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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Fajita Rice Bowls

Well, I WAS going to make steak fajitas, but since I couldn’t seem to find a date on the package of tortillas in the fridge, I played it safe and came up with something else instead – Fajita Rice Bowls.  Very simple and it was pretty yummy!

Here’s my recipe:

1 to 1 1/2 lbs of black angus beef (the packages I got were thinly sliced)

1 red pepper, sliced

2 green pepper, sliced

1 yellow pepper, sliced

1 sweet yellow onion, sliced

Fajita seasoning


1 package Vigo yellow rice (I LOVE this stuff!) prepared according to package directions.

Prepare rice according to the directions on the package.  I started to boil the water for this after I sliced the veggies and meat, and then had to wait about 10-15 min for the rice to finish, so I’d start this and then cut everything up.

To save on time (but not on cleanup) I used 2 separate pans to cook both the veggies and the steak at the same time.  Poor a little oil into both pans, season to taste, and cook until the meat is done and the veggies are sauteed to your liking.

Spoon rice into a bowl, top with veggies, then the beef.  We added some shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes and salsa as fixin’s.  Pretty good!  Here’s a very poor photo….


Stuffed Peppers – for the very first time!

I have never eaten, let alone made, stuffed peppers.  But the recipe out of the cookbook Deni Pressure Cooking Cookbook  sounded pretty good, and pretty easy, so I decided to make them for dinner tonight.

The recipe called for a pound of ground beef, but I used ground chicken instead.  Other ingredients were bread crumbs, salt, pepper, an egg.  It was kinda like a mini-meatloaf inside of a green pepper.  I’m assuming that’s what they’re supposed to be like?   The pepper turned out tender and was done just right.  The instructions said 10-12 minutes at high pressure.  Being a little paranoid about chicken “doneness” I set it for 15 minutes instead.  The hubby said they were pretty good, but to “spice” them up next time we should try using  the recipe for Rachel Ray’s Chicken Parm Meatballs (which we’ve made before and they ARE yummy!) and stuff red peppers with that.  Hmmm…maybe have to give that a try.

The only liquid used in the recipe was a can of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato paste….and so today I had my first experience with food burning on the bottom of the pot.  However, it cleaned up pretty easy, which was a huge relief.  I remember spending quite a bit of time trying to chisel charred bits of food off of my stove-top pressure cooker.

Here’s my photo…of the stuffed peppers, of course, not the crap burnt on the bottom of the pot.  😉



Baked Potatoes….should be baked.

Well, ok, I was sure I had found a shortcut to baked potatoes when I saw that you could make them in the pressure cooker, so I was anxious to give it a try.  To the pressure cooker’s credit, it DID work.  The potatoes were cooked in about 1/2 hr, which was at least 1/2 the time it takes to bake them.  However, they were a little soggy.  I like it when you get the crunchy skin on a baked potato.  I guess I’d say that the texture was that of a microwaved potato….so if you’re used to those and want to give it a shot in the pressure cooker, be my guest.  The recipe is a simple one:

Wash and clean the potatoes.  Give them a few pokes with a fork.  Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil.  Put the steamer rack in the pressure cooker, and add 2 cups of water.  Set the potatoes on the rack.  I used “Steam” and cooked them for about 25-30 min.

You all know what a baked potato looks like, so I didn’t see the need for a photo.  😉  They were ok, but we decided to leave well enough alone next time and stick with the oven or toaster oven.  Won’t be making baked potatoes in the electric pressure cooker again any time soon.

A simple and yummy treat!

Ok so tomorrow is my birthday and I have the day off today so I decided to take my work treat in on Thursday.  (I prefer celebrating before the event, not after.)  My search criteria for a treat was:

  • I need it simple because I don’t have a lot of time
  • I don’t want to go to the store to buy any ingredients
  • I want to make sure it makes a bunch
  • I want to make bars

So, I did a bunch of searching online and I came across this site – which has a ton of cookie recipes as well as a nice list of bar cookies.  It was a toss up between Nana’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and Walnut Pie Bars.   Nana’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars won.  And really just because they were the easiest thing I could make.

I opted to make them in the 10×15 pan to get the quantity I wanted.  These were super easy to make.  I will definitely make them again.  I used milk chocolate chips which the hubby said I shouldn’t have done because they were too sweet.  That’s kinda what I was going for, though.

I’m thinking this recipe would be very versatile.  I would like to try them again, but use peanut butter chips instead, and then when it’s right out of the oven, dump semi-sweet chocolate chips on them and spread it for a frosted, chocolatey layer.  I think it would be close to a peanut butter cup bar cookie.  Anyone else think that’s a good idea?

Here’s a photo….it was taken from my ipod Touch as I was too lazy to run upstairs to get my camera!

An ALARMING morning….

