This traditional four bean salad with a vinegar dressing is welcome at every cookout. I use stevia in place of sugar in the traditional recipe, making this a healthy side dish that goes perfect with all kinds of grilled meat.
RECIPE: Continue reading
Making mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot is a perfect way to quickly cook the potatoes, and free up a burner on the stove. Then you can mash and stir all of the good stuff directly into the potatoes in the Instant Pot. After preparing, you can leave them in the Instant Pot on the warm setting for several hours before serving. This is very helpful when preparing a big meal with lots of last minute cooking details.
Yukon gold are my preferred type of potatoes for making mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes are great for baking, but can make for mealy mashed potatoes.
I flavor my mashed potatoes with butter, milk, cream, sour cream, and garlic. You can use regular minced garlic in these potatoes (or leave out the garlic all together), but using roasted garlic makes them a million times better! Sometimes I add a little bit of fresh grated Parmesan cheese as well.
To keep your potatoes nice and hot, be sure to heat the butter, milk, and cream before mixing them into the mashed potatoes. I like my potatoes slightly whipped with a mixer to remove most of the lumps, but don’t overwhip them or they will become gummy.
Here is a tutorial for roasting large quantities of garlic:
I roast about 3 pounds of garlic at a time (on a day I can leave the windows open), then freeze it in several 1 cup containers. I always have one container in the refrigerator to use whenever a recipe calls for garlic.
A twist on a classic picnic salad. Made with a slightly lemony vinaigrette and garnished with feta cheese, this salad is great with grilled meats on hot summer days. And there is no cooking to heat up the kitchen.
I like to keep ingredients for this salad on hand for an easy to make last-minute side dish. Most of the ingredients are shelf-stable, and feta cheese stores really well in the freezer.
With tomato season in full swing here, this salad makes a frequent appearance at our dinner table. It is perfect for serving with just about any grilled meat or fish. It is also a great partner with soups, sandwiches, or quiche for a quick summer meal.
I love to use mini cucumbers in this salad, or the long seedless English cucumbers. The skins are thin and provide a great contrasting color and crunch to the salad. Regular cucumbers are often too seedy and have much tougher skins.
I usually serve the feta cheese on the side. It becomes mushy if left in the salad for too long.
Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
4-6 mini cucumbers or 1 English seedless cucumber, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs fresh oregano, finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tsp Greek seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, and onion. Stir together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad. Stir in feta just before serving (or serve feta on the side).
Serve right away or refrigerate.
For my birthday a few weeks ago, I received an Instant Pot pressure cooker. True confession: I bought the Instant Pot when it was on sale over the summer, hid it in my closet, and gave it to my husband to give to me on my birthday. Gift-giving often works out best for us this way.
I am still in the pressure cooker learning phase, but I have made a few things that my family really loves. These spicy black beans have definitely become a family staple. In the last 5 weeks, I have made them 3 times, and everyone cheers to see them on the table again. I never expected such a great reaction to a bean side dish!
These beans are flavored with chipotle peppers and various smoky spices. We like them on the spicy side, but if you want a little less heat, just scale back on the chipotles.
These beans (and yogurt making) have totally made the Instant Pot worth it. I love being able to start with dried beans and have a delicious dish in a little more than an hour. And No Soaking! No need to plan the night before. The total prep time for this recipe is less than 5 minutes (or as long as it takes you to chop an onion and measure some spices).
Maybe we will actually be able to eat our way through all of the dried beans in our basement now.
I also made these once using dried pinto beans, and they were delicious too.
UPDATE: I recently bought a different brand of black beans and they took longer to reach the same level of softness. I have updated the recipe to reflect the longer possible cooking time.
Instant Pot Chipotle Black Beans
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken broth
1 can mild diced green chiles, undrained
1 lb dried black beans**
2 canned chipotle peppers, finely chopped plus 2-3 Tbs adobo sauce
*adjust for desired spiciness
Chopped Cilantro, for garnish
Set the Instant Pot to Sauté. Add the oil, chopped onion, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes with the lid off. Stir in dry seasonings and cook for 1 additional minute.
Add broth, green chiles, black beans, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce.
Press Cancel to reset. Place the lid on the pot, with the valve in the “Sealing” position. Press the Bean/Chili button (or Manual, high pressure) and set the time for 50-60 minutes. After the beans cook, let the pressure release naturally (about 30-40 minutes).
Remove lid and stir beans. Remove bay leaf. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary. If beans are soupy, use a slotted spoon to serve. Beans will thicken with time. Garnish with cilantro.
Total Cook Time: about 90 minutes
-I used to always cook these for 50 minutes, but I recently bought a different brand of black beans and they took longer to reach the same level of softness (about 60 minutes).
-You can also use small dried white beans or pinto beans
The transition from summer to fall is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.
Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!
This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).
Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.
This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.
I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.
½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*
Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.
*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs.