Healthy Potato Leek Soup in the Pressure Cooker in 30 Minutes!

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As one of my food blogger friends recently noted, I am like a kid in a candy store with my new pressure cooker! I am constantly amazed at how quickly it cooks and how flavor infused the foods are. Not everything I’ve made has been a homerun, but this Potato Leek soup was a grand slam!!!

First of all, the soup was delicious!!! While it was a meat-free meal, it was hearty enough to be a stand-alone entrée. I just served it with a slice of French bread. Second, when you look at the ingredients it was a pretty darn healthy, low-fat meal that could easily be altered to be completely vegan and still be incredibly tasty. Third, the entire process to make this soup took about 30 minutes!!! 30 MINUTES!!! For those of us that love to cook and have busy schedules, this pressure cooker is a handy tool to make delicious food in a short amount of time.

So here is the recipe. I’ve made notes on some of the ingredients that could be changed to convert this to a vegan soup. I did taste my soup prior to the last step of adding the half and half and it already tasted great at that point, so if you want it vegan or just want to save the calories, this is a viable option.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, these same ingredients could be cooked on the stovetop or in your slow cooker, but it would just take longer. Basically, you would want to cook it until the potatoes are very tender.

Potato Leek Soup

3 tbsp olive oil

6 cups leeks, chopped (Don’t use the tough, dark green parts at the top)

3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

3 tbsp flour

6 cups broth (I used homemade turkey broth. You could also use vegetable broth for a vegan soup.)

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 1/2 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

¾ cup fat free half and half (You can leave this out for a vegan soup.)

Set your pressure cooker to sauté or do this step on the stove in a separate pan. Pour in olive oil. Once heated, saute the leeks for about 6-7 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add flour and continue stirring for another minute. Stir in salt and pepper and slowly add broth as stirring. Add potatoes. Put the lid on your pressure cooker and lock. Set the release valve to Pressure Cook, not steam. Set the cooker to Pressure Cook setting for 10 minutes. Once cooking cycle is complete let pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend soup or pour into a blender. Blend until smooth. Then stir in half and half, if you wish. Taste and add additional seasoning, if needed.

Enjoy!

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Crab Stuffed Mushrooms – The Highlight of our New Year’s Eve Dinner

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My husband loves stuffed mushrooms and we had some crab, so I thought I would put it to good use making crab stuffed mushrooms. These were delicious and the highlight of our New Year’s Eve dinner. I searched WordPress and found the recipe at the link attached. The only change I made was to use fresh crab rather than canned. It’s crab season and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I wouldn’t dream of using canned crab unless forced to! These were easy to make and were delicious! They would be impressive to serve to dinner or party guests too!

Happy new year!!!

https://palatablepastime.com/2017/11/17/crab-stuffed-mushrooms/

Split Pea Soup in 30 Minutes! Miracle of the Pressure Cooker!

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My family loves split pea soup, but it was a long process to make; soaking peas overnight and cooking the soup all day. For Christmas, my husband bought me this wonderful pressure cooker and last night I made split pea soup in 30 minutes. 30 MINUTES!!! And it tasted as good or better than my previous slow cooked version.

The great thing about making your own soup is you’re in control! You’re in control of the salt content. You’re in control of the fat content. You’re in charge of the flavor! Play with the seasonings you add and see where the flavor goes. I always like to encourage people to play with their food!

Split Pea Soup

Makes 6-8 Servings

16 oz bag of dried split peas, rinsed and drained

7 cups chicken broth (I used my home made broth, so again I was controlling the salt and fat content)

1 1/2 cup diced ham (Tip: I bought a small, lean ham. You can use ham hocks. The bone adds great flavor, but they have a lot of fat on them. You an also save the bone from a larger ham and use that in your soup picking off the meat after it has cooked in the soup. Bones add a lot of flavor to any broth or soup!)

2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 small or 1/2 a large white onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely diced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

A couple of dashes of hot sauce

Put all ingredients in pressure cooker pot and give a good stir to mix. Attach and lock on your pressure cooker lid. Turn pressure cooker on high and cook for 30 minutes.

