What Doin {Eating Out}

We did a whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C. for spring break. Between miles of walking and hours standing in lines, we managed a few delicious meals. Lucky for us, our friends were in town at the same time. We got to share a number of meals with them and their friends too.

Truffle Mac n cheese

Starting with the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had from The Pig. The sauce was rich and velvety smooth, with a crunchy truffle topping. Epic!

Pork Belly Buns

These pork belly buns were amazing too. Pork belly, pickles, and crispy bao made for a delicious bite.

March for our Lives

The Pig was supporting March for Our Lives participants by handing out free brown bag lunches and water. As was the Think Food Lab.  Of course, José Andrés is an amazing human who is making his mark feeding people in need! Witnessing and interacting with marchers and supporters provided me renewed optimism.

After the most exhausting day, this cocktail really hit the spot from Barley Mac. Especially because I did not have to wait in line for it.

Barley Mac Cocktail

Coccoli

Spicy Tuna

Smores with cotton candy

We ordered far too much that we all shared. Not a bad bit in the bunch. Great spot when the kids are joining you and ordering the S’mores dessert with cotton candy so you can have a taste.

Beet Sandwich

We stumbled on The Partisan which was a lucky find, the littlest deemed his burger “the best he has ever had”. I went with a beet sandwich, it was a winner. The filling was tasty, but the bread was the star. The husband went with pastrami, I’d order that should I return.

Pastrami Sandwich

A trip to D.C. would not be complete without a visit to the Old Ebbitt Grill. Added bonus, our niece joined us for dinner.

The cocktails were out of this world and served with pizzazz. The service itself was over the top!

Seafood Tower

And being it was 1/2 price happy hour, I could not resist the seafood tower experience.

Founding Farmers

We ended our adventures at Founding Farmers.

Apple and Onion Jam Crostini

The apple, cheese, and onion jam crostini was my favorite of the night.

A post shared by Jacky Hackett (@jaxhouse) on Closer to home…Why Berwyn? One reason, this blood orange gimlet. Autre Monde has this and it is the best cocktail ever, we have a mutual admiration for each other.

Tied House Board

This was our first visit to the Wild Onion Tied House, after seeing The Quiet Place (scary as hell, highly recommend). The Tied board hit the spot, actually it was so big we took half of it home for later.

Candied Bacon

The candied bacon is a must try. Perfect with the crunchy pepito seeds.

Kung Pao Shrimp

New Star, an oldie but a goodie. I don’t think I have been there in about ten years, for no reason other than convenience of the location. We joke that crossing North Ave. is like going to Wisconsin, yet it is only a few miles away.

Fortune Cookie

This place is the real deal, I just wish we were in their delivery boundaries.

Little Goat

Don’t be fooled by this photogenic dish, it was delicious. Little Goat does not disappoint with this Japanese pancake, pork belly, poached egg. It is the Okonomiyaki, luckily the menu provides the pronunciation – yum. The pancake was savory, and very light and fluffy. A great meal catching up with old friends.

I got my fill, ready for lots of home cooked meals.

What Doin {Eating at Home}

Things I have cooked and been eating at home lately…

St. Patrick’s Day of course calls for corned beef and cabbage. I cooked up a ridiculous brisket to person ratio, employing all slow cookers to make my Best Ever Guinness Corned Beef recipe, and the Instant Pot to try out a new corned beef recipe. Both were delicious but I prefer the meat from the Instant Pot, next year I try the Guinness recipe in the Instant Pot.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

A revisit of this Guinness Cake was in order. It was A-Mazing!

Guinness Cake

And then there was Easter, on the menu:

Baked Ham
Polish Deli Breakfast Board
Spring Succotash
Herb Roasted Potatoes with Burrata
Homemade Rye Bread
Challah Bread

Easter Menu

Quite the spread. The leftovers fed us all week.

Polish Deli Breakfast Board

The breakfast board and rye were from the beautiful cookbook Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes. My rye was not too successful, I need to attempt it again. Lots of other recipes I want to try.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Spring Succotash

The potatoes were amazing, I mean they are topped with Burratta so how could they not be. And the spring succotash is one of my favorite recipes, I have made in numerous times since trying it via Hello Fresh meal we were gifted. The mint is the key.

Homemade Pizza

And finally this amazing pizza!

Homemade Pizza

Chock full of flavor with spicy turkey sausage, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, basil, mozzarella, Parmesan, arugula, truffle oil. Sounds complicated, but it would not be easier. The crust was a big hit, even though I only let it rise 2 hours before using. I plan to make a few batches of this to have on hand in the freezer.

