Instant Pot Rabbit Stew

I haven’t shared a recipe in awhile, and while this was super easy – it was so good that we have no leftovers despite filling the 6-quart Instant Pot to the brim.

Rabbit isn’t something we eat very often, sadly. I’ve avoided most wild game since my childhood, but my dad convinced me to try rabbit again last year and it was fantastic.  Granted, these weren’t actually wild rabbits, but home raised with a controlled diet, but they didn’t have that sharp wild taste at all.

A guy at That Man’s work gave him a rabbit, but only 1 to feed 5 people, all which love rabbit, was a challenge. I’m pretty sure Middle could have eaten the whole rabbit by herself if we’d grilled it!

Rabbit Stew stretched out the rabbit to feed all of us. Middle ended up having 3 bowls, and Littlest ate the last of the “leftovers” That Man was going to take for his lunch tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • rabbit, cleaned, 3-4 lbs. Whole or cut up (doesn’t matter)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • salt, pepper, basil, rosemary to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 3-4 carrots, large sliced (they’ll cook to mush in the Instant Pot if you’re not careful)
  • 3-4 potatoes, peeled, large sliced
  • baby portabello mushrooms, large sliced (I used 3 huge ones from Sam’s Club)
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced fine
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • homemade noodles (optional, but crucial for my family. I had some set aside from Thanksgiving in the freezer)

Instructions

  • The cleaned rabbit was already in a large Ziplock bag.  I added flour, salt, and pepper directly to the bag and shook it up to coat.
  • Preheat the Instant Pot on the saute setting.  Add 2 T olive oil and brown both sides of the meat.  It’s okay to use the whole rabbit intact as long as it’ll fit.
  • Once browned, I added water to almost cover the rabbit since I wanted broth for stew. Add herbs of your choice but rosemary was nice.
  • I used the Instant Pot’s built-in meat setting (35 mins) and released the steam manually at the end of the cycle.
  • Add the veggies and set the Instant Pot for manual 10 more minutes.
  • My Instant Pot was filled to the brim, so I let the steam release naturally for a good 15 minutes before I turned the valve to reduce splatter.
  • By now, the rabbit was literally fall-apart tender. I removed the meat and bones with a slotted spoon and let it cool a few minutes until I could pull out the meat and return to the pot.  I don’t like a lot of skin or dark meat, so I saved out all the icky stuff for That Man to eat.
  • Add the homemade noodles if you have them. I cranked the Instant Pot back to saute so it’d boil the soup and cook the noodles for about 10 minutes.  The homemade noodles were coated in flour to prevent sticking in the freezer, which gave a nice thickness to the broth.
  • Taste and add more salt if needed.

By the time I added all the veggies, I’d filled the pot to the max fill line. And we still ate it all.  The broth was rich and thick, beautifully seasoned.  Some parts of the rabbit were a bit stringy but overall it was delicious and easy to make.

Good Crockpot Recipe

Wednesday nights are just insane around here.  I usually have to go pick Princess up from writer’s guild after school, and somehow manage to feed the two youngest by 5:15 so they can go to basketball practice (they won’t get home until after 8).  I can’t make anything too spicy or weird because they’re going to be running.

I’d gotten in the (lazy) habit of doing something like fish sticks and tater tots because they’re fast and easy, but not the healthiest.  (Plus I hate that kind of processed crap.)

Then I found this recipe for easy Korean Beef in the crockpot.  What attracted me to this recipe is that it uses hamburger — and even better, you don’t have to brown it first.  My hamburger wasn’t even completely thawed, so I threw it in on high for 1-2 hours first, and then chopped it up and added the rest of the ingredients.  I doubled it, left off the green onions (do any kids like green onions?!?), and used ground ginger rather than fresh.  I cooked it on low the rest of the afternoon and it turned out really well.  I added a package of broccoli slaw for a quick veggie (just cooked it 15 mins or so) and cooked some basmati brown rice.

I loved this recipe.  I could eat it for lunch for days.  Middle wouldn’t even try it.  She’s not big on anything Asian, though I think if she’d tried it, she might have been able to eat it.  She had a sandwich instead.  So I guess I can’t put it on our regular rotation, but it was definitely good enough to mention and I’ll make it for myself!

Chocolate Chili So Good Your Head Sweats

I had a small roast thawed in the fridge.  Too small, really, to feed the whole family the way we eat roast beef.  But it was already thawed and so I wanted to come up with something interesting.  I was in the mood for something different.  Not just a hunk of meat…but something tasty and good and unique.

