Instant Pot Ham Bone Charro Beans

The Tex-Mex places in Austin have some of the best charro beans around. Served as a side dish, or even just with chips for snacking,Mexican style charro beans have tons of savory, warm flavors. I’ve heard that making beans from scratch in the Instant Pot Duo 60 was an absolute breeze, and wondered if I could really pull off dry beans from scratch in one hour with no soaking or long cook times. I like to use a ham bone in bean recipes; the beans get completely infused with salty-porky-goodness. You can save the ham bones from big holiday meal, or some grocery store sell them separately (and fairly inexpensive). These are hands down the best beans I’ve ever had. Another Instant Pot winner!

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced,
2 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed, diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup water
Ham bone (see note)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Note: I like to use a leftover ham bone in this recipe; the bone adds flavor to the broth and the ham bits are a nice addition. If you don’t have one, skip it and add 4 slices of diced thick cut bacon. Sauté it with the onions at the beginning an omit the canola oil. The bacon will render enough oil to sauté the veggies.

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add oil, diced onion, minced garlic and diced jalapeno. Stir together until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes. Add beans, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, water, ham bone, salt and cumin. Press “manual” and set timer to 60 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Remove ham bone, stir in chopped cilantro and serve. Enjoy!

Best Instant Pot Accessories of 2017!

If you’ve recently purchased an Instant Pot, you might be asking yourself the best way to get started. Join an Instant Pot Recipe Facebook group, follow a few blogs, and get cooking! The accessories that come with the Instant Pot are perfect to get started. no fancy tools needed to make the best Carnitas or Risotto you’ve ever had, but if you are looking for a deeper dive, here are some of the Best Instant Pot Accessories of 2017!

Sous Vide Immersion Circulator – I love Sous Vide style of cooking, and this model is designed specifically to clamp securely on both the 6 and 8 quart Instant Pot models. An immersion circulator creates a cooking water-bath set to a precise temperature, usually the temperature that is desired for the internal temperature of what is being cooked. For example, when cooking steak, traditionally methods (grill, broil) create somewhat of a bulls eye effect of doneness. As the outside gets exposed to very high heat, it must be removed at the exact point the inside reaches the desired temperature. With Sous Vide cooking, food is cooked evenly edge to edge with no risk of overcooking, and is juicy and flavorful.

 

 

Immersion Blender – an immersion blender is a great tool to have with an Instant Pot.  It makes blending a creamy soup, like Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup, whipping up a batch of apple sauce, baby food, or making blended sauces a snap, and no need to transfer hot liquids to a blender!  .

 

 

Vegetable Steamer Basket – when making vegetables in the Instant Pot, a steamer basket is a must. Keeping the veggies out of the steaming liquids maintain their flavor and keep them from getting mushy. If you haven’t tried carrots or corn on the cob in the pressure cooker yet, you don’t know what you are missing. Sweet and delicious!

 

Hiware 7 Inch Springform Pan – If you are making cheesecake, lasagna or enchilada pie in the Instant Pot, a springform pan is a must-have. This 7” pan fits the 6 qt. Instant Pot perfectly and is easy to clean.

 

 

 

Stackable Steamer Pots – stackable pans allow for different foods to be steamed simultaneously in the Instant Pot. Want to steam both fish and veggies? No problem. Making both rice and vegetables for a side dish? Easy!  These are especially handy when cooking a variety of foods for a small family or group.

 

 

 

Egg Rack – allows for cooking up to 7 eggs at the same time in the Instant Pot, evenly and within a few minutes. Each egg sits securely in its own place to eliminate rolling around and cracking.

 

 

 

Wide Rim Mesh Basket – another great option for steaming in the Instant Pot, this Mesh Basket holds the maximum amount of veggies or eggs, but requires bending or removing the handles on the pot to fit just right. It’s an easy fix, and totally worth it on this inexpensive accessory.

 

 

Instant Pot Silicone Cover – This lid fits tightly over the inner pot, is air tight and leak proof, making it a perfect accessory for storing leftover in the refrigerator or taking the inner pot on the go.

 

 

 

Instant Pot Mini Mitts – made of silicone, these mini mitts are perfect for quickly removing the hot inner pot from the Instant Pot. Since they are silicone, they are a breeze to clean.

 

 

 

Instant Pot Sealing Ring– A sealing ring comes with the Instant Pot out of the box, but they don’t last forever.   Instant Pot recommends that you change the sealing ring every 12-18 months.  Plus, the last thing you want is for one to start leaking without another one on hand. They also tend to retain some of the scent from cooking, so many people like to keep one on hand for savory dishes and one on hand for sweet dishes.