Homemade Pizza

The pizza recipe is from another amazing cookbook, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains. I have tried a few recipes, all with success. The author tends towards a lot of ingredients but they always make the dish complete.

Not pictured, the box macaroni and cheese I dined on while doing taxes and working on one of the lamest Friday night evening’s on record. And I threw the ham bone in the Instant Pot with dry white beans, vegetables, and seasoning to make a ham and been soup to get us through the week. Planning to attempt a full chicken in the pot too. Wish me luck.

Dinner Options {Spicy Miso Paste}

Last week my daughter asked if she could make this Ramen Noodles with Miso Pesto recipe for dinner. Um, yes please! It was an amazing dish.

She even went grocery shopping for the ingredients. As it turned out she could not find miso so she improvised by making this substitute with ingredients we had in the house.

Miso Substitute

The recipe made a way more “miso” than was needed for her recipe so I went on the hunt for recipes to use it up.  My goal something a ramen noodle dish with spice. I ended up closely resembling this Homemade Spicy Ramen with Tofu. A few alterations I made; I used the miso substitute instead white and red miso and replaced the chicken stock with the Instant Pot spicy broth I made. Oh and skipped the shiitake mushrooms and seaweed. It has quite a few steps, and in the end I really just combined the spicy miso paste with my spicy broth and strained with a fine sieve, and used it as the base. Easy peasy with same tasty result. Made for delicious dinner options.

Option 1: Ramen noodles are key.

Ramen noodles

Add in some crispy fried tofu, especially the crispy bits from the spicy miso paste.

Crispy Tofu

Add the heated spicy broth and spicy miso paste combo. Top with sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Option 2: Add a soft-boiled egg to option 2.

Spicy Ramen with Tofu

Option 3: Easiest route to dinner, store-bought mini wontons.

Mini Wontons in Spicy Broth

Cooked them in the spicy broth and spicy miso paste combo. Ready in minutes.

Mini Wontons in Spicy Broth

Spicy Miso Paste

Ingredients

  • 1 bulb onion
  • 1 cup miso substitute (or red miso)
  • 3 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 inch piece ginger
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor, and process until smooth paste is formed.

Notes

Miso Substitute: 1 cup canned re-fried black beans, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 1/2 tablespoons Marmite, tablespoon beer. Add all to blender and blend until smooth.

http://www.jaxhouse.com/2018/03/13/spicy-miso-paste/

Any option is a good option. Give one a try.

Cook Once, Eat Twice {Instant Pot Spicy Broth}

The Instant Pot is still proving to be a great addition to our kitchen. I use it a few time a week to get dinner on the table. Sure, I could make a lot of recipes on the stove top, but I love that I can set it and walk away to do other things. And since the cooking time is greatly reduced compared to a slow cooker it allows me to make several dishes on a weekend afternoon. Perfect for getting a head start on the week and making extra to stock the freezer. Cook once, eat twice.

Here are a few recipes I have had great results with.

A post shared by Jacky Hackett (@jaxhouse) on Red beans and rice. Dry beans, no soaking required, great result.

A post shared by Jacky Hackett (@jaxhouse) on Beef with broccoli. This went from freezer to Instant Pot for a quick midweek dinner.

A post shared by Jacky Hackett (@jaxhouse) on Zupa Toascano. Delicious and could not be easier! I used Jenni-O Italian turkey sausage and swapped in milk for the heavy cream.

A post shared by Jacky Hackett (@jaxhouse) on Goan coconut chicken and chickpeas with kale and roasted cauliflower rice. This was a super fast weeknight meal! Diced chicken and a simmer sauce only took less than a half hour total time in the Instant Pot. You have to account for the time to pressurize and  to release the pressure, it cooked for only 7 minutes. While that was cooking hands-free I roasted the cauliflower rice and sautéed the kale.

This weekend I made simple broth in the instant pot, that will base for several dishes this week. I threw ginger, garlic, Lemongrass, Serrano pepper, peppercorn, start anise, and whole cloves into 6 cups of water. Cooked it all in the Instant Pot for 12 minutes.

Spicy Broth Instant Pot

When complete release the pressure and season with salt to taste. Be warned, using the entire pepper made this broth very spicy. I ended up making a second batch, minus the pepper and 1/2 the amount of water. I combined both batches to get a more kid friendly heat level.

Spicy Broth Instant Pot

The end result is a broth with great depth of flavor with minimal effort.

