It’s the holiday season. Usually this means holiday gatherings and covered dish dinners, but in 2020 … not so much. Yet I am always gathering ideas and recipes for easy, make-ahead mealsfor a crowd or a few.
Today I made one I call Philly-Cheese Casserole. You can modify this versatile dish in many ways to suit your tastes. Just follow the basics: Layer potatoes, ground meat, aromatic vegetables, and top with cheese. Bake covered at 350°F for 70-75 minutes.
1 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4”
1 pound ground Chuck*
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pepper, thinly sliced
1 large can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Optional: parsley for garnish
*Don’t go too lean on the ground meat. The fat contentworks to flavor the casserole. There is no added fat or liquid in this dish.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a casserole dishlayer potato slices on the bottom. Salt and pepper.
Add the ground Chuck. Salt and pepper.
Layer peppers and onions atop the meat. Salt and pepper.
Spread the canned diced tomatoes.
Top casserole with the shredded cheese.
Cover and bake for 75 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Remove casserole from oven, uncover, and allow it to cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Casseroles like this one canbe made ahead a day or even frozen. Just give an extra 5 minutes baking time.
Cheesecake is delicious but fattening, so I had never made one. Also, cheesecake baking is labor-intensive, with its water bath and springform pan. Then I read about pressure cooker cheesecake. Now cheesecake can be a Hasty Tasty dish.
You can lighten the cheesecake by substituting Neufchâtel cheese for the cream cheese, but I don’trecommend other low fat substitutions. For me, cheesecake is a decadent dessert I save for a rare treat or to give as an impressive gift.
I made plain cheesecake and topped it with fresh berries. I used a 7” pan and my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus.
16 oz. Neufchâtel cheese (room temperature)
2 oz. sour cream
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
1 cup Graham cracker crumbs for crust
2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, melted, for crust
Prepare crust by combining Graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press mixture into a 7” springform pan.
Place crust in freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Combine sour cream and Neufchâtel cheese with sugar and beat, but don’t over beat.
Add eggs one at a time.
Add vanilla extract and stir just until combined.
Pour filling into prepared crust.
Using a sling, place pan into pressure cooker on a trivet over 10 oz. water.
Seal cooker. Cook under pressure for 28-30 minutes.
Quick-release pressure and carefully remove cheesecake from the pot. Check for doneness. if edges aren’t set and center jiggles, it’s done. If not, return the pan and trivet to the pressure cooker and cook 5 minutes additional.
Cool cheesecake completely on a rack. Cool another 4 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
Slice cheesecake into 8 pieces, top (optional), and serve.
Cheesecake should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within 4 days. (It won’t last that long!) 😋
I want to thank Barbara Schrieving for her excellent tutorial on foolproof cheesecake. If you don’t follow her Pressure Cooking Today site, I recommend you subscribe.
Butfor the COVID19 pandemic, this would be Kentucky Derby week in my hometown of Louisville. In its honor, I made a staple of Derby parties, Benedictine Cheese.
As a child, I had no idea what this stuff was, yet I loved it. To me, it was green cheese. Yummy stuff to spread on crackers, I now enjoy it on sliced zucchini, carrot sticks, and celery.
Here’s how I make Kentucky Benedictine Cheese.
8 oz. cream cheese
1 medium cucumber
1/2 small sweet onion
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
(Optional) Fresh herbs for garnish
(Optional) green food coloring
Add chopped cucumber and onion to food processor (I used my Vitamix) and purée.
Strain to remove excess liquid. (Cheesecloth works well)
Add seasonings and lemon juice. Blend.
Blend mixture with cream cheese until creamy.
Refrigerate until serving.
As April draws to a close, so does the quarantine (to a certain extent. Re-opening will vary from location). The Kentucky Derby may be postponed, but I can pretend I’m Derby-ing by enjoying the traditional Derby foods like Benedictine Cheese. Maybe I’ll bake a Derby Pie next, who knows?
Those who follow Dixie Pixie Dust (my travels blog) may remember we spent our wedding anniversary in El Reno, Oklahoma, dining at Sid’s, home of the original onion burger. It’s a classic diner along historic Route 66.
Today I duplicated the experience in our kitchen. I need to tweak my technique a bit, but we were pleased with the results.
I toasted whole wheat hamburger buns, which I discovered hidden in my freezer, on the griddle while frozen fries cooked in the air fryer.
Using two quarter-pound burgers from the freezer and one onion, chopped, I grilled the onions first before adding the burger. Onion burgers are created by pressing the meat into the onions, incorporating the onions into the meat. Sid’s uses 3 ounces beef, which yields a thinner burger.
The onion burger was born in the Great Depression as an economic move to stretch beef. Like many recipes of that era it’s now a popular, beloved dish. Onion burgers are a way to reduce red meat and add a vegetable to a meal.Unfortunately, I already had 4-ounce patties. Next time I will use 3 ounces of meat for a better meat-to-onions ratio.
I can’t compete with Sid’s Diner, but this was a close knock-off. Not bad quarantine cuisine.