The unnamed pasta/turkey/veggie dish

I finally got around to trying something new in my Instant Pot. Actually, I made this once before, and it turned out so well that my husband said he could eat it every day. Now THAT is a worthy dish!

Click on the video below to watch.

Here is the list of ingredients:

2 cups of shell pasta (dry)

3 cups water plus some extra as needed

2 chopped carrots

As many frozen peas as you want to dump in

I used six ounces (approximately) of turkey thigh meat that I had previously slow-cooked and frozen into portions. I did not chop the turkey up, I just left it in large pieces. You can grind it up, or chop it up if you like.

Dehydrated garlic (a tablespoon or more)

Dried onions (a tablespoon or so), you can also use fresh onion to taste

Stir the pasta into the water in the Instant Pot. Add the carrots, peas, garlic, onion and turkey. Add more water as necessary. Keep in mind, the goal is to have enough liquid in there so that it will create steam and seal the Instant Pot, but not to have much extra water that you will have to drain.

Next time I make this I will pour in a box of chicken broth to replace much of the water. This will give it more taste.

I cook this on LOW for 15 minutes, do a short natural release (5-10 minutes) and then open the pot to see what comes out! This is the best part…drain the liquid, add butter to taste, and then lots of grated Parmesan cheese. My initial idea was to make a buttery garlic Parmesan sauce but that uses a LOT of butter, and I prefer not to have quite that much.

So use as much of “the good stuff” as you want to. Experiment! It is the best thing about the Instant Pot.

 

 

 

Still Instant “Potting” after 2.5 years.

Someone asked me recently if my Instant Pot blog was still active. I told him (or her) that yes, I am still here! I do tend to make the same things over and over and over…because we love them and they are easy and nutricious. So I generally don’t write about the same thing just to make another post.

But rest assured, anyone reading this who perhaps does not have an Instant Pot and think you would like one….you most likely would love it. I still do. The other day I used my Instant Pot twice. I made cheese raviolis for lunch, then decided to make soup that night, so I used it again. And today I hard-cooked 10 eggs. And yesterday I made the best chicken noodle soup ever.

So yes, after nearly 2.5 years give or take, I am still excited about my Instant Pot, and really glad I have it.

Important Hard-Boiled Egg Update!

It has been awhile since I began doing my eggs in the Instant Pot. After initial success, I began lowering the “warming” time (i.e. the natural release time). I was still plunking the eggs directly into cold water.

I found that time and again I would get “undone centers” in my eggs. As a person who, should I ever eat at a restaurant again (it has been 14 months since a meal out as of this date) and order eggs, I would order them “flat and hard.” So…I can not tolerate undone eggs. The good news is, my husband will eat anything! And he saw nothing wrong with those vivid, soft centers.

Today I changed my tactics just a bit. I still set them to steam for 6 minutes, but the moment they were done I set a timer for 5 minutes. At the end of five minutes, I took the eggs out, put them in my “egg bowl” and directly into the fridge, no water-dunking.

When I took two out to add to our salads a few hours later, the eggs were absolutely perfect. The peel practically came off by itself, the yolks were lovely, there was no discoloration….they were perfect.

So keep experimenting. Eventually you will get your Instant Pot eggs exactly how you like them!

Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

We eat a lot of hard boiled eggs. I have always loved eggs, and always eaten them, despite the years of “eat only egg whites,” and “egg yolks are bad for you,” and “eggs are just plain bad.” I have never eaten “substitute eggs,” and ALWAYS eaten the yolks. The yolk is the most nutritious part of the egg, and if you aren’t going to eat that, I say, “why bother?”

Anyway, of late there have been fresh studies touting the benefits of eggs, so I don’t plan to stop eating them. Eggs are supposed to be really good for the eyes. And my eyes are extremely healthy. So who knows…..

With that in mind, after my third or fourth $35 egg machine going on the fritz, I found some YouTube videos about cooking eggs in the Instant Pot. I decided to try it, and I’m glad I did.

But this is a cautionary tale. You will have to figure out what timing works best for you.

I used the “base” part of my steamer set because it is elevated out of the water. I used two cups of water, and just laid the eggs out on the steamer base. No egg happened to be touching another, but I don’t think that matters.

