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Cooking With Asthma — what’s your best trick?

So we all have those days when we know we have to cook, but we feel as though someone yanked our lungs out and did a tap dance on them. What's your best trick for getting in and out of the kitchen with REAL nutritious food? 

My secret weapons have to be my crock pot and my pressure cooker. I was sharing on another thread about my pressure cooker lasagna, so I'll share the recipe here. It's literally 7 minutes to YUM — at least the cooking bit.

The basic recipe is your favorite lasagna recipe, down-sized. The trick is in the technique.

  • In an oven-proof pan or bowl that will fit in your pressure cooker without the sides touching, assemble your lasagna recipe with UNCOOKED noodles. It doesn't require special noodles — just your usual dried lasagna noodles.
  • Put an oven-safe trivet or three mason jar lid rings on the bottom of the pressure cooker. 
  • Take aluminum foil and fashion a sling to go under and around your lasagna pan. You'll need to seal it up so that the noodles will cook, and you also need a handle to get it out.
  • Carefully drop the wrapped pan onto your trivet. 
  • Add a cup of water to the bottom of the pressure cooker.
  • Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure, then turn the heat down to low and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pressure cooker to "naturally" release. 
  • Open the lid and with oven mitts carefully remove the lasagna by the aluminum foil handle. Unwrap the lasagna. You should have perfectly cooked lasagna that's ready to eat as is, or if you want the top browned, you can stick it under your broiler or in a hot oven. 

If you want the taste of lasagna without the fuss, you could do a penne pasta dish. 

  • Brown your sausage or ground meat in the bottom of your pressure cooker. 
  • Add a half pound of pasta to the pan and toss in the meat, scraping to loosen the bits of meat on the bottom.
  • Add 1 3/4 cup of water to the pan. 
  • Add a 28 ounce jar (or the equivalent in your favorite homemade sauce) to the pan atop the noodles — DO NOT STIR.
  • Rinse out the jar with a quarter cup of water.
  • Lock the pressure cooker, bring it up to pressure and then reduce the temp to simmer. Cook for five to eight minutes, depending on your pasta (if it says al dente in 10 minutes, cook 8. Al dente in 7, cook five). 
  • Remove from heat, and allow to come down from pressure naturally. 
  • Remove the lid and stir to combine, then add grated or shredded mozzarella cheese to make extra cheesy. 

Now what's your favorite secret weapon in the kitchen?

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Comments 46

  • Jen

    My slow cooker.  I use it for lots of meals  - soups, chili, crockpot lasagna, Santa Fe chicken, etc.  

    Looking forward to hearing what others make.   I tend to get stuck in dinner ruts and could use some inspiration.

  • K8sMom2002

    Jen, I've really enjoyed my new slow cooker that I got for Christmas. It's one of those casserole crocks. What I have found is that unlike other crockpots, if you put chicken or pork chops in there with no water, it will brown them on the top — they look golden brown and delicious, and they're still juicy and tender.

    My DD really likes pork chops cooked that way, a change for her because she usually hates grilled or broiled pork chops.

    I was actually SUPPOSED to put chicken leg quarters on for supper tonight but two things happened:

    • I forgot to lay them out last night.
    • We're supposed to have some wham-doozlers of storms around late morning and lunch time, so I was a bit afraid we would lose power. 

    If the weather is good when I have my lunch, I'll give my frozen chunks of poultry a head start in the pressure cooker and let the crock pot finish them off. My DH doesn't like "wet" chicken — which translates into anything more moist than dried shoe leather — but he likes the compromise of the crock pot chicken. 

    What's your Santa Fe chicken recipe?

  • Jen

     - You could just leave out the corn or sub in another veggie.  We use this for tacos, rice bowls, nachos, etc.

  • Pljohns

    I had dinner on the table 30 min after I drove into the driveway tonight-

    You will need a heat proof bowl that will fit inside your pressure cooker and a wire rack like a steamer would sit on for the inside of the pressure cooker.

