Category Archives: kitchen equipment

Easier Mashed Potatoes

You can buy already made mashed potatoes, frozen mashed potatoes, or–Heaven forbid!–instant dry potatoes. But why would you when it’s easy and inexpensive to make your own? 

Before you bail on this post with mumblings about peeling potatoes, keep reading. I have a trick (well…actually I learned it watching Martha Stewart’s Cooking School on PBS) for skipping the potato-peeling chore. Unlike Martha, I use a pressure cooker, and that speeds up the process even more.

Here is my step-by-step instructions for easier mashed (or however you like ’em) potatoes:

  1. Pour one cup water into the pot of your pressure cooker (or whatever is the minimum liquid for your particular model).
  2. Place a rack or steamer basket over the water.
  3. Cut your (unpeeled) potatoes into 1/8ths or equal size pieces and place the pieces on the rack or in the basket.
  4. Secure the lid and bring to pressure. Cook on High for 10 minutes.
  5. Quick-release the pressure, carefully remove the lid, and open the cooker. Stand clear of the steam as it’s dangerously hot.
  6. Remove the potatoes and peel. The skins on cooked potatoes lifts off easily and quickly! What a labor saver.
  7. Mash or prepare as desired, adding your ingredients of choice.

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Potatoes steamed over water instead of boiling in water retain more natural flavor and nutrients. This means less added salt or fat.

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Filed under cooking, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, potatoes, Vegetables

Weeknight Roast Chicken

I previously posted an oven chicken recipe to make your own rotisserie chicken without a rotisserie. I’ll show you an alternative to that recipe using the pressure cooker.

Note: If you eat the skin of a chicken, you’ll want to brown it first using either the broiler or a large skillet. I skin chicken before eating it because skin is loaded with saturated fat, so browning isn’t an issue for us.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Roast Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole fryer, approx. 3 lbs.
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 3 cups liquid (water, stock, broth)

Directions:

  1. Rub whole chicken with the olive oil.
  2. Combine all spices and rub into the chicken. If possible, loosen the skin and rub the seasonings directly onto the meat.
  3. Add liquid to bottom of a pressure cooker pot. Place a rack in the bottom to prevent the chicken from resting directly on the pot.
  4. Secure lid to pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook for 20 minutes. If using an electric pressure cooker, select the Poultry setting for 20 minutes. (If chicken is frozen, you’ll need to add 10 minutes)
  5. Remove from heat (or hit “cancel” on the Keep Warm button) and allow pressure to drop on its own (about 10-15 minutes).
  6. Carefully open cooker. Use a meat thermometer inserted at the thigh to check for doneness. The chicken’s internal temperature should be at least 160°F (residual cooking will bring it to about 170°F).
  7. Using tongs or meat forks, move the chicken to a carving platter or large bowl or platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Carve and serve.

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BONUS: Don’t discard the cooking liquid. It’s rich in flavor. Strain and use to make a quick gravy. Save in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Or strain, return liquid to the pressure cooker, and cook vegetables in it. 

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Easy Ratatouille

Ratatouille, or a veggie stew of Provence, is versatile and delicious. Originally French, it gets its flavors from Herbes de Provence, a distinctive blend of dried herbs that typically include savory, lavender, marjoram, fennel or tarragon, oregano, thyme, and rosemary .

I’m still playing around with pressure cooker recipes, and this dish is ideal for HASTY TASTY MEALS UNDER PRESSURE (my work-in-progress). It’s also great for meat-free Mondays (or whatever day you want to go vegetarian). When I make ratatouille early in the week, I divide it into batches for weeknight meals. I add chicken and noodles for a chicken veggie stew, or broth and cannellini beans for a quick pasta fazool. I serve it as a stew over rice or puree it as a sauce and serve over pasta with fresh-grated Parmesan cheese. 100_1418

Note: For my readers who live in higher elevations, keep in mind my elevation here in Florida is about 100 feet. You will need to add cooking time if you live above 2000 feet.

RECIPE

Easy Ratatouille

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced in ½” pieces
  • 1 cup crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 28-oz. can tomato puree
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste 
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • (optional) fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions, peppers, and celery. Saute 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and Herbes de Provence. Stir until fragrant.
  4. Add eggplant, carrots, and zucchini. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add all other ingredients except optional fresh basil. Close cooker lid and bring to pressure.
  6. When pressure is reached, lower heat but maintain pressure. Cook for five minutes (electric models set for eight minutes).
  7. Remove from heat. Allow pressure to drop on its own. (May take up to 25 minutes)
  8. Carefully open cooker and ladle contents over bowls of rice or pasta, if desired. Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.

