Category: Writing

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

New Orleans Style Red Beans with Rice

We love the spicy flavors of New Orleans style dishes, but we need to watch our waistlines. So I’ve lightened one of our favorites, red beans and rice, by using chicken sausage. I also serve with cooked brown rice instead of traditional white rice to boost fiber.  By soaking the beans, I shorten the cooking time and avoid over cooking the sausage.

Although my recipe uses the pressure cooker, you can cook it stovetop. It will take more time, but either way, you’ll end up with a healthy version of New Orleans style red beans and rice.

RECIPE

New Orleans Style Red Beans with Rice

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces chicken Andouille sausage, sliced in ¼” rounds
  • 8 ounces dried red beans, soaked at least 3 hours or overnight
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Cajun seasoning mix
  • salt
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

 

Chicken Andouille Sausage

Directions:

  1. Preheat pressure cooker pot and add the olive oil.
  2. Sauté the onions, peppers, and celery (known as the trinity in New Orleans).
  3. Add garlic and Cajun seasonings and stir for 30 seconds or long enough to “bloom” the spices.
  4. Add sausage and broth, and then seal cooker.
  5. Bring to pressure and cook 15 minutes (Or if using an electric pressure cooker, cook 20 minutes).
  6. Allow pressure to drop on its own at least 10 minutes.
  7. Release remaining pressure, carefully open lid, and serve in bowls over 1/2 cup brown rice.

Add to presoaked beans and cook 15 minutes under pressure

*If you prefer tomatoes in your red beans (we don’t), stir in a can of diced tomatoes after cooking the beans as soon as you open the pot. (For fiery hot beans, use tomatoes and green chilies!) The residual heat will warm the tomatoes through without cooking them to mush.

Serve over a scoop of cooked brown rice.

Survival Food

After the hurricane season of 2004 (when Francis knocked out our power for almost a week and then Jeanne hit three weeks later to knock it out again), I vowed to prepare for hurricane season every year. We bought a generator, yet it limits us to how much gasoline we can store to run it. Recently, one of my favorite cookbook authors and travel writers, Janet Groene, released a comprehensive book that covers preparedness for emergencies titled THE SURVIVAL FOOD HANDBOOK –Provisioning at the Supermarket for Your Boat, Camper, Vacation Cabin, and Home Emergencies. (Visit her amazon.com page to see her available books.)

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We’re RVers, and I originally discovered Janet Groene through Family Motor Coaching magazine. How delighted I was when she moved to my area of Florida and we finally met in person! She writes weekly articles for her blogs, including SoloWomanRV.blogspot.com and CampandRVCook.blogspot.com. You can read all about Janet’s credentials here.

Janet and I recently lunched at Dixie Grill, one of our favorite local diners, and I asked about the new book.

Me: Survival Food reminds me of Doomsday.

Janet:  Prepping isn’t just for doomsday. It’s for anyone who journeys by boat or camper, who has a vacation home, or who wants to be able to put on a meal for unexpected company. Power outages and other emergencies happen but there are also the good times, when extra food allows you to linger longer in a great campsite or secluded harbor.

Me: Are you talking about MRE foods? Those are expensive.

Janet: MREs are expensive, which is why I write about preparing your own with inexpensive food purchased from your local supermarket.

Me: Now you have my attention! Tell me more about this book.

Janet: The book is a guide to shopping the supermarket for shelf foods to make familiar dishes. No pricey survival supplies are needed. Chapters cover how to shop, plan and stow. Every recipe in the book is made with shelf-stable ingredients to aid in any provisioning plan.  Also in the book are tips on baking without an oven, what to do when the power is off for a long period and clean-up after a food or fire.

Me: Sounds like a book everyone can use! May I share an excerpt?

Janet: Absolutely!

RECIPE

Chickenacho Casserole

Serves 4–6

Use drained canned chicken or reconstituted chicken bites. Tortillas can be homemade, from the supermarket shelf, or long-life tortillas from specialty suppliers.

  • 3 to 4 cups cooked, bite-size chicken pieces
  • 2 to 3 cups torn corn tortillas
  • 1 can condensed cream of onion soup
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild, medium, or hot)
  • 10-ounce jar cheese spread such as Cheeze-Whiz

Spray a large, nonstick skillet. Scatter chicken bits in the bottom and top with torn tortillas. Spoon by spoon, distribute soup, tomatoes, and cheese evenly over the top. Cover tightly and cook over low flame until everything is heated through.

I won’t wait until an emergency to make this dish. This one certainly fits the category of a Hasty Tasty Meal. Thank you, Janet Groene, for sharing.

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