Good pressure cooker recipes?

pressure cookerMany years ago I inherited a pressure canner from John’s grandmother.  It made a great boiling water bath canner, but since it was so very elderly, I honestly didn’t feel comfortable using it as a pressure cooker.   Recently I’ve been hearing about the more modern pressure cookers, and how quickly you can get a meal to the table with them.  I did a little investigating, saved up some amazon credits and ended up purchasing this pressure cooker.

Now I’m on the hunt for good recipes to try in my new gadget.  I’ve pinned a few on Pinterest so far.  The mac and cheese one was fabulous!  But I’d love some more ideas and suggestions.  Do you have a pressure cooker?  What do you most like to cook in it?

Work is going well– actually, I LOVE it– and the kids continue to do well with the transition, but between work and home and school and various recertifications, I am lucky to get my email read most days, let alone do much here.  (Sorry!!!) My full-time work has been slightly extended  (through mid-June) to give me some needed experience assisting with c-sections.  But I’ll have a bit more time after that, and get back to checking in more often. This afternoon I am getting certified in neonatal resuscitation– wish me luck!  If you’re curious, here are a few brief video clips highlighting some of what I’ve been studying.

One other little note:  if you’ve hunted for a recipe here lately, you may have noticed that some of them are missing.  I just migrated my blog to another server and in the process seem to have lost some of the recipes. (Boohiss…)  My bloggy expert is on the job and will hopefully find those lost recipes. But if not, I’ll gradually try to work on restoring them.  Thanks for your patience.  Thanks, as always, for checking in. And also keep in mind that some of those missing recipes can be found in my cookbook, Family Feasts.  Hope you’re enjoying your spring!

Recipe: Restaurant-Style Guacamole

The other day I had the brilliant idea of sharing our favorite restaurant-style guacamole recipe in honor of Cinco de Mayo. I didn’t get around to it.  Instead I spent the day with laboring women whose baby’s births have now given them an extra-special reason to love May 5th.  :)  So the recipe ended up late for Cinco de Mayo.  But, hey!  It’s four days early for Mother’s Day, and even earlier for all sorts of summer celebrations, all of which will be improved by a hearty dose of guacamole. I’ve discovered that for our weekly Sunday crowd of 20 or so people, 8-10 avocados is about right. So that’s the size recipe I’ll share with you here. Feel free to cut it in half if your group is smaller. And remember my handy-dandy tip for freezing avocados if your avocados are ripening faster than you can use them!  We’ve never had enough guac left over to try freezing it, but I’m sure it would work great too.

guacamole

 

Easy Restaurant-Style Guacamole

  • 8-10 medium avocados, soft and ripe
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, minced finely
  • 2 small Roma tomatoes, diced finely
  • 6-8 stems of fresh cilantro, minced finely
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup lime juice, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste

Peel, de-seed, and mash avocados in a medium sized mixing bowl.  I like to use a heavy wire whisk for this task.  Once the avocado is well mashed, add all the remaining ingredients, combining well. If you like your guacamole spicy, try adding one finely minced serrano pepper to the mix. Enjoy!

Hint:  if not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the surface of the guacamole, to prevent browning.  I like to make my guacamole no more than a couple hours ahead of time, so it stays a nice bright green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julianna’s Favorite Breakfast

Once when I was a little girl, my Aunt Edie came to our house and made us deliciously thin pancakes for breakfast that she buttered, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and rolled up before serving. We kids inhaled them, told our mom she needed the recipe, and then ever after that, called the lovely creations ‘Aunt Edie Pancakes’.
Crepes

This recipe has been a perennial favorite of my own kids as well, though we tend to save them for things like birthday breakfasts. Recently that all changed, however, when Julianna, age 10, learned how to make them for herself. She’s in love, and so pleased that she can make this yummy treat herself!
Julianna's pancakes

PS-My Aunt Edie also happens to be a very talented art glass designer.   Click on over if you should happen to be interested in seeing the beautiful things she creates.

