Some recipes for quick and easy meals

The Sun Herald (Sunday) - - Your Life - BY AN­DREA YEAGER

Now that Hal­loween is just a mem­ory, still to come are more fall fes­ti­vals, field trips, Thanks­giv­ing, hol­i­day par­ties, Hanukkah, Christ­mas, Kwan­zaa and New Year’s Eve. The year is sim­ply mov­ing too fast.

I at­tended my grand­daugh­ter’s fall party last week, along with three trunk-or-treats. When I opened an e-mail from her teacher, she was ask­ing for meat­balls for the Christ- mas class party.

As the ac­tiv­i­ties ramp up, home cooks need quick, easy, no-ef­fort meals. These ap­pli­ances can make meals eas­ily and quickly. The old-time pres­sure cooker needs to be watched more care­fully than the new elec­tric In­stant Pots. The ever-re­li­able slow cooker is so handy; just dump in the in­gre­di­ents, leave it and come home to a pre­pared din­ner.

A friend gifted me with an In­stant Pot ear­lier this year. She knew that my late hus­band had burned our pres­sure cooker, and that I hadn’t yet bought an In­stant Pot. I love it. It is a pres­sure cooker, slow cooker and stove-top method all in one ap­pli­ance.

One of to­day’s recipes is a copy­cat of Olive Gar­den’s Zuppa Toscana, or potato, sausage and kale or spinach soup.

The In­stant Pot makes this soup a one-dish meal. The in­gre­di­ents like onion, gar­lic and sausage can be cooked in the In­stant Pot on the sauté set­ting, ac­cord­ing to the web­site, www.margin­mak­ing mom.com/ If recipe lovers haven’t checked out this web­site, they need to. This recipe only re­quires a few in­gre­di­ents and is in­ex­pen­sive to make, two pluses in my book.

Zuppa Toscana can be made with ei­ther spinach or kale. I pre­fer spinach be­cause I like the taste. Oth­ers like kale be­cause it does not wilt as much in the soup.

The In­stant Pot pulled pork sand­wiches only take two hours to cook and serves eight. Home cooks can pair these sand­wiches with slow cooker cow­boy beans or serve the two sep­a­rately. The beans can be a sep­a­rate meal served with a side dish or a fresh green salad.

IN­STANT POT ZUPPA TOSCANA

2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 1 pound ground mild Ital­ian sausage

4 cloves gar­lic, minced 3 large rus­set pota­toes, un­peeled and sliced into ¼-inch slices

6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) chicken broth

2 cups fresh kale or spinach, chif­fon­ade

3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half or milk if you want to de­crease the calo­ries

Us­ing the sauté func­tion of the In­stant Pot, heat the olive oil. Add onions and cook un­til they be­gin to be­come translu­cent. Add the Ital­ian sausage, crum­bling up into smaller pieces and cook­ing un­til browned.

Add gar­lic and al­low to cook just un­til fra­grant, about a minute. Drain off ex­cess grease if de­sired and re­turn to pot. Add potato sliced and chicken broth. Lock the lid into place and set to “sealed.” Cook at high pres­sure for 5 min­utes us­ing the man­ual set­ting.

When cook­ing is com­plete, al­low a nat­u­ral pres­sure re­lease for 10 min­utes, fol­lowed by a quick re­lease. When pres­sure valve has dropped, re­move the lid and add kale or spinach to the pot. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale or spinach as you stir.

Pour in cream or half and half or milk, stir­ring to com­bine. Makes about 6 serv­ings.

– From www.margin­mak­ing­mom/

IN­STANT POT BAR­BE­CUE PULLED PORK SAND­WICHES

3 ta­ble­spoons light brown su­gar

2 tea­spoons hot pa­prika 1 tea­spoon mus­tard pow­der

1/2 tea­spoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground pep­per

1 (4-pound) bone­less pork shoul­der, trimmed or ex­cess fat and cut into 6 pieces

2 tea­spoons veg­etable oil

1/2 cup ap­ple cider vine­gar, plus more to taste

3 ta­ble­spoons tomato paste

12 ham­burger buns

1 cup bar­be­cue sauce, for serv­ing

4 cups coleslaw, for serv­ing

Spe­cial equip­ment: An In­stant Pot multi-cooker.

Com­bine pa­prika, mus­tard pow­der, cumin, 1 ta­ble­spoon brown su­gar, 2 tea­spoons salt and 1/2 tea­spoon pep­per in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix­ture all over the pork.

Turn the In­stant Pot to the high sauté set­ting. Add the oil and once hot, add the pork and cook in two batches, turn­ing, un­til browned on all sides, about 5 min­utes. Switch the In­stant Pot to the warm set­ting, re­move pork and trans­fer to a plate.

Whisk 3/4 cup water into the drip­pings in the In­stant Pot. Add the vine­gar, tomato paste, the re­main­ing 2 ta­ble­spoons brown su­gar and 2 cups water and whisk to com­bine. Add the pork back. Fol­low the man­u­fac­turer’s guide for lock­ing the lid and pre­par­ing to cook. Set to pres­sure cook on high for 1 hour.

Af­ter the pres­sure cook cy­cle is com­plete, fol­low the man­u­fac­turer’s guide for quick re­lease and wait un­til the quick re­lease cy­cle is com­plete. Care­ful of any re­main­ing steam, un­lock and re­move the lid and trans­fer the pork to a large bowl. Switch the In­stant Pot to the nor­mal sauté set­ting and sim­mer the juices un­til re­duced by half, about 15 min­utes. While the juices are re­duc­ing use a la­dle to re­move any fat that rises to the top. Sea­son to taste with salt.

Mean­while, use 2 forks to shred the pork into small chunks.

Add 3 cups of the re­duced cook­ing liq­uid to the chun­ked pork and sea­son with salt and vine­gar to taste. Serve in ham­burger buns with bar­be­cue and coleslaw.

– From Food Net­work Kitchen

SLOW COOKER COW­BOY BAR­BE­CUE BEANS

1 pound ground beef, browned

8 slices of ba­con, cooked and crum­bled

15-ounce can lima beans, undrained

15-ounce can kid­ney beans, undrained

15-ounce can pork and beans, undrained

1/2 cup bar­be­cue sauce 1/4 cup su­gar

1/4 cup brown su­gar, packed

1 tea­spoon liq­uid smoke fla­vor­ing

Com­bine all in­gre­di­ents in a slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

- From www.recipes thatcrock.com/

An­drea Yeager can be reached at ayea­ger51@cableone.net and Cooks Ex­change, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulf­port, MS 39507

Getty Im­ages/iS­tock­photo

Bar­be­cue pulled pork sand­wiches are easy to make and good to bring to just about any gathering.

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