    Pressure Cooker Chicken Teriyaki and Rice

    • 1/4C low sodium soy sauce (we use low sodium but reg. Is fine)
    • 8 bone in chicken thighs with skin (I use a whole bag of Tyson chicken tenders-boneless, skinless about 3 lbs)
    • 1/4 mirin
    • 2 tablespoons white suger
    • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 3 cloves minced garlic (I never have any so I just sprinkle some garlic in)
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger(never have it either so I just sprinkle some bottled ginger)
    • 1 cup raw white rice (not instant-I use Uncle Bens converted rice)
    • 1 cup water
    • Optional: For glaze: 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water

     

    Whisk together soy sauce, Marin, sugar and sesame oil in a bowl (I just dump it all in the pot for the pressure cooker and mix it up good),  dump the chicken in and mix it over good for the chicken to be coated.  Place the wire rack on top of the chicken and put the rice in a heat proof bowl  on top of a wire rack. Add 1 c water and 1 C rice to the bowl and allow the rice to soak up the rice (if I'm lucky, it sits for 2 min before I just put the lid on and turn it on).  Close the lid and bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure and cook for 6 minutes.  Allow it to depressurize when done (takes about 10 min) then open the lid. Remove the bowl of rice and fluff.  If you like a "glaze" on the chicken, reove chicken and mix 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water and add to the pot stirring until thickened.  Add the chicken and stir to coat. You can serve the chicken over the rice or on the side.

    I've never bothered to thicken up the sauce-the teriyaki flavor goes through the chicken and you can cut it with a fork.

    From start to finish-about 20 minutes.  I have an electric pressure cooker so I don't know how this would be in a stove top one but it should be the about the same.

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, thank you, PLJohns and Jen! These sound tasty, and I can definitely tweak them to be corn free. 

    Your teriyaki chicken reminds me of a totally different flavor profile that I make with rice — yellow rice casserole. This is a recipe I came up with on my own for my family of three, but you can scale it up for more.

    1 tbs salted butter

    3/4 cup long grain rice (I use regular white rice)

    1 tablespoon diced onions

    1 garlic clove, minced.

    1/2 teaspoon turmeric

    1/2 teaspoon salt (you can reduce this if you need to)

    1 1/2 cups chicken broth (homemade or low sodium or regular "fully leaded" chicken broth)

    1-2 tablespoons olive oil

    Boneless chicken breast in bite sized chunks, salted and peppered to taste, if desired to make main dish entree.

    1/2 to a head of broccoli, cut so that you have just the flowerettes in bite sized pieces

    2-3 mushrooms, sliced

    1 medium tomato, diced

    In pressure cooker, melt butter and toast rice grains, stirring to coat the rice grains in butter. Add the salt, half the garlic and onions, and the turmeric, stirring until the rice is a bright yellow. Add the chicken broth and lock the lid. Bring to high pressure and cook for five minutes, then remove from heat and allow to naturally depressurize. 

    Meanwhile in a saute pan, in the olive oil, brown the chicken and cook until at least half to three-quarter done. Add in the remaining onions and garlic and the mushrooms and cook until chicken is done and onions are transparent, stirring often. Add broccoli and cook until desired tenderness, then add diced tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are heated through.

    Once pressure cooker has come down from pressure, remove lid and stir in veggies and chicken. 

    Yum! I have cooked the chicken in with the rice, but I like cooking the veggies separate because the broccoli in particular would get over done in the time it takes for the rice to cook. Even with this part, it's a super quick, super delish meal to cook on days when I feel. so. very. bad. And the dishes aren't bad at all to wash — the rice doesn't stick to the pressure cooker, and the saute pan goes straight in the dishwasher.

    Plus I always feel better about serving lots of bright and colorful veggies, and turmeric is supposed to be good for us, too, right? 

  • Jen

    What other quick and easy meals have people been making?

    If you are the type to do some meal prep ahead of time, what sorts of meals do you make and what type of prep do you do in advance?

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, this recipe I've got to have! I've tried converting my existing stroganoff recipe to my PC, and it doesn't work … and my peeps love, love stroganoff. 

    Care to share?

  • K8sMom2002

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was actually supposed to have stroganoff this week, however …

    My DD had bagged a deer early in the hunting season, but my DH swears venison tastes funny. So I've been having to sneak the venison into my dishes. He has no idea! Unfortunately last night I realized that I'd forgotten to lay out the meat and switch out packaging so he won't know (the processor wraps it in camo plastic bags.) 

    I couldn't thaw the meat without him catching on … so we wound up having pancakes for supper. That was SO not a nutritious meal because we had nary a veggie in sight!

  • Pljohns

    Here's the beef stroganoff.  You have to hit the  button to continue reading for the recipe to come up but it is well worth it.

     

  • K8sMom2002

    Oooh, this looks so tasty, and it uses "real" beef, not ground beef! Yummy! I'm definitely going to try this because it's perfectly safe for DD (no cornstarch anywhere) AND it fixes the problem of milk curdling in the PC. I'd never thought about adding the sour cream AFTER I get things cooked! Genius!

