Sweet Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.

rhubarb_cake

Fresh out of the oven.

I am not a huge fan of rhubarb, but I keep trying. Everyone else seems to like it – in muffins or crumbles or.. whatevers.  This recipe called to me, and I had exactly 1 pound of rhubarb in my fridge, so I made some quick changes and popped this into the oven.

I am now fully in love with rhubarb. Or, at least, this recipe. Be forewarned: it’s really sweet and really tart!

Sweet Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) and 6 tablespoons butter, cold.
  • Zest of one lemon + save the juice (you need 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons)
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Heat a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium. Add in 1 cup of sugar, 4 tablespoons butter (room temp), lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently while things melt and get goopy.
  3. When the butter and sugar have melted together, add the rhubarb pieces and cook, stirring occasionally. The rhubarb will give off quite a bit of moisture – that’s okay! Cook until the rhubarb is tender (approx 6 to 8 minutes). Allow to simmer while you complete the next steps.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining sugar and salt, plus flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the cold butter, and use your fingers to rub the flour and butter together to form coarse pea-size chunks.
  5. Add milk and eggs and stir until a soft, sticky dough forms.
  6. Turn off the heat underneath the skillet (it’s okay to leave the skillet on the burner, though).  Take pieces of dough and stretch them gently – and place over the hot rhubarb mixture. Try to cover the entire surface. It’s okay for dough chunks to overlap – it’s a bit like making rhubarb cobbler! I ended up using only about 2/3rds of the dough because I wanted a bit less cake – if you’d like a thicker cake, use the full amount.
  7. Put the skillet onto a baking sheet (just in case of overflow!) and put into the centre of the pre-heated oven.  Bake until the cake is golden – for a 2/3rds dough, this will be about 25 minutes. For the full dough recipe, expect between 30 and 35 minutes.
  8. Remove baking sheet and skillet from the oven and let the cake rest for about 10 minutes.
  9. Place a platter or plate on top of the skillet and invert quickly and carefully. The rhubarb will be gooey and sticky on top. Yay!
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature!
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Instant Pot Meatloaf.

meatloaf_sliced.jpg

A delicious slice of meatloaf.

During the summer months, my husband will do almost anything to avoid using the oven  (or the stove, actually). Generally this works out in my favour, since he’ll happily head out to the deck and BBQ up some dinner for all of us.  But after picking up my Instant Pots and realizing that they contained heat very well, I started thinking about how easy it would be to cook ‘oven’ foods without heating up the entire house.

Like meatloaf.

Now, there are some challenges with cooking meatloaf in the Instant Pot. First, the very fact that it’s being pressure cooked means there’s no browning of the meat. Second, the glaze won’t get all glaze-y without the oven.  Are these important things? I decided to give it a shot while I was on vacation this week and see what happened.

I used my favourite meatloaf recipe: Thai Turkey Meatloaf from Budget Bytes. (Seriously, it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten.)  I stuck to the recipe without making any changes to the ingredients – but I did, obviously, make changes to the cooking process.

I have to say – I would happily feed this to my family (it was DELICIOUS) but I’d hesitate to serve it to guests because it really, really doesn’t look great.

Anyway, if you’re feeling like you want to experiment, here’s what I did:

  1. After mixing all the ingredients together, use thick tinfoil to create a ‘pan’ for the meatloaf to sit in while cooking. I made mine round (like the inner IP pot) and about 4 inches tall on the sides.
  2. Put the meatloaf into the ‘pan’ you made and set it on top of the trivet.  Use tinfoil to make a sling, if you need to, unless your trivet has tall enough handles that you can easily pull it out after cooking. (The trivet that comes with the IP is too short to easily grab – so I add a handle onto it with the foil. There are many creative ways to get stuff out of the IP!)

    meatloaf_in-pan

    Homemade ‘pan’ with raw meatloaf in it!

