Instant Pot Ham Hock and Lentil Soup

I’ve been trying some new recipes with lentils in my Instant Pot Duo 60, (see Instant Pot Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carraba’s Copycat) for another great lentil soup option!) and I couldn’t be happier. They are delicious, inexpensive, and my 1 year-old (who prefers most of his meals in the form of grilled cheese) loves these lentil and veggie soups. The ham bone adds savory smoked flavors; it’s a great way to use up holiday leftovers, or you can pick one up inexpensively from the grocery store.

 

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
3 celery sprigs, diced
1 onion, diced
Ham hock
190 grams (1 cup) lentils
32 oz. chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
⅛ tsp. garlic powder

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add olive oil, onion, carrots and celery. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, 4-6 minutes. Add ham hock, chicken broth, lentils, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Give it a quick stir and then close the lid. Press “manual” and set timer to 18 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Stir in thawed corn until heated and serve. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Root Vegetable Mash

The fall weather settled in this weekend in Austin, and has me thinking All-Things-Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner is the best meal of the year, hands down! With the southern tradition of frying our turkey, I am trying out some lighter side dishes, and I love that my Instant Pot Duo 60 allows me to free up some precious oven space. If you don’t already have one, you can grab a Vegetable Steamer Basket on Amazon. Root vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga need to be steamed outside of the cooking liquids so they don’t get dense and gummy. I also use this basket on the stove top for veggies, dumplings and pot stickers.

I’ve been making a potato-parsnip mash for years, but decided to invite a rutabaga to the party because it’s just so darn healthy. They are a member of the turnip family, so they have a bit of the bitterness a turnip has, but they are milder and balanced nicely by the sweetness of the parsnips. Did you know that rutabaga has less than HALF the calories and carbs of potatoes? Here is how they stack up –

Rutabaga – per 100 grams: 38 calories, 9 grams carbs, 2.3 grams fiber
Parsnips – per 100 grams: 75 calories, 18 grams carbs, 4.9 grams fiber
Potato – per 100 grams: 79 calories, 18 grams carbs, 1.3 grams fiber

As you can see, using a root vegetable medley (over plan potatoes) substantially reduces calories and carbs while adding a healthy dose of fiber.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
¼ cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Chives or green onions (optional garnish)

Add 1 ½ cups water and Vegetable Steamer Basket to Instant Pot. Add peeled and cut rutabaga, potato and parsnips. Close lid, press “manual” and set timer to 8 minutes. QPR after timer is done, transfer vegetables to a large bowl and add milk, butter, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mash using an electric hand mixer. Garnish with chives, if desired. Enjoy!

Best Italian Style Meatballs

I’ve made spaghetti and meatballs hundreds (thousands?) of times, but there really is something to be said for the perfect meatball. They seem easy enough, but the perfect ratio of meat to egg to breadcrumb to seasonings needs to be just right to keep them from tasting like dense little hamburgers. This recipe balances the perfect amount of ground sirloin, spice and flavor from Italian sausage, seasoned up right to simmer away in a big batch of Sunday sauce. These come out great every time.

 

 

Ingredients (makes 24 meatballs):
2 lbs. 90/10 ground sirloin
6 oz. Italian sausage, removed from casing
2 eggs
¾ cup breadcrumbs
¼ onion, grated
1 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. canola oil (for frying)

Add all ingredients except canola oil to a large bowl. Combine with hands, being careful not to overwork. Roll into 24 equal sized meatball. Preheat a heavy bottomed or cast iron skillet on medium-low, then add oil. Working in batches, brown meatballs on all sides until a nice crust forms. Continue cooking browned meatballs in your favorite tomato sauce for at least one hour, preferably 2-3 hours. Serve with pasta. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carraba’s Copycat)

If I could pick the number one reason I love my Instant Pot Duo 60, it’s given me the confidence to try dishes I’ve never made before. I was always intimidated by lentils, but not anymore. Lentils and beans (these Charro beans are delicious!) are nearly foolproof in the Instant Pot, hearty, and very inexpensive.

I recently found myself in an airport with some time before my next flight, and headed into a Carraba’s Italian Grill for a quick bite to eat. I ordered their Sausage and Lentil Soup and immediately thought “I can make this in the Instant Pot, no problem.” Here is my copycat version of Carraba’s Sausage and Lentil Soup, and I’ll bet it cost me less to make the entire batch than I paid for one bowl at the restaurant.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
2 slices thick cut bacon, diced
12 oz. Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 cups (48 oz.) chicken broth
1 ½ cups dried lentils (270 grams)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning blend (thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
Optional garnish: fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add diced bacon and sausage. Sauté until sausage is browned, 5-7 minutes. Add onion and garlic to Instant Pot, sauté for 2 minutes more. Add carrots, celery, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Give it a quick stir and then close the lid. Press “manual” and set timer to 18 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Soup can be served immediately, or let stand for a bit to continue thickening. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

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!

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!

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

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!