Instant Pot Green Bean Casserole

Jump to Recipe

I’ve said this before (see Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs) and I’ll say it again, I love my Instant Pot. I’m frequently surprised at what it can do. When I heard about the classic Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole dish ala Instant Pot, I knew I had to see if it was the real thing or too good to be true. I decided to try it out today instead of on Thanksgiving in case it failed miserably. I discovered that was completely unnecessary.

First of all, I don’t want you to think you have to run out and buy an Instant Pot. You can very easily make this recipe on the stove. Instead of using an instant pot, simply follow the recipe to cook in a skillet on the stove and you’ll get the same results. Times will obviously vary, but you should get the same results.

I did my prepping first: measured out the ingredients, diced an onion, shredded some cheese, and trimmed/cut up my green beans. Honestly, green beans are a high maintenance vegetable. I would make them more often if I didn’t have to trim the ends. I didn’t take a short cut this time and use bagged, trimmed green beans, but that route was starting to sound like a good thing after trimming a pound and a half of green beans. That was a lot of beans.

In your Instant Pot (or skillet if you choose), saute chopped onions in butter until they are soft, which takes about 5 minutes. I would have loved to show you some pictures of this, but the lightening was not cooperating (aka the sun was going down, casting a yellow hue) and the onions kept steaming up my lens. I really need to rethink how I take pictures.

BTW, because of the mushroom haters in my family (and let’s be clear, I’m not a hater), I skipped them. Feel free to saute about 8 ounces right now if you can’t live without them.

Season, add broth, and stir in green beans.

At this point, pressure cook the beans on LOW (not high) for 3 minutes.

While this is going on, combine butter, Parmesan cheese, and flour. I was sort of questioning this step. And then I was sort of impressed. It makes a really nice compote to thicken the sauce. Just be sure to use room temperature butter or you’ll struggle mixing it together.

When your beans are done cooking, release the pressure and set the Instant Pot to saute. Add the butter mixture, let it melt, and then mix, coating the green beans completely. Pour in the cream and cook until thickened.

Serve in a large bowl topped with toasted fried onions. Just to let you know, I recommend this recipe. It was oniony, creamy green bean goodness that you must have on Thanksgiving. You can find the original at The Food Network, minus a few of my tweaks.

Instant Pot Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup crispy fried onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Set a 6-quart Instant Pot® to saute and heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter and melt. Add the diced onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the broth and green beans. Stir until coated. Turn the pot off.
  • Follow the manufacturer's guide for locking the lid and preparing to cook. Set to pressure cook on manual LOW pressure for 3 minutes. After the pressure cook cycle is complete, follow the manufacturer's guide for quick release and wait until the quick release cycle is complete. Be careful of any remaining steam and unlock and remove the lid.
  • While the beans are cooking, toast the fried onions on a baking sheet in a 350 F oven for 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix together flour, butter, and Parmesan cheese with your hands until completely combined.
  • Set the Instant Pot to saute. Stir the butter mixture into the hot green beans. Add the cream. Stir until all the butter has melted and the cream has thickened the sauce, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour into a serving dish and top with crispy fried onions.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Jump to Recipe

It’s slow cooker season! Then again, when is it not slow cooker season? It’s great on those hot summer days when you don’t want to heat the house up with your oven, and it’s wonderful during those chilly fall days when you want something warm and comforting for dinner.

Instead of soup, I decided to make chili, but I didn’t want anything too heavy. Chicken chili is the perfect balance of filling, but not as rich as a beef chili. This particular chili is not very thick so it’s almost like a hearty soup.

Warning! This chili has beans. I’m not going to engage in a beans versus no beans debate. I’m from California. We do whatever we want out here.

Measure out your spices.

There’s a little prep work. If you have a slow cooker with a saute setting, even better, but you can do all of this in a skillet and it works just as well.

Brown ground chicken and set aside.

Chop up your garlic and onions, and saute them .

Add your spices and stir. Your kitchen will smell really good about now.

Add the browned chicken and rest of your ingredients, including those ever so controversial beans.

