InstantPot Taco Pie

IMG_2639OK – so it’s 4pm and you need dinner on the table at 6…stress, panic, anger? go through the emotions – then make a super quick, small crowd pleasing InstantPot Taco Pie.

Here is my riff on it:

Instant Pot Taco Pie

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Amazingly Easy Dinner in an Instant

Ingredients

  • 1.25 lbs Ground Beef – I prefer 90/10 or better
  • 1 Packet Taco Seasoning – just buy it
  • 1/2 Can Drained Black Beans
  • 2 TBSP Salsa
  • 2 TBSP Red Enchilada Sauce + Generous Spoonful to top off the pie
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheese – mix of Jack and Cheddar
  • 4 Eight Inch Flour Tortillas
  • 1 7″ Springform pan
  • Chopped Cilantro, Sour Cream, Avocados for accoutrement

Directions

  1. Heat 1.5 tbsp Olive Oil in a medium fry pan over medium/high heat
  2. Add the ground meat and cook all the way through
  3. Add the taco seasoning and 2/3 cup of water and simmer for 8 minutes
  4. Set aside
  5. Spray the inside of the springform pan with nonstick spray
  6. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the drained black beans with 2 TBSP of salsa
  7. In a second small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the drained black beans with 2 TBSP of the Enchilada Sauce – you can mash the beans into the sauce with a fork if desired
  8. Carefully nestle one tortilla in the pan – I found it easiest to form a flower-esque shape with the tortilla and press the center of the flower-shaped tortilla into the center of the bottom of the pan and then press it out from the center. The tortilla is bigger than the pan – just press the excess of the tortilla up the sides of the pan
  9. Add the beans & salsa mixture over the tortilla
  10. Top with 1/2 cup of the shredded cheddar / jack cheese mix
  11. Add a layer of the meat / taco seasoning mix
  12. Top that with another tortilla – be sure to press the tortilla down using the flower method. The excess tortilla can again be pressed up the side of the springform pan
  13. Layer the black beans / enchilada sauce mixture on top of that tortilla
  14. Top with a layer of 1/2 cup of the cheese mix and a layer of the meat
  15. Top that with another tortilla and press into the mixture and up the sides of the pan
  16. Add one more layer of cheese (1/2 cup) and the last of the meat
  17. Top with a final tortilla
  18. Take a generous spoonful of Enchilada sauce and smother it over the final, top tortilla
  19. Cover the pan with aluminum foil
  20. Put 1 cup of water in the bottom of the InstantPot
  21. Place the InstantPot rack in the pot and carefully place the covered springform pan on the rack
  22. Put the lid on and position the knob to ‘Sealing’
  23. Set the InstantPot to ‘High Pressure’ for 10 minutes
  24. After the cooking time is done, allow for a 5 minute natural release, then release the pressure manually
  25. Heat your oven to Broil – High
  26. Carefully remove the springform pan from the pot and place pan on a cookie sheet
  27. Remove the aluminum foil and top the Taco Pie with the final 1/2 cup of cheese
  28. Place in the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly
  29. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes
  30. Carefully remove the springform outer from the pan and slide the pie onto a large cutting board
  31. Top with chopped cilantro and serve with offerings of sour cream, additional cilantro and hot sauce

Here are a few photos of the process for reference:

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Making X: Don’t ASAP Your Scrambled Eggs

scrambled eggs gordon ramsay CDB William Steig

Perfectly Scrambled – Not abbreviated

We were all abbreviating things long before we starting LOL-ing or telling each other that we’d BRB.

Please, verbal and written abbreviations go back to Before Christ – BC to be exact. I mean you don’t think Julius Ceasar was all ‘hey Mark A, wanna head down to the 4-M? Heard Lady C will be there?’

In the AD years – FYI – we started using abbreviations like ASAP, PDQ and tons more well before anyone had a cell phone.

CDB book kids William Steig

Best Book Ever

Growing up, my professor brother (please address him as Doctor James, but don’t ask him to write a prescription) found, loved and shared a book by William Steig called C D B!…as in See The Bee.

The book is written in phonetically fabulous single letters or 2-letter combinations. Each letter or short letter combo becomes a word when read correctly – kids, this is like when you write ‘Gr8’ instead of ‘Great’. Get it?

This approach is way toats more difficult than just using the first letter of a word to signify that word. Steig’s approach requires the reader to use sounds and maybe even the ol’ noggin to determine what the writer is saying.

