February 23, 2016

Baltimore-Style Sour Beef and Dumplings (Instant Pot)


for the meat:
3 1/2 lb beef round, cut into 1 1/2 inch thick slices
2 cups red wine vinegar
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon cloves
freshly ground black pepper

for the dumplings:
5 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
roughly 2-3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg

1 tablespoon canola oil
10 gingersnaps, broken into pieces*


WARNING: This part has to be done the day before you want to serve. Stir together all of the marinade ingredients in a nonreactive bowl. Place the roast and marinade in a nonreactive container (or large ziplock bag) and marinate overnight. The day before is also a good time to make the gingersnaps if you are using homemade.

Place the rack in the Instant Pot. Add the potatoes and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover. Press the Steam button and adjust the time to 15 minutes. Quick release by turning the steam release handle manually to Venting. Remove and drain the potatoes. Mash thoroughly. Measure out 4 cups of mashed potatoes. Reserve any remaining mashed potatoes for another recipe. Set aside the potatoes to cool. Note: you can also make the potatoes the night before and refrigerate them until ready to make the dumplings.

Remove the roast from the marinade. Reserve the marinade. Turn the Instant Pot on Saute. Add a small amount of oil. Sear the meat on all sides. Add the marinade. Close and set for 40 minutes using the Manual button on high pressure. Quick release by turning the steam release handle manually to Venting. Add the gingersnaps. Cover and close and set for 12 minutes using the Manual button.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. In a large bowl, use a potato masher to mash together the cooled mashed potatoes, baking powder, salt and the egg. Add the flour in 1/2 cup increments until the mixture resembles a dough and the mixture holds its shape. Form into 2 to 3 inch balls. They should be able to hold their shape but not be too floury or sticky. Drop them into the water. They should sink, then rise to the surface when cooked through, about 5 minutes. Place on a platter and cover in foil until ready to serve.

After the time is up on the Instant Pot, shred the meat a bit with a fork or break it into pieces if desired. Serve hot, with dumplings on the side.

*If not making homemade, I find that Stauffer's Ginger Snaps make a good substitution.

My thoughts:
Sour Beef and Dumplings is Baltimore's answer to sauerbraten. Baltimore at one time had an enormous German immigrant population and a lot of influence can still be seen in our local dishes and traditions such as one of my favorite desserts, smearcase and serving sauerkraut at Thanksgiving. Part of what makes Sour Beef and Dumplings so unique is the addition of gingersnaps which add sweetness to counteract all that vinegar, spice and help thicken the sauce. Don't be tempted to leave them out! They are what make the gravy and keep the dish from being just beef floating in vinegar.

I haven't made sour beef since my Grandpop died but I've been thinking about it lately and since I've bought the Instant Pot, I thought I'd make an electric pressure cooker update to my perennially popular slow cooker Sour Beef recipe. I love that version but if I could make it quicker, why not? With Matt in school again, I end up making dinner at odd times so anything to streamline the process is very appealing to me! I made both the potatoes and the meat in the pressure cooker in just over an hour with very little hands on time. I did boil the dumplings on the stove top but that was easily accomplished while the meat was cooking. The result? Melt-in-your-mouth tender meat swimming in a tangy, spicy sauce. The perfect Baltimore sour beef. The dumplings were light and fluffy and helped cut the rich meat. My need to attend the German festival in search of the perfect sour beef is no more! I can now make it in just about an hour at home.

Note: I made this in an Instant Pot, if using another electric pressure cooker, check the manual for setting information. Cooking in a stove top pressure cooker is slightly quicker than the Instant Pot so you may need to adjust the time, it takes roughly the same time as a pot roast.

