Pressure Cooker Perfectly Poached Chicken Breasts

By now you all know probably one of the BEST kitchen appliances I have ever purchased was my Electric Pressure Cooker. This thing truly is revolutionary and a God send for me.  No you don’t understand just how much I respect this thing.  I am one that honestly has truly limited free time so while I cook every day I still have other stuff to do. Plus I’m human, even I need some down time.  That’s where this Electric Pressure Cooker truly comes into play.

I get up at 3:30 am M-F (5:30am on the weekends) just because, well I do.  I don’t sleep a lot so you’d think I’d have more time than most but unfortunately I don’t.  I’m constantly on the go between my day job, TKW (Thank you as it’s because of you that I’m so busy with that!), normal daily stuff, working out and trying to have some type of quality time with Mr. Fantabulous.  So on those days when I get home from work only to realize that I forgot to take stuff out for dinner or I’ve changed my mind on what we’re having, I reach for my Electric Pressure Cooker.

Perfect Pressure Cooked Chicken Breasts2

I’m serious, everyone home should have one or two of these!

Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – Stone Fruits

When I was at the store the other day I spied some of the most gorgeous stone fruits ever AND they were on sale.  As I was loading up my bags of nectarines, plums and peaches I found myself watching how others chose their fruits.  Some just picked up, shoved in the bag and walked away.  Others would pick up each one and inspect it to the Nth degree only to put it down, pick up another and go back to their original one.  Some sniffed it, some shook them (um why??) and others pressed on them. So I feed it’s my duty to share with you all my tips and tricks on how to picking the perfect stone fruit at the market.

Tuesday Tip
How to choose

When you’re craving some of summer’s best offerings go for peaches, plums and nectarines. You want to look for fruit with vibrant colored flesh without brown spots or bruises. Give it a gentle squeeze – it should yield a little under your touch. Look for richly colored plums with no brown spots. Peaches and nectarines should have no green or wrinkly patches. The sweetest nectarines have small white speckles on the top half. Stone fruit that is under-ripe sometimes have green patches, while older fruit may have wrinkly areas. The fruit you should choose will be firm but supple.

How to store

Most stone fruit continues to ripen after being picked. Ripen stone fruits at room temperature, stem-end down. A sweet, flowery smell means peaches and nectarines are ripe and should be refrigerated, unwashed, in a plastic bag. Ripe plums have dull skins You can use a simple test to see if it needs to ripen a little longer: press the top of your finder softly near the stem of the fruit. If it dents easily, it is ripe. Peaches and nectarines also have a sweet, flowery scent when they are ready to be eaten. Once ripe, store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Stone fruit bruises easily, so minimize handling and avoid stacking fruit more than two deep.

How long to keep

Ripe plums and yellow peaches should last uncovered in the refrigerator for three to five days. Nectarines and white peaches ripen more quickly and should usually only be refrigerated for one day. Most stone fruit (e.g., peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, etc.) continues to ripen after being picked. It is important to ripen the various varieties of stone fruit at room temperature without moving them to your refrigerator until they are fully ripe. If stone fruit is exposed to temperatures between 36 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit before it is ripe, it can suffer internal breakdown which may result in mealy flavorless fruit. The best way to tell if stone fruit is ripe is to give it a gentle squeeze. If the fruit is tender, it is probably ripe. Ripe stone fruit also has a wonderful full-bodied aroma. When storing stone fruit, it is best not to stack it more than two layers deep. Avoid plastic bags at all costs. Since chemical fungicides are not used on organic stone fruit, moisture build-up can lead to mold.

 

nectarines




Weekly Menu

Dear Lord it’s Sunday already?  WOW!  Talk about a super fast week! So how was your week?  Mine wasn’t too bad.  It’s been raining here on/off (okay more on than off) for the past 3 weeks. Well if you suffer from asthma you know that all that rain can be hell on your breathing.  What’s happening is while the pollen count is super low, the mold count is through the roof right now.  And yours truly has been wheezing, coughing and pretty living off of her inhalers now for weeks.  But then I took a pretty bad asthma attack Tuesday night that forced my butt to go see my PCP. Okay folks in the Pittsburgh area if you need an awesome PCP, definitely look up Dr. Adam Chasin.  He’s one of the nicest doctors I’ve ever met and super  cool!

