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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pressure Cooker Beef Stew and Individual Cheesecakes

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. My husband helps with dinner.


I know, I know, I am not in fact a superwoman capable of bringing home the bacon AND frying it up in the pan, my husband is in fact a huge help to me. The only real downside so far to the Dinner 365 challenge is that I haven't been letting him make dinner on the weekends as he has been accustomed to doing. He still helps me, jokingly calling himself my sous chef; he chops vegetables, starts water boiling, helps me get ingredients off the high shelves, that sort of thing. He's a very good cook himself so I count on him for bouncing ideas around and getting his opinion on any ingredient substitutions. We make a pretty good team that way.

I have been pretty ill off and on for a week, the baby has been sick and getting in bed with us at night. No one around here has slept much lately. Today we took the kids swimming with our good friends and soaked up some Keys sunshine (yay Florida winters) and when we got back I was beat. I accidentally fell asleep around 4 and woke up at 6 just befuddled. I scuttled into the kitchen to find my awesome husband had gotten dinner started already. Pressure cooker beef stew. And he had even remembered to look for the oldest stew meat in the freezer (by date on the bag) and to chop up our oldest vegetables first. I was so impressed. Then I happened to glance into the oven and there were 4 miniature cheesecakes cooking on a tray! Seriously, the man is a saint.

I think I told you that I had made my first sweet cheesecake yesterday, right? I forgot to mention that I had made a mistake with the cheesecake. After I pressed in the chocolate graham cracker crust I poured in the filling, and I got concerned because after only half the filling had gone in it was already up to the top of the crust! The crust mind you had only come halfway up the pan. Apparently forgetting ALL the cheesecakes I had ever eaten before that had only half a crust I panicked and quit pouring and baked it that way. I put the rest of the filling into a tupperware container and put it in the fridge. DH took the initiative and put the filling into well buttered tart pans and baked them, just to see if it would work. They are cooling in the fridge now and we may not get to eat them until tomorrow, but I will let you know if they come out. They look wonderful! The stew was great, I am almost sure I have written about it before, but if not here is the recipe again.

Take stew meat and roll it in seasoned (salt and pepper or even House Blend) flour and brown it in the bottom of your pressure cooker. Chop an onion and add that. Add a quart sized container of beef broth and a teaspoon of marjoram (or oregano) and a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce and place on the lid and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes, then release the pressure. Meanwhile chop up your favorite stew vegetables. We used carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic, and one can of chopped tomatoes (with the juice). We added the vegetables to the pressure cooker and cooked for another 5 minutes at high pressure. When the stew is done stir and taste and adjust seasoning. It will taste like it cooked all day, very, very good! Oh, DH added a few dashes of "Liquid smoke" seasoning as well and I thought it was a great addition. If you do not have a pressure cooker you can make the same stew in a crockpot on high for 4-6 hours or on the stove top in maybe an hour or two on medium heat.

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