If you think you can’t enjoy mashed potatoes without sacrificing your waistline or health, think again. For my Mashed Potatoes for Two, I use 1 pat of butter…real butter, no substitute. A pat of real butter is 1.5 tsp. or 50 calories. That’s 25 calories per serving. The butter adds plenty of flavor with a tiny amount of fat.
For my recipe you need only two russets, a pat of butter, salt/pepper, and a cup of water. The water goes into the pressure cooker. The peeled and halved potatoes go on a trivet above the water.
Pressure cook 15 minutes, allow pressure to drop 5 minutes on its own, then quick-release. Reserve the cooking liquid. Carefully remove the cooked potatoes to a bowl and add the butter to melt with the potatoes.
Using a fork, mash and stir the potatoes. Add a tablespoon or two of the starchy cooking water to loosen the mash. If mixture is still too stiff, add more of the cooking water. Season to taste.
That’s it. Potatoes boiled in water lose much of their flavor. By steaming potatoes above the water, you retain the natural flavor and nutrients. There’s no need to add anything beyond the small amounts of butter and cooking water for creamy mashed potatoes.
Add mashed potatoes to your Hasty, Tasty meals. Serve with fat free gravy, if desired.
My grocer had pork tenderloins on sale this week buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO). Pork tenderloin, not to be confused with pork loin, is a lean and tender cut ideal for a Hasty Tasty Meal. It’s easily over cooked, which is why it’s crucial to distinguish tenderloin from loin. Yet it’s also difficult to pass up a BOGO, so I decided it was time to master pork tenderloin.
Baking or roasting pork tenderloin using a meat thermometer (internal temperature of 145°￼) is a foolproof cooking technique, yet I wanted to use my pressure cooker. Why? We’re campers and don’t travel with an oven or even a microwave oven. But I do have a 3 quart Instant Pot Duo Mini in my travel trailer. Even when “roughing it,” I like to prepare good meals.
I experimented with steaming the tenderloin on a trivet over the liquid as well as braising in the cooking liquid. I tried chicken broth, water, and apple juice for the cooking liquid. All techniques produced edible meat, but here’s my favorite and most successful recipe.
Hasty Tasty Pork Tenderloin Roast
- 1 pork tenderloin, approximately 1.5 pound
- 2 tsp. Canola oil or your choice vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 apple (gala or Granny Smith works well), sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat multi cooker on sauté mode.
- When heated, add oil and brown all sides of the tenderloin.
- Remove tenderloin to a plate. Add fennel, apple, and onion to the pot and sauté approximately 5 minutes. Salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
- While vegetables sauté, use a sharp paring knife and make slits evenly throughout the meat to insert the garlic pieces.
- Pour water slowly into the pot. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot of any cooked-on bits.
- Return tenderloin to the cooker and place atop the fennel, apple, and onion slices.
- Seal cooker and set pressure cooking time for zero minutes (or lowest time setting available).
- After cooking time completes, hit cancel. Do not allow cooker to “keep warm.” Allow pressure to drop on its own one minute and then vent.
- Open cooker, remove meat to a plate, and pour cooking liquid into a heavy duty blender (I use a Vitamix) to purée.* Return liquid to pot, and hit sauté.
- While liquid reduces, allow tenderloin to rest. Tent with foil to keep warm. After the cooking liquid boils down to desired thickness, turn off cooker and add butter. Salt and pepper sauce to taste. Slice the tenderloin and serve drizzled with the sauce.
Browned tenderloins cook quickly.
Whisk in butter right before serving.
Serve with sauce and side dishes of your choice.
*For a chunkier sauce, mash the cooked apple, fennel, and onion mixture with a potato masher.
We often eat beans. We like them, they’re good for us, and they are inexpensive. Today’s pintos (made in my Instant Pot) are made zesty with the addition of hot Hatch Chilies.
We discovered Hatch Chilies in Texas one summer. Although next to impossible to find fresh in my area, Hatch Chilies in cans are usually found in my pantry.
