Sunday, April 12, 2015

Indoor Barbecue: Kalua-Style Pork (Pressure Cooker Style) with a Pineapple-Mango Salsa


Hello friends!  I'm back from my self-imposed little vacation from my blog. To my world of invisible internet friends, one might think that every meal I make is blog worthy. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but that's just not true.

Every once in a while, I simply lose my cooking mojo, and I resort to making a quick and simple pasta, soup, or some kind of quick skillet dinner.  My camera remains shut off, as I try to get something on the table in 30 minutes or less.  My husband never complains, knowing that I'll be back to trying out new recipes, photographing them, editing and writing and sharing them with all of you-- after he's eaten them, and given me his honest feedback.

I'm always delighted  when my readers write to tell me that they have finally taken the plunge into using a pressure cooker.   Pressure cooking has an undeserved level of fear that it really doesn't deserve.  If more people, who swear that their slow cooker is one of their most beloved cooking method, would try pressure cooking--they would quickly change their minds!  (However, if you want to make this recipe, you could do it in a slow cooker. Just increase the cooking time from one hour to 8 hours.)  See what I mean? Pressure cooking is a real time saver, and my slow cooker gets a little lonely-- though I still use it on occasion.

I have shared several recipes from America's Test Kitchen's cookbook, "Pressure Cooking Perfection".  When I downloaded the book into my kindle, I wasn't sure if I'd make a lot of their recipes. 

I was so wrong!  This will be the seventh recipes I've made, and enjoyed, from this book (you can find my recipe index here.)

If you've ever had genuine Hawaiian barbecued pork, this traditionally involves roasting a suckling pig in a pit with hot rocks, banana leaves and kiawe wood (the Hawaiian version of mesquite).  I don't know about most of you, but this is a lot more work than I'm willing to invest!  In the tradition of America's Test Kitchen, they figured out a way to adapt this recipe so that you can make it at home.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Southern Style Coconut Cake with a Whipped Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

I am a life long member of the "I love coconut" fan club.  I must really love coconut cake, because I've already shared three different coconut cake recipes on my blog (starting in 2009). My favorite cake is white cake. Hands down. End of story.  I prefer an all egg-white cake, or it's not a genuine white cake. Am I right? 

But, did I really need another coconut cake recipe?  Maybe. Maybe not.  But, when you have five egg whites leftover from a lemon custard recipe, white cake seems like a good way to use them.  Coconut seems to be synonymous with Easter treats, and I hadn't baked a cake in a while. 

We were having dinner guests, so this seemed like the perfect time to bake a cake.  I'm loving this brand of USA cake pans, and I just got these square ones.   I wanted a cake recipe that wouldn't be too fussy to make-- but I wanted a lot of coconut flavor.  I'm a fan of LorAnn oils and flavors and their coconut flavor is something I keep on hand.  King Arthur unbleached cake flour is also a "must" in my pantry, because I always get tender cakes when I use it.

The batter isn't complicated, either.  The dry ingredients are measured into a mixing bowl, then butter and coconut milk is mixed in.  The wet ingredients are whole milk, eggs whites and coconut flavor and a little pure vanilla extract. 

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Southwestern Tortilla Wraps (Black bean and corn salsa) ...and a tortilla giveaway!

Mission Tortillas recently contacted me to ask if I'd like to try their new Digestive Health tortillas (made with probiotics for sensitive stomachs) . My answer was an easy "yes", because tortillas are a staple in my kitchen.  Fish tacos, quesadillas and fajitas are quick meals that I often make, and we love them.  It's no coincidence that the Mission Brand is one that I've been buying for years. They simply are the best, and that's my honest opinion!


(Pssssssst, at the end of this post, I'll give you a chance to win some of these tortillas, so that you can try them yourself. )

Many years ago, I made a black bean and corn "salad" for a pot luck.  This was one of the first dishes that disappeared, and people asked me for the recipe.   I stood there, dumbfounded, because I just made it up! Um, there isn't a recipe...until now.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Braised Beef Shortribs (in red wine)


For the last couple of weeks, there's been a bit of radio internet silence from me on Instagram, Facebook and on my blog. I need to adjust to a new chapter in my life, and I'm slowly getting there. For those of you who have been following me, you've often heard me refer to my recipe taste testers as "my boys". Well, the time has arrived. My only child-- my grown son, pulled up his California roots and moved to San Angelo, Texas. (He was given an offer he couldn't refuse to learn a new career.)

As a parent, we know the day will come when the child(ren) we have raised, needs to spread their wings and fly the nest. I miss him terribly, but I'm also very happy for him.  I'm not going to get all mushy and sentimental, from this point on. Instead, I'll share with you how I came to make these braised short ribs.

As the time grew closer for my son to leave, I asked him what he wanted for his "Last Supper".  His quick response was "Osso Bucco".  He says it's one of the most memorable recipes I've ever made.  Unfortunately, my beloved "off brand" cast iron Dutch oven had finally given up the ghost . That is, chunks of enamel started to come off the bottom, and didn't seem like a good idea to continue using it.

After much deliberation, I decided to invest in a Le Creuset Dutch oven.  The price tag?  A lot.  Over $300.00 wherever you look. Fortunately, we have a Le Creuset Outlet store, 45 minutes away, and I was able to save 35% to buy this quality product.  The only "flaw" in the product (which is why it was at an outlet store) was a nick or two on the edge of the pot, and the paint job wasn't up to Le Creuset's standards. For me, it was love at first sight.

Before making the  Osso Bucco that he requested, I decided to break in my new Dutch oven with this recipe. I usually buy bone-in short ribs, which I used in this 2011 recipe, on my blog (photos taken before I upgrade to a better camera.) I had purchased boneless short ribs that I found at Costco.  (I've used these before to make my easy "Asian Style Short Ribs").   I turned to one of my most trusted recipe sources, Cook's Illustrated, to find a recipe for boneless short ribs. Bingo! I had all the ingredients.

Once I seared the short ribs on both sides, I set them aside on a plate. So, now it's time to cook 2 large onions...

 ...and I cooked them until softened and beginning to brown (about 12-15 minutes).

I added some tomato paste, which will give the sauce a beautiful color and vibrant flavor.  Oh, garlic! Six whole cloves of them.

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