20 February 2021

Weekend Cooking: What's New in My Kitchen

Happy Saturday! Have you hit the famed (or should I say "infamous") COVID wall? I think I did last week, but I've climbed over it and have safely reached the other side. Ugh. I'm so ready for winter to be over and to be able to see my friends again. Enough whining because I know I don't have it anywhere near as bad as many people in Texas have it. My thoughts are with Texans; I hope they see the other side of this soon.

Let's take a look at what's new in my kitchen this month.

Thoughts on Crockpot slow cookerSlow Cooker: I don't use my slow cooker every week, but I use it often enough that I would hate to be without it. My old low-tech, ceramic crock model was at least 25 years old. The last two times we used it, tried-and-true recipes needed at least an extra hour to cook to our liking. Plus, a few months ago we noticed a crack in the outside bottom of the crock; it hasn't gone through to the inside yet, but it's clearly just a matter of time.

I did a bunch of research into the newer smart slow cookers, but in the long run, I just wanted a basic model that could also saute/brown. I ended up getting the same Crock Pot brand model that Jackie did because it has the features I wanted and not much more. Note that the New York Times recommends Hamilton Beach slow cookers, but I've not had good luck with that brand. YMMV.

Thoughts on Instant Pot Air Fryer LidAir Fryer (kind of): For a long while now, I've been curious about why there is so much love for air fryers. I haven't been very tempted because we don't actually eat much fried food at all. But after I reviewed that air fryer cookbook a while back and learned that the gadgets did much more than cook frozen fish sticks, I wanted to give one a try. I just didn't want to actually own another appliance or to spend the money.

However, when a neighbor said she had almost brand new Instant Pot air fryer lid that she was trying to sell for half price, I took the bait. She got rid of the lid because she just wasn't using it. I decided this was my chance to experiment.

Here's what we made and what we thought. We made sweet potato oven fries, roasted broccoli, and cooked unthawed frozen raw shrimp. All three dishes were cooked perfectly and in very little time. I'm not convinced, however, that the food was better in the air fryer than when made more conventionally. We did like the speed and the fact that the air fryer did not heat up the kitchen (we were thinking ahead to the summer and our lack of air-conditioning). Our final verdict is this. We'll keep the lid for about 6 months. If we don't really use it, we'll sell it for half of what we paid for it or just give it away.

Thoughts on Skinnytaste Meal PrepNewish Skinnytaste Cookbook: I finally made it to the top of the library hold list for Skinnytaste Meal Prep. While I'm not much of a meal prepper (despite being a meal planner), I love Skinnytaste and wanted to see Gina Homolka's new recipes. So far I've made two recipes from the "Hearty Salads" chapter, which we had for lunches. The Cold Soba Sesame Noodles were delicious and really quick to pull together. I made the recipe on a Sunday and we ate it for lunch the following two days. The salad held up and was really, really good.

The other salad I made was Cauliflower Tabbouleh Bowls (recipe below), which was also a hit. (I put the salad in a divided glass container just for the photo below.)

I have a ton of recipes marked to try (Broccoli Farro Bowls, Chicken Black Bean Burritos, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Lentil Soup with Bacon, and Puff Pastry Spinach Pie, for example). Skinnytaste Meal Prep has a lot of advice about cooking ahead and using your freezer, but you don't have to be interested in meal prep to use this cookbook. I like the book enough that I'll likely buy a copy when I have to return the one I have to the library. Note that each recipe is marked to let you know if it's quick, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, or freezer friendly and whether you can use your pressure cooker, air fryer, or slow cooker. Recommended!

Cauliflower Tabbouleh Bowls with Chickpeas and Hummus

Cauliflower Tabbouleh from SkinnytasteServes 4

  • 1 pound cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup store-bought hummus
Place half of the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it has the texture of rice. Don't over process or it will get mushy. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower. (Makes 4 cups.)

Place the riced cauliflower in a large bowl and add the cucumber, onion, parsley, mint, tomato, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt. Toss well and refrigerate until well chilled

Make the bowls: Divide the cauliflower tabbouleh, chickpeas, and hummus among 4 bowls or airtight containers. You can assemble them separately and combine on the fly or use meal prep containers with 3 compartments. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days

Skinny Scoop: for the best taste and quality, it's better to make the cauliflower rice from scratch rather than using packaged since you're eating this raw. Packaged cauliflower can sit for a while before being purchased and isn't as fresh and crisp.

BFR's Notes: I didn't peel or seed the Persian cucumber I used. I couldn't find fresh mint at the store last week, so left it out. I forgot to add the salt, but we didn't really miss it. Recipe shared in the context of review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


rhapsodyinbooks 2/20/21, 7:10 AM  

I really need a cookbook with "hearty salads" in it, because I'm so tired of the usual. I love farro but keep forgetting to use it, and acorn squash is another thing I should take advantage of. Sounds like I need the Skinnytaste cookbook!

