InstantPot BBQ Pulled Pork

IMG_2708

This is the best pulled pork recipe I’ve made. It is so easy and quick. It was done, including the prep work, in a little more than an hour. It takes about 15 minutes to get the pressure to build. InstantPots are faster than stovetop braising, but still the process takes some time and planning. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house. I bought a 3 lb cryovac package of boneless pork shoulder from Shaw’s. There is even a picture of a slow cooker on the label. I guess I am a visual person.

I used Jack Daniels bbq sauce and Dr. Pepper for the soda. I didn’t want to use a sweet sauce, because there’s soda and brown sugar already. There is no browning, which makes it quick to throw together. A pinch of this, a splash of that and you are ready to cook.

My least favorite and favorite thing about this recipe is that you don’t keep the cooking liquid when the pork is done. You pull the pork and then add 1/2 cup of new bbq sauce. I think next time I might hold off on the bbq sauce if I use it for something other than in a bun. The meat is amazingly tender. I let the cooking liquid cool, then I put it in a container. Once it is cooled more, I put it in the freezer until trash day. A lot of fat cooks off the pork. You do not want to pour that down your drain. It’s a little work but so worth it.

3 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 large chunks

1 can Coke or Dr. Pepper

2 1/2 cups bbq sauce,  divided

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

Rolls for serving if you’d like.

Add pork to a lightly greased InstantPot. Pour soda over the pork.

Add 2 cups bbq sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder to the pot. With a spoon, just lightly mix the ingredients over the pork. Swirly, swirly.

Place lid on InstantPot turning the valve to a locked/closed position. Set the pot, using the manual setting on high, for 45 minutes. It will take about 10-15 minutes for the pressure to build. I cannot rest peacefully until the cooking countdown starts. Do a natural release for 10 minutes after the cooking time. Open the float valve to slow release the rest of the steam. Once the float valve drops, remove the lid.

Using two forks to shred pork into small chunks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a bowl, stirring in the remaining 1/2 cup of bbq sauce. If you think you want to serve the pork, not in a bun, it accompanies mashed potatoes and green beans sans sauce. The meat is so tender, you don’t always need the bbq sauce.

Serve the bbq pulled pork on hamburger rolls if you’d like.

Enjoy!

Here is the original recipe. It has some recipe notes and directions for a slow cooker.

Parmesan Pea and Pork Pasta Salad

IMG_2585

You’ll have to excuse my less than professional photography, but I was on my way to a cookout! And the actual recipe name is Parmesan Pea and Pasta Salad. I added bacon, hence the pork in the title. What isn’t better with bacon, besides the title of this page?

Summer is meteorologically speaking OVER, but we still have time for cookouts before the cold sets in. I’ve got applesauce simmering stovetop, pulled pork in the InstantPot, and this delicious, quick recipe to add to meals any night of the week.

There aren’t many ingredients, so buy the good bacon and parmesan cheese. Crack open a new jar of mayonnaise and search your freezer for some frozen peas. This could not be easier. For the pasta, find something bite-size. I used bow tie pasta. Perfect fork size pasta. To avoid messing up my already messy kitchen, I cook my bacon in the oven. It’s on foil and parchment paper. I’m all about the easy clean up. I used 3 pieces of bacon. Fine, I used 7 crisp pieces of bacon. SEVEN. Cook it so it’s crisp and dab off the grease with a paper towel.

If you haven’t already figured it out, here’s how to make this heavenly pasta salad.

1 pound bite-size pasta

1 cup green petite peas (maybe an overflowing cup) fresh or frozen

1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise

2/3 cup fresh grate Parmesan cheese (use good quality and you can be a little heavy handed)

salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta according to package directions using salted water and until the pasta is al dente. The last 5 minutes of the pasta’s cooking time, throw in the peas. When finished cooking, drain and let cool. Taste test the pasta to make sure it’s finished cooking.

Place the cooled pasta and peas in a large bowl, add the mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined, season with salt and pepper, cover, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It’s best cold. You can make it your own by adding celery, a few shakes of red pepper flakes, whatever you want to add, you can. I like it simple, with lots of bacon.

Here’s the original recipe. Credit, where credit is due!

Enjoy!

