Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Instant Pot Ham Hock & Bean Soup

We’ve been living “Soup Sunday” ever since Nashville temps dipped to the 60s (so… you know, like late October). This soup has definitely been in regular rotation. I hate that I haven’t shared this sooner, but I’ve been working killer hours, and just not home when there’s light outside to snap a pic. I love this recipe because meat isn’t the main component of this. It uses an inexpensive cut of meat, and doesn’t have a huge amount of prep or steps. My dad gives us ham hocks every now & then, and we also have a meat supplier we love at the Nashville Farmer’s Market (shout out KLD Farms!) that we’ve bought ham hocks from. Admittedly when I first made this soup Nathan was doubtful it would be hearty enough to fill him up. He prefers a very “meat-centric” meal. He was surprised at how much he liked this soup, and how just the meat from the ham hocks was enough to satisfy him.

I love this soup because there’s minimal prep. Just a little bit of chopping (& peeling of the carrots). When I went in search of a bean soup to make with my electric pressure cooker I was a little flabbergasted at all the recipes that called for canned beans. Y THO? Seriously, I thought the whole thing with the Instant Pot was how fast it cooks dried beans! I found this recipe, and it called for soaking the beans overnight, but I was all “Nah”. I’ve always just added a few minutes to the cooking time, and they turn out just fine. To make up for using dried beans I add extra broth or water. The other modifications I do different from the original is only use half an onion and add an extra carrot. My kids like carrots in soup. Also I like to sauté the veggies before cooking. We love to eat our soup with crusty bread. The recipe below is with all my personal modifications.

This recipe was made in my 6qt Instant Pot. Don’t have an electric pressure cooker? Hang tight, I’ve already modified this for the slow cooker! My FIL’s significant other loved the recipe so much when I made it for them, she wanted to make it on Christmas Day, but only had a slow cooker. I’ll be posting that recipe soon!


Instant Pot Ham Hock & Bean Soup

Yield: 6-8

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45-50 minutes*

Total Time: approximately 2 hours, only .5 is active time

**The actual "cook time" on the pressure cooker is 45-50 minutes, but you must also account for the amount of time it takes for it to come to full pressure, as well as the release time. It's best to do a natural release on this, but if in a pinch after 10-12 minutes you can do a quick release. In reality, not including chopping time, the cook time in the Instant Pot is about 1.5 hours


1/2 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Ribs Celery, chopped
4-5 Carrots, chopped (chop larger pieces if you want firmer veggies, as they will be soft)
1 Tbps olive oil
4 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 lbs Ham Hock (single, or a combination)
1 lb dry Navy Beans
7 cups Broth (low sodium) chicken or veggie broth (or water)
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper


Turn instant pot to Sauté function and add oil. Once warmed add onion, carrot, celery and sauté until softened. Turn off and add garlic. Stir, season with salt & pepper.

Add remaining ingredients to the inner liner of the Instant Pot. Stir, making sure the beans are fully submerged. Put the lid on, and set the steam release knob to the Sealing position.

Press the Pressure Cook or Manual button or dial, then the +/- button or dial to choose 48 minutes.

When the cooking cycle ends, turn off the pot and let it naturally release pressure for 20 minutes. (If you're in a hurry, do the quick release after 10.) Carefully release the remaining steam manually, using short bursts at first to make sure the soup won't spew out of the steam release knob. When all steam is out of the pot, and the pin in the lid drops, open the lid facing it away from you.

Serve hot with warm crusty bread.

Adapted from Simply Happy Foodie

Monday, December 24, 2018

Homemade Marshmallows {2018 update}

I’ve been making homemade marshmallows for years. 10 years to be exact. (Does this mean I’m old?)  I actually have multiple recipes for them on this blog already. But none are exactly the recipe or method I use now. I figured now is as good a time as any to post my revised method. I made these for the Seasoned Sunday event, and let me tell you… they FLEW off the plate and were roasted & enjoyed in a matter of minutes! Paired with Homemade Graham Crackers and some amazing local chocolate from Olive & Sinclair these made for the best s’mores I’ve ever had in my life!

The revision is really quite simple. I mostly just use Alton Brown’s marshmallow recipe, but I learned a trick from Martha Stewart’s recipe that makes “processing” them (that’s what I call cutting & “fluffing” them, ha) easier.

TIP: I absolutely ADORE my Thermoworks Chef Alarm when making these. There’s never any guessing about when the sugar mixture reaches the right temp, as I set an alarm for 240 degrees and it beeps when it’s there! If you’re looking to spend a little less but still have a quality product, consider the Thermoworks Dot.

Those are affiliate links, which means I get a little kickback if you’re interested in the product as well. I’ve been a longtime user & lover of Thermoworks brand!


