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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thursday's Dinner: Chili in the Pressure Cooker and Cornbread

My daughter's softball practice/game take up the entirety of our evenings from 5-7, which means I give the kids a good snack before practice, they get a nice snack after the game and then they are ravening little wolves by the time we get home for dinner. I know I need to have food pretty much ready to go when they get back.

I almost made crockpot chili which is a really good busy night recipe, but due to unforseen circumstances with my toddler (total meltdown and nap refusal) I wasn't able to get dinner started until my older daughter got home at 4. Hence breaking out the old pressure cooker.

My particular pressure cooker is a Cuisinart brand, self contained pressure cooker. It does not go on the stove top but is an all in one gadget capable of cooking at high and low pressure, sauteeing, and has a "keep warm setting" that was going to be my salvation.

Pressure Cooker Chili:

1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 C (or more) of chopped onions

1 1/2 chopped bell peppers (any color)

1 C of frozen corn niblets

2 cans of black beans (or equivalent fresh beans)

1 small can of tomato sauce (and equivalent amount of water)

3 TB of chili powder

1 tsp of ground cumin

I coated the bottom of the pressure cooker in 1 Tb of olive oil and turned it on to sautee. I added my chopped onions and peppers and let them get fragrant, then I added my beef and got some quick color on it and broke it up with a wooden spoon, I added the spices and let them all cook for a minute or two. Then I added my tomato sauce, I had frozen some sauce last month so I added it in with an equal amount of water and put the lid on the pressure cooker and turned it all on for 5 minutes under high pressure. When I removed the lid I stirred in the beans and corn and put the lid back on under the "keep warm" setting and left.

When we got home the girls were filthy from the red clay infield so I sent them to the shower while I made a quick pan of corn bread. Some tips for making corn bread (whether from a mix or from scratch) is that you should preheat your oven and pan together. Put some fat in the pan (lard, olive oil, vegetable oil, bacon grease anything but butter really) and place it in the oven as it preheats. When you put your corn bread batter into the pan, having it preheated gives you that nice evenly browned bottom that is the hallmark of good corn bread. When the bread comes out of the oven, take a stick of butter and run it over the surface of the corn bread, then cut and serve! Awesomely delicious!

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