I blog often about my cooking tools, like the Instant Pot, air fryer, pressure cooker, Vitamix, and Cuisinart Food Processor. Another tool I love is my KitchenAid stand mixer. It’s 30 years old and still going strong. I updated it with a new five quart glass bowl and a newer paddle with scraper. Through the years I’ve bought attachments for it, like the pasta extruder and the meat grinder. Mostly, though, I use it as a mixer.
I’m not much of a baker, but there’s much more you can do than mix batter with a KitchenAid. I use low speed to whip potatoes, high speed to make whipped cream (SO much better than from a can!), and medium speed to shred cooked chicken for burritos or chicken salad. Use the dough hook to knead pizza dough. These are just a few applications. And especially if you’re a baker, the KitchenAid stand mixer is a must-have.
For more information about the KitchenAid mixer (Still assembled in the USA. Yay!), read this review.
Happy New Year!
Do you know the difference between brown rice and white? White rice is refined. It’s had the brown coating removed. So brown rice is actually rice. White rice is refined rice, like whole wheat flour and refined flour. Because I try to keep my carbs complex, I prefer brown rice to white. It also has more taste. But it takes a lot longer to cook than regular rice.
There are a number of recipes available for cooking brown rice. There are a number of recipes available for cooking brown rice in the pressure cooker. I’ve tried most of them. But it annoys me that my new Instant Pot comes with a rice setting that works only for white (refined) rice. The Power Pressure Cooker XL and a few other models have settings for brown rice, but many don’t. Here’s my work around:
Take 1 cup brown rice and rinse. Cover with 1 1/4 cups water and soak for one hour. Set a timer. Do other stuff. Check Facebook. Whatever. After an hour, add salt or other flavorings, seal the Instant Pot (or other brand multi-cooker you use), and select Rice. (Soaking brown rice also shortens cooking time in a stovetop pressure cooker, too. ) At the end of the cooking time, hit cancel and allow pressure to drop on its own 10 minutes. Release any remaining pressure. Carefully open the pot and fluff rice with a fork. You have 4 servings of perfectly cooked brown rice.
This has worked every time for me. If it’s too much trouble to soak ahead of time, just cook the rice for 22 minutes followed by the 10 minute pressure release. But I really like using the special rice cooking setting because it’s convenient.
Add more whole grains to your diet as you begin the new year. You’ll be healthier for it!
We don’t eat much red meat, but when we do, I splurge. I buy only meat from grass-fed livestock that has no added hormones or antibiotics. We enjoy pot roast, but a traditional recipe cooks hours. I’m about “hasty” meals, so here’s my version. I promise it’s just as yummy as the slow-cooker version. Using a packet of soup mix saves time with your spices. It’s all there, including salt and pepper. You need only an hour total for this Hasty Tasty Meal.
Easy Weeknight Pot Roast
I use a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time. Since so many of you have asked for Instant Pot meals, I used my 6-quart Instant Pot. However, the recipe works in any pressure cooker, electric or stovetop.
- 1 – 2 pound beef roast, any cut
- cooking spray (I prefer Pam®)
- 1 packet dehydrated (low-sodium if available) onion soup mix
- 2 medium russet potatoes, quartered (or 6 whole baby Yukon golds if you prefer). Peel if you want, but after cooking, the skins slide off easily.
- 2 yellow onions, quartered or roughly chopped
- 2 sweet peppers, sliced (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth (Yes, chicken broth* not beef broth) or water
- ½ pound carrots (I prefer Bunny Love Organic)
- Slurry of 1 Tbsp. corn starch mixed in 2 ounces cold water
- Preheat the pot using the sauté setting. When the display reads Hot, spray generously with cooking spray and add onions.
- Using the dehydrated onion soup mix, dry-rub the meat thoroughly.
- Slice meat into 1½ to 2 inch pieces. Add meat to the pot to brown.
- After a couple of minutes, turn off the Instant Pot. Add garlic and tomato paste. Stir.
