Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Pork Loin Dinner in the Instant Pot

When Pork Loin is on sale at Aldi, you just have to purchase it! But then you have to cook it, and because it is a leaner cut, it often ends up dry and tough. So I searched a couple of my favorite facebook Instant Pot pages, and ended up doing this:

Pork Loin with Veggies and Gravy in the Instant Pot

1 pork loin (I had a 4.75 lb cut)
2-3 TBS grapeseed oil (Higher burning point, so that's what I cook with instead of olive oil)
Old Bay seasoning
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
1 bag of radishes
6 large Carrots peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks (depending on diameter :) )
As many potatoes peeled and chunked into 1-2 inch pieces that will fit in the pot (I used maybe 8 smaller potatoes?)
1 1/2 -2 cups chicken broth
6 TBS flour

1. Turn IP onto saute' function normal temp.
2. Cut the Pork Loin into three somewhat equal chunks and season with Old Bay Seasoning and Pepper while you are waiting for the IP to heat up.
3. When the readout says HOT add the oil and then brown the pork loin chunks  about 2 minutes on each side. As each chunk is finished, remove from the pot to a plate.
4. When they are all browned add the chicken broth to the pot and deglaze.
5. Return the meat to the pot, and dump in the veggies. Sprinkle in onion and garlic powder.
6. Close the lid, turn the pot off saute', turn the vent to closed, and then push the manual button (making sure it is adjusted to high pressure) and set for 20 minutes.

I knew this wouldn't be enough food for my hungry men, so I peeled a couple of pounds of potatoes and chopped them, and then boiled for 20 minutes to make mashed potatoes.

7. Let the pot NP for 14 minutes and then release the rest of the steam.
8. Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon to a covered dish for serving, and take the meat out to rest for a few minutes.

Making the gravy
9. Use the slotted spoon to remove any fatty chunks that might have come loose (not many in my pot)
10. Put the flour in a small heat resistant bowl (metal?) and add a few ladles of the hot broth from the instant pot and whisk (carefully) to combine, and then perhaps a couple more ladles of broth to thin the slurry down a little more before adding it back to the pot, whisking constantly. Whisk until it thickens, and then turn the pot off and then to warm if it will be a little while before eating.
11. Now is the perfect time to slice the meat and serve! (Note: the fat melted entirely off one piece of meat, the other two had a small amount still across the top, so I removed that from the meat before slicing~ but that is up to you. :) )

Sorry this isn't a post with "pretty" pictures of my food, but I was hungry! Maybe next time, because there definitely WILL be a next time! :D


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Rice and Brats (day 1) turned into Soup (day 2)

Instant Pot Rice and Brats

4 cups rice (I used brown rice, so made some adjustments, mentioned below)
1 qt chicken broth
4 bratwurst (We used the blue diamond packaged bratwurst from Aldi) 

Close pot, close vent, and turn to rice setting

While rice is cooking,
Slice bratwursts into quarters lengthwise and then into slices, and saute'

When rice is done, stir in 1/2 stick of butter, the bratwurst pieces and an equal amount of frozen corn.
Enjoy as is first night (we did add a little dressing to moisten the rice a bit~ some had Lighthouse Caesar and some had Trader Joe's Chipotle Ranch~ either way it was a winner).

2nd Night Rice and Brats Soup

1 onion - diced                                    1/2 container pureed tomato
2 large carrots - diced                          2 containers chicken broth
2 stalks celery - sliced and diced         Tuscan Spices*
Siracha                                                 Oil (Grapeseed or other oil)

Saute' one onion in instant pot on saute' medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
Add carrots and celery and saute' for another 10 minutes until all vegetables are soft.
Sprinkle with Tuscan Spices, and add pureed tomato and one container of chicken broth.
Let boil for 20 minutes then lower the saute' heat to low, add the 2nd container of chicken broth, and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes. Add Siracha to taste.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Newest "Mom's Chicken Soup" (Instant Pot recipe)

The Newest "Mom's Chicken Soup"

