Getting ready for 2 new kitchen appliances

I have been reading about the sous vide method of cooking for years and I now find that it is affordable for the home kitchen.  I have also been reading lately about the Instant Pot and thought that they were talking about crockpots.  With that said – I ordered the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Bluetooth, Immersion Circulator, 800 Watts, Black and Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Egg Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, Warmer, and Sterilizer this week.

My plan is to chronicle this journey through two new ‘toys’, as my husband calls them.

First of all – I am a fan of crockpots.  I think sometimes they get a bad rep due to folks who don’t take the time to get the right ingredient balances.  I am also a fan of rice cookers (although mine is just a simple $15 model).



Mashed Potatoes and Pork Chops/Instant Pot

I needed an easy dinner and had pork chops and russet potatoes on hand.  After reviewing a few recipes, I decided to go with https://pinchofyum.com/instant-pot-mashed-potatoes and http://recipeteacher.com/best-damn-instant-pot-boneless-pork-chops/?utm_campaign=yummly&utm_medium=yummly&utm_source=yummly.

The mashed potatoes were wonderful and made with everything I had on hand – butter, olive oil, cream cheese.  The pork chops were tender and flavorful – carmelized by the addition of brown sugar to the rub.


Traveling to Tuscany and Umbria (only up to Day 3)

I am traveling to Tuscany and Umbria with my daughters and many friends.  My pictures of travel, food and stories will will follow soon with pictures.

Update:  I had the most amazing food/experience/friend/family trip to Italy in May.  After being home for 5 days – I am now prepared to write/share about my experiences.  I encourage everyone to visit a new place/country sometime in your life.  Chat with the locals, taste things you have never tasted before.

Day 1 (Saturday):  We left Chicago for Rome (via Madrid).  When we reach Rome, we will be meeting up with 2 friends and a driver who will whisk us off to our Villa in Passignano Sul Trasimeno, Italy.  We call it our Tuscany trip, but the villa actually sits in Umbria – just south of Tuscany.  We asked our driver (Simone) to stop at a grocery store on the way, so that we could pick up some essentials (bread, coffee, fruit and wine).  The name of the grocery was Penny market and reminded us of Aldi in the US (except it had a wonderful bakery as you entered the door and a killer meat department).  We were astounded by the inexpensive wine.  Before we began shopping, we gathered pizza, sandwiches and drinks to eat at the market.

We arrived at our Villa –   We have the most lovely view of Lake Trasimeno.

After getting our luggage to our rooms – we opened some wine, made a large platter of bread/cheese/olives – and went to bed by 9:00 (a LONG day).

Day 2 (Sunday):  3 more of our ‘villa-mates’ had arrived late Saturday evening.  Today is Santa Margarita day – who was born in 1220.  We had planned to visit Cortona today.  Cortona is a medieval town where new ruins were recently found.  We drove up winding roads to a monastery where Frances of Assisi lived after he left Assisi.


We also drove to Brama Soleil (the house depicted in ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’).  Our wonderful driver Luca Perrucchini made a lunch reservation for us at La Loggetta, where we dined on Cortona Syrah and wonderful pasta/fish dishes.


After lunch, we explored the town of Cortona – visiting an incredible Art Gallery, Il Pozzo.  We met with the owner who gave us a private tour and glasses of Prosecco to sip.  

We also visited a lovely Jewelry/Shoe Store – Del Brenna.  They have an incredible shop in a lower level that dates from 1300.  They house an olive press from 1625 within the store.  They also served us Prosecco, with a sprinkle of gold dust.  Sebastian and his wife Megan toured us through the store.

Megan is from Kansas and told us about how she and Sebastian met.  They now host wine tasting events on Thursday (we might have to look into this)  Two of our group decided that they MUST purchase the Del Brenna shoes – they are works of art.   Many of the group also bought rings & earrings.

Before we left Cortona, we stopped for a lovely balcony view.  We were told that during WWII, Cortona was never bombed and that the residents of the town could stand on the balcony and watch the war going on in the distance.

Later that day, our last two ‘villa-mates’ were due to arrive, so we stopped at the COOP grocery store for more staples.  We arrived back at the villa to the wonderful smell of a home-cooked dinner being prepared by a chef.  She served:

  • Sausage Bruschetta
  • Fried Zucchini Blossoms
  • Risotto w/ Saffron & Asparagus
  • Potatoes
  • Salad
  • Chicken w/olives & capers
  • Berries w/fresh whipped cream


Monday (Day 3):  We visited Sienna & San Gimignano today.  We first had a guided tour through Sienna by a wonderful guide who explained the different districts that make up the quaint town of Sienna.  This is my 4th trip to Italy, and I never forget this square.

