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Instant success

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

Gadgets are everywhere in my house. Even the 3-year-old twins have gadgets, devices that play videos and games. We have a tool that peels, slices and cores an apple. We have a laminator that's never been used. Our paper shredder is in the garage. Again, it's unused. So when my husband brought home yet another gadget, an electric pressure cooker, I had my doubts.

I have to admit, pressure cookers have always scared me. I've witnessed a low country boil gone wrong first-hand at a football tailgate. With a house full of children running around the kitchen, pressure cookers scare me even more nowadays.

We quickly discovered, though, our Instant Pot wouldn't be another gadget just sitting around. Its extensive safety mechanism eased my mind about those wild explosions you hear about. It's easy to use, programmable, and the final product has always quite satisfied our picky eaters. Grandma's old-school pressure cooker has been advanced and modified for today's tech-savvy and busy mom with the Instant Pot.

The saute feature makes it a great all-in-one pot, particularly with meat dishes. Often, we'll just use the manual timer or the pre-set meat/stew setting. Other settings include slow cooker, rice and even yogurt. This is one handy device!

When beginning the cooking process with the Instant Pot, it does take a little time for the pressure to build up before the timer begins. After the food is done, you can let the Instant Pot depressurize on its own or utilize the pressure valve to release the pressure quickly. This is handy when preparing meat, but not recommended when cooking starch items.

Our children's daycare uses the Instant Pot daily to prepare lunch for the kids, and we've been able to take advantage of an extra busy fall by cooking with ours quite frequently. One of my favorite benefits is how the meat always comes out tender and juicy, just like advertised.

We're pleased with our Instant Pot. After all, the best gadgets are ones that can replace multiple items like this one has. There are lots of great recipes to get you started.


Instant Pot Recipe: Beef and Noodles

Adapted from farmandfoodie.com.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. beef stew meat
1/4 c. flour
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. beef broth
1 c. fresh mushrooms, diced
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard or spicy mustard of your choice
1 (16-oz.) pkg. egg noodles, cooked according to pkg. directions

Directions:

1. Place flour, salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag and shake to mix. Add beef stew meat and coat with flour mixture.

2. Set Instant Pot to saute and add olive oil. Add beef and brown for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and garlic and brown for about 2 minutes.

3. Add beef broth and close the Instant Pot. Select the "Meat/Stew" setting on the Instant Pot and set the timer for 35 minutes. Make sure the pressure release valve is in the closed position.

4. When done, quick release the pressure valve, open up the lid carefully, and add sour cream, mustard and mushrooms. Stir and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add more salt, pepper, or additional seasonings if desired and thicken the sauce with a little corn starch (or flour) mixed with water.

5. Serve over prepared noodles


Instant Pot Honey Pork Chops

Adapted from onceamonthmeals.com.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. pork chops
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
pinch of minced ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Directions:

1. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper and place in the inner pot.

2. Set Instant Pot to saute.

3. Brown pork chops on each side.

4. In a small bowl, combine honey, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Pour over pork chops.

5. Lock cover into place and seal steam nozzle.

6. Set on the manual setting for 15 minutes.

7. When done, quick release the pressure valve and open the lid carefully.


Instant Pot Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Source: cookiesandcups.com.

Ingredients:

Crust

1 1/2 c. finely crushed Ritz, about 1 1/2 sleeves
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Cheesecake

1 (16-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. sour cream
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs

Topping

1/2 c. caramel sauce
1 tsp. flaked sea salt

Directions:

1. Spray a 7-inch springform pan lightly with cooking spray. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and spray again. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine the Ritz crumbs, butter and sugar evenly. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until combined and even. Add in the sour cream and mix for 30 more seconds until smooth, add in the flour, salt and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Finally, add in the eggs and mix until just smooth. Don't over-mix.

4. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.

5. Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of your Instant Pot. Place the trivet that came with the pot into the bottom. Cut a piece of aluminum foil the same size as a paper towel. Place the foil under the paper towel and put the springform pan on top of the paper towel. Wrap the bottom of the pan in the foil, with the paper towel as a barrier.

6. Next take another piece of foil about 18-inches long folded into thirds long-wise. Place this under the springform pan and use the two sides as a sling to place the cheesecake into the pot. It will also make it very easy to remove the cheesecake from the Instant Pot when it's done.

7. Once the pan is in the Instant Pot secure the lid and press the manual button. Adjust the pressure to high and set for 35 minutes, making sure the vent is closed.

8. Let the cheesecake cook and then allow the pressure to release naturally.

9. Remove the cheesecake from the pot using the sling you prepared and place on a wire rack to cool the cheesecake for an hour. Cover the cheesecake in the pan with foil and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

10. When you're ready to serve, top the cheesecake with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with sea salt. Using a butter knife loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan and release the sides of the pan.

11. Store airtight refrigerated for up to five days.

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