 

Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid – Just like the name suggests, this glass lid allows you to actually see what’s in the Instant Pot when it’s covered. It’s a great tool for slow cooking, keeping warm or storing leftovers in the fridge.

 

 

Instant Pot Inner Pot – the Instant Pot comes with an inner pot, but having a second on hand allows you to quickly transfer dishes when making multiple dishes back to back. An extra inner pot also comes in handy for storing leftovers in the fridge.

BBQ Jalapeno Poppers

It’s September, football has started and that means GAME DAY APPETIZERS! That’s my favorite part of football season anyway. There are lots of ways to make poppers, they can be a bit more refined, with goat cheese and balsamic, like Honey Balsamic Jalapeno Poppers or more traditional. This recipe screams Texas to me, with the combo of bacon, cream cheese and cheddar cheese and topped with BBQ sauce. Who’s hungry?

 

Ingredients:
12 jalapenos, sliced in half
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
12 slices of bacon, cut in half
¼ cup BBQ sauce

Let cream cheese sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to soften. While preheating oven to 425 degrees, cut stems from jalapenos and slice in half lengthwise, removing ribs and seeds.  Mix together softened cream cheese and shredded cheddar. Spread an equal amount of cheese mixture in each halved pepper and wrap with a half slice of bacon. If the slices aren’t big enough to wrap around completely, they can be secured with a toothpick, but I usually do without. Place jalapenos on cookie sheet in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until bacon is cooked. Make sure the pan has a raised lip so the oils from the bacon do not spill while cooking. Brush with BBQ sauce, then return to the oven for 5 minutes more. Enjoy!

Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013

Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013
Spain – Yecla
14.5% ABV
$7.99
My Rating: 88 points
Costco

I was wildly impressed with Montgo, a Monastrell Costco was carrying a while back, so when I saw Solanera, a blend of Monastrell (70%) Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Garnacha Tintorera (15%) for $7.99, I had to give it a shot. Monastrell is a bit like a zinfandel, but a little spicier and complex, and this blend did not disappoint for under $10. It’s a perfect pairing for bold, savory dishes.

Deep ruby, limestone, black fruit and a bit spicy, drying tannic finish

Pair with: lamb dishes, bold Spanish or Mexican dishes, BBQ

Recipe pairings:
Instant Pot Carnitas
Best Baby Back Ribs
Sous Vide Carnitas

From the winemaker:
“This special limited production wine is an example of the high quality potential of the emerging Yecla region in Southern Spain. Solanera is produced from the oldest vines of the indigenous Monastrell along with low yielding Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnaca Tintorera which is aged in oak for 10 months. The resulting wine is deeply colored, with the ripe, rich flavors of the Mediterranean.”

Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ever since I got an Instant Pot Duo 60, I’ve been converting some of my favorite recipes to Instant Pot recipes to save time.  This Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup is one of my favorite soups – and the best part – it’s actually healthy!  So many tomato soup recipes have a TON of cream in them, but this one is made thick and creamy with the help of a little Arborio rice.  The acid in the tomatoes is balanced out nicely by a pinch of sugar and roasted red peppers. Since it’s converted to an Instant Pot recipe, it all comes together in minutes, but tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove all day.  And since the soup is so healthy, go ahead and pair it with a nice grilled cheese…nothing beats the comfort food combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Ingredients (make 6 large servings):
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small or ½ large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 sprig celery, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 tbsp. uncooked Arborio rice
6 oz. can tomato paste
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, with juices
4 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. butter
Optional garnish – basil and parmesan cheese

Press sauté on Instant Pot.  When display reads “Hot” add oil, diced onion and minced garlic.  Stir together until fragrant, 2 minutes.  Add diced carrots, celery, roasted red pepper, Arborio rice and tomato paste.  Stir another 2 minutes until tomato paste is fully incorporated.  Add tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, sugar and crushed red pepper.  Press “manual” and set timer to 8 minutes.  When the timer is done, turn vent to release pressure quickly.  Blend well with an immersion blender or traditional blender.  Once blended, stir in butter and garnish with chopped basil and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

 

Wine pairings:  tomatoes have a ton of acid, which pair nicely with Italian wines that have some acid as well.
Villa Pillo Borgoforte 2014
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Espiral Vinho Verde

Espiral White Wine
Portugal – Vinho Verde
9% ABV
$4.99
My Rating: 86 points
Trader Joe’s

There are many reasons why I love Espiral. Sure, this wine isn’t overly complex, and it probably isn’t winning any awards, but it’s crisp and refreshing and its under five dollars. Plus, it’s only 9% ABV, so Espiral is the perfect daytime sipper for the long, hot Texas summers. It’s on the lighter side, and wouldn’t pair well with anything heavier than a salad, but it pairs perfectly with summer and a pool. Although Vinho Verde literally translates as “green wine,” it is meant as “young wine,” and is meant to be consumed young.  Drink up while the weather is warm.

