Egg Bites

I have to write this, because I’m now making egg bites in the Instant Pot for the third or fourth time, and each time, I scour a variety of recipes online and never find just one to follow. Several call for cottage cheese or other ingredients that I never have on hand, and just frankly aren’t what sounds good. So I make it up each time, and each time I wonder what I did the previous time. Fixing that now.

These days (now that I’m back at work), I make a big batch at a time to store in the freezer. That way, I can grab a couple for an easy breakfast for Gabriel and me before we head out the door to daycare. It took me a while to figure out the best reheating method, and I’m still not sure I’ve perfected it (so send me all your tips!). My current method is to put a cloth napkin (or paper towel) in a bowl, add the frozen egg bites (I usually do three at a time, two for me and one for Gabriel), and cover them with the cloth. Then I microwave for 1:45 (okay, 1:44 because I’m lazy). The cloth absorbs the liquid that would otherwise collect at the bottom of the plate/bowl, but the egg bites aren’t too dry.

I have two silicone trays, each with 7 molds, and my goal is to make two sets. Most recipes I see online are for one tray/7 molds, so essentially, I’m making a quadruple recipe. However, both times I’ve done that, it’s actually produced five trays (or 35 individual egg bites).

It contains:

  • 20 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup vegetable (today I used shredded Brussels sprouts, but I’ve used spinach and red pepper in the past)
  • Spice (I think paprika would be good, but we have rosemary today that needs to be used, so I cut up maybe… 1-2 tablespoons… and added that)
  • 1 lb sausage, cooked

Steps:

  1. Cool sausage on stovetop, crumbling as you go.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to scramble eggs.
  3. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup (or your tool of choice) to scoop the mixture and pour it into the molds. Fill each mold about 2/3 high, maybe a little less.
  4. Add a spoonful (like, a regular eating spoon, roughly teaspoon sized but, you know, bigger, especially for those you like me who have silverware from Pottery Barn) of sausage crumbles.
  5. Pour 1 cup water into Instant Pot. Add trivet to hold silicone tray off the bottom, and put first tray on trivet with its top slightly askew. Add the second silicone tray directly on top of the top of the first one, also with its top slightly askew.
  6. Close the lid. Pressure cook on high for 8 minutes and either release the steam after five minutes of natural release, or just let it totally release naturally.
  7. Remove trays, turn molds upside down on top of a cooling rack. (I put a sheet pan underneath to catch any drips). Let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Wrap each egg bit in some parchment paper and throw into a gallon-sized ziplock bag. The parchment doesn’t stay around it perfectly, but whatever, it mostly keeps the egg bites separate from each other.
  9. Repeat with the rest of the mixture as many times as it takes to finish it.

Now a note on trays. I bought this Instant Pot set, and I separately bought these silicone trays. The silicone tray that came in the set is far superior to the trays in the second order. I don’t use any non-stick stuff, but the egg bites fall easily out of that tray. Also, it is slightly firmer and just generally seems to have more structural integrity. I tried to look into whether that tray can be bought alone, because I’d like another like it and to get rid of my other ones. Egg gets caught in them and I end up with 80% of an egg bit instead of a whole one. But no luck. Sigh.

 

Cauliflower Potato Sausage Collard Soup

Well. I guess I could use a better name for this soup, but that’s not my skill set. It’s finally feeling like Fall here in Baltimore, and thank God, because I hate hot, muggy weather and I was getting depressed. (Aside: Dan and I took our first trip together without Gabriel. We went to Moab for five nights and mountain biked, hiked, and rock climbed. And missed Gabriel. It was 95 degrees in Baltimore the day before we left, but it’s been in the 70s or lower since we got back, thank GOD.) Also, I love soup. And Fall activities. Like all of the Fall activities at Gaver Farm where my mom and I took Gabriel last Saturday. And football games. And camping (which we’re doing this weekend).

I’ve said before that I don’t write recipes, and that’s true, but there wasn’t really any single inspiration for this soup, I kinda just made it. My inspirations were: an abundance of russet potatoes from a large Costco bag that were starting to go bad; a beautiful head of cauliflower from our From the Farmer bag; an equally beautiful bunch of rainbow chard from that same bag, made less beautiful in my eyes by the fact that I didn’t have a plan for it and didn’t know what to do with it; and a little bit this recipe that I had seen several days before and had been thinking about.

I’d baked the potatoes the previous day just to have done something with them (to hopefully delay the going-bad process). For this soup, I partially peeled them (partially rather than fully mostly due to laziness) and cut them up. I roasted the whole head of cauliflower in some olive oil at about 350 for 30 minutes. I chopped up one small onion and the white and light green parts of maybe 6 green onions. I peeled 4 cloves of garlic. I chopped the bunch of chard. And I defrosted my last almost-quart of bone broth.

