Tasty Accidents

Homework Assignment #1 – Cooking with what I have in the kitchen… Oy.

Meal #1: Chicken Enchilada “Burritos” with Dirty Rice – winging it! No recipe…

Ingredients: No fresh stuff – Cans of Shame – Trader Joe’s Premium Chunk White Chicken in Broth (2 cans), Wild Harvest Organic Chili Beans in Sauce (1 can), Kirkland Organic Diced Tomatoes (2 cans), Trader Joe’s Enchilada Sauce (1 bottle), Zatarain’s Dirty Rice Mix (1 box), Flatout Flatbread – Multigrain (instead of tortillas). (didn’t use the black beans from the photo)

Starting Point

In a 2 quart covered pan, get the dirty rice started. In a 3 quart covered pan, combine chicken, enchilada sauce, 2 cans diced tomatoes drained, and one can chili beans, drained. And cook over medium heat. WAY too much liquid, so simmer it down for about 30+ minutes to get rid of some of the liquid! This is a “burrito,” not a soup!

Chicken Enchiladas Cooking

So after cooking everything down to manageable consistencies, I put rice and the chicken enchilada mixture onto a piece of flatbread and took a bite. Verdict: Not bad! I’m glad I didn’t use the black beans in addition to the chili beans, and also glad I used two cans of the diced tomatoes. Room for Improvement: Some of that fresh salsa from last week’s class would have been an excellent addition, and some lettuce would have been good.

Ready to Roll It Up

Bonus: Since I’m cooking just for myself, I now have six 1-cup servings of rice/enchilada mix and two 2-cup servings sitting in the freezer for lunches and dinners! I will add some lettuce and some salsa to the burritos when I make these over the next couple of weeks.

Editorial commentary on the meal “planning” and preparation process: Cooking with what I have in the house may not always be the best idea! I don’t commonly use recipes when I cook – I just throw things together and figure that if it’s awful, I’ll order a pizza! I have more kitchen cooking implements than I need and have actually been getting rid of some pots and pans to focus on the most important items. And I have plenty of canned and frozen food to feed myself for many, many weeks. And a variety of oils, vinegars, spices, and sauces, and they generally sit unused…

Meal #2: One-Pot Penne and Turkey Meatballs from The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Laurel Randolph.

Cookbook - Shameless Plug (Shameless plug)

I’m going to cheat on this meal and shop for a few ingredients that I don’t have in my pantry, including panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, yellow onion, fresh basil, and canned tomato sauce. For the ground turkey, I’m going to thaw some turkey burgers and use them for the meatballs.

Annnnd…. A Delicious Failure to Pay Attention.

Recipe calls for mixing of the turkey, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, basil, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well and form into 1-1/2” meatballs. And the washing machine buzzer sounds as I’m assembling the ingredients in a bowl, so I take a break to tend to the laundry. Everything is in the bowl ready to be mixed up and I completely forgot to add the parmesan cheese and garlic. Mixed thoroughly, made meatballs, and sautéed them in the Instant Pot as the recipe calls for.

As per my “recipe as merely a guideline” practice of tweaking things, I used about 1.5 lbs of meat instead of the 1 pound the recipe called for, so I added a bit extra of the ingredients that I DID remember to put in the bowl. So I needed to sauté the meatballs in two batches because there were too many! After the meatballs were ready, I added the tomato sauce on top of the meatballs, the pasta, then the diced tomatoes, and about a ½ jar of Newman’s Own Tomato and Basil pasta sauce so the pasta was completely covered.

Turkey Meatballs and Penne

5 minutes on high in the Instant Pot and then turned it off per the recipe. After letting it cool for about 3-4 minutes, I vented it and opened it up to find that the pasta wasn’t all thoroughly cooked, so a bit of stirring to make sure everything is covered by tomato sauce, and 4 more minutes on high. At this point, everything looked good and it was time to fill 6 more Pyrex containers with single-serve meals to freeze, and use some larger Pyrex containers to take up the rest. And of course, being prepared on Sunday morning, I had turkey meatballs with penne for breakfast.

Turkey Meatballs and Penne in Pyrex

Despite my failure to include the parmesan and garlic, the result was Very Tasty! And I put parmesan on top and nuked it for 30 seconds and it was perfect. And I’m about out of Pyrex containers so I need to figure out what to do about next week’s homework assignments. Buy more Pyrex containers? Between these two recipes and previous cooking/freezing, I might need a new freezer as well!

Main lessons learned in the assembly of this recipe include: 1) Pay Attention! Although the results were still delicious, the parmesan and garlic would have been a good addition to the meatball mix. 2) Maybe stick a little closer to the recipe, but still take the opportunity to tweak things. 3) Fresh Basil is awesome!

2 thoughts on “Tasty Accidents

  1. RobinS says:

    These both look like tasty dishes!
    I’ve never used an electric pressure cooker – it sounds like a magical device!
    Yes, Parmesan and garlic would have added more flavor to the meatballs, especially since ground turkey meatballs benefit from a bit of sprucing up.
    It’s great that you don’t feel compelled to rely on recipes. Recipes are a framework – especially when it comes to making things like soups, stews, casseroles, pasta dishes, etc.
    Is there something you could have made without going to the store, or did you just have a hankering for tomato sauce and pasta?
    Thank you for sharing!


  2. steenerikson says:

    Thanks for the comment! I probably could have made something from items on-hand, but it would have been a stretch. And the meatballs really did sound good! This is the first recipe I’ve made from the Instant Pot cook book.


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