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, PLJohns, I thought about you tonight as I had a quick supper of mac n cheese in my PC. Don't know about you, but I don't use the boxed stuff — way too salty and too many ingredients I can't pronounce.

    You cook the noodles in your PC, and then you add heaps of grated cheese to the warm cooked noodles, and at the very last adding just enough evaporated milk to "thin" the cheese and make a sauce.

    I usually do a meatless supper when I do mac n cheese, so I put frozen turnip greens in the pressure cooker proper, in the bottom, along with bacon (I'm guessing that would be a no-no for you because of sodium) for seasoning and about a cup of water. I set a trivet (the one that came with my PC — but you could use Mason jar rings or any oven-safe, food safe trivet) down in the middle of the frozen turnip greens.

    Atop the trivet, I set a small stainless insert (the double-boiler insert I got with my el cheapo Paul Revere set when I got married a hundred years ago). In this bowl goes a cup or so of my pasta (whatever short pasta I have handy), enough water to just about cover it (usually two-to-one), salt to taste. 

    I lock the lid, bring it up to pressure, cook for five – seven minutes (depending on the pasta), then let it come down naturally. 

    I use a set of tongs to get the insert out, then stir in grated cheese, then the milk (just enough to get the thickness you desire) and finish it off with freshly grated pepper. 

  • Pljohns

    Oohhhh that sounds so good!  I have been keeping up with everyone but can't post because I don't have internet service yet at my new office.  I read the posts from e-mail and then try to catch up at night.  I will absolutely try this one and yes, we can do bacon-a couple of brands come in low enough sodium DH can have some of it.

  • Shea

    I made a yummy dinner tonight. It all started from watching this indian lady do a cooking show, she was making some curry chicken thighs, asparagus, and rice…my mouth was watering! (I dated a guy whose parents were from India and, oh my gosh, good food!) The right way to cook this dish involved a lot of fresh herbs and spices from the India food store, but I am me, so I picked up Thai Red Curry Paste from my regular grocery's ethnic food aisle, and rubbed chicken thighs with avacado oil, the curry paste, and salt and pepper and baked it in the over for 35 minutes, broiling it the last ten minutes. I also cooked asparagus in the oven rubbed with avacado oil and a curry mix seasoning that had tumeric and ginger and cumin in it, add salt and pepper, and then made mac n cheese instead of rice, (I do get the box kind but only the Back to Nature organic brand which Tommy likes– so it was my safe food for him), but he actually liked the spice of the indian chicken, AND he liked the asparagus! Great SUCCESS!!�� 

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, wow, Shea! That's terrific! I've never tried Indian food — more into Chinese, Italian and Tex-Mex that's corn-free. But this sounds delish … and I love asparagus.

    Tonight DD is cooking supper — a quick fix of sausage, rice and tomatoes, with bell peppers. There was a great sale on the "stoplight" peppers, so I have some red, yellow and orange peppers, too. Yum!

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, PLJohns and @GigiGibson, what's on the menu for supper tonight? I'm thinking fish for us … but my DH will want it fried and have French fries to go with it. He doesn't like baked or grilled fish. 

    Not sure what I'll make to go with it — usually I do a pasta salad, but I have some cabbage that needs cooking. I may do it the easy-peasy way — chop it into wedges, drizzle a pan with bacon drippings (you could use olive oil, too), toss in the cabbage and drizzle some more oil over it, adding salt and pepper. Cover it with a lid and cook it on low — it sort of fries, sort of steams, and it's pretty much done in 10-15 minutes. DD likes that better than cole slaw, and it's a LOT easier.

  • Shea

    That sounds good, although I havent had fish in a while because sometumes seafood bothers me, so I have been avoiding it for now. I had leftover chicken curry from the other night, so I sauteed some red onions, quartered potatoes, red curry paste, a little chili pepper, then added coconut milk and the leftover chicken, heated through, and had it on top of jasmine rice. I made Tommy some sunbutter and honey toast, cucumber slices, and his chicken (Natures Made gluten free frozen chicken). So nothing too extravagent tonight. Although tomorrow night I am going to make a vegetarian meal involving squash, zuchini, red onions, and asparagus… not sure what it will be yet, but those are the ingredients I need to use. Maybe veggie pitas?

  • GigiGibson

    I don't know what I'm going to eat, lol. Right now it's pino grigio. I went to cvs and got my meds, flashed my app, signed on my phone then pulled around and parked to pick up my curbside order with $10 off. 🙂 guess what? I sent that to the cvs across town, lmao. Called and said see ya tomorrow! 