I steamed the eggs for 6 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 6 minutes before releasing the rest. Then I put the eggs in cold water and put them in the fridge.

Of that first batch, one egg was cracked and emitting egg white…and another was fairly imploded…leaving egg for me to clean up on the steamer rack where I put the eggs.

Still, the eggs were very easy to peel. But they were kind of dark around the yolk, I think that indicates over-cooking. They were delicious though.

The second time, I tried an experiment using the little egg pricker that comes with the egg cookers. I poked little holes in one end of half the eggs, just to see what would happen. I steamed for six minutes, then naturally released for TWO before finishing the release and putting the eggs into cold water.

Basically the same thing happened. One egg had much of its guts spilled out and cooked (that is not easy to clean off of the stainless steel), and one was cracked and just a bit messy. And of course, I couldn’t figure out which ones I had pricked.

But they seemed cooked just right, were easy to peel, etc.

This afternoon I pricked all of the eggs (I just do 8 at a time because in the little steamer rack they don’t touch). I steamed for six minutes, and then just quick-released the steam and put them into cold water. None were exploded, so THAT was an improvement.

I have just eated one and it was not quite as “done” in the middle of the yolk as I would have liked. It was a fairly large egg. Probably the slightly smaller ones in the batch are just fine. But in the future, for my own preference, I will risk a slight darkening of the yolk and do two minutes of natural release.

Eat eggs! They’re good for you! (But not if you have some medical issue where you can’t, of course.)

 

 

 

Purple Green Beans in the Instant Pot

I’m sure these beans have a name. I just call them purple beans. The plants are beautiful in the garden, and the beans are a vivid purple. When you cook them, they turn green, and just taste like really good green beans.

These are simple in the Instant Pot. I took off the ends, washed them, put them in the steamer, with about two cups of water in the pot, and then set the Instant Pot for two minutes on “Steam.”

When that was finished, we had had a household emergency, so I didn’t get to take the lid off until about 14 minutes after the two steaming minutes.

As always, with the Instant Pot, it didn’t much matter. The beans were just a bit soft, but very, very good to eat. I imagine if I had been able to get to them sooner, they would have been even better. I had planned to let them natural release for 10 minutes, just as an experiment. As it was, it naturally released for 14 minutes, then quick-released the rest.

So this was my first time doing green beans in the Instant Pot, and it was a success. As you can see in the video, if you watch it, I had only picked enough beans for us to have for lunch. The Instant Pot is big. You can really put a lot of beans in there if you need to.

 

Split Pea Soup

I may have written a post about split pea soup before, but I made it today and made a video.

 

The ingredients are listed at the end of the video, but here they are:

One 32 ox. box of vegetable broth, two cans of chicken broth. You can use beef broth, or any combination you like.

Two carrots, chopped (I use my Ninja Master Prep Pro for that)

Two cups of dried split peas (I used half green, half yellow)

Dried onions, dried celery, parsley, pepper….put whatever you want in there, including meat if you like.

Rinse the peas really well, check for debris, plunk them into the pot with everything else and stir it all together. Set the pot for “soup” and walk away.

With split pea soup, I use the 30-minute cook time, then let it naturally release for awhile (in this video it happened to be 11 minutes, but it can be longer), then I let the rest of the steam out, and we ate lunch.

The soup will be rather soupy in the above proportions, but it is really, really tasty. If you put the rest in the fridge, the next day it will be very firm, you can almost cut out wedges of it. Carefully reheat it in a pot, add a bit of liquid to prevent burning. As the soup warms up, it liquifies again.

 

 

Crackers! Make your own!

Crackers

Homemade crackers are SO good. We eat them all the time. They are great with soup, great with cheese, great with peanut butter. They are easy to make and you can put pretty much anything in them. These have no leavening in them (no yeast), so if you want to make your own unleavened bread, you can also use this recipe.

I took these out of the freezer to take a picture. I make this recipe every few weeks, we just love these crackers.

I don’t remember where I got my initial recipe, but I have changed it so much it would be unrecognizable now.