Erin's Homemade Marshmallows

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 4 hour 45 minutes (4 hours inactive time)

These make the most amazing s'mores you've ever had in your life, and will also up the ante in your hot chocolate. TIP: If you think you want to use peppermint for a fun seasonal twist, do NOT use a full teaspoon. 1/4-1/2 teaspoon is all you need, anything more is incredibly overpowering.


3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch


Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pan.

For fewer but thicker marshmallows use a 9x9 pan, for marshmallows of average thickness, use a 9x13 pan (what I used in the marshmallows pictured here). Line bottom of pan with plastic wrap or parchment leaving long ends for "handles", and spray with nonstick spray. When marshmallows are done whipping, pour into the pan. Spray a strip of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and lay it onto the marshmallows, sprayed side down. Press into the marshmallow mixture to flatten. Allow the marshmallows to sit for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

When it is time to cut the marshmallows, in a small to medium bowl add the confectioners' sugar & cornstarch and stir lightly to combine. (Some recipes call for just confectioners' sugar, but I prefer to use a mixture, as I have found when using just confectioners' sugar the coating is too sweet and distracting.) Using the parchment or plastic wrap overhang, lift the marshmallows out of the pan and set onto the cutting board. Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap. I like to use a circular pizza cutter to cut my marshmallows, but have also used kitchen shears. Whichever tool you use, grease lightly with kitchen spray, and cut into 1-1.5 inch squares. I like to do 1 line at a time. Pick up each marshmallow and toss it into the bowl to coat. Tap, tap, tap/pat, pat, pat to get excess off, and place into an airtight container. Marshmallows will keep for up to 3 weeks.

recipe & methods slightly adapted from Alton Brown & Martha Stewart

Friday, November 2, 2018

Seasoned Sunday – Giveaway!

Fall is hands down my favorite season of the year. Coincidentally it’s the season in which my birthday falls. And this year on the eve of my birthday, I’ll be celebrating it at the “Seasoned Sunday: Sausage and Beer” event going on at Wedge Oak Farm. It’s a collaborative event featuring top Nashville chefs, locally raised meat, & Tennessee beers. I’d love to have you join me! I’ll be doing a giveaway for one pair of tickets (details at the end of this post!).

The event is Sunday, November 11th from 12-5pm at Wedge Oak Farm, just off I-40 near Lebanon. Seasoned Sunday was borne from the friendship between Tennessee Craft Beer Magazine Editor in Chief David Wingo and Karen Overton of Wedge Oak Farm. Karen and David wanted to bring together the best in beer and food to celebrate Tennessee. The event aims to raise money for and to bring awareness the Tennessee Local Food Summit which takes place later in November at Montgomery Bell Academy.

Seasoned Sunday will feature 5 talented local chefs, Trevor Moran of Strategic Hospitality, Laura Wilson of Citizen Kitchens, Trey Cioccia of The Farm House and Black Rabbit, and Jess Benefield and Trey Burnette of Two Ten Jack and Green Pheasant, who will each prepare a sausage using Wedge Oak Farm’s locally raised heritage pork and chicken. Karen raises chickens, ducks, turkeys, and hogs on her family’s 110 year old farm in Wilson County. Wedge Oak Farm produces some of the area’s finest pork. Wedge Oak’s hogs include Poland Chinas, Yorkshires, and the only Tennessee raised Mangalitsas. Karen will provide each chef with the meat and casings for their sausage. The rest will be up to the chef’s imaginations. In addition to the sausages, Barefoot Farmer and Bloomsbury Farm will provide organic vegetables that will be prepared over the fire by Private Chef William Gentry.

You may recall me mentioning that my husband is really into craft beer. Thanks him, I know more about high quality breweries than I ever imagined. So I know that the lineup for this event is stellar. Blackberry Farm, Jackalope, Yazoo/Embrace the Funk, and Southern Grist will each bring two varieties for guests to enjoy. Also, Tennessee Craft Beer Magazine will be tapping a keg of their Sun Drop collaboration beer made with Von Seitz Theoreticales and Monkey Town Brewing.

This will be a family friendly event, and children 12 and under do not require a ticket. There will be live fire cooking, fire pits, and farm tours. I make no promises, but maybe I can manage to throw together a batch of my homemade marshmallows & homemade graham crackers for s’mores. If you win my giveaway, I’ll share some with you! The event will have live music provided by Los Lemmings. Tickets are $75 and available for purchase on Eventbrite.

Finally, how to win! You get 1 entry for commenting on this post, 1 entry for tagging a friend in the comments of my instagram post, 1 entry for retweeting the link with a comment on Twitter. You only need to do one to win, but I’m just giving you extra opportunities! Good luck! Contest ends Friday 11/9 at 7pm.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Music City Food + Wine 2018 – HOT HOT HOT

Another festival has come and gone. If there’s a takeaway from this year’s Music City Food + Wine festival the best word to describe it is HOT. Temperature-wise this may have been the hottest festival I can remember. And while it was hot, myself & other festival attendees still managed to have a blast despite the heat. Of course the temperatures were cooler Friday night, which made the night option seem like such a smart choice. There’s definitely a different ambiance to the night event, a bit of magic in the air. 