Ratatouille stores well up to three days in the refrigerator. It freezes well and keeps for 4-6 months in the freezer. 

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Filed under cooking, Eggplant, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, Recipes, Soups & Stews

Hasty Tasty Chili

We love chili around our house, any variety. Beef or turkey, with or without beans, with or without pasta, with or without corn, Cincinnati-style or Tex-Mex chili, mild or mouth-blistering, we’ll eat it. I like to make chili with a cooked-all-day flavor that takes only an hour. It can be done! All you need is a pressure cooker. 

I’m currently at work on my new cookbook, HASTY TASTY MEALS UNDER PRESSURE, experimenting with all our favorites using a pressure cooker. Mine is twenty years old, and has all the safety features missing from earlier models. But newer cookers are available now, including the electric models that have push-button selections and timers. I haven’t tried one yet, but my friend swears by hers.

Here is my latest version of chili using the pressure cooker method. You certainly can use canned chili beans and cut the cooking time, but cooking from dried gives me more control over my ingredients. However, I use canned corn if fresh is out of season (after rinsing and draining).

Don’t want to use a pressure cooker? No problem. Adapt the recipe for your slow cooker and cook on Low for 6 hours, or until beans are tender. 

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RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Chili

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground lean meat or turkey
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans (I make an assortment of pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and red or pink beans)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chili seasoning (I use Bloemer‘s brand)
  • 1 10 oz. can Rotel® diced tomatoes and green chilies (Pick your heat level)
  • 1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn or 2 cups fresh corn kernels (Optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 32 oz. filtered water (or replace some of the water with a bottle or can of beer)
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Spray inside of a six-quart/liter pressure cooker pot with cooking spray. Preheat over medium.
  2. Add meat, stirring occasionally to brown. When meat starts browning, add the onions and garlic.
  3. Stir in chili seasoning.
  4. After rinsing and inspecting dried beans for any debris, spread the beans over the browned meat mixture.
  5. Cover the beans with the contents of the can of corn (optional). Add the filtered water and bay leaf (be sure beans are completely covered with liquid).
  6. Close pressure cooker, increase heat to medium/high, and watch closely for it to reach pressure. When pressure valve jiggles, lower heat to the lowest setting possible while maintaining pressure. (Most models emit a low hiss when at correct pressure. If your cooker makes a lot of noise, lower the heat)
  7. Once cooker reaches pressure, time for 40 minutes.*
  8. Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own, approximately ten minutes.
  9. Carefully open the cooker (watch that steam!) and check beans for tenderness. They should be a bit firm at this point. Add the contents of the cans of Rotel and tomato sauce. Stir, close cooker, and bring back to pressure.
  10. Cook an additional 10 minutes under pressure. After pressure drops on its own for 10 minutes, release pressure and open the cooker.
  11. Test for seasoning and add salt to taste. Stir and serve with your choice of toppings.

*Pressure cookers vary by model. You may need more time if your cooker is 10 psi instead of 15 psi. As you use your cooker, you’ll learn to judge its cooking time. Just remember, it’s easy to quick-release pressure, check your food, and then return to pressure for additional cooking time. Also, the new electric cookers take the guesswork out of timing.

(For my readers who live in higher elevations, keep in mind my elevation here in Florida is about 100 feet. You will need to add cooking time if you live above 2000 feet.)

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Filed under beans, Chili and Stew, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, Recipes, Soups & Stews

Use Your Noodles!

I previously sang the praises of spiral vegetable slicers when I bought my SpiraLife. I upgraded to the fancier model but still love my trusty hand-held.

My latest experiment involves sweet potatoes. I peeled a Beauregard (grown locally) and combined its noodles with one zucchini, also spiral-cut, and steamed over low heat for about ten minutes.


I added salt and pepper, and then tossed the “noodles” with a dressing I made from 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, one clove garlic, and a pinch of Chinese Five Spice seasoning.  I topped it off with chopped fresh cilantro. Delicious!

You can change up your vegetables by mixing up the combinations and/or dressings or sauces. What a fun way to be sure you’re eating your vegetables. Enjoy!

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Filed under cooking, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, pasta dishes, Recipes, Vegetables, Zucchini

Dinner Under Pressure Encore

Cooking several vegetables together in one pot means easier cleanup and faster meals. I made this chicken meal yesterday. No hot oven and few pots and pans to wash!

Dinner Under Pressure

Dinner Under Pressure.

 

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Filed under cooking, Green Beans, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, Vegetables