Why There’s So Much to Adore About the Instant Pot

Everyone has been talking about the Instant Pot. It’s currently a top-selling kitchen item on Amazon. Despite its widespread popularity, is the multifunctional cooking device worth it? For a while, I scorned the Instant Pot like a unitasker. I already owned a rice cooker, pressure cooker, and slow cooker, after all. So why would I spend the cash for another appliance? Despite my initial judgments, I still felt pulled to try the cooker out and determine if it’s a gimmicky fad or not. Let’s just say, the results really surprised me and greatly exceeded my expectations. If you’re wondering if an Instant Pot is for you (or IP, as seasoned users call it), here’s a list of awesome things to know about the Instant Pot.

  1. Cook all the things in record time. The Instant Pot is essentially a pressure cooker that also has sauté and slow-cooker functions. Pressure cookers reduce cook time significantly. We’re talking steel-cut oats in 10 minutes and chicken breasts in eight minutes. Most, if not all, dishes can be prepared in 20 minutes or less.
  2. The sauté function is truly awesome. You can adjust the heat, but I found it caramelizes veggies and meat faster and more uniformly than even stovetop cooking. As a bonus, nothing caked onto the bottom of my IP.
  3. You can switch between functions. Sear meat in the sauté function, then pressure cook or slow-cook it! Pressure cook something, then keep it warm. Changing up the functions allows you to create complex dishes in one pot.
  4. It’s easy to use. Though there are lots of buttons on an Instant Pot and seemingly random beeps, the user manual and recipe guide (that come with the cooker) break each one down quickly so you can dive right into cooking with your device. Just be sure to read them! You shouldn’t go rogue with this device.
  5. It does it all. While there are obvious things like making broth, soups, shredded chicken, and chili, the cooker does some extraordinary things. Make a big batch of eggs (frittata style). Steam up cake and cheesecake. Use it as a rice cooker. Defrost and cook frozen-solid meat in minutes. Forgo soaking dried beans and cook them in about 20 minutes. Make mac and cheese and other pasta dishes in only one pot. The list goes on . . .
  6. Cleaning is a breeze. I laughed as I lifted the IP pot and rinsed it in record time. The lightweight pot seems to be nonstick (in my experience), so all it needs is a fast, sudsy scrub-down, no exertion required.
  7. There’s endless learning. Instant Pot’s website and Pinterest’s results for Instant Pot are two awesome sources of recipe inspiration and tips. There’s also Facebook’s Instant Pot Community that’s very active (over 500,000 users), where you can post or read troubleshooting questions and recipes.

All right, I love my Instant Pot. It’s the ideal cooking appliance for busy people who are on a budget and want to cook homemade meals but lack one crucial thing: time! While I’m sure there are downsides to the Instant Pot, I haven’t discovered them yet.

Sponsored: Parsnips & Porcini Mash with Green Chef

parsnips-porcini-mash

The New Year is here and we have a foodie tip that will help you stay on track with your resolutions.

Did you know that swapping parsnips for traditional potatoes adds five grams more fiber? Start your 2018 off fresh with this Green Chef porcini mash side dish that you’ll want to make time and time again. Once you add porcini mushrooms, you’ll have a new favorite recipe.

Ingredients

  • ¼ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 ounce chives

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Roughly chop dried porcini mushrooms.
  3. Cut ends off parsnips and peel. Medium dice parsnips into ½-inch pieces.
  4. Place porcinis and parsnips in a medium pot. Cover with about 2 inches cold, lightly salted water. Bring to a boil. Cook 16-20 minutes, or until parsnips are tender.
  5. Remove from heat and reserve about ½ cup cooking water. Strain mushrooms and parsnips. Return to pot. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir.
  6. Mash porcinis and parsnips with a potato masher or fork into a chunky mash. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to reach desired consistency.
  7. Mince chives and add to pot. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
  8. Enjoy!

For more innovative chef-crafted gluten-free recipes and meals, check out Green Chef and get $40 off your first box. Green Chef is a fast-growing USDA-certified organic meal kit delivery service that is the first national meal kit to have received Gluten-Free Food Service certification through the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) for its three certified gluten-free menus (Paleo, Keto, and Gluten-Free).

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Here Are All the ’90s Foods That Made a Long-Overdue Comeback in 2017

No one can argue with the fact that the snacks from the ’90s were the best. And as much as we miss Dunkaroos, Surge, and Butterfinger BB’s (RIP), we’re so glad that some of our other discontinued favorites have made a comeback! We’re calling 2017 the year of the ’90s resurgence, at least in the world of food and drinks. This year, four major brands announced the return of some of the most classic products from the ’90s that were sadly discontinued at some point. Bring on the nostalgia and read on to discover all the details about each product’s much-anticipated (and appreciated) return.

This Recipe Lets You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution and Have Mac and Cheese Too

Image Source: Andrew Scrivani

Clinton Kelly made this lightened-up squash mac and cheese, and the internet went wild. It’s easy to understand why: people can’t ever get enough mac and cheese, especially when it’s less indulgent, and butternut squash macaroni and cheese in general has exploded on Pinterest. You get all the creaminess and color from the butternut squash, minus all the “bad” stuff.

One thing to note: I know it sounds scary cooking squash in milk, but I’ve done a similar technique with mashed potatoes. It’s very ingenious! Basically, none of the squash flavor is lost by doing so, and there’s no draining involved. You could even use an immersion blender right in the pot if you don’t want to transfer the mixture into a blender.

