Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Instant Pot Mixed Berry Jam

This quick and easy Mixed Berry Jam comes together in 20 minutes thanks to the Instant Pot. A perfectly healthy and delicious spread I promise! 





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It is almost the end of July and we are gorging on all the berries we can. The berry season is the perfect time to enjoy them and to convert them to delish jams and preserves that can be enjoyed for months. 


One such preserve recipe is this Mixed Berry Jam. I make this quite often and it tastes SO good fresh as well as frozen. It is a super simple recipe; requiring just a handful of ingredients and comes together quickly thanks to the Instant Pot. 



Video Recipe




What berries to use in the Jam?

All of summer I have SO many berries thanks to the trips for picking, farmer's market and Costco. So I tried them all in this recipe and ended up using strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. 

The jam can be made using fresh berries or frozen. Quite often I bring the berries home, clean them and freeze them individually. That way I am not forced to use the berries right away. They are good for months. 


However, the same recipe can be used with just one type of berries, apples, oranges or peaches. The amount of sugar will vary depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your personal preference.



Love berries? Try these berry recipes for sure:


Tips for making this Berry Jam

As I mentioned above, this recipe can be made with a combination of berries or with just one kind of berries. Just make sure the total amount of berries adds up to 2 cups. 

The recipe works well with fresh berries or frozen. The frozen berries release some extra moistures and will need some extra boiling to get the consistency right. 

The jam using these proportions will be moderately sweet. If you like it sweeter, feel free to add more sugar. This will also be based on how sweet the berries are. 


The jam has sugar that converts to syrup on cooking. So the jam will thicken on cooling. Do not boil it to a super thick consistency else it will not be of spreadable consistency on cooling.

I mashed the jam to a smooth consistency but if you like the berries to be slightly whole, just mash the jam a couple of times. Strawberries generally get mashed easily but not blueberries. The jam will have a few pieces of whole berries then. 

Store the berry jam in a clean mason jar or container. The jam can easily spoil if the container is contaminated. 



How to use the Jam?

While I LOVE to enjoy some fresh jam right off the bottle, I often use it with toasted bread, oatmeal, yogurt and nuts. 

If I need a quick berry shake, I whip it up using this jam and milk. It is an instant recipe requiring just 2 ingredients; the jam and milk. 

Plus, this jam makes an amazing sweet and slightly tart dipping sauce for crackers. 


The jam can be frozen for months, making it a great preserve when berry season is out. I like to freeze mine in small portions making it easy to thaw one cube and use it. Freezing it as a batch makes it difficult to thaw a portion of the jam. 


Ingredients

Strawberries 1 cup
Blueberries 1/2 cup
Blackberries 1/2 cup
Sugar 2 tbsp
Lemon Juice 1/4 tsp




Method

Wash and dice the strawberries. In the base of the Instant Pot add the berries and sprinkle sugar over it. Let the sugar rest for 10 minutes. 

After 10 minutes, open the Instant Pot and add 2 tbsp water. Close the lid. 

Set the mode of the Instant Pot to 'Pressure Cook', time to 3 minutes and pressure to high. Move the vent to sealing.

Let the berries cook till the end of the cooking time. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then do a quick release. 

Open the lid and add in lemon juice. Mash the jam using a potato masher. 

Set the mode to 'Sauté' and let the jam thicken for 5-6 minutes. 

Mix well and let the jam cool to room temperature. As it cools, it will become thicker. Transfer to and airtight jar and refrigerate. Use as required for up to a week.

The jam can be frozen for months! I like to divide it into silicone molds and freeze in single serve portions. Just pop one and use as you like! 



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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Quick and Easy Batata Poha

A blend of flattened rice flakes, potatoes and spices, Batata Poha is a popular  and delicious breakfast that comes together in minutes! 


Days that start with wholesome and delicious breakfast are the best! Poha is one such recipe that we LOVE at home. Plus, it is the easiest to put on the table within a few minutes. Every week we have poha atleast once. With a few changes in the ingredients and toppings, it always feels like it is a new dish!  