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February 21, 2016

Smoked Turkey and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Egg in the Basket

1 tablespoon butter
2 slices sandwich bread (I used potato bread)
1 egg
1-2 slices sharp cheddar cheese*
2 oz Oscar Mayer Selects Natural Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast
freshly ground black pepper

Heat butter in a medium skillet. Meanwhile, cut a hole in the slice of bread with a biscuit cutter. Place the bread in the pan. Crack the egg into the hole, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook until the white is nearly cooked through and the bread is golden. Top with cheese then turkey. Top with remaining slice of bread. Carefully flip and brown on the second side. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

*I ended up using about 1 1/2 slices of cheese to fully cover the bread in a single layer.

My thoughts:
Egg in the Basket or "toad in the hole", "gashouse eggs", "a hole in one", "spit in the ocean", and "popeye eggs" according to Wikipedia (although toad in a hole is also the same of a British dish involving sausages) is a classic breakfast treat. While tasty, I always wondered if you could take it one step further and make it into grilled cheese! As it turns out, you totally can. When I was approached by Oscar Mayer to develop a recipe using their new minimally processed, artificial ingredients Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast I thought I could take my idea even further and create the ultimate breakfast sandwich. It is slightly tricky, you don't want the egg to leak out of the bread but as long as it is well on its way to being set, it isn't difficult. I like bacon on my breakfast sandwiches but it is a bit fatty and time-consuming for the every day and way too heavy for a sandwich like this. The turkey added a nice smoky flavor to the sandwich that gave me the same sort of savoriness I like but in a leaner way. It was perfect choice when looking for a high quality, natural cold cut; really did taste like the smoked turkey I've made myself using fresh turkey but was much more convenient.

You can learn more about Selects Natural and all the Oscar Mayer products on, Facebook at, Twitter at @OscarMayer and on Tumblr at

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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February 04, 2016

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower, Artichoke and Olives


3 lbs chicken thighs
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 super fine flour (like Wondra)
1/2 cup Picholine olives, drained
12 oz frozen artichoke hearts
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small-medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 slices preserved lemon, rinsed and quartered


Preheat oven to 400.

Throughly coat the chicken with salt, pepper and flour. Place skin side down in a hot, oven safe skillet. Cook for 10-20 minutes or until well browned. Remove to a paper-towel lined platter. Drain off fat, leaving 1-2 tablespoons behind. Add the vegetables and saute until the onion is softened and transulcent. Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the vegetables.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Normally when I have chicken thighs, I make Maryland Fried Chicken but that seemed a bit heavy so I came up with this one dish meal. The worst part about baking chicken thighs is that it is hard to get a good, crisp skin. This method eliminates that issue by browning it first and then placing the chicken on top of the vegetables instead of nestled amoung the veg. This not only keeps the skin crisp, the vegetables gently steam the bottom of the thighs infusing them with olive, garlic and lemon flavors. So good! The meat was so moist and tender and it took virtually no effort on my part. Plus there is a side dish built right in which was also super flavorful. I think I found my new favorite way to cook chicken thighs.

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February 02, 2016

Chili Tacos

1 lb 90% lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 oz-can diced tomatoes with green chiles (do not drain!)
1 14 oz-can chili beans in sauce (do not drain)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Tajín seasoning
1 teaspoon epazote
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

warm tortillas
diced tomatoes
shredded extra sharp cheddar

Brown the meat in a large nonstick skillet. Drain any excess fat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Add all of the spices, tomatoes and beans. Cook, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. Serve on tortillas. Top with tomato, guacamole, and cheddar.

My thoughts:
Taco time! I had ground beef and wanted to do something different than my old school taco standby so I decided to fuse tacos with another favorite dish, chili! I used chili beans, chili powder and tomatoes with green chili to help highlight the chili aspect but cooked it like I would taco meat and added a healthy dose of ground chiles. I also used Tajín seasoning which I normally use on fruit or vegetables to add a depth of flavor; it is a mix of spices with lime. The resulting meat was so flavorful, Matt forgot to put his favorite salsa on his tacos. If you have any leftovers, try it on nachos. Or skip the taco and just make nachos! The meat can be kept warm in a slow cooker if you are serving a crowd.

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