Image Source: Lorenzo Bevilaqua / ABC

Lightened-Up Squash Mac and Cheese

From The Chew Approved

Notes

This is one of the most popular dishes that I have ever made on The Chew. I think (1) because people love mac and cheese, and (2) they are always looking for ways to eat their favorite indulgent and comforting dishes without consuming all of the calories. My lightened-up version has half of the calories of a classic mac and cheese and is even more flavorful. The texture that you get from the butternut squash is creamy and velvety smooth, so you don’t have to add as much cheese to the pasta to get the same results as the more caloric version. Try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed – and as you know, it’s always bathing suit season somewhere!

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups butternut squash, cubed
  2. 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  3. 1 1/2 cups milk
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
  6. 1 cup shredded gruyère cheese
  7. 1 cup grated parmesan
  8. 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  9. 1 tablespoon butter
  10. 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  11. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  12. Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add butternut squash, stock, milk, and garlic. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and add to a blender. Add in the Greek yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Blend starting on low and slowly increase the speed, being careful to avoid splatters. Blend until smooth and then add in the gruyére and parmigianino. Blend again until combined and cheese is melted. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the cavatappi according to the package instructions. When pasta is done, drain and add it directly to the cheesy squash mixture.
  4. Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add panko and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Spoon the mac and cheese into bowls and sprinkle with the toasted panko. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Source: From THE CHEW: APPROVED with permission from Disney Publishing Worldwide.

How to Make the Ultimate Burrito Bowl at Home

If you’re craving a delicious Mexican feast but don’t want to abandon your big plans of a cozy night in, you’re in luck! Instead of bundling up and making the trek to your local eatery, create restaurant-quality cuisine in the comfort of your kitchen with this tasty and wholesome chicken burrito bowl recipe courtesy of celebrity chef Vikki Krinsky. As an added bonus, the meal is only 5 Weight Watchers Points® and comes together in a snap. Get ready to dive in!

Zesty Lime Chicken Burrito Bowl

Vikki Krinsky, Celebrity Chef

Ingredients

  1. 2 6-ounce boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
  2. 2 cups frozen cooked organic brown rice
  3. 2 cups fresh spinach
  4. 2 cans rinsed black beans
  5. 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  6. 2 jarred roasted red peppers (packed in water)
  7. 1 bunch fresh and cleaned cilantro
  8. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  9. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  10. Olive oil cooking spray
  11. 1 tablespoon cumin
  12. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  13. 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  14. 1 tablespoon oregano
  15. 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  16. 1 tablespoon lime zest
  17. 1 bunch cleaned scallions

Directions

  1. With latex gloves, place the chicken breasts in a bowl and massage in 1/4 cup of the lime juice, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. On high heat in a large skillet that’s lightly sprayed with olive oil spray, place the rubbed chicken and the marinating lime juice and cook on one side for about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and add water halfway up the sides, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover with a lid until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, in a medium glass mixing bowl, add the frozen rice and microwave for 3 minutes. Add the rinsed black beans, diced tomatoes, spinach, chopped scallions (the whole bunch), 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, and all the lime zest to warm rice. Mix with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine the peppers, cayenne, salt, and pepper, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and just enough water to blend into a thick paste. Take the chicken off the burner and carefully place on a cutting board to rest while you assemble your bowls.
  4. Each bowl will have fun layers! Dollop 1 large spoonful of the red pepper mixture into the bottom of each bowl. Spoon over the rice/bean/spinach mixture and top with a pinch of cilantro. Shred one chicken breast over each bowl, drizzle some of the hot chicken “lime juice” from the pan on top, and top with another dollop of red pepper sauce and another pinch of fresh cilantro!
  5. Enjoy!
  6. A serving consists of:
    3-ounce chicken
    1/2 cup brown rice
    3/4 cup beans
    1 cup vegetables
    1/4 tablespoon oil

You Can Now Enjoy Your Favorite Thai Takeout at Home

This easy, delicious, and nutritious Thai specialty is bursting with flavor. Follow a few simple cooking steps, then let your family and friends build their own combinations of fresh, bright ingredients in each individual lettuce cup. Takeout can only dream of being this fun. As an added bonus, the meal is only 5 Weight Watchers Points®!

Pineapple and Chicken Lettuce Cups

Vikki Krinsky, Celebrity Chef

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound ground chicken (99% fat-free)
  2. 1 cup large pineapple chunks, grilled and then diced
  3. 1 cup jicama, diced
  4. 1 bunch scallions, washed
  5. 4 radishes, washed
  6. 1/2 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
  7. 1/2 cup lime juice
  8. 1 tablespoon cumin
  9. 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  10. 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  11. Olive oil cooking spray
  12. 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  13. 1 bunch fresh mint
  14. 1 lime, cut into quarters
  15. 1 head butter lettuce, cleaned and washed

Directions

  1. Heat your grill to high. Lightly spray with nonstick olive oil spray and place pineapple and scallions on the grill. Be sure to keep an eye on the scallions as you’ll want to remove them when charred on one side, after about a minute. Roughly chop and set aside.
  2. Turn the pineapple regularly until charred all over, about 5 minutes. Set aside. When cool enough, cut into a small bite-size dice and place in the same bowl as the scallions.
  3. Dice the prepeeled jicama and slice the radishes in half and then into thin moon shapes. Place together in a medium family-style bowl with lime juice, freshly chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt.
  4. In a medium-size pan, spray lightly with nonstick olive oil cooking spray and sauté the ground chicken. Add the cumin, Chinese five spice, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook through and place mixture in a family-style bowl.
  5. To assemble your fresh and delicious meal, place two lettuce cups on your plate. Scoop a spoonful of smoky ground chicken into each cup followed by a spoonful of grilled pineapple and scallions on top, a small pinch of the jicama salsa, and fresh mint on top. Serve with a lime wedge on the side and enjoy!
  6. A serving consists of:
    1 cup ground chicken
    1/2 cup pineapple
    1 cup vegetables
    1 tablespoon oil
    1/2 a head of lettuce