William Steig C D B scrambled eggs

This Hen Has 5 Eggs

Because of our family obsession with C D B, we often spoke Steig shorthand at home. Like if we wanted eggs for breakfast, we might ask our mother ‘F U N-E X?’ to which she might reply (if we were lucky) ‘S, V F X’.

I’ve been making myself scrambled eggs for years. I have a method. I have a taste and consistency that I love and a cheese that I had determined to be the ideal cheese for scrambled eggs…I could scramble those puppies up in no time flat.

Some egg-making – though – just shouldn’t be abbreviated. And, if you ask Gordon Ramsay, there’s really only one RIGHT way to make perfect Scrambled Eggs. And, it takes a little extra time.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs (not X) (serves 1 – test kitchen just me today)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Don’t worry about the fact that you only have a 1.5q sauce pot – it’s the perfect thing for perfect scrambled eggs
  2. Let the pot cool before soaking it to clean – soaking a hot pot is bad. Just is.
  3. Add whatever testifiers and flavinators you want – but don’t stir anything in – not even salt, pepper etc until the eggs are almost completely done

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Eggs – you can buy organic if you must, but you know that cost like 2X non-organic ones
  • 1 Pat of Butter – just like a TBSP
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used to use Port Salut….but, for these eggs, a harder, sharper cheese is really better)

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan on the stove, crack the two eggs and throw in the butter

perfect scrambled eggs gordon ramsay

Do Not Scramble B4 Putting In To Pot

2. Turn burner heat up to Medium and begin stirring the eggs and butter in small stirring circles (if you have a Power Burner…Med/Low is A OK)

scrambled eggs Gordon Ramsay perfect

G Ramsay Describes Technique as similar to making Risotto

3. The butter will melt and the eggs will come together as you continue to stir

scrambled eggs breakfast vegetarian

C, it’s working….

4. Once the eggs begin to scramble – I O W begin to form eggy scrambly pieces – remove the pot from the heat…but keep stirring

perfect scramble eggs vegetarian breakfast

D trick is the stirring – Scrambling Away – Gently – Remove from Heat

5. As the pot loses heat, return it to the burner, still at about medium and continue to stir

6. Keep on active burner just long enough to reheat the pot…then remove it ASAP! Keep Stirring

scramble breakfast all -clad pot

B patient – Scrambling Away! Sorta Shocking How Well This Works

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the eggs reach the desired consistency. Normally, I prefer a drier scrambled egg…but with this technique, a more creamy, grits-like consistency works better

NOTE: Gordon Ramsay stirs in some creme fraiche and some chives…but you really don’t need the creme fraiche and chives just make it a very expensive scrambled egg dish – unless you have some on hand.

8. Serve topped with some lovely grated sharp cheddar cheese

perfect eggs

Just perfect

There are great occasions for abbreviations. Like texting your BFF.  There’s also the times you just need to speak in code – my roommate from college, PKO used abbreviated, acronym-speak well before the first text was sent. Never did figure out what she was saying…

But, BTW, when you want the perfect scrambled eggs. you need to take your time and not try to make them ASAP.

Put That In Your Bird and Roast It: Wine Can Chicken

wine can chicken roast whole chicken thyme

Garlic and Thyme Infused. Perfectly Wine-ily Moist

As summer approaches, we, in our small, no outdoor space, apartments know we are about to suffer through endless Facebook and Instagram and WordPress/Tumblr/Blogger posts of suburbanites grilling everything from lobster to steaks to chicken to vegetables.

Just the way it is. Men off of the island will be boasting about giant meats grilled to perfection. Women will be mastering marinades. Even the vegans will get involved with newly purchased vegetable griller trays.

OK, we admit it, we’re jealous. We wish we had a gas grill. We also wish we had won the PowerBall. We wish a lot of things.

It’s all moot because, not only are gas grills illegal on the island of Manhattan…but even if you did manage to sneak one up the freight elevator while no one was looking, transporting propane through any of the tunnels is also a big NYC no-no. Sure, you might have shared outdoor space in your building and you could charcoal it up, but, let’s face it, that all sounds a bit messy. And, carting a 40lb bag of charcoal from Food Emporium to your apartment is next to impossible. Plus – you’ll be damned if you’re going to get one of those roll-y carts.

No fear, my dears – We can do lots of grillish meals in the comforts of our tiny kitchens. And this wine-can chicken may actually change your mind about always relying on the rotisserie option.