1 onion chopped
3 ribs of celery sliced lengthwise and chopped
4 large carrots chopped
4 large cloves of garlic chopped
6-8 white potatoes chopped
3 qts chicken broth
1 bag of Aldi's Ancient Grains
Old Bay Seasoning
ground savory
Aldi Poultry Seasoning
1 roasted chicken skinned, deboned and chopped
1 bag frozen peas

1. Turn IP on to Saute' adjust heat to low, and saute' onions till almost caramelized (10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally)
2. Add the garlic and saute' for a 3-5 minutes
3. Add the carrots and celery and saute' for another 5-10 minutes.
4. Put the potatoes and Ancient Grains in and sprinkle with seasonings (guessing amounts~ 1/4 tsp Old Bay, 1/3 teaspoon ground savory, and 1/2 to 2/3 tsp Poultry Seasoning? Not sure, I just added to the pot, but they definitely are part of what made this so good!) and stir.
5. Add 1.5 quarts of chicken broth and close the lid to the IP
6. Lock the venting knob (Turned all the way it will go clockwise), press Manual, high heat, for 10 minutes. Natural Release when it is over.
8. Add the chicken pieces and the peas. Turn on to Saute' to make sure that they heat through (I let it come to a boil again~ I was busy doing other things :), and then
7. Stir and serve, adding ground pepper to taste.


Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Sausage Soup

Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Sausage Soup

2 quarts Chicken Broth (One for now, one later)
1 head of Cauliflower chopped
1/2 head of Cabbage chopped  into large chunks
1 onion chopped
4-6 cloves garlic

1 box Cream Cheese
1-2 cups frozen peas
1-2 cups frozen corn
4 sausages, sliced lengthwise twice, and then sliced in pieces (quarter rounds)

1. Pour one qt of chicken broth in the instant pot with all of the vegetables
2. Close lid and vent
3. Push the "Manual" button and adjust time to 12 minutes
4. While soup is cooking, saute' sausage pieces until lightly browned on at least one side
5. NP release after 10 minutes, and use immersion blender until smooth (Or blend in small batches *carefully in a regular blender)
6. Add cream cheese in "chunks" and blend until smooth.
7. Add the peas and corn while stirring (to avoid clumping of frozen veggies) and the sausage pieces

Keep the soup on "Warm" for at least 10 minutes to allow the vegetables to warm up before serving.
Add salt and pepper and serve with bread or crackers.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Instant Pot Curried Carrot Soup

Curried Carrot Soup
This soup harkens back to a few decades ago, when we were introduced to it by good friends who always made it for their Christmas Caroling parties in Cambridge (MA), so it holds a special place in my heart.

What follows is loosely based on a recipe by Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA.

Curried Carrot Soup in the Instant Pot

1-2 TBS Grapeseed Oil (I've started using this for sautéing, as it has a higher burn point than Olive Oil.)
2 Tbs Butter
1 onion (chopped)
8 large carrots (cut into large chunks)
2 medium-large white potatoes (cut into large chunks)
4 stalks celery (chopped)
2 quarts chicken broth
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Curry Powder (to taste)
Large curd cottage cheese (optional)
Frozen Corn (optional)
Sausage/meatballs (Optional)


1. Set your Instant Pot on sauté, adjusting to the "low" setting if your pot has one.
2. While it is heating up, chop your onion (I prefer to use sweet).
3. When the display shows hot add your oil and butter, and when the butter has melted add the onions.
Sautéd onions and veggies waiting to be added
4. While the onion is sautéing, chop your celery, peel and chop your carrots and potatoes.
5. When the onion is golden, add the rest of the veggies to the pot, the salt and pepper and curry powder, and one quart of chicken broth. Turn the pot off.
6. Close the lid, and set the venting knob to seal.
7. Push the "pressure" button, "manual" button,  and "adjust" to make sure it is now on "high" and set for 8 minutes.
I want to point out the cool salt and pepper grinders by Ozeri~ they light up, which is great in dimmer situations!
I had intended to write a review of them a few years ago,
but suffice it to stay that they are still going strong with regular use, and I think they are great!
They also are an elegant addition to any dining table setting. 
8. When the timer beeps let the pot sit for 15 minutes natural pressure release. You can let it finish that way (till the pin drops), or if you are in a rush, you can turn the knob to vent to release the rest of the steam, being careful to watch out for splatters...

