Quarantine Kitchen Survival Guide

[ Quarantine Kitchen ]

My favorite recipe author, Urvashi Pitre of TwoSleevers.com has been publishing some recipe round-ups lately, to help us with all of our #Plague2020 pantry-using needs during this time of Social Distancing and grocery store shortages.

And since since #WeAreInThisTogether I figured that the proper thing to do would be for me to share such resources — resources that can help in achieving yummy goodness day after day, while we continue to count said days. One. Long. Day. At. A. Time.

Plus — if someone has managed to become MY favorite recipe author, that’s darn near a perfect guarantee that it’ll all be easy for YOU to make! And easy-to-make is an important factor for a lot of people these days.

So it would seem that this post has unexpectedly been shared with other foodies besides the Instant Pot users that I originally had in mind when I wrote it. So I’ve revised things significantly to provide more stove top and oven information wherever possible, in order to make everything more useful to a wider audience.

Pro-Tip: For anything discussing “Keto” or “Low-Carb” on the recipe pages — if you don’t eat that particular way: just add rice / potatoes / noodles then call it a day! If I’ve learned anything from watching Food Network (as if it were pr0n, #TeeHee) it is that Fat = Flavor.

And I’m pretty sure we could all use a whole bucket full of emotionally-satisfying flavorful food right now! #EmbraceTheNoms

30 Minute Meals for Instant Pot, Air Fryer & More
16+ Easy Stew Meat Recipes That Aren’t Just Beef Stew
49+ Instant Pot Rice and Grains Recipes
39+ Easy Instant Pot Bean and Lentil Recipes
60+ Best Keto Instant Pot Entrees, Sides & Desserts
69+ Keto Quick Meals
35+ Five-Ingredient (or Fewer) Easy Keto Dishes

In addition to having multiple recipe round-ups, there is an excellent Recipe Index with a multitude of search criteria to narrow things down to exactly what you want. For instance, I was able to search on “Main Courses, Stove Top, Five or Fewer Ingredients” and quickly find results such as this Broccoli and Sausage Stir Fry (which I’ve made several times, and have found super easy), a Shawarma-Style Ground Beef and Cabbage dish, 3-ingredient Teriyaki Chicken, and a 4-ingredient Creamy Spicy Shrimp recipe.

She’s also published quite a few handy How-To guides for using the Instant Pot with ingredients that are standard pantry staples for many people, ingredients that likely became stocked-up-on during The Great Grocery Hording of 2020, and/or ingredients that can be procured from That Big Online Ordering Company That I Should Really Probably Order From Less Often.

How to Cook Chicken in Your Instant Pot
How to Make Perfect Instant Pot Rice
Perfect Instant Pot Brown Rice
Perfect Instant Pot Jasmine Rice
Perfect Instant Pot Basmati Rice
How to Cook Lentils and Beans in the Instant Pot
How to Cook Quinoa (Instant Pot, Stove Top, and Rice Cooker)

As for what kind of #CovidCooking I’ve been doing recently in my #QuarantineKitchen to work my way through my #PandemicPantry — here are some of the things in my recipe planner for the past few weeks, which I can definitely recommend as big winners.

Meaning: I didn’t screw them up, and they were super tasty.