Recipe: Hearty Crab Chowder

Weather around here has been lovely and spring-like, but I see that all over the U.S. much of the weather has been awful. If you’re looking for a warm winter chowder, you might be interested in trying this recipe. I always use imitation crab, but of course it would work with real crab as well. Just be sure to add the crab near the end of the cooking time so it stays together. CrabChowder I like to add fresh chopped spinach to my chowder, but if your family looks cross-eyed at greens, feel free to skip them.  The chowder is wonderful either way.  This recipe should serve 5-6 fairly generously.  

  Crab Chowder ~~~~ Interested in other recipes using imitation crab?  Try Mexican Crab Cakes and Spicy Crab Dip. And for more affordable and easy recipes of every type, check out my cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week

Easy affordable gluten free recipes

I’m getting a fair collection of easy and affordable gluten free recipes here, and I thought it might be helpful to some of you  to list them all together into one post.  If gluten free is not your thing,  don’t forget about my main recipe collection— it’s up to 105 recipes now, all affordable family-friendly food. And as always, if you find this resource useful, I’d love a pin on Pinterest.
Gluten-Free Recipes from Owlhaven)

 

 

MAIN DISHES

 

Pork and Veggie Stir Fry

Pork and Veggie Stiry Fry

 

Prize Winning Chili for a Crowd

(Imagine a photo of chili here– I made it the other day but forgot — again- to get a photo!)

 

Ethiopian Sloppy Joes

Ethiopian Sloppy Joes

 

Sriracha Barbecue Chicken

Sriracha Barbecue Chicken

 

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Thai Chard or Lettuce Wraps

 

Sesame Chicken and Veggie Stirfry

Sesame Chicken and Veggie Stirfry

 

 

 

Gluten Free Meatballs (served over rice instead of the pictured rolls)

Gluten Free Meatballs and Sauce

 

 West African Sweet Potato Soup

West African Sweet Potato Soup

 

Molly’s 10-Minute Chicken

 

 

Hearty Meatloaf  (Use gluten free oats to make this recipe completely gluten free)

Hearty Meatloaf

 

 

Eggplant Tomato Bake

Eggplant Tomato Bake

 

 

 

SIDE DISHES and EXTRAS

 

Lemon Cilantro Rice

Lemon Cilantro Rice

 

Alecha (Ethiopian Comfort Food)

Alecha (Ethiopian Comfort Food)

 

Blue Cheese Biscuits

GF Blue Cheese Biscuits

 

Creole Cobb Salad

Creole Cobb Salad

 

 Three Great GF Salad Dressings

GF Salad Dressings

 

Vegetable Pancakes

Vegetable Pancakes

 

Kimbap (Korean Sushi)  — I even made a video for this one!

Kimbap (Korean Style Sushi)

 

 

Cauliflower ‘Mac’ and Cheese

Gluten Free ‘Mac’ and Cheese

 

 

Scalloped Potatoes for a Party

Scalloped potatoes (alongside my Hearty Meatloaf)

 

 

 

BREAKFAST FOOD

 

Christmas Breakfast French Toast Casserole (with regular and gluten free options)

French Toast Strata

 

Hash Brown Combo

Hash Brown Combo

 

Lemon Cream Cheese Pancakes

(no photo yet!)

 

 

DESSERTS AND SWEETS

Berry Pudding Dessert (regular on left, gluten free on right)  The pix is a little rough, but I snapped it quickly in the midst of serving 80+ people this dessert.

Berry Pudding Dessert

 

The Best Banana Bread Recipe Ever (no gluten free collection would be complete without this one is from JoLynne– yum!)

gluten-free-banana-bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reeses Peanut Butter Bark

Reeses Bark

Flourless Chocolate Cake

GF Flourless Chocolate Cake

Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

Royal Icing for Candy Houses (Recipe)

Each December in our homeschool craft co-op we get together to make candy houses, which we put together using graham crackers and royal icing.  Once the houses are built, it’s best to wait 5-10 minutes before adding candy– regular frosting works fine for that — but royal icing is essential for making strong structures on which to place all that candy. Here’s the recipe I use to make royal icing, just in case you’re interested in a similar Christmas craft with your own children.

 

Julianna's House

Julianna’s House

Emily’s House

 

Recipes for holiday gatherings

If you’re wondering what to bring to a Thanksgiving gathering, here are a few yummy ideas for inspiration.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread With Orange Glaze is always a hit.