Cook for 6 hours on low. Dinner is served!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1/8 cup chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 15 ounces canned pinto beans undrained
  • 15 ounces canned cannellini beans undrained
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • cheese, onions, etc. for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat 2 teaspoon of the oil in a slow cooker on the saute setting (or complete the following 3 steps in a large nonstick skillet over high heat). Add ground chicken and 1 teaspoon salt, cook, breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
  • In the slow cooker, add 1 teaspoon of oil, and then add garlic and onions, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir constantly for 1 minute to cook the spices. Pour in the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan.
  • Add browned chicken to the slow cooker along with beans and liquid, canned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper (to taste).
  • Cover and cook on the low setting for 6 hours. Garnish with cheese, onions, or your favorite chili toppings.

Oven-Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Jump to Recipe

This easy dish lets you throw a bunch of things together and presto! Out comes a meal! What’s not to love? Plus it’s something you wouldn’t expect: teriyaki chicken. Most teriyaki chicken recipes require you to cook the chicken, then the veggies, and then the rice, usually separately. Although that’s not hard, sometimes you don’t feel like standing over the stove. This recipe doesn’t require you to. Instead, you can prop your feet up and relax while it bakes in the oven. It’s also healthy and a good way to eat your veggies.

There’s a little prep required. In addition to chopping up some veggies, you’ll need to grate some ginger.

I know what you’re thinking. How do I peel this darn this before I grate it? OK, maybe you weren’t thinking that, but you could have been. Let’s go with it.

There are a couple easy tricks. If you want to mince ginger, scrap a spoon along the skin and it peels right off. For this recipe, you need grated ginger so just grate it using a fine shredder. It’ll remove the skin and fibers, leaving you with a pile of pure ginger. Super easy. No peeling required.

You’ll also need to chop up chicken into cubes. Using boneless, skinless chicken is the easiest.

Whisk together your sauce and add the chicken. Throw your raw rice into a 9×13 casserole pan and pour the chicken mixture on top. All the ingredients will end up where they should, but it’s a good idea to spread out your chicken evenly.

Pile your veggies on top. I love veggies. Yes, I’m weird. The more veggies, the better. I used a lot so that it covers the entire casserole dish. Don’t feel like you have to do this. I used red onions, broccoli, and red peppers, but you can use any veggie you prefer.

Cover it with foil, pop it into the oven, and kick back. Play a word game. Chat with a friend. Watch Queer Eye. You’ll need to pause after 25 minutes to briefly remove the foil, but then go back to your “me” time. Assuming you don’t have a kid chanting “Mom…Mom…Mom….”

After another 20-25 minutes, pull out the dish. You shouldn’t see any liquid and the rice will be tender. The veggies should still retain most of their color. You don’t want mushy, overcooked veggies. If that’s what you’re used to, no wonder you don’t like vegetables.

I like to mix it all up and then serve it in a bowl, topped with green onions. Pardon my bowl choice. My pasta bowls were clean. My pretty white bowls were not. Oh well. Life goes on. It all tastes good regardless. 🙂

Oven-Baked Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons ginger grated
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups raw jasmine rice or any other white rice
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 3 cups broccoli cut into florets
  • 2 red bell peppers sliced
  • 3 green onions white parts, sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray a 9×13 inch casserole pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, teriyaki sauce, water, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Add the chicken and stir to coat.
  • Spread the rice evenly in the bottom of the pan. Pour the chicken mixture over the rice, making sure the chicken is evenly distributed. Top with onion, broccoli, and peppers evenly.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the sauce has thickened, the rice is tender, and the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
  • Let it sit for another 5 minutes before serving to allow for the rice to absorb any additional moisture.
  • Mix and serve topped with sliced green onions.

Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub

Jump to Recipe

Originally, I wanted to give you recipes that I tweaked to make better. Apparently I have a knack of finding damn good recipes like this one from The Food Network. What I like about this is how easy it is. You hear about all these recipes where there’s all this chopping and mixing and watching that it’s not really quick and easy. Sometimes you just want to stick it in the oven and poof! Dinner.

This is that recipe.

Mix together your seasonings. To make it super easy, they are all dried so no chopping necessary.

Rub the seasonings over the pork. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly coated. Now comes the “hard” part. You could skip this, but I think you would miss that caramelized flavor you get from a seared piece of meat plus searing holds in the juices so you don’t end up with a dry pork. My advice is don’t be lazy and do it. You’ll get to relax soon enough. I promise.

