Tag Archives: healthful diet

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 (electric models set for eight 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. 

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Filed under cooking, Eggplant, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, Recipes, Soups & Stews

Perfect Carrots

Carrots are a root vegetable. Carrots are nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive (even the organic ones). They typically are colored orange and contain carotenes (B, A, Z), lutein, and zeaxanthin. Carrots are rich in fiber, too.

If you think carrots are tasteless, perhaps you’ve been served carrots boiled to death in water. My mother-in-law says my carrots are the best, better than any restaurant. What’s earned me such high praise? Want to know my secret? 

Two rules: One, buy good carrots. Pass up those baby cut carrots and buy whole organic carrots. (Bunny Love is available where I shop, and they are organic) Second, don’t let your carrots touch water while cooking

Three methods I use to cook carrots, depending on time restraints: One, I steam over low heat in my waterless cookware (KitchenCraft, 360 Cookware by Americraft, or similar brands). No water. Just gentle, slow cooking. Takes about twenty minutes. Two, pressure cook for four minutes under pressure in a basket above the water. Do not submerge carrots in water! Water leaches out flavor and nutrients. Occasionally, I stir-fry carrots with other vegetables in very little oil in a hot skillet.

Preparing carrots takes only a little time. Peel or scrub, depending on your preference. I let appearance be my guide. If the peels look fairly clean, I scrub them with a vegetable brush and leave them on. If not, I peel. 

Slice in similar size pieces for even cooking. I like cutting diagonally but any slice style works. The smaller the size, the shorter the cooking time. 

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Tilapia

Tilapia is a wonder food. Mild, adaptable, and plentiful, it cooks quickly and can be prepared in a variety of ways. My favorite method (and it’s the quickest) is to steam over low heat in a covered skillet. No oil, no batter, no breading…just a few seasonings like lemon pepper and/or garlic salt. Even frozen, it’s done within 10-15 minutes. Fresh cooks faster. When preparing a meal, I typically cook my tilapia last. I don’t want to risk overcooking it, and I certainly don’t want to serve it cold.

When you shop for tilapia, keep in mind the recommendations of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Buy farmed-in-USA if available. Aquaculture is suited to the tilapia, making it a sustainable fish. If USA isn’t available, buy from Costa Rica, Equador, Honduras, or Brazil farms. Do not buy tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan! (For more information, consult the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Watch List.)

Tilapia is not a new fish. It’s most plentiful in Africa and the Middle East and is believed to be the fish Saint Peter caught. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:15-21) Jesus served the crowd of 5,000 from two tilapia and five loaves of bread. Bible scholars also believe tilapia was abundant in the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Tiberius) and would’ve been the fish Jesus served his disciples when He revealed Himself after the resurrection. That’s why some refer to tilapia as either Jesus’ fish or Saint Peter’s fish. 

All I know is it’s delicious and nutritious, perfect for a Hasty Tasty Meal!

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Corn on the Cob? I’m all ears! | HASTY TASTY MEALS KITCHEN

It’s that time of year again when we can get fresh corn. Revisit this post on the easiest way to prepare it:

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Perfectly cooked corn emerges clean of all silk and husks!

via Corn on the Cob? I’m all ears! | HASTY TASTY MEALS KITCHEN

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Use Your Noodles!

I previously sang the praises of spiral vegetable slicers when I bought my SpiraLife. I upgraded to the fancier model but still love my trusty hand-held.

My latest experiment involves sweet potatoes. I peeled a Beauregard (grown locally) and combined its noodles with one zucchini, also spiral-cut, and steamed over low heat for about ten minutes.


I added salt and pepper, and then tossed the “noodles” with a dressing I made from 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, one clove garlic, and a pinch of Chinese Five Spice seasoning.  I topped it off with chopped fresh cilantro. Delicious!

You can change up your vegetables by mixing up the combinations and/or dressings or sauces. What a fun way to be sure you’re eating your vegetables. Enjoy!

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Filed under cooking, Healthful Eating, kitchen equipment, pasta dishes, Recipes, Vegetables, Zucchini

BBQ Beef & Beans

Here’s an easy, nutritious way to stretch a buck: BBQ Beef and Beans. I modified the recipe I got from my friend Chef Gary. If you take a little help from the grocery store (canned beans, rinsed and drained, and jarred barbecue sauce of your choice), you need only ten minutes to get this into the slow cooker. This is one of my favorites to take to a potluck dinner.

RECIPE

HASTY TASTY BBQ BEEF AND BEANS

I use the stainless steel Gourmet Slo-cooker by Americraft so everything is done in one pot. If you use a crockery slow cooker, you will need a skillet to brown your meat and onions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chuck, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 4 cans beans (your choice of type. I like variety so I mix 4 kinds of beans)
  • 12 ounces prepared barbecue sauce (avoid varieties containing high fructose corn syrup)
  • nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Spray skillet or pan with nonstick cooking spray. Salt and pepper the cubed chuck, add it to the skillet, cover, and brown over low heat.
  2. Open canned beans and drain, rinsing with cold water. Set aside.
  3. Add chopped onion to the browned chuck. Adjust heat to medium. Do not cover. Cook until all liquid has evaporated (about two minutes).
  4. In slow cooker pan or Crock-pot, add meat and onions. Slowly stir in the rinsed beans.
  5. Add barbecue sauce. Stir to combine. Cover and cook over low heat for at least four hours. Use lowest possible setting because all the food is cooked. Your only concern is infusing flavor.
  6. Serve warm.

Yield: 5 pints

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Enjoy either as a side or main dish. Remember, beans are a great source of fiber and nutrition yet without the saturated fat of meat.

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Filed under beans, condiments, cooking, Healthful Eating, Recipes

Tossed and Well Dressed

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Make carrot ribbons from 2 carrots using a spiral vegetable slicer or a peeler. Toss with the greens.
  3. Chop 3 ribs of celery and mix with the lettuce and carrot ribbons. Seal and refrigerate.
  4. Boil 5-6 eggs, peel, and refrigerate.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Wash several tomatoes and store in a basket in a cool, dry place in your kitchen. Do not refrigerate unless tomatoes get too ripe.
  9. 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!100_1354

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Filed under chicken, eggs, Healthful Eating, Salads, tomatoes