 

Lemon Sponge Pie

IMG_2414

If you love Lemon Meringue Pie, but don’t love making one, this is the pie for you! My mother got this recipe from a dear friend. It’s her Yankee family’s recipe that has been passed on through generations. My mother makes the best Lemon Meringue pie, but sometimes she would make this pie, to switch things up a bit.

I have made this pie many, many times and it has not yet failed me. Sometimes it comes out a  little differently.  Can I blame global warming? It’s usually my impatience or blunder, but it always tastes great. It may not be the prettiest of pies, but it’s an easy pie and bursting with lemon flavor. You want pretty, toss on some fresh raspberries and some mint leaves. BAM. Pretty pie!

Let’s bake us some pie!

1/4 cup melted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 egg yolks (slightly beaten)

3 egg whites (stiffly beaten)

1 1/2 cups milk

2 lemons (juiced and rind grated)

1  9inch UNBAKED pie shell

Blend melted (and slightly cooled) butter with sugar and beat thoroughly. I use a hand mixer for this step. Add flour and blend well.

Add egg yolks, lemon juice, grated rind, and milk. I use 2 lemons, because not all lemons are the same. Some have more juice than others. I’d rather a little more, than a little less lemon juice.

Fold in beaten egg whites and pour into shell. Folding in the egg whites will test your patience. Try not to have lumps of egg white (see MY pie). Do your best, but make sure you use the folding action. You don’t want to deflate the egg whites.

I use a glass pie plate, but any will do. I also often buy my pie crusts or my name is Nora Pillsbury. If you can make a great pie crust, please do so. I cannot seem to get it right.

Baked in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Don’t walk away….wash the dishes or something. Reduct heat to 325 degrees and bake about 25 minutes longer. Since every oven is different, set the timer for 20 minutes and check. You can add minutes, but you cannot remove the taste of burnt pie from your tongue.

The pie is done when the top cracks open. If you get nervous around 20-25 minutes, or the crust is getting darker than you like,  pull it out of the oven. It is absolutely done.

Refrigerate for several hours before serving. You don’t want to eat this pie hot. I recommend making it in the morning or the night before if you are short on time.

If you want to get fancy, delicately place some raspberries on the serving plates. Lemon and raspberries are a wonder flavor team!

 

Chrissy Teigen’s Yellow Cake Baked Oatmeal

 

Chrissy has yet to steer me wrong. I made this last weekend for Hubs and myself. I am a yellow cake fan and an oatmeal fan. Putting them together seems natural to me and I guess Chrissy. I usually make these kinds of dishes for a celebration. It was Sunday, so why not celebrate? It made a tad too much for the two of us. We enjoyed it ALLLLL week. I might make it again, making half the recipe and using an 8 x 8 pan.

I’ve made baked oatmeal before with hopeful glee that I will save myself from breakfast cereals. The other attempts were meh. This recipe includes fruit, oatmeal, eggs, milk and (cough, cough) yellow cake. How can that be wrong?

This is not a “do-the-night-before” recipe. Plan accordingly. It takes a bit of time as you heat the milk and oatmeal, and let it cool to thicken. You have to melt butter and let it cool. I used frozen peaches and let them defrost on the counter, then zapped them for a minute in the microwave.  Some of the slices were a little large and still hard. The combination of peaches and raspberries are perfection. Next time I might sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top.

When cooked, this baked oatmeal has different textures, unlike other baked oatmeal recipes. If you have food texture aversions, you may want to think twice. As it bakes, the mixture separates. The bottom is a cakey, custardy mixture, while the top is oatmealy.  Chrissy says to bake it so the center is still jiggly and serve in bowls. I have enough jiggly things in my life, so I baked it a few more minutes. It was a little firmer, but still two separate textures. While this was cooking, I made bacon in the oven and timed them to be done at the same. I’m clever like that. You have to watch bacon in the oven, it’s a tricky creature. I used this recipe as a guide, but cook at the same temperature as the oatmeal. It’s not messy and the cleanup is so easy.

I brought the leftovers to work, for breakfast. The jello-like texture is great as it doesn’t slop around the container or your lunch box.  It’s a great way to start a work day. Why save everything yummy for the weekend?

Yellow Cake Baked Oatmeal

5 cups of whole milk

2 cups quick-cooking oats

2 cups yellow cake mix

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 cups raspberries

1 large peach, frozen works too

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 12 inch baking dish with butter. If you don’t have one this size, 9 x 13 works too. You can always pour 6 cups of water into the pan. If that overflows, the pan is too small. I used a ceramic baker that I use for my egg strata and it was perfect. Don’t stress  too much about it.

