Back story: I have had an electric pressure cooker for years but I didn’t make much with it. That is until earlier this year I pulled it out when I learned that a pressure cooker is the easiest way to make hard-boiled “cooked” (or soft-boiled “cooked”) eggs. The shell peels away effortlessly 95% of the time. But… pulling out a pressure cooker just for eggs, I just don’t do it often.
The Instant Pot came on my radar. This Instant Pot is a kitchen robot, basically, that has multiple functions including the main one as being a pressure cooker, using a stainless steel insert.
A multi functional kitchen appliance? Huh. I’m intrigued.
I started to look into it.
I learned the Instant Pot people had a new model that was dubbed “smart” because it connects via blue tooth. This means that I can write (and share) my own scripts (i.e., programmed recipes). Why is this cool?
Well, with this AWESOME function…
I put my food in and basically push a button (via the app – I use an iPhone these days) and it starts right up. The brilliance of this is that I don’t have to memorize the different times I use to cook different foods.
I like my broccoli to be under LOW pressure for only one minute.
Carrots… HIGH pressure for three minutes.
Those pesky-to-cook beets? I cook them under HIGH for 25 minutes.
Hard-cooked eggs for me cook HIGH pressure for five minutes, while soft-cooked they cook LOW for three minutes.
My rice cooks perfectly (brown rice 15 minutes, other rice varieties can be other times)
I can’t remember all of that, and I don’t want to pull a book out each time. Wth the Instant Pot SMART, I create the scripts and they’re programmed. Then, I just push a button.
Oh, and cooking spaghetti squash in 7 minutes under pressure? Um, yeah, awesome.
Effortless hard-ish-cooked eggs with Instant Pot Smart.
Mega easy dinner anyone? Instant Pot Smart.
I could go on and on and on and on about how much I’m loving my Instant Pot Smart. It has multiple functions and perfectly cooks rice, veggies, and whole chickens with ease and in a fraction of time.
This Instant Pot SMART makes yogurt(!) and is also a slow cooker (for the slow cooker they recommend the optional / additional glass lid). I’ve heard of some people using it for a sous vide too because it can hold a set temperature that you designate.
So many options with just one appliance.
It’s so amazing, I feel like Elaine from Seinfeld when she pushes people… GET OUT!
I sure wish I knew about this before I bought all of my slow cookers and my sous vide and my other pressure cooker. (By the way, even though I love that this is a slow cooker, who wants to slow cook when you can cook so much faster with a pressure cooker?)
Seriously… move over slow cooker, it’s time for something faster.
Hello, Instant Pot Smart. Can we hug?
I figured there must be a catch, right? Where’s the yang that goes with the yin (that is everywhere in life)? Surely there’s something wrong with it – like maybe the nutrition isn’t as good or it’s hard to use? Something?
Well, I just can’t find anything wrong with it. In fact, I read that cooking under pressure is healthier. The quickness with which it cooks (and the process) keeps more nutrients available.
This Instant Pot Smart appliance has changed my life and I’ve only had it less than a month.
I leave it on my counter and use it daily, sometimes two or three times a day. I love how perfectly everything gets cooked and it’s mostly hands off, which means I have more time to do other things I love such as read.
My latest read. Gotta be prepared. #Parenthood
Before buying an Instant Pot Smart, I’d over or undercook rice. Too many times to count. I’d ruin hard-boiled eggs. Too many times. I’d turn my broccoli to army-green mush more often than not.
Not anymore. YAY!
I love my INSTANT POT SMART so much that I just HAD TO TELL EVERYONE! (those links are affiliate, by the way, but I only rave and get cray cray over products that I use and love. And, if you should choose to buy it via my link then that’s awesome! As you might’ve noticed I haven’t been blogging as much. You could say I’m in the “space between stories” in my life right now. But with this friggin’ awesome Instant Pot, I had to get on my horn and write about it.)
Wait… did I tell you that you can make bone broth in like an hour???
It’s actually just a bit more than an hour. You have to add the time to get the Instant Pot to pressure. Plus add the time for it to come down in pressure – a quick release is fast though. This time-to-pressure and de-pressure vary by how cold the item is once it’s placed inside plus how much food there is in total. But it’s all hands off and that’s the important thing. And still, it’s waaaaaaay quicker than using traditional methods like the stove, sous vide, or slow cooker.
