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 Ham Bone Charro Beans

The Tex-Mex places in Austin have some of the best charro beans around. Served as a side dish, or even just with chips for snacking,Mexican style charro beans have tons of savory, warm flavors. I’ve heard that making beans from scratch in the Instant Pot Duo 60 was an absolute breeze, and wondered if I could really pull off dry beans from scratch in one hour with no soaking or long cook times. I like to use a ham bone in bean recipes; the beans get completely infused with salty-porky-goodness. You can save the ham bones from big holiday meal, or some grocery store sell them separately (and fairly inexpensive). These are hands down the best beans I’ve ever had. Another Instant Pot winner!

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced,
2 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed, diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup water
Ham bone (see note)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Note: I like to use a leftover ham bone in this recipe; the bone adds flavor to the broth and the ham bits are a nice addition. If you don’t have one, skip it and add 4 slices of diced thick cut bacon. Sauté it with the onions at the beginning an omit the canola oil. The bacon will render enough oil to sauté the veggies.

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add oil, diced onion, minced garlic and diced jalapeno. Stir together until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes. Add beans, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, water, ham bone, salt and cumin. Press “manual” and set timer to 60 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Remove ham bone, stir in chopped cilantro and serve. Enjoy!

Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower

I’ve been eating cauliflower long before it was cool to make rice or pizza out of it. The best thing about cauliflower (aside from all those health benefits) is its ability to take on whatever flavors you throw at it. This Italian inspired Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower goes great with roasted chicken, a perfect side for holiday gatherings, and literally takes about 2 minutes of prep time. Perfecto!

 

 

Ingredients:
Head of cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
⅓ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add cauliflower florets, olive oil, grated garlic, Parmesan cheese to a large bowl and stir until well combined. Pour onto cookie sheet and arrange in a single layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, turning halfway. Enjoy!

Everyone’s Favorite Mac and Cheese

Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? It’s the one food we’ve all been eating since we were kids, but there are thousands of ways to prepare it. Sometimes you enjoy it from a box, complete with its bright orange cheese powder. Sometimes you enjoy it at a steakhouse, with fancy cheeses and shaved truffles. This recipe comes to mind when I want home-cookin-comfort-food-Mac-and-Cheese. It’s a variation of a recipe my Mom has been making since I was a kid, and it takes the classic Mac and Cheese flavor of cheddar cheese, combined with the creaminess and melt-ability of Velveeta, and topped with a buttery crumb. Come to think of it, I have been told more than once that this was the “best Mac and Cheese I’ve ever had.” So here it is, my recipe for Everyone’s Favorite Mac and Cheese.

Ingredients:
1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
4 tbsp. butter, divided
3 tbsp. flour
3 ½ cups milk
8 oz. cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
12 oz. Velveeta, cut into cubes
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs

Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and set aside. In a large stock pot, melt 3 tbsp. butter on medium-low heat. Whisk in flour, and stir until bubbly, 2-3 minutes. Add milk and half of the cubed cheese and stir until starting to melt. Add remaining cheese, salt and pepper and stir until smooth and cheese is melted, being careful not to let the milk boil. Fold pasta into cheese sauce and pour mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a small skillet, melt remaining tbsp. butter on medium-low heat and add seasoned bread crumbs. Stir until starting to turn golden brown. Sprinkle evenly on top of macaroni. Bake macaroni in 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbly.

Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

cheesy-cauliflower-gratin-1Move over macaroni, there is a new cheesy side dish in town. This cheesy, decadent side is lighter on carbs, but I guarantee you won’t miss them. Cauliflower always makes its way onto my dining room table for the holidays, whether steamed, roasted or baked, and this would be a perfect side for Thanksgiving. This recipe makes a large batch, enough for a family gathering, but could easily be halved for a weeknight meal.

 

 

cheesy-cauliflower-gratin-2Ingredients (Serves 6-8):
2 heads cauliflower (approx. 2lb), cut into small bite sized florets
4 oz. Colby, Monterrey jack or a Colby-jack blend, cut into cubes
4 oz. cheddar, cut into cubes
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
⅛ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

For the crumb topping:
1 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. breadcrumbs

cheesy-cauliflower-gratin-3To make the crumb topping: Melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium low, then add breadcrumbs. Stir until just starting to turn golden brown. Turn off heat and set aside.

Cut cauliflower into bite sized pieces and place in a large baking dish. Make sure they are cut small enough to allow an even coating of cheese sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter on low, add flour, stir for 2-3 minutes while bubbling but not brown. Add milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder and half of the cheese. Stir for 2-3 minutes until starting to melt, then add remaining cheese. Continue stirring until cheese is melted, being careful not to let the milk boil. Once melted, pour over cauliflower, coating evenly. Let sit 5 minutes (this will let the cheese sauce firm up slightly so the crumbs sit on top rather than sink into the cheese sauce). Add crumb topping and bake for 35-45 minutes until cheese is bubbling and cauliflower is cooked. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Corn and Black Bean SaladSummer means grilling, and if the cooking is being done outside, it’s time to whip up some easy sides that are packed with veggies and don’t require turning on the oven. I love making dishes that use a bunch of fresh ingredients, but sometimes if I’m using a piece of an onion or half a bunch of cilantro, as much as I plan to make something with the other half, a few days later I wind up throwing a wilted bunch of cilantro in the trash. Making this Corn and Black Bean Salad on a night when I also make Guacamole for an appetizer, uses several of the same ingredients, so less waste and the flavors complement each other nicely. Besides, everyone loves to snack on Guacamole while waiting for dinner!

Corn and Black Bean Salad 2Ingredients:
16 oz. bag frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
2 tbsp. red onion, minced
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves, stems removed and chopped

For the dressing:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of ½ lime
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. canola oil
¼ tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper

Corn and Black Bean Salad 3In a medium bowl, mix together corn, black beans, diced bell pepper, diced jalapeno, minced red onion and chopped cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Stir in canola oil, cumin, salt and pepper and pour dressing over vegetable mixture. Stir and refrigerate for one hour before serving to let flavors fully incorporate.

Enjoy!

 

Note: this makes a great summer side, but I’ve also been known to make this as an appetizer and scoop it up with some chips!

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!

Honey Sriracha Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts have really soared in popularity over the last few years, and it seems like every restaurant has their version of spicy-but-sweet Brussel sprouts on their menu. Here is an easy recipe for those delicious sprouts at home!

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1 lb. Brussel sprouts
½ tbsp. coconut oil
3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. sriracha
Juice of half lime

Washed Brussel sproutsCombine honey, sriracha and lime juice. Wisk to combine.  Cut stems off Brussel sprouts, slice in half and wash under cold water in a colander.  Let drain.

 

 

 

Charred sprouts

Heat coconut oil over medium heat. When oil is shiny, add Brussel sprouts and cook 12-14 minutes, until slightly charred. Add honey mixture and continue to stir for approximately 2 minutes until slightly sticky.

 

Enjoy!Finished sprouts