With a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the milk and oats and microwave on high, stopping once to stir, for 5 to 6 minutes.  Make sure the milk/oats mixture gets very warm. Give it a few minutes more if it’s not at least warm after the first  5 minutes. You want the oats to start cooking in the very warm milk. Let the oatmeal mixture sit on the counter to thicken for 10 minutes. You don’t want it to sit more than 10 minutes. The pressure is on!

Stir the cake mix into the cooked oatmeal until smooth, then mix in the eggs, melted butter, and salt.

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish, then scatter the berries and peaches on top. You can use more than the recipes says, within reason. Bake until the center is just set and seems almost undercooked, 30 to 35 minutes. (It will jiggle a little, and when you spoon into the cake, it may separate into 2 layers)

I like to let it set for about 10 minutes before serving. It will cook a little more, and prevent the jiggles, and not scorch your mouth as you hurriedly spoon this into your face.

Enjoy!

The $250 Neiman Marcus Cookie

IMG_1866

Rumors, rumors, rumors. It was once told that the recipe for these cookies cost someone $250 from a Neiman Marcus clerk. The story supposedly has been debunked by the company. It made a good story, but it also makes a good cookie. The prep work takes longer than a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. You blend the rolled oats in a food processor to make an oat flour. This cookie, cleverly, requires a “good” 4 ounce milk chocolate bar along with semisweet chocolate chips. Instead of grating the cookie into a melted grated mess, I chop it up with a knife. I find this to be the best method. I also replace the walnuts with raisins, that I’ve soaked in hot water. Totally optional, but I love raisins. I use a stand mixer as the dough is very thick. I have to mix it by hand for a bit, to get at everything left in the bottom of the mixing bowl. It’s a bit of a workout, but worth it. I keep some out in a container and freeze the rest. You will be happy to know, they taste great frozen too. Who has time to wait for a cookie to defrost? Not me! I like to fool myself into believing they are healthy. I mean, there are over two cups of oats in it, right????

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not one-minute oats)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

4 ounces grated or finely chopped milk chocolate bar

1 cup of chopped walnuts or raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Blend the oats in a food processor or blender, to a fine powder. In a medium bowl,, which together the blended oats with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and the chopped candy bar, with the walnuts and/or raisins.
  4. Roll the dough into balls, about 2 heaping tablespoonfuls. Place them on the parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time, until the edges of the cookie are set but the center still looks undone, about 10 minutes. The cookies will set up as they cool. Let them cool on the cookies sheets. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days (so I’ve heard). They can be frozen for up to 2 months (has never happened).

These make a great work snack, with that second cup of coffee. They will get you to lunch without hunger rumbles.

Enjoy!

Here is the recipe I have used.

IMG_1830

 

 

InstantPot Black Bean Soup

IMG_1421

 

Black Bean Soup. It’s not pretty, but it’s delicious and filling. This tasted better the next day. I stumbled upon this looking for healthier eats. I managed to make it a little less healthy. It’s a gift. I doubled the sausage and served it with rice. You’re welcome. I plead the Czech Republic. I don’t know if this belongs to any nationality, or if there’s a great story behind it. I’d figure it out and share, but apparently, people don’t want food bloggers to tell stories or have a voice. Meh to you all. Then don’t talk about food or included recipes in your books. Enough said.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 cups water

2 tbsp. tomato paste

4 cups vegetable or any stock

1  (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 carrots peeled and diced

1 lb. (2 1/2 cups) dried black beans, picked over and rinsed

12 ounces andouille sausage, diced

4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

salt to taste

In a 6 quart InstantPot, heat oil on sauté. Stir in the onions, carrots, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cook until the onions are soft, stirring frequently. Your kitchen should smell heavenly. Add the diced sausage. Stir to brown for about a minute. The sausage is already fully cooked. I like to add it now for a little color.

Add the water, stock, tomatoes, garlic and bay leaves.  I swirl a little water in the tomato can to get all the tomato goodness. That’s what grandma would do! I wait before I add salt. The sausage is salty. I only add a little salt to the onions when they are softening.

