Butter Chicken

What do you you do when a snowstorm keeps you from your takeout Indian restaurant? No, we didn’t have a drone delivery, we made our own Indian takeout. However, we had never seen this dish on the takeout menu anyway, so we decided to give it a try. The results were great, and snowstorm or no, we plan to make it again.

If “butter chicken” doesn’t sound like a name that would share menu space with biryanis and vindaloos, we agree with you. The proper name for this Punjabi dish is murgh makhani, and it was invented by restaurateurs in that part of India in the 1950s. Our version comes from Justine on her The Typical Mom blog. This recipe is prepared in an Instant Pot® home pressure cooker. We think Justine’s recipe is great, but as always, we made a few modifications. We added more garlic and ginger, and next time we may add some minced jalapeño pepper, too. We substituted nonfat half-and-half for half the heavy cream, and we might cut the total liquids by 25% next time we make it. Nonetheless, this was a great home version of Indian takeout, and we highly recommend you try it. We also recommend you go back to Justine’s The Typical Mom blog for several of her other recipes!

If you can’t get to the link to work, here are the recipe ingredients and directions.


6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes (about 1 inch)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1/2 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

5 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp garlic, minced

1 Tbsp ginger, minced

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp Garam Masala

2 Tbsp cornstarch (optional)


1. Turn your Instant Pot to saute, medium, and add butter.

2. When butter is melted add cubed chicken and onion.

3. Cook just enough for chicken pieces to cook just a touch on the outside.

4. Add all other ingredients into your Instant Pot or pressure cooker and mix together well.

5. Put lid on and close steam valve.

6. Set Instant Pot to manual, pressure, low, for 5 minutes. (enough time if cut into bite size pieces, if larger pieces increase time)

7. When done move steam valve just slightly so steam comes out slowly.

8. Carefully lift lid. Serve immediately or remove chicken and set to saute low for just a few minutes. Put some of the hot liquid in a small bowl with 1 tbsp of cornstarch and whisk together, add back into the pot and stir. May do this again with another tbsp. depending on how thick you want the sauce to be.

9. Sauce will thicken more as it sits. Turn off, add chicken back in, and serve with rice and/or naan.

Serves 6.


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Pork Medallions on Apple Compote with Black Pepper Cider Sauce

Wolfgang Puck’s column in our local newspaper carried this recipe recently. The dish is simple enough for a weeknight meal, but could also be the basis for a special dinner. The recipe calls for a total of one cup of heavy cream. Feel free to cut back on the cream, substitute half-and-half, or just eliminate it like we did. We can testify that the result was superb without the cream! You can get your butcher to cut the medallions if you wish, but it wasn’t complicated to cut a pork loin into eight equal cylindrical pieces. We used apple jelly; apple cider jelly was hard to find. Wolfgang Puck’s apple compote is a great pairing–the leftover was a great side dish the next night, too. Enjoy!


For the black pepper cider sauce:

1 cup chicken stock or broth

2 Tbsp apple cider jelly or apple jelly

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns

For the apple compote:

2 lb. large pippin or Granny Smith apples

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 tsp apple cider jelly or apple jelly

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

For the pork medallions:

1 1/2 lb. pork loin, cut into 8 equal medallions

1-2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish


First, prepare the sauce: In a 10-inch skillet, combine the stock or broth and the jelly. Over medium-high heat, simmer briskly until the liquid reduces to 1/2 cup, stirring frequently to take care that the sugar in the jelly doesn’t burn along the side of the pan. Pour in the cream and simmer briefly, just until the sauce thickens. Whisk in the butter and crushed peppercorns to taste. Cover and keep warm.

For the compote, peel, core, and quarter the apples, then cut into thin slices. In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over high heat. Add the apples, sauté briefly, and then reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft. Add the jelly and wine and stir until the jelly melts. Add the cream and stir until the apples are evenly coated. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg. Keep warm.