Wine Can Chicken (Serves 4)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  • Ideally you might have a deepish roasting pan to sit the chicken in…but if you only have a lasagna or even a baking dish, use those. Just line with Reynold’s Wrap to ease clean up
  • OK, you have to have fresh Thyme on this one…But remember, you can freeze the unused Thyme and use it in future dishes for up to 6 months. Just put the thyme in a ZipLoc baggie and throw it in the fridge. I might wash it first too.
  • Remove all but the lowest oven rack before heating the oven…I put mine on top of my cabinets when not in use. You can hide it behind a door or something…
  • Invite someone who likes dark meat – I don’t…

Ingredients:

chicken roasted wine infused can

Always Mise En Place – partial MEP…forgot to photo the garlic and Jane’s Krazy stuff

  • 1 Whole Chicken (3.5 – 4lbs) bought mine at Fairway who had the best price that day
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Smashed
  • 2 Lemons – juiced
  • The zest of 1 Lemon
  • 5 Sprigs of Thyme plus the leaves from 2 add’l Sprigs
  • 6 Oz Good-ish White Wine – whatever you have leftover. Consult @grapefriend.com for suggestions if you like. I used a chardonnay left over by my white wino friends
  • 1 TBSP Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Lemon Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 empty 12oz Can, rinsed and cleaned inside and out – I used a lemon San Pelligrino can thinking that any left over flavor in the can from the lemon would be AOK

Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees F

1. In a small bowl whisk together the Olive Oil, Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Lemon Pepper and the leaves from 2 Sprigs of Thyme

2. Into a Cup Measurer with oz – Pour 6oz of Chardonnay

3. Into the Chardonnay add the juice of 1 lemon PLUS the zest of 1 lemon

4. Whisk together wine and lemon

5. Pour the wine and lemon mix into the empty San Pelligrino can

6. Into the can shove the smashed cloves of garlic

7. Add the 5 sprigs of Thyme into the Pelligrino Can

wine can chicken in oven

Doesn’t have to look perfect – I removed the tab from the can, but not sure you have to

8. Give the can a little swirl

9. Unwrap the Chicken and rub the front and back with the Olive Oil, Lemon, Thyme Leaves, Krazy Mixed Up Lemon Pepper

wine can whole roasted chicken in oven

Rubbed with flavorful goodness

10. Sit the Wine-Filled San Pelligrino can on the center of the lined lasagna/baking/roasting pan and then sit the whole chicken atop the can – inserting the can into the Chicken’s ‘cavity’

roasted whole chicken in oven herb infused

Can on pan…I used a lasagna pan

wine can beer can chicken roasted in oven

Violate the Chicken with the Wine-y, Herb-y Can

11. Put into the oven – and roast for 1 hour – turning the pan 180 degrees about halfway through to ensure even cooking

12. Check with a meat thermometer beginning at :45 mins. Breast area should read 170 degrees and Thighs should read at 180 degrees when done

13. Take out of the oven and let sit for :10mins before moving chicken off of the can and onto a cutting board

wine can chicken herb infused recipe food

Perfectly Roasted Wine-Can Chicken – Next time I might take the Chicken off of the can and lay flat for the last :15 of roasting to even the browning on the skin. Next time

14. Slice and serve!

wine can chicken oven recipe dinner food

Served mine with pan crisped yellow zucchini

Yes, people make beer-can chicken on their outdoor grills all the time. But, beer is so gauche.

The wine-can chicken technique seriously may have changed my mind about defaulting to the store roasted bird. It was amazingly good and so very easy.

So this weekend when all of those suburbanites are busily posting pix of their outdoor grilling bonanzas, you just rest comfortably in your tiny kitchen with your perfectly roasted wine and herb infused whole chicken. Put that in your bird and roast it!

The Time is Right: Mexican Marinated Lime-ly Grilled Skirt Steak

skirt steak lime marinade cinco de mayo

Perfectly Grilled Skirt Steak

The life of the food blogger is very complicated. There’s like math when the recipe feeds 8 but I only want to feed 4 and there’s like conversions from liters to ounces and stuff.

But, maybe the most challenging thing is getting the timing right. See, we hope to guide our reader(s) through the perfect preparation of all holiday meals – so we have to actually prepare and write about the holiday meal before the actual holiday. Like celebrating Thanksgiving on the 3rd Thursday of November, Christmas on the 15th of December or July 4th on the 1st.  You understand.

cinco de mayo grilled skirt steak

May 5 – not Independence Day

This week it means that instead of celebrating Cinco de Mayo (not Mexican Independence BTW) on Sunday with the rest of the margarita revelers, I celebrated Dos de Mayo last night.

The only tricky part is explaining to dinner guests that we are in full on Mexican mode 3 days shy of the actual Fiesta.

