Author: Cheryl Norman (page 1 of 4)

Healthier Taco Bowls

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.

RECIPE

HASTY TASTY TACO BOWLS

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. Form each tortilla into a bowl using a mold or oven-proof bowl.
  2. Air-fry at 370°F for 12 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. While chicken cooks, prep beans, corn, onions, and cilantro and combine.
  5. Carefully open pressure cooker and remove the chicken (replace lid to trap in the heat). Shred chicken and return to cooker.
  6. Stir in beans, corn, onions, and cilantro mixture with the shredded chicken. Cover and allow residual heat to warm the beans and corn.
  7. Pour Queso con Salsa into a heatproof measuring pitcher and heat 2-3 minutes in the microwave oven, stirring occasionally.
  8. 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.

Air Fryer Bagels

I love bagels but not the kind in grocery stores. Our time living in New Jersey spoiled me for fresh, NY style bagels. I’m not returning to the northeast anytime soon, so I’m making my own. I won’t heat my Florida kitchen using the oven, either, so here’s my take on air fryer bagels using a recipe I found in the Weight Watchers’ Facebook group.

 

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • coarse salt for coating

Directions:

  1. Combine flour and yogurt and mix well.  Allow dough to rest 30 minutes and then knead 4-5 times.
  2. Bring 1 quart water to boil in a large saucepan.
  3. Separate dough into 4 spheres. Shape bagels by punching the middle of each sphere and spinning the dough until desired shape.
  4. Drop each bagel into the boiling water, turning after 2 minutes.
  5. After boiling bagels for a total of 4 minutes, remove to drain on paper towels.
  6. Sprinkle tops with coarse salt.
  7. Place bagels in air fryer and set for 390°-400° (settings vary per air fryer) for 7 minutes.
  8. Remove and enjoy with your favorite cream cheese or jam!

Do these bagels taste as good as NY bagels? Not even close. However, they’re good enough, and these bagels are only 2 SmartPoints® on the Weight Watchers® program! 

Turkey Under Pressure

My husband loves turkey, and I indulge him because I love him and turkey, too. Turkey is an inexpensive protein. It’s not exclusively a holiday meal, either. We have turkey year around.

But we live in sunny Florida. Nobody wants a hot kitchen after using an oven for several hours, especially in summer. I researched alternatives (No to the indoor turkey fryer, and no to the electric roaster).  I’ve successfully pressure cooked and slow cooked a turkey breast with good results, yet never a full turkey (and I love the dark meat). 

After watching one too many Sunday morning infomercials for the 10-quart Power Pressure Cooker XL, in which Eric Theiss exuberantly shows off a whole turkey cooked in 40 minutes, I ordered one for a birthday gift for myself. I was skeptical because I want stainless steel pots, not nonstick-coated aluminum. The PPCXL has only the nonstick-coated aluminum inner pot. As far as I know, there is no stainless steel replacement pot that will fit it.  I resigned myself to the nonstick pot, though, and tested the cooker as a turkey roaster.

Oh my goodness! I am so pleased with the results, and so is my family. Now turkey dinners aren’t limited to cool weather months. There are a few tricks to my pressure cooked turkey, though. First, it must be no larger than 12 pounds. Mine weighed in a tad over 11. Second, use a bit of butter. I thoroughly greased the bottom of the nonstick inner pot with butter. I also put a little butter between the skin and the breast meat on either side of the wishbone. If you like crispy skin (we don’t eat skin), you’ll need to brown it under the broiler for 5-10 minutes before carving.  Finally, I let pressure drop completely before opening the cooker and removing the turkey. From prepping the turkey to serving it took a total of 2 hours, still much quicker than oven roasting.

As for the nonstick coated pot I detest, it fared well and cleaned up easily in hot soapy water. I baby it with nylon or silicone tools and gentle scrubbing, though. Except for the nonstick coated pot, I’m impressed with the performance of the 10-quart PPCXL. I own an older model PPCXL that’s noisier and a bit more difficult to use, so Tristar has made improvements I like. If you’re in the market for a large multi-cooker, consider the 10 quart Power Pressure Cooker XL. (Check out the video on YouTube for the infomercial) If you want something smaller, stick with Instant Pot or other brands that offer the stainless steel inner pot.

