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.
HASTY TASTY TACO BOWLS
- 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)
- Form each tortilla into a bowl using a mold or oven-proof bowl.
- Air-fry at 370°F for 12 minutes.
- 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.
- While chicken cooks, prep beans, corn, onions, and cilantro and combine.
- Carefully open pressure cooker and remove the chicken (replace lid to trap in the heat). Shred chicken and return to cooker.
- Stir in beans, corn, onions, and cilantro mixture with the shredded chicken. Cover and allow residual heat to warm the beans and corn.
- Pour Queso con Salsa into a heatproof measuring pitcher and heat 2-3 minutes in the microwave oven, stirring occasionally.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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)
I previously posted an oven chicken recipe to make your own rotisserie chicken without a rotisserie. I’ll show you an alternative to that recipe 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.
Hasty Tasty Roast Chicken
- 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)
- Rub whole chicken with the olive oil.
- Combine all spices and rub into the chicken. If possible, loosen the skin and rub the seasonings directly onto the meat.
- 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.
- 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)
- Remove from heat (or hit “cancel” on the Keep Warm button) and allow pressure to drop on its own (about 10-15 minutes).
- 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).
- 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.
- Carve and serve.
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.
Thanks to Olé, we can enjoy healthier Mexican fare as we celebrate today. Here is a hasty tasty chicken fajita recipe:
- 2 OLE brand High Fiber Low Carb tortillas
- 8 oz. chicken breasts, cubed or shredded
- 1 Tbsp. Chili or Fajita seasoning blend
- 1 Tbsp. peanut or canola oil
- 1 cup julienne-cut bell peppers (I mix green, red, and yellow)
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 2-3 Tbsp. prepared salsa
- 1 spring cilantro (optional)
- Slowly simmer chicken with the seasoning blend in a dry, covered pan.
- Prepare peppers and onions.
- After chicken is fully cooked, remove from the skillet. Add oil and return skillet to medium heat.
- Saute onions over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add peppers and stir-fry together until peppers are firm-tender. Remove skillet from heat.
- Warm tortillas for 10 seconds in microwave oven. Add salsa to the center of each.
- Divide the chicken between the two tortillas. Cover each with half the peppers/onions.
- Serve with chopped fresh cilantro if desired. Fold, eat, and enjoy!
As warm weather returns, so do the salads. A delicious salad topped with protein (boiled egg, grilled chicken meat, cheese) makes a filling meal that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. But salads are time consuming to make. Here are my shortcuts for hasty tasty salads.
- Chop, wash, and spin a big bowl of your greens. I usually buy Romaine because it keeps longer than other varieties of lettuce, but buy what you like.
- Make carrot ribbons from 2 carrots using a spiral vegetable slicer or a peeler. Toss with the greens.
- Chop 3 ribs of celery and mix with the lettuce and carrot ribbons. Seal and refrigerate.
- Boil 5-6 eggs, peel, and refrigerate.
- Cook 2-3 chicken breasts (I use the pressure cooker, but use whatever method works for you), chop, and store in a sealed container. Refrigerate. Or keep deli meats handy in the refrigerator.Your choice.
- Make a cruet of your favorite homemade dressing. I prefer a simple vinaigrette, but even mixing up a Good Seasons mix is better than buying a bottled brand because you choose your ingredients. Refrigerate.
- Grate a wedge of your favorite hard cheese (I like Parmesan) and store in the fridge.Already shredded cheese is fine, but freshly grated has better flavor.
- Wash several tomatoes and store in a basket in a cool, dry place in your kitchen. Do not refrigerate unless tomatoes get too ripe.
- Congratulations! You now have the makings of at least 5 chef salads you can pull together within minutes.
This is my salad, but you may use any variety of ingredients in yours. The secret to hasty tasty salad meals is advance preparation. Assembling the prepped ingredients into a tasty salad takes mere minutes. Enjoy!
At first glance, this recipe appears time consuming, not hasty. What makes this skillet pie a hasty tasty meal is the prep. You can make it the day before if you want. Then simply place the skillet in a 400°F preheated oven for an hour when you’re ready to cook. Make-ahead meals are so convenient. Today I made this one before heading off to church. When I got home, I simply baked and served. Meanwhile, I had the luxury of changing clothes, reading the Sunday paper, enjoying a cup of tea, and still had time to set the table and pour the iced tea.
Use the oven-safe skillet of your choice, but I prefer the 12″ Lodge cast iron skillet.
Chicken Skillet Pie
- 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken meat
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 1 thawed pie crust
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Generously oil the interior surface of a 12″ cast iron skillet. Preheat over medium heat.
- Add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for five minutes, or until onions soften.
- Add mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook five minutes.
- Combine the cooked chicken with the vegetables. Heat through.
- Combine soups and milk in a quart bowl or pitcher. Stir to blend.
- Remove skillet from heat. Stir in the soup mixture.
- Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and herbs over the top of the pie filling.
- Gently roll the pie crust until it measures 12″ in diameter (or whatever size skillet you use). Carefully lift the crust and place it atop the pie filling.
- Crimp edges of crust. Cut several vent holes in the top of the crust.
- Place skillet pie in oven on the middle rack. Time for one hour. Do not open oven door to peek until after 45 minutes. If your crust browns before time is up, turn off the oven.
- Carefully remove skillet from oven and allow the pie to cool for at least fifteen minutes before cutting to serve. Drape a towel or potholder over the skillet handle as a reminder that it’s hot.
- Cut into six wedges and serve.
You’ve had a long day. All you want to do is collapse in a chair and be served dinner. But you’re on a budget and trying to eat healthy meals, so you prefer eating at home instead of a restaurant. What a dilemma.
Sound familiar? Been there, done that. So I keep a few speedy-to-the-table meals in my cooking arsenal, including Hasty Tasty Spinach-Chicken Pasta. This one uses leftover, cooked chicken (but you could substitute other cooked meats or chopped Portobello mushrooms) and a package of triple-washed spinach. I also use a jar of light Alfredo sauce from my pantry (I stock up when my local grocer has a BOGO–Buy-One-Get-One-free). My recipe serves two, but you could easily double it. It’s thirty minutes, max, until you’re sitting down to enjoy your meal.
Even with the prepared sauce, this meal is fairly light and packed with nutrition. Don’t feel guilty for using prepared sauce when you’re eating almost two servings of iron- and fiber-rich spinach. Busy schedules call for compromise.
Note: For this recipe I used my Fasta Pasta microwave oven cooker to prepare the farfalle while I made the dish using my 12″ Gourmet electric skillet (by Kitchencraft). Use whatever cookware works best for you.
HASTY TASTY SPINACH-CHICKEN PASTA
- 2 ounces (1 serving) dried bowtie (Farfalle) or shell pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
- 1 package (3-4 servings) spinach salad mix, washed and ready to eat
- Kosher salt
- 1 jar prepared Alfredo sauce, your choice.
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 clove garlic, grated or pressed
- 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta in a separate pan or in a microwave oven pasta cooker until al dente. Salt generously.
- In a large covered skillet or electric skillet, wilt fresh spinach over low heat (225°F)
- Add the cooked chicken, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the jar of Alfredo sauce, stir, and cover. Heat through 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in cooked pasta, season with the grated garlic and nutmeg. Turn off heat.
- Divide and serve, garnished with Parmesan cheese.Enjoy.
Tip: Cooking for one? Leftovers taste great cold, too. Save half to take for lunch.