Cajun 15 Bean Soup in the Instant Pot

I survived Thanksgiving week, which ended up being a relaxed, fun holiday despite the fact that I made more food than any reasonable person should. We ate leftovers for days, and I cranked out 4 big casseroles for the freezer with the remaining turkey. For the holiday, my sister brought a Honey-Baked Ham, and afterward, we froze the ham bone (that still had a good chunk of meat on it) for later use.

A leftover ham bone (or leftover ham in general) is the perfect foundation for 15 Bean Soup, which I typically cook on the stovetop with the above mix. However, I decided to adapt it to the Instant Pot so I could get it done, start to finish, after getting the Heathens from school.

First, I did soak the beans for barely a couple of hours, but I think you can get by without that if necessary. I added the ham bone and rinsed beans to the Instant Pot:

Then, I added 8 cups of water. I did not add salt because the ham itself is pretty dang salty, and the seasoning packet to be added later also contains salt. I put the lid on, and set it to Manual for 50 minutes on high pressure (note–with that much liquid in the pot, it takes about 20 minutes to come to pressure, so plan accordingly). Once it beeped, I did the quick pressure release, and removed the ham bone. I carefully removed as much meat from the bone as possible, then returned the meat to the pot while discarding the bone. I then added a minced onion, three cloves of minced garlic, a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, the juice of a lemon, and the seasoning packet:

I put the lid back on the pot and reset it to Manual for 10 minutes. Once was it done, I did another quick pressure release, stirred, and served with cornbread:

The original recipe calls for sausage and sautéing the onion and garlic. While you can do this with sausage, ham hocks, or generally any smoked meat, I think the Instant Pot negates the need for unnecessary sautéing steps. Overall, we used up every last scrap of ham, which is a good thing because Honey-Baked Hams are not cheap…which is probably why they are so dang tasty. If you want to stretch this, you can also serve it over rice, but I like it as is and my scale could not justify any more calories…like at all…ever. If you need me, I’ll be at the gym.

15 Bean Soup in the Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

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  • 1 pkg. Hurst’s Cajun 15 Bean Soup Mix
  • 1 ham bone with leftover ham if possible
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Remove seasoning packed from beans and set aside. If desired, soak beans for a couple of hours. Place ham bone and leftover ham in Instant Pot. Add drained beans and 8 cups of water. Place lid on pot and set to Manual for 50 minutes, then do a quick pressure release. Remove ham bone from pot and remove as much ham as possible from the bone. Return ham to the pot and discard bone. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice, and seasoning packet to the pot and stir. Return lid to pot and set to Manual for 10 minutes. Do a quick pressure release, stir, and serve.

Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas…Because It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Ok, so if you are just joining us, here are some helpful past posts regarding my favorite holiday, specifically my Thanksgiving Planner (which is still my proverbial holiday bible of organization and recipes), the What I Wish I Knew post, and if you want to see a diatribe about the disappearing Thanksgiving, click here. Thanksgiving is my personal Superbowl, and I’ve cooked for crowds both large and small. I love it, but since I cook sooooo freaking much food, I really do need leftover ideas, because the Heathens will balk at eating the same meal for three days afterwards. My leftover approach is two-fold: have a selection of dishes that I make and freeze, then a selection of meal ideas to take us through the long weekend. After spending a small fortune on Thanksgiving, you can bet your behind I’m going to stretch those leftovers like crazy.

So, here’s some options:

Make and Freeze

  • Turkey Tetrazzini–I now use Pioneer Woman’s recipe which I love. I make several batches and freeze them for easy, weeknight meals. The bacon and peas add a great dimension to the turkey and it definitely is a taste profile that is approachable to all of us. I put it in foil pans, and wrap in both foil and plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Just be sure to remove the plastic before baking.
  • Turkey and/or Ham Pot Pies–I confess that this is the one post-Thanksgiving dish where I take ALL the shortcuts. I use refrigerated pie crusts, canned soups, canned veggies, and fresh herbs to feel better about myself. I assemble and freeze, then defrost and bake until golden and bubbly. If you are burnt out from cooking, these are a way to get something in the freezer in 10 minutes or less.
  • The ham bone (usually with a few scraps on it)–I freeze this by itself and make 15-bean soup later (crockpot or Instant Pot).
  • Stock–I simmer the turkey carcass with aromatics and freeze for later use.
  • Soups, chili, casseroles etc–These are viable options and pretty much any chicken soup or casserole you can freeze, just swap in the turkey.

