Instant Pot Cream of Tomato Soup



I am new to the Instant Pot craze and have really enjoyed using it so far.  If you haven’t heard of Instant Pot, it is basically an electric, programmable pressure cooker.  If you do a lot of cooking, especially with a slow cooker, I really encourage you to try one out.  They do everything that a slow cooker does, just much, much faster.  You can cook a whole chicken in your Instant Pot in about 30 minutes. Did you forget to take your meat out of the freezer before you went to work? That’s ok!  Throw it into the Instant Pot and you can still have that pot roast you were planning on.

This has been a great tomato year for us in Portland.  We’ve had nearly three months of hot and dry weather- exactly what tomatoes like, but the kind of weather I completely detest.  I long for sweater weather…

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Chinese Meatballs with Spicy Sauce


This is so easy and quick to make- 25 minutes and dinner is served. My whole family loves these meatballs. Serves 4

  • 1 lb. ground beef, ground turkey, or ground pork
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 green onions, sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 T. soy sauce, separated
  • 1/2 C. panko crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 T. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. Sriracha

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, ginger, garlic, the whites of the onions, 2 T. of the soy sauce, the panko crumbs, and a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Form the meat mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. This recipe will make about 20 meatballs.  Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake until browned and cooked through, about 14-16 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce by whisking together the mayonnaise, the other 2 T. of soy sauce, the honey, and the Sriracha. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Serve the meatballs over steamed rice with a drizzle of the sauce and the green parts of the onions on top.


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Sheet Pan Shrimp with Bacon and Cannellini Beans


I have been teaching my youngest son to cook.  At the moment I am writing this he is making Chinese meatballs. Here is how it goes: I hand him a cookbook, he picks a recipe, I buy the ingredients, and then I sit nearby trying not to meddle while he uses my chef’s knife. In this case the book is by Tyler Florence, Tyler’s Ultimate. My son is devoted to shrimp, so he quickly landed on this recipe. It’s lightning fast, easy, delicious, and actually pretty healthy too! Don’t skip the sage leaves- they get really crispy and are amazing! We adapted the recipe a little bit to make it even easier.

  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, look for wild shrimp as opposed to farmed, they are cleaner and have better flavor
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes (halve any that are large)
  • 6 slices of thick cut, uncured bacon
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. Kosher salt
  • A handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 bag of washed arugula

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the shrimp and cherry tomatoes on a large sheet pan.  Cut the bacon into two inch pieces and scatter them over the shrimp and tomatoes. Scatter the sage leaves over that and then drizzle the whole thing with 1 T. of the olive oil. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the bacon is browning and cooked through and the tomatoes are bursting. Scrape the pan, juices and all, into a large bowl and gently toss together with the cannellini beans. The original recipe calls for one can of beans, but I added a second can to make it more filling for four people. Add the vinegar, the rest of the oil, and the arugula to the bowl and toss gently.  Season with a little more salt and pepper. Serve immediately.






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Summer Borscht



Traditional borscht is made with a beef shank and cooked for hours until it’s rich and meaty.  Great for cold winter months, but too heavy for summer.  All the veggies in traditional borscht are in season now and can be glorified in this summer borscht as they should be!  The stock is interchangeable here, use vegetable stock and make it vegan, or beef or chicken stock to make it a bit richer in flavor.

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts, sliced
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 beets, peeled and diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 t. tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 5-6 cups stock, I used chicken
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
  • half a head of green cabbage, sliced thinly
  • sour cream for garnish

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Polenta with Sauteed Kale


This is a great side dish to go with grilled or roasted meats, or as a vegetarian main. It tastes even better the second day!  If you prefer creamy polenta you can serve it hot out of the pan.  If you like your polenta to be firmer, allow it to cool, cut into wedges and pan fry in a drizzle of olive oil to reheat. You can use all water or all stock to cook the polenta, but I like to use half water and half stock. I like the flavor of stock, but I also want the corn flavor to shine through.

  • 4 C. water
  • 4 C. vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 C. polenta, cornmeal, or corn grits
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch of kale, about 3 C. chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 T. butter
  • cherry tomatoes, optional
  • 1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese

First get your polenta cooking. Combine the water and broth in a pot and bring it to a boil.  Slowly whisk in the polenta a little at a time to avoid clumping.  Once all the polenta has been added, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. The polenta will be thick and creamy, and no longer gritty. Stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and remove it from heat.  Meanwhile, heat a large, ovenproof skillet to medium heat with the other tablespoon of oil.  Add the kale and garlic and saute for about two minutes.  Add a splash of water and cover the pan to allow the kale to soften, about two minutes. Remove the lid and allow any water to evaporate, season with salt and pepper and stir the cooked kale into the polenta.  Pour the polenta mixture back into the skillet, top with the tomatoes, dot with the butter, and sprinkle the parmesan over the top.  Hit it with the broiler for about three minutes, or until the top is turning golden brown. Allow it to cool for about ten minutes before eating.  If you allow it to cool further, you can cut it into wedges.