With the rule that I wanted to keep it low carb today.  (I had a few too many Panera whole grain bagels over the weekend!)

In came my Well Fed paleo cookbook.  No, I’m not paleo and never could be paleo long term.  But I’m committed to whole foods and nothing on the paleo menu is ever going to be made with pre-packaged ingredients.  Plus it totally fit the low carb/no wheat bill!

The recipe for Chocolate Chili struck my fancy.  I’ve never put chocolate in chili before, but I know it’s a crucial ingredient in mole.  I love that dark, rich, spicy sauce, so I thought, hey, I’ll give it a try.  Princess is gone tonight, Middle is eating vegetarian right now, and That Man is still doing his crazy salad diet, so it was really going to be me and Littlest eating it.  As long as I make pasta for her, she’ll eat about anything on top of it.

The results…. OH.  So good.  Yum.  To me, it wasn’t spicy at all (there are only 2 T of chili power in it).  As I ate, it made my head sweat, but it didn’t burn my mouth at all.  Littlest said it was spicy but she ate a good bowl’s worth.  That Man sampled the meat and said it was way too spicy for him.  So if you’re a bit of a wimp in that regard, you might want to cut down on the spice!  For me, it was perfect.

So here’s how I modified the original recipe to come up with Chocolate Chili.

2-3 lbs lean roast beef, trimmed and cubed (original recipe called for ground beef)
2T coconut oil
1 diced onion
4-5 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 c. beef broth
2 T chili powder
1T cumin
1 t all spice
1 t parsley (original recipe called for oregano but I didn’t have any)
1 1/2 T cocoa powder
salt and pepper to taste

In batches, brown the chunks of meat in coconut oil and remove. Add the onions to the pan and scrape up the browned bits. If needed, add a little broth to help deglaze the pan. Press the garlic and add the rest of the ingredients, including the browned meat. Reduce heat to a low simmer and let cook 1.5-2 hours.

For me, it was two thumbs way way up.  The meat was fall apart tender and I didn’t miss the beans at all.  I put a nice mound of raw spinach in the bottom of my bowl and spooned the hot chili over the top.  Littlest ate hers over pasta.

On a chilly gloomy day, it was the perfect belly warmer!

Unusual Stir Fry

In my effort to continue eating mostly protein and veggies for dinner, I decided to try a new-to-us recipe.  It’s actually based on a recipe from Jane Brody that I remember Mom making, only she used ground beef.  I say unusual because I don’t often think of ground meat in stir fry, but man, I hate cutting up nasty slimy chicken breasts or trimming all the fat off round steak.  This was quick and easy!

Ground Turkey Stir Fry

2 pkgs of 99% lean ground turkey breast (each was around 20-22 oz)
1 T coconut oil
1 t dark sesame oil
1 pkg green beans (I used frozen)
1 pkg sugar snap peas
1 c. chicken broth
2 T cider or rice vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1″ fresh ginger, peeled and chopped small
lots of fresh garlic
green onions chopped into 1″ pieces (I can’t use many because the monsters hate them)
2 T corn starch or arrowroot

Heat a large 12″ iron skillet on med-high heat for 3 mins. Add 1 t sesame oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Throw in the green beans, peas, and onions, cooking until they start to char a little on the sides. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add 1 T coconut oil and the ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook through.

Meanwhile, mix the chicken broth, vinegar, soy, ginger, garlic and corn starch in a small bowl.

Once the meat is cooked, add the liquid and stir until thickened. Returned the cooked veggies, mix and heat through.

When I made this the other night, I used a separate small pan for the veggies and I ended up using a bit more oil to get my healthy oils in. This made a huge pot, easily 8 reasonable sized portions, at 6 P+ each if you use more like a T of oil for the veggies. I used lots of meat — more than we really needed — because I needed to use it up (I bought it on sale) and I could use the protein.  (Plus I like having leftovers for lunch.) You could easily trim some points there if you need to.

I was afraid the monsters wouldn’t like it: white meat and lots of green veggies. But they all really enjoyed it and asked for it again!  If you’re not watching carbs, serve over rice or noodles, but it’s really good alone.

 

Unusual Homemade Granola

I used to buy Kashi’s almond/flax granola by the case at Sam’s Club, but no more.  I’m making my own using this delicious recipe.  It’s so versatile!  Even better, the KIDS love it.  They won’t touch Kashi or “normal” healthy granola, but they eat this faster than I can make it.  The base recipe is inspired by Hungry Hungry Hippie’s Quinoa Granola recipe, tweaked to my family’s taste.