If you want to make bone broth and don’t have a pressure cooker then here’s my epic post on it.
Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth in an hour.
I make the most delicious rice pudding in it. I had never made rice pudding before getting my Instant Pot Smart, but I make it regularly now. OMG so good and creamy with grass-fed whole-fat milk, unrefined sugar, pasture-raised eggs, vanilla, sea salt, cream and raisins and arborio rice. The first time I made it, Greg rolled on the floor in the fetal position because he loved it so much. I thought he was going to suck his thumb.
I make cheesecakes, too!
Yes. That’s right.
Cheesecake in a pressure cooker.
Gluten-free Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
I make a lot of things in my Instant Pot Smart… most things in fact. But my favorite?
Having an Instant Pot Smart has made veggies a regular appearance, because they’re just so damn easy to make. I don’t know what it is about veggies but I can get so lazy when it comes to making them.
With my Instant Pot – Smart, I can make “baked” potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, squashes, etc in much less time. I don’t have to watch the oven and test for doneness a million times because I know that my pressure cooker will do the job.
Broccoli, cauliflower, and beets are a pleasure to make. I never thought that before. Is that just me or do others feel the same?
Before cooking… just throw in the whole thing.
After 1-min under pressure. Vibrant.
And. Don’t forget to drink the vegetable tea that’s left behind. It has nutrients! I use Castle Rock Spring water when cooking veggies under pressure and then I drink it when the veggies are done cooking.
Broccoli “tea” – from pressure cooking.
I also cook gluten-free pasta in it. No more filling my stove pot with water and waiting for the boil, then stirring frequently, yada yada yada.
Nope. I just toss some sauce and noodles (plus some water or broth) into my Instant Pot and it cooks easily. If I want to get a bit fancy, I can saute some onion and garlic first, using the saute function, then add the sauce, noodles, and any extra water that’s needed. (The Instant Pot has a saute and browning feature).
There is just so much that can be made with the Instant Pot Smart and I love how I can control it from my iPhone using their app. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Speaking of the app, I think I can share my scripts on Twitter. I’ll look into it.
As you can guess, I wholeheartedly recommend everyone bring an Instant Pot Smart into his/her kitchen. You will be so happy did.
Well. Finally, I made it through two boxes of Body Ecology Kefir starter packs. Those were an amazing and easy introduction to making my own grass-fed, whole-fat milk kefir. But…
I was ready to take it next level.
That meant making my own kefir at home using milk kefir grains. The kefir grains promise even more probiotic nutrition and the ability to never have to buy packets again because these grains could last me…. forever. Whoa. Cool beans.
Kefir is a gut-health-boosting powerhouse. Kefir can fill your gut with beneficial bacteria and yeasts that will set up shop in your gut (turns out yogurt is transient and passes through to feed the bacteria in your gut, but kefir has the bacteria that colonizes your gut – learn more about the differences between yogurt and kefir here). I bought mine here at Cultures for Health.
As a result of drinking kefir almost daily, plus eating homemade yogurt and sauerkraut I no longer take probiotic pills. Score! The biggest difference for me is seeing my skin take on a brighter glow. For my parents, their digestion has really improved. Kefir and fermented foods, especially when made at home, are really special and will always be a part of our life.
Join me on my journey into kefir grains as I show you how easy they are to prepare. See you next time!
In my quest to improve my cooking skills, I’ve come across a few books that have helped immensely. Call me a little geeky, but I read cookbooks like they’re treasured novels. They totally romance me. :)
The following books will definitely help make you a master in the kitchen. And, they make great gifts for the person who loves to cook, or for that person, who, ehem, might need some help.
The Flavor Bible – This award winning book is a best seller on Amazon.com and for good reason. Learning to mix flavors, in an easy-to-look-up format is extremely useful. You can look up complementary flavors and combinations for a particular ingredient. For example, over 100 are listed for oranges.
Melissa’s Great Book of Produce – My family eats a lot of produce and this book helped me learn how to recognize the produce, pick the best ones, cook them, and how to store them.
Herbs and Spices – Knowing how to use herbs and spices is a smart skill for improving cooking. Herbs and spices take any simple dish and elevate it to a party in your mouth. Not only that, but by mastering herbs and spices you can create an immense variety for everything from burgers to plain pasta dishes.