    Came home and finished the dining room closet purge. Sent two bags home with the daughter, her gf is a foodie chef so she will be making homemade pasta soon enough. 

    Da boy is baking leftover spaghetti for the little one and hubbyy has been napping since I walked in, he got to hot today he said. Poor baby. 

    I would go with slaw or do the cabbage steaks roasted with a little red pepper sprinkle.  I think I'll go muster up something now that I have rested up. Let us know how dinner turned out

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, veggie pitas sound yummy! 

    Gigi, that pantry looks neat as a pin! (Or is it pen?? I can never remember)

    My sister helped us with something that I think is going to be an unhealthy but super good occasional treat. She makes these fabulous onion rings with panko crumbs and a flour and milk batter, which is great because I can't find a frozen onion ring that is safe for DD's corn allergy. So last Sunday we made fried onion rings and we had too many. I suggested that we lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap and flash freeze them. 

    Sunday, we pulled out a few and fried them — they were perfect! So now she says that we can all get together, cry over a few sliced onions and make up a huge batch ahead. Yummy, but not healthy!

  • GigiGibson

    Yummmm onion rings . How about three year old grandlady loves, I mean loves some onions! Lol. I cook sirloin with broccoli and onions and she picks out the onions to eat first. Only thing she loves more is chicken legs. 

    Yes, this was my second declutter area- dining no room storage closet. All that stuff in the floor went to the PTA thrift store. Next is my dresser and closet. I actually want a smaller dresser and get rid of this huge mirror/dresser thing that just holds tshirts and work out clothes (however dormant they may be). 

    I've  been making batches of gluten free blueberry pancakes once a week and taking to work each morning. I keep my maple syrup here. Nice little bf I must say. They don't give me heartburn like carrots at 8am. 

    Cherries are back at least at Walmart and pretty good! 

  • Shea

    Today was rainy all day. So, Tommy and I got creative. We made cake pops (and cupcakes). It was difficult and messy. Some parts were fun, but some parts were frustrating (as one would imagine cooking with a five year old might be). There were sprinkle-lid-cover incidents, purposeful-chair-squeaking as I had to ooops carefully take the pops out of the cake pop bins… and licking… well, I will just say we cannot share these with members outside the family. Not perfect, But, i am proud. The chocolate has to harden… so we are waiting to taste the finished products.

  • K8sMom2002

    Gigi, I hear ya! I have a bureau chest of drawers (you can tell I'm from the south, right??), and two drawers of them are filled with old tee shirts! I need to go through and clean out all but, say, 7 tee shirts. I mean, really, how many old, ratty tee shirts does a girl need?

    Shea, those cake pops look delish! And too funny on them not suitable for sharing due to the licking!  

    I remember the day that DD and I decided we were going to make butter mints — yikes! We had mints all over the place! And then there was the crazier attempt — to make corn-free sprinkles … that was something!

    But I hear you on being proud of your accomplishment!  Ya did good!

  • Jen

    Gigi – My ds loves onions!  He will grab a raw onion and start eating it like an apple.  Boy does he get some breath. lol

    Shea – sounds like a fun time with Tommy.

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, I was tired last night — came home after dropping the DD off at camp (it's about three hours away). But my sis and I had detoured at the big farmer's market near there and I picked up fresh cilantro and tomatillos.

    So when I came home, I made a stir fry mix of chicken, cilantro, tomatillos, tomatoes, red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, with some rice that I cooked in my pressure cooker. The chicken was frozen solid, but I stuck it in the PC and cooked it for a bit, then relocated it to my frying pan (quicker than defrosting in my poky-slow microwave). Then I used the PC for my rice. By the time my veggies and chicken were done, so was my rice. It was yummy!

    What has everyone else been doing for a quick supper when you're super tired out?

  • Pljohns

    Thankfully I've taught both of my boys to cook so tonight all I had to do was call them at 2 and have one of them start a roast-that's all I have to tell them now is just someone start the roast.  They know how to season it and get it going.  HUGE HELP-when they are't available to do that or I forget and don't have one, my fast, go to is teriyaki chicken and rick in the pressure cooker.  From frozen to done in 15 min. And one pot to clean up

  • Jen

    We've been doing far too much carryout/eating out the last week or so.  It is so hot here, we don't have much time between errands/leaving for lacrosse practice, and, as mentioned, I'm just tired, so I decided tonight would be sandwiches and salads.  We have a bunch of lunchmeat and lettuce, so I really just need to grab bread and cheese when I go grocery shopping.  I was going to make burritos for taco Tuesday, but the thought of turning on the oven in this weather just wasn't appealing.