Instant Pot Spicy Broth

Ingredients

  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bulb onion
  • Serrano pepper
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 6 cups water

Instructions

  1. Slice all ginger, bulb onion, pepper, lemongrass lengthwise.
  2. Place in Instant Pot pan, cover with water.
  3. Turn on Instant Pot, click Manual button, change time to 12 minutes.
  4. Release pressure manually.
  5. Season with salt to taste.
http://www.jaxhouse.com/2018/03/11/instant-pot-spicy-broth/

While the broth along is perfect for sipping, stay tuned for how we will put it to use this week. But for now, I’m off to shred the three pounds of chicken that just finished cooking in the instant pot.

Family Style {Homemade Labneh}

A dinner that everyone in my house can agree on, is one served family style. Our favorite is Greek pita sandwiches. Bear with me, I’ll get there. But first let’s talk cheese, specifically homemade labneh. Labneh is a tangy cheese made from Greek yogurt. Similar in taste to cream cheese or goat cheese but with far fewer calories and fat. It makes a great spread, dip, and overall replacement for cream cheese in most recipes.

Start with Greek yogurt. I used a large container of Fage Total 0%.

Homemade LabnehIdeally, you’d strain the yogurt in cheesecloth and hang it over a bowl. Not having cheesecloth on hand, I used paper towel (coffee filter would work too) and placed it in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.

Homemade LabnehI let it sit in the fridge over night. During the last few hours I placed a ramekin, with a heavy jar inside, on top to force more liquid out. I’m impatient like that.

Homemade LabnehAfter 24 hours, there was about 1/2 cup of liquid that strained out. The longer you strain it, the thicker it will be.

Homemade LabnehUsing my small scoop, I rolled them into balls.

Homemade LabnehThen Rolled them into a mixture of fresh-cut herbs and lemon zest. I had thyme, dill, and chives on hand. Great way to use up fresh herbs before they go to waste.

Homemade LabnehPlace them in a mason jar and cover with olive oil.

Homemade LabnehSpread the labneh on crackers, bread, whatever. The labneh balls also make a great addition to a cheese board.

Homemade LabnehDo the colors in that photo not look like a photo from a cookbook circa 1970? Anyway, our family style meal. I reserved some of the labneh and put it in a small bowl and topped it with fresh herbs and olive oil. Melty and tangy goodness when spread on a warm Naan bread! Top that with shredded Greek chicken, lettuce, chopped cucumber, red onion, red peppers, radish and cherry tomato. A hell of a mess to eat, but damn delicious and a family favorite.

Homemade Labneh

Ingredients

  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 large container plan Greek yogurt (2 -3 cups)
  • fresh herbs, finely chopped
  • lemon zest
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Stir salt into yogurt.
  2. Place fine mesh strainer, lined with cheesecloth, over a large bowl.
  3. Place in fridge and let drain for 24-48 hours.
  4. Press out excess liquid. Discard liquid.
  5. Roll yogurt into small balls, roll in herbs, place in mason jar.
  6. Cover balls in olive oil and store in fridge.
http://www.jaxhouse.com/2018/01/23/homemade-labneh/

Winter Warmth {Creamy Cauliflower Soup}

We are wrapping up a balmy 50° winter weekend. It was like pea soup out there tonight. But of course we’ll be back to freezing in a few days. Sharing this soup that I make back when the weather was what we refer to in these parts as Chiberia.

This soup will stick to your ribs and take the chill out of your bones.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I blended the soup with a hand blender, but left some texture. A blender is a better option if you prefer to blend the soup until smooth.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I served this with crispy ham as an option topping, while delicious the meat is totally unnecessary. Also served with mini biscuits, but oyster crackers would suffice. Or just simply topped with chopped parsley. A hearty vegetable soup no matter your choosing.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cauliflower head, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 t. Italian seasoning (dried)
  • 2 T. parsley, chopped (or use celery leaves), reserve some for topping
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • crispy bacon or ham (optional)
  • cheddar cheese, grated (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven, melt butter and add onions and garlic. Saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft.
  2. Stir in celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir cauliflower and cook about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in broth, stir in seasoning and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bring soup to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Blend soup with a immersion or standup blender. Return to pot and stir in cream cheese until incorporated.
  7. Served top with parsley, crispy bacon, ham and/or cheese.
http://www.jaxhouse.com/2018/01/21/creamy-cauliflower-soup/

Slow Weekend, Instant Pot Cooking {White Bean Chicken Chili}

Three day weekends are the best! After the hustle of the holidays I was well prepped to do a whole lotta nothing. Just completing on of my most unproductive weekends on records. Unless putting a dent in my Netflix queue is considered productive. I really enjoyed My Next Guest with David Letterman. The interview with President Obama had me feeling depressed and hopeful all at once. Letterman’s statement at the end of the interview is spot on. Spoiler alert, I was super disappointed they did not in fact play dominoes. Too obvious I guess.

