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!
I try to cook with fresh ingredients. Usually. But sometimes–you know those times when you’ve been working and suddenly you’re faced with a hungry family without a dinner plan–you’re tempted to order pizza. Again. Been there, my friend. So without apology, I present the emergency one-dish meal using (gasp!) canned condensed cream of whatever soup.
All you need in addition to the soup is pasta or rice, some leftover (or canned) meat and/or vegetables, and cheese. There are endless combinations, and any combo produces a reasonably healthy meal in a short time. If you make it in one pot, cleanup isn’t overwhelming, either. One-pot meals are a great use-up of leftovers, too, like that one serving of green beans or that half cup of corn kernels you just couldn’t bear to put down the disposal.
I use a pressure cooker, but I’ve also made this dish in an electric skillet. Whatever works best for you.
Here’s an example, but feel free to substitute ingredients you have available.
Chicken and Mushroom Pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken
- 1 10½ oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 10 oz. chicken broth or water
- 1 cup dried cavatappi or similar size pasta
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup fresh asparagus, sliced in 2″ pieces
- ½ cup mushrooms
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- (optional) fresh basil, chopped
- Layer the cooked chicken in the bottom of the pot of a pressure cooker. Spread pasta on top the chicken.
- Pour the soup and broth or water over so that all pasta is submerged in liquid. Scatter the minced garlic on top.
- Close lid, bring to pressure, and cook 4 minutes. Immediately remove from heat (or hit Cancel on electric models) and release pressure. Carefully open lid and stir in the vegetables.
- Cover and let the vegetables cook in the residual heat. There’s no need to return to heat.
- After about 10 minutes, open and sprinkle cheeses over the top. Cover for another 3-5 minutes or until cheeses have melted.
- Serve garnished with optional fresh basil.
Cheese melts in residual heat.
Makes 5-6 servings.
We love Mexican flavors and Southwest cuisine, and I love pressure cooking, so here is my version of a spicy taco bowl. It’s faster than messing with taco shells and making filling, so it’s a hasty and tasty meal for taco night. Enjoy.
Chicken Taco Bowl
Makes 5 – 6 servings
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (frozen or thawed)
- 1 cup dried black beans (not soaked)
- 1 cup brown long grain rice
- 12 ounces salsa or 1 regular size can Rotel® diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 2½ cups chicken broth or water
- 1 ounce chili or taco seasoning mix
- 8 ounce block Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
- (optional) fresh cilantro sprigs
- In the pot of a pressure cooker, place chicken, beans, and rice. Pour salsa and broth over them. Add 1 ounce chili seasoning mix.
- Seal and bring to pressure. Cook 18 minutes (stovetop) or 23 minutes (electric).
- Remove from heat (or hit “cancel”) and allow pressure to drop on its own. Natural depressurization takes approximately 15 minutes.
- Carefully open cooker and stir. Chicken should easily shred, or you may remove it, shred it separately, and stir it into the rice and beans mixture. Top with cheese and cover. Do not return to heat.
- After a minute or two, the residual heat will melt the cheese and the taco bowl is ready to serve with optional garnish.
Variation: add 1 cup frozen corn kernels before adding the cheese.
No Grits, No Glory is the title of a book (Southern Ghost Story #1) by my author friend, Elaine Calloway. She lives in Georgia, so I’m assuming she likes to eat grits as much as she likes writing about them. Elaine, if you drop in for a visit, I’ll cook you some. 😉
I’ve revised my method of cooking grits since I bought my first electric programmable pressure cooker, and grits are now a regular dish on the menu in my home. Here’s how I do it.
Hasty Tasty Grits
Serves 4 – 6
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup grits (NOT instant! No self-respecting Southerner eats instant grits.)
- 4 cups + 1 Tbsp. water
- Preheat your pressure cooker, either stovetop or electric. Add butter to melt.
- Add grits and stir. Add salt.
- Carefully pour in water and gently stir.
- Seal cooker and bring to pressure (or if electric, set for 7 minutes).
- Cook under pressure 5 minutes stovetop, 7 minutes electric. Then immediately remove from heat (or hit “cancel” on your electric cooker.
- Allow pressure to drop on its own (referred to as “NPR” or natural pressure release.)
- Carefully open the pot. Using a long handled spoon, stir vigorously until grits thicken (Be patient. This can take a minute.)
- Serve immediately, or melt in 1/2 cup cheese for cheese grits. CAUTION: Grits will continue to thicken, so if you aren’t serving immediately, delay opening your cooker. Evaporation doesn’t start until you break the vacuum seal on the cooker.
Pressure cooking grits takes as long as cooking them on the range, but it’s easier. You’re free to prepare the rest of your meal instead of standing over an open pot stirring. I’ll take that trade any day.
There you have it. Be sure and check out Elaine’s book No Grits No Glory for more Southern flavor. It’s a fun read. I’m ready to tackle the entire Southern Ghosts series now.
And remember, y’all don’t have to be Southern to enjoy a bowl of grits. 😉
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.
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.
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.