  • Indian Frankies (Stove Top)
    • An easy and delicious new way to make a breakfast burrito, out of leftovers, that you can eat any time of day!
  • Chicken Adobo (Instant Pot, but likely adaptable to Stove Top)
    • Chicken + Pantry Ingredients = Easy Peasy!
    • This is pretty much just chicken cooked in yummy sauce, so if you’re more clueful than I am about such things it should be totally possible do this stove top. But maybe make extra sauce, to account for the evaporation that doesn’t happen in the IP?
  • Italian Sausage & Kale Soup (Instant Pot, or try this Stove Top version)
    • Italian Sausage, Frozen Vegetables, and not much else! I used what little frozen cauli I had on hand, plus spinach and green beans last week!
    • A little zipity-do-dah with the immersion blender, to make up for the fact that it was chopped spinach and so ended up needing some “cosmetic improvements” after cooking, then it was ready to inhale.
  • Butter Chicken (Instant Pot, or try this Slow Cooker version, or even this Vegetarian version!)
    • If you have somehow not yet made this world-famous recipe (literally! Ask Siri “who is the butter chicken lady?”) — well then you need to get right on it.
    • Just be sure to review this very important Butter Chicken FAQ first, to help avoid some common pitfalls.
    • ProTip: Just grind the spice mix yourself. If I can do it, you can do it! 🙂
  • Antipasto Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette (No Cook)
    • This supposedly serves 4, but maybe that’s as a side-salad, because I’ve never gotten more than 2 servings out of this deliciousness as a main dish — and that is WITH doubling the salami and mozzarella pearls! #NomNomNom
  • Hot & Sour Soup (Instant Pot, or try this Stove Top version)
    • Delicious, and super easy to make! I always skip the tofu, and just use canned mushrooms.
    • Don’t worry about the different kinds of vinegar. Just use regular if that’s all you have.
  • Big Mac Salad (Stove Top)
    • Oh. Mah. Gawd. No joke, I ate this for 14 days straight when the recipe was first released. Find a giant slab of ground beef in Costco or Sam’s and chow down!
    • I make this sauce by the quart now! It’s amazingly flexible and customizable for whichever ingredient you prefer to be your flavor-forward. Once you get your perfect version dialed-in, you’ll find plenty of other things to use this sauce with.
    • Make the sauce the day before, then thank me later! 🙂
  • Sesame Ginger Chicken (Instant Pot)
    • This is an IP PIP recipe, but honestly — it’s a great way to use up leftover chicken. Mix up the sauce, toss everything into a saute pan to warm it up, and call it Better Than Leftovers.

To round things out, here are some memorable standouts from the past year or so, that I’ve been been NOMing on (instead of blogging), and plan to make again ASAP as soon as I can get most of the ingredients into my hot little hands.

The reason I love Urvashi’s recipes so much is because (a) #IAmLazyAF and (b) she’s into #RuthlessEfficiency — so she somehow manages to make minimal ingredients maximally flavorful. AND she somehow makes it so you can do some little tweaks here and there, and minor ingredients substitutions and omissions, and still get something pretty darn yummy.

And since you know how I am with my “little” tweaks, what more resounding an endorsement than the fact that I haven’t screwed one up in MONTHS! (Which is why you haven’t heard from me in over a year!)