RECIPE

TURKEY UNDER PRESSURE

Serves 8-10

Equipment needed: 10 quart or larger pressure cooker. chef’s knife, measuring cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 whole turkey, 9-11 pounds, thawed
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 rib celery, halved
  • 1 clove garlic. chopped
  • 1 carrot, halved
  • 1 pepper, any kind, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • seasonings (salt, pepper, poultry seasonings)

Directions:

  1.  Divide butter and use 1 Tbsp. to coat bottom of the pressure cooker’s pot.
  2. Pour 2 cups water into the pot.
  3. Place the turkey inside the pot, breast side up. Stuff the cavity with the onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and carrot.
  4. Gently separate the skin from the breast meat and insert 1½ tsp. butter on either side of the wishbone.
  5. Generously sprinkle turkey with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.
  6. Seal pressure cooker and bring to pressure. On the PPCXL, select Chicken/Meat and adjust time to 45 minutes.
  7. When the turkey has cooked for 45 minutes under pressure, remove from heat (or hit Cancel button) and allow pressure to drop completely on its own (approximately 15 minutes).
  8. Carefully remove the turkey from the pot using lifters or two sets of tongs. Place on a carving board and cover loosely with foil.
  9. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve for making gravy, soup, and/or dressing.
  10. Allow turkey to rest another 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve and enjoy!

Stuff cavity of turkey with aromatics.

Set time for 40 – 45 minutes (we like fall-off-the-bone turkey)

Success! But for prettier presentation and crispy skin, place turkey under a broiler for 5 – 10 minutes.

Mix It Up – With A KitchenAid

I blog often about my cooking tools, like the Instant Pot, air fryer, pressure cooker, Vitamix, and Cuisinart Food Processor. Another tool I love is my KitchenAid stand mixer. It’s 30 years old and still going strong. I updated it with a new five quart glass bowl and a newer paddle with scraper. Through the years I’ve bought attachments for it, like the pasta extruder and the meat grinder. Mostly, though, I use it as a mixer. 

I’m not much of a baker, but there’s much more you can do than mix batter with a KitchenAid. I use low speed to whip potatoes, high speed to make whipped cream (SO much better than from a can!), and medium speed to shred cooked chicken for burritos or chicken salad. Use the dough hook to knead pizza dough. These are just a few applications. And especially if you’re a baker, the KitchenAid stand mixer is a must-have.

For more information about the KitchenAid mixer (Still assembled in the USA. Yay!), read this review
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Pressure Cooked Brown Rice

Happy New Year!

Do you know the difference between brown rice and white? White rice is refined. It’s had the brown coating removed. So brown rice is actually rice. White rice is refined rice, like whole wheat flour and refined flour. Because I try to keep my carbs complex, I prefer brown rice to white. It also has more taste. But it takes a lot longer to cook than regular rice.

There are a number of recipes available for cooking brown rice. There are a number of recipes available for cooking brown rice in the pressure cooker. I’ve tried most of them. But it annoys me that my new Instant Pot comes with a rice setting that works only for white (refined) rice.  The Power Pressure Cooker XL and a few other models have settings for brown rice, but many don’t. Here’s my work around:

Take 1 cup brown rice and rinse. Cover with 1 1/4 cups water and soak for one hour. Set a timer. Do other stuff. Check Facebook. Whatever. After an hour, add salt or other flavorings, seal the Instant Pot (or other brand multi-cooker you use), and select Rice. (Soaking brown rice also shortens cooking time in a stovetop pressure cooker, too. ) At the end of the cooking time, hit cancel and allow pressure to drop on its own 10 minutes. Release any remaining pressure. Carefully open the pot and fluff rice with a fork. You have 4 servings of perfectly cooked brown rice. 

This has worked every time for me. If it’s too much trouble to soak ahead of time, just cook the rice for 22 minutes followed by the 10 minute pressure release. But I really like using the special rice cooking setting because it’s convenient.