So off to the doc I went and away I went with some inhalers, daily asthma and allergy drug and Prednisone.  Now if you’ve never taken this stuff oh you’re so in for a lovely treat.. not.  I’ve only ever taken it once before where I was on it for 4 days.  in 4 days I gained almost 10 pounds because I ate EVERYTHING that wasn’t nailed down.  Hell at one point I was removing the nail and eating that too!  And you can’t sleep… at all.  You’re jittery and antsy.  However the stuff works.  So given the fact that I bust my butt to lose weight I was rather apprehensive about taking this again for 5 days at a high dosage. However by day 3 I didn’t have any of those side effects; in fact I had the opposite.  I didn’t want food at all and I was tired.  However I felt worse.  My coughing and wheezing were worse than before.  So a quick email to my doc and he re-adjusted my meds.  See I’m going out of town again for the week and I didn’t want to be away with no meds or meds that weren’t working.

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However I’m now on day 2 of the even super higher dosages of the Prednisone and still no appetite.  If it stays like this I may ask to be on it for 6 months to lose weight.  KIDDING…sorta. Nah I like the hard work, the sweat and even the soreness from the gym.

Today I spent a good portion of the day prepping foods for Mr. Fantabulous for the week.  Now I swear every time I come home from a trip that I’m not going to do it anymore as the man only eats peanut butter sandwiches and Lucky Charms even though there at least 6 full meals in the fridge.  So this time even though I made a few items, I kept it small.  A dozen wings, a huge bbq chicken breast he can slice down for a meal or two, mashed potatoes, very small pork roast with sauerkraut and some kielbasa.  For dessert I made him a peach slab pie with a crumble topping.  Okay fine, I also made him vanilla whipped cream too but you have to have that with this pie.  It’s like a law or something.

This week is a short week for most as Saturday is the 4th of July which means most of us will have a long weekend.  We’re off on Friday so hopefully I can actually relax and enjoy some time with Mr. Fantabulous.  I know he wants to see the new Jurassic World movie (what is it with boys and dinosaurs???) and Ted 2.  Have you seen Ted (the first one)?  I have to be honest, the first time I saw it I was pretty traumatized.  A foul-mouthed, pot-smokin, man-whore Teddy Bear.  Wait, WHAT??  Teddy bears are innocent and sweet – they certainly don’t smoke weed or have ‘relations’.  But since Mark Wahlberg is in it, I watched it again with Mr. Fantabulous.  Only the second time I could not stop laughing.  OMG I was crying from it.  What’s funny is he had the same reaction I did the first time I saw the movie… utter shock.  Then he watched it again… and he couldn’t stop laughing.  We watch this movie often as it’s one of our favs.  So maybe this upcoming weekend we’ll do a double feature (as I sneak in contraband snacks… shhhh).

Anyway, here’s to you having one amazing week and a fantabulous Fourth of July!

Best Kitchen Wishes!

Monday –  Best Ever Pork Roast and Sauerkraut
Tuesday – Baked Chicken Parmesan Burrito
WednesdaySkinny Baked Frittatas
Thursday – BBQ Meatloaf Stacks
Friday – Guinness Corned Beef Reuben Pizza
Saturday – Happy 4th of July!
Sunday –Thai Peanut Shrimp Summer Rolls
Dessert of the week – French Silk Brownie Tart




4th of July Star Spangled Dishes 2015 Edition

With the 4th of July next weekend and it being a long weekend for most cookouts and bbq’s will be going rampant.  Now if you’re like me you get sick of the same ol’ same ol’.. burgers and hotdogs.  They are fine, don’t get me wrong, but why not mix it up this season and try a new recipe.  Whether you’re hosting or attending a gathering, if you show up with one of these dishes below you will surely be the most popular person there and invited back next year.
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Right now we haven’t decided yet on what we will be doing as we’ve been invited to a few parties (LOVE YOU GUYS!) but the past 2 1/2 weeks Mother Nature has been having PMS to the MAX and pretty much raining with monsoon-like rains.  If we have to go anywhere we’ll have to build an ark first.  And when it comes to cookouts, no one likes to host a summer party in the rain.

