Another Guest Post by Cindy Dake!
Since the title speaks for itself, let’s get down to business: Have you been good this year?
If not, then move along and spend some time reflecting on what you’re going to do with your stocking full of coal. But if you’ve been good, then do yourself a favor by thinking through some really great ways to make your life easier in 2019!
Or you could think about how to make your meal prep easier next year. Now that’s a gift that will keep on giving! Think of it as the gift of time you’ll give yourself over and over again, all year long.
The biggest game-changer for me lately has been the pressure cooker(s) that have come to live in my kitchen. I went from being a doubter to a big fan! I’ll overview my top 3 pressure cookers (because you want to give Santa a choice, right?) and then I’ll throw in the accessories that have made things even easier. (*Accessories are just that – convenient add-ons. You can certainly dive into pressure cooking without them – I did! But if you’re sharing your Wish List with family and friends, well, this is a handy way to give them some ideas for things that will beat out toe socks as a practical, yet pragmatic, gift to give and receive!)
First, let’s start with pressure cookers. If you haven’t hopped on board the pressure cooker revolution, then, honey, it’s time! I’ll get right to it. Pressure cookers come in a variety of sizes and with lots of steely-gray touch-sensitive buttons. It can look overwhelming.
Let me tell you about three sizes of pressure cookers that I can recommend. You’ll have three sizes to choose from – based on your cooking needs and interests. And because I have used (and actively use) all three, I am a fan and an experienced one at that.
JUST GETTING STARTED? Try the Instant Pot LUX60 6-quart 6-in-1.
When I started out, I just knew I wanted to cook yummy food faster. How’s that for a definitive motivation? That’s about all I knew. I didn’t want to spend an arm-and-a-leg, so I opted for the Instant Pot LUX60 6-quart 6-in-1 (which means it has 6 functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute, steamer, warmer – it doesn’t have a yogurt function).
The Instant Pot LUX60 6-quart 6-in-1 was really affordable at about $79. Three years later, it’s still $79!
Now, if you’re fearing that this big box will just become a doorstop, let me stop you right here. Do not approach pressure cooking with the mentality that you have to learn how to cook pressure-cooking recipes. Three years ago, I determined quickly that I wasn’t going to suddenly try to start preparing new, elaborate recipes for my family. I’m not all that fond of cookbooks and bizarre recipes with loooong lists of ingredients. I recommend to pressure-cooking newbies that you try cooking your tried-and-true recipes just faster. What do you usually cook in the oven, in the slow cooker, etc.? Try it in your pressure cooker! Sure, check out some new recipes, but don’t feel limited by the new world of pressure cooking. Almost anything you’ve cooked in other situations can be cooked in a pressure cooker – and it’s almost always faster and usually a lot less mess!
LOVE TO GO SMALL? Try the 3-QUART INSTANT POT!
About a year after falling in love with my 6-quart Instant Pot, I pretty easily rationalized buying a 3-quart model — the Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-quart model because I wanted to be able to cook smaller portions, to cook simultaneously in two pots, and because I was really ready to do something I thought I would NEVER do – to make yogurt. This model has a yogurt function!
You can find this littler feller for under $70 pretty often, and with its smaller size, it’s great for a quick round of Steel Cut Oatmeal in the mornings, a smaller batch of boiled eggs, a quick batch of soup (that won’t feed an army), and much more. For our family of three, this smaller IP earns its keep all the time!
Suffice it to say, I went nuts with making yogurt. It was truly the best yogurt I’d ever had – and I’d had some pretty good store-bought yogurt over the years. Quick note: When I learned that draining the whey (thin, yellowish, clear liquid) from the yogurt through a simple white paper coffee strainer or cup towel, then I had thick, dense, a-maz-ing Greek Yogurt! That’s the difference between regular yogurt and Greek Yogurt – the whey has been drained off!
My final suggestion for your Christmas Wish List is the Power Pressure Cooker XL – and while it’s not an Instant Pot, this one has some fabulous qualities that deserve your attention, too.
THINK BIGGER IS BETTER? TRY THE Power Pressure Cooker XL 8-quart!
