Brunch, anyone?

Wikipedia says: “Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, and regularly has some form of alcoholic drink served with it. It is usually served anytime before 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The word is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch.”

I’ll just say that a weekend brunch is one of my favorite things to do. It’s fun to mix it up a bit and get family and friends together to enjoy a meal during the day, rather than a later dinner.

This recipe is my version of a pretty basic breakfast casserole that my Mom used to make. It’s eggy, bready, cheesy and the best part is, you can pretty much throw as many add-ins as you want and it still turns out delicious!

Breakfast Casserole | Serves 6

Start to finish: about an hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf white bread, chopped
  • 9 large eggs
  • 6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 3 Cups milk (I used 1%)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 package frozen Brown & Serve breakfast sausages
  • Additional add-ins (if desired): frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry), cooked sliced mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, or cooked chopped bacon or ham.
  • Serve with maple syrup or ketchup.

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix up eggs, milk, salt, pepper and melted butter in a bowl.
  3. Place a layer of chopped bread into your baking dish. Top with meat and cheese, repeat until your ingredients are used up and your casserole is piled high.
  4. Gently pour egg mixture over bread/cheese/meat. Let sit 15 mins to soak in.
  5. Bake for 45-55 mins or until casserole is golden brown and puffed.
  6. Top with maple syrup or ketchup and serve.

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

My original plan for this recipe was to just throw it all in my Crock Pot and let it do its thing while I went to work, but time got away from me that morning and then I thought – “I bet I can do this in the Instant Pot”!

So I started Googling. I found lots of great recipes online, but some featured different cuts of pork, some had a lot of extra ingredients (that I didn’t have on hand), so I settled on creating my own mashup of the parts of a few recipes that I liked and it turned out great! What I like most about the Instant Pot version is the crusty bits that you can only get from searing the meat prior to cooking. I find that when I slow-cook this (even if I sear ahead of time), it ends up being a bit waterlogged and bland. This recipe has a great texture, gets nice and stringy and is full of great barbeque flavor.

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6 on slider buns

• 3lb Pork shoulder roast
• 2 Cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
• 1-1/2 Cups water
• 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Seasoning Rub – you can use this, or a packaged version:
• 2 TBS dark brown sugar
• 1tsp red pepper flakes
• 1tsp garlic powder
• 2tsp onion powder

Browse through the slide show to see before, during and after!

How To:
Total time, about an hour.

  1. Turn on Instant Pot to Sauté Mode and allow to get ‘HOT’; add olive oil.
  2. Combine seasoning rub ingredients in a small bowl. Trim excess fat off pork shoulder and cut into 3 large/even chunks. Coat each piece with seasoning rub and place into Instant Pot.
  3. While pork is browning, combine 1 cup of your barbeque sauce with the water. Remove pork from Instant Pot and set aside on a plate when browned on all sides.
  4. Deglaze pot- pour BBQ sauce/water mixture into pot and scrape browned bits from the bottom. Add pork back to pot and cover with lid with vent on ‘sealing’.
  5. Set time to 40 minutes on high pressure (with keep warm off) and when done allow for a 10 minute natural release. Flip vent to remove any additional pressure before opening.
  6. Shred pork with 2 forks and add in remaining barbeque sauce. Serve on buns with pickles and coleslaw. Enjoy!

Oven (or grill!) Potato Pouches 🥔

This is one of those throw-it-in-and-forget-about-it kind of sides! The end result is a creamy/crispy/flavorful side dish that goes with just about anything (we had ours with steaks). Feel free to experiment with the spices and pouch contents! Some ideas using the same process:

  • Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon & brown sugar
  • Yukon gold potatoes with parsley
  • Russets with bacon in the pouch!

Potato Pouches – serves 4

  • 4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves freshly crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each dried herbs – rosemary, thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Aluminum foil
  • How to:
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Slice potatoes about 1/4″ thick.
    3. Line a sheet pan with a full sheet of foil, spray with cooking spray.
    4. Place potatoes and garlic in the center of the foil and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper.
    5. Cut up butter and place on top of potatoes.
    6. Tear a second piece of foil and place on top of potatoes. Bring up sides and cinch together to make a sealed pouch.
    7. Bake for 35 minutes (or 20-30 mins, flipping every 15 mins, on a hot grill).

    Air Fried Sweet Potato Fries

    It doesn’t get easier than this! 🍠

    Serves 3-4 • 20 minute cook time

    What you’ll need:

    • 2-3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed with skins on
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons Trader Joes Everyday Seasoning (or any other seasoning blend you like)

    How to:

    1. Preheat air fryer to 380° F for 5 minutes.
    2. Cut sweet potatoes into strips as shown above. Make sure they’re as close to the same size as possible so they cook evenly.
    3. Toss sliced potatoes with olive oil and seasonings and add to air fryer basket.
    4. Set timer for 10 minutes, shake basket, then set for another 10 minutes at 380°.

    Crispy Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks

    Getting right to the recipe with this one because you need to add these drumsticks to your meal rotation stat! Super easy, and all done in about 30 mins. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside!

