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Hasty Tasty Steel Cut Oats

I like my grains whole and my food fiber high, so I decided to try steel cut oats for my morning oatmeal. Steel cut oats take a long time to cook. There are even recipes for slow cooking them overnight so they’re ready to eat the next morning. That isn’t my idea of a Hasty Tasty Meal.

Then I read an article about pressure cooking steel cut oats. I’ve been a pressure cooker enthusiast since the early 1970s, so this article got my attention. Now I eat steel cut oats for breakfast, and my oatmeal cooks in minutes. From start to finish, my oatmeal is ready in half the time it would take to cook stovetop, and I don’t have to stand over the pot and stir.

Here’s my recipe for a single bowl of oatmeal. (Note: Do NOT use the directions on the box of steel cut oats. You need only a 1:3 oats/water ratio when cooking under pressure because steam is trapped and there’s no evaporation.)

100_1428Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup water for the pressure cooker

Directions:

  1. Add 1 cup water to the pressure cooker pot.100_1427
  2. In a microwave-oven-safe bowl (my old Corelle works just fine), combine steel cut oats, water, and salt. 
  3. Place bowl on a rack or trivet (Most pressure cookers have either a trivet or steaming basket accessory you can use to keep the bowl above the water)
  4. According to your manufacturer’s instructions, close the lid and bring to pressure. After it reaches pressure, lower heat just to maintain pressure and time for 5 minutes. (If using an electric model, select 8* minutes on the timer)
  5. Allow pressure to drop naturally (approximately 15 minutes).
  6. Carefully remove the lid, and then lift the bowl from inside the pot (I use silicone mittens for this as the bowl will be hot).Stir the oatmeal until thickened. 
  7. Add brown sugar or fruit as desired. Enjoy!

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To make 4 servings, use the pressure cooker pot and combine 1 cup oats with 3 cups water. Add 1/4 tsp. salt. Also, add a teaspoon of butter, if desired. Follow the same time and pressure as for one serving. Stir and then serve directly from the pot. Makes 4 one-cup servings.

For creamier oatmeal, increase time to 12-15 minutes and allow pressure to drop on its own. Cooking creamy grits takes as long as the traditional cooking method, but it’s much easier because you don’t need to babysit the pot.

**The pressure is slightly higher in stovetop pressure cookers, which is why I suggest a longer cook time for electric models.

Green Beans and Mushrooms Under Pressure

For a quick side dish, snap and string green beans while the water heats in your pressure cooker. Better yet, buy a package of ready-to-cook green beans. Toss them in with a package of cleaned, sliced mushrooms, and you’re minutes away from a delicious vegetable dish.

RECIPE

Green beans and mushrooms under pressure

Serves 4 — 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed. 
  • 1 pound fresh sliced and cleaned white mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or grated
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • (optional: ¼ cup chopped onion and ¼ cup chopped sweet pepper)

Directions:

  1. Add water to the pressure cooker and preheat.
  2. Add beans and mushrooms to the pot.
  3. Cover the beans and mushrooms with the garlic, salt, and pepper. (Add chopped onion and pepper if desired)
  4. Secure lid to pressure cooker. Bring to pressure.
  5. Cook two minutes, remove from heat, and immediately quick-release pressure (Be careful! The steam can burn).
  6. Using a slotted spoon, move the beans and mushrooms dish to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin is rich in nutrients and abundant in the fall. Whether you puree your own or buy canned, you can enjoy pumpkin in a variety of dishes. Canned pumpkin puree (Not pumpkin pie filling!) makes this cake a hasty tasty quick bread. I use the Vitamix to make the batter, but a mixer works, too. The maple glaze is optional.

