Instant Pot Root Vegetable Mash

The fall weather settled in this weekend in Austin, and has me thinking All-Things-Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner is the best meal of the year, hands down! With the southern tradition of frying our turkey, I am trying out some lighter side dishes, and I love that my Instant Pot Duo 60 allows me to free up some precious oven space. If you don’t already have one, you can grab a Vegetable Steamer Basket on Amazon. Root vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga need to be steamed outside of the cooking liquids so they don’t get dense and gummy. I also use this basket on the stove top for veggies, dumplings and pot stickers.

I’ve been making a potato-parsnip mash for years, but decided to invite a rutabaga to the party because it’s just so darn healthy. They are a member of the turnip family, so they have a bit of the bitterness a turnip has, but they are milder and balanced nicely by the sweetness of the parsnips. Did you know that rutabaga has less than HALF the calories and carbs of potatoes? Here is how they stack up –

Rutabaga – per 100 grams: 38 calories, 9 grams carbs, 2.3 grams fiber
Parsnips – per 100 grams: 75 calories, 18 grams carbs, 4.9 grams fiber
Potato – per 100 grams: 79 calories, 18 grams carbs, 1.3 grams fiber

As you can see, using a root vegetable medley (over plan potatoes) substantially reduces calories and carbs while adding a healthy dose of fiber.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
¼ cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Chives or green onions (optional garnish)

Add 1 ½ cups water and Vegetable Steamer Basket to Instant Pot. Add peeled and cut rutabaga, potato and parsnips. Close lid, press “manual” and set timer to 8 minutes. QPR after timer is done, transfer vegetables to a large bowl and add milk, butter, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mash using an electric hand mixer. Garnish with chives, if desired. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ever since I got an Instant Pot Duo 60, I’ve been converting some of my favorite recipes to Instant Pot recipes to save time.  This Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup is one of my favorite soups – and the best part – it’s actually healthy!  So many tomato soup recipes have a TON of cream in them, but this one is made thick and creamy with the help of a little Arborio rice.  The acid in the tomatoes is balanced out nicely by a pinch of sugar and roasted red peppers. Since it’s converted to an Instant Pot recipe, it all comes together in minutes, but tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove all day.  And since the soup is so healthy, go ahead and pair it with a nice grilled cheese…nothing beats the comfort food combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Ingredients (make 6 large servings):
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small or ½ large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 sprig celery, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 tbsp. uncooked Arborio rice
6 oz. can tomato paste
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, with juices
4 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. butter
Optional garnish – basil and parmesan cheese

Press sauté on Instant Pot.  When display reads “Hot” add oil, diced onion and minced garlic.  Stir together until fragrant, 2 minutes.  Add diced carrots, celery, roasted red pepper, Arborio rice and tomato paste.  Stir another 2 minutes until tomato paste is fully incorporated.  Add tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, sugar and crushed red pepper.  Press “manual” and set timer to 8 minutes.  When the timer is done, turn vent to release pressure quickly.  Blend well with an immersion blender or traditional blender.  Once blended, stir in butter and garnish with chopped basil and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

 

Wine pairings:  tomatoes have a ton of acid, which pair nicely with Italian wines that have some acid as well.
Villa Pillo Borgoforte 2014
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Green Chile Pork Soup

Depending on the season, my healthy meal choices revolve around either soups or salads. On a chilly winter day, nothing beats a hot, steaming bowl of soup, and a savory, spicy soup like this warms you from the inside out.  Added bonus! This Green Chile Pork Soup imparts all the flavors of a typical Tex-Mex green chile pork, but is made with the lean tenderloin instead of pork shoulder, which eliminates a substantial portion of the calories. This soup also freezes well and can easily be doubled to stock some in the freezer.

Ingredients (serves 6):
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
1 tbsp. canola oil
6 cups chicken broth
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 poblano peppers, ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
½ bunch cilantro, tied together
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice from ½ lime
Optional garnish: lime wedges, sliced jalapeno, chopped cilantro

In a large stock pot, heat canola oil on medium heat, brown cubed pork tenderloin on all sides, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Work in batches if necessary. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, poblanos, celery, onion, potatoes and cilantro. It’s easier to remove the cilantro at the end of cooking if it’s tied together, but it doesn’t need to be. Add cumin, salt and pepper (I like lots of pepper!). Simmer for 2 hours, until pork is tender. Remove cilantro, and add lime juice before serving. Garnish with lime wedges, sliced jalapenos and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Wine pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012

Blueberry Banana Muffins

blueberry-banana-muffinsI’ve been into breakfast baking these days, and with the holidays coming up, isn’t it nice to have freshly baked muffins for your guests? With all the heavy meals this time of year, it’s also nice that these Blueberry Banana Muffins are lighter than their coffee shop counterparts and packed with fresh fruit. These muffins have about a third of the fat than the blueberry muffins found at Dunkin and about half of those at Starbucks, so you can feel pretty good about making them. They are also pretty delicious.