Here’s my recipe:
Zesty Pinto Beans
- 1 cup Dried Pinto Beans
- 1 cup Chopped Onion
- 1/2 cup Diced Sweet Pepper
- 1/2 cup Hatch Chilies (we like hot, but choose your heat level)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Water or Broth
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Soak beans overnight or do a 1-hour Quick Soak in a Pressure Cooker.*
- Rinse beans and set aside. Wipe the pressure cooker dry and preheat (Sauté Mode).
- When pot is hot, add 1 Tbsp. oil. Allow oil to heat.
- Sauté chopped onions for 2 minutes before adding peppers.
- Sauté peppers 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat (or hit Cancel).
- Stir in garlic.
- Add presoaked beans. Add liquid just to cover beans. Set cooker for 30 minutes.
- Seal and bring to pressure. After cooking, allow pressure to drop on its own.
- Open cooker, stir, and serve.
*For the 1-hour Quick Presoak, place beans in a pressure cooker. Add water to completely cover the beans. Add 1 Tbsp salt. Pressure cook for one minute, cancel, and then allow beans to soak undisturbed for one hour. Rinse and drain before cooking.
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.
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.
- 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 Luv Organic)
- Slurry of 1 Tbsp. corn starch mixed in 2 ounces cold water
- Preheat the pot using the sauté setting. When the display reads Hot, spray generously with cooking spray and add onions.
- Using the dehydrated onion soup mix, dry-rub the meat thoroughly.
- Slice meat into 1½ to 2 inch pieces. Add meat to the pot to brown.
- After a couple of minutes, turn off the Instant Pot. Add garlic and tomato paste. Stir.
- Pour in the broth. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot, incorporating the flavors into the broth. Add sweet peppers if using.
- Place the potatoes on top the meat.
- 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).
- While meat cooks, prepare the slurry, and slice carrots into 1″ pieces.
- 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.
- 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.
- Using a large spatula, lift the meat, potatoes, and carrots onto a platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.
- 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.
- 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.
Remember walking into Grandma’s house when she had cabbage cooking in her kitchen? The entire house smelled like rotten eggs, right? Grandma insisted that cabbage was good for you, though, and you should eat it. She was right! According to many sources (such as Good Health All), cabbage is effective in fighting digestive, cardiovascular, and blood sugar issues as well as serving as an anti-inflammatory and vitamin source. It’s a nutritional gold mine.
So why did it stink up Grandma’s house? She cooked it too long! Overcooked cabbage produces hydrogen sulfide gas, the source of that rotten egg odor. To avoid raising a stink in your house, don’t cook it like Grandma. Cook it fast. What better way to cook a vegetable quickly than in a pressure cooker?
- Quarter or shred your head of cabbage (or separate the leaves for cabbage rolls). Wash and drain.
- Add 1½ cups filtered water to the bottom of your pressure cooker pot. If using an electric pressure cooker, set for 5 minutes.
- Place cabbage in a strainer or steaming basket placed over the cooking water on a trivet or rack.
- Seal cooker. If using a stovetop pressure cooker, bring to pressure and then time for 3 minutes.
- After the 3 (5 on electric) minutes under pressure, remove from heat (select “cancel” on the electric model). Carefully release pressure.
- Open the cooker and season the cabbage with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar*.
- Carefully remove the cabbage and serve.
(*Just a pinch. It’s optional, but Grandma was right about the sugar. Trust me.)
That’s it. If you quickly cook cabbage just until done, you won’t stink up your kitchen. Promise.
NOTE: Pressure cookers vary, so your cooking times may, too. The 5 minutes works on my particular electric model, and the 3 minutes is perfect in my stovetop pressure cooker. You may need to adjust your cooking time.
If you’re a purist and want your pasta cooked separately, you can skip this post. The Hasty Tasty Meals Kitchen is about shortcuts, and cooking pasta in the sauce is a time-saver if done correctly. But it can be tricky.