Heat up some olive oil. Add in minced garlic. Okay, you do need to chop up the garlic. I suppose you could throw the garlic in whole, which I almost did. I was concerned that the garlic would burn while searing the meat and assumed that you are trying to flavor the olive oil. If you truly don’t want to chop garlic, don’t do it, but if you are a garlic fiend like me, you don’t want to skip this step. Why? Because the little bits of garlic end up on the meat and it’s yummy.

I used to be sort of scared of searing. How long will it take? It’s making a huge mess. Am I searing it enough? Am I searing it too much? Yada yada yada. Don’t freak out. Just sear it until it’s brownish and it’ll all be ok. It took a total of about 10 minutes so about 2-3 minutes, rotate a quarter turn. Another 2-3 minutes, rotate again. When you’re done, it’ll look golden brown and all impressive looking. If it looks pale, just sear it a little longer. You cannot mess it up unless you walk away and burn it to a crisp.

For the record, don’t ever walk away while you’re searing, frying, sauteing, or some other activity that requires your attention. It’s like a toddler. Walk away and weird things happen. Like you suddenly find all your cans stacked into a precarious 4-foot high tower and you wonder what’s possessed your house. So I’ve heard. Anyway, walking away is just a bad idea and that’s when mistakes happen.

But you can now walk away! Place it on a sheet pan, stick it in the oven, and bake for about 20-30 minutes. You have just enough time to make a salad or watch some TV. Or both at the same time. The recipe calls for 20 minutes, but mine was a little thicker than most so it turned out to be 30 minutes. This is where a meat thermometer is handy.

When it’s done… Let it rest a bit, slice, and enjoy.

Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic minced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  • On a cutting board, flat plate, or shallow baking dish, mix seasonings: garlic powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, thyme, and salt. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined and form a seasoning.
  • Roll the tenderloin around in the seasonings and sprinkle the rub over the tenderloin until it's well coated. Gently press the seasoning to adhere it to the tenderloin.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat for about 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Put tenderloin in the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, give it a quarter turn, and sear for another 2-3 minutes. Continue to sear until all sides are golden brown.
  • Transfer meat to a roasting pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature is 145F. Let it rest for about 5 minutes, and then slice and serve.

Maple Chicken and Carrots

Jump to Recipe

I subscribe to way too many cooking email lists. As a result, I read through a lot of recipes. For this weekend’s recipes, I looked for something to make that reminded me of fall.

No, not pumpkin spice fall.

Leaves falling from the trees, chilly mornings, warm fuzzy socks fall. So when I came across this recipe on Delish, I hit perfection. I imagined maple buckets hanging from trees as the leaves gently fall off the branches. Or at least that’s what’s going on in my Californian mind. Carrots are available year round, but they are still a root vegetable and more common when it’s harder to grow anything above ground. It had fall written all over it.

This main dish is fairly straight-forward and easy to make during the week. I prepped all my ingredients, including chopping the carrots into 1/4-inch round circles.

I chose to use my trusty cast-iron pan to sear the seasoned chicken. Set aside.

In the same skillet you combine the sauce ingredients, including apple cider vinegar, garlic, maple syrup (use the real stuff, not the fake maple-colored corn syrup or whatever that stuff is made of), Dijon mustard, lemon, and thyme.

Add the chicken back in and spoon some sauce over each piece. Add your carrots.

Stick the entire pan in the oven. Twenty minutes later, you end up with chicken that has a sweet, tart blend of maple, apple, and mustard flavors. It was sweet without being cloying. Tart without being too acidic. Spicy without being overwhelming. Perfection. To be eaten in fuzzy socks, next to a warm fire.

Maple Chicken and Carrots

Ingredients

  • 5 carrots peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 lemon juiced

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • In a medium bowl, toss carrots with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Prep the rest of your ingredients.
  • In a cast-iron pan or other oven-safe skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs and sear 2 minutes per side. Remove chicken and transfer to a plate. Do not discard pan drippings.
  • Add vinegar to pan and scrape up bottom bits from pan with a wooden spoon. Add garlic, maple syrup, mustard, thyme, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer.
  • Return chicken to skillet and spoon sauce over thighs.
  • Nestle carrots into skillet. Bake until chicken is cooked through and carrots are tender, 20 minutes. Serve with sauce.