I’ve been doubling the recipe without the nuts, spreading out one pan, then adding nuts for the other pan (the kids don’t like most nuts).  I also skip all dried fruit (again, for the kids), but it’s delicious with dried dates and cranberries.

For a single pan of granola:

Mix about 4-5 cups of “seeds and grains” including your favorite mix of:

  • oats
  • quinoa
  • hemp hearts
  • buckwheat groats (I had to order these from Amazon – I couldn’t find locally – but totally worth it.  They add a really unique texture and are very chewy!)
  • unprocessed bran flakes
  • chia seeds
  • unsweetened coconut, shredded

We personally like about 2 cups of oats and the rest a mix of seeds and grains, with about 1/2 c coconut and 2-3T chia.  They kids LOVE quinoa in this.  It really surprised me (I thought it’d break our teeth, but it’s delicious and chewy/texture without being too hard).  Mix up the above in a big bowl and adjust the texture and balance of grains to your taste.

Melt 1/2 c. of coconut oil and pour over the grains.  Add 1/2 c. pure maple syrup.  Stir up, spread in a pan lined with parchment paper, and toast in the oven at 250 degrees for about an hour.  Stir half way through to get the toastiness even (especially if your pan is threatening to overflow!)  I like mine pretty brown and toasty so I’ll cook it a bit longer.

If you don’t have picky kids, you can add another 1-2 c. of nuts (I love almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds) and/or dried fruit without having to change the oil and syrup much at all.  If it’s a little sticky/clumpy, then it’s good.  You can play with the measurements and cut a little of the oil and sugar out if needed, but I usually just add more nuts.  :mrgreen:

After it cools, I store in a quart mason jar.  We usually nibble on the pan so much that I’m lucky if I end up with one jar for the next day!

Sprinkle some of this still warm on plain Fage yogurt and I’m in heaven.

Feed An Army With Two Chickens

Okay, maybe not an army…  But I have figured out a way to get a ridiculous number of meals for the family (of five) from TWO CHICKENS.  You can buy 2 chickens from Sam’s Club or Costco very reasonably — or of course buy organic or free range at significantly more.  Honestly we usually do the two-chicken bag at Sam’s.

With two chickens, I can make dinner 3 nights in a row and also have several lunches for myself throughout the week.  Here’s what I do.

For the first night, Chicken!  Wash the chickens and make sure all the giblets are cleaned out.  Some people like to use the neck, etc. if you have them but ugh, they just gross me out.  Then cook the chickens for dinner in whatever way your family enjoys — or however much time you have!  You can…

  • Boil.  Not a lot of time required (1-1.5 hours usually), but not quite as tasty.  I just throw the chickens into my huge stock pot, cover with water, toss in some chunks of onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until the chickens are done.
  • Crockpot.  Put the onions and celery in the bottom and lay the chickens on top (one chicken in each crockpot.  Yes, I have more than one.  Doesn’t everyone?).  Mix up your favorite seasoning (paprika, sage or thyme, garlic, salt, celery salt) and rub into the skin.  Do not add water.  Cook on high 4-5 hours and it will literally fall apart.
  • Roast.  Stuff the chickens with onions, celery, apple and/or lemon.  Melt a little butter and mix with either fresh or dried herbs.  Rub into the skin.  Roast at 400 for 1- 1 1/2 hours.  I believe the original recipe called for 450F but it makes me nervous because the chickens really splatter and smoke in the oven.  This is the tastiest (in my opinion) but takes more babysitting.  It makes a rich, dark, delicious broth.

That Man and the monsters devour the dark meat.  I save at least two breasts from one chicken for later.

Preparation for the next day:  Throw all the scraps and bones (yes, even the ones people ate on, if it doesn’t gross you out — they’ll cook for a long long time!) into a crockpot.  If you did the crockpot method above, you’ve already got one dirty one!  If you boiled the chickens, save all that delicious broth.  You can strain it and use it right away.  You can even throw the veggies into the crockpot too (if you stuffed the cavity with apples or lemons I typically toss them in the garbage).  Splash a little good apple cider vinegar over the bones (to help draw out the minerals) and fill the crockpot with water.  Set it on low and forget about it.  You can easily cook this until dinner the next night (yes, 24 hours is okay).

The second dinner:  Chicken and Noodles.  Strain the incredibly rich and strong broth.  Since it’s been cooking so long, it’s very strong.  You can usually get 3-4 quarts of double-strength broth out of the chickens.  Cool 2 of them in the fridge (leave headroom) and then pop them in the freezer for Thanksgiving noodles!  Use the other quart or so of broth to make dinner.