 

blueberry-banana-muffins-2Ingredients (makes 6 large muffins or 12 cupcake sized muffins):
3 over-ripe bananas
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
⅓ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten or 3 tbsp. egg whites
200 grams all-purpose flour (approximately 1½ cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. decorating or sanding sugar (optional)

blueberry-banana-muffins-3Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with wrappers. In a large bowl, mash over-ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir in melted butter, baking soda, salt, sugar, vanilla and beaten egg (or egg whites) until well combined. Fold in flour and blueberries with a stiff spatula and spoon into muffin tin. Sprinkle tops with decorating sugar, if using. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Enjoy!

Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Orange Chicken Lettuce WrapsLettuce wraps are some of my favorite appetizers at Asian restaurants and these delicious bites are so easy to make at home. Packed with citrus flavor, these Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps are diet friendly, full of fresh veggies, and perfect for a family style get together. Set all the filling out in a large bowl, stack up the lettuce cups, and everyone can build their own wrap (or two!)

 

 

Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps 2Ingredients:
Butter lettuce
8 oz. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. canola oil
½ red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup shredded carrots
Pinch of crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
Juice and zest from ½ orange
½ cup chicken broth
Sliced green onions and chopped peanuts, for garnish

Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps 3Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken in a skillet about 5 minutes until cooked over medium heat. Remove chicken from pan and add diced onion, bell pepper, minced garlic, shredded carrot and crushed red pepper until vegetables start to soften, around 3 minutes. Add zest and juice from ½ orange, hoisin sauce and chicken broth. Return chicken to skillet and let cook for 3 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and starts to thicken. Place chicken mixture in large bowl for sharing, garnish with sliced green onions and chopped peanuts, and serve with lettuce cups.
Enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli

Roasted BroccoliWe eat broccoli in our house probably 2 or 3 times a week. And while broccoli is good steamed, served plain, with a little butter or a lot of cheese, sometimes it can feel like the same old, same old. Roasting a vegetable brings out its natural sweetness, and makes lots of savory caramelized bits that are downright addictive! I could eat this like candy and it’s the perfect side dish for Roasted Chicken, when the oven is already preheated. How great is it to have a full dinner prepared on just two cookie sheets? Delicious, healthy and easy clean up sound good to me!

Roasted Broccoli 3

 

Ingredients:
1 lb. broccoli
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of half lemon
Salt and pepper

 

Roasted Broccoli 4Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse broccoli, cut into florets and toss in a large bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well so broccoli is evenly coated. Pour broccoli mixture onto large cookie sheet, arranging in an even layer so the broccoli cooks evenly and gets deliciously brown. Roast for 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Enjoy!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla SoupI love this soup. It’s got a ton of flavor, great spice from the chipotle, and is so healthy. There is just something about chicken soup that is so comforting. This makes a large recipe, so it’s a perfect make-ahead-meal. I like to portion the leftovers into individual servings and stick in the freezer for a healthy lunch to grab on the go. This recipe makes a hearty meal as is, but also fun to garnish with tortilla chips and pepper jack cheese. Because who doesn’t love cheese?

 

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut into parts
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chipotle powder
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 poblano peppers, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stems removed, chopped
Salt and pepper

Chicken Tortilla Soup 2Place chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. Salt lightly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming any foam as necessary. Cook approximately 1 hour, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and allow to cool, reserving broth. Shred once cool.

Add spices, tomatoes, onion, celery, carrots and peppers to the broth and bring back to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add shredded chicken, beans, corn, cilantro salt and pepper (to taste) and stir until heated. Serve with chips and shredded pepper jack cheese.

Enjoy!

Tzatziki

TzatzikiTzatziki is a wonderfully creamy yogurt sauce made primarily from Greek yogurt, cucumber and fresh dill. Normally white, creamy foods are full of empty calories (think ranch dressing, sour cream, etc.) but since the main ingredient in tzatziki is Greek yogurt, it is lower calorie, lower fat and packs in protein. Coupled with the fact that tzatziki is a great sauce for roasted chicken, dip for veggies and pita, and even makes a great dressing for a Greek salad, it’s guilt free and completely delicious!

 

I use an English cucumber in this recipe because they aren’t very seedy. The seedy part of a cucumber has a lot of water in it, which can make tzatziki runny. If you use a seeded variety, hollow out the core before grating.

Ingredients:
1 cup Greek yogurt
½ English cucumber, grated
Zest of and juice of ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. olive oil, optional

Tzatziki 2Using the small side of a cheese grater, grate cucumber into a bowl. Gently press to release liquids, discarding any residual liquid. Zest ½ lemon and 1 clove garlic into the cucumber. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, chopped dill, sea salt and pepper into the cucumber mixture. The tzatziki can be served immediately, but will be even better if you pop it in the refrigerator for an hour to let all the flavors meld together. Drizzle a little olive oil on top before serving as a dip for veggies to give a little richness and depth to the flavors.

Enjoy!