So this year even if the weather keeps you indoors, go with one of these 4th of July Star Spangled dishes and have your own party in your living room but um, minus the fireworks *wink*

Fudge Ripple Turtle Brownies
Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatballs
Potato Gnocchi in a Bacon Cream Sauce
Baked Creamy Corn Casserole
Crispy Bacon Wrapped Green Beans Fries
Pressure Cooker Wings with Bourbon Honey BBQ Sauce
Summer Berry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Ultimate Lobster Rolls
Pineapple Banana Upside Down Bundt Cake
Pressure Cooker St. Louis Ribs with Whiskey BBQ Sauce
Meatball Stuffed Manicotti
Butternut Squash Parmesan Gratin
Pulled Pork Pizza Puffs
Simply The Best Mac and Cheese ever!
Crispy Crunchy Crusted Chicken Fingers

Tuesday’s Tip with the Kitchen Whisperer – Crock Pot Tips

Happy Tuesday TKW Family!  It’s time for Tuesday’s Tip with the Kitchen Whisperer  and today I’m dishing up some Crock Pot tips.  With summer in full swing here, it’s about 88F here in Pittsburgh with 172% humidity which means turning on the oven  is something we here try to avoid.  Thus the crock pot, slow cooker – whatever you call it is my bestie.  Truth be told I have 15, no wait 16 (I just got the 4qrt cast aluminum one from All-Clad at their Factory sale a few weeks ago) crock pots of various shapes, sizes and so forth.  They all get used and are truly a God-send when it comes to parties.  Set it and forget it like the ad says!

Over the years I’ve learned some tricks and tips about these beauties to help you out! In addition, don’t forget to check out my Amazon Store where I share the crock pots I LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

Tuesday Tip

No peeking!  I know it’s hard but do NOT lift the lid and peek inside.  Most lids are clear nowadays so there is no need to lift and check it out.  The issue is, it takes about 20-30 minutes for the crock pot to get back up to temperature each and every single time you take the lid off.  That steam and heat is needed to keep it at that constant temperature to cook your dish evenly. To check progress without lifting the lid, spin the cover until the condensation falls off. Then it’s easy to see inside.

 → Brown your meats! By browning your meats and your veggies prior to adding them to the slow cooker your dish will take on a more deeper, richer flavor. Don’t skip this step.

→ Choices of meats The tougher the cut of meat and the less expensive it is, more often this type of meat is better suited for slow cooking. Cooked low and slow on these tougher cuts of meat makes the meat is much more tender.

→ Size matters Okay now that you had your giggle *wink*, when you are adding in your veggies, you want them all uniform in size and cut.  You want your items to cook evenly.  If you have uneven chunks you’ll end up with half mush and half hard veggies.  No fun.

→ What type of buy? When purchasing a crockpot, look for one with a removable liner. They are much easier to clean. If you have a non-removable liner, however, all is not lost! Line your crockpot with a cooking bag and you’ll have no cleanup at all. Spray the inside of the liner with cooking spray before you fill it to make cleanup easier.  Easy peasy!

→ Timing One hour on HIGH is equal to two hours on LOW.

→ Temperature The LOW setting is about 200 degrees, and the HIGH setting is about 300 degrees.

→ Less is more! Only fill the crockpot one half to two thirds full. The foods will not cook properly if the appliance is filled to the brim. If the food and liquid level is lower, the foods will cook too quickly.

→ Layers, layers, layers… Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat, so they should be placed in the bottom of the appliance.

→ Thicken it up You can thicken the juices and concentrate flavors by removing the lid and cooking on HIGH for the last half hour of cooking time.

Don’t use frozen food Loading a slow cooker with icy ingredients will keep food in the danger zone where bacteria can flourish (40 to 140 degrees F). So make sure your meat and vegetables are fully thawed before turning the cooker on. The exception: Prepackaged slow-cooker meals sold in the freezer case are fine to use as long as you follow the package’s directions.

Trim fat For silky sauces and gravies, take a minute or two and cut the excess fat from the meat. Skip this step and you risk ending up with oily, greasy cooking liquid. When possible, remove chicken skin too.

Adding ingredients at the end The last 30 minutes of cooking is when you can remove the lid and add in your softer vegetables like peas, corn, bell peppers, and spinach. By adding them at this time they will hold up and not turn mushy.




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