Slow Cooker Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Jump to Recipe

Aka…spooky peppers. Yes, they were pretty scary alright.

For those of you who know me, you’ll know I love cute food. Give me a theme and like a person who dresses up at parties, I create cute food. What can I say? It’s ridiculous and brings a smile to my face. Someone once accused me of showing off, which actually hurt my feelings because I was having a good time just for being me. Can I help it if I made chocolate dipped strawberry footballs for the Super Bowl?

So it comes to no surprise when I decided to make something Halloween-y. I wanted to avoid making a dessert so I pondered on what dish I could make that is both cute and scary, without being disgusting. Stuffed orange peppers popped into my mind. I have no idea what inspired me.

First, I looked for a stuffed pepper recipe with an Italian bent. I also wanted to be able to make something that I wouldn’t have to babysit…the slow cooker! I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, but close enough. I came across Crock-Pot Stuffed Peppers from Delish.

Take four orange peppers, slice off the tops, keeping the green stem intact. With a small, sharp knife, carve jack o’ lantern faces. Here’s an example of one of the scary dudes.

Because the original recipe was inspired by Mexican flavors and I wanted Italian, I skipped the black beans and frozen corn, and substituted Italian seasonings instead of cumin, chili powder, and oregano. I also bumped up the amount of garlic powder used.

I recommend using lean or extra-lean ground beef to avoid the grease. I prefer a 90/10 or 93/7 blend instead of a 80/20 blend, which is better for grilling cheeseburgers. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the next time you buy ground beef, look at the package. Ground beef is measured by the lean-to-fat ratio. 80/20 means that 80% lean to 20% fat. The more fat, the more flavor. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but not when you end up with a oily mess because the fat has melted into a pool of grease.

Mix all your stuffing ingredients together.

Use a spoon to scoop into your cute little pumpkins. Ohhhh…scary!

Stick them in the slow cooker for 3 hours on high. What you get is this little fella.

Ok, so he’s not as cute or as spooky as I had hoped. He’s kind of funny looking with rice oozing out of his mouth and looking a bit wrinkly. I did have to chuckle, but frankly, I was disappointed because the pepper was squishy. I want my cute food to taste delicious too. There’s no way these peppers should have been cooking for 3 hours. If I make them again, I would definitely check on them after 2 hours to see if the ground beef was cooked through and the pepper was soft, not mushy. If you make them, let me know how they turned out.

Happy Halloween! Boo!

Slow Cooker Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 4 orange bell peppers
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 15 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded jack cheese divided
  • 1 cup white rice cooked
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings

Instructions

  • Slice the tops of the peppers and keep the green top attached to the cap. Remove the seeds inside. With a small, sharp knife, carve little jack o' lantern on each pepper.
  • In a large bowl, combine beef, 1 cup cheese, tomatoes, rice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings. Stir until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Stuff peppers with the beef mixture. Place them in a slow cooker, top side up. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.
  • When the peppers are tender, top peppers with remaining cheese and cover. Cook on low for 5-10 minutes more, or until cheese melts.

Beef Stroganoff

Jump to Recipe

This recipe is a favorite in the Deter household. Beef stroganoff is originally a Russian dish with beef sauteed in a sour cream sauce. It’s morphed into a dish that can contain any type of beef, sometimes has mushrooms, and is often served over egg noodles (although I have been known to serve it over cauliflower rice for myself). It’s incredibly retro and there’s absolutely nothing fancy about it.

My recipe has morphed a few times and probably resembles nothing like the traditional stroganoff of the 70s and 80s. First of all, no mushrooms. I happen to like them, but the boys don’t. So don’t even think adding them or using cream of mushroom soup. Mine doesn’t have any nutmeg, but you’ll find a ton of chopped rosemary. More than any normal person might like so feel free to use less. Finally, no beef tips. This one has ground beef.

I’m starting to wonder how this can even be called beef stroganoff, but let’s go with it because it’s tasty and filling and all that good stuff.

It starts out fresh rosemary, garlic, and red onions. It’s so much better with fresh rosemary, but you can use a teaspoon of chopped dried rosemary instead. Just don’t use that jarred minced garlic stuff. Always use fresh garlic. Never mind that it’s annoying to peel and chop.