- Pour in the broth. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot, incorporating the flavors into the broth. Add sweet peppers if using.
- Place the potatoes on top the meat.
- Seal the Instant Pot and program (using either the meat or manual buttons) for 30 minutes. If your model has two pressure settings, select high (which is the default).
- While meat cooks, prepare the slurry, and slice carrots into 1″ pieces.
- After 30 minutes, hit Cancel and allow pressure to drop on its own for 10 minutes. Then release remaining pressure and carefully open the pot.
- Add the carrots, replace seal, and return the Instant Pot to pressure for 0 minutes. Allow pressure to drop on its own completely before opening the pot.
- Using a large spatula, lift the meat, potatoes, and carrots onto a platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.
- Using the sauté button (Never cover the pot with the lid while using the sauté function), bring cooking liquid to a boil and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. As soon as the liquid begins to thicken, turn off the pot, remove it (careful! Use your silicone mittens for this) to a heatsafe trivet or folded towel, and gently pour it into a measuring cup or gravy boat to serve.
- Serve platter with a drizzle of the gravy and a dinner roll.
Why use chicken broth instead of beef? Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a store-bought beef broth that tasted good. There’s an artificial, almost “tinny” taste to it. Yet chicken broth or stock is mild and actually brings out the umami flavor of the meat. If you have neither, use water. It’s only a cup and it’s better to go plain than bad-tasting for your cooking liquid.
I’ve tried quinoa and steel cut oats. They’re okay but my new grain passion is farro. It’s akin to brown rice yet twice as nutritious. I like the nutty flavor and chewy texture. It also cooks more quickly than brown rice. Stovetop it cooks in about twenty-five minutes, but I cook mine in my pressure cooker. Pearled* farro cooks in five minutes with a natural pressure release. I cook up a double batch of plain farro and refrigerate it for later use in salads, heated for a breakfast cereal, or added to a recipe designed for rice, risotto, or orzo. I don’t flavor mine when I cook it, although you could. Give farro a try in any dish you’d typically use rice or risotto.
Hasty Tasty Farro
Makes 4 half-cup servings
- 1 cup Organic Farro (I use Italian Pearled)
- 2 cups filtered water (you can go a little shy of 2 cups in a pressure cooker because there’s no evaporation)
- 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
- Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker pot. Seal lid and bring to pressure.
- Cook under pressure 5 minutes. Remove from heat (hit cancel) and allow pressure to drop on its own.
- Carefully open pressure cooker and stir. Season as desired.
*Pearling removes the outer husks
If you’re a purist and want your pasta cooked separately, you can skip this post. The Hasty Tasty Meals Kitchen is about shortcuts, and cooking pasta in the sauce is a time-saver if done correctly. But it can be tricky.
I cook pasta in the sauce in skillet meals, casseroles, and in the pressure cooker. The safety instructions for pressure cookers warn against cooking foods that foam, like pasta or grains, but don’t let that stop you. You just need to exercise caution. I do oatmeal in its own bowl on a trivet above the water, for example, with no problem. I’ve seen countless posts on Instagram and Facebook of beautiful lasagnas made in an Instant Pot or other brand multi-cooker under pressure in a springform pan. It can be done.
When making pasta dishes in my pressure cooker, I prefer Mueller’s Pot-Sized dried pasta. It’s smaller length makes it a perfect fit without breaking.
Here are the rules when cooking pasta, whether by itself or with other food.
- Add a teaspoon of oil.
- Don’t allow pasta to touch the bottom of the pot.
- Spread dried pasta in a single layer as much as possible and don’t stir.
- Use sufficient liquid to cover the pasta.
- Cook for only half the recommended time.
- Allow pressure to drop on its own for a minute then release in short spurts.
