Over Christmas I joined the Instant Pot craze…. and I have loved it! There have been several evenings it has saved the day with a quick and nutritious meal rather than us grabbing something on the way home or piecing together a random dinner. All of those absolutely serve their purpose in our schedules, but having this additional option is great.
Please know that I am not writing this trying to convince you to go out and buy another kitchen gadget, but many of you already have an Instant Pot that may or may not be being used. I have heard several of our friends and clients say they feel a little overwhelmed by jumping in once they have purchased one. After using mine for a few weeks, I am by no means an expert, but I thought I would share just a few of the pros and cons I have found thus far. My number one tip if you have been hesitant: Just go for it! *For inquiring minds, I have the Instant Pot DUO80 8 Qt 7-in-1. *
- The Instant Pot gives you the ability to do most of the cooking processes of a recipe in one place. Whether it is sautéing garlic and onion together before adding into a larger recipe, browning meat, searing the sides of meat, etc.
- FROZEN meats… You can add frozen meat (for the times you forgot to make any dinner preparations at all!) into the Instant Pot and cook along with your recipe or as an addition to your meal. Talk about a time saver. In the recipe I will share later, I added my completely frozen chicken tenderloins in with my other ingredients, cooked it, and was able to shred the chicken with a spoon.
- Product functions and help. The Instant Pot can cook elaborate, multi-item meals or it can be used to make delicious baked potatoes, hardboiled eggs, yogurt, rice, dry beans, etc. in a faster manner. If you get stumped or don’t know where to start- the user manual is very helpful with tips and tricks, but also, since the Instant Pot craze is alive and well- there are tips and resources everywhere online!
- Clean-up. As I stated earlier multi-step recipes can be completed in one place without having a kitchen full of used dishes. The inner-pot, lid, rings and additional accessories are all dishwasher safe. That is a huge perk in my book!
- Product Options. I opted for the 8-quart Instant Pot to have more cooking capacity as we will be a family of 5 soon. There are options ranging from the mini (3 quart) up to the 8-quart depending on your needs. Also, select features ranging from 6-in-1 to 10-in-1 which basically varies the capabilities.
- Time. INSTANT can be slightly misleading. Although cooking speeds can definitely be faster than traditional methods, there is still time needed on either side of the actual recipe cooking time. For example- a soup recipe says, “delicious soup in 13 minutes!” This is not accounting for the 10 minutes or so on the front end that is needed for pressure to build, the 13 minute cook time, and then the 10 minutes or so of natural pressure release on the back end that brings your item to completion. Still fast from start to finish, but there is usually extra time required that some recipes or sites don’t advertise.
- Product size. Just like a crock-pot, but slightly bigger, adding the Instant Pot to your kitchen gadget repertoire can require creative storing ideas if you are low on kitchen space. Due to the stainless-steel design and mostly clean look, if it needed to be stored on a kitchen counter or open space, it is not an eye sore. Just large!
- Not everything was meant to be cooked in the Instant Pot… Due to the nature of usually needing a liquid in with whatever you’re cooking, this makes it a wet/moist cooking environment. With certain egg products, desserts, meats, etc., if you like things a little drier, you may want to reserve those items for traditional cooking methods.
- I mentioned above one of the perks was being able to cook frozen meats in little time without thawing. I have, so far, not had any issues with meats being done and/or tender, but just use caution. Although meats may look cooked, always make sure they have been cooked to the appropriate temperatures internally. **I usually add additional time for fully frozen meats just to be on the safe side. A few minutes can make all the difference.**
As I continue to use my Instant Pot and explore with more recipes, I know this list of pros and cons will grow, but for now- there is my opinion! (These are strictly my own personal opinions with no professional affiliations or connection.)
WHAT I’M COOKING…
Now to the fun part- with it being winter, sick-season, etc., soups have been my go-to recipes to experiment with. The White Chicken Chili I originally found from A Pinch of Healthy (check it out!) has been my favorite! Friends have eaten with us each time I have prepared this dish and they always ask for the recipe. I have made a few of my own adaptations with various personal preferences, but truthfully- the recipe exactly how she has it is delish! She also has several other nutritious recipes on her site
For the last few weeks we have been in the middle of a small kitchen renovation. While I am excited and starting to love my new space, making meals without a sink, stove or countertops can be slightly tricky! One pot soup meals have made me love my Instant Pot even more! This soup is so simple and made with ingredients I typically have on hand at all times.
**Note in the pictures- my soup has more of a yellowish-orange tint because I added turmeric spice. I love the subtle rich flavor it provides… but it will make your food change colors!**
Northern Bean Chicken Soup
- 1-1 ½ pounds chicken tenderloin (or breast or any cut you prefer- you can see mine is still frozen completely)
- 6 cups chicken stock homemade or store-bought (I use 6 cups because I like “brothy” soups)
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced or garlic powder
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cans can white northern beans drained and rinsed, 15-ounce cans
- 1 can diced green chilis undrained (I used 7 oz, but 4 oz is sufficient)
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- salt and pepper to your liking
- Cilantro (optional)
- Avocado (optional)
- Place all ingredients inside the Instant Pot, turn and lock lid.
- Make sure your seal/vent valve is appropriately turned to ensure optimized pressure building.
- I used the meat/stew button, setting the time for 17 minutes
- Once cooking has been completed, I allowed the steam to naturally release and then let it default to “keep warm” until we were ready to eat. If you are in a time pinch, you can manually release the steam with your valve.
- Shred chicken and place back into the soup. With the tenderloins being smaller, I usually find it is very easy to shred with my spoon once I have already plated it, but this can be done however you prefer.
- Serve and enjoy!
- The first few times I served this soup, I added a piece of whole wheat garlic toast on the side. The last time, I used cornbread as my grain with a small side of fruit. Both were delish!
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