What is Poha?

An easy to make breakfast or light meal, poha is a popular dish from the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in India. Named after the main ingredient in it, poha is an easy to find Indian ingredient made from flattened rice. 

Poha can be made in various ways with a lot of add-ins and different garnishes. You can add mixed vegetables in it or top it with pomegranate seeds and sev or enjoy it without anything added to it.

Every region has their own variation to the dish and families have their recipes that they swear by. While the Maharashtrian version has some shredded coconut added to the poha, people from Gujarat enjoy their version with a pinch of sugar added to the poha. Whichever region you pick from, Poha is popular and made quite often in households! 



Tips to make the BEST Poha

While this recipe needs only a handful of ingredients and a few minutes to bring it all together, a lot of folks often complain of mushy or tasteless poha. With just a couple of things to closely follow you can easily avoid the mess and make a delightful snack or meal very easily.

First, pick the right kind of poha. There are various types of poha available in all Indian stores. From the different kinds, using the thick variety is the best. The thin ones tend to get mushy so avoid them. 

Once you have the right kind of poha, rinse them in a colander using cold water. Soaking them in water or using hot water will result in a mess. Make sure this is done first, as the poha will have some time to drain completely while preparing the remaining ingredients. 

The recipe calls for potatoes and onions. Chop them to pieces of equal size so they cook evenly. Do not used boiled potatoes as they tend to mush up while cooking. Cook them directly in the pan so they remain firm.



Variations

I have used regular poha for the recipe. However, these days there are a ton of options like poha made from red rice, 

In this recipe I have used peanuts, onions and potatoes. However, the peanuts can be skipped if need the recipe to be nut-free. Besides, using either potatoes or onions is a great idea too. These variations are popular to make as they taste different but are equally quick to make.

Adding vegetables like carrots, french beans, corn and peppers is a great idea too. Also known as Masala Poha, this vegetable laded version is flavorful and tasty. 

I have used green chili in the recipe. However, if you are not a fan of green chilis, switch that to red chili powder. Though the taste is different, this variation does work well. 



How to serve Poha?

As I mentioned above, poha tastes great with some toppings. The toppings of the dish vary from recipe to recipe. Adding pomegranate seeds, chopped cilantro and fried chickpea noodles (sev) is popular. Plus, adding shredded coconut works well too. 

Given that poha is a great breakfast recipe, we mostly enjoy it with a cup of piping hot Masala Chai. One of my favorite breakfast places serves poha and chai with another Gujarati favorite, Khaman Dhokla. The combination makes a great breakfast for sure! 

Looking for more breakfast recipes? Try these: 



Ingredients

Peanuts 3-4 tbsp, peeled and roasted
Potato 2 medium, peeled and diced
Onion 1 medium, peeled and diced
Green Chili 2 medium, chopped
Mustard Seeds 1/2 tsp
Asafetida a pinch
Cumin Seeds 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
Vegetable Oil 2 tbsp
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Sugar 1 1/2 tsp
Lime Juice 1 tsp
Cilantro and Sev to top


Method

In a colander add the poha and rinse them in cold water. Set them aside to dry.

In a pan add oil. Once it is hot add mustard seeds, asafetida and cumin seeds. Let the mustard seeds pop. Then add green chili, roasted peanuts and curry leaves. 

Add chopped onion and fry it for a minute. Add diced potato along with a pinch of salt mix well. Let the potato cook covered for 8-10 minutes. Stir a couple of times to avoid the pieces from sticking to each other. 

In about 10 minutes the potato should be fully cooked. At that time add the poha, turmeric powder, remainder salt and sugar. Mix well and cook covered for 4-5 minutes. 

Once done, add lime juice and mix well. Serve topped with sev and chopped cilantro. 




Thursday, July 11, 2019

Instant Pot Pinto Beans - No Soak Method

Making Pinto Beans in the pressure cooker is the quickest, easiest and the BEST way to make them. The taste and flavor of these beans is just like the canned ones, I promise! 