Dos De Mayo Lime-ly Grilled Skirt Steak (Serves 4)

Total Time: 24 Hour Marinade…Then about 7-8 Mins of Grilling…:10 minutes resting…:05 minutes slicing

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Your kitchen is small…And this is a big feast, so prepare in stages. I grilled the meat in the afternoon and reheated for dinner
  2. Skirt Steak is a long, big steak…And you only have one grill pan (my new All-Clad one is awesome) So – you will need to slice the steak in half and cook in two batches
  3. As always – grilling causes a lot of smoke and the vent above your stove top doesn’t really do anything…Open the windows and front door to your apartment to ventilate. Plus the wafting of steaky aroma into the hallway may attract that certain someone in the apartment next door
  4. And remember to close the doors to your bathroom and bedroom whilst grilling – otherwise your bed linens and bath towels will soak in the steaky smell

Ingredients:

  • dinner mexican jalapeno marinades skirt steak

    I fear the Jalapeno – so ribs removed

    1 2lb Skirt Steak – I got mine at the Whole Foods meat counter… and, while pricier than I might have thought it would be, it was beautiful

  • The juice from 8 Limes
  • 5 (yes five) giant cloves of Garlic diced
  • 1/4 C of Soy Sauce
  • 1 Big Bunch of Cilantro – chopped
  • 1 TSP Cumin Powder
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper – diced – you can remove the ribs and seeds if you’re averse to too much heat…I did
  • 1 Squirt – Call it a TBSP of Ketchup
  • The Zest of 1 Lime
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Gindo's Spice of Life pepper sauce

    The Spice of Life

    Dash upon Dash of Gindo’s Spice of Life hot sauce – as my guests said ‘fresh and delicious’

1. Squeeze the juice of 8 limes into a bowl

2. Add the zest of 1 lime

Lime marinated skirt steak recipe

Limey!

3. Stir in the Garlic, Soy Sauce, Cumin Powder, Jalapeno, Ketchup, Dashes of Gindo’s Spice of Life, Olive Oil and Cilantro

skirt steak marinade mexican lime

This is not muy difficult

4. Slice that giant Skirt Steak into two equal halves and place each in a ZipLoc bag

dinner marinated skirt steak mexican cinco de mayo

The Skirt Steak – long and lean

Dinner mexican marinated skirt steak

Skirt Steak Halvsies

5. Cover each half of Skirt Steak with equal parts of the marinade

grilled marinated mexican skirt steak with lime

It’s in the Bag-gie

6. Seal the bags and put them in the Fridge over night

…..The Next Day

7. When you wake up.. Flip the bags over to ensure equal marinating on both sides of the meat. And leave them in the Fridge for the day.

lime marinated mexican skirt steak recipe

Don’t forget to Flip It, Flip it Good

8. Remove the marinated meat from the Fridge :35 – :40 minutes before grilling to temperate

9. Heat a grill pan over medium/high and spray with Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray

10. Add the first 1/2 Skirt Steak and cook on one side for 3 – 4 minutes

dinner mexican All-Clad grill pan skirt steak

All Clad Grill pan – perfect apartment accoutrement

11. Flip and cook the second side for :03 mins

grilled marinated skirt steak mexican

Side 2: Pretty Grill marks don’t matter, cuz you’re slicing it

12. Remove from the pan and let rest while you repeat with the second 1/2 of Skirt Steak

13. Let second half rest for at least :10 mins

14. Slice AGAINST the grain – this means the lines on the steak run one way and you shall cut the other way

dinner marinated mexican style skirt steak grilled

This is EXACTLY how I like my meats

15. Serve…I served as part of a Mexican Tacos Fiesta with a great Tomatillo Salsa – recipe on that tomorrow!

As they say, timing is everything. Not sure what I’ll do on the real Cinco de Mayo…But, if anyone wants to come over for a Memorial Day Feast this Monday, let me know.

Swimming in Mustard: Halibut with Mustard Sauce

mustard sauce for fish whole foods dinner pescatarian

Halibut Swimming in Mustard

A few years back – this is my old-lady saying for the day – I was on a fishing trip in Florida. We might have gone out the night before until really late (old-lady late, like 11 or something) and we may have had some wine. All of this is irrelevent. Regardless, the 6:30am departure from the dock for a day of off-shore, deep sea, dolphin-fish fishing was a bit rough.

But, I grew up on boats and don’t have a tendency toward seasickness. So, really, I was just very tired.

halibut dinner mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian

We were not hunting Flipper!