9. After the pin drops, open the lid and turn the pot off. Let it cool for a couple of minutes and then use an immersion blender to puree what's in the pot. Alternatively, scoop carefully into a blender and puree in small batches. Too much hot stuff will cause your contents to explode all over the place (Ask me how I know? Broccoli soup is a mess to clean up! ), so be careful.

10. Add the rest of the chicken broth, and adjust the seasonings to taste.

I like to add a big spoonful of (large curd) cottage cheese to this soup (As pictured at the top of this post), which gives it a very nice texture, but it isn't always in house (oops... forgot that on the grocery list today!) So instead we went with adding frozen corn and some tortilla chips for crunch, which was also good! Other optional ingredients I listed are sliced/diced sausages and/or meatballs, either of which would be a great addition as well. 

Really a very versatile soup, and if you try it, let me know what you think!


^Ozeri Salt and Pepper Shaker ^

Monday, September 16, 2019

How to be the sharpest knife in the drawer

The past couple of weeks I had a number of "Iron Sharpens Iron" messages in my inbox, so I thought it behooved me to share them with you. Great post to restart my blog with, after a more than 1/2 year hiatus!

Sally Clarkson shared a post that resonated, and although it feels like she was talking more about "girl" friends ("Girls Club"), the message holds true for all friends...

One of the devotionals I look at (Student Devos ~ Because all my kids are still students) also posted about choosing GOOD friends who will help sharpen character and integrity, not mediocre or "bad" friends who won't help growth at all and possibly even cause some damage (which isn't to say don't hang out with those who don't align with your faith/ideals/character, but don't spend the better part of your time with them).
Watch what you're "sharpening" with... so that you don't become blunt, or even slightly dull from lack of use.

Then I read an interesting article on theartofcharm.com  (not a "Christian" site per se, but most of the points were solid, somewhat ironic given that "Charm is Deceitful" ... ☺) starting with the quote
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” 
and ending with the advice to 
"Choose your friends wisely and surround yourself with excellence. 
Find the people who elevate you. 
Choose the events that inspire you. 
Embrace the habits that improve you.
These are all themes that are Biblically sound! 
In between, the article discusses a number of studies that corroborate those two points, and some of the psychological hows and whys, for those have a more secular bent.

I am reminded of a time in my life a number of years ago when I had a friend who was frequently negative, talking about things that weren't uplifting, criticizing and complaining much of the time and I noticed how weary I was and I didn't like the way I was beginning to view and relate to the world. I then had the opportunity to visit a new friend for an afternoon, and the contrast was eye-opening. When I left her home I felt refreshed, renewed, and revitalized, simply because the conversations we had were positive and encouraging. We didn't necessarily have any deep discussions that day, but just the general tenor of our visit was uplifting. 

When spending the majority of time with those who are engaged in behaviors that are not beneficial, and do not help to build good character and integrity (rude conversation, constant sarcasm, tearing down of others, foul language*), some of which can be harmful to health (vaping/pot-smoking/drinking all come to mind, there are others as well), it is very likely that the behaviors will begin to be accepted as normal, and possibly become behaviors that are engaged in, not just observed.

When the majority of  *quality time is spent with those who concentrate on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable (Philippians 4:8), *those are the characteristics that will be reflecting God's love and drawing people to Him. 

So as a new school year starts, as new activities begin, and even as some acquaintances/friendships are renewed, be wise. <- and="" as="" dads="" for="" just="" kids="" moms="" need="" not="" p="" reminders="" the="" these="" we="" well="">
Choose to spend time with those who will lift you up and bring you (and subsequently those around you) life.

*side note~ Christians are often singled out as being hypocritical, but that is not a trait that is limited to Christianity. The phrase *be kind*  has become a recent slogan in popular society. That is a good thing! However, I find it very difficult to take people using/espousing it seriously when their speech is filled with 4 and 5 letter foul language, particularly when two of the most common relate to violent and derogatory speech towards women~ not exactly *kind. 



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