Pimento Cheese – A Southern Classic and a Family Favorite!

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Yesterday, we had a little Kentucky Derby party at our house. Being that it’s a very southern thing, I thought the menu should follow suit. I’m a California native, but I was born into a family with southern roots. I grew up eating the jarred pimento cheese. You know the kind where you have a lovely drinking glass after you eat all the cheese? Well I thought I would get a little more authentic and make the pimento cheese from scratch. It was totally worth the effort! We have a new family favorite!!!

This definitely can’t be defined as a healthy food, but once in a while its OK to splurge, right?!? Anyway, it’s delicious and would be a great dip/spread to add to any party.

Pimento Cheese

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese

1 – 4 oz jar of diced pimentos

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used light)

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 plus tsp cayenne pepper (Add more if you want it spicier)

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Salt to taste

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. I made mine a day ahead and it definitely tasted better the second day. Feel free to play with the spice amounts to get a flavor you enjoy.

Remember: Taste as you cook!

Enjoy y’all!!!

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Boeuf Bourguignon – Pressure Cooker Style!!!

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I have previously posted a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon that was inspired by Julia Child. It is delicious! In the past I have slow cooked it, but I thought I would try making this in my pressure cooker and voila, a delicious and quick meal is born! The pressure cooker not only speeds up cooking times, it infuses the flavor into your ingredients in a way that slow cooking or stovetop cooking does not. And nothing is as warm and soothing on winter night as Boeuf Bourguignon! It is also sophisticated enough to serve to company!

This recipes takes the total prep and cooking time from about 4 hours down to maybe an hour, plus. I have a pressure cooker with various functions, so was able to do everything in the one pot. If yours does not have this capability, you might have to do some of the initial steps in a separate pan on your stove top. Now you can have Boeuf Bourguignon on a week night! So here’s how I did it…

Boeuf Bourguignon – Pressure Cooker Style!

6 oz of bacon, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes

1 large carrot, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tbsp flour

3 cups full-bodied red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon. Remember, if you wouldn’t drink it, why cook with it???)

2 to 3 cups beef broth

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, pressed or diced

1/2 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered (I like to use baby Bella’s or crimini)

1 tbsp butter

Cook bacon in the pressure cooker, uncovered on the brown function. I waited until after I cooked the bacon to cut it into smaller pieces, so it was easier to turn and cook evenly. Remove bacon and transfer to a plate. I drained it over paper towels. Leave your bacon fat in the pot. Pat beef dry in paper towels. It will not brown properly if it is damp. Sauté the beef in the bacon fat a few pieces at a time until browned on all sides. As it finishes browning, remove beef and transfer to dish with bacon. In the same fat, brown the onions and carrots. Pour out any remaining fat. Return meat to the pressure cooker sprinkle on the salt, pepper, flour, thyme and toss. Pour in wine and then enough beef broth so that the meat is barely covered. Add onions and carrots. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic. Add bay leaf. Cover, set valve to pressure cook and pressure cook for 30 minutes.Towards the end of this cooking time sauté the mushrooms in a tbsp butter. Serve beef over noodles or rice and top with mushrooms.

Bon appetit!!!

Roasted Chili Garlic Asparagus – Quick, Easy and Wow!!!

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I sprained my ankle last week and it’s still hurting, so I’ve been trying to keep my meals pretty easy. I need to keep off my feet as much as possible! Last night I made chicken and mushroom risotto in my pressure cooker, yum!!! I thought this roasted asparagus recipe would be a quick and simple accompaniment to the risotto and it was a great add! The tender asparagus was bursting with flavor; fresh, garlicky with a little spice!

Chili Garlic Asparagus

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (cut off the bottom inch or so of the stalks and discard)

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In an oven safe skillet, pour in olive oil. Add asparagus and toss, so coated with oil. Sprinkle on chili flakes and garlic and toss. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. You can cook them more or less depending on the texture you like. These came out pretty soft, but not mushy.

Enjoy!

Chicken and Mushroom Risotto – Another Pressure Cooker Success Story!

