I’ll admit I’m a kitchen geek. I love my Vitamix, my Kitchen Craft and Americraft Cookware, my Instant Pots, and my KitchenAid stand mixer. I didn’t need a Cuisinart. I just wanted one.
So this year I asked Santa for the 14 cup model, rated the best by America’s Test Kitchen for 2017. Christmas came early for me this year. Yippee!
What makes me want a food processor? I’ve had two, neither of which did what my Kitchen Cutter does (and without electricity!). Not abandoning my Kitchen Cutter, either. But there are food processors and then there is the Cuisinart. My new Cuisinart slices tomatoes! I kid you not. It grates cheese, cuts butter into brown sugar or flour, and blends creamy sauces.
Here is my lightened version of Scalloped Potatoes using my Cuisinart and a stainless steel cake pan. You can make it without a Cuisinart or cake pan, of course, but my way is fun and easy.
Lightened Scalloped Potatoes
- 2 Russet potatoes, peeled
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and halved
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese
- 8 ounces Neufchatel cheese
- 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Using the slicing blade to the food processor, slice potatoes and onions. Set aside.
- Switch to the grating blade. Grate mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
- Switch to the mixing blade. Combine Neufchatel cheese with the chicken broth. Process until creamy smooth.
- In a square or round baking pan, layer half the potatoes and onions. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat with a second layer. Then pour the Neufchatel cheese sauce over all.
- Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until potatoes turn slightly golden.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.
Merry Christmas to me!
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.
NOTE: I recently revised my method after trying This Old Gal’s method. If you aren’t familiar with This Old Gal, check out her blog at https://thisoldgal.com. The author Jill Selkowitz calls herself an old gal, but she is younger than I, incidentally. 😉 Although my recipe differs, I’ve adopted her method of cooking potatoes and eggs simultaneously. It’s a real game changer in making potato salad. Thanks, Jill!
My mother-in-law Rachel taught me how to make tasty potato salad. The only changes I’ve made is in using a pressure cooker for the potatoes and eggs. Here are the step-by-step instructions for her recipe. Try it for your next potluck dinner or picnic.
Hasty Tasty Potato Salad
- 6 large potatoes
- 4 eggs
- 1 onion, chopped (sweet onion is best)
- 4 ribs celery, chopped
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- Pepper to taste
- Paprika for garnish (optional)
- Cut potatoes into quarters or 2″ sections. No need to peel. Place in a steaming basket or trivet over 1 cup water in a pressure cooker. Place the 4 eggs on top the potatoes.
- Secure lid to pressure cooker and cook for 5 minutes stovetop or 6 minutes electric.* Allow pressure to drop on its own for 5 minutes before releasing.
- Meanwhile, prepare dressing in a large bowl by whisking together mayonnaise, mustard, salt, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.
- Dice the celery and onions.
- Carefully release remaining pressure and open pressure cooker.
- Remove eggs from pot and place in cold water.
- Carefully remove cooked potatoes from the pot and remove peels (they’ll slip off easily). Cube potatoes and add them to the dressing. Gently toss.
- Peel and chop or slice eggs. Gently toss with the potatoes, onions, and celery.
- Sprinkle with pepper and paprika, cover, and refrigerate. (Flavors are best if potato salad is made a day ahead)
*Electric pressure cookers do not reach the pressure levels of stovetop pressure cookers, so you need to adjust the time for many recipes.
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:
- Pour one cup water into the pot of your pressure cooker (or whatever is the minimum liquid for your particular model).
- Place a rack or steamer basket over the water.
- Cut your (unpeeled) potatoes into 1/8ths or equal size pieces and place the pieces on the rack or in the basket.
- Secure the lid and bring to pressure. Cook on High for 10 minutes.
- Quick-release the pressure, carefully remove the lid, and open the cooker. Stand clear of the steam as it’s dangerously hot.
- Remove the potatoes and peel. The skins on cooked potatoes lifts off easily and quickly! What a labor saver.
- Mash or prepare as desired, adding your ingredients of choice.
Potatoes steamed over water instead of boiling in water retain more natural flavor and nutrients. This means less added salt or fat.