  3. Add 2 cups of water to the bottom of the IP. Place the trivet in, along with the ‘pan’ of meatloaf.
  4. Put the lid on the IP, set it to ‘sealing’, and set it to ‘manual’ for 20 minutes. When the timer finishes, allow for 10 minutes of NR and then QR the remaining pressure.
  5. Check the internal temp of the meatloaf – it should be 165F for ground turkey. If it’s finished, great! If not, put it back into the IP, seal the lid, and do another 5-ish minutes of cooking. QR this time and re-check the internal temp of the meat.
  6. Take the meatloaf out and marvel at how doughy, grey, and unappetizing it looks. This is what happens when you pressure cook meat!
  7. Put the meatloaf onto a baking sheet, cover it in glaze, and put it under the broiler until things are looking better – the glaze should bubble and get sticky, the meat should brown a bit.  This can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, but keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

    meatloaf_done

    Seriously, this doesn’t look appealing to me.

  8. Remove from the oven, slice it like a cake (?) and serve!  It’s absolutely delicious despite appearances – and the kitchen barely got warm in the process of making it. Win-win!

 

 

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookies.

oatmeals

So Good. So Many.

My husband loves this recipe because it contains some of his all-time favourite things: cinnamon, raisins, and oatmeal. I like this recipe because it makes at least 5 dozen (or more, if you’re careful about your sizing as you’re putting the dough onto the cookie sheets) and the baking time is short.  Also, I will admit that they’re really good cookies – chewy, soft, but substantial.

The key thing here is to NOT over-bake them.  You will want to bake them longer because they don’t quite look fully cooked when they come out of the oven, but I need you to resist that urge. Resist! They’ll bake a bit more as they’re cooling on the tray. I promise.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon (more/less to taste)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups large flake oats (not instant oats)

Directions: 

  1.  Put the raisins in a small pot (ideally with a lid) and cover them with water by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil, covered if possible, and let the raisins ‘cook’ for 10 minutes in the boiling water.  When they finish boiling, drain them in a colander and set aside. This step will make the raisins soft and juicy and lovely in the cookies.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375° F. Grab a bunch of cookie trays (enough for 5 dozen cookies, if you have enough) and put down parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment paper, use non-stick trays – don’t grease or spray them.)
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In a larger bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until everything is mixed together and creamy.
  5. While beating, add eggs one at a time. Gradually add in flour mixture.
  6. Check that the raisins are cooled to room temperature – if not, give them a quick rinse under cold water. Drain again.
  7. Stir in the raisins and oats.
  8. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets.
  9. Bake for about 8 minutes or until a very light golden brown. The edges will be a bit darker, and if you carefully lift one up you’ll see that the bottom is fully cooked and browned (but still not too dark!)
  10. Cool completely before removing them from the sheets.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken.

butter_chicken.jpg

Butter Chicken!

It’s challenging to take a decent photo of something like Butter Chicken – it’s just sort of.. saucy. But this was definitely a delicious dinner and it turned out even better than I had hoped.  Easy-peasy, too.

I’m not going to include a recipe for rice here – I used jasmine rice and I made it in my 2nd Instant Pot. You could easily use leftover rice (the sauce from the Butter Chicken will help warm it up!) or you could make it on your stovetop – – or in your second Instant Pot, if you have one.

Here’s the recipe:

Butter Chicken

Ingredients:

  • About 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup plan Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Discard any excess fat.
  2. Into your blender, add the can of tomatoes (including the juice), the grated ginger, and the jalapeno. Blend until there are no chunks remaining.
  3. Add butter to your Instant Pot and use the saute function to melt it thoroughly.
  4. Add chicken in small batches (2 or 3 batches). Brown lightly on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to remove each batch and place into a bowl. You want to save any juices that come from the sauteed chicken.
  5. When you’re finished lightly browning the chicken, and all has been removed, add the cumin and paprika to the butter that remains in the pot. Stir well, until all spices are mixed into the butter. (Act fast, or it will burn!)
  6. Add in the tomato mixture, salt, cream, and yogurt. Stir quickly, then add the chicken and any drippings from the bowl. Stir again.
  7. Close the lid and set to manual pressure for 5 minutes.
  8. When the timer goes off, allow it to natural release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, do a quick release of any remaining pressure.
  9. In a small bowl, combine about 4 Tablespoons of water with the cornstarch. Mix really well.
  10. Stir the cornstarch into the pot. Add the garam masala.
  11. Using the saute button, bring everything to a boil and allow the curry to thicken to your liking. Add any salt, pepper, or other spices that your heart desires.
  12. Serve over rice. Nom.