I sautéed the onions in olive oil, then pressed in the garlic. Then I added the potatoes and roasted cauliflower. I added the broth, but it wasn’t enough to cover the vegetables, so I added water til they were mostly covered. I also added in 3/4 cup coconut milk for some creaminess. I would have used heavy cream if I had it or was going to the store, but I didn’t. I let that come to an almost boil, then I used my immersion blender to get it all pretty smooth. Meanwhile, I also cooked one pound of pork sausage in my cast iron skillet.

After it was smooth, I added salt and pepper til it tasted right, and then I emptied my entire spice cabinet looking for Italian seasoning. Turns out, we’re out. So I put in some pinches of dried tarragon, basil, rosemary, and thyme, and some red pepper flakes. Then I added in the sausage and chard and stirred and stirred. Then I added lemon juice – first just from 1/2, then the other 1/2, then a whole other. It might have a liiiiiitle too much lemon in the end, but maybe not.

I ate what didn’t fit into the four Tupperware dishes I’d gotten out for storage. I garnished with cheese and the green parts of green onions, and I dare say it was quite good.

Roasted Carrots

Sometimes, the most basic of things is the best.

Quite a while ago (definitely weeks, and maybe months), I bought a very large bag of carrots. I don’t dislike carrots, but I don’t really like them either. Even though I gave up peeling them years ago, I still find them a lot of work. I usually scrub, since I don’t peel. They’re so hard, you really have to chew them. They’re annoying in salads (they fall to the bottom, they’re tough to chew, etc.) unless you shred them, and that’s a lot of work. But Dan likes carrots a lot. However, I was overly optimistic about Dan’s ability to go through this huge bag, and four large carrots sat in our drawer for a very long time.

They were still there when my mother, before her arrival from Mexico, asked me to have carrots on hand for her during her visit. I didn’t want to offer her weeks- (or months?-) old carrots, so I wanted to buy new ones for her, but I also didn’t want to throw away food that might still be edible. So I did what I often do with vegetables I don’t otherwise know what to do with or particularly like: I roasted them.

Wow.

I Googled roasted carrots just to get a sense of cooking times and temperature (someday I will trust my gut on these things, but not yet) and found this recipe from Delish. Chopping was chopping. No getting around that part. But super quick toss with olive oil, spread on a pan, bake, and voila. I didn’t stir them partway through or anything.

They were delicious! Have I never had roasted carrots before? Is there something magical about Delish’s time/temperature combination? I ate half with some tahini thinking I would save the other half for later, or for my son, but nope. Ate them too. Yes, that’s four carrots, all eaten very quickly.

That was a couple weeks ago now. I just made a second batch – not because I had carrots laying around, but because I was craving them. I cut them in coins instead of diagonal across as the recipe recommends (and as I did the first time), and I left them in the oven after baking for a while because I was busy with other things, and I admit they are a little overdone. Still tasty, though. This is probably a new every-time-of-year favorite, but definitely a new Fall favorite. 🎃 🥕 🍁

Smoky Chicken Salad

As evidenced by this post and this post, I am clearly, though begrudgingly, a fan of chicken salad. I also recently made a curried chicken salad from Week 6 of Cook Once, Eat All Week, which I didn’t document. (It was good, but maybe not as good as the curried chicken salad that my friend’s mom made for a post-Frederick-half-marathon picnic we had at Black Ankle Winery in May… yum.) I still think of it as a novelty and something that I don’t really like, but I should probably officially put it in the regular rotation, because I do like it. It’s versatile (Put it on lettuce! On bread! On other vegetables! Eat it fresh, eat it as leftovers, as a main, as a side, etc.) and delicious. And there are so many different ways to make it and flavors! I don’t have a favorite.

Most recently, I made the Smoky Chicken Salad from Diane Sanfilippo’s 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide. I have not done the 21 Day Sugar Detox, but I considered it once. I don’t know, my days of food elimination/reintroduction programs (or food programs in general) may be over. I learned a lot from my various Whole30s and the Fed&Fit project and other programs, but I’m not sure I have much more to learn, and now it just feels like unnecessary deprivation and a head game.

Anyway, the chicken salad! I was poking through the Daily Guide the other day to get some meal inspiration, and this chicken salad was the second day’s recommended lunch. It used Diane’s own recipe for a smoky spice blend, which used both smoky and sweet paprika, among other spices. Which was perfect, because my parents recently did a river cruise in Europe and brought me back both types of paprika. The spice blend also included chili powder, so it was a little spicy! We didn’t give any to Gabriel. He’s realized recently that more-than-very-mildly spicy food makes him cranky. The recipe also included other standards – mayo, red onion, and celery. No fruit.