  • Butter Chicken Pizza (Oven)
    • Just trust me on this one. I made a double batch of Butter Chicken just so I could eat this recipe for an entire week shortly after it was released.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (Oven)
    • Another great leftover-chicken-transformation. And honestly, you can totally just make it single-serving in the microwave if you’re feeling super-lazy. #ThatWouldbeMe
  • Tuscan Chicken (Stove Top)
    • Just. O.M.G. Plate-licking creamy deliciousness. Definitely try to get your hands on the fresh tomatoes needed for this one.
  • Tacos De Alambre / Chicken Tacos (Stove Top)
    • Bacon, chicken, spices, cheese. What’s not to love?
    • This uses cut up chicken tenders, so actually cooks up pretty quickly. You definitely don’t want to wander off while cooking this! #AskMeHowIKnow
  • Tandoori Chicken (Air Fryer, but Stove Top instructions are included)
    • Marinate some chicken in yogurt and yummy spices, cook, garnish, and nom. #Winning
  • Pork Chops with Mustard Cream Sauce (Stove Top)
    • Forget chopping cabbage, get some pre-shredded (but without carrots!), rearrange the order of things, and add it directly to the onions and sauce, mix it all up, and call it yum.
    • If you’re feeling super lazy (that would still be me!) cut up the pork into bite size pieces, mix it all together, and shovel it into your face from a bowl while on the couch binge-watching Netflix.
    • And that sauce! I even make it by itself — and half the time it takes all my self control to just not drink it!
  • Tomato Coconut Soup (Instant Pot, but Stove Top instructions are included)
    • Tomatoes (I always use canned), onions, coconut milk, spices, and some sweetener = comforting deliciousness far superior than any of that pre-made stuff.
    • If you can eat bread and dairy, add some grilled cheese sandwiches to the equation and let your taste buds be wrapped in a warm comforting hug.
    • Pro-Tip: Use the indicated full-fat coconut milk. Now is definitely not the time to deprive ourselves of comfort!
  • Shrimp and Asparagus Gribiche (Stove Top)
    • Grebiche is just a sauce made from hard-cooked eggs. Sounds weird at first, but oh so yummy.
    • Pro-Tip: You don’t actually need to quadruple the sauce once you try it and decide you want extra yums next time. Double should be just fine.
  • Chicken Vindaloo (Instant Pot, but adaptable to Stove Top)
    • I actually like this even better than the Butter Chicken, which is something I never thought could be achieved. #MajorNoms
    • This is another chicken-cooked-in-yummy-sauce recipe, so totally adaptable to stove top, as long as you know what you are doing with cooking chicken on the stove top. 🙂
  • Korean Chicken Wings (Air Fryer, but adaptable to Oven)
    • This is the recipe that made gochujang my new favorite ingredient. If you like spicy food, it’s definitely worth getting some from Amazon in order to make these!
    • These make regular old buffalo wings boring by comparison. Honestly this recipe is just an excuse to eat the sauce. You could use a spoon just as easily as you could use chicken wings. And hey — less effort that way! 🙂
    • Pro-Tip: All Air Fryer recipes can be adapted to a regular oven by increasing the temperature by 25F and increasing the time by at least 25%. So for this recipe, that would be 425F for 25 minutes, before the final sauce-coating step. Just use a meat thermometer to make sure you get to the the indicated target temperature, finish under the broiler to crisp-up, and you’ll be all set!
  • Cioppino Seafood Stew (Stove Top)
    • Got a Trader Joe’s? Get their frozen mixed seafood, and Boom! Done!
  • Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta (Instant Pot, but adaptable to Stove Top)
    • This is technically an IP recipe, but it cooks at low pressure for 1 minute. Thus, if you are familiar with cooking shrimp on the stove top, in sauce, you’re ready to boogie with this one.
  • French Garlic Chicken (Instant Pot, and adaptable to Stove Top)
    • Trust me when I say if you try to quadruple the sauce, you’ll have a teensy bit of a problem trying to do the saute step. So just skip the saute step and make it a Pour & Cook recipe. No joke. #ThankMeLater #GrabAStraw
    • Pro-Tip: There is an official Stove Top version of this recipe on page 128 of Urvashi’s 7th in-print cookbook. (Ignore the fact that it has the word “Keto” in the title, as I’ve explained above just add a starch or grain, and you’ll be all set for the yums.)
  • Miso Salmon Chowder (Stove Top)
    • You want decadent? Make this with heavy cream! #HomerSimpsonHappyNoises
    • I’ve got this queued up to make again, but I plan on using salmon-in-a-pouch. (Yes! From the tuna fish aisle!) #PandemicPantry
  • Coconut Macaroons (Oven)
    • OK, technically I had to have a massive amount of help with this one. And it made mom happy to finally teach me how to fold egg whites — 30 years too late! LMAO! But hey, whatever gets the noms into my face, right?

My Current Favorites

Honestly, my favorite recipe is usually whichever one is currently being stuffed into my face! And this is far from an exhaustive list of my current favorites — just the ones with recipes available online. I have several additional current favorites, but those are all cookbook-only recipes!

