Thursday, December 29, 2016

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Well. Hello!

I know I've been absent for awhile, and there are reasons for that. Like lots of other people out there, 2016 was not an easy year. Maybe I'll tell you what I've been up to later, but for now, I'm going to talk about what brings me back.

My new Instant Pot, that's what!

Christmas was great, and my most fun gift was the Instant Pot. I've had my eye on one for awhile, but it took Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales to bring one into my life. And boy, am I glad! I love this thing! I think my family likes it too, just because it's made some yummy meals since. ;)

I've made several things in it since Christmas (yes I know it's only the 29th) and I'll probably share some more recipes. Today I'm sharing Instant Pot Mac & Cheese. It was fast, easy, and turned out so creamy and delicious. I thought the recipe over at Pressure Cooking Today sounded like way too much evaporated milk and cheese, so I used half the amounts and it was perfect. Yum!

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
adapted from Pressure Cooking Today

1 17.5 oz package pasta (I had Casarecce from Costco)
4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded Sharp cheddar cheese
additional salt & black pepper to taste

Turn on the Instant Pot (IP) to "saute" to warm it up. Add the warm water, salt and dry mustard. Stir to dissolve the salt and mustard and then add the pasta. Mix. Secure the lid with the vent to the "seal" position. Use the "manual" setting on high pressure, and select 5 minutes for the cook time. At the end of the cook time, immediately do a quick release (QR) to release the pressure. Once the float has dropped, carefully open the IP lid. Turn off the pot and then turn it back on to "saute." Select the normal heat level. Pour in the evaporated milk. It will appear like a lot, but it will thicken. Continue stirring for about a minute, then begin adding the cheese just a handful at a time by sprinkling over the top of the pasta and stirring to incorporate it as it melts. Once the cheese is melted and everything is thickened, turn off the IP. This only takes a couple of minutes. Add additional salt and some black pepper to taste. Serve.

This is how the mac & cheese looked just before serving. After sitting, it continues to thicken.

My daughter, Sarah, had this to say about this mac & cheese: #younailedit  Hashtag and all. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Brown bag turkey {The best roasted turkey method ever!}

A few years back, I found an interesting new way to roast a turkey over at Real Mom Kitchen. She had a method for roasting the turkey in a brown paper bag, like those you get from the grocery store (if you ask for them). I was intrigued by this, and did some more research on it. I decided to try it out, and it was such a success that this is the way I roast turkeys now. Forever! 

I didn't use the recipe, just the idea. I did follow the basic directions of wetting the paper bag first--but don't soak it. Roast the turkey at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes per pound. Unless your bag is really large, you will need two bags.

Here is what I do: butter and season the turkey with garlic, salt, pepper, sage & thyme, putting some of the butter and seasonings under the skin. I also halve an onion and an apple and put those inside the cavity of the turkey. If I have them, I also stick in a couple of celery sticks. Set the turkey inside a roasting pan, and then slide one open brown paper bag over one end as far as it will go, and then slide the other bag over the other end of the pan. The two bags should overlap around the pan and completely cover the turkey. Use a spray bottle to mist the outsides of the bag, or wet your fingers and rub them over the bag to moisten it. Don't soak the bag, just get it wet.  Put the whole production in the oven and set the timer according to the size of the turkey. Don't worry--the bag won't catch fire unless the oven is at least 450. I have done half a dozen brown bag turkeys, and I have never yet had a bag catch fire. Note that when it first goes in the oven, you will smell the bag, but no worries.

Don't peek until the timer goes off, and then you can carefully open up one end and check the temperature of the turkey for doneness. Let the turkey rest in the bag for 20 minutes before carving.

This method makes the most beautiful brown, juicy, flavorful turkey. You won't be disappointed!