Well, I did it again….set off the fire alarm…twice in fact!   I made french toast for breakfast, with turkey bacon fried on the stove on a non-stick griddle pan.  The carbonized stuff gets smokey enough to stink (and fog) up the house and set off the alarm.

I’m still annoyed over the fact that it did not go off last night while my hubby was cooking.  So not fair.

Chicken and 4 Pepper Tomato Sauce over Linguine – Success!

Well, we had another pressure cooker success tonight.  The hubby did the cooking, and frankly I was a little miffed that we were using the cast iron griddle on the stove and the whole house got rather smokey, yet the smoke alarms did NOT go off!  What the heck!  Maybe it could somehow tell that it wasn’t really me! 😉

I happened to have chicken and peppers, so the hubby whipped up something fresh and homemade using ingredients we had on hand.  It turned out really well.  (He’s so good at that!) It makes a lot of sauce, so I think what we’ll do with the leftovers is cook some penne pasta and mix the 2 together and bake it for a yummy baked pasta dish.

Chicken and 4 Pepper Tomato Sauce over Linguine

2 boneless chicken breasts

Cajun seasoning

2 28 oz jars of your favorite tomato sauce (We like Newman’s Own)

1 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes, drained

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

small can of tomato sauce

1 small can of chopped black olives

1 each green, red, orange and yellow pepper, diced

1 box Linguine pasta

Vegetable spray

Shredded/grated parm/romano cheese blend, optional

Season the chicken with the cajun seasoning.  Coat a cast iron grilling pan and sear the chicken.  (Butterfly the breasts to help with the time on this.)  It should not be fully cooked.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Add all of the remaining ingredients (except for the pasta) to the bowl.  Cook at high pressure for 40-45 min.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Serve pasta with the sauce, and add cheese on top if desired.   (To help keep the pasta from sticking together, add a little of the sauce to the drained pasta.)

Cooking Poll

Made a rookie mistake….but still a success

Well, I made a rookie mistake tonight that I hope will not be repeated.  My recipe for tonight’s dinner was Beef Ragout from the book Deni Pressure Cooking Cookbook  (You can read my review of this book if you follow the link.)  I had to brown the meat on the stove since my Instant Pot pressure cooker does not have a browning feature.  So, I did all that, added the meat and veggies to the pressure cooker (having figured out how to get the lid on!) and set it.

When it was all done, I realized I hadn’t closed the vent.  😦  It did reach full pressure, but little did I know that steam had been escaping the whole time.  I held my breath, opened it up and tested the veggies.  Whew!  The carrots and potatoes were tender and the meat was done.  The meat I had used had been in my freezer for a while.  It wasn’t as tender as I had hoped it would be, but that could have been due to my mistake, or maybe it was just the meat.  I will probably give this a try again.  It was pretty tasty, but the hubby suggested next time adding in diced tomatoes.

There are other recipes from this book I want to try…so I’ll be back here eventually posting about those too!  And I’ll be sure to close the vent next time!  Augh!

Beef Ragout made in my electric pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker Success – Brown Rice

For my birthday this year, my hubby gave me an electric pressure cooker.  It’s an Instant Pot.  We had a stove top pressure cooker but never quite mastered it.  I usually ended up spending hours trying to scrub charred bits of food off of the bottom of it, too, which made me really hate that thing.   So now we have the electric one, which actually can steam, slow cook, and do rapid pressure cooker cooking.  It’s definitely got a learning curve.  We needed to try it out once first, and successfully made 2 separate batches of brown rice.

If you have an electric pressure cooker and are making rice, especially multi-grain rice like brown rice, be sure to READ the directions.  I made the mistake of looking at the cooking chart, which said 10-15 minutes of cook time.  What it DOESN’T tell you is that there is 50 minutes of SOAKING TIME as well.  So this is something important to know when you’ve got a stir fry on the stove almost ready and your rice is going to cook for another hour.  That said, it did cook in less time than our previous rice cooker.  That was about 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hrs.  The rice in the Instant Pot was done in about an hour.

The first time we did it we were kind of in a hurry to eat, since I had totally underestimated the cooking time of the rice.  So we used the quick release valve to release the pressure.  The rice had turned out find….although it wasn’t fluffy.  We had left over stir fry but needed more rice, so the hubby made a second batch.  Of course his turned out way better, considering he’s the better cook.  This time we let the pressure cooker release on its own.  And boy did that make a difference.  The consistency was better, and it was fluffy.  Oh, and I had been used to adding a little oil to the rice so it wouldn’t be sticky, which I had done in the first batch.  We left it out the second time as well, and it was perfect.

So – first use of the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker making brown rice = SUCCESS!

My next attempt will be tomorrow…with an actual meal made solely in the pressure cooker….Beef Ragout.  Stay tuned…

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