    Crispy Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks

    Serves: 3-4

    Start to finish: 35 mins

    What you’ll need:

    • 6 chicken drumsticks
    • Seasoning of choice (I use Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning on everything)
    • Nonstick spray

    How to:

    1. Spray fryer basket with nonstick spray.
    2. Place chicken in basket, season, and cook at 400°F for 15 minutes (I also hit the chicken button on my Cosori air fryer).
    3. Flip and cook another 15 minutes or until crispy and internal temp reaches 165°F.
    4. Remove at coat with with your favorite sauce – we did buffalo and bbq!

    Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

    This is literally a “set it and forget it” meal! What’s better than cooking an entire meal all at once and having it ready before you even get home??

    The best part about beef stew in the slow cooker is that it’s very forgiving. You can add more or less of the meat and veggies, and even throw in some extras like mushrooms or celery. Follow my steps below for a great beef stew.

    This little packet is my go-to secret when I make beef stew or pot roast. I use the same flavor pack for both because the pot roast version just has a great meaty, savory flavor that I haven’t been able to replicate with my own blend of herbs and broth, so don’t judge! 

    Prep veggies and place into the pot. Add the meat and mix together. Then, pour seasoning mix over the top – that’s seriously it!

    Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

    Serves 4-6 (more if you serve a side like egg noodles or bread. To make less, just cut down on the quantity of ingredients, same cooking time).

    Start to Finish: 8.5 hours

    What you’ll need:

    • 2-3 lbs stew beef
    • 2 large russet potatoes (or 3-4 red potatoes), chopped into even chunks
    • 3-4 carrots peeled and chopped
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 1 cup water
    • Crock Pot seasoning (or herbs/spices of choice)

    How to:

    1. Clean and prep veggies, place in empty slow cooker.
    2. Add stew meat to the slow cooker.
    3. Pour water/herb/spice mixture over meat and veggies, stir well.
    4. Set slow cooker to 8 hours on low and give it a good stir when done. Enjoy!

    Air Fried Frozen Chicken Strips

    One of our new air fryer favorites! While it’s just as easy to bake these, it’s really nice not heating up a whole oven, especially when we’ve had some really warm weather. What made this even easier as an air-frying newbie was that Perdue printed air fryer instructions right on the bag (THANK YOU)!

    IMG_4361   1111

    I use the Cosori 5.8qt Air Fryer, and I was able to fit the whole bag in the basket – perfect for a family meal! I only increased the time by 2-3 minutes to accommodate more chicken and they did not disappoint. The outside was super crispy and the inside was perfectly cooked. I would imagine you can use this guide for any brand of chicken strips, so if you test any out, let me know in the comments!

    Follow the how-to below:

    Air Fried Chicken Breast Strips

    • Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F
    • Once preheated, place frozen chicken strips into basket in one layer (or overlap gently for a larger amount). No cooking spray needed!
    • Cook at 350 degrees F for 10-13 minutes.

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    Burn Baby Burn!

    Ah, the Instant Pot. Love it or hate it, it seems it’s here to stay and I honestly love cooking with mine all the time. But… there are those frustrating BURN moments that I just can’t get past!

    Imagine this: You read through all of the recipe steps in advance – it’s got great reviews and you get all excited for your meal at the end of the day. You follow your recipe precisely. And then this happens:

    Image-credit-Joe-Lingeman-thekitchn

    Thankfully, a BURN error isn’t a regular occurrence for me, but when it happens, I feel as if I’ve failed, because I know that my meal is just never going to be right after that. It’s actually become a joke in our house that if the Instant Pot burns, we order take out! In fact, one night, my daughter wasn’t happy about what was for dinner, so she printed out the BURN warning and stuck it to my pot!

    IMG_4351

    Don’t be afraid of the burn. The Instant Pot is just protecting itself! 

    According to Instant Pot, “The temperature sensor will trigger the Overheat Protection if the inner pot reaches too high a temperature, shut off the heat, and the cooker will display the warning message. Once things cool down enough, the heating element will turn back on and the Instant Pot will try to complete its cooking program. If the temperature gets too hot again, it will trigger the Overheat Protection again.”

    I tried making a Pot Roast the other night and the burn came on about 10 minutes into the warm-up. I think my issue was that I added the liquid last instead of first (I still can’t get Instant Pot and Slow Cooker rules straight!). I opened my pot, gave everything a good stir and it functioned normally after that, however my post roast turned out more like overcooked roast beef. The meat was tough and waiting more than an hour just got me out of the mood, but we ate it and it was ok. Not great, but ok. See some tips from Instant Pot below to avoid the burn.

    Ways to avoid the burn:

    • Ensure there is enough liquid. The single best way to prevent overheating is to have enough water-based liquid. Without water, the cooker cannot pressurize properly and may overheat. 
    • Ensure the steam release is sealed. Your Instant Pot cannot reach pressure if the steam release is not sealed, but it will continue to heat as the steam escapes. This could lead to overheating. 
    • Ensure the sealing ring is working properly. If the sealing ring is damaged or placed incorrectly steam will escape and prevent pressurization, potentially leading to overheating. 
    • Ensure the float valve is clean and moves freely. Food residue can cause the float valve to stick, which can also allow steam to escape. 
    • Layer ingredients. (THIS WAS MY MISTAKE!) Put liquids into the inner pot first, then add the other ingredients. Do not stir or mix. This helps keep things that might scorch from touching the bottom.

    For complete burn details and more tips, visit https://instantpot.com/instant-pots-overheat-burn-protection/.