Instant Pot Magic: Let’s Cook Dried White Beans & Smoked Cajun Tasso

I love my Instant Pot for many reasons. One is speed. Some foods, such as dried beans, cook much faster when using the pressure setting on an Instant Pot. Now I can cook healthy dried beans in a reasonable amount of time (rather than all day). Although there are differences between types of beans, I have developed a “template” recipe for cooking white beans –Navy, Great Northern, cannellini or lima beans. This is a one-pot recipe; everything is done in the Instant Pot. No need to soak the beans overnight. The Instant Pot does that function. Then add seasonings, smoked Cajun Tasso or other smoked meat, the soaked beans and let the Instant Pot finish the job. No need to keep checking on the beans as the Instant Pot regulates the temperature and keeps track of the cooking time. In addition to being a tasty meal, dried beans are full of healthy fiber and other nutritional benefits. So, let’s start the New Year with some healthy dried beans cooked in an Instant Pot. Here is a bowl of white beans and ham (made with Navy beans).

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Let’s Cook “Minestrone Soup” with a Louisiana Twist

I love a hearty soup on these cooler fall days which we are finally experiencing here in south Louisiana. Soup seems to take the chill out of the air and warm a person’s soul. So, today I’m making a variation of “Minestrone Soup” by including several seasonal autumn vegetables. I associate “Minestrone Soup” with Italian cuisine, although actually the soup precedes modern Italian culture and can be traced back to ancient Roman days. It was considered to be “poor man’s soup” where any and all leftovers were thrown into the soup pot. My soup certainly has lots of vegetables and beans which makes makes for a very colorful and flavorful soup. In my recipe, all the ingredients blend together — it is not overly rich, spicy or “heavy.” The soup is easy to make, and is a great way to increase the vegetables in your meals.

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Easy Cook: Chili Con Carne with Louisiana Red Beans

Here’s an easy and very tasty recipe for “Chili Con Carne.” This is a great concoction for cold winter weather to warm up the body and soul. Or make a pot of “Chili Con Carne” next weekend and watch the football Super Bowl game — your family can help themselves to the chili and you won’t miss a football play. The recipe includes dried red beans –giving it a Louisiana “touch” — as certainly the dried version of red beans is used in traditional New Orleans cooking. I made this chili several times to tweak the recipe and the result is a pleasing blend of chili peppers and seasonings, tomatoes, kidney beans and beef. The chili has “bite” but no one component overpowers the other. I think I got this recipe “just right.” With the dried beans, this recipe takes several hours to cook — so start early in the day.

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Ben’s Louisiana-Inspired Vegan Burgers

Let’s have some meatless meals this year for a healthy lifestyle. My son introduced us to vegan burgers at a supper meal last summer. I was surprised at how delicious these sandwiches were. Rather than a ground beef burger, they were made with beans, lots of vegetables and seeds for crunch. Everyone went back for second helpings. I came home and made them with a Louisiana twist — using red beans (a common ingredient in the South), Cajun spices and serving them with Louisiana-style Remoulade Sauce. Continue reading

Touchdown Chili for a Football Crowd

Wow, what a footfall season we had this fall. Our favorite hometown football teams (LSU and the New Orleans Saints) both had several exciting nail-biting wins. We watched the games until the bitter end. Now, there will be plenty of college football bowl and professional play-off games starting the year in January. If you are a football fan, then this is football paradise. So to end 2018, here is a chili recipe which is great to serve while watching a football bowl game in your home. It is also a tasty main dish to serve on a cold, winter night.

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Red Bean Soup with Rice; a variation on Creole Red Beans

Red Beans and Rice is a New Orleans Creole standard dish traditionally served in homes and restaurants on Monday’s. It’s served at buffets, social functions and is often included in Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties.

It’s always tasty, but one of the best preparations I’ve eaten was with the red beans totally mashed and served as a soup. Red beans are soupy anyway, so this variation was logical. I’ve lost the recipe, and have been experimenting with what I might have done. It came out pretty good.

red bean soup - 1 - IMG_1952_1

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