Instant Pot – Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Source Recipes:
Cuong Can Cook – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzQ8gWq_b38
Stephanie Manley – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UG38–QZY8

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta – I used elbow macaroni. Note: The boxes of pasta at the store are usually 380grams (3/4 of lb). I think there’s a pasta/water ratio you need to adhere to so that you don’t have excess liquid after cooking the pasta.
  • 4 cups of water
  • salt
  • 2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (The Cheddar/Monterrey Jack combo offers a creamier and smoother Mac n’ Cheese flavor)
  • 1 cup of half and half milk
  • 2 Tbsp of Butter
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried mustard

Directions:

  • 4 cups of water, 1 lb of pasta, some salt (1 or 2 tsp), and some dried mustard (1 tsp) goes into the Instant Pot. Cook on Manual for 4 minutes with the valve set to Sealing. Quick Release (QR) the valve when cooking is finished.
  • Mix in half-and-half, butter, and shredded cheese into pasta. Folding in ingredients a little at a time makes things easier
  • Add salt, pepper, oregano, or other to taste.

Notes:

  • Try adding hot sauce for a kick in flavor
  • Try different cheese combinations to find a combo that works for you
  • Adhere to the 4 cups of water to 1 lb of pasta ratio to avoid excess water.
  • Cheddar/Monterrey Jack cheese offers a smoother and creamy flavor

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New Year Goals 2017

Hi all.

Here are my resolutions for 2017. I encourage everyone to think about their own goals and reach out to me if I can help you. Write down and share your goals and

My goals for 2017 and in no particular order:

  1. Run a 9-ball rack (pool) and improve my billiards game. I’ve actually broke and ran a 9-ball game before, but haven’t done so since my session of APA League Pool. Stretch goal: Top Gun in 9-ball for my local APA league.
  2. Stage 0 Weight Reduction (lose some weight) and be a little healthier. Maybe make some time and pick up Aikido again. First milestone is to lose 20 lbs.
  3. Be a little more selfish and spend MORE time focusing on myself and the things I am passionate about.
  4. Chair at least one autocross event for the 2017 Championship Series and one event for the 2017 Slush series.
  5. Podium at an autocross event in my class with more than 5 entries.
  6. Fix the Impreza, and then fix the Porsche.
  7. Be more supportive of my friends in their interests and passions, even if those things are no interest to me.
  8. Be relatively debt-free by the end of 2017.
  9. Play more Magic: the Gathering than I did in 2016.
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Instant Pot – Pho Ga Recipe (Chicken Pho)

Homemade Pho Ga

Pho Ga (Cuong Can Cook)

Source:

Recipe – http://www.copymethat.com/r/7IF9I41/cuong-can-cook-ip-pho-ga/

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone in chicken breasts KB: Bone in is important. If you find that you don’t have enough flavor, you can also buy chicken bones by itself. I also found that 4 chicken breasts left me with way too much chicken. My second attempt was with 1 chicken breast with rib bone and 2 carcasses of chicken bones.
  • 1 onion KB: I used a yellow onion.
  • 1 palm sized piece of ginger
  • green onion
  • cilantro
  • thai basil
  • ¼ cup fish sauce plus to taste KB: Use 1/2 cup. Taste your broth before serving. You’ll need to add a little fish sauce and/or salt to the broth in order to get it to the flavor/taste you are looking for. Don’t be afraid of adding too much though. Like Cuong said, the noodles will dilute the broth and flavor.
  • 2 TBS sugar (preferably palm sugar) KB: Use 1 tablespoon instead of 2.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • pho noodles
  • lime wedges
  • packet of pho spices (can omit) KB: This was one of the items available at my local Asian Market. $3.00 for 5 spice packets.
    https://www.amazon.com/Pho-Hoa-Beef-Noodle-Spices/dp/B003GRMUCU
    The filter bag becomes really fragile after the cooking process. Use a ladle to remove the packet as to not break the spice bag during removal
    .

