Michelle has a Crock Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker (like an Instant Pot). It is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and also steams, browns, sautés and tutors high school students in calculus. We used it most recently to speed up the process of making applesauce.
As anyone knows who has stood over a skillet, stirring and mashing apples, this handy little device saved a lot of time and effort and we had great tasting applesauce to show for it. Use any combination of apples – I prefer the tartness of Granny Smith but adding red apples to the mix means less added sugar later.
Speedy Apple Sauce
4 Granny Smith apples or tart green apples
2 Gala/Honeycrisp or other sweet, crisp red apples
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Peel, core and cut the apples into 8-12 slices. Place in the electric pressure cooker. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and toss to coat. Mix together the water and lemon juice and pour over the apples. Stir to combine.
Put on the lid and cook on high for 8 minutes. Release the pressure safely. Mash the mixture together and, if it is too watery, use the browning function to cook a bit of the liquid off. Add seasoning and taste. Depending on the tartness of the apples, you may need to add more cinnamon in addition to the brown sugar and pinch of salt. Stir well to combine.
Serve hot or cold. Store any uneaten portion in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
I know, I know, another post on vegetables. You think I had turned 50 years old and finally realized I needed to eat (a little) better.
I don’t know about you but I grew up eating limp and soggy boiled broccoli, tossed with butter mask the funky flavor. I graduated to steaming it but would still sometimes overcook it to a sulfuric tasting mess if I got distracted putting the rest of the meal together.
These days, I’ve found that roasting in the oven gives me more leeway before overcooking as it browns before overcooking, so your nose knows. Additionally, the roasting gives it a sweeter, almost nutty flavor.
Tossed with a little garlic and lemon and you have a very tasty side dish!
Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli
2 medium heads of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Zest of half a lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut broccoli into florets and pile onto a rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Use your fingers to toss, then spread out over tray in a single layer.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the tips of the florets are slightly browned. The broccoli should be tender crisp and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle over the lemon juice and butter. Toss to combine. Scatter lemon zest over and serve.
I was grilling up some St. Louis style ribs and needed a side dish. I first considered baked beans but no joy in my pantry. I then thought of another style of beans I could make instead – Cowboy Beans.
I didn’t have any dried pinto beans in the house, so I modified my recipe for Frijoles Charros (AKA Cowboy Beans) to use what I had in the pantry – canned pinto beans and tomatoes, dried herbs and some leftover ham. This is a terrific change to the usual baked beans – a little spicy with the onion, tomato and ham giving the broth depth. They go really well with ribs or carne asada.
Easy Cowboy Beans
2 slices of ham, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle powder, depending on preferred heat level
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (don’t throw out the can)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, fry up the ham. Once cooked, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the saucepan and sauté the onions for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened and golden. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant about 3 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle on the seasonings and stir until combined and fragrant. Add in the beans and fill the bean can with water and stir that in, too.
Transfer to an oven safe casserole. Cook uncovered in a 350 degree F oven for an hour or until some of the liquid has been absorbed. I like mine to be a bit soupy but, if you want less liquid, stir and cook 15 minutes more.
Taste for seasonings and serve.
I take any leftovers and put them in the blender to make a bean puree that I then use as a replacement for refried beans with quesadillas or fajitas (or sometimes just eat with tortillas or chips as a dip).
I spent the afternoon at the Fairgrounds Race Course New Orleans, where my quasi cousin, Nancy, had a horse racing. Here is a picture of He’s Dann Good (number 6) going full out but too far back to be in the money.
Unfortunately, none of my horses won, placed or showed. As it was a bit windy, I went home needing to warm up with some comfort food. For me, that means lots of melty cheese. I made a stovetop version of mac & cheese that is very creamy and delicious.
I recommend going to the deli section of your grocery store to get a block of white American cheese. It gives the perfect texture to the dish. For the rest of the cheese, I went with Gouda to bring it up to a pound of cheese but cheddar is equally delicious.
For me, this is a main course that serves three to four. If you’re using this as a side dish, you can serve at least six.
Stovetop Mac & Cheese
2 large eggs
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
10 ounce block American cheese, grated
6 ounces Gouda or sharp cheddar, grated
Whisk together in a small bowl the eggs, 1 cup milk, hot sauce, salt, black pepper and mustard mix. Set side.
In a large pot, place 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add in the elbow macaroni and a generous pinch of salt and cook until tender but still firm, about 9 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.
Toss the butter in the pot with the macaroni and melt over low heat. Add the egg mixture and stir constantly for 3 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.
By the handfuls, add 3/4’s of the cheese and stir until melted, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining milk and cheese and cook, stirring constantly for 5 to 10 minutes. Mac and Cheese should be smooth and creamy.
Reheat over the gentle heat of a double boiler.
Update – I made this with half American and half Provolone cheese and it was awesome! 12/28/2018
As much as it might surprise regular readers of my food blog, I don’t always have cream in the house. I do have whole milk, though, so I was able to do a cheat on one of my corn recipes.
Using corn that Michelle cut off the cob and frozen in pint bags, I made some delicious creamed corn. It was thick and rich and no one missed the cream.
2 cups corn off the cob (2 cans)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a medium skillet, combine corn, butter and 1/2 cup milk. Place over medium heat. Add the flour to the remaining 1/2 milk and whisk to combine. Pour flour mixture into the corn and stir well. Add in the salt and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly, making sure to scrape the bottom so the milk doesn’t burn.
After about 10 minutes, the mixture will have thickened. Taste for seasonings and serve.
I know, I know! I’m doing a salad post. Trust me, when you see what is in it, you’ll enjoy it, too. And, if it helps, I served this with a medium rare ribeye steak.
This recipe covers enough spinach for 4 salad eaters, so I would double it if serving more.
Wilted Spinach Salad Dressing
1 teaspoons bacon grease
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Heat together in a small saucepan and pour over salad right before tossing and serving.
For the salad itself – baby spinach leaves, 2 slices of bacon (chopped), 2 green onions (sliced), 1 hard boiled egg (chopped), 1 cup mushrooms (sliced) and 1/4 cup pecans (chopped).
We had a shrimp boil last night and, since corn goes well with shrimp, we decided to make corn fritters to go with the sea’s bounty. What resulted was closer to corn latkes or savory corn pancakes but they were super corny and delicious.
If you don’t have fresh corn, use frozen kernels.
Corn Fritters AKA Corn Latkes
4 ears fresh corn (about 2 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn starch
pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup vegetable oil, or more as needed.
Using a sharp knife, cut ears of corn lengthwise through the kernels to remove them from the cob. Using the back of a knife, scrape any pulp and corn milk from cobs into the bowl.
Divide corn in half and run one of the halves through the blender to puree. Mix all the corn back together in a medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal, egg, flour, milk, onion, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop 6 tablespoons of batter into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fritters to a plate lined with paper towels. If necessary, add more oil to skillet and heat until shimmering then fry remaining batter. Serve fritters immediately.