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Up until a few years ago, I had never made risotto. I became a fan of Gordon Ramsey’s Hells Kitchen show and risotto was a regular on his menu. It always looked so good, I decided I needed to give it a try. Why did it take me so long to discover this dish??? It is so delicious and my family is now addicted! Last night, I decided to try making it in my pressure cooker as my new unit has a specific setting for risotto. The pressure cooker really makes cooking risotto a breeze! Usually, you really have to stand over your risotto and do a lot of stirring, but not with the pressure cooker. You basically get things started in the pot, close it up and let it cook! Comfort food at its finest!

I served my risotto with a side of roasted chili garlic asparagus. I’ll share this recipe in a separate post, so keep your eyes peeled! This was wonderful too!

Chicken and Mushroom Risotto

3 tbsp. butter, divided

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces (I used thighs. They are cheaper and have great flavor)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

8 oz. baby portobella mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

3 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth

1 cup white wine (Always cook with a wine you would drink! If it’s not good enough to drink, why would you want to put it in your food?!? I used Apothic White. This is currently one of our favorite affordable white wines.)

1 tsp garlic salt

1/3 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated

Add olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter to pressure cooker and set to saute. Warm until butter is melted, then add your chicken and onions. Saute until onions are softened. Don’t worry about cooking your chicken through. Add the garlic and mushroom and saute another minute or two until fragrant. Add your rice and stir for another minute or two. Pour in your broth, wine, salt and pepper and stir. Close up your pressure cooker and set the vent for pressure cooking, not steam. Use the risotto setting on your cooker or set for 6 minutes of pressure cooking. Following the pressure cooking phase, let the cooker sit for about 15 minutes allowing the pressure to escape naturally. Open the pressure cooker, add last tablespoon of butter and parmesan cheese. Taste and add any additional salt and pepper to your taste.

Enjoy!

BBQ Pork and Beans – A Delicious Game Day Entree!

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Since Super Bowl is next Sunday, I thought I would make something that others might enjoy as a game day dish. I had purchased some pork stew meat on sale and I had a bag of pinto beans, so pork and beans it is! Of course, I couldn’t resist the lure of BBQ flavor, so I included some BBQ sauce in the beans and boy that combined with a dash of liquid smoke, gave these beans a wonderful flavor! Not to mention, my house smelled wonderful all day while they were cooking! This is something a little different from the game day chili that is so popular, but it was just as delicious!

We enjoyed these beans as a main dish with a slice of bread. I happened to have some spicy chow chow in the fridge, so that is the relish you see in the photo. It added a nice, tart zip to the beans.

BBQ Pork and Beans

1 pound of dried pinto beans

8 cups water

1 cup chicken broth

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 pound cubed pork stew meat

1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1-2 tsp hot sauce

Dash of liquid smoke

Salt and pepper

I didn’t soak my beans overnight, so I did the quick soak method. I put the dried beans in a large pot with 8 cups of water. I brought the pot to a boil and let it boil for 3-4 minutes. Then I turned off the heat and let them sit for about 20 minutes to cool down just a bit. I then transferred the beans with about 3 cups of the water they cooked in, into my slow cooker. I added all the other ingredients, gave it a good stir and cooked it on high for about 8 hours. The beans really need that high setting to cook through.

Enjoy! Go Eagles!!!

Hot Tub Chicken – Well That Just Sounds Fun!!!

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I never thought I would use my bundt pan this way!!! One of my favorite cooking shows is the Food Network’s “The Kitchen”. A panel of people from cooks to Iron Chef’s discuss various cooking techniques, recipes and tools. One of the regular hosts, Jeff Mauro, demonstrated the recipe for Hot Tub Chicken. Just the name peaked my interest! Who doesn’t love a hot tub!!! It’s not just fun, it also happens to be mighty delicious! This brined chicken with roasted veggies is moist and incredibly flavorful. So grab your bundt pan and let’s get going!!!

Don’t forget to save that chicken carcass to make your own chicken broth once your done carving that chicken.

Hot Tub Chicken With Roasted Fennel and Sweet Potatoes

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

4 lemons, zested and juiced

2 cloves garlic, smashed

Chicken and Roasted Vegetables:

One 3- to 4-pound chicken, skin slightly separated from the muscle for marinade penetration

8 red, yellow or orange mini bell peppers, halved

1 medium sweet potato, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

1 medium fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup white wine

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Special equipment: a bundt pan

For the marinade: In a bowl, whisk together the oil, salt, paprika, chili powder, lemon zest and juice and garlic.