Instant Pot Sushi Rice + Maki.

sushi

Oh, hello! It has been a while since I have written here – for many reasons, not the least of which was a full kitchen renovation – literally down to the studs in some places, a wall removed, new everything added..  I could have done some fantastic posts here about frozen microwaveable meals, I suppose, but.. honestly, I mostly just want to forget all about that.

Shortly before my kitchen renovation, I purchased one of those fancy-schmancy Instant Pots that all the kids are talking about. And, shortly after that, I purchased a second one. You can expect to see many IP posts here now that I’m back to writing – because there’s a good reason that everyone loves this appliance.

First up, today’s dinner: maki!  I love sushi rice so much that I am perfectly happy to eat it on its own – so the idea of making it easily at home is delightful. Here we go!

Maki

Makes approximately 6 large rolls (with a lot of rice in them!)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • package of nori (seaweed sheets – toasted or non-toasted are both fine)
  • your preferred fillings, for example: shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, crab meat + mayo + sriracha sauce, avocado, green onion.

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice under cold water. Shake out any excess water and put the rice into the Instant Pot pot.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk water, rice vinegar, sugar, and sea salt. As soon as the sugar and salt have dissolved, pour the liquid over rice in the Instant Pot. Stir well.
  3. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, set the vent to “sealing”. Use the “rice” setting – no need to adjust the time. Let the Instant Pot do its thing!
  4. While the rice is cooking, chop up your delicious fillings. Long, thin slices are ideal – but do whatever makes you happy.
  5. When the rice is finished, allow for a 5 minute natural release – after that, open the vent up and let the rest of the pressure out.
  6. Do not stir the rice – just dump it out onto a wooden cutting board. Use a spoon to spread the rice out and allow it to cool enough to touch.
  7. Set a sheet of nori out on your counter – I used a piece of parchment paper – and spoon a layer of rice on top. Use the back of a spoon, or slightly damp fingers, to smooth the rice out to cover most of the sheet. Leave a strip about 1/2 an inch wide for sealing the roll.
  8. Across the middle of the rice, add your toppings. Use as much, or as little, as you like.
  9. Roll the nori up towards the empty 1/2 inch. Use a bit of water on your fingers to seal the seaweed up.
  10. After a few minutes, slice the roll into reasonable-sized chunks.  Eat! Enjoy!

Granola Bars, Violet-Style.

Mmmmm...

Mmmmm…

This is a recipe that I haven’t made in EONS, but my friend Kat asked if I had a recipe, so I figured I’d post it for my own future use. My kids really love it, so I should probably make it again at some point, right?

Homemade Granola Bars Violet-style.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup high-fibre, crunchy cereal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup melted margarine (or butter)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 cups of chocolate chips (or raisins, coconut, peanuts, etc.)
1 cup of honey (approx.)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray 11×13 pan with non-stick spray or grease with butter/margarine if you prefer.

2. Melt butter/margarine in microwave.

3. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, melted butter, brown sugar.

4. One things are well-mixed, add in chocolate chips (or nuts, raisins,etc) Then add as much honey as required to make everything sticky (usually about 3/4 of a cup – but it depends on your dry ingredients)

5. Firmly press ingredients into the pan. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. The bars will puff up around the edges a bit and the middle will still be soft. They will firm-up as they cool.

6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes. Cut into bars and let cool fully in the pan before removing.

 

Notes:

You can add all sorts of good things to these bars. When one of my kids had a health issue that necessitated extra fibre, we added some of that powder stuff you can dissolve in juice. If I want to send these to school with the kids, I leave out anything nut-related (since the schools around here are nut-free).  I have no idea how long these will last in storage because they usually don’t last more than a few days in our house.

Smoked Pork Ribs on the Kamado Joe.