Add more whole grains to your diet as you begin the new year. You’ll be healthier for it! 

Cuisinart: For the Grater Good

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.

RECIPE

Lightened Scalloped Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Using the slicing blade to the food processor, slice potatoes and onions. Set aside.
  3. Switch to the grating blade. Grate mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
  4. Switch to the mixing blade. Combine Neufchatel cheese with the chicken broth. Process until creamy smooth.
  5. In a square or round baking pan, layer half the potatoes and onions. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese.
  6. Repeat with a second layer. Then pour the Neufchatel cheese sauce over all.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  8. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until potatoes turn slightly golden.
  9. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.


Merry Christmas to me!

Easy Weeknight Pot Roast

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.

RECIPE

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat the pot using the sauté setting. When the display reads Hot, spray generously with cooking spray and add onions.
  2. Using the dehydrated onion soup mix, dry-rub the meat thoroughly.
  3. Slice meat into 1½ to 2 inch pieces. Add meat to the pot to brown.
  4. After a couple of minutes, turn off the Instant Pot. Add garlic and tomato paste. Stir.
  5. Pour in the broth. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot, incorporating the flavors into the broth. Add sweet peppers if using.
  6. Place the potatoes on top the meat.
  7. 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).
  8. While meat cooks, prepare the slurry, and slice carrots into 1″ pieces.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Using a large spatula, lift the meat, potatoes, and carrots onto a platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

Instant Pot Pot Roast Dinner

Cincinnati Chili

As we begin fall, the season of tailgate parties and cooler weather, we dig out our favorite chili recipes.  Although most of the time, we make a Tex-Mex style chili, I make this recipe for a change of pace.

Skyline Chili restaurant has been a favorite of our family–especially my nephew (Happy birthday, Joe!), but there are no Skyline Chili restaurants where we live. I needed to develop a Skyline knock off. It took work, but I did it. Wait till you taste my version of their famous, Cincinnati-style chili. I shaved off about an hour of cooking time by using a pressure cooker.  Make this one a day ahead to do it right!

RECIPE

Cincinnati-style Chili

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

2 large onions chopped
2  pounds extra-lean ground beef or lean ground turkey (Or 1 of each)
6 cloves
garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate

2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 (16-ounce) packages uncooked dried spaghetti pasta (I use whole grain thin spaghetti for added fiber)


Toppings: 1 can red beans, rinsed
1 sweet onion, diced
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

In a large (4 qt) pot (I use the pot to my pressure cooker), add water and meat. Boil meat for 30 minutes, stirring often to separate the meat. Add remaining ingredients (except pasta and toppings) and bring to a boil. Put on the lid and seal, bring to pressure, then cook under pressure for 45 minutes¹. Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own.  When cooled, transfer chili to a glass or plastic container. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, skim off any congealed fat from the top of the chili and remove bay leaf. To serve, return to large pot and warm over low heat. Meanwhile, cook the pasta, dice onions, shred cheese (if necessary) and warm the beans. To serve three way, ladle ½ to ¾ cup of the chili over a ½ cup spaghetti then top with 2 oz. shredded cheese. Four way: add either 2 Tablespoons of beans or 2 Tablespoons diced sweet onion. Five way: add both beans and onion.

¹If you aren’t using a pressure cooker, you need to cook uncovered for 1 hour then covered an additional hour.

This is labor-intensive but worth it. For a shortcut version, try my Hasty Tasty Cincinnati Chili.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Cincinnati Chili

This is a quick version that’s almost as good as the long-cooking method. Serve it plain, five-way, or your choice. For this version, I use the pressure cooker.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. garam masala¹
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 can small red beans, rinsed and drained (Optional  for topping)
  • 1 cup diced onion (Optional for topping)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Optional for topping)

Directions:

  1. Cook ground turkey in the water or broth over medium heat in the pot of your pressure cooker (or if using an electric model, use the sauté mode).
  2. When the turkey is cooked, add onion and garlic. Stir.
  3. Add the spices, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and tomato sauce. Stir.
  4. Bring to pressure and cook 10 minutes.
  5. Allow pressure to drop on its own. Carefully open cooker.
  6. Serve over cooked whole wheat spaghetti (or zoodles, if you’re watching your carbs) and add optional toppings if desired. Top five-way chili with cheese, onions, and beans, Four-way with two of the three, etc.