For the chicken and roasted vegetables: Put the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag, add the marinade and marinate for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.

When ready to roast, position an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven (to leave clearance for the bundt pan and chicken) and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the peppers, sweet potatoes and half of the fennel and onions in a bowl with the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables out on a baking sheet, leaving the center clear for the bundt pan.

In the bottom of a bundt pan, add the wine, garlic, rosemary and remaining fennel and onions. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard the marinade) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using a square of foil, cover the hole of the bundt. Stand the chicken upright on the bundt center over the foil. Roast until the chicken registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 50 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, strain the residual juices in the bundt pan and pour into a medium skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the butter.

Carve the chicken and place over the roasted vegetables on a platter. Pour the pan sauce over the chicken and serve.

Enjoy!!!

Chicken Cordon Bleu and Broccoli Casserole – An Easy Version of a Classic

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I had some chicken thawed out and remembered I had some leftover ham in the fridge. Chicken Cordon Bleu was calling! I took a closer look at the chicken container and saw that it was breast with the ribs still in, so pounding it out to make roll-up’s wasn’t in the cards. I thought on how I could deconstruct the dish and arrived at a casserole version. This had all the great flavors of chicken cordon blue with the added flavor of broccoli and the ease of a casserole.

I started with uncooked chicken that I simply seasoned with salt and pepper and baked until cooked through. This dish would also be a good use for a grocery store rotisserie chicken.

We served this with mashed potatoes and it was delicious!

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Broccoli Casserole

Serves 4-5 people

1 pound chicken, cooked and diced

Salt and pepper

1 cup diced ham

4 oz gruyere cheese, shredded

1 head broccoli, chopped

1 egg

2 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup bread crumbs

I seasoned my chicken breasts with salt and pepper and baked for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. With the casserole you will also start with a 350 degree oven. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add chicken, ham, broccoli and gruyere cheese, stir together. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and then whisk in mustard, chicken broth and melted butter. Stir liquid mixture into casserole dish. Once combined, sprinkle bread crumbs over the top of the casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy!

Healthy Potato Leek Soup in the Pressure Cooker in 30 Minutes!

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As one of my food blogger friends recently noted, I am like a kid in a candy store with my new pressure cooker! I am constantly amazed at how quickly it cooks and how flavor infused the foods are. Not everything I’ve made has been a homerun, but this Potato Leek soup was a grand slam!!!

First of all, the soup was delicious!!! While it was a meat-free meal, it was hearty enough to be a stand-alone entrée. I just served it with a slice of French bread. Second, when you look at the ingredients it was a pretty darn healthy, low-fat meal that could easily be altered to be completely vegan and still be incredibly tasty. Third, the entire process to make this soup took about 30 minutes!!! 30 MINUTES!!! For those of us that love to cook and have busy schedules, this pressure cooker is a handy tool to make delicious food in a short amount of time.

So here is the recipe. I’ve made notes on some of the ingredients that could be changed to convert this to a vegan soup. I did taste my soup prior to the last step of adding the half and half and it already tasted great at that point, so if you want it vegan or just want to save the calories, this is a viable option.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, these same ingredients could be cooked on the stovetop or in your slow cooker, but it would just take longer. Basically, you would want to cook it until the potatoes are very tender.

Potato Leek Soup

3 tbsp olive oil

6 cups leeks, chopped (Don’t use the tough, dark green parts at the top)

3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

3 tbsp flour

6 cups broth (I used homemade turkey broth. You could also use vegetable broth for a vegan soup.)

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 1/2 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

¾ cup fat free half and half (You can leave this out for a vegan soup.)

Set your pressure cooker to sauté or do this step on the stove in a separate pan. Pour in olive oil. Once heated, saute the leeks for about 6-7 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add flour and continue stirring for another minute. Stir in salt and pepper and slowly add broth as stirring. Add potatoes. Put the lid on your pressure cooker and lock. Set the release valve to Pressure Cook, not steam. Set the cooker to Pressure Cook setting for 10 minutes. Once cooking cycle is complete let pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend soup or pour into a blender. Blend until smooth. Then stir in half and half, if you wish. Taste and add additional seasoning, if needed.

Enjoy!