Here’s the nifty part! When the cooking time is done, use the quick pressure release method prior to removing the lid. This quick release will cause the soup to go into a quick boil and mash up the peas making your soup smooth.

Set your pressure cooker to warm and allow soup to sit for 10 or so minutes to thicken up. Your soup may separate some, but just give it a good stir before serving.

Enjoy!

Turkey Chili in the Pressure Cooker – A Revelation for me!!!

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I’m one of those weird foodie women that loves getting kitchen equipment as gifts. My wonderful hubby bought me this 8 quart pressure cooker for Christmas this year. My son-in-law has been singing the praises of these things and I’ve been wanting one, so my wish has been granted! Last night I used it to make Turkey Chili and wow, just wow!!! My recipe wasn’t really any different that what I’ve used in my slow cooker or dutch oven on the stove, but the flavor was so much better! Every bite was full of flavor! The meat and beans were infused with the wonderful flavors of the tomato, garlic, onion and spices. It was just so delectable! That being said, I was also able to still keep the fat and salt levels to a minimum. Win! Win!

So if you’re like me an new to the pressure cooker scene, here is a great starter recipe for you! My friend, Lisa, also received one and requested some tips, so here you go my friend!

I’ve also given some choices i this recipe, so if you’re missing some ingredients you don’t have to buy new things and you can play with the spice level. While I added quit a few spicy ingredients, I found this recipe to still be on the mild to medium side.

Turkey Chili in the Pressure Cooker

Makes 4-5 servings

1 pound Extra Lean or Lean Ground Turkey

1/2 large or 1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper or more chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (Leave out to reduce heat)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup beef broth

14 oz can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained

14 oz can black beans or more kidney beans, rinsed and drained

4 oz can diced green chilies

8 oz can tomato sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste (Tip: I find most recipes call for these smaller amounts, so I buy the tube of paste, not so many of the cans)

2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or a hot sauce of your choice (You can leave this out to reduce heat)

Optional, but yummy toppings: sour cream, diced green onions, shredded cheese

My pressure cooker has a non-stick pot, so I just sprayed it with some cooking spray to start. If your’s doesn’t have a non-stick pot you will want to coat well with oil. I then used the meat (or saute) function to cook the meat, onion and garlic until the meat was lightly browned and onion was tender. Next add all the remaining ingredients and give a stir. Close and lock your pressure cooker. Set to high and let it get fully pressurized then lower heat to low pressure and cook for 15 minutes. I then let the pressure escape naturally and then opened and served.

The whole thing took about 30 minutes and tasted better than slow cooked chili of the same recipe.

Enjoy!

Barbecued Asparagus – BBQ Sauce on Asparagus??? Yes!!!

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Last weekend we did an all BBQ dinner for 4th of July.  Our favorite, and probably easiest entry, was the Barbecued Asparagus. Now you’ve probably grilled asparagus before, but have you doused it in BBQ sauce??? It not, you HAVE to try this! It is so very delicious!!! It was the easiest thing in the world and it could easily be done stovetop or in the oven too, if you don’t have a grill handy. I think our family has found our new favorite way to eat asparagus!

Barbecued Asparagus

Serves 4-5

1 bunch Asparagus (I like to buy the thinner spears as they are not as woody as the thick ones)

1/3 cup BBQ Sauce (I usually like my asparagus a little spicy, so I used the Kinders Sweet Sriracha variety)

Trim about an inch off the cut ends of your asparagus and discard. Cut the asparagus into bite size pieces, about 1 inch and place in a medium mixing bowl. Pour barbecue sauce over asparagus and toss gently. We used a grill basket to cook the asparagus in. I like it with the holes and not a solid bottom, so the veggies get the smoky flavor of the grill. Spray your basket with non-stick spray and then add your veggies. Put on a hot grill and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally. We like our asparagus to still have some crunch to it, but if you like yours softer you can cook it longer.

Enjoy! I hope you’re having a fantastic summer!!!

Watermelon – The Sweet and the Savory!!!