Meals

  • The Thanksgiving Panini of Awesomeness–We use the gravy like mayo, then basically pile everything on it, including turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and more. If it’s lying around, it can go in. Grab some French bread and panini all the leftovers into delicious submission.
  • Along those lines, we slap some ham and American cheese between two glazed donuts and panini those in the waffle maker…because it’s sinful and delicious, and waffling makes everything better.
  • These Monte Cristos, but instead of tomato chutney for garnish, I sauté a little chopped (fresh) jalapeno in butter, then add leftover cranberry sauce, heating until it’s thinned down and sauce-like (think sweet and spicy). These sandwiches are much easier than a mess of the traditional frying.
  • “Funeral Sandwiches”–Google it, but ham has never been happier…except in that donut panini thing. Bear can put down a whole tray of these.
  • Similarly, mix up some turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce, fold into won-ton wrappers, and fry until golden. Wonton and egg roll wrappers offer plenty of options to mad-scientist your way through creative leftover mash-ups, just wrap the mess up and fry it!
  • Here’s some of my Food Network ideas: Stuffed Pork Chops (made these and love them),  I haven’t tried these Crispy Turkey Bites, but they are on the list, and this stuffing/mac and cheese mash-up looks so crazy, it may be good.

Overall, my best advice for leftover management is to be creative, but don’t wait until this week *cough, cough* to come up with a plan next for next year. I jot down ideas all year long as I see them, so that, come Friday, I have 10 different plans waiting in the wings so I stretch the most expensive meal of the year into endless adventures in decadence. I’ll see you at the gym come Monday.

 

Thanksgiving Menu–2017

Welp, I finalized the Thanksgiving menu. Overall, it’s all do-able, and I’ll make the mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot to free up burner space.  Otherwise, it’s going to be an adventure.

Best be hitting the gym now…

Super Bowl Snack–Bourbon Meatballs That Will Make People Love You More

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Ya know, for the life of me, I do not understand why the Super Bowl is on a Sunday night. Rumor has it that many of us have work and school the next day, so staying up late, partying, and feasting would probably be an event best served by a Saturday timeslot. Alas, since we all do have to do that whole responsible work/school thing, we usually keep our festivities low-key. I make some snacks, maybe have a family member or two over (if that), and put on my fat pants. I love an excuse to have a menu consist entirely of appetizers, because I like variety…and not having to construct a singular meal that at least one picky eater is going to complain about.

Rather than the fancy Crab Mornay or Lamb Chops from holiday parties, the big game is all about hearty, easy-to-make (and eat) food. These Bourbon Meatballs are just that. Stir everything together, cook for a bit, then settle down and watch your attendees go bananas over them. You can transfer them to a slow cooker to keep warm, making them an easy, hot appetizer for any event. I even took them to a Mardi Gras parade last year. My husband thinks these are manna from heaven, and no one ever needs to know how freaking easy they are. It’ll be our secret, ok?

Bourbon Meatballs


Ingredients

  • 1 32-ounce package of frozen, Italian-style meatballs, thawed
  • 2 cups good-quality barbecue sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays or KC Masterpiece for this. Just avoid the $1 bottle crap)
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

Procedure

  1. In a large pot, combine barbecue sauce, bourbon, honey, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add meatballs and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Provide toothpicks to your hungry guests and give them death threats if they even think about double-dipping.  Oh, look, there some bourbon left in the bottle! Whatever shall we do?

Tasty Tuesday–Pumpkin Bread

bread 2After three months of no rain, magic water fell from the sky this weekend, finally allowing temperatures to drop below 80 degrees. We procured Halloween costumes for the Heathens, put in more work on planning the school Halloween carnival, and celebrated the return of the braised pork and roasted butternut squash pizza from our favorite restaurant. This week is shaping up to be busy beyond belief with carnival preparations, but I decided to hit the pause button yesterday and whip up that pumpkin bread I’ve been longing for. This recipe is super easy, an since it makes two loaves, you can surprise someone special who also needs a little autumn pick-me-up.

