I had fun using several of my kitchen gadgets to make my healthier version of taco bowls. First, I “fried” the taco shells in my new Power Air Fryer oven. I cooked my chicken breast in my Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-quart, shredded it using my Cuisinart, and heated my cheese sauce in my microwave oven. The payoff was a delicious and filling meal that counts only 3 Weight Watchers SmartPoints.
HASTY TASTY TACO BOWLS
- OLE tortillas
- ½ pound chicken breasts (Fresh or frozen)
- 1 can Ro*Tel (you pick heat level)
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can corn kernels, rinsed and drained
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 jar Tostitos Queso con Salsa (or similar brand)
- Fresh cilantro (optional)
- Form each tortilla into a bowl using a mold or oven-proof bowl.
- Air-fry at 370°F for 12 minutes.
- Place chicken breasts and contents of a can of Ro*Tel into the pot of a pressure cooker. Cook under pressure 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own.
- While chicken cooks, prep beans, corn, onions, and cilantro and combine.
- Carefully open pressure cooker and remove the chicken (replace lid to trap in the heat). Shred chicken and return to cooker.
- Stir in beans, corn, onions, and cilantro mixture with the shredded chicken. Cover and allow residual heat to warm the beans and corn.
- Pour Queso con Salsa into a heatproof measuring pitcher and heat 2-3 minutes in the microwave oven, stirring occasionally.
- Place taco bowl shell on a plate, fill with 1/4 of the mixture, and then drizzle with 2 Tbsp. of the queso con salsa. Serve immediately.
We love the spicy flavors of New Orleans style dishes, but we need to watch our waistlines. So I’ve lightened one of our favorites, red beans and rice, by using chicken sausage. I also serve with cooked brown rice instead of traditional white rice to boost fiber. By soaking the beans, I shorten the cooking time and avoid over cooking the sausage.
Although my recipe uses the pressure cooker, you can cook it stovetop. It will take more time, but either way, you’ll end up with a healthy version of New Orleans style red beans and rice.
New Orleans Style Red Beans with Rice
- 12 ounces chicken Andouille sausage, sliced in ¼” rounds
- 8 ounces dried red beans, soaked at least 3 hours or overnight
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth or water
- 1 Tbsp. dried Cajun seasoning mix
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Preheat pressure cooker pot and add the olive oil.
- Sauté the onions, peppers, and celery (known as the trinity in New Orleans).
- Add garlic and Cajun seasonings and stir for 30 seconds or long enough to “bloom” the spices.
- Add sausage and broth, and then seal cooker.
- Bring to pressure and cook 15 minutes (Or if using an electric pressure cooker, cook 20 minutes).
- Allow pressure to drop on its own at least 10 minutes.
- Release remaining pressure, carefully open lid, and serve in bowls over 1/2 cup brown rice.
*If you prefer tomatoes in your red beans (we don’t), stir in a can of diced tomatoes after cooking the beans as soon as you open the pot. (For fiery hot beans, use tomatoes and green chilies!) The residual heat will warm the tomatoes through without cooking them to mush.
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.
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.
Hasty Tasty Chili
- 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
- Spray inside of a six-quart/liter pressure cooker pot with cooking spray. Preheat over medium.
- Add meat, stirring occasionally to brown. When meat starts browning, add the onions and garlic.
- Stir in chili seasoning.
- After rinsing and inspecting dried beans for any debris, spread the beans over the browned meat mixture.
- 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).
- 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)
- Once cooker reaches pressure, time for 40 minutes.*
- Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own, approximately ten minutes.
- 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.
- Cook an additional 10 minutes under pressure. After pressure drops on its own for 10 minutes, release pressure and open the cooker.
- 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.)
Who says you have to presoak beans and then slow cook them half a day to have delicious bean soup? That’s not the hasty tasty meals way. You can have bean soup in about an hour if you use your pressure cooker. Also, if you use a small bean (navy, Anasazi, pink, etc) there’s no need to soak first.
