Electric Pressure Cooker

Things I love about my new electric pressure cooker:
1) Vegetarian Delight - Beans cook from dry (no soaking!) in 25 minutes or less without any tending.  At around $.60 a pound dried, they beat the pants off the $.60 for 14 oz cans and have no pre-added salt.
2) Forget about it! - Throw it all in the pot, dial in your cook time and pressure setting, press start (takes exponentially longer if you forget this step), and then go watch TV or enjoy playing with your kids. Listen for a beep, vent steam from cool and safe plastic valve, and serve. Seriously. That's it.
3) I want it fast, but I don't want it now...  hey, a delay timer!  - Self-explanatory. Who doesn't love walking in the house to a finished meal?
4) Go ahead and splurge on other things! - Raw ingredients = cheaper = healthier = happier.
5) The possibilities are endless. - You can cook almost anything to moist perfection with very little effort.  Not to mention that traditional pressure cooker cookbooks (which have been around for about half a century) easily adapt to this easier option. I even have two cookbooks on my Kindle currently. Nothing like hopping a quick bookmark to my favorite recipe!
If I sound like an infomercial, I wish. Maybe someone from Fagor could pay me for this shameless plug?
No? Well - info for the benefit of family and friends anyway.
This has been one of the best investments I have ever made. I love it!


Corn Bread

A gluten-free alternative to a traditional corn bread recipe, this was delicious and moist from the very start.
I got the recipe from someone on allrecipes.com, but definitely wanted to share it with you here with a few minor changes to make it my idea of tried-and-true.  I served it with Grandma Ellen's chili and it was a hit!
Also: Try my "one bowl" method below!  A lot of recipes require two bowls to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining.  This is to save your tastebuds from a shock of salt or baking powder in a lump, but my one-bowl method solves that.
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise (don't use low-fat!) 
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup yellow cornmeal
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk egg with mayonnaise, buttermilk, and oil in a large bowl.  Without stirring, pour the following in order into the bowl one on top of the other: cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt.  It will look like a little mountain - flatten it with a fork to help it not fall down into the wet mixture as you add ingredients.  With the top of your ingredient mountain flat, mix the 3 top ingredients with a fork into the cornmeal.  Once the white items evenly distribute into the yellow cornmeal, THEN mix the wet items from the bottom into the entire combination.  The mixture should look airy and light.  Pour into a greased, round baking dish or cast iron skillet and bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown on the top.  Watch the time closely as it will burn easily!
PS - I'm going to attempt to put together a recipe for Grandma Ellen's chili. I have never run into a recipe with more "to taste" instructions than this one so I'm going to try to narrow the science down a bit and post it.  It is definitely NOT a vegetarian entree!


Creamy Tomato Soup!

Vegetarian! Delicious! Inexpensive: around $2 a pot.
I served this last night with grilled cheese sandwiches and butter round (Ritz off-brand) crackers and it was a crowd pleaser; even my 2 year old liked dipping his sandwich and crackers in the soup.  Feel free to sub fresh spices for dried if you don't mind having chewy bits. This recipe creates a smooth consistency similar to the leading canned brand.
2 Cans Tomato Sauce (unflavored)
1 Cup Water
1/2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/2 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
Pinch of ground italian seasonings (just a pinch! this isn't marinara!)
1 tsp Salt (to taste)
Several dashes of pepper (to taste)
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
Pour tomato sauce, water, and all seasonings in a pan. On low heat warm until very hot. Don't rush this with high heat or you'll be splattered by tomato bubbles.  Season to taste, add a little more salt or pepper, then add the cream cheese with a whire wisk.  Be patient and stir it until it's all melted smooth.  Serve hot!  Makes about five big bowls. This soup reheats really well.
PS - Trying "Grandma Ellen's" Chili recipe today!


Oh Orville, You Pop! I mean Rock!

Orville Redenbacher's Pop up Bowl - Popcorn Bowls are genius!

Also - can I offer that it is even more "green" to use these popcorn bowl/bags?

Instead of popping a bag of popcorn then transferring it to a bowl, which then has to use water and soap to wash, the bag itself opens conveniently up and then gets disposed of as you normally would with any bag.

Also - it's paper - so I'm pretty sure this would also be a recyclable item.  Sure, it's greener probably to purchase your own separate popcorn kernels and oil, but if you're a microwave popcorn junkie, then this is a "better" option.

Anyway - review? Fantastic invention, convenient, delicious, fun! Enjoy!



Black Bean Veggie Burgers

You may consider this recipe tried-and-true! We had these for dinner last night along with some tortilla chips and spicy cheese dip and the whole meal left me feeling satisfied, but not heavy. Lovely!
A warning on the texture - if you can get your mix dry enough (using bread crumbs) to resemble uncooked hamburger meat, without it falling apart when pressed into a patty, you'll have the best results.  I think the key is in the chunkiness of the beans. Worse case scenario, they have a nice burger-like outside layer and then may have a bit of pastiness inside. All in all it's still not unpleasant and the flavor is great.
During the process I said "THIS is how easy this is? Why haven't I done this before?" I hope you enjoy it too!
Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Makes about 4 patties.
2 cups cooked/canned black beans, drained well
1/3+ C. bread crumbs (approximate)
1 clove minced garlic
1/3 cup minced onion (about half an onion)
1 egg
Olive Oil
Seasoned Salt
In a food processer, mince onion and garlic together.  Add beans, egg, and bread crumbs and pulse until beans are roughly chopped and mixture is combined.  Dumb into a bowl, stir to make sure all ingredients are well mixed, and add more bread crumbs if necessary to make a packable, but dryer mixture.  You still want moist patties to form, so add a little at a time.  Warm olive oil in a pan and cook patties until one side is very browned and add a dash of seasoned salt before flipping.  Flatten the patties with the spatula when you flip for a more burger-like look. Sprinkle a little seasoned salt on cooked side of the patty.  Keep the oil replenished in the pan as you cook - these will not have any fat in them, so this is important for proper cooking.  I served the cooked burgers topped with melted cheese on flatbread, whole-grain buns with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
Tip: Add a splash of worcestershire sauce to the mix if you want a "beefier" flavor.