Yield: Serves four – five

Store leftover sauce (in an airtight container) in the freezer for up to four months.

¹garam masala is a spice blend of cumin, cardaman, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper.

 

Loafing With a Bread Machine

This one is quick and reasonably healthy. I suggest using RapidRise® yeast.

RECIPE

BREAD MACHINE CINNAMON BREAD
(Makes 1½ pound loaf)

 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 stick butter, cut into small cubes
2 tsp. (or package) yeast
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:
Add all ingredients except the cinnamon into the bread machine pan. Select the quick cycle and light crust, if your machine has the crust setting option. Start machine. When you hear the signal to add ingredients, add the cinnamon.

Two hours later you’ll have hot cinnamon bread for breakfast. Tomorrow you can slice the leftover bread for French toast or cube it for making a bread pudding dessert.

Product Review of the Instant Pot Duo 3 quart Mini

Instant Pot’s newest, the Mini

When I first purchased an Instant Pot last year, I had no idea how popular the brand was. I selected it because of its stainless steel inner pot. Most electric multi-cookers have coated aluminum pots, and inevitably that “nonstick’ coating flakes off and into my food. Ugh! Soon the enthusiasts  (AKA Instant Potheads) sucked me into their cult. There are hundreds of online groups and blogs devoted to this wonder appliance. Sales of Instant Pot skyrocketed. Soon supply fell behind demand and waiting lists developed. Wow. What had I gotten into?

I’m already a pressure cooker veteran (I now own six! Don’t judge me. :-P) and won’t give up my reliable stovetop models, but I quickly saw why the Instant Pot was and is popular. Its safety features and ease of operation boost the confidence of even the non-cooks in its cult following. I suspect Instant Pots are making a dent in the fast food industry’s profits because Potheads stay home now and cook for their families. And brag about it!

If you have a 6 quart Instant Pot, the most popular size, there are a few things you need to know about the 3 quart Mini. First, obviously, is size. The Mini has a smaller footprint and capacity. You can’t cook a large chicken, turkey breast, or ham in it. But you can cook poultry parts or a small ham. It’s perfect for making side dishes, like beans, vegetables, or grains. If you want boiled eggs, the Mini does the job and is ideal for cooking only a few.

Second, the wattage. The Mini uses less power than its big sister, yet I saw no significant cooking time difference with the exception of brown rice. Brown rice needed 28 minutes followed by at least 10 minutes natural pressure release. My 6 quart Instant Pot does the job in 22 minutes followed by natural pressure release. My stovetop pressure cooker takes 15 (and at least 10 minutes natural pressure release), so there is a difference. Just remember brown rice takes at least 50 minutes the conventional way. I also needed additional time for cooking dried beans. My anasazi beans take 30 minutes (plus natural drop in pressure) from dry to done but were too firm after 30 minutes in the Mini. However, most foods cook exactly the same as in the larger Instant Pot.

Finally, accessories that fit your 6-quart will not fit the Mini. The Mini comes with its own trivet, though, as well as the rice cup, spoon, and ladle. And it has a good cookbook and instruction manual. I expect Instant Pot to introduce a new line of baskets, glass lids, and racks for the smaller size Mini, though.

Bottom line: If you don’t own an Instant Pot and are undecided, buy the Mini. If you fall in love with the Instant Pot, you can always add a larger Instant Pot later and keep the Mini for side dishes. If you live alone or cook mainly for a couple, this Mini limits you to smaller pots of food but should work for you. If you have an RV, this Mini is the perfect size to travel with.

Or if you’re like me and crazy about cooking, buy both the Mini and the 6-quart. And the 8-quart, too. You, too, can join the Instant Potheads subculture!

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