Pumpkin Bread

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Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two standard size loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

This bread tastes better the next day. Serve warm with a little softened butter and bask in the flavors of fall!

 

Adventures in Rethinking Food Waste and Reimaging Leftovers

chicken salad

So, my husband and I have been talking a lot lately about food waste. I’m embarrassed to admit that we waste way more food in my house than is responsible or ethical, and we are trying to make some changes.

Our grocery budget is soaring and I see way too much going to waste. Part of this waste comes from poor menu planning on my part. I need to be more conscientious in planning meals with intersecting ingredients rather than selecting dinners willy-nilly. This will ensure that items get completely used up, rather than seeing those half-wilted bunches of green onions or a stray, sprouted sweet potato go into the trash (before you say it, we can’t have a compost bin in our neighborhood). I think better planning will alleviate a good bit of the issue.

However the other main culprit in our food waste comes from leftovers. Ohhhh…the fights we have about leftovers. My husband fusses at me that I throw out too many extras, and tells me to save everything. But, do you know what happens? It sits in the fridge for a week, and then I throw it out anyway and have more dishes to wash. He has good intentions but if I pack dinner’s leftovers for his lunch, he forgets to take it with him… without fail. If I have a ton of dinner leftover, it means the family probably wasn’t a fan of the meal and they are unlikely to go back willingly for a second round. If they actually loved the dinner, there’s probably not enough left over for round 2, so I’m stuck with how to get rid of it without fighting.

Honestly, however, my kids just aren’t leftover fans anyway. They have the attention spans of goldfish, and they want to come home to something different each night. I swear my pet peeve is that they ask me what’s for dinner the second they hit the car seat, and it annoys me to no end to see those crestfallen, disappointed faces when I announce leftovers. You’d think I kicked a puppy. Spoiled much, Heathens?

I started thinking about Thanksgiving, and how I have a roster of creative leftover recipes, and am always trying to reimagine cool ways to get the most out of that food. After all, after spending so much time and money on one meal, I better get a return on my investment, right? Well, that philosophy needs to bleed over into everyday meal planning if we really want to cut down the waste.

So, here’s the plan. My goal over the next few weeks is to create a weekly meal plan such that at least one meal is comprised of leftovers reinvented. While I had to wing it this week (since I had already bought groceries), we still stretched that fried chicken meal quite a bit. Our favorite re-do was to transform it into chicken salad by de-boning and chopping the chicken yet keeping that tasty/crispy skin. We then combined it with finely chopped celery and some mayo. It didn’t need any additional salt and pepper since the chicken was so well seasoned. Finally, we halved the leftover biscuits, ran them through the toaster, and built the most delicious chicken salad biscuit sandwiches. Cool, huh?

And then I got on the treadmill…but that’s a story for another day.

Tasty Tuesday–Coconut Cream Pie

pieWe had a little family get-together this weekend, which included epic card games, cocktails, and lots of fun. I made a huge meal of fried chicken, rice, gravy, biscuits, and veggies. If that wasn’t enough, I cranked out a couple of pies, one of which was this coconut pie at my husband’s request. (On a side note, my butt will be on the treadmill every day this week after that marathon of indulgence). I officially need a weekend from my weekend, and maybe a salad…or ten.

Anyway, this is Granny’s super-easy recipe, which comes out rich, creamy, and oh, so decadent. Whip one up and I guarantee you will impress somebody…if you don’t hoard it for yourself, that is. I won’t judge.

Granny's Coconut Cream Pie

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Ingredients

  • 1 deep dish frozen pie shell or 1/2 pkg. refrigerated pie crust (or go homemade if you’re ambitious)
  • 2 cups whole milk (Granny insisted that you cannot use reduced fat in this recipe or the custard won’t set right)
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, plus additional for garnish ( This can be found in the baking aisle, usually by the nuts and chocolate chips)
  • Fresh, sweetened whipped cream

Procedure

  1. Bake pie crust according to package directions, and set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, butter, flour, sugar, and egg yokes with a whisk. Cook this mixture over medium-high heat, whisking constantly (seriously, dude). Continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken, about 7 to 10 minutes give or take. Once the mixture starts to bubble/boil, continue cooking for one more minute.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in coconut extract and flaked coconut, whisking well to combine. Pour mixture into pie crust and refrigerate until cold. Top pie with plenty of fresh, sweetened whipped cream and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Sprinkle with additional coconut to garnish if desired.


pie 2Yummers!