- Add cheese or other dairy products.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have satisfactory results. Why go to the trouble to cook a spaghetti dinner in a pressure cooker? Clean up! I have one pot to clean. One. That makes me a happy cook.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- one pound ground turkey (or beef–you choose)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- one 8 ounce can mushrooms (do not drain)
- 8 ounces dried spaghetti
- 1 15½ ounce can tomato sauce + 1 empty can water or broth
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the pot of the pressure cooker and brown the ground turkey in the cooking oil. If using an electric pressure cooker, you can just choose any setting that allows you to saute with the lid off. Salt and pepper as desired.
- Remove pot from heat (or hit Cancel on an electric model). Layer pasta over the meat spread as thinly as possible to prevent clumping.
- Add the can of mushrooms, the tomato sauce, and the water or broth over the pasta. Do not stir.
- Sprinkle garlic and seasonings over sauce.
- Seal the cooker and bring to pressure. Cook 5 minutes.
- Allow pressure to drop on its own 1-2 minutes, then carefully vent the cooker to release pressure.
- Open the cooker and stir (use a long handled utensil because contents are hot!).
- Sprinkle with a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Residual heat will melt the cheese.
Note: You may use this method with other shapes and sizes of dried pasta. Just cook under pressure for half the time recommended on the pasta’s box.
While I embrace using pressure cookers, there are some dishes less suitable for cooking under pressure. I prefer my microwave oven or stove-top steaming for quick-cooking vegetables like asparagus and broccoli.
The best broccoli is green, tender, but still crisp. If you want brownish, limp flowerets, cook as long as you want. But we prefer broccoli cooked about three minutes (depending on the wattage of the microwave oven) in an oven-safe bowl covered with a wet paper towel. The only water needed is what clings to the flowerets or spears when you rinse them before cooking. That’s it. Hasty and tasty!
Thousands of people received an electric programmable pressure cooker for gifts during the holidays, or purchased one during the black Friday sales. Dozens of social media groups offer recipe exchanges and tips. One frequent question that I see on a daily basis is “How do I convert my slow cooker recipe for the _________(insert brand name of electric pressure cooker)?”
As a veteran pressure cooker cook, I feel qualified to address this question. I hope my recommendations help you. Here’s an example: A favorite slow cooker recipe of ours is slow cooker chili, based on Hurst’s HamBeens brand Slow Cooker Chili. I substitute ground turkey for the beef and Rotel for the diced tomatoes. I also use 1 quart chicken broth and 3 pints water instead of using all water, but otherwise I follow the recipe on the package.
First I turned on the pot and browned the onion and turkey. Then I added all other ingredients and sealed the pot. I cooked the recipe on high pressure for 40 minutes, followed by natural release. The beans were tender yet not too mushy, and the chili was delicious. However, the finished product was a little soupy for our preference.
However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution (that is, too much liquid) when cooking dried beans. Also, reheating the leftover chili evaporated any excess moisture. Therefore, the only conversion I suggest is cooking time. Each pot differs in buttons and settings, so you’ll have to consult your own manufacturer’s manual or website to know how to set high pressure for 40 minutes.
Where did I get the 40 minutes? I consulted the cooking chart for dried beans (without soaking) and used that time. Since beans take the longest cooking time, that’s what you should choose. If you’re a Crockpot veteran, you already know there’s a range of cooking time when slow cooking. There’s also a range with pressure cooking, so if I tell you 40 minutes and someone else tells you an hour, cook for the minimum time. It’s easy to check for doneness and bring the pot back to pressure to add cooking time. The contents are already hot, which means your pot returns to pressure quickly.
Note: If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, reduce cooking time to 35 minutes followed by natural release. The electric models take a tad longer to cook.
Safety first. The new cookers are the safest yet, but you have to follow the rules. Don’t overfill (2/3 pot for most dishes, 1/2 pot for bean dishes) and always use liquid. Even the shortest cooking time requires a minimum amount of liquid to reach pressure. Read your manual. If instructions are missing, either visit the manufacturer’s site or contact them.
Final word of advice: Cook! Don’t leave your new cooker in a box in a closet. Use it. Experience is the best teacher. Also, join a group or two on Facebook and read through their posts. You’ll find answers to your questions, and you’ll learn there is no one way to cook a dish.