I followed that up with a million episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Always a bad sign when Netflix keeps asking “are you still watching”. Don’t judge me Netflix. In my defense, the episodes are short. Great line-up this season. I also watched two movies, Manchester by the Sea and Stronger. Both were tear-jerker. And 90% of the dialog of both were a derivative of the F-word delivered in a Boston accent. Definitely went over my screen time limit this weekend.

In between, I did manage to cook some delicious meals with a lot of help from my instant pot. I got one for Christmas, and I am putting it through its paces. I started easy with hard-boiled eggs. They turned out perfect and were so easy to peel. Something I can’t seem to accomplish when making them on the stove top.

The Instant Pot is essentially a pressure cooker that offers a slow cooking, rice cooking, sauté and a ton of other features. I am sold, the meat is not rubbery or dry, as I find it tends to be coming out of the slow cooker. In most cases the recipes cook a lot faster, and with the sauté feature it truly is a one-pot meal. I made a few recipes to both have on hand this week and to stock the freezer.

To start, chicken. Simple enough and will become a meal of BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches with cole slaw. The rest goes into the freezer for future tacos or enchiladas.

Instant pot shredded chicken

Next up, white bean chicken chili, as I had a few more chicken breasts to use. A great way to use up can goods and jarred salsa. Doesn’t get much easier.

white bean chicken chili

Perfect for a snowy day. Again, half for the week the rest in the freezer.

white bean chicken chili

Finally, when a friend posted this instant pot butter chicken recipe I knew had to make it! I’ve made butter chicken before, and it is pretty involved. I found this version really simplified the process and had a better result. The flavors were amazing and the heat level was perfect. But I do question when the recipe calls for you to freeze half the sauce. I’d just increase the amount of chicken and freeze it in that form. Though, I’m skeptical of how well a sauce with cream and butter would defrost. I am not confident the texture would hold up and I am not willing to risk any of this dish to put it to the test now.

instant pot butter chicken

I made the rice in the instant pot with the rice option. I accidentally took the lid off mid-cooking. I think that contributed to a less than stellar outcome. I’ll have to attempt this again, rice is a just a dish that I struggle with perfecting (like hard-boiled eggs).

Tonight we will be trying out pot roast made with leftover homemade French onion soup. I’ll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, here is the white bean chicken chili recipe.

Instant Pot White Bean Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs. Chicken Breasts
  • 2 T. Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 C. Chicken Broth
  • 1 15 oz. can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz, can Roasted Corn Kernels, drained and rinsed
  • 1 10.75 oz. can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 jar Salsa
  • 1 cup Mexican Crema (or sour cream)

Instructions

  1. Set instant pot to saute. Once hot, add oil and let get hot.
  2. Season chicken with taco seasoning. Brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Add onions and garlic and cook about 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in broth, beans, corn, soup, and salsa.
  5. Press the Bean/Chili button on instant pot. Set time to 30 minutes.
  6. Let pressure release naturally 15 minutes, then manually release remaining.
  7. Shred chicken.
  8. Stir in Crema.
  9. Serve with cilantro and crushed tortilla chips.
http://www.jaxhouse.com/2018/01/15/slow-weekend-instant-pot-cooking-white-bean-chicken-chili/

Anyone have any must try instant pot recipes to share?

Happy New Year {Ginger Thyme Simple Syrup}

My simple syrup making goes way back. Back to the days of helping my mom grocery shop, only to have first dibs on the food as it came in the house. In a house of eight people, the food didn’t last long. On grocery day we lived like kings, not so much by the end of the week. We got creative with whatever we could find.

Things we generally always had in the house, bread, sugar, eggs, and a variety of McCormick imitation flavorings. I made a lot of French toast in those days. Something we never had in the house, maple syrup. We always made our own, water sugar and imitation maple flavoring. Essentially a maple simple syrup. Necessity is the mother of invention, indeed.

These days I don’t make maple syrup, but I do like to use up herbs, fruit etc. in a simple syrup to be used in drinks. Today it was thyme and ginger that were on the verge of going unused.

