Update from Self-Quarantine —lost count what day…

Today, despite suffering from a flare of my TMJ due to concentrating too much this week (I grit my teeth when I am focused on a task), I am in a good mood. The summer term is over for my university teaching and my grading is done. I also received feedback on my dissertation draft and it is not as bad as I thought it would be. I still have to add some information to make it more cohesive, but four out of the five chapters are good. I seem to have gotten out of my slump when it came to being productive (don’t look at the laundry baskets waiting to be folded in the kitchen!).

So when my son asked if I wanted to make something in the kitchen, I thought why not? We experimented with baking a pie with filling from scratch. Sorry no recipe because we used two frozen deep dish pie crusts from Walmart and followed the directions for cook time from that. Everything else was a little of this and a little of that. We used the apples from my Misfits Market order…we had a lot of apples this time. The pie came out actually looking like a pie which I think is a first for us when it is not a Sara Lee frozen pie.

 



My house smells like Fall because of the pie and it has me thinking a lot about what the next couple of months will be like. It is way too humid out right now to enjoy the porch or the deck, so I am looking forward to cooler weather with the leaves changing. It is looking like we will still be social distancing. School will continue to be virtual, but my son will be a freshman…he will actually be driving in a couple of months. Scary!

While I would like to return to a semblance of normal, I don’t think we will ever return to the way things were before. Supermarkets gave me anxiety before the pandemic and now it is even worse. So I am thankful for Instacart and Walmart Grocery pickup. I have even setup some of non perishable things I routinely buy to automatically reorder every month from Amazon Prime.

As you know from reading previous posts, I love the concept of Hygge which is appreciating the joy that comes from life’s moments. I take more naps now, cook more at home, listen to music, play with the dogs, and spend time with my family. This is a time of reset and I appreciate that. Now I am going to grab a slice of pie!

Finding My Way Back On Track

If you were to only look at my site stats for November, you would see that I am having one of the best months ever…but I haven’t posted anything since the beginning of October. Most of my traffic is coming from recipe pins on Pinterest which makes sense since this is the type of weather where you just want to curl up with a bowl of soup or stew. In other words, it is Instant Pot weather and I have a lot of recipes for that. So why haven’t I posted anything? Well, it comes down to motivation and I have had a decided lack of it lately.Read More »

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

I am the only person in my house that likes Black Bean Soup. So when I make it, I don’t want a huge pot since I will be sick of it before I can finish it. Every recipe I find seems to call for dried beans and makes way too much. I wanted to see if I could make a simpler batch.

On Sunday, I made myself a small batch that portioned out perfectly for lunches during the week. Honestly, I did not plan on making this ahead of time. It was more looking in the pantry to see what I had and what I could make. I typically keep canned beans on hand and had the tomatoes and chilies just in case. Everything (except the dried cilantro) came from Aldi, so it was a cheap meal that has saved me the cost of lunches for a whole week. Win!

I will caution that I like spicy food. This has quite a kick to it. So if you follow the recipe exactly, be advised. I also did not account for the saltiness of the chips. Different brands might have different levels of salt. This is not exactly a dump soup recipe. Be aware that the same ingredients were added in stages in some places. However, it took under 30 minutes to make. It gave me enough for six servings. Plus everything came from my pantry!

My son even tried it, but it was too spicy for his tastes. You could leave out the chilies and just use tomatoes if you wanted something a little milder.

Materials:

Instant Pot 6qt Duo

Ingredients:

  • 3 12oz cans Black Beans
  • 1 10oz can Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dried Minced Onion
  • 1 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Salsa
  • 2 tbsp Dried Cilantro
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Tortilla Chips (optional)
  • Lime Juice (optional)

Procedure:

  1. In the Instant Pot, dump chicken broth, tomatoes and green chilies, all dry seasoning except for 1 tbsp dried cilantro, and 2 of the cans of black beans together. Set on Soup for 10 minutes.
  2. When soup is done, carefully release the vent on your Instant Pot. There will be a lot of steam, so be careful not to burn yourself.
  3. Take your immersion blender and carefully blend your ingredients together. Again, be careful! This is very hot. Don’t burn yourself!
  4. Add your salsa and the last can of beans. Stir. I like the texture this adds. Also add that last tbsp of dried cilantro. I love cilantro, so the more the better for me.
  5. Serve your soup with crushed tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. You could also add a squirt of lime juice if you have it. Enjoy!

Just a Little Sunday Morning Jewelry DIY

It is a bit dreary out today, but I love it because, except for the wind blowing in the trees, all is quiet. So I got out a stash of jewelry supplies I have picked up with coupons recently at Michael’s. You can typically always find a coupon using the phone app for Michael’s and, if you share your email, they will even send you bonus coupons to your inbox.

