Thursday, December 1, 2016

Instant Pot Creole Pasta

Back in the 90's when I worked in downtown Shreveport, we would often go to Pete Harris Cafe for their weekly lunch specials. Their specials were some of the best soul food around. Specials like chicken fried steak, smothered pork chops, fried fish and potato salad every Friday. All served with sides like greens, black eye peas, corn bread and peach cobbler for dessert. One of their more unique specials was creole spaghetti. It was a plate full of spaghetti with a rusty red sauce, smoked sausage, peppers and onions. It was so different, I had never seen anything quite like it. The cafe is long gone and I have tried replicating the recipe many times. I have made it stove-top with different shaped pastas, in one pot or multiple pots. I have used different brands of pasta sauce and sausage, it always turns out delicious. I have tried low sodium versions with canned Italian tomatoes and even substituting frozen onion and pepper blend, still so very good. Recently I tried adapting the recipe to the Instant Pot. I used the one pot pasta technique and it worked perfectly. Such a savory, smoky and delicious pasta dish with tons of creole flair! I like using the Instant Pot. It was a set it and forget method, no stirring. A few pieces of pasta that came in contact with the bottom of the pot got a little brown so I suggest patting the pasta into the liquid or stirring it into the top only just to be safe. This is a fast weeknight meal I will keep making in the Instant Pot. I hope you will too.

Instant Pot Creole Pasta
Serves 4 to 6


Olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage, sliced (I used Richard's Turkey Sausage)
2 medium onions, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 tsp. Cajun Seasoning, or to taste (I used Extra Spicy Mrs. Dash)
1 jar (28 oz.) Pasta Sauce, traditional flavor (I used low sodium Organic)
1 box (16 oz.) of spaghetti or pasta (I used penne)*


Place instant pot on saute. When hot drizzle with a little olive oil and add sausage. Brown sausage on each side. Add onions and peppers, sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Stir to separate onions slices and combine ingredients. Turn off instant pot and add pasta sauce, one jar full of water and pasta. Stir to combine, scrapping the bottom of the pot. Pat down ingredients so that pasta is submerged in liquid. Cover pot and set to sealing, cook at high pressure for half of the time recommended on the pasta packaging (6 minutes for penne). When done turn off pot and let rest 1 minute before performing a quick release. Stir and serve.

*Note: If you prefer saucy pasta use less pasta, about 12 oz.

Stove Top Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the spaghetti or pasta of your choice. In another large pot, saute onions, peppers and turkey sausage. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Add pasta sauce, bring to a boil and lower heat to just simmering. Cover pot and stir occasionally. Simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors blend and until pasta is done. Drop spaghetti and cook according to package. Drain pasta and toss with some of the sauce. Top with remaining sauce to serve.

One Pot Stove Top Directions:
In a large pot, saute onions, peppers and turkey sausage. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Add pasta, pasta sauce and one jar full of water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to just simmering. Cover pot and stir occasionally. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until pasta is cooked to your taste and flavors have blended.

Low Sodium Version:
Substitute low sodium pasta sauce or 2 - 15 oz. cans of no salt added Italian tomatoes pulsed in a blender. Use Extra Spicy Mrs. Dash instead of Cajun Seasoning.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Instant Pot Pork Chops and Celery Rice

I still have a lot to learn about cooking with a pressure cooker. First lesson write down what works immediately and repeat. Keep notes on what works and what does not. Recently my dear sister and I tried a childhood favorite recipe in the Instant Pot. Pork Chops and Rice is a baked one pan dish that my family has been making for years. It was my dad's favorite and he could even make it on his own. I just knew it would be great in the instant pot. And it was! We used very thin pork chops and they were fork tender in the time it took to cook the rice. I used beef bone broth I made in the Instant Pot and it was so delicious. So when I went to make it again to photograph for the blog I bought thicker boneless pork chops. I thought I would get similar results. Right? No! Not right! Just that little 1/4" in thickness made a big difference. They were tough. So I held on to this post and the photos to try one more time to make sure the thin chops would work a second time. I am glad to report the thin chops were perfect yet again. I think I might even like the Instant Pot version better. I like that the pork is moist and very tender. I will definitely keep making it in the Instant Pot in the future. I hope you will too, just make sure to buy thin cut chops. The 1/2" chops in the photos were too thick and tough. The thinner the better for this method.

