Author Archives for carrieshanks

About carrieshanks

I am a proud mom of a 10 years old boy. I am Chinese with a little Dutch descent and was born and raised in Indonesia. Moved to Texas to be with my better half. I love cooking, baking to anything artsy … when I have the time. I enjoy creating stuffs..and watching people enjoy what I create. Cooking and baking are my passion. When I am bored and not doing any baking nor cooking, I found myself sitting with a sketch book or canvas, though I also like to work my scribbling online. Any form to let my ideas flowing from my head. Being away from home is what made me live in my kitchen. I found it hard to find food that I missed which suit to my taste. I started cooking first then after few years paying so much on celebration cakes I dare myself with a little push from my co-worker to start entering the baking area. I learned using fondant after one night sitting and playing with playdough with my son and making little figurines. And of course with so many episode of CakeBoss, I am obsessed with this cake world. So here I am sharing with you with what I have been prepared for my friends and family. Hope you enjoy my blog, and as always any positive comments or opinions are welcome…Be Sweet ;).

Bubur kacang ijo

Where I came from, Indonesia, we eat mung bean as a dessert drinks, serve warm or cold with ice. I have been craving for this and since tonight the weather is cooler, I think it is perfect for this. Instant pot definitely make it easy. I did 15 minutes tonight, but I think 12 minutes should be ok, plus npr just until the pressure is down. I remember my neighbour when i was in grade school, made this mung bean in the old scary pressure cooker. She openned the lid before the pressure all down, boom…the ceiling were covered by the beans. Thank God she was not injured.

2 cups mung bean

8 to 10 cups water

A pinch of salt

3 kaffir lime leaves 

1 pandan leaves

1inch ginger, peeled and smashed

10 tablespoons sugar

1 can coconut milk

Add all but sugar and coconut milk. Closed the lid and vent. Manual 15 minutes, npr just until the pressure button down.

Stir in the sugar, if you like it sweeter, add more. Turn off the pot, pour in coconut milk and stir. 

Serve warm or add ice.

Cloudy and rainy day in a pot

It starts getting cooler here today, it is cloudy, a little rain here and there. Looks gloomy outside, the color just reminding me of a bowl of mushroom risotto. So I decided to make them. My boys are still sleeping, but worry not, instant pot will keep it warm for them.

If you are too scared to use your instant pot, you are surely missing the fun! Who like risotto but too scared to make it yourself? Yes those smooth creamy yummy rice that even on food network, some of those chefs failed to make? Not anymore, not with the instant pot help. 

I wish you are here to smell and taste it. I just love stirring them and feel how smooth and creamy and smelling those subtle thyme, the asiago cheese and the white wine, mannnnn!!!! It is heaven in a bowl…or pot. And it takes 9 minutes cooking while you do other stuffs, like catching up with your series or just back to work..nah. 

All I did was, of course get all ingredients ready, remember chef Anne said mise en place is important 🤣🤣🤣.

Washed and sliced 1 packed of my baby bella mushroom, discard the stem.

Diced  1 yellow onion 

Finely chopped 5 cloves garlic

A stick of butter, now that makes me Paula Deen won’t it?

2 1/2 cups arborio rice

4 to 5 cups chicken broth, cartoon or homemade. I did homemade, which made in instant pot also.

1 cup white wine, drink the rest.

2 – 3  teaspoons dried thyme 

1 cup frozen peas

60 grams asiago cheese, grated

Salt

Pepper

Sautee the onion, mushroom, garlic with 1/2 stick of butter until onion translucent, add thyme, salt and pepper, then add 1/4 white wine to deglaze the pan.

Add arborio rice, stir until mix well with the mushroom and onion. Add the remaining of white wine, stir and add the 4 cups of broth. Turn of the pot,  closed the lid, and sealed the vent, press manual 9 minutes and walk away.

You can watch your movie or grate your cheese while waiting.
When it beeped, turn the pot off,release the pressure little by little so it won’t squirt,  remember starch and dairy  do that when pressure being release.

When all pressure down, open the lid, add 1 more cup of broth and the peas and asiago cheese. Stir and serve or leave them in the pot closed, it will keep them warm for hours.

See what I am talking about?

Oohh soooo good!

Just gotta utilize my Instant Pot

Yepp that title really said it all. That’s what I always think whenever I read a recipe or want to make something. How can I do that in Instant Pot. Not that I hate my stove,  no no no. Don’t want to let the stove heard that. I still need her for my baking, or baking. But she is a look hot, not in a good way I guess, that every time I turn her on my AC decided to work harder to compete with her.

So this Saturday, me and my friends decided to join a cooking class which were organized by the Indonesian Community of Dallas. There were 50 people came. The house was packed as all of us ladies gather around the kitchen island to watch how to make 3 Indonesian delicacies. 