Heat equal portions of water and sugar in pan until the sugar dissolves. Put in your flavorings and let cook about 2 minutes. Turn off heat, let cool and strain into a jar. Keeps about 2 weeks in the fridge. I like to keep a bit of the ingredient in the syrup so I can remember what flavor it is, as I often have a couple in the fridge.

I thought the thyme and ginger combo would make a delicious cocktail to ring in the new year. I mized about 4 oz. of grapefruit juice, 2 t. of simply syrup and topped it off with Prosecco.

I was right! Cheers to a new year full of family, great friends, good eats, new experiences and an abundance of kindness.

Happy New Year. Let’s see what ya got 2018.

Old School {French Onion Dip}

There is nothing the like the hustle and bustle of the holidays to such the joy out of the season. Whoever said it is the most wonderful time of the year wasn’t in charge of getting anything done. My to-do list is always a mile long and time is always short. Making time to enjoy the season is always a challenge, especially in the final stretch. At this point whatever isn’t done or bought makes no matter, and there will NOT be a fiftieth trip to the grocery store as the entertaining portion of the holidays begins. We have a full house this week, but entertaining doesn’t have to be stressful. I prepped a few meals in advance to have on hand and I am digging into my pantry to fill in the gaps.

Here is an easy recipe, if you can even call it that,  to whip up and leave out for everyone to grab as they  wrapping gifts, cooking in the kitchen, sipping cocktails, whatever their thing may be.

French Onion Dip

It’s simply a mix of beef bullion and cream cheese.

French Onion Dip

Start with 1 T. bouillon and 1 block/tub of cream cheese. Adjust to taste. I used whipped cream cheese this time and i think i prefer it over the block, it was easier to combine thoroughly.

French Onion Dip

Dip your favorite vegetables.

French Onion Dip

It’s total old school and totally delicious.

French Onion Dip

Besides, we can all use more access to vegetables this time of year.

veggie tray

French Onion Dip

Ingredients

  • 1T. beef bouillon
  • 8 oz. cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Stir to combine. Add more bouillon to taste.

Notes

Alternatively, replace sour cream for cream cheese serve with potato chips.

http://www.jaxhouse.com/2017/12/23/old-school-french-onion-dip/

Keeping it simple, ore time to focus on family festivities.

Fake News {Thai Quinoa Meatballs}

Turns out a I like peanuts, or more specifically peanut sauce. Quinoa, not so much, that I just tolerate. It is pain to make and besides it always gets stuck in my teeth. I made an exception in order to try this recipe and it paid off, delicious and no quinoa in my teeth. I used the recipe from Everyday Cooking plant-based recipe cookbook as my starting point and made a few alterations from there. Between my daughter and I we’ve made over a half-dozen recipes from this cookbook, and they have all been great. My only complaint is that every single recipe calls for sugar or maple syrup. I leave it out of the savory recipes as I do not see what value they add. Otherwise lots of good recipe, vegan or not.

roasted chickpeas

Start with roasting the chickpeas and then making the peanut sauce. Don’t bother to clean it out for blending the chick peas, the flavors all end up being mixed together anyway. You call it lazy, I call it efficient.

peanut sauce

Speaking of, the lengths I will go to avoid a trip to the grocery store are spectacular. I was out of soy sauce but I did have all the ingredients on hand for this soy sauce substitute. It got the job done.

soy sauce substitute

Fake news, as the shape is the only thing these have in common with meatballs. The texture and flavor are way off, they are good but I think a hard sell for a dedicated meat-eater.

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Carrots as noodles, fake news too. However carrots make an awesome noodle fake out. My fav celebrity chef ever, Sara Moulton, introduced me to the carrot noodle trick years ago. This would be just as good with spaghetti squash or real pasta.

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Always good to try something new. Give it go, see what you think.

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Thai Quinoa Meatballs

Ingredients

  • Peanut Sauce:
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. chili garlic sauce
  • 2 T. hot water
  • Meatball:
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 t. chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • Carrot Noodles:
  • 6 carrots, peeled into ribbons

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For peanut sauce, blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth sauce. Add water to desired thickness. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place chickpeas on a cookie sheet and cook for 15 minutes. Set aside, After cooled, blend in blender or food processor.
  4. In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients. Mix to combine.
  5. Scoop out 1 T. per meatball. roll and place on greased cookie sheet.
  6. Cook meatballs for 15 minutes, turn and cook another 15 minutes.
  7. Cook carrot noodles in salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Reheat as needed to serve.
  8. To serve top carrots with peanut sauce, meatball and top with cilantro and chopped peanuts.
http://www.jaxhouse.com/2017/12/14/thai-quinoa-meatballs/