Adventures with the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

THE INSTANT POT!



OK, let’s just get this out of the way. I am NOT a food blogger and I was not paid to write this. 

And no, Instant Pot didn’t send me this (my mom did!) This is just regular ‘ol me, a mom with a lot of mouths to feed, writing about how she is loving having a pressure cooker. 

First, some cooking history. Basically, I figured out pretty early on that with all boys, I was going to have to learn how to kinda be a badass cook. Almost 18 years in, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got this cooking thing down pat. I also have a mad collection of cookbooks, and enough kitchen gadgets and appliances to get me through seven dinners a week, pretty much year 'round.  We rarely eat out. With four kids (two teenagers!) who no longer eat off the kid’s menu, a dinner out costs well over $50. Heck, even ordering pizza at this point is insane. We usually order four large. (But I also make a lot of homemade pizza. See **easiest pizza dough recipe ever at end of this post. It's foolproof. Promise.) 

Anyway,  my usual go to cookware and appliance are  a large Le Creuset Dutch oven, a cast iron skillet, a few sauce pans, a crock pot, and a rice/risotto maker. I splurged on the rice maker about two years ago, as we eat rice about 3-4 times a week, and with this thing it always comes out perfect without being watched on the stovetop. 

My crock pot recipes were getting old, too many things were just coming out bland and dry, and it seemed my crock pot temperatures are way off. Low was really high, stuff in there was practically boiling, and I was having to monitor it, etc. Monitoring a crock pot? No. That’s not the point of them in the first place!

So after a little research, and me glued to the TV at one point watching some crazy lady  pressure cook on the home shopping network, I decided I wanted to try pressure cooking. 

So I did. And I am changed cook.

 THIS IS THE ONE I GOT!




Here’s what I know….I know I have no freakin’ clue how this thing works, and have no understanding of the concept of cooking under pressure. What exactly is going on in there? Who knows. Who cares. My husband remembers his mom cooking with their pressure cooker all the time. My own mother recalls her mother cooking with their pressure cooker all the time. So why this seems like something new I have no idea, other than the fact pressure cooker technology? maybe has come a long way. This one is electric, whereas the older genereation used stove top pressure cookers. All I know is....

WHY DID I WAIT THIS LONG to get one of these suckers!?!?

Before my first dinner experiment, I went on Pinterest and a bunch of other places and read pressure cooker recipes. This helped me get a basic idea of what types of stuff was eventually going in there, and what I would need to add to it. I also bought the book Great Food Fast




Just reading the recipes in there has given me my own ideas, and after only a few weeks I'm pretty much on my own now, tossing in this and that and everything is STILL coming out tasting good. I'm also learning of some *prep cooking shortcuts I can do, but we will get to that later. 

After I unpacked this thing, I read the manual. I know, who does that? Well, I do. I am an admitted manual reader, and especially with this beast, because I really didn't want my first dinner exploding and shooting out chuck roast all over my kitchen cabinets. 


My first meal was a basic beef stew. The deal with cooking beef in here, and from what I have read and can now attest to,  is that cheaper cuts of meat DO NOT taste like cheap cuts of meat if you know what I mean.  I threw a reasonably priced chuck roast in there, hit the beef button, then ran the hell out of the way just in case it did explode. I told the kids not to go into the kitchen until it beeped “done,” so we all sat in the other room and waited. And waited. It started to hiss, and a little steam came out of the top. Good I thought. It's letting out steam instead of blowing up. (The manual also said this would happen as the pressure rises.)

And then, about 35 minutes later, I opened that sucker and viola! BEEF STEW! REALLY, really delicious beef stew, with carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery, and potatoes.  The meat tasted like it simmered all day. Actually, the flavors of everything in that pot tasted like they simmered all day. 

I practically wept. 

