Favorite Kitchen Tools- Instant Pot

In the past I have been very selective in the kitchen “gadgets” that I purchase because I have always lacked storage space. I had an Instant Pot in my Amazon cart multiple times but then I would remove it and ask myself, “Am I really going to use that?” If I could just go back and tell myself how valuable this tool is then I could have bought one a long time ago!

Benefits and Features of an Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker and multi-cooker. There are many options out there that have different features but this is the newest version of the one that I have. Here are my favorite features that make the Instant Pot so valuable:

  1. Slow Cooker: You can slow cook in the Instant Pot! If you’re concerned about space in your kitchen, trading in your slow cooker for an instant pot is definitely worth the upgrade!
  2. Saute feature: I love this feature for a roast or for soups. When I used to make a roast in my slow cooker, I would have to brown the roast first in a pan on the stove then add it to the slow cooker. Not only do you dirty to pans, but you lose all the tasty bits in the pan when you move the meat. This is not a problem with the instant pot! You can brown the meat in the pot, deglaze and get up all those tasty bits, then add the meat back in to cook the roast.
  3. Great for cooking rice, beans or grains: I can cook dried beans without soaking them in about an hour. It’s great for weekly meal prep!
  4. Easy Hard Boiled Eggs: I purchased something similar to this egg steamer rack for my instant pot. I put 1 cup of water in the pot, add the egg rack with eggs and pressure cook for 6 minutes. As soon as it’s finished cooking I quick release the steam and move the eggs to a container of cold water to stop the cooking. Perfect hard boiled eggs every time! Then put them in a jar with a little water and shake the jar around for a quick way to peel the eggs.
  5. Meal prep: I add 4-5 boneless skinless chicken thighs to the pot. Cover with your favorite salsa and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Quick release the pressure and shred the chicken. It’s tender and shreds so easily for tacos, enchiladas, topping a salad etc. You can do this with other meats such as pork tenderloin but I use BBQ sauce and a little water instead.
  6. Bowl in Bowl Method: Use the egg steamer rack from above and place your meat or other meal element in the bottom of your cooker. Then place a small glass bowl on top of the trivet filled with your other meal element. This recipe alone from Food 52 for Butter Chicken is worth purchasing an Instant Pot and it utilizes the pot in pot cooking method. You could also cook something in the bottom and place a steamer dish on the trivet to steam a veggie to pair with your meal. Think meatballs in the bottom and pasta in the bowl on top. So many possibilities!

Consider Purchasing Some Accessories

If you already have an Instant Pot, or you’re looking for some gifts ideas for someone who already has one, consider some of these accessories you can buy such as a glass lid or a steamer basket. I haven’t experimented with this yet, but there are a lot of recipes for making desserts as well using a springform pan like this. Or another option would be these egg bite molds, perfect for mixing an egg with some veggies and cheese for small portable omelet bites.

If you’re concerned about the space that it takes up in your kitchen- trust me, it’s worth swapping out your slow cooker for an Instant Pot. They take up about the same amount of space, but an Instant Pot is so much more versatile. They make great gifts. I think it would be especially useful for someone living in a small apartment where they don’t have a kitchen at all because it can be used to prepare such a variety of meals. Do you get it yet, that I love this thing?! 🙂

Clean Out the Freezer Vegetable Soup

I don’t know about you, but we have been trying out best to stretch our stockpile and avoid going to the store. My freezer is usually stocked with frozen meals such as lasagnas, chicken pot pies and soups. We’ve been eating about 2 of those meals a week to stretch our grocery trips and it’s freeing up a lot of room in my freezer. I’ve had many moments where I think to myself “Wow! I didn’t know I had this in here!” I have found some gems, like frozen mixed berries and frozen cookie dough balls. I have also found about 5 bags of half eaten frozen vegetables. None of the bags really had enough to cook and feed my husband and I for a meal so I was left trying to figure out how to use them. Then I remembered a recipe that my in-laws make for a delicious vegetable soup.

Their soup has a rich and thick tomato base, reminiscent of a chili. I figured all of the frozen veggies would be great in the soup so I called them to have them refresh my memory on the basics for the recipe. Luckily I had the canned tomato products on-hand and I was able to make the soup using up leftover items in my freezer and pantry.

Below is the recipe, but it’s really just a road map for you to adapt to what you have on hand. They use lima beans in their soup that I believe are frozen. I didn’t have any so I used dried navy beans instead. Since I was using dried beans, I cooked my soup in my electric pressure cooker but you can totally simmer this in a large stockpot on the stove if you’re using cooked beans. Use what you have on hand and clean out your freezer!

We topped our soup with sliced green onions, croutons, and parmesan cheese.