The balance of the ever-changing world of a mom/teacher/athlete/wife/homeowner is still a work in progress- sometimes the balance tilts too far one way throwing off everything else. I am no expert in any of this, and some days/weeks are harder/easier than others- we all have different family dynamics, responsibilities, and goals. Mimicking what works for someone else will only get you so far. That being said, I thought I would share about the one new device that has made my life easier since heading back to work... the INSTANT POT!
Matt and I received an Instant Pot as a Christmas gift this year, along with a cookbook... although Pinterest is full of great ideas, I am someone who really prefers a hard copy versus looking on a screen. I know they were a hot item this year, so I will give you my take on what they are and if they are "worth it" as far as buying one...
What is it?Essentially a pressure cooker and slow cooker all in one. "Instant Pot" is a brand like "CrockPot" is to slow cookers.
What do you cook in it?Everything from frozen chicken, to rice, to hardboiled eggs, to full meals of meatloaf/mashed potatoes in it at he same time.
Should I get one?That depends on your lifestyle and how you cook. You can make anything you would make in a slow cooker in under an hour which is great if you are not great at planning ahead.
- Super busy but want to eat healthy? yes! Frozen chicken breasts are done in under 30 min and I have pulled some of my freezer slow cooker meals out, put the huge chunk in the Instant Pot without thawing, and it was done in 60 min. The forethought that goes into thawing and baking is taken away. Some days just get so busy, you get home and think, 'what's for dinner?' If that sounds like you, then yes! I love that I can get home, throw stuff in it, set it to run, clean bottles, catch up with Charlie, get a quick workout in, or whatever without having to stand in front of the stove and in under an hour... poof! Dinner is done!
-If you use your slow cooker a lot but suck at planning- yes! You can cook any slow cooker meal in it using the 30 min MANUAL setting and the meat is just as tender as if you were there all day.
- If you like to chop/prep/stir/bake/plan and get dinner ready for your family the night you're going to eat it and that's part of what works for your family- no. This would sit wasting away in your cupboard as you saute, grill, bake or stand over the stove preparing your family's meals.
I heard they explode...Only if you do not follow the directions and use it properly and are a moron. If they really exploded all the time you would hear about it more than the one article floating around facebook scaring people.
The steam release is intense, but if you shouldn't have your kids near the stove when it's hot and the same here... either do the natural release where you will have no steam, or tell the kids to stand back for 30 seconds like you would with anything dangerous and release it.
Learning Curve?Yes, definitely.
First of all recipes don't give you the total time... if it says 30 min that does not included the 10-15 min it will take to pressure and the 10-15 min it will take to release pressure when done if you are doing a natural release, so plan accordingly.
If you have an 8-quart pot things will take longer... most recipes are designed for a 6-quart.
You MUST use at least 1 Cup of liquid
If your chicken, or whatever else, is not done, only add 3-4 min and try again... minutes go a long way in this thing!
I have been so busy I didn't even take pictures of these... oops... but here are some of my current Favorite Recipes...
Steel Cut OatsThese I have struggled to perfect on the stove, they are good, but always a little chewy and take care when making them... in the Instant Pot they are perfect and ready for my toppings!
The main difference between steel cut oats and regular or quick cooking oats is the process in which they are cut and the texture when finished cooking... nutritional value is almost the same- they have slightly more calcium and protein :) They are also lower glycemic index because they take longer to digest and about twice the amount of fiber.
- 1 1/2 Cups Steel Cut Oats
- 4 1/2 Cups Water
- Pinch of Salt
Toppings or add-ins... vanilla, dried fruit, apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, etc.
SPRAY YOUR INSTANT POT WITH COOKING SPRAY! Then add the water and oats and pinch of salt. WIPE THE EDGE OF YOUR POT to remove errant spray so it seas properly.
Turn your pressure cooker on to "Manual" or "Porridge"... make sure the pin is in the "sealing" position ....and cook on HIGH for 11 minutes (up to 13 minutes if you want creamier oats)
Allow the pot to naturally release (aka don't do anything when it is done except hit "cancel") for 10 minutes. Release any of the remaining pressure and you're done! Add your tops or store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.
Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes.... in the same pot!A family favorite at our house! I bought mini disposable bread pans at the store that fit perfectly, but you could easily use aluminum foil and make your own! I recommend two mini pans because one large one seems to need more time cooking.
Meatloaf Ingredients...Feel free to use your own family recipe!
- 1.5-2lbs Lean Ground Beef
- 1 Egg
- 1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Ketchup
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper
Potatoes- 2lbs Yukon Gold, skin on and cut into 2" chunks
- Butter (a few tablespoons)
- Garlic Powder
- 1 Cup Broth/Water
1. Mix the meatloaf ingredients together and press the meat into 2 mini bread pans.
2. Place the potatoes in the bottom of the pot with 1 cup of broth/water.
3. Place the metal insert/rack that came with your pot on top. Put the meat loaf pans on the rack and squish them if necessary to make them fit.
4. Make sure the pin is in the "sealing" position. Cook on Manual, HIGH, pressure for 25 minutes.
When finished, do a "quick release" of the pressure. Remove the pans and add the butter/milk/garlic salt and mash in the pot with a masher until the desired creaminess is reached. No need to drain the potatoes!
Chicken Fried Rice- 2 Chicken Breasts, cut into 1" or smaller pieces
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 8oz Frozen, Mixed Vegetables- carrots, peas, green beans, corn (1/2 typical bag)
- 2 Cups Rice (not instant!)
- 2 1/2 Cups Broth/Water
- 2 Eggs
- Soy Sauce
1. Turn your Instant Pot on to the "SAUTE" function at high heat. Add the oil and chicken and cook until the chicken is browned but not all the way cooked. Press "CANCEL"
2. Add the water/broth, veggies, and rice. Secure the lid, turn the pin to "Sealing" and cook on MANUAL/high pressure for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, press "CANCEL" and let it naturally release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, finish releasing the pressure and open the lid carefully. Fluff the rice with a few dashes of soy sauce, if it is sticky it will loosen as you stir it.
3. At this point you can either cook the eggs (scrambled) separately in a pan and stir them in, or push the rice to the side and add a bit of oil, turn the pot on SAUTE (medium) and cook them, but I found that mind stuck to the bottom of the pan this way.
Hoisin ChickenI make my own hoisin sauce... see recipe here... but you can find this in any Asian section of the grocery store.
This is quick and so easy to get done when I first get home from work. Served with rice and green beans or broccoli it is fast and perfect.
- 2/3 Cup Hoisin Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce/Water
- 2-3 Chicken Breasts (about 2lbs)
Add everything to the Instant Pot and set the pin to "SEALING" cook on MANUAL/High Pressure for 12 minutes. Use the instant release. Shred inside the pot or take the chicken out to shred it. I use the sauce as is, but you could make a slurry of arrowroot powder/cornstarch and water, turn on SAUTE and thicken it. :)