Instant Pot Pork Chops and Celery Rice
Serves 4


Olive oil
4 or 5 boneless pork chops (thin cut)
1 cup long grain white rice, dry uncooked
4 to 6 stalks celery, sliced
1-3/4 cups beef or chicken bone broth (or stock in a box)
Kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste


Place Instant Pot on Saute. Season both sided of pork chops with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Add a little olive oil to pot, brown pork chops on one side only. Remove pork chops and turn off heat. Add rice and broth, stir well scrapping up any brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Arrange celery on top of rice, then pork chops. Cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Turn off and let rest 5 minutes before performing a quick release.

Note: Don't have a pressure cooker? Try the baked version. Get the recipe [Here].

Too thick!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Masonable Mondays #6 - Savory Yogurt and Granola

Welcome to Masonable Mondays #6! Have you seen all the savory yogurts with crunchy toppings out there lately? I liked the idea so I tried Chobani's Pineapple one and loved it. I liked it enough to try to re-create it. So for today's 
#MasonableMondays I am sharing my version of Pineapple Yogurt with Savory Granola. There is really no recipe here except for the granola. If you have access to savory granola options you will not have to cook a single thing. It is as simple as layering crushed pineapple, yogurt and granola in a jar. For my #Masonable I decided to make my own granola. The Chobani flip had a spicy savory granola with almonds and pepitas. The spicy element was chipotle. So I tried to replicate that flavor in my granola. The Domestic Geek came to the rescue. She had a savory granola that featured almonds and a little chipotle powder. So I adapted her recipe and added pepitas. It turned out so good. It is so good with the pineapple flavor. Truth be known, I almost ate it all by the handful before I could fill my mason jars and fruit cups. It is that good! It is great on salads as a crunchy topping too. I think this is another great way to eat oatmeal.  I see lots of savory granola and yogurt in my future. I hope you will give it a try too.

Pineapple Yogurt with Savory Granola
Serves 1


1 wide mouth pint Mason jar
1 empty fruit cup


1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
5 to 6 oz. plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Savory Granola with Almonds and Pepitas (recipe below)


Place pineapple in a pint size wide mouth mason jar. Top with yogurt. Place granola in re-cycled fruit cup. Place cup in the top of mason jar. Secure with mason jar lid and ring.

Note: If you like a little sweetness, you can add a drizzle of honey or agave. Or substitute vanilla or pineapple flavored Greek yourt.

Savory Granola with Almonds and Pepitas
Adapted from the Domestic Geek
Makes 4 cups


2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg white
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup Blue Diamond Jalapeno Smokehouse Almonds


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl combine oats, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt. Stir well. In a small bowl whisk egg white, olive oil and maple syrup. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until they are well coated. Spread mixture in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stirring every 10 minutes. Add pepitas and cook 10 more minutes, stirring every five minutes. Once the granola has cooled, mix in almonds. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Review: Baked Oatmeal

I finally found a way to prepare oatmeal that I enjoy! I have never been a fan of hot oatmeal. Oatmeal cookies yes but then again I would choose a chocolate chip cookie over oatmeal every time. But thanks to the Domestic Geek I discovered I love oatmeal in the form of a warm baked muffin (and granola but that is for another post).

I am sure you have heard me mention the Domestic Geek before. She is a very creative YouTuber that has the best mostly healthy, easy recipes and meal prep ideas. This week I decided to try her Baked Oatmeal recipe. I am hooked! This is how oatmeal should be consumed. They are low in fat because she uses apple sauce. They bake up moist and chewy in the center, crisp and crunchy on top. Much better than soggy oatmeal, in my humble opinion. The best part of the recipe is that you can change it up so many ways. She made Blueberry Coconut, Chocolate Almond and Cranberry Pistachio. I made Mixed Berry, Chocolate Hazelnut and Toffee Pecan. That is six ideas to top your oatmeal! Variety is the spice of life right?

For the original recipe check out the Domestic Geek's video [Here].

This is how I topped mine.

Mixed Berry
Top with a mixed berry dried fruit blend with blueberries, cranberries and raisins. Next time I will stir the dried berries in a bit. I found that 
because of the sugar content some got a little dark for my taste.

Chocolate Hazelnut
Top with chopped Hazelnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Tastes like Nutella on top of your oatmeal. Yum!