  • Spicy Korean Pork / Dae Ji Bulgogi (Instant Pot, with official Air Fryer versions, and my unofficial “taco meat” version)
    • I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this Instant Pot version, with pork, with beef, and with chicken. (I just look for another IP recipe that uses the cut of meat I have, and leverage that cooking time.)
    • There is also an Air Fryer version using pork, and an Air Fryer version using beef, and a Bulgogi Burgers variation.
    • Lately I’ve deployed Peak Lazy, and I just brown up some ground beef or pork, mix up the IP recipe’s marinade, and then pour it all in at the end to simmer down and make myself some spicy Korean taco meat. Wrap it in a flour tortilla with some shredded cheddar, or Mexican blend cheese, and some halved grape tomatoes, and #MajorYum
  • Big Mac Salad
    • I already raved about this above. But what I didn’t mention is that it also totally works wrapped in a flour tortilla! #PortableNoms
  • Antipasto Salad
    • Also previously raved-about above. I no longer follow the recipe as-written, and just use it as a general guideline of what ingredients go in it — and then add as much of each as I feel like eating that night. Because really, there’s no way I’m limiting myself to using only half the package of those delicious mozzarella pearls!
  • Cauliflower “Mac” Cheese
    • There is an Instant Pot version, and a Stove Top version (with bacon!). I actually like the Stove Top version better. I use green onions instead of jalapenos, and add LOTS of extra cheese. One other thing I do is that I buzz the cauli in the food processor until it is almost a powder. The end result is a dish that is somewhat like a creamy cheesy polenta, that is practically no effort to make!
    • ProTip: This really is best fresh & hot, in all its melty cheesy goodness. But a good trip to the microwave with the cold brick of leftovers, stirred intermittently, will get it pretty close to its former glory. There’s just a bit of an oil separation issue with the cheddar. But really. Bacon & Cheese Noms. I forgive it the minor oil separation each and every time.
  • Texas Chili
    • This is an Instant Pot recipe, but anyone with a clue about making chili stove top (that would not be me!) should be able to get by just fine.
    • Pro-Tip: The chipotle in adobo measurement is one chile — NOT one can! Do not — I repeat: DO NOT — use the entire can! Now is most definitely NOT the time to be trying to explain to medical personnel that the reason you can’t breathe is truly and honestly not plague-related, but is rather just an unfortunate cooking mishap! #PrettySureTheyWontBelieveYou (FYI: The rest of the can seems to last forever in the fridge when stored in a glass container, but apparently it freezes well too.)

Let me wrap this all up with some pics of a few of the things that I made back in January and February — when life was still “normal” for most of us. Some of which received mention above, but many that didn’t.

Everything pictured here is from Urvashi’s 7th, and newest, cookbook which is titled “Easy Keto in 30 Minutes” — and before you skip right over this section because of that “keto” word in the title, please note that I specifically selected these particular images as supporting evidence for my claim that you should just ignore any mentions of “keto” or “low-carb” in any of her recipes. These recipes are literally just really yummy food, that is super easy to make, and almost always super easy to tweak into versions that meet your own specific dietary needs and taste preferences.

And as I’ve said before, what more of an endorsement can I give you, than to say that a blog named “Dumpster Fire Cooking School” hasn’t been able to post anything new in over a year, because I made the “mistake” of finding a cookbook author able to produce recipes that even I can’t mess up. (Well, as long as I actually follow the recipe! 🙂 )

So what have you been doing to pass the time and feed yourself from home these days? Leave a comment below.

(I think I still have the settings set to moderated, so I’ll try to push things through as soon as I see them, while I sit here trying to work from home when really I’m mostly wondering when I’ll next lay eyes on another human.)

ADDENDUM: I shared this page in some private foodie groups, and apparently people are having trouble sharing the link itself since … they’re private groups… where, by definition, posts themselves are not shareable… 🙂 🙂 🙂

So here ya go, something easy-peasy to copy-paste. Just grab everything in the following pink box, and you should be all set to post to your heart’s content some easily customizable intro text plus the full link to this page:

Here is a collection of links to some easy-to-make Instant Pot, Stove Top, Air Fryer, Oven, and No Cook recipes that may be helpful in these trying times when we are all wanting to leverage our pantry ingredients for more things.


» » » » Favorite Tales of Woe: Garlic Nosefire of Death • • •  Chicken Glue • • •  Effed It Up, Ate it Anyway « « « «



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