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Crispy Cauliflower Fritters


If you have vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores in your life like I do, then you know how it can sometimes be a challenge to serve a meal that everyone enjoys. These tasty fritters are the perfect answer!  They make a delicious main dish that will satisfy everyone at the table.  This recipe uses the magic of the “flax egg” making them vegan.  If you prefer, you can sub in 3 eggs for the flax seed and water. Makes 12 fritters.

  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 4 T. ground flax seeds
  • 12 T. warm water
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1 1/2 t. coarse salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 2 C. panko crumbs
  • oil for frying, I used canola

First, boil the cauliflower pieces in a pot of salted water until fork tender, about ten minutes. Drain the cauliflower and set aside.  Meanwhile, make your flax eggs by whisking the ground flax seeds with the warm water in a small bowl. Set the mixture aside for about 5 minutes to allow it to thicken.  The flax egg will bind the ingredients together. If you prefer, you can substitute three eggs. In a large bowl, combine the flour, parsley, shallot, spices, salt and pepper.  Stir in the thickened flax eggs.  The mixture will become like a thick dough.  Toss in the warm cauliflower and use a potato masher or a large fork to mash the cauliflower into the dough. You should be able to mold the mixture into patties with your hands.  Pour the panko crumbs onto a plate.  Form the mixture into patties about three inches wide and one inch thick.  Pat them into the panko crumbs so they are covered on all sides in crumbs.  Place the patties onto a cookie sheet and into the fridge to chill for at least one hour. You could make these several hours ahead and let them sit in the fridge.  I haven’t tried freezing them but I think it would work to freeze them at this point in the process and then fry them from frozen. When you are ready to fry, heat about two cups of oil in a skillet to 350 degrees.  It’s important to use a thermometer.  If you put the fritters in the oil before it’s hot enough they will absorb the oil and become greasy.  Once the oil is ready, place four fritters in the oil and fry for about two minutes per side, or until they are golden brown. Place finished fritters on a paper towel to drain.  Repeat until all the fritters are fried. Serve hot or warm with some lime or lemon slices.



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The Jungle Bird, a 70s classic tiki cocktail



The Jungle Bird originated in Kuala Lumpur at the Hilton Hotel in 1978. What I love about it and what makes it different from most tiki drinks is the addition of Campari.  The Campari gives it a very slightly bitter flavor that tempers the sweetness of the pineapple juice perfectly.  My version has a little teensy bit extra Campari. This recipe makes two cocktails.

  • 1 oz. dark simple syrup, recipe follows
  • 4 oz. dark Jamaican rum
  • 2 oz. Campari
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • limes and pineapple wedges for garnish

First make the dark simple syrup by combining one cup of turbinado sugar with one cup of water in a saucepan.  Bring the sugar and water to a boil and boil for one minute. Pour the syrup into a jar and allow it to cool. You will have one cup of syrup, store it in the fridge in a jar with a lid. You will use just one ounce of the syrup for two drinks.

To make the cocktail, shake all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.  Strain into two rocks glasses filled with ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge and a wedge of fresh pineapple.




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Squash, Kale, and Barley Soup

Dreary June days are perfect for making soup!



This soup seems sort of hearty for this time of year but here in Portland we have been having some pretty dreary days.  I’ve said this before, but soup is my favorite thing to make.  I generally prefer smooth soups with a creamy texture, but all the great fresh veggies that are in the markets now make me want to experiment a little more.  This soup was even better the next day, the barley soaked up all the broth and it was like a bowl of squash risotto- I love barley for it’s chewy texture, but you could totally use brown rice or whatever other weird hippie grain that you’re into.  I put a little grated parmesan on that baby… Serves 4

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 small leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • salt and…

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Rhubarb Mojito


I love a seasonal cocktail.  When the weather warms up I tend to go with lighter, sweeter drinks.  I attended a great cocktail party class at Hipcooks Portland last night and learned how to make a perfect mojito.  As luck would have it I scored some fresh local rhubarb as well.  Combine the two and you’re in for a tart, tasty treat.

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 C. water
  • 1 stalk of rhubarb, sliced

Combine the sugar, water, and rhubarb in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute and set aside to steep for twenty to thirty minutes.  Strain through a sieve, pressing on the solids.  Discard the solids or eat them (they are yummy).

For one Rhubarb Mojito

  • ice
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • 1 oz. rhubarb simple syrup
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 oz. club soda

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. …

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Fava Bean Fever

Fava beans are coming in to season. They are a bit of work, but totally worth the effort!


The farmer’s markets have been featuring gorgeous fava beans the last few weeks.  They are a bit time consuming to prepare, but since they are only in season a few weeks a year, it’s worth the extra effort!

  • 2 lbs. fresh fava bean pods (yields about 1 1/2 C. prepared beans)
  • salted, boiling water
  • 1 T. fresh mint, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 t. olive oil

First remove the beans from the outer pod by splitting the pods open with your fingers.  Inside the pods you’ll find 4-5 beans.

The beans have a coating on them that also needs to be removed.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Drop the beans in and boil for 1 minute only.  Have a bowl of cold water ready.  When one minute is up, quickly remove the beans from the boiling water and drop them into the…

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