Instant Pot Recipes

A few friends have asked me recently for recommendations for recipes to use in their Instant Pot. I thought I would consolidate my suggestions here for ease of linking!

Starting with two book recommendations:

  • Pressure Cooker Perfection – from America’s Test Kitchen. I love their recipes and cookbooks generally and this one is no exception. It is fairly meat heavy (a vegetarian friend asked) and their pressure cooker recipes tend to be a bit more fiddly than others, just like their regular recipes. This book contains one of my current favorites recipes, Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Cranberries. Everyone in my family enjoys that recipe, which is not usual. The apples in the picture are big chunks but when I make it they come out more like apple sauce, just FYI.
  • Great Food Fast – by Bob Warden. I think I have only made the whole chicken recipe from this book, but I would still recommend it. That recipe is delicious and I use it all the time. I’m sure when I branch out I will enjoy some of the others. The recipes in this book are less fiddly and more likely to be made with things you have on hand.

Recipe links:

  • IMG_3596Mongolian Beef – another favorite in my house. I think the meat is more tender if you use slightly less than 2lbs, so that is what I usually do. I aim for 1.5lbs but I buy whatever size the beef vendor at our farmer’s market happens to have.
  • Macaroni and Cheese – I generally prefer my baked macaroni and cheese recipe but this one is a close second! It is faster and requires less time standing at the stove. I think the texture is best when you use sour cream and/or half and halfas the “liquid” dairy but it is good with the evaporated milk too. I don’t put on any toppings. Three out of four of my family members like this one.
  • Chicken Stock – much quicker than on the stove and I think even more flavorful. I add black peppercorns and garlic cloves when I make it. I have been known to use a squirt of ketchup when I don’t have a tomato or open canned tomatoes. The chicken vendor at our farmer’s market says she uses vinegar and I have thought about trying that too.
  • Zuppa Toscana – only one step of this soup is actually pressure cooked but it is very tasty. I use zucchini sautéed after the sausage instead of spinach and it is still tasty. Another one that three out of four of us like but I really really like it. (I just bought sausage to make it yesterday, so this is in this week’s plan!)
  • Teriyaki Salmon – the pickiest member of my household enjoys most things cooked with teriyaki sauce, so this dish works for him! I usually wrap the salmon in foil packets instead of using pans since I didn’t have any that fit but I got some steamer pans that might work. I haven’t tried it yet.
  • Pressure Cooker Eggs – guidelines for timing the various hardness of the yolks. I always make hard yolks and these are perfect and super easy to peel.
  • Teriyaki Chicken – I tried this one for the same reason I tried the salmon recipe above and it worked! I personally prefer breast meat from the chicken so I usually use two thigh/legs and a whole breast which I cut into four pieces. I also cheat and use bottled teriyaki sauce. One of these days I will try the from scratch sauce in this recipe but it works well with a bottled sauce too. (And it is much faster that way!)
  • Chicken Breasts – tried this recipe one night when I was scrambling for dinner and my whole chicken was frozen. I actually used the Trader Joe’s frozen breasts for this (defrosted them in the microwave for a few minutes first) and they were really good. I used herbs de provence instead of the oregano and basil. Very tasty and very fast for a week night meal.

Okay, I think that is it for my favorites right now. I hope that helps some of you fall as in love with your instant pot as I am with mine. You might notice that I don’t talk about rice. People have told me that they like making rice in theirs, or dishes where the rice is cooked in. My picky eater doesn’t like things pre-mixed and some nights the rice is the only thing he eats so I have a rice cooker (that I also love) that is often going at the same time as the Instant Pot. Your mileage may vary, of course!



It is the day before Thanksgiving, so you can probably guess what I was doing.

Pies don't look perfect. Hopefully they still taste good!

I tried a new recipe this year. That top pie is Lemon Chess Pie. I have never heard of that kind of pie before but my husband requested lemon meringue. I don’t like making meringues so I compromised with this one. I hope it’s tasty. The other pie is also from King Arthur Flour’s website. I also haven’t used that recipe before but how do you go wrong with a pumpkin pie? You don’t, that’s how.

and then someone ELSE barfed…

…and it was me. No post yesterday, I spent about 36 hours either in my bed or on the couch. I got through the last two episodes of Master of None, although I fell asleep in the middle of the last one. That is no reflection on the show, just that being sick was wearing me out. I enjoyed the whole season quite a bit. I hope he makes more.

This morning I wasn’t feeling that much better but I did have energy to start moving around again, and my energy slowly returned during the day. I enjoyed the leftovers from the Thanksgiving dinner that I had missed. My husband brought me home quite a spread. I ended up eating some of it for lunch and dinner. The rest might have to be breakfast because we are having second Thanksgiving tomorrow. Yum!

I got to work on our holiday card. I wanted to draw something for our card this year and peace has been on my mind recently, so I tried to make a peace zentangle.


I am not sure the peace sign read well enough and I decided I didn’t like either the colors or patterns I had chosen, so I tried a more traditional winter scene route.


I ended up feeling like there were too many trees (which my 13-year-old son thought was ridiculous). Also, I smudged one of the trees with my thumb. So I tried again.


I was happy with this but not ecstatic. Then I had an idea to try something with one of my coloring pages.


This is not my final piece but it is along the same lines as what I ended up using. I’m pretty happy with the one I chose for the card and I like this one, maybe for a holiday profile picture!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving (or Thursday, if you are not in the US) and that you weren’t too sick for the turkey, like I was. I finished a knitted item today, but I want to block it before taking a picture to show it off. Hopefully tomorrow!

and then someone barfed…

After my last post about my younger son barfing a friend commented that the title of her autobiography, or maybe it was her book on parenting, was going to be “And then someone barfed.” I suspect you can see where this is going. My husband started to feel unwell after dinner and went to bed early, I put the younger son to sleep and then stayed up too late watching TV with the older son. He went up to get ready for bed and I sat in the living room enjoying the sound of the rain when there was a sound of.. something else.