I make noodles from scratch (usually 4 cups of flour, 4 eggs, 4 tsp salt, and 8 T milk or water).  I dice an onion, lots of carrots and celery, and a couple of potatoes.  Saute the onions in a little butter or olive oil, add in the rest of the veggies, the chicken broth, a quart or two of water (or more if your broth is strong enough), and simmer until the veggies are tender.  Use the reserved chicken breast from yesterday (I only eat white meat), shred, and add to the pot.  Throw in the homemade noodles, being liberal with the flour (it acts as a thickener).  The monsters love to put a scoop of mashed potatoes in the bottom of their bowl and then top with this delicious soup.

Since we definitely eat this soup for the homemade noodles, we usually end up with lots of veggies and chicken in the bottom of the pan and very little noodles in the leftovers.  No problem.  That’s where the next night’s dinner comes into play.

The third dinner:  Chicken and Dumplings.  I make dumplings using Pioneer baking mix.  Yes I could make them from scratch, but the family really likes them this way and they do come out nice and fluffy.  I heat up the leftover chicken soup from the previous night until the broth is boiling.  If needed, I might add more veggies and chicken, but there’s usually plenty left over from the previous night.  (A few precious noodles are a bonus!)  If I have any leftover mashed potatoes, I throw them into the pot to help thicken and stretch the soup.  Then I drop the dumplings into the soup, cover, and let them steam for 10 mins or so.

Leftovers.  Yes, even after eating these two poor chickens for three nights, we usually have a ton of leftovers.  I can eat it for lunch at least a couple of days if not all week.

Bonus:  I usually still have 1-2 qts of broth in the freezer too!

If you need to stretch the chicken meat, you can add dark (if your family will eat it — I personally won’t).  I also keep cooked shredded chicken breast in the freezer, so if I need a little more meat, I can break a hunk off and toss it in.

At the first hint of the sniffles, two chickens are at the top of my list.  After eating homemade broth all week, we’re usually well over any hint of a cold!

Recipe: Beef Stew

On a cold winter night, there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of humble beef stew.  Usually I just throw all the ingredients in the crock pot, but this time I took a few extra steps.  Boy, am I ever glad that I did.  This was hands-down the best stew I’ve ever made.  I usually use a packet of dry onion soup mix and a can of cream of mushroom soup, but this tastes waaaaay better, and you don’t end up with all those questionable chemicals/ingredients in the pre-boxed stuff.  The kids weren’t real thrilled when I set bowls of brown stuff before them for dinner (Princess Monster even commented that it looked “nasty”), but there were no complaints after the tasting began.  In fact everyone had seconds and there almost wasn’t enough for the grown ups to have lunch the next day!

Beef Stew

2-3 lbs stew meat, chopped into 1″ chunks
1/2 c. flour (for dredging, with salt and pepper to taste)
oil to brown the meat
1 onion, chopped (finely for me, because the kids always moan in despair if they get a chunk)
garlic cloves to taste (I think I used 5 – we like garlic!)
1 c. red wine
1 c. beef broth (I made mine with those nasty salty cubes because I didn’t have anything else on hand)
potatoes, carrots, peas, etc.  whatever your family will eat
salt, pepper to taste
bay leaf

Toss the chopped cubes of meat in the seasoned flour and brown in a little oil.  I used butter in my cast-iron skillet.  Keep the meat in a single layer and take the time to turn each piece to get it evenly browned.  The meat doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through.  After they’ve browned, drop the cubes into the waiting crockpot.

Add another T of oil in the same pan (to keep all those yummy fried bits) and cook the onion and garlic until softened and flavorful.  Spoon them into the crockpot and then deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring up the browned bits into the sauce.  Pour over the meat in the crockpot.

Add the chopped veggies and the broth.  You don’t need a lot of liquid since this is cooking in a crockpot (you don’t want the meat to “boil”) so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like “stew” yet.  As the veggies cook down, more flavor and liquids will release into the broth.  You can always add a bit more broth if desired, and if you end up with too much, add some cornstarch at the end.

Cook on low for 8 hours (or longer) or high for 6 hours until the meat is fall-apart tender.  Serve with buttered bread or biscuits. 

Pray you have enough for lunch tomorrow!

Retake Homemade: Kalua Pig

I can’t remember where I first found this recipe (or I’d give credit), but it has become a family favorite.  Last weekend I bought a huge pack of pork butt on sale at Sam’s Club, came straight home, and popped half into the crockpot on low.  It cooked all afternoon, night, and we came home after church on Sunday to incredibly moist pork for BBQ sandwiches with tons of leftovers.  Even better, I have another pork butt in the freezer for later!