The Science of Good Cooking – A popular classic that breaks down the science of cooking. This is useful because learning how and why certain cuts and varieties of meats/vegetables/etc cook the way they do, gives you confidence in approaching anything you want to cook.
How to Cook Everything (The Basics) – This is the latest book I’m reading and I love it. It’s filled with easy recipes using ingredients most of us have on hand, and is filled with 1000 useful photos. Each recipe uses two pages where the final product is shown plus small photos of the various steps. Mark Bittman smartly includes tips for variations of ingredients and also tips of what not to do in some cases. I even found use for the recipes I didn’t care to make because they included tips or variations that were useful.
I REALLY enjoy this book and damn near tabbed every page. Once you make your way through the delicious recipes you will be a much improved (and confident) cook.
Having all of the pictures for each recipe is very helpful.
Today, I’m sharing a post written by my friend, Joanna Steven, about eggs. Turns out she loves eggs as much as I do.
I met Joanna, online, many years ago and I simply adore her. We’ve maintained a relationship through email, Facebook, and twitter over the years though I look forward to seeing her face to face someday and having a big hug… over a plate of eggs such as the ones she’s writing about here.
Eggs might just be the most perfect food there is. Not only are they rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamin A, D, K2, and more, but they also cost less than $1.25 per serving, and can be cooked in a few minutes flat.
For all these reasons and more, eggs are a staple food in my family’s diet. We eat them on their own, in quiches, fritattas, pancakes, vegetables patties… They’re the ultimate fast food, and are so versatile you can have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
We love them so much that we even got backyard hens, much to our children’s delight. I spent many mornings relaxing and watching my toddler throw food at them and trying to pet them!
One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is scrambled. I’m a busy mom of 2 and need a quick lunch I can make easily, eat quickly, and is sustaining enough that I can run after my boys all afternoon without dips in energy.
This recipe fits the bill, and I make it weekly. With flavorful ghee, an extra egg yolk for more taste and nutrition, and iodine rich kelp, it really ticks all the boxes!
Best French Style Scrambled Eggs
Ingredients (serves 1)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon ghee
Pinch kelp powder
Freshly ground pepper and fresh herbs to taste
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk until homogeneous. Add one tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes.
Heat a stainless steel pan, or your favorite pan, and add 1 tablespoon ghee. Swirl around the pan, and when hot, pour in the eggs in the center of the pan.
Lower the heat to medium low. With the tines of a fork, drag the egg mixture from the edge of the pan toward the center as it begins to set. Go back to the edge and repeat the same motion a little farther from where you started.
Keep dragging the egg mixture towards the center as it cooks, letting the uncooked egg flow freely. If your pan was hot enough, nothing should stick.
When you’ve run out of liquid egg, turn off the heat. Sprinkle the eggs with salt, pepper, kelp powder, and herbs if using.
Let the eggs stand a bit of you want them to cook more, or serve right away with buttery sourdough bread, a generous scoop of sauerkraut, and fresh berries for dessert.
Joanna Steven is an Amazon best-selling author, and the founder of The Nourished Village, a nurturing community for moms and their families. Her work as been published in Food Matters, Eco Hearth, Get Fresh!, Yum Gluten Free Magazine, and more. She regularly shares kid-friendly vegetarian recipes on her blog, and loves to interact with other moms on Facebook page and Twitter.
Organice swiss chard salad. Simple and full of flavor.
I was watching a show featuring renowned chef, Arnaud Daguin, at his Michelin rated guest house in Basque country. As I hung onto every word and scene of beauty, I picked up a great tip for swiss chard (and promised myself that someday I would visit his place, Hegia).
This is food porn to me.
Chef Arnaud said that cooking the chard stems would degrade their gorgeous color so he set to thinly slicing them. I loved the idea and happened to have a bunch of organic swiss chard from the farmer’s market with which I was trying to decide what to do.
So, that’s what I did with my salad.
Once I thinly sliced the stems, I found myself thinly slicing the entire thing. I tossed them in a bowl with pinch of icelandic sea salt, a scoop of thinly sliced, homemade pickled cucumbers, and a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The fresh green flavor of the swiss chard was gently front and center, supported by bites of spice from my pickled cucumbers, and the olive oil smoothed everything out.