At about $150, this one is definitely more of an investment, but at 8-quart capacity, you can feed an army pretty easily!
The Power Pressure Cooker XL 8-quart holds a whole chicken, can fit a 3-pound roast beef on the bottom of the inner pot, and more chili than you can swim in (figuratively speaking). This model has a Teflon coating on the inner pot which makes clean-up even easier, plus there’s a drop-in steamer tray which will rest halfway up the inside of the pot. I love to cook boiled eggs in this pressure cooker and let a dozen eggs sit on the steamer tray. (Love boiled eggs? You really can’t mess up boiled eggs in a pressure cooker, but if you want to remember the 5-5-5 method, it’s helpful. Pressure cook for 5 minutes, quick release for 5 minutes, then sit in cool water for 5 minutes. But to be honest, I always have to peel and eat a few before that final 5 minutes is up!)
So, now how about some ACCESSORIES because you’ve got a stocking that is going to need some goodies!
Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid
Price range: $11.99-16.95
This tempered glass lid with a steam vent and stainless steel rim and handle just makes sense – when you don’t need the pressure cooker lid to hold your ingredients airtight and create pressure — THIS lid is awesome. It’s like the glass slow-cooker lid we grew up using on our Crock Pots. You can see what’s happening inside the inner pot. After you’ve pressure-cooked your ingredients with the regular pressure-cooker lid, swap out to this glass lid as you finish up your recipe or keep the yummy stuff warm until serving. Making soup? Making yogurt? Sautéing? These reasons and more are why the glass lid is a handy friend to have. Think of it as your Instant Pot’s new BFF. It’s dishwasher safe and can even be used in the oven up to 428-degrees Fahrenheit (220 Celsius). Key point to remember: This fits Instant Pots only.
SILICONE PRESSURE COOKER RACK
This crazy-affordably-priced rack (think “trivet”) drops onto the bottom of your pressure cooker’s inner pot and provides a safe distance for anything that would otherwise get too overdone during the cooking process. It works best for the 6-quart and larger pressure cookers.
(For use in the Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-quart, this little red rack is just a tad too wide so it doesn’t sit on the bottom of the inner pot. Trust me, that’s not going to help you in the long run for it to be stuck halfway down the inner pot, so stick with using this with larger pots. I tried using it in this way and things didn’t work out so well. Just use it in your 6-quart and up.)
I’ve used this for cooking boiled eggs – keeping those little jewels off the bottom of the inner pot means guaranteed perfection on the world’s yummiest boiled eggs.
I’ve used this for keeping a “cushion” between the bottom of the pot and another dish I inserted into the inner pot — like when I made banana bread in a Corningware French White dish. This rack kept the Corningware off the bottom of the super-hot inner pot “floor.” The banana bread wasn’t burned on the bottom at all.
I’ve used this to keep meats and veggies just a smidge above the bottom of the hottest part of the inner pot. It serves to drain grease/fat away from the meat and veggies.
It’s super-easy to use and clean-up! Made from food-grade silicone and with wide spaces between each “rib,” it’s really easy to get clean after cooking greasy foods. Hello, dishwasher!
And you saw that I called it a trivet? Well, good news, it actually can be used as a trivet to protect your table or countertop from hot pots and pans. Talk about the cutest little red workhorse for your kitchen! And it will fit admirably in your stocking.
Instant Pot Silicone Lid – 3 sizes
You’ve just cooked up the yummiest soup ever – and now all you want to do is sit on the couch and prop your tootsies up by the fireplace. Clean-up is fast with the Instant Pot anyway – but you can make it even faster by just pulling out the inner pot and plopping this silicone lid on top and stowing the leftovers in the refrigerator. No need to transfer the leftovers to another container!
Then when it’s time to warm it up again, remove this lid, and put the inner pot back into your IP – set to “Keep Warm” or “Saute” – or do what I have done many times – I place the inner pot (it has a stainless steel bottom, you know) on my glass stovetop and just warm up the inner pot directly on my stovetop. Works like a charm!
So there you go! Three pressure cookers – three accessories – and you’ve got plenty of fodder for your Christmas Wish List!
Now the hardest part is to keep being good until Christmas!