Lock the lid in place. I use the manual setting for 40 minutes. Go have a snack or a cup of coffee. You’ve got 40 minutes to yourself. At the 40 minute mark, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. The thing-a-ma-jig should drop and then you can open the lid. Don’t forget to shut off and unplug the InstantPot.

Give this ugly beauty a stir. I like to use my immersion blender and give it a quick whirl. You don’t have to. I like the blended look. First, take out the bay leaves. You don’t want to whirl those into your soup. This soup thickens as it cools. You can serve it with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, a little cheese…..dress it up if you’d like. I tend to only put a dollop of sour cream on it. I serve it over some rice. Yep. Dinner in a bowl. I find making it the day before allows all the flavors to become friends. Most soups taste better the next day.

After it cools, I freeze lunch size portions. I also freeze some rice. YES! You can freeze rice. Together, this makes a great lunch. It’s filling and won’t slop around your lunch box. I brought it to work, and people came to see what was smelling so good in the microwave!

Here is the original recipe! Enjoy!

Note: I cooked the andouille in a frying pan instead of cooking it in the InstantPot. This way, you use the immersion blender to break up the beans. Add the sausage into the pot and give it a stir.

 

 

Cranberry-Orange Ricotta Bread

IMG_1403

I love a good quick bread recipe as much as the next person. This one was shared by a friend from the past, Nancy. We went to school together from elementary to high school. I never saw her after graduation. I never saw most of the my friends after graduation. We didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to say in touch. We had a black phone anchored to the wall, with a short cord, and the USPS. Nancy and I reconnected on FB. I’ve discovered she is an incredible baker. I adore her baking postings. She is talented, and oh so creative in all aspects of her life. I’d call her a crafter, but that would be an insult to her artistic abilities! This recipe is one that Nancy recently posted.

With the threat of snow and miserable weather, I printed the recipe and ran to the store. Where I forgot to buy the cranberries. So, I improvised and used dried cranberries. I didn’t want to fight the crowds at two stores, so I skipped the trip to Whole Foods for the “good ricotta”. I deeply regret that decision to this day.  I baked the bread with these substitute ingredients. It came out good. I knew it could be great. The next weekend I found frozen cranberries and my Calabro Ricotta. This time, the bread was fantastic. The quality of ingredients makes a difference!

When I decided to bake this, I started pulling out my hand-mixer. I noticed this recipe was mixed and folded by hand! Are you thinking, what I’m thing? I can make this early in the morning without waking anybody. No? I baked this in 4 mini loaf pans. This is my idea of portion control. Ha! It’s nice to freeze these mini loaves, wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in plastic bags. It makes a great gift if you’re visiting a worthy recipient. Don’t forget to label them. I tend to have a couple of different breads in the freezer. You want to know what you’re handing off to your friends!

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour; divided

1 3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup ricotta cheese; preferably whole milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp. grated orange zest

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

 

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1-2 tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. orange zest

pinch of salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large loaf pan, line with parchment paper. I also like to use 4 mini loaf pans, also using parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, sour cream, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the 1 2/3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine. Set aside.

Chop the cranberries and toss them with remaining flour. I chop them into quarters, unless the berries are big. I don’t defrost the frozen cranberries. Chopping them frozen is actually easy. Toss the remains 2 tbsp. of flour with cranberries. This helps prevent them from sinking in the pan while the bread is baking.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the oil into the batter, folding from the bottom and up. You want to fold in air. Make sure you get the bottom of the bowl with the spatula.  Mix until it’s all incorporated. Fold in the flour coated cranberries

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. I’ve been know to use a skewer. Use what you have! If you are using mini loaf pans, reduce the baking time. I start checking at around 30 minutes. They start to get a little golden brown coloring on the tops.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling wrap to cool completely.

To make the glaze, whisk together the ingredients until smooth. Add more juice for a thinner glaze, and more sugar to thicken it up. I like to put the glaze on while the bread is still warm. I put a cookies sheet under the cooling rack to catch the glaze. This makes clean-up easier!  Before you wrap this to store in the fridge or freezer, let the glaze cool and harden. You don’t have to glaze it, but WHY NOT?

NOTE: I have found this bread bakes better in mini-loaves. It’s very dense and it takes a little longer to bake in a loaf pan. They both taste great, but the mini-loaf comes out a little better.