And it was good! I tripled the recipe from the book (which was only for two servings), so we had it in the fridge for a few days. I ate some on homemade sourdough (yep, doing that again – I finally let my previous starter that I had for 8 years die, but I’ve started another), on lettuce, and by itself. Dan brought it on a sandwich to work several nights – and even praised it. I think he also thinks he doesn’t like chicken salad and is surprised when he finds he does.

 

In other food news, at the top I mentioned Cook Once, Eat All Week, which I’ve been really enjoying! Maybe I’ll do a post on it, but in the meantime, just know that it’s worth it, buy it. #notsponsored, duh, I’m not that cool. It takes the planning/thinking out of what to do for dinner most nights of the week, and I’ve been able to manage most of the prep during nap time on the weekends (was able to do even before I quit my job).

Did I mention, I quit my job?! I’m currently funemployed and going back to a full time job (still with the government, still in health policy,  but now in Baltimore instead of DC!) in November.

Cheers!

Colorado Mountains and Dump Ranch

A few weekends ago, we flew to Denver so that I could co-host a celebratory weekend for my sister, who is getting married in May. I left my baby and my husband with my parents and my sister’s fiancé in Denver, and I drove with my sister and four of her good friends into the mountains to stay at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort for the night. It was beautiful, and my sister’s friends were so generous. I’d rented a cabin with a kitchen, and I’d asked them to bring food for dinner and breakfast rather than planning to eat at the resort’s restaurant. (Since I was flying in late the night before, I didn’t have the time or availability to pick up groceries.) They contributed beautiful charcuterie, a lovely salad (with edible flowers!), adult beverages, tasty fruit and yogurt and granola. It was amazing. One of the women was doing a Whole30, and her enthusiasm for a few recipes AND her InstantPot stuck with me past the weekend, and I made most of her suggestions (several in the InstantPot!) the following week back at home.

Mt. Princeton Hot Springs was lovely. We stayed in a cabin with two bedrooms plus an upstairs loft with two queen beds. It had a mostly stocked kitchen, but no oven. The temperature got down into the twentys overnight, and was maybe 30-50 throughout the day.

We arrived around 3pm, had some snacks and drinks, and made our way to the hot springs. There are several pools and also creekside areas that are heated from below by the hot spring water. We tried some of the smaller pools and the creek (which was nicer in idea than in practice). It was super crowded, which was a bit unfortunate, but we still had plenty of room to enjoy ourselves.

After that, we ate dinner and played games in the cabin.

The next morning, after breakfast and packing up, we spent several hours at the pools again before heading departing. I got a sunburn wearing a bathing suit sitting by a hot spring pool in 35 degree weather! Colorado is so weird.

Before heading home, we drove a few miles in the wrong direction to Buena Vista, CO for lunch. I hadn’t been to Buena Vista in probably 15 years or more (since high school), and there was a totally new area called South Main with cute homes and shops and restaurants down by the river. We ate at Eddyline Restaurant, sitting outside on the porch, and it was delicious. The right side of my body got more sunburned. I had the pork posole and brewery burger on lettuce instead of a bun (it actually came wrapped in some kind of green leaf that way). Green chile and grilled prosciutto might sound a little strange together, but it was so good.

The first recipe I made that my sister’s friend recommended was the Dump Ranch. Apparently this is a Whole30 thing that I was previously unfamiliar with. I’d made homemade ranch dressing, I think from Cassy Joy’s Fed&Fit book before, but I’d never heard the term ‘dump ranch.’ I think there’s a lot of recipes out there for it, but my sister’s friend recommended this one from 40 Aprons. I maaaaaay have used this as an excuse to by a larger measuring cup that I could use my immersion blender in. It worked great, and the ranch was delicious.

I was skeptical before trying the stuff my sister’s friend made, because she’d told me the oil is avocado oil. I find Whole30 compliant mayo hard, because I *hate* the taste of avocado oil, apparently. I’ve been able to handle Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil mayonnaise in the past, but I don’t love it. However, I couldn’t taste the flavor that I hate in this dressing. My sister’s friend showed me which oil she used (Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil), and my sister confirmed that there are two types of avocado oil: light and dark. I think Primal Kitchen makes both. The light stuff (which I used, which was the right choice) is in a square shaped bottle. The darker stuff is in a circular bottle, and is extra virgin. It’s probably better for you… but the flavor is too strong! Anyway, it was fine! No bad flavor. Just delicious ranch dressing.

