Category Archives: Vegetables

Raising a stink about cabbage…

Remember walking into Grandma’s house when she had cabbage cooking in her kitchen? The entire house smelled like rotten eggs, right? Grandma insisted that cabbage was good for you, though, and you should eat it. She was right! According to many sources (such as Good Health All), cabbage is effective in fighting digestive, cardiovascular, and blood sugar issues as well as serving as an anti-inflammatory and vitamin source. It’s a nutritional gold mine.

So why did it stink up Grandma’s house? She cooked it too long! Overcooked cabbage produces hydrogen sulfide gas, the source of that rotten egg odor. To avoid raising a stink in your house, don’t cook it like Grandma. Cook it fast. What better way to cook a vegetable quickly than in a pressure cooker?

Here’s how.

  1.  Quarter or shred your head of cabbage (or separate the leaves for cabbage rolls). Wash and drain.
  2. Add 1½ cups filtered water to the bottom of your pressure cooker pot. If using an electric pressure cooker, set for 5 minutes.
  3. Place cabbage in a strainer or steaming basket placed over the cooking water on a trivet or rack.
  4. Seal cooker. If using a stovetop pressure cooker, bring to pressure and then time for 3 minutes.
  5. After the 3 (5 on electric) minutes under pressure, remove from heat (select “cancel” on the electric model). Carefully release pressure.
  6. Open the cooker and season the cabbage with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar*.
  7. Carefully remove the cabbage and serve.

(*Just a pinch. It’s optional, but Grandma was right about the sugar. Trust me.)

That’s it. If you quickly cook cabbage just until done, you won’t stink up your kitchen. Promise.

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NOTE: Pressure cookers vary, so your cooking times may, too. The 5 minutes works on my particular electric model, and the 3 minutes is perfect in my stovetop pressure cooker. You may need to adjust your cooking time.

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Best Broccoli

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!

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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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Green Beans and Mushrooms

For a quick side dish, snap and string green beans while the water heats in your pressure cooker. Better yet, buy a package of ready-to-cook green beans. Toss them in with a package of cleaned, sliced mushrooms, and you’re minutes away from a delicious vegetable dish.

RECIPE

Green beans and mushrooms under pressure

Serves 4 — 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed. 
  • 1 pound fresh sliced and cleaned white mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or grated
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • (optional: ¼ cup chopped onion and ¼ cup chopped sweet pepper)

Directions:

  1. Add water to the pressure cooker and preheat.
  2. Add beans and mushrooms to the pot.
  3. Cover the beans and mushrooms with the garlic, salt, and pepper. (Add chopped onion and pepper if desired)
  4. Secure lid to pressure cooker. Bring to pressure.
  5. Cook two minutes, remove from heat, and immediately quick-release pressure (Be careful! The steam can burn).
  6. Using a slotted spoon, move the beans and mushrooms dish to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

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Perfect Carrots

Carrots are a root vegetable. Carrots are nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive (even the organic ones). They typically are colored orange and contain carotenes (B, A, Z), lutein, and zeaxanthin. Carrots are rich in fiber, too.

If you think carrots are tasteless, perhaps you’ve been served carrots boiled to death in water. My mother-in-law says my carrots are the best, better than any restaurant. What’s earned me such high praise? Want to know my secret? 

Two rules: One, buy good carrots. Pass up those baby cut carrots and buy whole organic carrots. (Bunny Love is available where I shop, and they are organic) Second, don’t let your carrots touch water while cooking

Three methods I use to cook carrots, depending on time restraints: One, I steam over low heat in my waterless cookware (KitchenCraft, 360 Cookware by Americraft, or similar brands). No water. Just gentle, slow cooking. Takes about twenty minutes. Two, pressure cook for four minutes under pressure in a basket above the water. Do not submerge carrots in water! Water leaches out flavor and nutrients. Occasionally, I stir-fry carrots with other vegetables in very little oil in a hot skillet.

Preparing carrots takes only a little time. Peel or scrub, depending on your preference. I let appearance be my guide. If the peels look fairly clean, I scrub them with a vegetable brush and leave them on. If not, I peel. 

Slice in similar size pieces for even cooking. I like cutting diagonally but any slice style works. The smaller the size, the shorter the cooking time. 

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More on Brussels Sprouts

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts Washed & Ready to eat

In my previous post, I sang the praises of shaved Brussels Sprouts. This week I picked up a free recipe card at the grocery store and tried it. It paired Brussels Sprouts with carrots, adding a sweetness to balance the sulfur-like taste of veggies in the cabbage family. Yum! So with apologies to Publix for a couple of modifications, here it is. 

RECIPE

Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 package shaved Brussels sprouts
  • 5 oz. carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ tsp. Kosher or pink Himalayan salt
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Spray skillet with cooking spray and preheat on medium 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add Brussels sprouts and carrot matchsticks, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes or until sprouts and carrots are tender but not overcooked.
  3. Remove skillet from heat. Add butter, salt, and pepper and toss.
  4. Serve immediately.

Note: This dish also works in the microwave oven. Use a microwave-safe dish, rinse sprouts and carrots, and then cover with a wet paper towel. Microwave on High 2-3 minutes, stir, and add butter. Cover and let stand for five minutes. Season, toss, and serve.

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National Shrimp Scampi Day

I love shrimp scampi. In honor of today’s celebration, I’m re-posting my version, which I call shrimp campy because I serve it over zucchini “pasta.” 🙂 You’ll need a spiral vegetable slicer for this one.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Shrimp “Campy”

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini, spiral-cut into noodles
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 10 oz. frozen cooked salad shrimp (no need to thaw)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

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Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain the zucchini. The rinse water clinging to it should be sufficient to create the steam to cook the “pasta” without overcooking it.
  2. Steam the zucchini in a covered, 2-quart saucepan over low heat for 10-12 minutes or until tender. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium-size saute pan over low heat. Add the frozen salad shrimp, salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
  4. Remove saute pan from heat as soon as the shrimp are warmed. Do not overcook.
  5. Toss cooked zucchini “pasta” with the shrimp. Serve garnished with the Parmesan cheese.

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So there you have it: Shrimp “Campy” without the high-carb pasta! And it sneaks an extra serving of vegetables into your daily diet.

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