FSE Food

A few days ago I wrote a post about Fast, Simple & Easy (FSE) cards. Now I’d like to talk about FSE food – but not the take out or drive through kind! I’ve used a slow cooker for several years – while it was easy, it wasn’t necessarily fast. However, if I remembered to start it in the morning, I could come home from work and dinner would be finished.

A couple of years ago, I found out about freezer meals or once-a-month cooking – make a bunch of meals on one day, put them in the freezer & then finish them off when you want to eat. The great thing about freezer meals is your prep work is all done at the same time for several meals so the time savings is awesome!

Next I learned about pressure cookers & eventually purchased an electric pressure cooker – now dinner time is REALLY FSE!!  Here are some ideas for freezer meals you can prep ahead of time and then pop into a pressure cooker for a great meal –

  • Sloppy Joes – cook your meat on prep day, add your sauce/ingredient choice (check out this post) then freeze. When you’re ready to prepare, drop it in the pressure cooker, add some liquid and cook for 10 minutes, QPR, stir & enjoy.
  • Taco meat – same concept as the Sloppy Joe.
  • Soup – soups are another great option – if you’re making a chicken soup (like Chicken Enchilada or the recipe I share below) you don’t even need to cook the chicken before hand.

I love that I can be playing in my craft room all day 🙂 AND get a healthy meal on the table for my family quickly! Here’s a recipe I tried recently for a White Chicken Chili – it’s adapted from a Lambertslately.com recipe –

  • 5 chicken breast halves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tsp chicken bullion/broth base
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained
  • 1 can corn with juice
  • 8 oz diced green chiles
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper

Add these ingredients to your freezer container and freeze. When you’re ready to prepare, add meal and 1 1/2 cups water to your pressure cooker. Cook on high for 25 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally. When pressure is released, shred chicken, add 4 oz cream cheese and 4-8 oz of colby jack cheese. Stir – allow the cheeses to melt and serve.

Of course, if you don’t want to freeze this first – just cook away. I’m guessing this will work in a slow cooker as well for 8 hours on low.

My youngest picky eater absolutely loved this recipe – ate it for breakfast and then asked if he could make it on the weekend.

Enjoy!

~Gerri

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QUICK Homemade Spaghetti Sauce!

I try to pay attention to what my family eats. I would prefer all natural, no sugar, no junk – I do my best but don’t always win that battle.  I was surprised to find sugar in the list of ingredients when I started looking at spaghetti sauce in the grocery store.  I could make my own, but the thought of babysitting the pot while it simmered was not very appealing.  Enter the pressure cooker! I found this recipe when I purchased a stove top pressure cooker and grew to love it even more when I got an electric! It is literally set it & forget it! And it’s a very forgiving recipe so if you don’t have something on hand you can adapt, substitute or omit it (except of course for the tomatoes!)

  • 32 oz diced Tomatoes – sometimes I used canned, sometimes I use fresh, sometimes they’re frozen – and they aren’t always diced.
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper (or red, yellow, orange…)
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning (or 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp rosemary)
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 6 oz tomato paste

Add all ingredients except tomato paste to the pressure cooker pot. Seal & set on manual for 8 minutes. Use a quick pressure release. Stir in in the tomato paste.

Transfer to a blender (or use a stick blender) and blend on high for about a minute for a smoother texture. If desired, return to pot and saute on low to the desired thickness.

Enjoy!

~Gerri

Pressure Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

I am quite fond of Chicken Enchilada soup – it’s a great option if you are gluten or dairy free or if you’re on a Paleo plan – leave out the corn and beans and it’s still a yummy option.  Even better, making it in a pressure cooker is quick and easy.  I love using my Instant Pot to get healthy meals on the table quickly.  I can’t necessarily say I have a recipe.  I’ve gleaned this from various posts and never really paid attention to where they came from (SORRY).

No pictures on this one – but it’s so so simple – add 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast (these can even be frozen), a carton of chicken broth, a can of enchilada sauce (hotness based on your taste – I use mild), a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and a can of tomatoes with green chilies to your pressure cooker inner pot.  Close and seal the lid, cook on Manual, high pressure for 5 minutes.  Allow this to natural pressure release for 10 minutes – release the remaining pressure.

Shred the chicken (I found this great salad chopper thing from the Pampered Chef that lets me shred the cooked chicken without even taking it from the pot!).  Add 2 cups of frozen corn and 2 cans of rinsed black beans if you eat them – additional seasonings – salt, pepper is all I used.

Close and seal the lid again, and cook using the soup setting for 10 minutes (if you don’t have a soup setting – use manual/high pressure for 10 minutes) – followed by quick pressure release.

Serve your soup with toppings of your choice – avocados, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, some tortilla strips, cheese – and ummmm sour cream – yum.

Enjoy!

~Gerri

Here’s the recipe – remember that results with different pressure cookers will vary – you know yours best – adjust as needed.

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Yogurt Anyone?

Earlier this year I discovered the joys of the Instant Pot.  Yes, I know – pressure cookers have been around for years.  And I own a stove top one which I purchased a few years ago after my friend raved about hers  but, quite honestly I had to get over my fear that they would explode!  What I love about the Instant Pot in particular is the pre-programmed buttons.

One of my favorite buttons is the Yogurt button.  I love that I can make yogurt at home without any sweeteners or add junk.  It’s purely milk and the cultures.  My kids don’t want to eat it, but I enjoy it thoroughly.  You can make a large batch using the inner pot, but I don’t eat that much yogurt, so I find it easier to do it directly into 1/2 pint jars.  This has the added benefit that when it’s done – it’s done.  I simply plop a lid on the jars & pop them into the fridge. Some folks like to strain their yogurt, so they would be better off using the inner pot.