Chopped these up and add them to your crumbled ground beef that’s been browning. I like to use the leanest beef possible to avoid a pool of grease.

Warning…the following photos you are about to see might seem scary and disgusting. Apparently beef stroganoff is not the supermodel of foods and looks rather unattractive. I swear it tastes better than it looks.

Add cream of chicken soup and some seasonings. Told you that no mushrooms would be harmed in the making of this dish.

Add sour cream and parsley. I use dried parsley, but fresh parsley works really well too.

Cook a little longer, toss with egg noodles, and this is what you end up with.

This recipe makes plenty for six people. Because there’s only three of us, I usually boil half of a bag (8 ounces) of noodles instead of a full bag, and use half of the sauce. Keep the leftover sauce and boil fresh noodles when it’s time for leftovers.

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped finely
  • 1 cup red onions diced
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 10.5 ounces condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 16 ounces egg noodles cooked
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Instructions

  • Crumble and brown ground beef with garlic, rosemary, and onion.
  • Add salt, pepper, paprika, and soup. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add sour cream and parsley. Simmer until heated through.
  • Mix with cooked noodles and serve.

Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo

Jump to Recipe

Sometimes a recipe comes along that you just don’t change because it’s perfect. This is that recipe. I’ve made it several times and each time, it’s amazing. Better yet, it’s super simple. I wish I could take credit, but alas, I can only provide advice. The prize goes to Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King from The Food Network, who apparently makes a lot more stuff than sandwiches. His recipe combines dill and lemon along with coriander to make a delicious meal.

Start out with fresh dill and grated lemon for your orzo. The flavor meld together nicely and screams Greek. I should try to make a dip with this. And what is orzo, you may ask. It looks like rice, but it’s a pasta that’s often used in salads, but also in casseroles like this one.

For the chicken, you’ll be using different seasonings, but only three (see how simple this recipe is?). In addition to salt and pepper, you’ll use ground coriander. And what is coriander, you may ask. It’s actually the seeds from the cilantro plant. Who knew? They have a citrus flavor when crushed, which is why it pairs well with dill and lemon.

To cut down on the number of bowls you use, combine the orzo mixture directly in the baking dish. Then, rub the seasonings on chicken. It will be peppery so if that’s not your thing, use half the pepper the recipe states.

Choose chicken that with a consistent thickness, meaning not super thick in the middle and skimpy thin at the ends. If this is not possible, consider pounding the chicken with a mallet to thin out the middle. I have found that two breasts per pound works best for me and doesn’t require any pounding. Just be sure to avoid using large breasts or they won’t cook through.

Place the chicken in the orzo mixture. Don’t freak out. The chicken broth will not wash off the chicken seasonings and make the chicken bland. It’ll all turn out in the end. Make sure your chicken is submerged so you don’t end up with dry chicken. Top with lemon.

And let me take a moment to tell you to use chicken stock, not broth. There’s a difference, they are not interchangeable, and you’ll thank yourself for using the right ingredient.

When baked, you’ll end up with this…

And this…

Did I mention how fancy it looks? You probably could pull this dish off when you have guests to impress.

One of these days, I’m going to try making this dish with other seasoning combinations. I’m thinking that tomato sauce, oregano, and cumin with a little chopped green olives might create a Spanish twist while experimenting with orange and parsley will produce an Italian dish. I encourage you to use your favorite seasonings in the orzo and chicken. Let me know what you discover!

Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo

Ingredients

Orzo

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill chopped
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 cups orzo

Chicken

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 4 medium chicken breasts boneless, skinless
  • 1 lemon sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • For the orzo: In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together stock, butter, salt, cornstarch, dill, lemon zest and juice, and garlic in a bowl. Mix in the orzo.
  • For the chicken: In a separate bowl, mix together the coriander, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken all over with the seasoning.
  • Add the chicken breasts, laying them so most of the chicken is submerged. Top with lemon slices.
  • Bake, uncovered, until the chicken registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, 35 to 40 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Pork Udon Noodles

Jump to Recipe

I’m not good at making Asian food. There. I said it. Maybe it’s not that I’m terrible at it, but for example, take-out is so good. How can I compete? It’s tasty and inexpensive. But I’m determined to win and this time, I’m making a Japanese noodle dish. Here’s my attempt and while I still have a ways to go, this ended up being a really easy weeknight dinner with plenty of leftovers.