RECIPE

Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. Egg Beaters®
  • 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar (for glaze)
  • 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup (for glaze)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Spray inside of a 8½” X 4½” loaf pan or a small tube cake pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a 2 quart mixing bowl or pitcher, combine all dry ingredients. Form a depression in the center. Set aside.
  4. In the Vitamix container (or a mixing bowl) combine the pumpkin and Egg Beaters® starting at Variable Speed 1. Gradually increase speed to 10 then High. Run for 20 seconds.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the center of dry ingredients and fold using a spatula or spoon. Don’t over mix. Batter will be stiff.
  6. Spoon batter into the loaf pan and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Remove cake from pan and cool on a rack, at least 30 minutes.
  9. In a small plastic food storage bag, combine powdered sugar and real maple syrup. Seal bag then snip a hole in one corner to create a small piping bag.
  10. Drizzle the cake lightly with the glaze and serve.

Variations: If you prefer a less dense cake, use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour. Add ½ cup nuts for more fiber and flavor.

Note: Cake will be dense and moist.

Yield: 12 servings

Turkey Breast in a Slow Cooker

Six-quart Gourmet Cooker

Six-quart Gourmet Cooker

Just because you aren’t expecting a crowd for Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy turkey. Buy a turkey breast and slow-cook it a day ahead. (Or if you are expecting a crowd, buy a turkey breast to supplement the big bird in your oven.)

The bonus in slow-cooking a turkey breast is the homemade stock. One 6 pound turkey breast produces about a quart of rich stock (I don’t add any liquid to the pot). I strain and skim fat from the juices. Then I use it for sauces, gravies, soups, or seasoning vegetables. Stock freezes well, too.

Defat the juices for making gravy

Defat the juices for making gravy

This recipe is my usual except I’ve added a butter/hot sauce rub. (My husband loves spicy cuisine. If you don’t, simply swap the hot sauce with poultry seasoning.)   Regardless of how you season your turkey breast, the slow-cooking method is the same.

RECIPE

Slow Cooker Turkey Dinner With a Kick

Serves 4 + leftover turkey for future meals

Equipment: For the full meal recipe, you will need a six-quart slow-cooker. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 6 lb. turkey breast, thawed
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 cup hot sauce, your choice
  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 carrots, whole
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and halved

Directions:

  • Spray the inside of the slow cooker pot with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In the bottom of the pot, arrange the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.
  • In a measuring cup, combine the softened butter with the hot sauce. Add salt and dried thyme.
  • Rub the turkey breast thoroughly with the butter/hot sauce mixture, carefully lifting the skin and getting the mixture beneath it.
  • Position the turkey breast over the vegetables so that the slow-cooker lid will fit. Cover.
  • Cook on the highest setting for two hours.
  • Reduce the temperature to medium or medium/low (depending on the controls of your model slow-cooker) and continue cooking for at least five more hours. If you lift the lid to view the turkey breast, you may need additional cooking time.*
  • After a total of six hours of cooking, check the turkey for doneness using a poultry thermometer (or meat thermometer with a poultry setting). Remove turkey from the slow cooker when it’s done and allow it to rest on a carving board. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Carefully remove the potatoes and carrots to the serving platter. Strain and reserve the broth from the pot for gravy or flavoring stuffing mix. Broth also freezes for future use.
  • Slice the turkey breast meat into serving pieces, arrange on the platter with the carrots and potatoes, and serve with other side dishes of your choice.

I prefer slicing the turkey and reheating it the next day in gravy. The turkey adds flavor to my gravy, and the gravy keeps the turkey moist. 

Product Test: Electric Air Fryer

I resisted purchasing an air fryer for about two years. While friends, acquaintances, and infomercials assured me I would use one, I resisted. We don’t eat a lot of deep-fried foods, so why bother?

But curiosity overcame my objections and I purchased one, a GoWise USA 3.7 quart model. Then I began my tests.

First, I picked up fresh catfish fillets at my local Publix. I washed my new electric air fryer according to the instructions and sprayed Pam in the basket. After dipping the catfish in egg and then a light coating of flour/cornstarch, I placed the fillets in the basket of my electric air fryer. I selected the Fish setting for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, I gently turned each fillet to ensure even browning. My husband and I enjoyed catfish fillets that tasted deep-fried! So far, so good.