Our BBQ has been on its last legs for a while now. Parts started disintegrating, rusting, or just falling off altogether. My husband replaced some of them and some parts we couldn’t find a match with which to replace.

I did a little informal poll on Facebook to ask how long people’s grills normally last – the range was pretty much 5-8 years with a few outliers on either side (3 years and 14 years). Ours had lasted about 7 years.

My friend Lena suggested that I look into a Big Green Egg. I did, and discovered that it was totally out of my price range once we factored in the various accessories we’d want for it. From there, however, I learnt about kamados and, from there, I discovered Kamado Joes. After a bit of research, we hopped in the car and picked one of the Classics up. I will spare you the big sales pitch, but I think they’re a good deal.

The first thing cooked on the new grill was.. frozen burgers. Easy, inexpensive, and I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they didn’t turn out beautifully – but they turned out well and we happily ate them.

Today I smoked pork ribs – a much, much, much longer process. But oh, man, the results were fantastic (if I do say so myself). I love to eat meat – but I am generally not fond of cooking it (because I’m always convinced that I’m going to kill everyone by undercooking it, so I compensate by burning the shit out of it).

But these ribs.. my goddess, they were heavenly. Just amazing.

The ribs that I bought were labelled “pork ribs” which, after some online research, I determined were St Louis cut. This was good because it meant that I didn’t have to do much clean-up on them to get them ready.

First, I took the ribs and removed the excess fat and the weird membrane. Then I brushed the ribs all over with a very light coating of cheap-o yellow mustard.

I whipped up a batch of this dry rub and coated the mustardy ribs in the rub. They then looked like this:

 

Dry rub on!

Dry rub on!

I left them to sit while I started up the Kamado Joe. I’m still learning (obviously) how to regulate the temperature, but I knew that I needed to do them “low and slow” – though various recipes called from temperatures ranging from 225 to 275. I went with 250F to keep it simple.

The 3-2-1 method that I found here seemed easy enough for me to follow – nothing complicated.

So, I tossed the ribs onto the pre-heated grill and set the timer for 3 hours… only to discover that I could not keep the temperature of the grill from going up and up and up. It didn’t help that the wireless digital thermometer I was using kept crapping out on me (and telling me that the temperature in the grill was about 40 degrees higher than what the thermometer on my grill said!)

I spent a lot of time running in and out of the house.

At the end of the 3 hours, however, things looked pretty good:

 

3 hours down, 3 to go?

3 hours down, 3 to go?

 

I took each chunk of ribs off of the grill and coated both sides liberally in honey and brown sugar (mmmm!) before wrapping them into little packages. No photo of this, sadly. While wrapping, I noted that the ribs looked more ‘done’ than I would have expected, so I decided to adjust the cooking time slightly.

I put the packets of meat back on the grill and set my timer for 40 minutes (instead of 2 hours). When the timer went off, I checked the internal temperature of the meat and found it was already at 190F. Eeep!

I unwrapped the meat, brushed both sides with a 50/50 mix of BBQ sauce and honey, and put them back on the grill for a total of 30 minutes (flipping them once after 10 minutes).

The 3-2-1 method became the 3-1-.5 method!

To be honest, I was pretty convinced that they would be overcooked – possibly dried out – given how dark the outside of the meat was. I was mentally making adjustments in my head, checking out some info on the Kamado Guru forums, and plotting how I’d do all of this differently for the next batch.

But when we sat down to eat… oh, holy heck, they were amazing. And not just the amazing that comes from spending 5 hours cooking something, either.

The outside was crispy and had some chewiness to it (from the honey/brown sugar) and there was a hint of a smoke ring on the inside, and the meat just fell off of the bone as we ate it.

So good. So very good.

So good. So very good.

It took 5 hours to make and about 10 minutes to eat them all. Totally worth it.

Next time I’m going to work on keeping my temperature a lot lower – I need to get used to the air flow and the vents and how they work together – but I would not be the slightest bit sad if the next batch turned out exactly like these did.

I’m so glad that I’ve got another package of ribs waiting in the fridge for next time.