Here is what you do:

In one bowl, stir together the following:

1.5 cups of whole wheat flour (you can substitute white flour, but whole wheat gives you added fiber and nutrition)

1.5 cups of all purpose flour (I use unbleached flour). You can use ALL whole wheat if you like, but I do like the texture better if some white flour is included.

3 Tablespoons of ground flax seed (this is one of my additions, you don’t have to include it)

3 Tablespoons of psyllium fiber (I use whole psyllium husks by “NOW”). You don’t have to include this either. I put it in absolutely everything I bake. It makes things a bit “heavier,” but fiber is an important dietary requirement for most of us, so give it a try!

2 teaspoons of garlic salt (I use garlic salt in place of regular salt)

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of basil (I just buy herbs in little bottles)

1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (I often use a bit more than that)

In a large bowl

Stir 1 cup plus another 8th to quarter cup of water (it can be cold water) together with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. I use regular olive oil, not virgin.

Dump the dry ingredients into the olive oil water

Mix the dry into the water until it makes a nice rollable dough. It can be just a bit sticky. It rolls out best if it is not too dry. You can add a bit of flour or a bit of water as needed.

Roll out and bake

Preheat your oven to about 390 degrees.

Take a hunk of the dough and roll it out. You can make it as thick or thin as you want to. The thinner they are, the more “cracker-like” they will bake. Thicker ones stay more bread-like. Do some experimenting and you will figure out what you like the best. We like both!

I cut my dough out with a little juice glass. You can also just roll out a squarish piece of dough and cut it into rectangles, squares, whatever. The shape does not matter, the taste does!

I place each round on a large, insulated cookie sheet that I have spread a little flour over. I bake them about 12 minutes.

Again, you want them to be done, but if you want them softer, roll them thicker. If you want hard crackers, roll them thinner. Just watch them in the oven to make sure they don’t get overdone.

When they are ready to put in the oven, you can prick them with a fork if you want to (I don’t usually do that). You can also sprinkle things on top, like poppy seeds, sea salt, sesame seeds…I don’t do those things either.

When you are done, you will probably have 60-100 crackers. Here is what I do with them.

I put them into plastic bags, about 20 per bag, put those bags into a freezer bag, and put them in the freezer. Whenever we want to eat them, it is SO easy. Take out the amount of crackers you need and let them sit on a counter, covered.

Cracker storage

I heat mine with my Paninni maker, just for a couple of minutes, and they are fantastic.

Enjoy!

Instant Pot Chili with help from Ninja Master Prep Pro

Several months ago I acquired a Ninja Master Prep Pro, just because it looked like fun, and I had never made a smoothie before.

Not only have I now made dozens of smoothies and other wonderful things in my Ninja, I have been using it with my Instant Pot.

You can watch the video, and if you are so inclined, the actual list of ingredients is written out below.  https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=3lW0BJVKsiU

7.35 ounces of meatloaf, pulverized in the Ninja (I made the ground beef myself using a thick cut of not too expensive meat, grinding it in the Ninja). I used 7.35 ounces because that happens to be the size of the frozen hunk I took out of my freezer.

About 1.5 cups of tomato puree (I did that in the Ninja over the summer to make it easy to freeze, and thus not waste, my multitude of tomatoes).

2 thin carrots, pulverized in the Ninja

About 4 ounces of thawed zucchini chunks (from my summer garden) pulverized in the Ninja

About 1.5 cups of frozen corn

1 can of beef broth

1/2 box (roughly two cups) of boxed tomato sauce, and then a cup of water swished around the box to clean it out (I put the other half of the box of tomato sauce in a container in the freezer).

1 cup dried lentils, thoroughly rinsed and checked for debris (I didn’t find any debri)

2 cans of chili beans in medium sauce

1 can of kidney beans (I drained and rinsed those)

A variety of other things: some freeze-dried garlic (I called it dehydrated in the video, I am not sure if that is the same thing); dried onions, basil, oregano, a bit of sugar

I just stirred everything together into the Instant Pot, set it to 40 minutes (you can set it for less or more), let it naturally release (you can quick-release if you like) and came out with THE best chili ever.

Use it as your meal (you can add fun things on top like cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole), use it to make chili nachos (a favorite of ours). I set aside enough chili for tomorrow’s lunch and the next day’s chili nachos (it is only myself and my spouse in the house), and then I froze four containers for future chili nachos.

