An InstaPot Newbie and Mexican Rice

One of my goals for 2017 is to resurrect this blog.  I think of things all the time that are blog worthy but rarely take the time to sit down and write.  I would like to change that so here goes nothing.

For Christmas I received an InstaPot.  My friend Alicia has been trying to talk me into getting one for about a year now.  I kept telling her I didn’t need another appliance in my house.  Well, my smaller slow cooker died this fall.  The InstaPot can also be a slow cooker so I decided it was time to take the plunge.  I could replace the dead pot and add a new appliance all in one.

I have to admit, this thing is a little intimidating.  I’m a great cook and love to spend time in the kitchen but I’ve never pressure cooked before so I’m learning as I go.  I started yesterday with the water test (suggested by the manufacturer to introduce you to the pot and make sure it works) and ground beef from frozen.  I wasn’t impressed with how the beef came out but I chalk that up to user error and not the pot.  The tutorial I was following said if it wasn’t done to turn it on for a bit longer.  My beef was still pink when I checked so I added more time but I think I did it for too long.  The meat is still edible so all is good but next time I will change up the timing a bit.  I liked that I could do several pounds at a time.  I did 2 pounds yesterday so I could use one for dinner and freeze the other for a quick meal later.

Tonight I had planned on simple tacos for dinner but my youngest asked if we could have Mexican rice with it.  Knowing I had this new gadget sitting on my counter I happily agreed to it.  A quick Pinterest search led me to this recipe. It was so quick and easy and my family loved it.  The last few times I’ve made rice it has been mushy for some reason.  This was perfect so I will be making rice in the InstaPot from now on.

So far, my only complaint is that most recipes tend to be aimed at a more advanced user and they forget to factor in time for the pot to heat up.  I’m sure with time this won’t be an issue but as a newbie I’m finding things take longer than I expected because of the water needing time to warm up.

Stay tuned as I discover more features from this new appliance.  I hope to share more recipes and tips as I figure it all out.  In the meantime, feel free to share you favorite pressure cooker recipes.

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Clean Out the Freezer: Week 1

I will admit it, I am a freezer hoarder.  I spend time making beans, rice, muffins, freezer meals and more from scratch and then feel afraid to eat them because I might need a quick meal some day and then it won’t be available.  Anyone else have this problem?  Surely I’m not the only one.   I also throw random bits of leftovers in the freezer for another meal down the road.

My inlaws raise cattle so all of our beef comes from them.  It is almost time for the next round of beef to hit my freezer so I figured this was the perfect time to eat those random bits in my freezer.  Of course, I forgot to take many pictures throughout the week but here are a few of the yummy things I made using what I already had on hand.

Quinoa salad

The above picture is a quinoa salad I made using quinoa, black beans, and corn from the freezer.  I added onions and a homemade lime dressing and let it sit for awhile to absorb the flavors.  So yummy!  This was my lunch one day as I knew the kids would never touch it but I needed some grown up food.

Bits and pieces of leftover homemade gluten free bread – I turned this into bread crumbs, croutons, and french toast.

Quinoa Blueberry Muffins – These need to be frozen if not used in 24-48 hours but they are delicious and an easy way to sneak some protein in. I used sorghum flour in place of the millet flour as I did not have any on hand. Quinoa and blueberries came from the freezer.

Banana Bread Muffins – If you follow me on Facebook you have already seen this recipe posted.  I used bananas from the freezer as they are starting to take over one compartment.  I plan to make another batch this week as the kids loved this.  Brown rice flour was used in place of white rice flour.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole – From the freezer I used leftover lunch meat ham, shredded chicken, and bread crumbs from leftover bread.  My husband doesn’t like bread crumbs on anything so I made half without and he loved it.  He is picky so that is a huge win.

Slow Cooker Party Pork – When buying a pork roast I usually cut it into smaller portions so that we are not eating leftovers for ages.  I used one of these portions and half of the sauce recipe here.  All of my kids love this super easy recipe.

Mexican soup – I took the way too hot homemade enchilada sauce, added some random leftover mexican dish, more black beans, corn, and some chicken broth to create a something new.  The other ingredients toned down the enchilada sauce which meant my effort to make it didn’t go to waste.

I plan to keep cleaning out the freezer this next week and I will report back at the end of next week.  Feel free to join me and leave a comment with any recipes you try.


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Crockpot Southwest Chicken

Southwest Chicken

Please ignore the horrible photo.  This was take the week I started this blog and as I was cleaning up dinner thought “I’m a blogger now, I should probably have photographed dinner.  Oh well, this will have to do.”

I was in a hurry a few weeks ago and needed a crockpot dinner because we had barely any time in between activities to eat.  We are gluten free so eating out isn’t exactly easy or cheap and I really didn’t want to spend the money to eat out anyway.  Nothing at all sounded good so I went searching through my cabinets to see what I could find.  This is very similar to a mexican inspired crockpot dish that has been floating around social media for ages, expect I used what I had in my cabinets.

As you will quickly learn, my family is beyond picky.  I am a foodie and none of them are.  Three out of five of us liked this and that is pretty good for our family.

Crockpot Southwest Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 can ranch beans

1 can mexicorn, drained

Place chicken breasts in a crockpot sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour the beans and mexicorn on top.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Shred chicken and mix all ingredients together.  Serve as is, over rice, on a salad, or in tortillas.  Freezes great.

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