We ate at Il Campo and enjoyed a wonderful setting and food.



Butter Chicken Experiment and PIP in the IP

I have been seeing so many Butter Chicken recipes/reviews, I just had to try it for myself. Many dishes that I make in the Instant Pot, also need rice as an accompaniment.  I struggle with finishing the main course first, then keeping it warm while I prepare the rice.  I had read about cooking the rice while cooking your main dish and decided to give it a try.

The recipe I saw with the highest rating is found on https://twosleevers.com/now-later-butter-chicken-pressure-cooker. The ingredients are delightful and the results incredible. Tender, juicy, chicken with the most amazing sauce.

Once I had the ingredients in the pot – I placed a high-legged trivet on the chicken, and placed a dish with 1 cup rice/1 cup water/pinch of salt/dash of oil on top.  Set the IP to 10 HP and 10 NPR.  The dish was magnificent and the ricer – perfecto!

FYI – There is also an FAQ for the Butter Chicken recipe https://twosleevers.com/faqs-all-your-butter-chicken-questions-answered/.


Experimenting with Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll dough

I was determined that I could take purchased Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll Dough and create mini buns in the Instant Pot.  I tried – I really tried – but to no avail.  I used a 7.3 oz. can of rolls – cut each slice in half – and popped it into the silicone egg mold.  I tried 3 different timings and none were successful!  7 minutes HP/10 minutes HP/13 minutes HP – all with 203 NPR.  All the tests came out the same way – a bit doughy/chewy.

I’m giving up on this method – some things should just be baked in the oven…..

Chicken Drumsticks in the Instant Pot – Winner!

What do you do with the ‘family-pak’ of chicken drumsticks (4 lbs) that you found on sale for $3.50?  You experiment with the Instant Pot!

I placed 1 cup of water in the Instant pot, followed by the trivet.  I have SO many seasonings in my spice cabinet – and I need to scale down, so I grabbed some rub seasonings from a recent trip to The Carolinas and sprinkled the drumsticks liberally. Next, I placed all 4 lbs of drumsticks into the Instant Pot (I have the 6 qt DUO Plus) – set for 15 HP and 5 NPR.  I pulled the chicken from the pot and placed in a baking pan, slathered some BBQ sauce on those puppies and baked an additional 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees (you can certainly broil them at this point too)

They were wonderful – juicy – BBQ’ey – inexpensive – AND Easy.

Owning an Instant Pot for 4 months – what have I learned…what will I ALWAYS make in the Instant Pot

After owning an Instant Pot for nearly 4 months – I thought it was time to reflect on what I have learned and what I have cooked/will repeat cooking in the IP.

  1. If you don’t like to cook and think that the IP is a MAGIC POT – you are WRONG.
    1. I have read more ridiculous posts over the last 4 months from folks who thought you can just throw ingredients into the pot – flip a switch – and have a gourmet meal.
    2. I already LOVE to cook/eat – and research….so the Instant Pot came quite quickly to me.
  2. If you intend on using Facebook groups/Internet recipes/etc for Instant Pot recipes – please take the good with the bad.  For whatever reason – there are some people who like to give incomplete instructions.  Please review and use credible sources.
  3. Recipes that I will continue to cook in the Instant Pot: (recipes are included in my blog)
    1. Mississippi Pot Roast or French Dip Sandwiches (fav’s in my household)
    2. Cheesecake
    3. Hard Boiled Eggs/Poached Eggs
    4. Ribs (With 20 HP+10 NR) I can have the ribs under the broiler OR on the grill to finish in no time.
  4. I admit that I am still learning – there are still so many things I want to “play” with:
    1. Pre-made cinnamon roll dough in silicone egg cups
    2. Orange breakfast roll dough in silicone egg cups
    3. Vanilla Extract for Christmas gifts (definitely read this blog about the topic) – http://www.friedalovesbread.com/2016/11/one-pot-pressure-cooker-vanilla-extract.html
    4. Limoncello


Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta

I love pasta – I like chicken – I like creamy pasta….

I tried this recipe last night:


I followed the recipe to a “T” – it was perfect!  I used Trader Joe’s Cavatappi pasta (1/2 bag) and boneless/skinless chicken thigh meat.  The meat was tender – the dish was creamy perfection – this one will stay in the recipe box!