The Instant Pot: A Writer’s Best Friend

By Jennifer Hallmark

Have you ever had one of those days? You kept snoozing the clock, and couldn’t get going. After almost being late, the day dragged along and then the drive home crawled with backed up traffic. You arrived home ready to unwind with a good movie and popcorn but you haven’t cooked supper. What’s quick to fix?

Now pretend you’re an at-home writer. You’re at the house all day. No traffic. You can stay in your pajamas if you like. You get up, check emails as you eat your cereal, and then work on that manuscript, three blog posts, and an upgrade on your website. You glance at the clock and gasp. It’s time for supper.

No matter if you work at home or somewhere else, we’d like an easy recipe at the end of the day that tastes good and is simple to make. Sometimes, I use my trusty crockpot but my new best friend is an Instant Pot. It cooks fast and seals in the juices for great flavor no matter what you cook.

And recipes? I have several for days like this but my favorite is Jennifer’s Beef Stew. How can stew be fast? You cook it in the Instant Pot. I love the way it tenders the meat and is super quick. Try it for yourself. I’d love to know what you think. To make it even easier to prepare, buy already sliced carrots and celery and frozen diced onions. 😊

Jennifer’s Beef Stew (Instant Pot)

2 lbs. beef stew meat

1 cup sliced carrots

3-4 cups diced potatoes (not too small)

3 stalks of celery, sliced

1 small onion, diced

32 oz. beef broth

1 packet of beef stew mix

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Pour a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of your Instant Pot, add meat and onions and saute for 9 minutes, stirring until meat is pretty brown. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. Let steam release naturally for 10 minutes, then bleed off steam completely. Stir again and it’s ready to serve.

And there you have it. Easy and delicious. Do you have a go-to recipe? Share it below in the comments. I’d love to add it to my cookbook. 😊

Click to tweet: Want an easy and delicious meal prepared in a short time? Jennifer’s Beef Stew in an Instant Pot on @InspiredPrompt. #recipes #recipeideas

Writing Prompt: Write a short story from the photo below…

Easy Beef Stew

Good morning, dear reader. How’s that writing project coming along? Have enough time in your day? I think we’d all agree we could use less time in the kitchen and more time for writing. Let’s get started.

 

One of my favorite things to do, especially during the winter months, is throw something in the crock pot and cook it all day. It’s amazing what you can come up with by adding a little of this and a whole lot of that.

Here’s a picture of my upcoming recipe. Nothing like a warm bowl to wrap your hands around to ease your worries and comfort your soul. Let’s get right to the recipe

Ingredients

kristian-ryan-alimon-683430-unsplash2 ½ lb. Beef Chuck Roast
1 cup low sodium beef broth
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
4 medium potatoes quartered
4 large carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Your choice of herbs

Instructions

Cut all vegetables into large chunks. Add roast and vegetables to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serve with homemade biscuits.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. Happy writing!

Click to Tweet: Need more time for #writing? Easy #recipes for busy writers this month on Inspired Prompt. @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87

Writing Prompt

Patsy rushed through the door. She was home and her manuscript was waiting. Only one problem. Dinner. She opened the fridge to find only three ingredients . . .

Second photo courtesy Unsplash

A New Twist on a Down-home Dish

My mother’s family is from Eastern Kentucky. She was born and raised there. Appalachia is known for  the food traditions of area families. One staple at every meal was gravy based on the meat being served; my favorite being breakfast with sausage gravy over biscuits and eggs. Yum, yum.

Our summer visits to Prestonsburg, Kentucky meant Mamaw would have cupcakes made and that the extended family would get together for a meal. Cousins, aunts, uncles would come together on the Saturday afternoon after having spent the morning in the kitchen cooking. I can still smell the chicken-flavored air in Mamaw’s small house; the kind you walked through the living room, a bedroom, and a sitting room to get to the kitchen. The air was thick with it.

The horseshoe tournament would ensue while the women put out the meal. In addition to golden-fried chicken, gravy (of course), and potato salad, we would have coleslaw.

Like other dishes, as a child I didn’t like coleslaw, but as I’ve matured, I’ve learned to enjoy it. But only made the way Mamaw made it. Not an easy thing to duplicate. Several years ago, when I ordered a buffalo chicken meal at Buckheads Grill here in Louisville, they offered blue cheese coleslaw. A twist on a recipe I could never duplicate from Mamaw’s house. I gave it a try and absolutely loved it! The blue cheese gave it a new zing that gave me the freedom to enjoy coleslaw without comparing to Mamaw’s.

To make it at home I combined the recipe I found on Allrecipes with some down-home improvising. Give it a try:

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 oz. bag of Classic Coleslaw (gone are the days of buying cabbage and carrots just to shred)
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of blue cheese dressing
  • ½ cup blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice*
  • Touch of sugar*
  • *add to taste

Mix bag of Classic Coleslaw in large bowl with other ingredients. Do it just like Ma-maw, with your bare hands. Hum a little song, add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 30 minutes and serve. Enjoyed best with the ones you love, laughing and swappin’ stories. Fodder for any writer.


Writing prompt: What meal transports you to another time and place? Write a scene to include the meal. Who’s sitting at the table? Who’s the cook?