Toffee Pecan
Topped with Heath toffee baking bits and chopped pecans. 
This was my favorite! It was so so good! Tastes like 
pecan praline topping. You have to make this one!

*Note: Spray the muffin tins or cupcake liners. 
The oatmeal will stick if you don't.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Masonable Mondays #5 - Snickerdoodle Hummus

Welcome to Masonable Mondays #5! Today I made a salty, sweet and healthy Snickerdoodle Hummus Masonable. I have been making this snickerdoodle hummus for years. It is amazing! It tastes and smells just like snickerdoodle cookies! The secret is cinnamon and almond butter instead of tahini. I made my own almond butter this weekend. I used my Almond Toffee Butter recipe and just omitted the toffee pieces. But you can use store bought, I know I have many many times. Even some of the friends I shared the recipe with used peanut butter and said it was delicious. If you haven't tried a sweet hummus this should definitely be the one you try. It is so good with sliced apples and carrots. The carrots will remind you of glazed carrots. I really like the salty pretzel crackers with it too. It has that salty sweet thing going for it. The #Masonable is the perfect container to pack all these yummy companions into a easy to carry snack or dessert. It is just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. So grab a mason jar and a fruit cup and get prepping.

Snickerdoodle Hummus Masonable
Serves 1


1 wide mouth pint Mason jar
2 empty fruit cups


Carrot sticks
Apple slices*
Snickerdoodle Hummus (recipe below)
Pretzel chips or crackers


Add carrots and apples to the bottom of the mason jar. Add fruit cup and place hummus in cup. Add lid and stack pretzels on top of lid. Top with inverted fruit cup and secure with mason jar ring. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat.

*Note: To prevent apple slices from turning brown toss in lemon juice before adding to the jar.

Snickerdoodle Hummus
Makes about 1-1/2 cups; 12 – 2 Tbsp servings


1 (15 oz) can low sodium garbanzo beans
2 Tbsp. almond butter
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground


Drain garbanzo beans reserving liquid. Place garbanzo beans in a food processor along with almond butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pulse for about 1 minute until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Slowly drizzle in reserved liquid (you will not need all of it, approx. 1/3 cup) until the dip is smooth and desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve try garnishing with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup. Surround hummus with apple slices, carrots and/or pretzel crackers.

Nutritional Info per Serving: Calories 71.8; Total Fat 2.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.2 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g; Monounsaturated Fat 1.1 g; Cholesterol 0.0 mg; Sodium 105.7 mg; Potassium 91.7 mg; Total Carbohydrate 12.3 g; Dietary Fiber 1.7 g; Sugars 3.5 g; Protein 2.1 g

Linking to:
Tumbleweed Contessa - What'd You Do This Weekend?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Instant Pot Spicy Beef Vegetable Soup

I have made this Spicy Beef Vegetable Soup sooooo many times. Too many to count in fact. At one point I would make it just about once a week. It is so easy to throw together. I usually make it on the stove. Well let me tell you it just got faster to make too! I made it in the instant pot tonight and it was so easy and super fast. And, and, it did not heat up the kitchen! I didn't have to stir anything. I just waited for the beep and did a quick release. Delicious and very simple! Taste like it cook for a long time, all the flavors were perfectly blended. I can't wait to enjoy the leftovers, they make a great lunch.

You can play around with the ingredients too. I can't tell you how many of my soup recipes start as a variation of this one soup. My Stuffed Zucchini SoupMoussaka Soup and Barbecue Pork and Vegetable Soup all started as a variation of this recipe. I look forward to adapting some of them to the pressure cooker one day too. I hope this recipe will inspire you to make some soup in your pressure cooker soon.

Instant Pot Spicy Beef Vegetable Soup
Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
27 oz. spaghetti sauce
3 1/2 cups water
16 oz. frozen mixed veggies
10 oz. diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 cup sliced celery
1 tsp. beef bouillon
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Place Instant Pot on saute, drizzle with a little olive oil add beef and onion. Brown stirring occasionally, season beef and onion mixture with salt and black pepper. Add remaining ingredients and set to cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. When cooking cycle is complete let sit 1 minute and perform a quick release. Remove bay leaf and serve.

For Crockpot and Stovetop directions [Click Here].

For a Low Sodium version make the following substitutions: Low sodium pasta sauce, no salt added Rotel tomatoes and use 3-1/2 cups unsalted beef stock for water and bouillon.

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