I found a promising recipe on Bon AppĂ©tit. In general, Bon AppĂ©tit has very good, reliable recipes so I trust them. I did change the recipe. I couldn’t find instant udon noodles and I ran out of fresh ginger so I had to adapt a little. I also made it less spicy because of the boys. I made a few other changes, like used more sesame oil and low-sodium soy sauce. If I had to do it over again, I would have used fresh ginger and your standard soy sauce.

I like to prep everything beforehand so I can easily dump ingredients into the pan. For this recipe, slice up some cabbage and green onions. Be sure to separate out the pale and dark parts of the green onion. Stage your white/pale-green onion, ginger, and red pepper flakes in one bowl. Dark green onion parts go in another bowl.

One reason why I like Bon AppĂ©tit is that they give you advice in the directions. In this recipe they remind you not to touch the pork so it browns. “The pork will never brown if you’re fussing with it the whole time, so when we say ‘undisturbed,’ that means keep your paws off it and let the heat of the pan and the pork do their thing.” You can’t tell here, but the underside is browned. I swear. I should have taken a picture. Ok, it could have browned a little longer.

While the meat is browning, I boiled 9.5 ounces of udon noodles according to the package. The original recipe calls for 14 ounces so in my version you end up with a higher meat to noodle ratio, which is fine by me. I have no idea where to buy instant udon noodles. I found a surplus of ramen noodles, but not udon. The ones I chose cook in 4 minutes and I was happy with them.

I used mirin, which is an ingredient that I’m not entirely familiar with, and is often used in Japanese cooking. It’s a slightly sweet Japanese cooking wine made from rice and is similar to sake with a lot less alcohol. Bon AppĂ©tit has an informative article about what it is and what to do if you can’t find it.

When you’re done, you end up with something like this. It was really simple to make and got two thumbs up.

Pork Udon Noodles

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 4 cups green cabbage coarsely chopped
  • 9.5 ounces udon noodles
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 10 ounces ground pork
  • 5 green onions green and pale parts separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup mirin
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce low sodium

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and cook, tossing often, until edges are browned, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, tossing often, until thickest parts of cabbage leaves are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from pan and place on a separate plate. Set aside.
  • Heat remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, breaking up and spreading across surface of pan with a spatula or tongs. Cook pork, undisturbed, until underside is brown, about 3 minutes. When pork is browned, break up meat into small bits. Cook, tossing, just until there’s no more pink, about 1 minute.
  • While the meat is browning (and you're not touching it), boil udon noodles according to the package. Drain in a colander. Transfer noodles to a bowl and toss with sesame oil.
  • To your meat mixture, add the pale parts of the chopped green onions, ginger, and red pepper. Continue to cook, tossing often, until green onions are softened and the bottom of skillet is starting to brown, about 1 minute.
  • Add cabbage, udon noodles, mirin, and soy sauce. Cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are coated in sauce (be sure to scrape bottom of skillet to dissolve any browned bits), about 45 seconds.
  • Remove from heat. Top with dark-green parts of scallions and serve.

Fish Tacos

Jump to Recipe

It’s been a difficult week and because of it, I’m posting only one recipe this weekend. Without going into the politics, PG&E cut power to over 700,000 households and we were one of them. Lucky us. So, yes, I could have cooked in the dark, pretended it was like camping, and roughed it. But frankly, I was not in the best mood so we went out to dinner instead. And again.

Two days later, the power was back on, but it took another two days to restore Internet and TV services. ARGH. In the meantime, I was busy throwing away half my fridge with all my food blog recipe ingredients. I have no idea how those off-the-grid people survive. Oh, wait, yes….they have a generator. We do not. Because we live in suburbs, not the country. Where the power should never go out for more than a few hours. Ok, calm down, Flora.

Enough of feeling sorry for myself. It’s time to treat myself to my favorite food: tacos.

Almost every Tuesday, we have tacos. I love tacos. No really. I’m not kidding when I say I love tacos. When I went to Houston in August, I ate tacos 4 days in a row. I still miss those tacos.