Next, I cooked a frozen hash brown patty on the Fries setting for 6 minutes, turning the patty after 5 minutes. Perfect! Better than any fast-food breakfast hash brown patty because it wasn’t greasy.

I cooked frozen, breaded veal cutlets (from Omaha Steaks) on the Chicken setting for 20 minutes (again, turning at the halfway point) for veal Parmigiana. As good as any restaurant!

Frozen french fries were the best, and took only 15 minutes for shoestring-size fries. After about 8 minutes, I shook the basket to expose all sides evenly. Better than our favorite burger chain because there’s no grease!

Finally, I tried kale. I’ve always wanted to try making kale chips but just didn’t feel like heating up the oven. The electric air fryer acts as a mini-convection oven, and will make any vegetable into a chip with nothing more than a spray of Pam. Kale chips took 20 minutes at 320 degrees. It doesn’t cook a lot at a time, but that’s no problem since I’m the only one in my household willing to eat kale chips. 😉

According to Harlan Fowler, author of the GoWise USA Air Fryer Cookbook, regular bacon cooks well–very crisp, but it leaves a puddle of rendered fat in the pan. (Not a bad thing if you need rendered bacon fat for a recipe, but messy for cleanup). Yet the instructions state to avoid cooking fatty meats like sausage, and I think bacon qualifies as a fatty meat. I won’t cook bacon in my air fryer. I do look forward to trying his recipe for sweet potato fries, however. Love sweet potato fries!

 I have more testing to do, but I already know this purchase will work for me. The electric air fryer is a welcome addition to our kitchen. 

 

Not So Naughty Muffins

100_1272I enjoy a muffin, but often they are dense and heavy. If I splurge and indulge, I want a yummy and light treat. After experimenting with recipes, I settled on one that we love. The extra baking powder makes them light and airy. Don’t be alarmed at the amount of butter. Spread over twelve servings, it’s not too decadent yet adds flavor. Or substitute coconut oil for the butter. It works. One muffin won’t wreck your daily calorie count. One. 

RECIPE

Cinnamon Swirl Muffins

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Spray the cups of a muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1/2 cup sugar

In a separate bowl, whisk:

  • 1 egg (room temperature, beaten)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Pour liquid ingredients into the dry. Whisk just until batter is smooth. Don’t over-beat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I use light, but dark brown works as well)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Fill each muffin cup with batter just shy of halfway. Add 1 tsp. cinnamon-brown sugar mixture to each muffin. Layer 1 Tbsp. batter followed by 1 tsp cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. Using a knife or skewer, swirl batter with the cinnamon-brown sugar.

Place muffin pan on the center rack of oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin tests clean. Remove muffins and cool on a rack.

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Light and airy, cinnamon swirl muffins are perfect for breakfast or anytime.

Apologies to my gluten-intolerant friends. I failed at making a gluten-free version of this recipe, but I’ll keep experimenting in my lab–, er, kitchen.

Weeknight Roast Chicken

Why not pick up a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket? Those are too salty, for starters. (Read what Dr. Oz says here). I like to control my ingredients as much as possible. Chicken on a weeknight is a hasty tasty meal, especially using the pressure cooker.

Note: If you eat the skin of a chicken, you’ll want to brown it first using either the broiler or a large skillet. I skin chicken before eating it because skin is loaded with saturated fat, so browning isn’t an issue for us.

