Category: healthful meals (page 1 of 3)

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

For years, a recipe for making a healthier pizza crust from cauliflower has made the rounds. Although interested, I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to try making it. Like Tres Leche Cake, it was too labor-intensive to fit my criteria for a Hasty Tasty Meal. Thanks to Green Giant, that’s no longer the case.

Cauliflower pizza crust is pricey ($4.99 at my local grocery store), but is worth the investment if you’re craving pizza and can’t sacrifice nutrition. Yes, nutritional pizza is no longer an oxymoron.

I baked mine in my Power Air Fryer Oven 400°F but it works better in a conventional oven at 450°

Here’s how I made a sausage and mushroom pizza:

RECIPE

Reasonably Healthy Cauliflower Crust Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

Makes 2 2-slice servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen cauliflower pizza crust
  • 1 8 oz. can low sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 patty fully cooked turkey sausage
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasonings
  • 1 can mushrooms, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses (2/3 cup mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan)
  • cooking spray
  • optional salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Remove cauliflower crust from its packaging. Prebake crust directly on the rack for 12-15 minutes.
  3. While crust bakes, combine sauce, seasonings (including garlic), and turkey sausage patty in a blender or food processor. Don’t overprocess. Stir in mushrooms. Also, grate cheeses if needed.
  4. Carefully remove crust from the oven using a pizza peel or large spatula. 
  5. Spread the sauce over the crust and sprinkle the chopped onion and pepper.
  6. Cover with shredded cheese and return pizza to the oven, again placing it directly on the oven rack.
  7. Bake just until browned and bubbly (approximately 6 minutes). Carefully remove the pizza and allow it to cool for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Slice into 4 pieces and serve.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

It’s Thanksgiving month. Here by request is a repeat of my cranberry sauce recipe. It’s easy and so much better than canned, so give it a try. Happy Thanksgiving!

The tart cranberry is delicious and healthful. Unfortunately, the cranberry is overlooked except during the holidays yet is good any time of the year. But don’t open up a can of jellied cranberry sauce–make your own! In less than 30 minutes, you can have homemade cranberry sauce. You can store it in the refrigerator in a mold or in the serving bowl–your choice. Molds are impressive but not necessary. Here’s my Hasty Tasty version:

Ingredients

Ingredients

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir occasionally.

Stir occasionally.

Process until smooth.

Process until smooth.

Serve or store in the refrigerator.

Serve or store in the refrigerator.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash salt
  • one orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Combine brown sugar and juice of an orange (reserve zest) in a 2-quart sauce pan. Add cranberries.
  2. Gently heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for fifteen minutes or until berries burst.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in zest of orange and grated ginger.
  4. Carefully tranfer contents to the Vitamix or a food processor. Cover.*
  5. Beginning with the lowest speed (Vitamix variable speed 1), process cranberries to desired consistency. Just pulse a few times for a chunkier sauce.*
  6. Carefully pour sauce into a mold or a serving dish, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour. Overnight is better.

*Processing the sauce is optional. Cranberries taste great either whole sauce or pureed.

Yield: 1 pint cranberry sauce

Variations: add your choice of seasonings in place of the grated ginger, such as cloves, cinnamon, or even jalapeño pepper!

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.

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! 

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? 😉

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