Tasty Tuesday–Maple-Mustard Grilled Lamb Chops

lambMy sister’s birthday was this weekend, and I cooked a big meal in her honor, complete with some of her favorite foods and a towering chocolate peanut butter cake. Since she loves lamb, I decided to make these little beauties which are always a hit. I love this recipe when entertaining because I can marinate the lamb the night before, and with a fast grill time, I have a stunning yet deceptively easy meal ready in a flash. Lamb, in years past, hasn’t been readily available in my little corner of Louisiana. However, now most grocery stores and Sam’s Clubs carry it. I still miss those big, bone-in legs of lamb we used to get when we lived in California, but at least we are no longer completely denied.

Maple-Mustard Grilled Lamb Chops

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Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 racks of lamb
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Procedure

  1. Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut lamb racks into individual chops. If your butcher will do this for you, go for it. Place lamb chops in a large, resealable zip-top bag.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, whisking well. Pour marinade over lamb, shaking bag well to coat. Place bag in a large bowl (just in case it leaks), and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Turn the bag occasionally to ensure even marinating.
  3. Remove lamb from bag, discarding marinade. Salt and pepper both sides of the lamb chops. Grill over medium-high heat until desired doneness, 3-4 minutes per side. You can serve these as an appetizer or an entrée.

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The leftovers make great sandwiches. I smeared some of the cheesy, twice-baked potatoes on one of my husband’s toasted homemade onion rolls and topped it with the lamb. I’m obscene like that. Don’t judge, it was dang tasty.

lamb 3

Tasty Tuesday–Chocolate Kahlua Cake

cakeThis cake is an older recipe, but is one my husband loves to make it when he is puttering around the kitchen. Y’all know me, any cake with hooch in it is a thumbs up. However, this really is a good, fast cake recipe that elevates the lowly box mix into company-worthy dessert.

Chocolate Kahlua Cake

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Ingredients

CAKE

  • 1 box Devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix (5.9 oz) (the larger box!)
  • ¾ cup Kahlua
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs

GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup Kahlua

Procedure

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, or spray it with the nonstick spray that contains flour (Baker’s Joy, Pam with Flour, etc.).

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, Kahlua, water, oil, and eggs with a hand mixer. Blend on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes more, until batter is thick and smooth. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan.

3) Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-47 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Remove cake from pan and place on cake plate or platter 

4) Place powdered sugar and Kahlua in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Spoon glaze over warm cake, allowing it to drizzle down the sides and into the center. Cool completely before cutting.

Tasty Tuesdy–Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Pie

Summer weather is still strangling Louisiana, but I’ve declared it to be fall in this house. Even my husband said he’s itching to bust out some seasonal décor, so I bet I know what we will be doing this weekend. I spent part of today test-driving a candied jalapeno recipe (which will make great holiday gifts), and will start frying chicken for dinner shortly. Technically, I probably should spend this time tackling the overwhelming pile of projects from my clients, but that would require mojo that is decidedly absent today.  There’s always tomorrow, I guess. Meanwhile, in honor of the return of pumpkin spice everything, here’s a recipe y’all might like for jumpstarting your autumn kitchen.pie

Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Pie

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Ingredients

  • 1 frozen deep-dish pie shell or you can use homemade or refrigerated pie crust
  • ¾ cup canned dulce de leche
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
  • Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, toffee bits

Procedure

1) Place pie shell on cookie sheet. Spoon dollops of dulce de leche into piecrust, spreading to edges. Place prepared piecrust in refrigerator.

2) Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in pumpkin and next 7 ingredients until smooth. Whisk in milk. Pour filling into prepared piecrust. Bake at 375° on bottom oven rack for 48 to 50 minutes or until pie is just set (center will still jiggle just slightly). Cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish, if desired, but do so immediately before serving.