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Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than ice cold watermelon! I recently got creative with this wonderful fruit and my friend Lisa insisted I post my recipes, so here we go! At our Father’s Day gathering I wanted to serve a creative appetizer, so I drizzled watermelon with a balsamic reduction and sprinkled it with some super creamy goat cheese. Yummm! You get the sweet of the watermelon with the savory of the balsamic and creaminess of the cheese.

Those watermelons are so big that I always seem to end up with some leftover. For some reason it dawned on me to blend up my leftover melon with a little sugar to make a type of nectar that could be used to make a variety of drinks. It could be mixed with sparkling water for a nice refresher or with a little rum or vodka for cooling cocktail! I hope these recipes help to cool down your summer a bit!!!


Balsamic Watermelon With Goat Cheese

Ingredients

1/2 Seedless Watermelon

1/2 cup good quality Balsamic Vinegar

2 tbsp Sugar

1/2 cup Crumbled Goat Cheese (or Feta Cheese for a more pungeant flavor)

In a small saucepan, whisk together vinegar and sugar. Cook over medium heat until reduced by about half and syrupy.  This will take about 5 minutes. After cooking, chill in refrigerator. Cut watermelon into square shaped bite size pieces.  Round shapes don’t work as well for capturing the cheese in your bites. Arrange melon on a plate and drizzle with chilled balsamic reduction and then sprinkle with crumbled cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Watermelon Drinks

1/2 Seedless Watermelon

1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar

You could use a blender or an immersion blender to combine your chunks of watermelon and sugar to make your necter.

Watermelon Margarita – Blend necter, ice, margarita mix or lime juice and tequila.

Watermelon Refresher – Mix necter, lime juice and sparkling water.

Watermelon Mojito – Mix necter, lime juice, mottled mint and rum.

Enjoy!

Barbecue Ribs & Cabbage in the Slow Cooker – An Easy Dinner That Satisfies!

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It has been way too long since I’ve posted anything and I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but after posting something on Facebook I had a request to post this recipe. Pork ribs were on sale at my local grocery store, so I picked up a rack. With the cold weather, we haven’t been in barbecue mode, but I have been in slow cooker mode! So slow cooker ribs it is! 

I was looking through one of my cook books and saw a few recipes for ribs with saurkraut. Now that sounds interesting! I didn’t have much saurkraut on hand, but I did have a jar of red cabbage. This sounded even better to me! I must say, it did not disappoint! The ribs were tender and delicious and the cabbage was incredibly tasty!

This meal was super easy to make and was incredibly satisfying! My family loved it! I served it with a side of corn and some fresh baked sourdough bread. I made my own sourdough starter for the first time, but that is another post!

Barbecue Ribs & Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

1 rack of pork ribs (I used loin back ribs), cut to fit in slow cooker, I cut mine in half

1 – 12 oz jar of German red cabbage

2 cups of barbecue sauce (I used 1 cup of Kinder’s Sweet Sriracha BBQ sauce and 1 cup Kinder’s California Gold BBQ sauce) 

2 tsp liquid smoke

Season ribs with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. Cover ribs with red cabbage,then pour over BBQ sauce and finally, sprinkle on the liquid smoke. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Cook shorter time for on the bone ribs. Cook longer for fall off the bone meat. Mine was somewhere in between and was very nice to eat.

Enjoy!

Thanksgiving – Three Berries in One Wonderful Cranberry Sauce

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One of the things you can do a couple days in advance of the holiday is make your cranberry sauce. I’ll admit that I have often used canned cranberry sauce, because I had yet to find a homemade recipe that made the work of making from scratch worthwhile. That definitely changed after I made this last year!

I recently watched the TV special Pioneer Woman’s Ultimate Thanksgiving again. One of the recipes she shared on that special was Very Berry Cranberry Sauce. I made this recipe last year and my husband and I agree; YUMMMMM! It will definitely be gracing our Thanksgiving table again this year!

It has the usual tangy flavor and bright color that you would expect from cranberry sauce, but this sauce sports more than just cranberries! It also has raspberries, blueberries and a surprise ingredient. Whiskey!!! I was worried that the whiskey would overpower the fruit flavors, but that was not the case at all! That flavor is really not distinctive, it blends in to simply make a great, fruity tasting sauce! The 3 different berries are what really make it!