I cook pasta in the sauce in skillet meals, casseroles, and in the pressure cooker. The safety instructions for pressure cookers warn against cooking foods that foam, like pasta or grains, but don’t let that stop you. You just need to exercise caution. I do oatmeal in its own bowl on a trivet above the water, for example, with no problem. I’ve seen countless posts on Instagram and Facebook of beautiful lasagnas made in an Instant Pot or other brand multi-cooker under pressure in a springform pan. It can be done.
When making pasta dishes in my pressure cooker, I prefer Mueller’s Pot-Sized dried pasta. It’s smaller length makes it a perfect fit without breaking.
Here are the rules when cooking pasta, whether by itself or with other food.
- Add a teaspoon of oil.
- Don’t allow pasta to touch the bottom of the pot.
- Spread dried pasta in a single layer as much as possible and don’t stir.
- Use sufficient liquid to cover the pasta.
- Cook for only half the recommended time.
- Allow pressure to drop on its own for a minute then release in short spurts.
- Add cheese or other dairy products.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have satisfactory results. Why go to the trouble to cook a spaghetti dinner in a pressure cooker? Clean up! I have one pot to clean. One. That makes me a happy cook.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- one pound ground turkey (or beef–you choose)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- one 8 ounce can mushrooms (do not drain)
- 8 ounces dried spaghetti
- 1 15½ ounce can tomato sauce + 1 empty can water or broth
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the pot of the pressure cooker and brown the ground turkey in the cooking oil. If using an electric pressure cooker, you can just choose any setting that allows you to saute with the lid off. Salt and pepper as desired.
- Remove pot from heat (or hit Cancel on an electric model). Layer pasta over the meat spread as thinly as possible to prevent clumping.
- Add the can of mushrooms, the tomato sauce, and the water or broth over the pasta. Do not stir.
- Sprinkle garlic and seasonings over sauce.
- Seal the cooker and bring to pressure. Cook 5 minutes.
- Allow pressure to drop on its own 1-2 minutes, then carefully vent the cooker to release pressure.
- Open the cooker and stir (use a long handled utensil because contents are hot!).
- Sprinkle with a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Residual heat will melt the cheese.
Note: You may use this method with other shapes and sizes of dried pasta. Just cook under pressure for half the time recommended on the pasta’s box.
I try to cook with fresh ingredients. Usually. But sometimes–you know those times when you’ve been working and suddenly you’re faced with a hungry family without a dinner plan–you’re tempted to order pizza. Again. Been there, my friend. So without apology, I present the emergency one-dish meal using (gasp!) canned condensed cream of whatever soup.
All you need in addition to the soup is pasta or rice, some leftover (or canned) meat and/or vegetables, and cheese. There are endless combinations, and any combo produces a reasonably healthy meal in a short time. If you make it in one pot, cleanup isn’t overwhelming, either. One-pot meals are a great use-up of leftovers, too, like that one serving of green beans or that half cup of corn kernels you just couldn’t bear to put down the disposal.
I use a pressure cooker, but I’ve also made this dish in an electric skillet. Whatever works best for you.
Here’s an example, but feel free to substitute ingredients you have available.
Chicken and Mushroom Pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken
- 1 10½ oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 10 oz. chicken broth or water
- 1 cup dried cavatappi or similar size pasta
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup fresh asparagus, sliced in 2″ pieces
- ½ cup mushrooms
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- (optional) fresh basil, chopped
- Layer the cooked chicken in the bottom of the pot of a pressure cooker. Spread pasta on top the chicken.
- Pour the soup and broth or water over so that all pasta is submerged in liquid. Scatter the minced garlic on top.
- Close lid, bring to pressure, and cook 4 minutes. Immediately remove from heat (or hit Cancel on electric models) and release pressure. Carefully open lid and stir in the vegetables.
- Cover and let the vegetables cook in the residual heat. There’s no need to return to heat.
- After about 10 minutes, open and sprinkle cheeses over the top. Cover for another 3-5 minutes or until cheeses have melted.
- Serve garnished with optional fresh basil.