I know I’m probably a bit weird, though I know I can’t be totally alone, when I say that I get super excited at the farmers’ market. Seeing all of that fresh organic produce, quite frankly, makes me want to pee my pants. (I’m the same in a bookstore.)
You’re probably not surprised though, after I shared with you how I can’t get enough of scratch cooking. It’s my passion.
This past week, I was particularly smitten by those gorgeous carrots you see above.
And, then there was this purple sweet potato that I had to cut into wedges and roast with ghee, garlic, rosemary, spices, and sea salt.
2 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano and rosemary, combined
heavy dollop grass-fed whole-fat Greek yogurt
freshly grated parmesan cheese
I steamed my cauliflower, and then processed it in my food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, with salt and grass-fed butter to the texture of something between rice and mashed potatoes.
While the cauliflower was steaming, I started the eggs. I used a generous chunk of butter, which melted gloriously, after which I cracked in the eggs and started to scramble them slowly over medium-low heat. I added sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I also added fresh oregano and rosemary.
When the eggs were mostly cooked, I I stirred in a big dollop of whole-fat, grass-fed Greek yogurt (<– amazing in eggs).
Then, I transferred the eggs and cauliflower to a bowl and stirred it together. Portioned it into bowls and topped it with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
I’m so happy to announce that I just released another Kindle ebook, Turmeric Hacks!
This one features 55 recipes to help you add more turmeric to your life.
(Just last week I published my other new ebook, Matcha Hacks.)
Why would you want more turmeric in your diet?
Because it’s good for you. :)
Turmeric is a deep orange-yellow spice that’s been used in South Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Many people consider turmeric to be a superfood due to its active compound, curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant reputed to decrease inflammation, notably for chronic inflammation, which can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, type-2 diabetes, and arthritis (it can work for acute inflammation, too!).
With the recent increase in awareness of the health benefits of curcumin, it’s no surprise that people want more ways to get more turmeric into their diet. I can help you with that.
In my own quest to have more turmeric in my family’s life, I have taken turmeric beyond its traditional role as a spice by creating these 55 recipes for adding turmeric to all kinds of foods, including smoothies, entrees, soups, sides, salads, desserts, breakfast, condiments, snacks, beverages… even toothpaste!
A simple and fresh salad with homemade dressing. #scratchcook
I’m watching Cooked, the documentary series on Netflix featuring Michael Pollan, and I was inspired to share my life with respect to some of the ideas presented in the show.
Namely, home cooked meals.
My family eats most of our meals at home, and almost all of them are made from scratch.
Scratch cooking means the meals are made from fresh ingredients. Therefore, we don’t eat a lot of meals made from ingredients that are pre-cooked or processed, except a few (canned sardines/tuna, organic salsa, BBQ sauce, etc).
Sadly, it’s not what’s going on in most American homes anymore. Michael Pollan points out in Cooked that as the amount of time cooking went down, obesity went up. I’m not surprised.
Maybe I’m a bit strange, but I get such a rush from cooking this way. I think making meals from scratch is beautiful, especially when I’m connected to my food by knowing my farmer, fisherman, and rancher. When I cut into an orange that was grown in my mom’s yard, and the light hits it just right so I see the misty spray coming from the peel, and I smell the intense aroma… I get chills from the thrill.
In fact, my Amazon wish list is filled with pots, quality utensils, and other kitchen gadgets I want in my collection. When a birthday or holiday comes around, I ask for these things. Do I ask for clothes, purses, or shoes? No. I ask for a Le Creuset pot or a fancy ice cream machine or a beautiful salt collection.
I’ll admit not every meal I make is a success, in spite of the time I put into it. I also recognize that making all of these meals isn’t always easy. I experience a large part of my life in the kitchen preparing food, shopping for food, cleaning up after cooking (there are so many dishes to wash!). But… At least I know what’s in my food. I approve of the ingredients. I don’t have to wonder.
As a result, my comfort level in the kitchen has grown tremendously. For the most part, I can fix my messes, and if I can’t, I still know the meal was made with wholesome organic ingredients, which compensates for any culinary mishaps, at least in my opinion.
My meals are pure, organic, and prepared just the way I want. And, aside from the obvious nutrition reasons, it comes back to Chop Wood Carry Water for me. I enjoy the process. The kitchen draws me in… if I’m not making something I’ll find something to make.