So thanks to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman! I would like to share her recipe.

Very Berry Cranberry Sauce

2 bags fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
Put the first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan and stir. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. When boiling, lower heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining berries and cook for an additional 4 minutes. I noticed a lot of whole cranberries still, so I used my potato masher to gently mash it a little and break up the berries. Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate until cold and thick.
The original recipe says it makes 24 servings. I can believe it’s that many small servings. It makes quite a bit.
Super simple and it tastes fantastic! 
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving Tips – A Wonderful Salad for a Special Dinner

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  As I’ve mentioned before, some of my favorite recipes come from the Taste of Home folks. They have a monthly magazine, website and annual cookbooks that have wonderful, down to earth recipes. I love that their recipes are usually made from a combination of commonly used ingredients, so I often already have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Several years ago, my sister ran across a Taste of Home recipe for a fabulous green salad called Festive Tossed Salad. It’s a little more work than your run of the mill green salad (not that bad though!), but it tastes WAY better than those every day salads. We tend to make this salad for special occasions and family gatherings, since it’s a little more work we usually have someone other than the hostess bring this item. That way the person brining it can focus on that one thing and when that’s all you have to make, it’s not overwhelming at all.

Festive Salad

Ingredients

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2/3 cup canola oil

• 2 to 3 teaspoons poppy seeds

• 10 cups torn romaine

• 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

• 1 medium apple, chopped

• 1 medium pear, chopped

• 1/4 cup dried cranberries

• 1/2 to 1 cup chopped cashews
Directions

1. In a blender, combine the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, onion and salt. Cover and process until blended. With blender running, gradually add oil. Add poppy seeds and blend.

2. In a salad bowl, combine the romaine, cheese, apple, pear and cranberries. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Add cashews; toss to coat. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Enjoy!

A Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish – Sweet Potatoes and Apples

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About 20 years ago (man, I’m old!), I was at an office potluck and a co-worker of mine brought the most wonderful sweet potato dish. Keep in mind, prior to this I did not like sweet potatoes. My mom didn’t cook them much at all growing up, so my only exposure was that dish where they’re covered in marshmallows and to top it off, I don’t like marshmallows much either! Anyway, this dish my coworker brought was both sweet and savory. In addition to the sweet potatoes, there were apples in the dish.

I asked her for the recipe and she said she didn’t have it. Her mother had made the dish for her to bring, so I asked her to please ask her mom for the recipe. She comes back into work and tells me that her mom won’t give her the recipe. It’s a “secret” family recipe. What’s a girl gotta do to get that stinkin’ recipe!?! Thanksgiving was coming and my friend said that her mom would make those sweet potatoes every year, so I gave her marching orders to hover around her mother and take copious notes. Well she came through!!!

This dish has been a family favorite for the last 20 years and it always gets rave reviews when I share it with others. I’ve taken it to a few church potlucks and the such.

Not only is this dish delicious, it’s also pretty darn easy to make. Nothing complicated, but the flavors come together wonderfully! The recipe I have is pretty rough and these days I usually just make it from memory. It’s kind of a vegetable lasagna as you’re simply layering the ingredients and it’s easy to increase/decrease the recipe based on how many people you’re feeding. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

4-5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half, short-ways

2 – 15 oz cans apple pie filling
Butter or margarine
Brown sugar
1 tbsp Brandy
Place sweet potatoes and 1 tbsp brandy into large pot of water making sure to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove potatoes from hot water and slice into ½ inch slices. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and spread one layer of sweet potatoes, then thinly cover this with a layer of pie filling (about ½ can or more if you need it), spoon dots of butter over apples about a teaspoon or so 2-3 inches apart. You just want them spread apart. Then sprinkle about 1/3 cup brown sugar. Now repeat these layers. I usually try to end with the brown sugar on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until warmed through and bubbly. If you’re making a bigger batch, it may need to cook longer.
You really can’t go wrong with the amounts of the ingredients, so play with it and see what looks good to you. It’s amazing how much flavor that little bit of brandy in the water adds!