We started with meatball known as baso sapi. Made of a mixture or ground beef, seasonings, tapioca starch,  egg white. They mix them by hand.  I, the lazy me, on the other hand, every time I make this I utilize my gadgets. So I am making the meatball today using my own way of making it. 

The only different I notice was I added nutmeg and fried garlic to my mixture.  

First started.

After a couple minutes 

See my tools in action.

Ready to be rolled 

You can squeeze it in between you thumb and fingers to form the ball before dropping them into hot water. Or use 2 teaspoons to form the balls. The last ia my preferred way. 

Here is the meatballs. It is done when it start to float, give it a couple more minutes before strained them. At this point, they can be serve with broth and noodles or freeze for later use.  Since I have made this last week, I am going to juat freeze them.

How do I use Instant Pot? Well I boiled the water in the pot and using sautee function.  All meatballs done is less than 1 hour. I used 2 lbs ground beef. 

The other dish I decided to make after class was kue lapis pepe or tapioca starch layer cake. My childhood sweets that I like. I used to eat them layer by layer, pulling each chewy layer until the last part. This delicacies are available in so many different names from each countries in Asia. I learned that Vietnames, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysian, Indonesian and some others have a very similar dishes. And this is one of them.

It is so pretty, translucent looking layer cake made of coconut milk, sugar, tapioca starch, rice flour, water and vanilla. 

I mix all ingredients in my vitamix so that I don’t have to whipped them by hand. And steamed them layer by layer in my Instant Pot. 3 minutes per layer. I tried using high pressure 3 minutes it was looking like a bubble when I open the lid. So I decided to use the steaming function, but changed to a sautee method and using a rack to put the pan and glass lid covered with kitchen towel so that nothing will drip on the cake. I made it in 3 colors, white, green and the top layer is red. Just like I remember this cake growing up.

It was so good, not too sweet, chewy and fun to eat.

The mixture

After steaming, cooling down.

Here is the cake.

My Instant pot or should I say pots? They are busy this weekend.  I also made chicken porridge for dinner. Another dumped and walked away kind of meal. 20 Minutes, done and keep warm until we were ready to eat. And had a little bowl leftover for my breakfast. 

Ready.

Minus the Chinese crullers, cakwe for the topping.

Well now I have to figure out what we are going to eat for lunch.  I better go and get busy with my kitchen tools and make a quick late lunch for my boys.

Spanish rice and chicken stew 

I wasn’t sure what to call it. I just whipped dinner in 30 minutes, 10 minutes prepping, 30 minutes thinking about what to cook the whole way home from work. That’s  pretty much my routine. I can’t  follow meal plan, I am more of oh I have this and that let’s make this 😂😂. Even recipe, I can’t  even follow a recipe as is. I have to always make my own twist. Sometimes when I cook, I just throw this and that to the pot and be done. My habit taking picture of my food did not help as I did not write down what I did. So I found myself staring at the pictures and try to figure out what I did. How to make that. 

Now I am better with adding what I do as I make something.  I use this blog as my journal of my cooking journey. 

This meal tonight ended up less than $10 … again. I have a whole young chicken that I bought for $6 and only uses the breast part in this recipe. The rest is just canned tomatoes, tomato paste, seasonings, onion, garlic, rice, frozen peas, chicken broth which I made in Instant pot and freeze tons of them.

Here is the list of ingredients:

  • 1 whole bone in chicken breast
  • 1 (14.5 oz) canned diced tomatoes 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed 
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper

Dumped everything  in instant pot. Closed the lid, sealed the vent, press manual 30 minutes. Once it beeped,  let it sit for 10 minutes before release the little pressure left and shred the chicken,  take the bone  out. I use 2 forks and shred them in the pot.

Now while the chicken  cooking, I started my rice. Into the pot, all ingredients for the rice below. Closed the lid, sealed the vent, press manual 4 minutes then once it beeped let it sit for 6 minutes. Then fluff  the rice. 

  • 2 cups jasmine rice,  coz that’s  what I have and love
  • 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cups frozen peas
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Serve the chicken with the rice and topped with shredded cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice.

My 11 years old had second. He even finished his dinner before I finished mine. So I guess dinner was a truly winner winner chicken dinner.

Instant love

Yes it was instant. I fell in love with my Instant Pot ever since we met. We have made a lot of wonderful meal together. So tasty and fast that we have so much time to get to know each other better, every second we spend together.

One of our favorite thing to make, besides millions on them, is spaghetti. The fact that it only takes 8 minutes cooking under pressure and for this wonderful plate of spaghetti, what can I say…just wonderful.