I had been expecting my husband to be the next one down for the count. He had even taken a bucket to have next to his side of the bed but it was my older son’s turn. I can’t remember the last time before this that someone threw up so apparently  my kids are unclear on how to do it in a way that minimizes clean up. Younger son barfed in the bathroom sink, older son all over the floor of the bathroom. So, at midnight I was washing the rug and cleaning the floor of the bathroom.

The good news is that both the older son and husband appear to be fine now. I spent a large portion of today washing the bath toys that were in the wrong place at the wrong time followed by making the soup I mentioned the other day. You guys, that soup, it took me three hours! I didn’t want to leave the seeds in (the recipe has you cooking the stringy bits and seeds in broth to impart more pumpkin flavor) so I could roast them so that too me longer than it would have otherwise but there were LOTS of steps. It smelled great when it was cooking so I have hopes that it will be delicious but it really better be!

Oh, amidst all of that I also baked a maple walnut pie which won’t win any beauty contests but will also hopefully be delicious. Fingers crossed!

soup inventory

We have been invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving this year and her tradition is to have soup with the meal. I said that I would make the soup and set out to find a sufficiently Thanksgiving-y recipe. I settled on a Martha Stewart recipe for Harvest Pumpkin Soup. I had a couple of sugar pie pumpkins on hand from my CSA but set out to look for the other vegetables needed at the farmer’s market today. I was only partially successful.

Beginning of soup

I got the turnip and shallot (pictured above) but I couldn’t find any parsnips! I asked one of the vendors and he said that their winter vegetables are just starting to come into season. I picked one up at Safeway instead. I still need to get a few things plus ingredients to make the Moosewood’s Maple Walnut Pie. It is kind of like a pecan pie without corn syrup, so it’s less sticky. I have made it before and really like it.

I am gearing up for Thanksgiving and looking forward to the rest of the meal along with the good company of my friends and family!

busy busy busy day

It was a totally crazy day. We scouted for food with the Boy Scouts. Then was my younger son’s last soccer game followed by a party. My friend Katy made this incredible cake.

Katy's amazing cake.

It was also delicious. The bottom part was chocolate and the ball was sculpted out of rice krispie treats. She is a genius!

I made less beautiful but still tasty vanilla butter cupcakes with chocolate ganache.

My not as beautiful but still delicious cupcakes.

When we came home I decided it was high time that I actually tried out the book making idea.

First book

I got The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books from the library and then stumbled upon a copy of it at the second hand bookstore. I followed the book’s instructions for a Single Section Pamphlet. I was glad to get some practice sewing the binding but I’m not totally excited with how it turned out. I think if I want to make more of these, I should cut the coloring page in half lengthwise first. I think it will make a better proportioned booklet.

In the process of making this book, however, I discovered that I don’t know where my exacto knife is. I tried to use my husband’s larger craft knife but the blade was too dull. I need to get a sharper blade or find my exacto knife before I can try again. It is good to have goals.

so much for the to do list

I talked about my to do list two days ago and the back-to-back schedule for the coming weekend. Then, last night, one of my kids barfed and that changed everything. I had to stay home with him today instead of running around doing all the things I had planned. A bunch of the things I had to do were in preparation for going out tonight, which we didn’t end up doing, also because he was sick.

And everything was fine.

We hung up out, I made chicken stock in the pressure cooker which became matzo ball soup at dinner. I made the cupcakes for tomorrow’s soccer party and had time to frost them which I thought I would have to do tomorrow.

It was a nice day.

Back to the crazy packed schedule tomorrow. And the to do list. Wish me luck!

pumpkin seeds and fabric collage

So, I am clearly a liar. I didn’t make anything yesterday! Well, I roasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted pumpkin seeds

They were delicious, as usual. I have a roundabout, time-consuming recipe that I really think is worth it. I don’t remember where I got the recipe and I only have approximations and not exact amounts but what I generally do is (after scooping the seeds and separating them from the pumpkin guts):

  1. Dissolve some salt in some hot water.
  2. Soak seeds in salt water for several hours.
  3. Rinse soaked seeds and then spread out on a tea towel and allow to dry completely. Overnight is best.
  4. Toss soaked seeds with melted coconut oil and whatever seasoning you like (I am a purist and like just salt).
  5. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  6. Try not to eat them all at once.

I made them at the request of my younger son and I made the supreme sacrifice of leaving most of them for him.

Today was fabric collage day in Arts Focus. Sometimes the kids cut one shape and are done but this year we had a lot of intricate designs. I particularly liked these two.

fabric collage

fabric collage

The next three days are going to be very busy ones for me! I hope that I can find the time to post.

sky water!

It was an exciting day here in drought-ridden Silicon Valley: it rained!


Not only did it rain but there was thunder and lightning! That has happened maybe twice in the almost 15 years that I have lived here. I am not sure that I would have believed it if someone told me I would get this excited about rain before I lived here. I lived in the DC area for six years right before moving to California and the rain there is truly impressive. It comes down in buckets rather than drops. When my husband first moved to DC from the Netherlands he used to go outside and stand in the drenching rains because it doesn’t rain like that in the Netherlands either.

In any case, it rained here and that meant it was a day for making granola and soup, so I did. I didn’t take pictures of either but I can link you to the lentil and squash soup I made. It was quite tasty!

In between cooking and school pick ups, I saw a rainbow at my younger son’s school.


A very vivid and impressive rainbow, at that.

Here’s hoping that the rain keeps it up all season. We can take it, El Niño, bring it on!