Reeses Bark

Reeses Peanut Butter Bark

This recipe for Reeses’ Bark is from the Hershey’s website. It is yummy, easy and SO pretty!  Seriously, a 20 minute recipe. I’d definitely melt the chocolate over a double boiler instead of in the microwave.  It just turns out a lot better.

Easy  Homemade Eggnog

Easy Homemade Eggnog

This Easy Homemade Egg Nog is cheaper than store bought, and is very rich and creamy without requiring any raw eggs.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

If you’re cooking with little ones, try this easy recipe for Jam Thumbprint Cookies.  It comes together very quickly, and kids can help with some of the steps.

 

If you would like more easy recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week: A Penny-wise Mom Shares Her Recipe for Cutting Hundreds from Your Monthly Food Bill. (Hint: it makes a great Christmas gift!)  I’m taking the week off from blogging, but I wanted to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.  Thanks so much for coming here to read each week.

6 quick kitchen tricks

6 quick kitchen tricks

Have you ever read the book Cheaper by the Dozen?  Though the dad in that book is a little extreme, I have always secretly identified with his eternal quest for greater efficiency in the home.  I am always on the lookout for ways to save time, and thought it might be fun to share some of the ways I save time in the kitchen.  I’d love it if you add your own ideas in comments, below.  Who can’t use a few good time-saving strategies?

1. I double-batch whole meals at least a couple times a week. It only takes a few extra minutes to measure out more ingredients or chop more veggies or meat while the kitchen’s already a mess. Leftovers can go into the fridge to serve at lunch later in the week or in the freezer for a different week entirely.  Common examples include big pots of soup or chili, or pans of enchiladas to stash in the freezer.  Time savings per meal: at least 30 minutes per meal, especially when you consider there’ll be much less mess when serving that second meal.

2.  You don’t have to double batch a whole meal to save time, however.  Even doubling one portion of the meal can save prep work a different day.  For example, when I am cooking meat for a meal like tacos, fajitas, or Molly’s chicken, I will often cook more meat than I need for that meal, setting aside the extra to use a different day  in a soup or a stir fry. (Remember to set that extra meat aside before the meal, however, so your family doesn’t just gobble up the extra.) Other examples of this tip include making extra pizza dough one day so kids can easily make their own pizza another day, or making extra rice and setting it aside for fried rice another day.  If your rice AND your meat is already cooked, it’s perfectly possible to get a meal of fried rice onto the table in 20 minutes flat.  Time savings:  20 minutes per meal

Creamy Chicken and Potato Soup3. When I am beginning dinner, I always think about which part of the meal will take longest to cook and start there. Since I have lots of meals that take less than 30 minutes to get to the table, that often means starting rice or pasta cooking. On spaghetti nights I  get pasta water heating first, then cook ground beef and simmer sauce while noodles cook.  If the meal is a stir-fry, I’ll get the rice going in the rice cooker, then chop/cook the chicken, then work on the veggies while the chicken (and rice) chicken cook.  I love having multiple pots going at the same time– it feels so efficient. Time savings: at least 10 minutes per meal.

4. Especially when meals are labor-intensive, I get help! The other day I had 10 pounds of potatoes to peel– we were bringing mashed potatoes to a potluck.  I started by putting the water on to boil, then asked 5 kids to peel three potatoes each.  (We have lots of peelers!) It was a tiny bit of work for each of them, but getting their help made the job at least 20 minutes shorter than if I’d worked alone.   Even tiny kids can peel carrots or garlic.  Elementary age kids can set them table and pour drinks.  Bigger kids, with training, can do almost any part of cooking that I can.  And whatever you do, always say yes to a kid who wants to make cookies.  When they’re little, it feels like more mess than it’s worth, but they get efficient quickly, and there’s not much in the world that’s nicer than fresh-baked cookies that you didn’t have to bake yourself.  Time savings: probably at least 5 minutes/child/meal, but this varies by your child’s age. :)

5.  If you need a quick side dish to fill out a meal on a busy day, crank your oven t0 475 and chop whatever fresh veggies you happen to have into bite size pieces.  Almost any veggies are wonderful roasted;  I’ve roasted carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, whole peeled garlic cloves, Brussels sprouts, green beans, asparagus, and broccoli.  Toss your choice of veggies (cut into similar sizes) in a couple tablespoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet.  Then spread them out evenly across the pan, top with a few grinds of salt and pepper,  and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until veggies are getting browned bits and are cooked to your liking.  Yum!  You may even convert a veggie hater in your house– this is the only way my husband will eat Brussels sprouts.  Time savings:  depends on what you would’ve made instead. :)  This recipe takes about 10 minutes of prep time.