Some people complain that it was actually cook longer than 8 minutes. True! 8 minutes when it start cooking. Does not include the time doing the mis an place a.k.a. prepping the ingredients ready for cooking.

What do we need?

2 lbs ground beef that we open the package and dump in the pot.

Then chopped 1 small yellow onion and 5 cloves garlic and dump these 2 in the pot along with the beef.

Then peeled and diced 5 carrots, mine was skinny so I used 5. You can do 2 big ones.

Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pot.

Other thing we need are, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 big can of tomato puree, 1 cup red wine, I am using merlot. 1 cup of water to 2 cups if you want more sauce.  

And of course the spaghetti, 1 box. Not gonna be spaghetti without it. We will be just making bolognese won’t we.

The seasoning are 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon white sugar.

See all in the pot, meat, onion, garlic and olive oil. Press sautee and cook until beef are cooked and the onion softened. Then add the diced carrots.

Stir the pot. Wow that does not sound nice lol. Add the tomato paste, seasoning and give it a stir to combine the whole thing.

See they are mingled at the party in the pot. Now it is safe to have the tomato puree entering the party.

Once the tomato puree and water dropped into the pot, turn the Instant pot off, add the spaghetti in and kind of push them down so they are covered with the sauce. 

Closed the lid, sealed the vent, press manual and adjust the time to 8 minutes. When it beeped, your food is done. QR, release the pressure by opening the vent. Give them a stir again and serve.

One pot got dirty, one chopping board, the house stays cool, I have time to catch up with tv series while spaghetti and the sauce cooking at the same time, my boys happy… why not making spaghetti in the Instant Pot??? why? why not?

Broccoli and chicken rice casserole


When you see rotisserie chicken on sale, I usually grabbed some and freeze them. It was $2.83 When I found it. Grabbed couples and using one today. Well I am using just the breast part today.

Diced up the chicken breast part, add them to the Instant pot along with 3 cups of water, a diced of 1/2 small onion and crushed 3 cloves garlic. Stir, closed the lid, sealed the vent, press rice. Once it beeped, you can release pressure immediately which known as QR ( Quick Release) or leave it for longer like I did today, which known as NPR (Natural Pressure Release).

Stir the rice, add 2 cans of creamed of Chicken soup and 1 can creamed of mushroom soup,  1 cup mayonnaise, juice from 1 lemon, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, 1 can sliced mushroom, 1 pack of frozen broccoli florets. Mix well

Pout mixture in a pyrex pan 9×13, spread them. topped with Panko breadcrumb. Drizzle with melted 1 stick of butter. Baked in preheated 350°f oven for around 25 to 30.minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

We don’t cook things like this often. My son and my husband, both said that it have been a looking time since I cooked this dish. 

When I have time, I make own roux for the chicken soup and mushroom soup. But cans are shortcut.

Beef in red wine

Last week I scored when I grabbed this big block of brisket for $18. I cut them up into 4 pieces that I know I can do 4 dinners. So Thursday afternoon after stopping by at Wholefoods and found some sale on merlot and sauvignon, I thought I would do my own version of beouf bourguignon. 

I cut up my beef into big chunks. Seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme and flour. I do this in a bowl and just toss them until all coated. 

Cut a medium onion into 8 pieces, chopped 4 cloves of garlic, cut up 5 slices of bacon. And let them all dancing in the Instant pot with a splash of olive oil until bacon crispy, take the bacon out and use the oilin the pan to browned the meat. Set aside, add white mushroom that I cleaned and tool the stem off. I used 1 big container of it. Add 1 cup of merlot, 1/2 cup beef broth, 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Stir well, scrape the bits on the bottom told the pan from the bacon and the meat. Add salt, pepper as needed.

I then put the meat back in the pot, toss them around and add sliced of 5 carrots. closed the lid, sealed the vent, press manual 40 minutes. 

It was a look tender but not fall apart that I can still grabbed with my girl.

I think this one is a keeper. Would be good with a toast of french baguette or mashed potatoes. I can not stop drinking the broth. So it is another less than $10 meal for us. And since hubby skipping dinner, we actually have the leftover for dinner on Friday.

Another budget dinner

I try to work on a budget for our meal. I like to challenge myself to bring food to the table that if possible less than $10 that is not just pasta and mac and cheese or ramen noodle. If we can have dinner for 3, which actually 5 with our big appetite family, that is not junk food, I feel accomplished. 

Mind you I have limited items I can cook. No sesame for one, no gassy food or veggies for the other. So beans, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans are in the no no list.  I still cook them sometimes but not something I can cook often.

What I do, usually I watch and grabbed what’s on special. Meats, most of the time I grabbed sale price and freeze them. I like going to the store often for vegetable. Daily if I can. they don’t last long. I ended up throwing so many in the trash. These days I like making trip every other day for the veggies. It is on my way home anyway. Not that I have to make special trip.