Pale straw, green apple, slightly effervescent
Pair with: salad, or drink on its own!

Recipe pairing:
Blackened Shrimp and Mango Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

From the winemaker:
“The wines of the Vinho Verde Region in Northern Portugal are characterized by their youth and freshness. Espiral is a refreshing, crisp, medium dry white wine made from selected natives grape varieties in from this region. It is great as an aperitif and pairs well with fish dishes and salads. Serve well chilled”

Instant Pot Risotto

After making risotto in my Instant Pot Duo 60, I will never make risotto any other way. I’ve made risotto several times on the stove top; it’s quite the labor of love, between the constant stirring and making sure the heat levels are juuuuussstttt right. When I heard of people making risotto in the Instant Pot, I wanted to convert my stove top recipe and it was perfect. The creamy texture was what you would expect from a perfectly made risotto and aside from the initial sauté of the mushrooms, shallots and rice, all the ingredients go in the pot and POOF! Comes out perfect.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side dish):
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
¾ cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 ½ oz. grated parmesan cheese (½ cup approx.)
½ cup frozen peas, defrosted

Press “Sauté.” When the display reads “Hot,” add olive oil and butter. Sauté shallots and mushrooms for 2-3 minutes, until starting to soften, then add rice and stir to incorporate. Add wine and stir until mostly absorbed, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Hit “manual” and set timer to 7 minutes. Quick release the pressure when the timer is done and then stir in parmesan cheese and peas. Let stand 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Wine Pairings: the earthiness of the mushrooms in this dish make it a perfect pairing for Pinot Noir.  Try these recommendations:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Sriracha Lime Shrimp Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing

I love the Peanut dipping sauce served alongside spring rolls in Asian restaurants so much, it needs to make an appearance on other dishes. And in the summa-summa-summertime, I am always looking for ways to make salads interesting. This Sriracha Lime Shrimp Salad with Asian Peanut Dressing is light, fresh and flavorful, exactly what I want for dinner during a Texas summer.

 

 

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. honey simple syrup
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. sriracha
Zest and juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper

1 head romaine lettuce, sliced
4 oz. sliced red and green cabbage blend
1 cup shredded carrots
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
Asian Peanut Sauce – see recipe

Garnish:
Chopped cilantro
Chopped peanuts

Toss together romaine lettuce, sliced cabbage, shredded carrots and red onion. Pour Asian Peanut Sauce over the top and toss to combine. (Note: this intentionally makes a lightly dressed salad. If you like more dressing on your salad, you might want to make 1.5x or 2x the dressing.)

Peel and devein shrimp, place in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together canola oil, honey simple syrup, chopped cilantro, sriracha, lime zest and juice (or pulse through a food processor) and pour over shrimp, coating evenly. Preheat grill pan (I love my red Le Creuset Double Burner Grill Pan) on medium low. Grill shrimp 3 minutes per side, until cooked.

Top salad with grilled shrimp, chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. Enjoy!

Asian Peanut Sauce

Have you ever had spring rolls in Chinese restaurant and thought to yourself “I could eat this peanut sauce with a spoon”? Well I have, and having it over spring rolls is simply not enough for me. This Asian Peanut Sauce is perfect for everything from dressing a salad, drizzled over noodles or for dipping sauce for spring rolls or shrimp kabobs. This recipe is a keeper.

 

 

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. warm water
Zest and juice from ½ lime
1 tsp. sriracha

 

Whisk all ingredients together until fully incorporated. Toss with a green salad or serve as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower

I’ve been eating cauliflower long before it was cool to make rice or pizza out of it. The best thing about cauliflower (aside from all those health benefits) is its ability to take on whatever flavors you throw at it. This Italian inspired Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower goes great with roasted chicken, a perfect side for holiday gatherings, and literally takes about 2 minutes of prep time. Perfecto!

 

 

Ingredients:
Head of cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
⅓ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add cauliflower florets, olive oil, grated garlic, Parmesan cheese to a large bowl and stir until well combined. Pour onto cookie sheet and arrange in a single layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, turning halfway. Enjoy!