So as part of my recovery, I decided to make fish tacos. Yummy, slightly spicy, comforting tacos.

Here are the seasonings and breading. If you don’t like any crunch, use all flour instead of a panko blend. Later you’ll use an egg wash to get the breading to stick, but you can skip that too for a softer exterior. I wanted mine to have a slight crunch to mimic deep fried fish. This recipe is totally healthier than that.

I used cod, which is fairly reasonably priced compared to other fish, but you can use tilapia, which is a little cheaper, or upgrade to halibut. Any white fish will do.

To get the breading to stick, I like to use an egg wash, which is really just an egg whisked so the whites and yolks are mixed together. I also like to use tongs or a fork to dip the fish and then into the breading. It makes a lot less mess on your fingers. And if you have long nails, trust me when I say you do not want to use your hands.

The fish doesn’t need to be perfectly coated because they come out tasty no matter what, and you might want to break the fish apart in your taco anyway. Just make sure to shake off any excess breading. It’ll help prevent the breading from falling off your fish when you fry it.

If you haven’t already, buy yourself a cast-iron pan. You’ll use it over and over again for lots of recipes, like Cast Iron Pizza. Although non-stick pans and stainless steel serve their purpose, cast iron pans are durable, non-stick, and last forever. Just don’t drop it on your foot. They are incredibly heavy. Ouch.

Also invest in a fish spatula. It’s like your typical spatula but longer and curved, which makes it so much easier to flip stuff like fish, but it works on any meat, including chicken and beef. There’s nothing more frustrating than doing everything right, but not having the right equipment. It’s like using a bicycle when you really need a car. Or something like that.

When you heat up the olive oil, I like to put a timer on it. What seems like 3 minutes ends up being only 1 minute, and you really need to heat up the oil to the correct temperature so you don’t end up with soggy fish. I usually heat the oil on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Some say to look for a slight shimmering of the oil, but my eyes just don’t see that very well (no, I’m not old…just blind, apparently). Instead, I throw a bit of breading into the pan and if it sizzles, it’s ready.

Turn the temperature down slightly. I find that the pan continues to heat up, and I don’t want that or I’ll end up with burnt fish. Place one piece of fish in the pan. If it sizzles, the temperature is perfect. If it doesn’t wait another 30 seconds or so before adding the next piece.

When you add all your fish, make sure they aren’t touching. Overcrowding causes more moisture than you want so your fish ends up sauteing instead of frying. Resist the temptation to squeeze all your fish pieces into one pan. Just fry it in two batches instead.

Cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side. If it’s a steak or thicker cut, go for 4 or 5 minutes. If it’s a filet or thinner cut, go for 3 minutes. Whatever you do, do not poke and prod the fish. Let it cook. Flipping it over and over messes everything up. Trust me on this.

If you’ve followed these guidelines, your fish should not stick to the pan when you flip it. Carefully nudge your fish a little to check. If it’s stuck or doesn’t give freely, it’s not ready yet. Give it another 30 seconds to a minute. Those bread crumbs haven’t cooked enough to release from the pan. If you flip it too soon, you’ll end up with your breading stuck to the pan, not to your fish. When you flip it, the fish should look golden brown.

Place fish on tortillas and add your favorite toppings. Yum…happiness.

Fish Tacos

Ingredients

  • corn or flour tortillas your favorite size
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 1 pound skinless white fish such as cod, halibut, tilapia, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • your favorite toppings: crema, sour cream, lime juice, red onions, shredded cabbage, cilantro, avocado, pico de gallo, salsa, hot sauce, etc.

Instructions

  • Whisk an egg in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Stir together flour, panko, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper. Using tongs, a fork, or your fingers, dip fish into the egg wash and then coat with the flour mixture.
  • Heat the oil in a cast iron (or non-stick) pan over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the fish to the pan without crowding the fish. Cook the fish for about 3 to 5 minutes until it's cooked halfway through the sides. The bottom should be golden brown and not stick to the pan. Wait another 30 seconds and check again before flipping.
  • Using a fish spatula, flip the fish over. Add more oil if the pan looks dry. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until it flakes.
  • Warm up the tortillas in a pan or microwave. Add fish to tortillas, breaking pieces apart if needed. Add toppings and serve.