My rescued cat Heather made several appearances in this video, so I just left her in. Heather’s story of survival and how she chose us to be her family is now a book. It is called “The Chronicles of Heather” (The Stray who came to Stay.”)

The book is available in paperback and pdf eBook on my website. It is a Kindle book on Amazon, and available on a variety of websites for Nook and other eReaders.

I hope you enjoy the video and the chili!

 

 

Perfect Instant Pot Accessory

First, let me be clear. I am not a paid or official spokesman for Instant Pot or anything involved with them, including this wonderful, perfect trivet/steamer set.

I found the set on Amazon, paid for it like anyone else, and it is just wonderful. Here is a link to what I am spouting about:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007AMYB06?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00

It is called the Secura 6-quart electric pressure cooker steam rack basket set. And that is exactly what it is.

I have struggled with cooking things like thick yam slices or thick potato slices in the Instant Pot, because I was using my little collapsible steamer basket. What a mess. Every time I would try getting it out after cooking, it would dump to one side or the other, food going into the steaming water.

Well…this new gadget fixes THAT problem. Here is how the steamer basket looks fully loaded. And check out the nice, big handles:

raw

This is the trivet inside the Instant Pot. I added about an inch of water.

trivet

This is how the basket looks in the Instant Pot, sitting on top of the trivet.

In PotAnd here is the finished product, fresh out of the Instant Pot:

Done

So how do you cook perfect yams/sweet potatoes? I peel them, slice them into thick slices (probably about 3/4 inch thick), stack them neatly, be sure to put water in your Instant Pot to create the steam.

I press steam so once the pressure seals, the food steams for 10 minutes. You can make it steam for more or less, but I use 10 for these. When the 10 minutes were up, I let it release pressure naturally for 15 minutes, then released the rest of the pressure and opened up the Instant Pot.

I easily grabbed the handles and lifted the basket out of the Instant Pot. I now have perfect yams to be part of the menu for the next few days. Our dogs love them, and my caique Nacho loves them too. The cat doesn’t think much of them though…..

 

A Cautionary Tale

I have definitely learned to take my Instant Pot for granted. I have had it now for over a year and I still use it nearly every day for something.

The other day I was making pasta for lunch. So I ground up my meat loaf hunk (if you read my “meat loaf chili” post, or have seen some of my videos, you will know what I am talking about), ground up two carrots, ground up some frozen zucchini chunks, and threw it all in the pot with some herbs, a jar of Prego sauce, a cup or so of water to clean out the Prego jar, and two cups of penne pasta.

I stirred it all together, and even though I knew the zucchini would make a lot of moisture, I poured in more water and stirred it together again.

There still was not much “liquid” in there because I had a big pile of ground up “stuff” in there, but as I said, I take my Instant Pot for granted. I have failed it once or twice but it has never failed me.

I set it for 15 minutes on “soup,” which is how I always cook pasta.

I knew it would take a long time to heat up and get to pressure so I didn’t think much about it until a half hour later, when I began hearing the steam sound….and then fifteen  minutes after that when I realized I was STILL hearing the steam sound. Since it was clear the Instant Pot had never sealed up, I unplugged it and took the lid off.

Everything in there was bubbling (and some of it was burnt on the bottom), the pasta was nowhere near done.

I still didn’t realize the problem, but I added some additional water, sealed the lid again (for some reason that can be a real struggle when it is still hot) and turned it on for another 10 minutes of cooking time.

It still did not seal, but about 20 minutes later we had lunch, and it was good. The pasta was not well cooked the way I like it, but it was okay. I hadn’t lost much to the “burnt bottom.”

I was afraid something was wrong with the Instant Pot, so after lunch I googled around searching, and then I read my owner’s manual. Since I couldn’t find anything looking worn with the seals, I decided to do a water test, like you do when you first get the Instant Pot.

And it worked! It sealed up right on schedule. I believe my entire problem was that there was just not enough liquid in there initially to make enough steam to make enough pressure.

So whatever you experiment with in the Instant Pot, make sure that it is not too “dry” in there!