Cooking Directions (From Cuong Can Cook with personal notes in bold):

  • Over direct heat gas flame, char the whole onion and ginger, 5 minutes. If a gas burner is not available, you can use a dry pan on the stove, broil in the oven, or use your outdoor BBQ grill.
  • Place chicken, fish sauce, sugar, charred onion and ginger, salt, and spice packet into Instant Pot and fill with hot water (can use cold, it just takes longer to heat up). Close lid, set vent knob to Sealing, and use Manual for 20 minutes. KB: Try to use hot water if possible. It will save you a lot of time. We also found the chicken to be a little bland. Consider preparing the chicken ahead of time by seasoning with some salt and pepper.
  • While the chicken is cooking, slice green onion and cilantro into small pieces
  • After 20 minute cook time, you can QR (Quick Release) or NPR (Natural Pressure Release). Taste and season broth. KB: I ended up cooking on Manual for 25 minutes. I also don’t think it hurts to let the broth sit after cooking. I feel like the flavors really start to settle in more the longer you let it sit. My only recommendation is to remove the spice packet with a ladle as I think the packet will become more prone to breaking. According to Cuong, you want the broth to be a bit more flavorful than what you like. When you add the rice noodles into the soup, it will dilute the flavor a little bit. This is very much true!
  • In a separate pot, boil some water, Using a noodle strainer if available, boil the dry pho noodles about 5 to 20 seconds until it is loose and pliable. Place into soup bowl. KB: I was told to wash the noodles again after cooking it. Something about a better taste.
  • Slice or pull chicken meat and add to soup bowl
  • Garnish with green onion and cilantro, pour hot soup broth into bowl KB: If the noodles are cold, consider microwaving the bowl for 30-45 secs prior to adding the broth.
  • Top with Thai basil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Stay lubed during all steps of the cooking process!

 

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MTG Deckbuilder’s Tool Kit League

Hi all.

Just wanted to share this format that we decided to try. I give you the deck builder tool kit league. It’s actually very similar to a sealed deck league, but with MTG deck builder’s tool kit. I suggested the tool kit for several reasons.

  1. Cost ($16 on Amazon)
  2. 4 packs + semi-random set of cards, not to mention a large diversity of cards
  3. Little friendlier for new and returning players

One of my autocross buddies and I play tested this format, and it seems really solid. The power level was nice and even, and though I lost my match, both games were close. Here’s the framework of our league. Feel free to edit these league rules to best suit your play group. I think this format is a great way to make the game more inclusive for players of various skill levels, while keeping costs to a minimum and the power level even.

Deckbuilder’s Toolkit League Rules Framework

Deck Building Rules:

Each participant will start with either a Shadows Over Innistrad or Kaladesh Deck Builder’s Toolkit. This toolkit, and its content, is his or her card pool. From this pool, he/she will build a limited deck.

  • Limited decks must contain a minimum of 40 cards. …
  • Players are not restricted to four of any one card in Limited tournament play.
  • Any drafted or opened cards not used in a player’s Limited deck function as his or her sideboard.

The Kaladesh Deckbuilder’s Tool Kit is $16 from Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Gathering-Kaladesh-Builders-Toolkit/dp/B01LDESLBG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477434489&sr=8-1&keywords=kaladesh+deck+builders+toolkit

Match Rules:

  • 50 minute matches
  • Best out of 3 games
  • Casual REL (casual rules enforcement)
  • After 50 minutes, if the match hasn’t been determined, the match will go on for 5 more turns. Active player is turn 0. If no winner is determined, the game ends in a draw.

League Rules:

  • Round Robin format
  • 1 point for game win, 0 points for game lose or draw
    • Ex. If you won your match 2-1, you receive two points, and your opponent receives 1 point.
  • After all the players have played their matches for the round, the cumulative points from all the matches will determine the round’s standing.
  • After the end of the round, all players are allowed to add a single Standard booster pack to their pool.
  • 1st place each round is awarded 2 additional bonus points; 2nd place is awarded 1 additional bonus point. If a tie occurs, both players are awarded the bonus points.
  • Bottom two players are allowed to add an additional Standard booster pack to their pool.
    • This is in addition to the weekly allowance.
  • After 3 (or more) rounds, the player with most points wins the league event
    • Possible prizes:
      • Booster Packs
      • Prize money to defray next tool kit
      • Nothing
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