Here’s my recipe, inspired by my friend Beverly Summitt who first introduced me to navy bean soup years ago, for bean soup in a pressure cooker.
Bean Soup Under Pressure
- 1 pound navy beans, rinsed
- ¼ pound smoked pork or ham
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 carrot, shredded or thinly sliced
- 1 potato, peeled and diced
- 2 quarts water
- 1 Tbsp. salt (I use pink Himalayan)
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like a little heat)
- 1 bay leaf
- nonstick cooking spray
- Spray bottom of pressure cooker pot with nonstick cooking spray and place over burner set to medium heat.
- Saute onions, celery, carrot, and potato.
- Stir in garlic and pork.
- Add beans, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and water. Close lid.
- Bring to pressure. (It takes a while to bring ½ gallon of water to a boil, so be patient)
- Once indicator jiggles, time for 40 minutes for a 10 psi cooker or 35 minutes for a 15 psi cooker.*
- When time is up, remove pot from the burner and allow the pressure to drop on its own. This can take about 15 minutes.
- Carefully open pressure cooker, remove bay leave, and serve. For extra thick soup, blend or mash two cups of the soup mixture and stir it back in.
*Check your manufacturer’s information for pressure rating. Most cookers are 15 psi.
Here’s an easy, nutritious way to stretch a buck: BBQ Beef and Beans. I modified the recipe I got from my friend Chef Gary. If you take a little help from the grocery store (canned beans, rinsed and drained, and jarred barbecue sauce of your choice), you need only ten minutes to get this into the slow cooker. This is one of my favorites to take to a potluck dinner.
HASTY TASTY BBQ BEEF AND BEANS
I use the stainless steel Gourmet Slo-cooker by Americraft so everything is done in one pot. If you use a crockery slow cooker, you will need a skillet to brown your meat and onions.
- 1 pound chuck, cubed
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 4 cans beans (your choice of type. I like variety so I mix 4 kinds of beans)
- 12 ounces prepared barbecue sauce (avoid varieties containing high fructose corn syrup)
- nonstick cooking spray
- Spray skillet or pan with nonstick cooking spray. Salt and pepper the cubed chuck, add it to the skillet, cover, and brown over low heat.
- Open canned beans and drain, rinsing with cold water. Set aside.
- Add chopped onion to the browned chuck. Adjust heat to medium. Do not cover. Cook until all liquid has evaporated (about two minutes).
- In slow cooker pan or Crock-pot, add meat and onions. Slowly stir in the rinsed beans.
- Add barbecue sauce. Stir to combine. Cover and cook over low heat for at least four hours. Use lowest possible setting because all the food is cooked. Your only concern is infusing flavor.
- Serve warm.
Yield: 5 pints
Enjoy either as a side or main dish. Remember, beans are a great source of fiber and nutrition yet without the saturated fat of meat.
Pasta e Fagioli
Not only is pasta e fagioli hasty and tasty, it’s inexpensive and healthful. Also known as pasta fazool, this dish provides plenty of protein and fiber because it contains beans, vegetables, and whole wheat pasta. The tomatoes and Italian seasonings give it great flavor. Try this dish for your next meat-free meal.
PASTA E FAGIOLI
- 1 14 oz. can chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning spice
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 15½ oz. can cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup frozen seasoning blend (Chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley)
- ½ cup whole wheat elbow macaroni
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
- (Optional: ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn, for garnish)
In a 2 quart saucepan, heat the broth over medium heat. Stir in garlic, seasoning blend, Italian spices, tomato sauce and paste. Bring to a low boil.
Add beans, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add macaroni, cover and simmer for 7 additional minutes.
Remove pan from heat, stir, and check macaroni. Should be cooked al dente.
Sprinkle each serving generously with the Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
Yield: 3 servings
©2011 Cheryl Norman, Recipes for Recovery