My Toolbox for Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals

Let’s face it, we’re all busy! It is a rarity anymore to meet someone who doesn’t have a to-do list as long as my last CVS receipt. And as the to-do list builds, it seems the time we set aside to prepare a healthy weeknight dinner is the first to get cut short. That’s why I invested in a few cooking appliances to save me time without skimping on the nutrition. Here are my current favorites:

  1. Without question, the ride-or-die kitchen appliance that has saved me time and time again is my Crock-Pot. This slow cooking machine has turned as little as three basic ingredients into a masterpiece. Plus, it makes the house smell amazing and who doesn’t love the aroma of good food wafting through the air? Whether you’re cooking for two or a party of 10, a slow cooker is there to do the daytime work while you get through your to-do list! 
  • My most recent obsession – if you haven’t already learned from our recent National Nutrition Month blog* – is the Instant Pot. While I was weary of cooking under pressure at fist, after experimenting with a few recipes from the included cookbook, all fear has subsided and I’m now off and running…or shall I say pressurizing! If you have less then an hour to get something together from start to finish, the pressure cooker is the answer. Rice in 8 minutes? Sure! Hard-boiled eggs in 5? Great! Dried beans in less than 30 minutes not hours? Sold! Plus most pressure cookers have options for other cooking methods like sautéing and steaming, and even making foods like yogurt and dessert. If you take advantage of all its versatility, I think you’ll find it can change your weeknight cooking life just as it has for me!

If you’re looking for new IP meal ideas, check out the two great recipes below from Doris Piccinin, one of our Unite for HER women and fellow dietitian!

  • Lastly, it wasn’t until I made my first pureed soup with an immersion blender that was gifted to me years before that I started to question why I waited so long? This tool has allowed me to blend, pulse and emulsify my way through the kitchen.  If I’m making a small batch of salad dressing, pesto or even salsa, I no longer have to bring out my big mixer. An immersion blender does the job and the cleanup is a breeze. Plus you can’t beat the price when comparing to most other mixers and it takes up so much less kitchen space…that’s definitely a win in my book!

So if you’re like me and are always looking for ways to make weeknight cooking a little easier without sacrificing your health, try out one of my favorite tools. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Instagram to show us how you like to use them in your kitchen. Happy cooking!

Erin Pellegrin RD, LDN

Instant Pot Curried Root Vegetable Curry

*Using pot on pot method for rice

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2-4 chicken breasts (bone in)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Thai Kitchen red curry paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/3-cup chicken broth
  • 1 sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 turnips (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 fennel (cubed)
  • 1-14oz cans coconut milk
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1-cup water

Directions

  1. Turn on sauté mode on instant pot. When hot, add oil. Sautee onion till browned 3-4 minutes. Then sauté the chicken followed by the garlic.
  2. Deglaze with the chicken broth making sure to remove anything attached to bottom of pan.
  3. Add curry powder, curry paste, and pepper.
  4. Add on top of chicken, sweet potato, turnips, fennel, then add can of coconut milk
  5. Place trivet, handle side up into pot, over top other ingredients.
  6. In an oven safe dish (corning ware works well), add 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of water.
  7. Cancel sauté and turn on pressure cook mode for 10 minutes, natural release 10 minutes.
  8. Serve stew over top of rice

Source: Food Network

Instant Pot Sous Vide Egg Bites

*You will need to purchase a special item such as a baby food freezer storage tray to hold the eggs bites.

*The Recipe calls for 4 oz. mason jars, I used a silicone muffin tray.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup egg whites
  • ½ cup reduced fat cottage cheese (I used fat free sour cream instead)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream (I used non-fat milk)
  • 4 mushrooms chopped
  • ½ green pepper (green portion only)
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2-3 strips pre-cooked bacon, shredded

Directions

  1. Spray cooking spray to interior of silicone muffin tray to prevent sticking
  2. Add to blender, eggs, egg whites, cottage cheese/sour cream, milk, salt and pepper. Blend for 30-45 seconds.
  3. Add cup of water to instant pot.
  4. Add trivet, handles sides facing upward.
  5. Add silicone muffin tray
  6. Carefully divide egg mixture evenly to individual muffin tins.
  7. Sprinkle with green onion, mushrooms, red onion and bacon (if using).
  8. Seal with tin foil.
  9. Close lid of instant pot and set to steam mode for 12 minutes, allowing 10 minutes for natural release.
  10. Carefully remove muffin tin from instant pot.
  11. To remove bites, push on bottom of silicone cup.

Adapted from Food and Wine

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Unite for HER and author are not responsible for any specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision and are not liable for any damages or negative consequences from any treatment, action, application or preparation, to any person reading or following the information in this article. References are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any websites or other sources. Readers should be aware that the products listed in this article may change.