To prepare the medallions, first lightly dust them all over with the flour and season to taste with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, heat 1 or 2 heavy skillets with enough cooking surface to hold the medallions in a single layer without crowding. Add 1 Tbsp each of oil and butter to each skillet, and swirl to coat the cooking surface. Add the pork medallions and saute until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

To serve, mound the compote on 4 heated plates. Arrange two medallions on top of the compote on each plate. Spoon a little sauce over and around the medallions. Garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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Instant Pot “Rotisserie” Chicken

This recipe comes from recipe developer Marjorie, from Alabama via the website apinchofhealthy.com. Rotisserie chicken in a pressure cooker? Needless to say, we were both intrigued and skeptical. But we’re game to try almost anything with our new pressurized cooking miracle maker, and we are happy to report Marjorie has won us over. If you’re like we were at first, intimidated by the concept of having a highly pressurized metal container in the kitchen, potentially venting off superheated steam, then this recipe is a good place to start. The instructions are very detailed, so you won’t go off track. We have listed them here, in case you have trouble getting to Marjorie’s website.

Marjorie also has some other Instant Pot® winners on her website; we’re sure you’ll enjoy those recipes, too!


1 whole chicken, 3-5 lb.

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp paprika

1 3/4 Tbsp avocado or coconut or canola oil

1 yellow onion, quartered (optional)

1 lemon, halved (optional)

1 cup chicken stock or broth


1. Remove all parts from the chicken cavity; rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Optional: place the onion and lemon in the cavity of the chicken.

3. Combine all of the spices, including salt and pepper, in a small ramekin dish; stir together.

4. Add the oil to the spices and stir until incorporated.

5. Turn on your Instant Pot® to preheat on the sauté setting on “normal.”

6. Rub the oil and spice mixture on the breast side of the chicken.

7. Place to chicken, breast side down, in the preheated Instant Pot®.

8. Carefully rub the other half of the oil and spice mixture on the other side of the chicken.

9. Allow the breast side to crisp up the chicken skin for a few minutes, about 3-4 in all.

10. Carefully flip the chicken over to the other side, and let it crisp up the skin on the other side for about a minute. Flipping it over may be awkward; try using a sturdy burger flipper and some tongs.

11. Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot® after it browns on the second side and place the trivet in the pot. Then place the chicken, breast side up, on the trivet.

12. Add in the chicken stock.

13. Place the lid on and lock it, per Instant Pot® instructions.

14. Set to manual high pressure for 25 minutes.

15. All the Instant Pot® to depressurize naturally (i.e., do use the venting lever). This may take more than 15 minutes.

16. Remove the lid, and transfer the chicken to a serving plate.

17. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes prior to serving.

18. You may want tot spoon a little of the cooking liquid over the top immediately prior to serving the chicken.

Remember: cooking times vary. You can test the internal temperature of the chicken to 165º F. to confirm doneness.

Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

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Beef and Guinness Stew

This recipe comes from recipetineats.com; the author is Nagi, from Sydney, Australia, but the flavor is dependent upon Irish beer. The chef for this stew clearly states there is no satisfactory substitute. Importantly, you will not taste any beer in the finished product. The greatest aspect is that you can cook this on the stovetop, in the oven, in a slow cooker, or in one of the popular new pressure cookers, like Instant Pot®. We hope you try it, because we’re certain you’ll love it!

By the way, we wholeheartedly endorse Nagi’s website for lots of other great recipes, including a vast compilation of one-pot meals.


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 1/2 lb. beef chuck, brisket, or any other slow cooking beef (meat should be boneless)

3/4 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 white or yellow onions, chopped

6 oz. bacon, speck, or pancetta

3 Tbsp flour

1 can (14.9 oz) Guinness beer

4 Tbsp tomato paste

3 cups chicken stock or broth

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs thyme


Cut the beef into 2-inch chunks. Pat dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown well on all sides. Remove onto plate. Repeat with remaining beef.

Remove pot from heat to cool slightly and lower heat to medium. If the pot is looking dry, add oil.

Return pot to heat, add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until softening, then add bacon.

Cook until bacon is browned, then add flour. Stir flour into the mixture.

Add Guinness. Mix well (to ensure flour dissolves well), then add remaining ingredients and return beef into the pot (including any juices).

Add enough water so the beef and vegetables are almost fully covered.

Cover, bring to simmer, then lower heat so it is bubbling gently. Cook for 2 hours; the beef should be quite tender by now. Remove lid, then simmer for a further 30-45 minutes or until the beef falls apart at a touch and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Skim off fat on the surface. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and thyme.

This recipe can be adapted for the oven, slow cooker, or Instant Pot®.

Oven: Cover and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 325º F. Remove, then cook for a further 30-45 minutes to reduce sauce per above instructions.

