Category: cooking (page 1 of 4)

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!

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!

Hasty Tasty Farro

I’ve tried quinoa and steel cut oats. They’re okay but my new grain passion is farro. It’s akin to brown rice yet twice as nutritious. I like the nutty flavor and chewy texture.  It also cooks more quickly than brown rice.  Stovetop it cooks in about twenty-five minutes, but I cook mine in my pressure cooker. Pearled* farro cooks in five minutes with a natural pressure release.  I cook up a double batch of plain farro and refrigerate it for later use in salads, heated for a breakfast cereal, or added to a recipe designed for rice, risotto, or orzo. I don’t flavor mine when I cook it, although you could. Give farro a try in any dish you’d typically use rice or risotto.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Farro

Makes 4 half-cup servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Organic Farro (I use Italian Pearled)
  • 2 cups filtered water (you can go a little shy of 2 cups in a pressure cooker because there’s no evaporation)
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker pot. Seal lid and bring to pressure. 
  • Cook under pressure 5 minutes. Remove from heat (hit cancel) and allow pressure to drop on its own.
  • Carefully open pressure cooker and stir. 
  • Serve warm or cold, flavored as desired. 

*Pearling removed the outer husks.

Hasty Tasty Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is the quintessential comfort food, especially when you’re under the weather. But why pay for sodium-laden canned soup when you can make your own? For this batch of soup, I used the Instant Pot. The recipe is good for any pressure cooker. If you modify it for the slow cooker, don’t use frozen ingredients.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Chicken Noodle Soup

Makes 4 one-cup servings

I make my own chicken stock and store it in the freezer. I also keep a supply of frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Using a few pantry and crisper items, I can pull out a jar of stock and a thigh and have delicious chicken noodle soup ready in an hour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. cooking oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced carrot
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ¼ cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher or pink Himalayan)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper (I use Mrs. Dash garlic and herb)
  • 1 frozen boneless skinless chicken thigh
  • 1 pint chicken broth or stock (mine is frozen, but thawed will work)
  • 1 pint water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 serving pot-sized linguine (or your choice)

Directions:

  • Preheat the pot (on the Instant Pot use the sauté button). Add oil when the pot is hot.
  • Sauté onions, celery, carrots, and pepper for two minutes. Stir frequently.
  • Add salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
  • Add the water. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot of fond left on the bottom.
  • Add the chicken, chicken stock, and bay leaf.
  • Seal lid and bring to pressure, either by using the manual setting for 30 minutes or the soup setting, which on my Instant Pot defaults to 30 minutes.
  • When time is up, turn off cooker and allow pressure to drop on its own (approximately 15 minutes).
  • Carefully open cooker. Using a long handled utensil, break apart the chicken and stir soup.
  • Add the linguine, cover pot, and allow residual heat to cook the pasta through (approximately ten minutes)
  • Remove bay leaf and serve. (If you have fresh herbs, add them before serving)

Easy Ratatouille

Ratatouille, or a veggie stew of Provence, is versatile and delicious. Originally French, it gets its flavors from Herbes de Provence, a distinctive blend of dried herbs that typically include savory, lavender, marjoram, fennel or tarragon, oregano, thyme, and rosemary .

I’m still playing around with pressure cooker recipes, and this dish is ideal for HASTY TASTY MEALS UNDER PRESSURE (my work-in-progress). It’s also great for meat-free Mondays (or whatever day you want to go vegetarian). When I make ratatouille early in the week, I divide it into batches for weeknight meals. I add chicken and noodles for a chicken veggie stew, or broth and cannellini beans for a quick pasta fazool. I serve it as a stew over rice or puree it as a sauce and serve over pasta with fresh-grated Parmesan cheese. 

100_1418

Note: 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.

RECIPE

Easy Ratatouille

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced in ½” pieces
  • 1 cup crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 28-oz. can tomato puree
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste 
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • (optional) fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat. *
  2. Add onions, peppers, and celery. Saute 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and Herbes de Provence. Stir until fragrant.
  4. Add eggplant, carrots, and zucchini. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add all other ingredients except optional fresh basil. Close cooker lid and bring to pressure.
  6. When pressure is reached, lower heat but maintain pressure. Cook for five minutes.
  7. Remove from heat. Allow pressure to drop on its own. (May take up to 25 minutes)
  8. Carefully open cooker and ladle contents over bowls of rice or pasta, if desired. Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.

Ratatouille stores well up to three days in the refrigerator. It freezes well and keeps for 4-6 months in the freezer. 

*Electric pressure cookers cook for 8 minutes.

Not-So-Dirty Rice

My family loves spicy food, especially Creole and Cajun. One of our favorite dishes is Dirty Rice. Traditionally, Dirty Rice is made with rice and leftover livers, gizzards, and hearts from poultry. There is plenty of bacon fat and butter, too. Because I’m the only one in the family who will eat liver, and because we try to follow a heart-healthy diet, I’ve had to lean up and clean up traditional recipes.

Here is my version of Dirty Rice. I use the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, but I’ve made it in my cast iron dutch oven, stovetop, too. Just add cooking time and a bit more broth if you aren’t pressure cooking.

RECIPE

Not-so-dirty Rice

Makes 4 meal servings or 8 side servings

Ingredients:

    • 12 ounces turkey sausage
    • 1 Tbsp. safflower or Canola oil + 1 Tbsp. butter
    • 2¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
    • 1 ½ cups medium grain brown rice (white rice will overcook)
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 rib celery, diced
    • 1/2 bell pepper, diced (should be green, but we like red)
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 Tbsp. dried Cajun seasoning mix
    • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat pot without the lid using the sauté setting. When it’s hot, add the oil and butter.
  • Brown the ground turkey sausage.
  • Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and rice. Sauté.

  • Add the garlic and Cajun seasoning mix, remove from heat (hit “cancel”) and stir to “bloom” the spices.
  • Pour in the broth and deglaze any cooked-on goodness to enhance flavor.  Secure lid to cooker, and set for 20 minutes (If using a stovetop pressure cooker, cook for 15 minutes).
  • When cooking time is up, remove from heat (hit “cancel” and unplug), and allow pressure to drop on its own a minimum of 10 minutes.
  • Release any remaining pressure. Carefully open lid and stir to fluff the rice.
  • Taste test and add salt or pepper as needed.
  • Serve as a side or main dish. Be sure to bake cornbread to go with it.

Your Garden Variety Dinner

Some of my fondest memories of my father are of our runs together. One day, a couple of years before he died, we stopped near the end of our run at a neighborhood produce stand. Dad bought an assortment of fresh vegetables grown right there in the man’s backyard. I promised to cook whatever he bought. He spent about six bucks, total, and my family sat and ate as if it was Thanksgiving dinner.

We love vegetables, especially locally grown, fresh produce. Our favorite summer dinner is a fresh-from-the-garden vegetable plate. If you haven’t taken advantage of the produce grown in your area, now is the time to indulge.

Don’t restrict your menu. Plan your meals around what looks good and fresh, even if you have two or three green veggies. Corn on the cob, squash, potatoes, beans, broccoli, tomatoes…it’s all better when fresh-picked. Steam, grill, roast, sauté, pressure cook, microwave… Any way you slice it, cooking fresh produce is healthy, tasty, and good for the local economy.

KITCHEN TIP: Add a little bit of butter for flavor. A tiny amount goes a long way. I freeze butter and use a hand grater to add it to cooked vegetables. Isn’t that a grate idea? 😉

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.

Steamed Cabbage

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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