Mae Travels 2/20/21, 7:22 AM  

We ate a version of middle-eastern salad last night with many of the same ingredients though our rice came from the canned stuffed grape leaves I had on hand. There are so many ways to interpret the flavor palette of the Eastern Mediterranean — like the one you showed. Next time: something with eggplant!

be safe... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 2/20/21, 8:56 AM  

The Instant Pot lid sounds intriguing! I bought the Cuisinart countertop, Air Fryer, last year at Costco with my rebate check, it is a disappointment, or I am simply unskilled at using it, probably a little of both! I love my slow-cooker, and will surely replace it should need be! Have a great weekend, and yes, I am ready for THIS to be over...

(Diane) bookchickdi 2/20/21, 9:01 AM  

We have an airfryer but don't use it much at all. I was thinking about replacing our toaster oven with onethat has an air fryer option, but haven't done that yet.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 2/20/21, 9:16 AM  

Like you I had been very curious about the air fryer for a long time. I finally broke down and bought one that also serves as a toaster oven, oven, and air fryer. Could I live without it , Yes.. but I do enjoy using it. I think I could accomplish the same in my oven for what I make. However, It doesn't heat up my house in the summer the way the oven would.I use it mostly for air frying potatoes and other veggies .

Jackie McGuinness 2/20/21, 9:36 AM  

I hope you enjoy the crockpot! I am enjoying mine. I have used the saute/brown function twice now and find it great!!
I did buy an air fryer/toaster oven. I love that it doesn't heat up the kitchen.
We love the air fryer broil function for our steaks, I have moved our grill to the pantry. We don't fry much, we had bought a deep fryer just for wings and fries but have yet to try them in the air fryer.
You had mentioned a few weeks ago about your toaster dying, we have not had any success with the toast function so my toaster Cusinart is still being used.
I don't meal prep but I do have a loose plan in my head for our weekly meals. Due to lockdown my freezers are well stocked so I try to think of new ways to use the stuff.
I bought a mint plant with the idea to use it more in cooking. It died in a week so there goes that idea. Mint hasn't been that available here either.

Vicki 2/20/21, 10:10 AM  

I love air fryers. I have an Instant Pot Air Fryer Oven, a Ninja basket air fryer, and my new Samsung stove has an air fryer option in the oven.

I love slow cookers. I have 3 single and 3 trio's.

Yes, I have a small kitchen appliance addiction.

I'll be looking for a copy of skinnytaste meal prep.

I hope you have a great week!

Melissa 2/20/21, 10:27 AM  

I'm very interested in getting an Instant Pot air fryer lid, but haven't seen any for an 8-quart, which I have. Maybe I just haven't looked recently and someone has come out with one -- or will soon. Here's hoping. I also love Skinnytaste and have had great results with Gina's recipes. And the COVID wall is real -- I've certainly slammed into it several times over the past year.

JoAnn 2/20/21, 10:37 AM  

I finally caved and bought an air fryer... it's being delivered today. Looking forward to a new "pandemic project" as I experiment. Love my crockpot and only recently learned that they now have a saute/brown option. Might need a replacement soon!

Audra 2/20/21, 12:54 PM  

While I'm not fond of the name, Skinnytaste has long been a go-to site for recipes -- Gina nails seasoning!

Enjoy the new kitchen gadgets -- we got a pressure cooker a few years ago and adore it -- we'd probably get an instant pot if we hadn't splurged on the pressure cooker. I'm so curoius abt the air fryer! I'm glad to hear it's not just for frying -- I didn't realize that -- so I might investigate it this year as a possible holiday prezzie for my wife.

Claudia 2/20/21, 1:50 PM  

I need to check out a copy of that book. Because I don't have enough cookbooks :)ha has. But will do it anyway.

Les in Oregon 2/20/21, 11:18 PM  

We recently got a sous vide, so I'm going to hold off on the air fryer until I've mastered my new kitchen appliance. My Instant Pot sits in the pantry gathering dust and I don't want the same to happen with the sous vide. I do have a fairly new crockpot and love it, but need to remember to add more of those recipes to my menu plans. Love Skinny Taste cookbooks and have found so many great recipes. Sigh. I'm in a rut with my cooking right now and need to get back to some of those newer recipes.

Laurie C 2/21/21, 1:33 PM  

I had to look up what the air fryer lid was, because I still don't have an InstaPot! I do a fair amount of breakfast and lunch meal prep, usually, for workdays, and then eat the same meals every day for 4-5 days, depending on my work schedule. I'll have to check out the new SkinnyTaste cookbook! It sounds good, especially as I'm back to trying to eat more healthfully again, after a long slump into bad habits after the holidays!

Tina 2/21/21, 3:10 PM  

We haven’t been tempted to get an air fryer yet in spite of the fact our son and a few friends have been raving about it. I have a limited space now on the counters.

Your info about slow cookers came at a good time. Mine now needs to be sprayed with Pam or everything sticks. And lately, for whatever reason, thanks of been coming out rather dry weird thing is I’m using the same sort of recipes and cooking time, so it doesn’t make sense it would be dry now.

Can’t wait to get the new skinny taste cookbook!

Jackie McGuinness 2/23/21, 11:54 AM  

Beth, just a comment on the slow cooker. The first time I did something low and slow we felt it wasn't quite as hot as we like. Now I turn it to bake for a few minutes and it is perfect. Also can use that time to thicken if necessary.

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