Slow Cooker: After adding the Guinness into the pot, bring to simmer and ensure you scrape the bottom of the pot well. Transfer to slow cooker. If there is residual brown bits in the pot, add a splash of water and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot, then transfer into slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients per recipe. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Instant Pot®: Follow slow cooker instructions, cook on HIGH for 50 minutes.

Serves 6.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 3 hours

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Pasta with Italian Sausage and Swiss Chard

We had leftover farfalle pasta from a recent recipe (check our earlier January 2018 blog entries), and we came across a recipe for pasta, Italian sausage, and Swiss chard. Of course, we could not leave the recipe alone; modification and substitutions are in our wheelhouse. Here we go again!

This recipe also comes from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street January/February 2018, but you may not recognize our version. We used farfalle, not orecchiette, pasta. We substituted a dash of Worcestershire sauce for the anchovy fillets, and we used canned cherry peppers in place of Peppadews (difficult to find). We had left over ground fennel from the previous coconut soup recipe. Oh, and forget about the sweet Italian sausage–hot is the way to go. Nonetheless, this makes a great weeknight meal, and preparation is quick. If you’re afraid of Swiss chard, this is a good place to start with that hearty vegetable. The recipe uses both the stems and leaves, so there is no waste!


12 oz. orecchiette pasta

1 lb. crumbled sweet or hot Italian sausage

Extra-virgin olive oil

3 minced anchovy fillets

2 tsp ground fennel

1/4 cup finely chopped Peppadews

8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 lb. Swiss chard

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided

3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese


Boil pasta in well-salted water until al dente. Drain, return to the pot and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Meanwhile, cook Italian sausage in 1 tablespoon olive oil until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, then pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. To the skillet, add anchovy fillets, ground fennel, and Peppadews. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in garlic and the stems of Swiss chard. Cook for 30 seconds, then add chicken broth. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves (roughly chopped) and another 1/2 cup broth. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low heat and cook until the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the chard and sausage to the pasta and heat over medium-low. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese, then season with salt and drizzle with olive oil.

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Red Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Spinach

Coconut soup not your idea for a hearty winter meal? This recipe may change your mind. Flavorful and satisfying, we are planning to add this dish to our routine January fare, and the recipe is simple enough for a weeknight meal. The basis for the dish comes from the cuisine of Goa, a Portuguese colony in India until 1961. We found this one in the January/February 2018 issue of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine. If you are unfamiliar with lentils, there are several varieties widely available in grocery stores. Get the red lentils for this recipe, because the red lentils break down better than brown or green lentils, and that characteristic is important for proper body in this soup. Ground fennel may not be easy to find; don’t worry, fennel seeds are always available, and grinding them is simple.


2 Tbsp coconut oil or peanut oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

Kosher salt

3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger, divided

2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground fennel

3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3 1/2 cups water

14-oz can coconut milk

1 cup red lentils, rinsed

6 oz. (about 6 cups) baby spinach, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp lime juice


In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the oil, onion, garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion has softened and is just beginning to color, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the ginger, the mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water, coconut milk and lentils, then bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the lentils have broken down, 30 to 40 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and return to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1 teaspoon ginger and the lime juice. Taste and season with salt. Serve in bowls; it is optional to sprinkle shredded coconut and chopped tomato on top.

Serves 6.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

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Crispy Orange Beef

Take out isn’t always the best option. Here’s a flavorful, simple alternative to the little paper containers from your local Chinese take-out favorite. This gem comes from Allrecipes.com (by BEC). The recipe takes some preparation, but the results are well worth it; you can still eat in a little more than an hour!

We were out of broccoli, so we substituted strips of red pepper. We also increased the grated ginger. Along with the orange, the extra ginger produced great flavor.


1 1/2 lb. top sirloin beef, thinly sliced

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 cup long grain rice

2 cups water 1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tsp orange zest

3 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic

8 broccoli florets, lightly steamed or blanched

2 cups oil for frying


Lay beef strips out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Allow to dry in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, rice vinegar, orange juice concentrate, salt and soy sauce. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Add more water at the end if necessary.

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Toss dried beef in cornstarch to coat. Fry in the hot oil in small batches until crispy and golden brown; set aside. Drain all of the oil from the wok except about 1 tablespoon.

Add orange zest, ginger and garlic to the remaining oil, and cook briefly until fragrant. Add the soy sauce mixture to the wok, bring to a boil, and cook until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add beef, and heat through, stirring to coat. Serve immediately over steamed rice, and garnish with broccoli.

Serves 6.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ready in 65 minutes

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