Here’s how easy it is…

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Pour milk (of your choice – full fat, skim, or whatever %) into clean canning jars.  Place the jars of milk on top of the steam rack with 1 Cup of water in the Instant Pot.

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Steam the milk for 1 minute then let the pressure release naturally.    This kills off any unwanted yuckies – bacteria, mold, yeast – you want your good yogurt making bacteria that you’ll add later to be the only thing in there.  This step also breaks down some of the proteins so the bacteria can get to work on them.

 

Remove the jars from the IP and wait for the temperature to drop below 115 degrees.  I use a canning jar lifter so I don’t have to worry about spilling hot milk on myself.

The cooled milk will have a slight skim of milk on top – remove this with a clean spoon.  Add a spoonful of plain yogurt to each jar and stir.  For my initial batch, I bought a container of plain Greek yogurt for my starter.  Now, whenever I’m down to my last jar, I start a new batch using the yogurt I made.  You can also freeze your starter – but you’ll need to remember to thaw it before you start the new batch.

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Move the jars back to the IP and press the Yogurt button.  I believe the standard time is 8 hours – I generally leave it as set.   I usually make my yogurt at night before I go to bed, so sometimes I will add time so the finished product is not sitting on the counter until I get up.  I’ve heard this could make the yogurt tangier – but I haven’t noticed a difference.

When it’s all finished, the IP shows ‘Yogt’ – and your yummy yogurt is waiting for you.  You’ll notice the liquid on top of my finished product – this is the whey that some people like to strain off.  I just stir it back in when I’m ready to eat.

So there you go – the whole process (using 8 hours for the incubation) takes about 9 hours.  The active time in the beginning (steaming & cooling the milk, adding in the cultures) probably takes about an hour.  So – you can plan it just right to start at night before you go to bed and wake up to a fresh batch of yogurt.

I use mine in sauces and I like to eat it with freeze dried fruit & sometimes some granola.  If I want it a bit sweeter, I just add a touch of local honey.  If you’ve made yogurt, or decide to try – I’d love to hear how it works for you.

Enjoy!

~Gerri

 

Sausage Spinach

My boys are picky eaters – it drives me insane!  I swear they take polar sides on foods just to make life more difficult… one likes their vegetables slightly crispy – the other wants them almost soggy.  One will eat fried eggs & not scrambled – the other has to have scrambled & not fried.  So I have been extremely happy that we have a recipe they both love – and ask for regularly – and it’s healthy – and easy to prepare!

img_0299In April 2001, while still living in New Mexico, my friend shared a recipe from Ladies Home
Journal – the page title was ONE POT WONDER – Capellini with Sausage and Spinach by Cynthia DePersio.  I have changed the original recipe a bit over the years & my family has shortened the name to Sausage Spinach – but it’s still delish!  I don’t really use the recipe anymore – but you can see how well loved it’s been.

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 lbs mild Italian Sausage (I use bulk sausage to save having to cut it up)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves pressed garlic
32 oz chicken broth
8 oz thin spaghetti
20 oz bag of spinach
1/3 C heavy or whipping cream
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/2 C mozerella cheese

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Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; brown sausage for 3-4 minutes.
Add onion and garlic – cook 2-3 minutes.
Add broth, cover and bring to a boil.
Add pasta and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add spinach, stirring into pasta & sauce 2-3 minutes more until spinach wilts.
Stir in cream and cheeses, stirring to thoroughly combine & melt cheese.
Serve.

Here are some variations on how I’ve cooked this..

Camping in the Dutch Oven – to bring the broth to a boil and cook the pasta, place hot coals on top of the lid – don’t forget to rotate the lid & pot for even heating.img_2060

 

Don’t eat pasta?  No problem!  Decrease the broth 8 ounces, and skip adding the pasta.  Cook a spaghetti squash, then serve the sausage spinach over the spaghetti squash.

I made a dehydrated version of this (minus the dairy) for a backpacking trip last summer – essentially I dehydrated the sausage, then we carried store-bought dehydrated spinach and onions, some chicken bullion & spaghetti noodles.  It worked OK – I need to work on my rehydrating ratios.  Next I’m going to try freeze drying – then I can keep in all the dairy.

I first liked this recipe because it was easy to prepare in the evening without a lot of hassle or cleanup.  Now I love it because my boys will eat it – and sometimes even help make it (see how thrilled they are to be helping in the kitchen)!

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I’d love to hear what you think if you try this recipe – or share one of your go-to meals for busy weeknights.

~Enjoy!

Sloppy joe Recipe

So I mentioned last week that I have ventured into clean eating over the past few years.  What that essentially means is eliminating processed foods – this really changed my cooking style – but it’s been a fun journey.  My kids aren’t always super cooperative, they want their mac-n-cheese, hotdogs, and sugary treats.  It often seems like a constant battle, but one dinner they both enjoy is Sloppy Joe sandwiches. Here’s a recipe for you to try – this is a combination of recipes from Make Ahead Paleo, by Tammy Credicott and Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, by Sarah Fragoso.

2 Tbsp onion, diced

1 large bell pepper (red, yellow, or green)

2 carrots, finely diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds ground beef

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper to taste

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp granulated onion

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp dry mustard

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat.   Add onion, pepper & carrots, saute until the vegetables are tender.  Stir in garlic, beef, honey, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, Italian seasoning, and dry mustard.  After the meat has browned, reduce heat to low, add red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; stir to combine.  Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, stir well.  Cook until heated through – about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve on lettuce or buns.

Enjoy!

Gerri