We ventured out – way out – like a gillion miles offshore – to hunt down the coveted dolphin-fish – relax, not Flipper, the beloved Dolphin mammal.

The trip out to sea provided me with a much needed onboat nap.

I won’t tell a fisher-gal tale and lie about how many fish we caught. Cuz, we didn’t catch anything for a long, long time. Maybe we caught a handful (OK, two) fish that were too-small to keep…but no more than two.

heminway halibut mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian fish

Read it

Until the very end of the trip. At hour 5 as we were getting set to pull in the lines and head back to the dock, I hooked a dolphin-fish. The fish was a lively one, indeed. OK, it didn’t give me an ‘Islands In the Stream’ (Hemingay reference, not Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton, look it up) battle – But, it did give a bit of a fight. When I pulled the fish into the boat, both of us, the fish and I, were exhausted. The boat guys put the dolphin into the fish well and kept it alive as we motored back to the dock.

When we landed, the guys (they’re not called ‘gillies’ or ‘fish mongers’…not sure what they’re called) filleted the fish and put 3lbs of amazingly freshly caught dolphin fish into plastic bags. They directed us to a dock side restaurant where the chef would cook our catch to our specifications. Amazing concept – like living off the land, or the sea in this case.

One of our crew ordered her fish blackened and the other two of us ordered it meuniere. Within :30minutes of catching the fish, a chef was preparing it – just as we wanted it. Very cool…

Yeah, until I realized what had happened. I couldn’t eat it. Not a bite. This amazingly fresh, fish that I, myself, had caught.

And, neither could my Florida fishing pals.

One of them looked at me and said…’What’s wrong with us?’

And with great sadness for the fish I replied…’One minute you’re swimming in the ocean and the next minute, you’re swimming in butter.’

The timing was just too tight.

So, when planning a fish dinner, I highly recommend buying your fish at WholeFoods or a good fish place…Because catching and eating is just too sad.

Halibut With Mustard Sauce (serves 4)

Tiny Kitchen Tips:

  • Prepare the marinade ahead of time as you’ll need the counter space for the rest of your prep work AND it’s good for the flavors to meld together for a bit in the fridge
  • central park fireworks food recipe dinner halibut

    Dinner Entertainment

    If there’s an unexpected fireworks display out your window AND you’ve invited gays to dinner, be prepared to keep the meal warm while the boys marvel at the lights over Central Park

  • Get a tiny whisk – it’s like my fave new thing BECAUSE 1. it’s tiny and fits well in your limited drawer space 2. it’s incredibly useful for whisking together marinades in small bowls

Ingredients:

  • mustard halibut sauce dinner food pescatarian vegetarian

    Mise En Place

    1 1/2 – 1 1/3 lbs of Halibut (for the hell of it) Cut into 4 equally sized fillets. The halibut at WholeFoods was $22.50/lb yesterday, not bad for NYC

  • Sea salt and pepper – for the fish
  • 1 TSP salt for the sauce
  • 1/2 TSP pepper for the sauce
  • 8 ounces of Creme Fraiche – I bought some at WholeFoods or you can make your own
  • 3 TBSP Dijon Mustard
  • 1 TBSP Whole Grain Mustard
  • 2 TBSP Minced Shallots
  • 2 TSP Drained Capers

1. Whisk together with your tiny little baby whisk the two mustards, creme fraiche, shallots, capers and salt / pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least :30mins

mustard halibut marinade dinner vegetarian food

Use your tiny whisk here

mustard sauce for fish recipe food vegetarian pescatarian

MMMMustard Sauce

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

3. Line a baking dish with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper – expensive, but I love it

pan lining paper spinach balls recipe

Shiny on the bottom, parchment on the top

4. Place the fillets skin side down on the paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper

halibut with mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian dinner fish

See, my fillets weren’t all the same size. FAIL

5. Cover the fillets generously – more of a slather, really – with the mustardy sauce

halibut recipe dinner mustard sauce

Smothered in Sauce

6. Bake for :15 minutes…until the fish is flaky

7. Plate the fish – preferably on a sea-themed platter and spoon the sauce from the baking dish over the fish. The fish should be swimming in sauce

pescatarian recipe dinner food halibut sauce

Swimming in Mustard Sauce

8. Serve

I like fishing. I do. But, I really don’t need to catch anything and eat it. Maybe this is part of the evolution of man (woman)…We have WholeFoods. We don’t have to live off the land or the sea.

So, I’ll leave the fishing to the fisher-people. And, stick to what I know: I love a fish dish swimming in mustard as long as I didn’t find the fish first swimming in the ocean.