If you remember from my previous post, I asked my husband what to cook. Beef or chicken. He picked beef yesterday so I do chicken today.

I bought the chicken thigh for $5.83 there’s 8 of them. Enough for all 3 of us. And baby Bella mushroom for  $1.44 at Aldi. With the onion, garlic and seasoning, our dinner tonight is less than $10. 

I rub the chicken with a mixture of olive oil, crushed garlic, grated ginger, salt, pepper, onion powder. Then browned it in the pot with a little more olive oil. After all chickens browned, set aside and throw in the sliced mushroom and sliced onion, I used 1 small onion. Sautee until translucent, the onions are, and add 2 cups chicken broth to deflated the pan. Put the chickens back in the pot. Closed the lid, sealed the vent and press manual 15 minutes. When it beeped, let it sit NPR until the pressure all disappear 😚. Here is what I got. Oh and I still have leftover mashed potatoes from dinner last night. See … we can have a good meal that are not just ramen or mac and cheese in the box. 

Instant Brisket

Over the weekend, I grabbed a big giant pack of brisket that was on sale for $18 and I know I can cut them up into 4 or 5 big pieces. Meaning 5 different meals. I have been shopping at Aldi, Sprouts, and Wal-Mart. Every time I go to Aldi, I always got a full cart of produce and meat and other stuffs like bread, pasta or egg and each time it cost me around $60, which will be almost double if I go somewhere else.

Now Brisket. I am not going outside to grill or smoke them. Not in the almost 100°, or maybe it has reached 3 digits, weather.

I have this image of sliced brisket on top of fluffy mashed potatoes. It had been a week y’all! The struggle is real 😂😂.

Still today I was debating if I should do the brisket or chicken. So I use my life line,  I phone a friend. Not literally phone a friend. I asked my husband, Beef of Chicken for dinner. Thought would be better to ask him rather than play rock paper scissor between my left and right hand. He said Beouf.

The challenge is to have dinner ready in an hour. Start by the time we get home. While I was still at his office waiting for him to finished his work. Searching for ideas with no luck.

5 pm he was done. We drive home, passed IHOP who was calling my name for their $0.59 stacked pancake for today only deal. But the parking lot was packed and I saw people outside waiting. 🙄Nah…brisket it is. But what am I gonna do? I have no idea what to make out of that brisket at home.

Got home, dragged that huge piece of meat from the fridge. Cut the portion I want to cook today and cut the rest and store in vacuum pack and into the freezer.

Instant pot going to be my next life line.  I know I want to make some sort of rub and brown the meat. Drizzle olive oil into the pot. Press sautee and let it heat up the pot and oil. While that is getting warm and fuzzy feeling in the pot, I mix my rub. Coconut sugar 4 teaspoon, salt 2 teaspoons, 1 teaspoon black paper, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon garlic powder and 2 teaspoons smoked paprika. Mix and ru it all over the meat, which I pat dry first. Take the coated meat, and lay it down on the warm fuzzy oil in the pot. Fat side down.  Until all side brown. Pour in around 2 cups beef broth to deglazed the yummy bits from thw meat and the rub. Lay it down fat side up now. Closed the lid, sealed the ring, press manual 60 minutes. When it beeped, let it NPR, Natural Pressure Release so that the meat will still be moist.

While they are mingled in the pot, I started peeling my potatoes, cut them up in the same size for every pieces. I am using 3 huge yellow potatoes and 3 little ones. Put them all,1

after wash and rinse, into the pot. Pour some chicken broth just enough to cover the potatoes around half way. Add salt, pepper, and 2 cloves garlic, crushed.

Closed the lid, sealed the vent and manual 8 minutes. It will take time to get to pressure. I figured they will be done at around the same time. When I started my potatoes cooking, the beef was at 37 minutes left  And the potatoes pot was beeping when the beef still had 9 minutes.

I took the potatoes pot out after QR, add butter after draining some of the liquid out.

You don’t want to drained them all. You want some liquid left but not much. Ok added 1/4 stick of butter and 1/4 stick of cream cheese.

Mashed with potato masher and use spatula to mix or fold the cream cheese and butter until smooth.

Was done with the masher, wash it and my other pot with the beef already beeped and the pressure released.

Took the meat out and sliced them. Press sautee to reduce thw sauce. But I was impatient and did not reduced the sauce much. Scoop some mashed potatoes on the plate, arrange the beef, drizzle some of the sauce or put as much as you like.

I like mine with lots of sauce. My husband like it with just enough sauce. Everyone like it different way and that’s ok 😊.

Both my husband and my son approved this Instant Brisket.  Note to myself, next time add liquid smoke. That’d be great

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