The recipe at 40 Aprons says to use it within one week. I have not. I still have some in my fridge, which at this point I should throw out. Going to do that now…

 

 

Instant Pot Pot Roast

[Mostly written in January 2019, posted way late :/] I finally got an Instant Pot! Well, we got it – my husband and me, from my husband’s parents for Christmas. I’ve been considering it for at least two years… I see so many people rave about it. But I wasn’t sure what it would add over my existing kitchen implements. Now that I have an infant, though, and less time to cook, I thought it was finally time to get one and cut down on cooking time.

I’m still learning how to use it. The first two things I did were steamed broccoli and steamed artichokes. The artichokes were a little over steamed and the broccoli was way over steamed. And I’m not sure it cuts out time for steaming. Maybe for the artichokes it did. Then I made butternut squash soup. This went better. I’m not totally sure it was less work/time than making it in a Dutch oven, but it was pretty easy and quick.

And then today, I made a pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and onions. I had a 2.5 lb bottom round roast from Butcher Box. I looked up a recipe to make it in the Instant Pot and found this one from La Creme de la Crumb, which also called for carrots and potatoes – two things I had on my counter and needed a plan for. Check.

I used chicken stock, because that’s what I had on hand, and only 3 cups because that’s what I had and I forgot to add an extra cup of water until after I’d closed the lid and the pressure was building. My roast was smaller than in the recipe, so I hoped it would be ok. It was. I also did the pressure cooking step for 55 minutes instead of 60-80, again since my roast was smaller. I actually think this was a bad decision and that the meat would have benefited from a little more cooking time. It was a litttttttle tough to shred. But I didn’t need to shred it a ton, just into chunks.

It was so nice to do all the steps in one pot! And I made gravy! I’ve never made gravy. Clean up was super easy. I didn’t have to watch or stir or check or anything (except a bit during the gravy-making stage). It still took a while, but would’ve taken way longer on the stove or in the oven. I’m hooked.

I ate it for dinner over some kale to get some greens in. I meant to give Gabriel some of the meat to suck on when I fed him solids for dinner, but I forgot.

We had leftovers for several meals. I’m not sure pot roast ever has been or will be a favorite meal of mine, but I would definitely consider doing it in the Instant Pot again!

Pork Spare Ribs

Y’all, it’s been a minute, I know. This motherhood thing is… all consuming. It was all consuming when I was on maternity leave, and it’s all consuming now that I’m back at work. It takes up almost all of my ‘free’ time. I’ve written a few notes about it that maybe I’ll put up here, but they’re sort of the opposite of sunshine and roses, so we’ll see. But in any case, the lack of much free time means, among many other things, that food has defaulted to:

1) Convenience deliveries: HelloFresh, PrimeNow groceries, SmoothieBox (highly recommend all).

2) And/or (usually and) other people making it.

3) Or ordering in.

But occasionally I get it together enough to make something. Usually while watching the baby monitor like a hawk for signs that Gabriel is waking up from a nap:

We’ve had some spare ribs in the freezer from ButcherBox for a few months. Last time I tried to make ribs (my first time ever), I used a dry rub. I didn’t know any better. I don’t know if I’d ever even eaten ribs, though I’ve seen Dan do it plenty. They turned out… okay. Tough. Dry. Boo. So I’m trying a wet rub this time. I searched for a paleo recipe because that’s a shortcut for finding recipes with alternatives to (or no) sugar. I found this one from Every Last Bite. I was able to make the sauce while Gabriel played (and cried some) on the floor. I put it all in a medium pot and used my immersion blender to blend it together. Then I put that in the fridge (pot and all) until Gabriel was down for a nap, and then I was able to season and smother the ribs and set the crockpot to low for 8 hours.

I also used Gabriel’s nap time to make this BBQ sauce from Civilized Caveman, which I’ll use when I cook a 6 lb ButcherBox pork butt on Friday to make pulled pork. It’s a BBQ kind of day, I guess.

We went to a tree farm an hour away in the afternoon to take professional family photos (not a thing I’ve typically done, but why not with a 6 month old?) and get a tree! Fun. And the ribs were nearly done when we got home.

I popped them in the over per the recipe, and we enjoyed them with steamed broccoli and leftover rice from last night’s order-in from Himalayan House.

They were good! Better than the time I made the dry rub. Tastier and definitely more moist and falling off the bone. The flavor was good, spicy, a little sweet from the dates. Not sure it’s the same as commercial/ restaurant BBQ sauce if that’s what you’re expecting, but I wouldn’t really know since I’ve never ordered ribs before. I thought it was really good and am glad we have leftovers!