These items came from two separate trips which meant I got to use a 25% whole purchase coupon as well as a 50% on one item coupon. They are a mix of semi-precious stones and glass stones with the most expensive item being that 14k gold chain for the dark blue stone. Honestly, my pictures here are not doing the stones justice.

Most of these pendants also came from the clearance section of the store. I always check out that section for great deals. Sometimes I mix and match during that same shopping trip of items from clearance matched with items on sale or at regular price (I always use coupons!). As soon as I saw the chain with the small brown beads in the clearance section, I knew I wanted to pair it with an owl pendant. They had the perfect one on sale in another section. I have two more semi-precious stones that I didn’t have chains for, but they were only $2 each so I couldn’t pass them up. Into my stash they went. For all four necklaces, the cost came to about $30. That is less than $10 a necklace!

I love the Bead Gallery collection even though the tags don’t identify what the stones are other than semi-precious. Honestly, I don’t really care if the stones are real. I only care that they are pretty. The blue semi-precious stone with the gold is a nice addition to my collection as I tend toward silver pieces, so I am trying to open up my accessories a little to include gold. I love that Amethyst (that one did have a identifying tag since it from a different collection, so I know the stone). I paid full price, well discounted with a coupon, but it is so pretty how it fades to a brownish purple color. The sea glass stone is also such a pretty blue green color. That owl pendant is such a fun piece. It reminds me of the owl from the original Clash of the Titans movie.

I have a whole stash of loose gems and semi-precious stones that I inherited from my father. He used to order stones from overseas with the plan of one day turning them into jewelry. My mother found a box last month and gave them to me. She is convinced there is more in the house. So I might get another box if she finds it. My goal for this summer it to learn how to set them so I can turn them into pendants like the ones pictured.

I also love taking apart thrift store jewelry and repurposing it for something new. I highly recommend if you want to update your accessory collection, check out thrift stores and craft stores!

Faux-tisserie Chicken via the Instant Pot

I love getting creative with food. It is one of my go to small “c” everyday types of creativity. I have not really been discussing my blog much with friends, but I shared my beef stew recipe with a friend who wanted to know what my favorite goto recipes were for the Instant Pot. She didn’t realize at first that the link I sent her for this blog was actually my blog. When I told her that you can also use the IP to make rotisserie style chicken, she requested that for the next post. So here is my Faux-tisserie Chicken recipe. Enjoy!

Materials:

  • Instant Pot 6qt Duo
  • Instant Pot Trivet
  • Tongs
  • Knife
  • Small bowl
  • Measuring Cup
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Cutting Board
  • Paper Towel

Ingredients:

  • Whole Chicken (small enough to fit in your inner pot)
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp Parsley
  • 1/4 tsp crushed dried Rosemary
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary
  • Olive Oil ( see instructions for amount)

Instructions:

  1. Remove the gizzards from the inside of your chicken. Depending on the brand, you might not have this in yours, but don’t forget to check!
  2. Pour a small amount of Olive Oil onto a paper towel. Use this to rub the skin of the chicken with oil. The amount of oil used depends on the size of your bird. Don’t skip this step though or you will have trouble with the next step!
  3. Turn your IP onto Sauté mode. When heated, place your chicken in the inner pot for 3-4 minutes. Then flip the bird over and repeat for the other side. Be careful not to burn the skin! See this is why I told you to grease up that bird…did you skip that part and now have your chicken stuck to the bottom of your pot?
  4. Turn off your IP and carefully remove the chicken from the IP inner pot using tongs. Place on cutting board.
  5. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze juice onto the chicken. Stuff the squeezed rinds inside the chicken.
  6. Cut the onion into fourths. Stuff the inside of the chicken with the onion.
  7. Stuff Rosemary sprigs inside the chicken.
  8. Mix your dry spices together in a small bowl. Rub this spice mixture all over your chicken.
  9. Pour chicken broth into the IP inner pot. Place your trivet inside the pot.
  10. Return the chicken to the inner pot, breast side up on top of the trivet.
  11. Close lid and seal the vent. Set on Manual on High for 25 minutes. NPR for 15 minutes.
  12. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the IP to a serving dish.
  13. Let rest before serving. —You could also place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes if you want crispier skin. As you can see, we thought it was good as is…

*Optional*

You will have liquid leftover in the pot. Turn your IP back to Sauté. Mix water with cornstarch. When boiling, pour the cornstarch mixture into the liquid while stirring with a whisk. This makes a great gravy. Adjust the amount of cornstarch depending on how thick you want your gravy. The thicker the mixture, the thicker your gravy. I used 1/4 cup cornstarch to one cup water.