6. One last tip for frazzled mommas:  often I’ll decide at the last minute that I want baked potatoes for dinner.  Problem is, they take an hour to bake, and they’re just not the same when cooked in the microwave.  But there’s a way to shave half an hour off that cooking time.  Just preheat the oven to 425. (convection is best, if you have that feature) Then wash and poke potatoes, then zap them in the microwave 2 or 3 potatoes at a time for about 3 minutes.  By the time the oven is hot, the potatoes have already begun the cooking process in the microwave, which means they’ll only need another 25-30 minutes in the regular oven.  But they’ll end up cooked as nicely as if their whole cooking time had been in the regular oven.  Time savings: 30 minutes per meal.

OK– your turn!  What are your best quick kitchen tricks?

For more affordable and quick recipes, check out my cookbook: Family Feasts for $75 a Week
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Frugality this week

FallFlowers

  • The flowers above are from my sweet mother in law to celebrate the launch of Forever Mom.  (Hope you’re not too, too sick of hearing about it! :)  )  Very sweet of her to help me celebrate!  We are enjoying the prettiness of the flowers on our table.
  • I did finally get around to canning grape juice– we did about 20 quarts.  That will be good either to drink as juice at breakfast or to make into jelly later in the winter when our jam stash is diminished.
  • I found chicken thighs on sale for 99 cents/lb.  I used some as a meal with rice, some in chicken and rice soup, and some in a stir fry. I like to cook them in a crock pot slowly with some water, which makes them quite tender and then also nets me some chicken broth to use for soup.
  • I made corn cakes this week that turned out yummy, and served them alongside a lime cilantro slaw that nicely complimented that corn cakes.  The recipe was pretty much the same as this recipe except I used gluten free flour mix instead of regular flour. FallCornCakes
  • I also made a chicken skillet pot pie this week with a biscuit topping and lots of garden veggies. (I have LOTS of cabbage and sweet peppers right now.)  Pot pie always feels like a treat, but it is actually very affordable to make.
  • I made some more homemade spaghetti sauce the oven-baked way.  It turns out so good that way, and gets very rich and thick.
  • The girls and I chopped some sweet peppers to go in the freezer.  They’re so lovely fresh that it feels like a shame to freeze them.  But we simply had too many to use quickly enough, so after using lots in stir fry, fresh on sandwiches, and in pot pie, into the freezer the rest of them went.  I’m relieved to be finally getting the excess produce cleared off my kitchen counters.  Though the abundance is a gift, the clutter and the knowledge that I need to do something about it gets to me after awhile.

FallSalsa

 

  • Salsa was another thing we got done this week, finally.  Super spicy this year!  I was glad to use most of the last of the tomatoes, but then John brought more in from the garden, so we still have a basket full ripening on the counter.  We still haven’t had a hard frost, which is really unusual around here.  Lots of time the garden is completely done by the second week of October, and here it is, almost November.
  • I was in the mood for some more fall decor, and so instead of buying something, I found some Christmas lights that actually still worked– hooray! — and twined them in with several fall-leaf garlands that I’d bought earlier this month on a 40% off clearance.  It looked pretty and saved me a trip to the store. We also spread pumpkins around on our front porch from the garden.  No big ones this year, but lots of medium and smaller ones.  We’ll be making pumpkin pie soon too, I’m sure.  Yum!

How did your frugal adventure go this week?  I’d love to hear about it!  And if you an adoptive momma in need of a getaway, remember to enter the drawing for the Created for Care Getaway package!

Creamy Chicken and Potato Soup (GF)

Soup (thin)Here’s a great soup recipe that I found on Pinterest and then adapted quite a bit to suit my preferences.  I really, really love the bright flavors and pretty color added by the fresh tomato and cilantro. I’ve served it to a crowd twice, and each time people really seemed to enjoy it.