  • Jen

    Lynn – What are you making in the pressure cooker?  I had zero desire to deal with an oven or stove last night (too hot), so we had sandwiches and salads.

  • Pljohns

    I made teriyaki chicken and rice last night-15 min. from start to finish, and tonight is beef stroganoff.

  • K8sMom2002

    Ooh, yum, Lynn! I'd forgotten about your pressure cooker recipe for beef stroganoff, but I'm definitely up for trying it.

    DD is away at camp, and I accidentally managed to send some of the ingredients we needed with her … So at least one night this week we've resorted to pancakes. 

    Last night I used my PC to make short work out of pork chops, and atop the chops, I put a steel insert bowl of frozen butter beans. I think maybe I should have cooked the beans a trifle longer. Usually I put the beans in the bottom and rice on top, and I cook my chops in the slow cooker. But I only had two chops and I wasn't sure how they'd do all by their lonesome in the slow cooker.

    Tonight DD says we're having hamburgers, and he's cooking. Now that's a great trick!

  • Pljohns

    Looking at tomorrow's schedule, I'll be late again, so tonight I plan to make lasagna for tomorrow night.  It's a new recipe that is make ahead lasagna with the no cook noodles and the kids can throw it in the oven if I am late and if I'm not, dinner will be easy.

  • K8sMom2002

    Lynn, how did your lasagna turn out? I make no-boil lasagna  the regular noodles all the time. I also have frozen lasagnas ahead as well — basically you assemble them ahead of time like you normally would in an oven-proof pan. You take the frozen lasagna out and stick it in a COLD oven and then it will preheat gradually along with the lasagna. Or you can lay the lasagna out in the fridge that morning or the night before. 

  • Jen

    We got an Instant Pot on Prime Day.  I've used it several times.  It has been really nice to use on those days I don't want to turn on the oven.

  • Pljohns

    Still haven't managed to make it in the pressure cooker-I never remember it until I already have something going-but I have a new recipe for make ahead lasagna that you make the night before and let it sit in the refrig until the next night.  I've made it several times and everyone loves it.

  • K8sMom2002

    Yay! I love shortcuts! 

    Jen, glad your Insta-Pot has been a boon for you. 

    Lynn, do you have a link to that recipe?

  • K8sMom2002

    So it's summer time, and it's hot, and grilling is not such a great idea for some folks with asthma or allergies … what's everyone cooking? 

  • K8sMom2002

    Decided to try something new/different for us. I wanted hamburger steak for supper, but DD has cheer practice until 6 and comes home starving. 

    So this AM I decided that I was going to make hamburger patties and put them in my casserole-style Crock pot. I made them from my usual recipe and just plopped them in the bottom of the slow cooker without any water.

    I checked them at lunch — they were looking good! I'll drain any grease, add beef broth and make a gravy when I get off work. Mashed potatoes, green beans and a bagged salad will round things out. It's a super easy way, I think, to make hamburger steak. 

    I'm thinking I could tweak the recipe to make meatballs in bulk without heating up the kitchen. 

    What's for supper at your house tonight?

  • Megan Roberts

    What a great idea @K8sMom2002!  Usually I file my slow cooker away during the warmer months but it sure is a time saver, and does keep the house cooler than stove top or oven.  They probably stay nice and juicy in the crockpot too.  

  • Pljohns

    I LOVE the crock pot and the pressure cooker-BBQ chicken last night in the pressure cooker-from start to finish 30 min. and it was really good and moist.

  • K8sMom2002

    Megan, my burgers smelled so good all day long yesterday … BUT my casserole Crock Pot cooks things quicker than my old slow cooker. If DH hadn't rescued my burgers at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday, they would have been charcoal! 

    Still, I could put them on at lunch, and I think they would be done. And it's a great way to do a lot in a hurry without heating up the house. 

    Lynn, I thought about you, as I'm going to be trying an Asian inspired chicken dinner tonight … I've been meaning to look up your teriyaki chicken recipe that you've shared. My chicken thighs are frozen … I'll need to cook them longer in order to thaw them out, but even frozen in the pressure cooker, they should be done in a half hour or so. The tricky thing will be cooking the rice. If they were thawed out, I could cook them all together. 

    Hmm … maybe I could con my DH into putting the chicken on early …