Left: Adele’s bite with red sorghum, charred corn, heirloom cherry tomato, jalapeño jam, cilantro pesto, coriander blossom

Upper Left: Capitol Grille’s Double H Meatballs with bourbon smoked paprika glaze atop whipped goat cheese with a sprinkle of kale. Bottom Left: oyster shooters from Henley.

Right: Tomato Tart from 5th & Taylor.

Middle left: Oak Steakhouse‘s CAB Beef Belly with rosemary milk cracker, caramelized onion, bleu cheese mousse, tomato jam.

Bottom left: Greko Street Food‘s salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, Greek feta cheese, kalamata olives, crispy chickpeas, green onions, cucumbers, & creamy GReKo dressing.

As much fun as Friday is, it can also feel like a big pre-game to the main event, Saturday’s Grand Taste. Remember when I said the word to describe this festival was hot? Well, that was also because I snagged some delicious Hattie B‘s hot chicken. Admittedly I do not typically eat hot chicken. When we order Hattie B’s, I always get southern (zero heat). But I figured I could manage a small festival sized portion, and I was right. This was worth the hype.

Hot also describes the feeling at Martin’s BBQ & Friends Live Fire. Some of my favorite bites were snagged from here. The smoke rising into the air was a signal, this was the place to be.

Top left: Vivek Surti

Lamb rib seasoned to perfection and so soft and tender it pulled right off the bone. I didn’t catch who cooked this, if anyone knows, please let me know!

Vivek Surti in action.

As crazy and simple as it sounds, this okra was one of my favorite bites. Maybe it’s because I just love okra, or maybe it was the seasoning + live fire. I wanted to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths, but I’m not that greedy.

Belle Meade Bourbon‘s “Cold Fashioned” is something we have been conditioned to seek out every year at the festival. Especially this year in the heat, it truly provided great relief. Tell me, does anywhere in town serve this??

BJ Lofback of Funk Seoul Brother, with his KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) was another hot bite at the festival. This stuff is like crack (though not to be confused with his Crack Rice…).

Top Left: ‘Which Hunt from The Mockingbird featuring cheddar biscuits, chicken breakfast sausage, american cheese, pepper jelly. Top Right: Grilled Ham, Kale and Cabbage Salad with Corn, bacon and Scallion Muffin from Smithfield.

Bottom left: Dan dan cold noodles from Tànsuǒ. Bottom right: killer Southern Smokehouse Bloody Mary featuring Tabasco, Titos’s Vodka and Smithfield flavored Bacon garnish.

Top left: cocktails from Cumberland Bar. Top right: Canned wine from Francis Coppola wines. Bottom left: Proper Bagel

It wouldn’t be a Music City Food + Wine without a refreshing cucumber gin drink from Hendrick’s Gin!

Top left: DJ Case Bloom spinning the good tunes. Bottom left: Americano Tapas Bar with the Chinese five spice pumpkin panna cotta with apple tarragon duck confit salad.

Right: Shrimp dish from Thai Esane. Special thanks to Nina for not making it too spicy!

Ticket holders had the opportunity to enter into a lottery to win a spot in the exclusive Pappy Hour. At this year’s Pappy Hour they sampled the 12 year Van Winkle Special Reserve and the 15 year Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve along with special Blackberry Farm beers Ampersand Saison, Classic Saison, and Vintage Abbey Quad Saison. That’s my husband there in the hat and glasses, he scored a coveted seat at the table for this bourbon with beer back experience.

Toyota brought a fun user experience yet again with their Travel.Eat.Repeat tent. Just like last year I waited until the very end of the festival to hit this up, and managed to score a fun bag, passport holder, luggage tag, and personalized cutting board. I love that I have souvenirs to last forever from this festival!

Top left: My friend Ally thumbs it up from the Toyota Avalon after finishing her cutting board. Top right: showing off my tri-star cutting board!

Middle left: passport holder & luggage tag. Bottom: canvas bag, J’eat yet? 

I don’t know how we did it, but we powered through and made it to Harvest Night. I’m SO glad we did. The whole night had a Studio 54 theme and the music was absolutely amazing. I mean… we heard Ruby Amanfu sing “I Will Survive”. It was AMAZING! Other acts that came out included Little Big Town, Sheryl Crow, Phillip Phillips, and Elle King brought the FIRE with “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. And then everyone came out for Earth Wind & Fire’s “September”. Oh yeah… and there was food. Great food!

This was the year I convinced multiple friends & even coworkers to come to the festival. It was great having so many friends there, but I have to say, socializing really cut into my eating time (ha, j/k… sort of). Believe it or not there was a lot of things I never had to chance to sample. Shame! I’m already looking forward to 2019!