5-8 lb pork butt or shoulder, whatever will fit into your crock pot

2 T liquid smoke (or more to taste)

1 T coarse sea salt (the original recipe called for Hawaiian sea salt, which I haven’t been able to find)

Cook on low for up to 24 hours.  The meat will fall off the bone (if there’s one in your roast).  Use forks to shred and reserve some of the juice from the crockpot to keep the meat moist.

This meat can be eaten with BBQ sauce on rolls.  Or add salsa and eat on tortillas.  Or throw into any stew, shepherd’s pie, etc.  Enjoy!

Retake Homemade: Blueberry Compote

This is not going to be an exact recipe — I didn’t measure anything.  But it was so good, I had to blog about it. 

What’s funny:  I don’t even like blueberries.  Not really.  I can eat them in moderation but just to sit and eat them alone, no.  However, I’d made some multi-grain pancakes this morning and I didn’t want to ruin all that healthy goodness with regular syrup, and we were out of applesauce.

[Aside:  warmed cinnamon applesauce, no sugar added, is fantastic over whole-grain pancakes!]

I remembered the blueberries in the freezer, but I didn’t want to eat them whole on my pancakes.  I was afraid I wouldn’t like them, and I certainly didn’t want to ruin my lovely pancakes!  So I decided to try and make some syrup or compote – I’m not sure what it technically was, but it was sooo good, I’ll definitely do it again.

About 1 1/2 c. of frozen blueberries

About 1/4 c. of sugar.  I just sprinkled a little to cover in a small saucepan.

1-2 T of water to moisten the sugar. 

Cook on med-low as the rest of the breakfast is cooking.  The blueberries melt and begin making their own juice. 

Mine were too runny, so I mixed up a little corn starch in cold water and poured in.  Instant blueberry “sauce” that tasted like pie.

So good!  I used it as topping on my pancakes, but it’d make an incredible crepe (if I knew how to make them) with a little cream cheese.  Oh yum.  I think I need to learn how to make crepes!

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Sourdough Fail

My lovely sister in law (Aunt BB) doesn’t believe I’ve ever cooked something I had to throw out, so here’s another example just from yesterday.

I posted last week that we were going to try homemade sourdough and that I had the starter bubbling on the counter.  I fed the starter for a week, stirring and nurturing it (although I did fudge a little in the beginning and added real not “wild” yeast).  Yesterday, I decided it was time to give a loaf of bread a try. 

My first goof was that I forgot to make the sponge the night before.  The recipe I was using said to leave it in the oven overnight, but the two cups of milk…overnight….just didn’t sound appealing. So I did it right before work and put it in the oven (with the light on) for a couple of hours.  At lunch, I added the rest of the ingredients.  Now since I don’t really like homemade bread that’s all whole wheat, I decided to go half and half with regular white flour.  I mixed it all up, wet and gloppy as advertised, and popped it back in the oven to rise.

It didn’t quite reach the top of the bowl (so not even close to doubled) but I had plenty to pour into my large 1 1/2 lb loaf pan about 2-3 hours later.  I lost track of time in the afternoon so I’m not sure how long exactly.  I popped it back in the oven to rise for a while, and when it reached the top of the loaf pan, I started baking.

Now I’ve had problems with this new loaf pan before.  It’s a commercial one and supposed to be great, but I’ve never been able to get the loaf DONE.  I thought my mistake was taking it out at the same time I took out my 1-lb loaf pan (forgetting it was bigger), but I made a mental note this time to watch the bread carefully.  After 35 min. the top was definitely hard and dark and I didn’t dare leave it in much longer.  The bread had bubbled up over the side and some burned onto my oven.  Grrr.  Talk about adding insult to injury!  I cut around the edges and turned the pan out over my rack…

and the loaf fell into half, with the middle still a gooey nasty mess.

So here we are with half the cooked loaf in the pan, half out on the rack way too gooey to eat (this dough had eggs too), with the top burned, and the inside of my oven nasty to boot.  To top it off, I broke off a corner of the cooked loaf and about tossed my cookies into the trash along with the nasty bread.  It was sooooo sour.  Gah.  Not even close to tasty despite the 1/4 c. honey.

Total fail.  I almost chucked the starter into the trash too, but I’ve been taking care of it a WEEK.  So I’m going to try again, but this time, I’m trusting Suzanne McMinn’s recipe.  Yeah, it’s white flour, and so not as healthy, but right now, I’m shooting for EDIBLE.