So it’s been a few weeks now. I’ve done pork roast that shredded with such ease I think I may open up a BBQ joint in the near future. I’ve done chicken thighs in there, with salsa and taco seasoning and beans and it was mucho bueno.  (AND THEY WERE FROZEN! Did I mention you can put frozen meat in here!?!?) And the holy grail of *prep cooking?  I dumped a five pound package of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts in the pot. I added some broth and seasoning, hit the poultry button and BAM! Perfectly poached and NOT dry chicken that I then shredded in seconds in the stand mixer. Or, could have cubed it just as easily. And we all know if you've got cooked cubed chicken on your hands, you’ve got options baby. Lots and lots of options. 

I’m still experimenting, and have many recipes (and even a Pinterst board called “pressure cooker”)  of things to try. Thankfully,  I'm no longer scared of this thing, but excited for all the stuff I can make and the potential this has to really change up my cooking routine, mostly because it cooks everything so darn fast I don’t have to stress out and give myself a two hour head start on dinner. Screw that! Yipppeee!!

This is the model I bought.  I think the only difference is the 7 in 1 does yogurt. I'm good buying my own yogurt thank you very much, so I went with the 6 in 1.  

Here is the Pinterest Board I started- Pinterest Pressure Cooker

And here is that foolproof PIZZA DOUGH recipe I mentioned earlier. 

Happy pressure cooking everyone! Hope you enjoy as much as I am! 




5 Valentine's Day Cards My Husband Should Have Really Given Me




My husband is not a flower sender, or a jewelry giver, or chocolate pusher. And that’s all fine by me, because in my world, putting the laundry away and emptying the dishwasher will get you way more action than a bag of Dove Bars. And he knows this (wink wink.) He does, however, give me the loveliest greeting cards. And I mean cards that say the exact right thing at the exact right time.  The super sappy, three folded, rose and glitter covered Lifetime movie meets Cinderella kind of greeting cards. I have saved every single one of them. With phrases like “I’ve discovered how much it means to be able to share hopes and dreams, good times and bad times…I’ve found the love of my lifetime….with each passing year I love you even more…..” they are the quintessential expression of his love. They remind me that man and wife actually do come way before mom and dad. He was my family before OUR own family came. But after 19 Valentine’s Days and four kids, I have a whole new idea of what kind of cards he could really have been giving me all these years. 







1. Valentine, Have I Told You Lately You Don’t Need a Shower?

My sweet wife, you are more beautiful (and dirtier) than the day we met, and that’s ok. If you only knew how much not shaving your legs for 10 days straight turns me on. And the ponytails in scrunchies?  Hold. Me. Back. All I know of love, and personal hygiene, begins and ends with you. Now put down that lavender shower gel you sexy beast, because nothing says romance more than smelling like Tilex Mildew Remover. Pretty please can we play “Knock knock, housekeeping” again?  
Happy Valentine’s Day My Love.


2. Valentine,  Sorry I Knocked You Up Again

I really should have believed the “I have a headache” line. Sorry about that. But have I told you lately how attractive you are pregnant? I mean, remember that time we were in the meat department and you threw up in your purse? I have never wanted you more. Or the time you puked in the car on my lap, the couch, the bed, the backyard, the front yard, the bathtub. So may wonderful places and touching memories.  Being with child does wonders for your body. I mean, it’s like puberty all over again if you know what I mean. New bras and all.  You and our love child are the greatest refreshment in my life. And I will stand in that damn refreshment aisle for as long as it takes for you to decide which flavor of Gatorade you can stomach today, because love is lemon lime, grape, or fruit punch. Whatev. I won’t let you down. Thanks for having my baby babies. 
Happy Valentine’s Day My Love.





