Tag: Instant Pot

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.

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! 

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)

Converting Recipes for Pressure Cooking

Thousands of people received an electric programmable pressure cooker for gifts during the holidays, or purchased one during the black Friday sales. Dozens of social media groups offer recipe exchanges and tips. One frequent question that I see on a daily basis is “How do I convert my slow cooker recipe for the _________(insert brand name of electric pressure cooker)?” 

As a veteran pressure cooker cook, I feel qualified to address this question. However, I’ve had to learn my way around my new Instant Pot. In a way, I’m a novice, too. I hope my recommendations help you. Here’s an example:

A favorite slow cooker recipe of ours is slow cooker chili, based on Hurst’s HamBeens brand Slow Cooker Chili. I substitute ground turkey for the beef and Rotel for the diced tomatoes. I also use 1 quart chicken broth and 3 pints water instead of using all water, but otherwise I follow the recipe on the package.

First I turned on the pot and browned the onion and turkey. Then I added all other ingredients and sealed the pot. I cooked the recipe on high pressure for 40 minutes, followed by natural release. The beans were tender yet not too mushy, and the chili was delicious. However, the finished product was a little soupy for our preference.

However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution (that is, too much liquid) when cooking dried beans. Also, reheating the leftover chili evaporated any excess moisture. Therefore, the only conversion I suggest is cooking time. Each pot differs in buttons and settings, so you’ll have to consult your own manufacturer’s manual or website to know how to set high pressure for 40 minutes.

Where did I get the 40 minutes? I consulted the cooking chart for dried beans (without soaking) and used that time. Since beans take the longest cooking time, that’s what you should choose. If you’re a Crockpot veteran, you already know there’s a range of cooking time when slow cooking. There’s also a range with pressure cooking, so if I tell you 40 minutes and someone else tells you an hour, cook for the minimum time. It’s easy to check for doneness and bring the pot back to pressure to add cooking time. The contents are already hot, which means your pot returns to pressure quickly. 
Note: If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, reduce cooking time to 35 minutes followed by natural release. The electric models take a tad longer to cook.

Safety first. The new cookers are the safest yet, but you have to follow the rules. Don’t overfill (2/3 pot for most dishes, 1/2 pot for bean dishes) and always use liquid. Even the shortest cooking time requires a minimum amount of liquid to reach pressure. Read your manual. If instructions are missing, either visit the manufacturer’s site or contact them.

Final word of advice: Cook! Don’t leave your new cooker in a box in a closet. Use it. Experience is the best teacher. Also, join a group or two on Facebook and read through their posts. You’ll find answers to your questions, and you’ll learn there is no one way to cook a dish. 

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