it was time for it to be repainted. I picked an tanish white color (the same I've used in other rooms). I wanted a fresh look and feel.

This is what we started with. I ran and got my camera just as the primer coat was going on. My house is an old farm style house with the slanted ceilings in the upstairs bedrooms...

After it was painted and we got the bed moved upstairs which was a story in itself. It is a queen size bed. We began by moving the box springs up the stairs. But, it would not fit. The clearance was too small to get it up the stairs. Life in an old farm house!! My sister in law was not to be stopped that night. She and I proceeded to disassemble the box springs. And much to my surprise you can do this.. if you are determined enough!! We did manage to get it upstairs and then put it all back together again! What a night that was. It took us 2 ½ hours do this.

But the end result was well worth all our efforts. The finished room...

What a fun week we had doing all this. My sister in law is just amazing and I love her so much. We've been friends for over 30 years and are truly more like sisters than sisters in law.