Click to tweet: The blue cheese gave it a new zing that gave me the freedom to enjoy coleslaw without comparing to Mamaw’s.

Easy Peasy Cooking

I have a friend who never does anything the easy way when it comes to cooking. She even took a French cooking class and makes some of the most delicious food I’ve ever sunk my teeth into. She would never just open a can of this or a packet of that when preparing her meals.

That woman is not me. She is a close friend of mine, but she is definitely not me!

I’m all in there for opening a can of this or a packet of that, pouring it over some kind of meat, and forgetting about it until dinner time. Today I will share with you two of my favorite easy-peasy dishes.

ruth-reyer-1140149-unsplash

Crock-pot Roast Beef

  • Put roast beef in the bottom of a crock-pot. (I use whatever cut of roast beef I find on sale, whether its rump roast, round roast, sirloin, or whatever else my local grocery store may have on sale.)
  • Place ½-1 stick of butter over the meat along with parts of packets of Au jus and a packet of dry ranch dressing.
  • Add vegetables: carrots, potatoes, celery, and onion
  • Sprinkle the rest of contents of the two packets over the veggies and cook according to the crockpot directions (4 hours if on high, 8 hrs if on low.)

*I got this recipe from my daughter-in-law who fixed it for my husband and me when we visited. It was so yummy, that I had to have her recipe.

Easy Barbeque Chicken

  • Put cut up chicken pieces in a casserole dish. Personally, I like chicken breasts, but any cut of chicken would work
  • Sprinkle a dry packet of beefy onion soup over the chicken.
  • Put a can of cranberry sauce over the chicken. I use the cranberry sauce with whole cranberries. This doesn’t pour. You have to spoon it out and sort of spread it over the chicken.
  • Pour about a half cup of California French dressing over this and mix together with the cranberry sauce to the extent you can.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Pull the dish out about midway and baste the meat with the sauce around it.
  • Serve over rice.

*This is one of my youngest son’s favorite meals.

I’m all in there for opening a can of this or a packet of that, pouring it over some kind of meat, and forgetting about it until dinner time. — You can Tweet that!

Writing Prompt: If we open the lid of the crock pot in your kitchen, what do we find?

The Right Recipe for the Write Day

Welcome to September! We’ve planned a fun month at Inspired Prompt and would like to invite you along as our crew and friends talk about cooking and share some of their favorite easy recipes.

Writers need EASY recipes, right? Many authors juggle full-time jobs with childrearing and other things like conferences, meetings, church, and sports. Sometimes writing is delegated to the level of “spare time” activities.

A treasure-trove of easy recipes can be a lifesaver. I love using my crockpot, especially in winter when soups and stews are favorites in my home. But in summer, I prefer something quick, like stir-fried meals. Okay, I didn’t plan ahead enough to put something in the crockpot, so I’m scanning my larder for something simple, that doesn’t take long to cook. One of my favorites requires only a few minutes and is a big palate pleaser—Korean beef and rice.

You can find easy recipes for the ground beef-based meal on Pinterest. As usual, I’ve made a few changes to mine, incorporating personal preferences. One thing to keep in mind, this recipe does call for sugar. Of course, you can substitute a natural product like stevia and use brown rice to increase the fiber.

And if you don’t really like the taste of sesame oil, you can substitute olive oil or even coconut oil, but be aware that it will no longer be “Korean” beef. You can rename it Luau Beef if you use coconut oil, or Roma Beef if you’re using EVOO. I’m kidding, of course. Whatever you call it, it’s yummy.

This meal can be prepared in advance and even stored in individual microwavable bowls. If you add edamame, steamed carrots or other veggies, and fresh berries, you can call it a power bowl. 😊

Here’s the recipe:

Korean Beef Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
¼ – ½ cup brown sugar (I use ¼ cup, plus 2 Tbsp. molasses because I love the taste)
¼ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
½ tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 large clove minced garlic
½ to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Green onions to garnish

  1. Heat skillet. Add sesame oil and brown meat with garlic until meat is done. Drain excess oil/fat.
  2. Add brown sugar (and molasses if using), soy sauce, ginger, red pepper (if using), salt and pepper to taste. Simmer a few minutes, stirring often. Don’t allow it to dry out. If it seems too dry, add a little water or broth (by spoonsful so you don’t overdo it). Serve over rice and garnish with chopped green onions.

I add steamed carrots or broccoli to make this a complete meal. Buy a bag of frozen veggies, prepare, and serve over the beef and rice, or prepare in a bowl as stated above for a neat power bowl.

Other substitutions: you can dice up regular onions (red, white, or yellow) to garnish if you don’t have green onions.

Sometimes, the rice is the most difficult part of this dish! Make it super simple by using instant rice.

What’s your favorite easy recipe? I hope you’ll find several to add to your regular menu rotation as our writers share theirs. We’ll be here every Monday and Friday with a new post and as always, you’re invited to add yours in the comment section.

Welcome to September! We’ve planned a fun month at Inspired Prompt and would like to invite you along as our crew and friends talk about cooking and share some of their favorite easy recipes. — You can Tweet this!

Writing Prompt: It’s almost five in the evening. Marie’s boss and her husband would arrive at seven. She has some frozen chicken breasts in the freezer and a few lonely veggies in the fridge, a box of angel hair pasta in the pantry. What can she do?