Mexican food is one of our favorite dinners! One of the most important ingredient in these meals is Pinto beans. Whether these are cooked and enjoyed as is or processed further to make refried beans; these are found in almost ALL Vegetarian Mexican meals. 


As we need them so often in various forms, it is a great idea to make them at once and freeze any leftover. Making them in the Instant Pot is my favorite way to make a batch that lasts atleast two meals. Plus, this method needs no pre-soaking of the beans and has just a handful of ingredients.

Video Recipe



Why make Pinto Beans in the Instant Pot?

One pot recipes are always winners. This recipe is just like that. I make the beans and enjoy them as-is with a side of brown rice. If you need them as filling for quesadilla or tacos, just use the immersion blender to blend it to a grainy texture. It makes a perfect filling for all Mexican dishes.


I used to make the beans using a pressure cooker for the longest time. This method needs the beans to be soaked overnight. More often than not I forget to soak the beans and then I have to change the plans to make the beans. 

The Instant Pot needs no soaking and about 40 minutes of cooking time. So I start with the beans and then while they cook, I get everything else ready for the meal. That way I can have it all sorted in about an hour. This makes it my favorite method to make the beans. 



How to make beans in the Instant Pot?

As I mentioned above, the method to make beans in the Instant Pot is as easy as 1-2-3. Add all the ingredients to the pot, add water/ stock and cook. To add some flavor I have also added onion, garlic, taco seasoning and jalapeños; but all that is completely optional. They impart a brilliant flavor to the beans and I strongly recommend adding them. 

This method is for beans that have not been soaked. Some people do prefer to soak the beans overnight and then use them. I do the same if I have enough time at hand. So the cooking time will depend how soft you like the beans and whether or not you have soaked them. 


The timing I use for these beans as well as black beans is here: 
  • Very soft beans: 40-42 minutes
  • Soft beans: 35-36 minutes
  • Firm beans: 28-30 minutes
  • Soaked overnight: 18 minutes

Using and storing the Beans

Once you have the beans made, it is super quick to whip up any dish. The way I enjoy them is to serve them with a side of rice or quinoa and some salad for a complete meal. 

The leftover I either freeze as-is or in the refried beans form. To make that I drain the beans (reserve the liquid), process using an immersion blender or regular blender adding back liquid as required and transferring the purée to a silicone tray. I freeze the tray and store the cubes in a freezer bag. This way it is easier to thaw just a couple of cubes for a meal.


There are plenty of recipes that need beans. Here are some of my favorites: 

Variations

The recipe I have here is for Pinto beans. However, the same can be used for black beans or kidney beans too. The beans are equally firm and so the time required for them is same. 

I have added onion, garlic and jalapeño that I like to keep in the beans. If you would just like to flavor the beans, leave them as big pieces that you can fish out after the beans are cooked. Adding seasoning to the beans after they cook is an option too, but adding salt before works well. 


Love a different kind of seasoning for the beans? Skip the taco seasoning and add that. I sometimes like to add adobe sauce or smoked paprika for flavor. The beans made using that are great for grilling recipes like grilled tacos etc. Some people actually like to add some liquid smoke. I have not tried that but I hear it is  great option. 


Ingredients

Dry Pinto Beans 1 1/2 cups
Onion 1/2 medium, diced
Garlic 1-2 cloves, minced
Jalapeño 1 tsp, minced
Olive Oil 2 tsp
Taco Seasoning 1 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Water 6 cups
Cilantro and sliced jalapeños to top




Method

Set the mode of the Instant Pot to 'Sauté'. Once the display reads 'Hot' add Olive Oil. 

Add garlic and onion and mix. Let them cook for a couple of minutes. Add the dry pinto beans and water. Stir.

Next, add the jalapeños, cumin powder, taco seasoning and salt. Stir everything well. 



Press 'Cancel' and then press 'Pressure Cook'. Set mode to normal and time to 35 minutes. 

Once the cooking is complete and the pressure releases naturally, open the Instant Pot. 

Drain the beans using a colander and transfer to a bowl. Serve topped with sliced jalapeños and cilantro.