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Roast Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole fryer, approx. 3 lbs.
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 3 cups liquid (water, stock, broth)

Directions:

  1. Rub whole chicken with the olive oil.
  2. Combine all spices and rub into the chicken. If possible, loosen the skin and rub the seasonings directly onto the meat.
  3. Add liquid to bottom of a pressure cooker pot. Place a rack in the bottom to prevent the chicken from resting directly on the pot.
  4. Secure lid to pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook for 20 minutes. If using an electric pressure cooker, select the Poultry setting for 20 minutes. (If chicken is frozen, you’ll need to add 10 minutes)
  5. Remove from heat (or hit “cancel” on the Keep Warm button) and quick-release pressure.
  6. Carefully open cooker. Use a meat thermometer inserted at the thigh to check for doneness. The chicken’s internal temperature should be at least 160°F (residual cooking will bring it to about 170°F).
  7. Using tongs or meat forks, move the chicken to a carving platter or large bowl or platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Carve and serve.

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BONUS: Don’t discard the cooking liquid. It’s rich in flavor. Strain and use to make a quick gravy. Save in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Or strain, return liquid to the pressure cooker, and cook vegetables in it. 

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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.

Easy Ratatouille

After two chili recipes (previous two posts), I’m ready for a different cuisine.  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. 

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. 

 

Hasty Tasty Chili

We love chili around our house, any variety. Beef or turkey, with or without beans, with or without pasta, with or without corn, Cincinnati-style or Tex-Mex chili, mild or mouth-blistering, we’ll eat it. I like to make chili with a cooked-all-day flavor that takes only an hour. It can be done! All you need is a pressure cooker. 

I’m currently at work on my new cookbook, HASTY TASTY MEALS UNDER PRESSURE, experimenting with all our favorites using a pressure cooker. Mine is twenty years old, and has all the safety features missing from earlier models. But newer cookers are available now, including the electric models that have push-button selections and timers. I haven’t tried one yet, but my friend swears by hers.

Here is my latest version of chili using the pressure cooker method. You certainly can use canned chili beans and cut the cooking time, but cooking from dried gives me more control over my ingredients. However, I use canned corn if fresh is out of season (after rinsing and draining).

Don’t want to use a pressure cooker? No problem. Adapt the recipe for your slow cooker and cook on Low for 6 hours, or until beans are tender. 

RECIPE

Hasty Tasty Chili

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground lean meat or turkey
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans (I make an assortment of pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and red or pink beans)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chili seasoning (I use Bloemer‘s brand)
  • 1 10 oz. can Rotel® diced tomatoes and green chilies (Pick your heat level)
  • 1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn or 2 cups fresh corn kernels (Optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 32 oz. filtered water (or replace some of the water with a bottle or can of beer)
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Spray inside of a six-quart/liter pressure cooker pot with cooking spray. Preheat over medium.
  2. Add meat, stirring occasionally to brown. When meat starts browning, add the onions and garlic.
  3. Stir in chili seasoning.
  4. After rinsing and inspecting dried beans for any debris, spread the beans over the browned meat mixture.
  5. Cover the beans with the contents of the can of corn (optional). Add the filtered water and bay leaf (be sure beans are completely covered with liquid).
  6. Close pressure cooker, increase heat to medium/high, and watch closely for it to reach pressure. When pressure valve jiggles, lower heat to the lowest setting possible while maintaining pressure. (Most models emit a low hiss when at correct pressure. If your cooker makes a lot of noise, lower the heat)
  7. Once cooker reaches pressure, time for 40 minutes.*
  8. Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own, approximately ten minutes.
  9. Carefully open the cooker (watch that steam!) and check beans for tenderness. They should be a bit firm at this point. Add the contents of the cans of Rotel and tomato sauce. Stir, close cooker, and bring back to pressure.
  10. Cook an additional 10 minutes under pressure. After pressure drops on its own for 10 minutes, release pressure and open the cooker.
  11. Test for seasoning and add salt to taste. Stir and serve with your choice of toppings.

*Pressure cookers vary by model. You may need more time if your cooker is 10 psi instead of 15 psi. As you use your cooker, you’ll learn to judge its cooking time. Just remember, it’s easy to quick-release pressure, check your food, and then return to pressure for additional cooking time. Also, the new electric cookers take the guesswork out of timing.

(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.)

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