3. Valentine, Thanks For Not Running Away

My love, mother of our precious children, thank you for always coming back. I know when things get rough you slam doors, yell like a bat out of hell, and peel out of the driveway because you just need to go drink hot coffee alone and buy cookbooks. No matter what,  I always know you will be back, because you left meat out on the counter to defrost.  I know you will come back to me and our kids, because we’ve watched Dateline together for so many years, and you know if you really run away and never come back they always blame the husband. So thank you sweetheart, for keeping me off death row. You can run away for a few hours, a whole day, or a weekend, whenever you need to. I will always be here for you, waiting for my great love to return to me. (But can you please hurry, because the kids are starving and starting to revolt and keep asking when mom is coming back.)  Happy Valentine’s Day My Love

4. My Love, Stop Cleaning. And Cooking. I've Got This.

You are the sun in my day, the wind in my sky, and the person who makes sure we have clean sheets, and for that, I am eternally grateful. For without you, my life was not be worth living, and I would weigh 100 pounds. For man cannot live on Ramen alone, and for as long as we both shall live I will make sure you always have the best cookware and vacuum cleaners. I thank God for sending you to me, because....uh...your lasagna. But I know what real love is. It is me making dinner once a month for you and the kids (ordering pizza) while you take a long, hot bath. I vow to nurture and take care of you and our home (help kids shove all their crap under the bed before our date night) so you can be the woman you really want to be. I’ve got this house cleaning thing under control. Until I leave for work tomorrow. 
Happy Valentine’s Day My Love






5. Don’t Tell My Wife, But You’re Still My Valentine

I discovered true happiness, and house payments,  the day you walked into my life. You, and the woman and mother you have become since having all my sons, amazes me.  Don’t tell that woman, but when I see you, I still see the college girl I fell in love with. Not a weary, yoga pant wearing, grocery hauling,  carpooling, overwhelmed 40-something mom. Nope. I see a 22 year old co-ed. Our  love affair can stand the test of time, bills, teenage angst, little boy disasters, and all around constant family calamity. Thank you for still being my mistress, girlfriend, lover, and a ‘wife’ when you kinda have to be. Like in front of the neighbors. And at PTA meetings. And in church. (It’s even ok if you sweat in the pews a little) Stay sexy momma, and Happy Valentine's Day. 


Almost 20 years ago, I sat alone on Valentine’s Day.  My roommates were primping for their Valentine’s Day dates, while flowers, balloons, and chocolates kept showing up at the door. I remember thinking and praying, “Lord, can you please just send me a bunch of smart, cute, and  funny guys? Just this once?” 

Be careful what you wish for, for God has a wicked sense of humor. I am now happily married with FOUR sons. I gotta say, it’s good to be queen. No flowers and balloons needed. 

13 Signs You Have Kids in Catholic Schools




13 Signs You Have Kids in Catholic School

1. In your house, you’re never more than five feet away from a set of Rosary beds- plastic ones, handmade ones, paper ones, wooden ones. They. Are. Everywhere.
2. Your Halloween costume box includes the robes of 5 well known saints.
3. Your kids have 25 adjectives to describe the smell of incense.
4. On dress down days, they spend hours of time and thought into deciding what to wear to school. The uniform struggle is real, ya’ll.
5. Your wall of craft projects looks like a vacation bible school art room exploded. Crosses as far as the eye can see.
6. You always keep a stash of extra canned goods and diapers around, because on any given day it could be “Bring in XXXXX to school today for the XXXXXX center.”
7. You know exactly where to buy plain, black, ugly lace up (not velcro!) leather shoes online. And you are on their mailing list.
8. You can pack a Friday Lenten lunch like nobody’s business. Do you know how many varieties of cheese and crackers there are? A. LOT.
9. You can turn a pillow case into a shepherd’s head scarf in 5 seconds flat.
10. Your kids still have cursive handwriting homework practice. Thank God!
11. You drive used, old late model cars. Because do you know what Catholic School costs these days?
12. Your kid’s uniform shorts have 6 different names crossed out on the tag. Because Catholic School moms are the QUEENS of hand me downs and shared family wardrobes.
13. You are blessed. In many ways. By their selfless and loving teachers, their great classmates, and those who choose a life of vocation and now lead the school and church with the utmost dedication and devotion. Amen and Happy Catholic Schools Week!