Category: Reviews

Instant Pot Diaries: Zero to 100 real quick

Look what has returned! The Instant Pot Diaries! And because this is the second edition, I took the singular diary and made it plural. Big day around here, folks. Big day.

If you read last week’s post, you know I tried spaghetti and meatballs for my very first meal. It was an experience. So much so, I used my Instant Pot again and again. I’m a crazy person!

I also promised I would report back on the meatloaf I planned to make, and I did make it. So here I am. BUT guess what! I also made ribs in my Instant Pot! Look out, world!

OK – That’s enough sentences with exclamation points. Let’s get down to business.

Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

Recipe via I Wash You Dry

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This was the meal I was most eager to try after the spaghetti and meatballs. I’d seen a lot of talk about making meatloaf and mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot and how easy it was, but I needed proof. I needed to make it myself.

So, how did it turn out? Here are my quick thoughts:

  • The seasoning and BBQ sauce in this recipe are great. Next time I make it I’ll probably go for a spicier BBQ sauce versus sweet, but I liked the use of BBQ sauce in the actual meatloaf (I usually use ketchup).
  • I would recommend 25 minutes on Manual in the Instant Pot, versus 20. I did 20, and it turned out fine but was still a little pink in the center. Nothing a few minutes in the oven couldn’t fix, but I’ll just leave it in the Instant Pot longer next time.
  • Also, don’t skip the broiling part. That really makes the ketchup concoction on top come to life.
  • The mashed potatoes were the best part. I’m never making mashed potatoes on the stove ever again. I literally chopped them up (skin and all), tossed them in the bottom of the pot and forgot about them. When the meatloaf went in the oven, I mashed them up with some butter, milk and sour cream, and voila. Best thing ever.

All in all, I’d give this meal a B+. It’d be higher had I let the meatloaf cook longer in the Instant Pot, but now I know for next time. We’re learning!

Also, do you like how I couldn’t wait to eat the top of my roll until the photo was taken? Whoops.

Instant Pot Baby Back Pork Ribs

Recipe via I Wash You Dry

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Talk about the diet plate, right?

Anyway, this was a meal that wasn’t supposed to happen but I was so inspired by the meatloaf that I just went for it. A trip to the store for ribs and I was in business.

Here’s what I will say about cooking ribs in the Instant Pot: Do it. Do it. Do it.

I am in no way suggesting these are better than smoking them for hours, or whatever fancy tricks y’all have, but for a quick meal, these couldn’t have turned out better. The meat literally fell off the bone, and they were so tender. I am impressed.

Once the weather gets nicer, I think you could finish the ribs off on the grill versus in the oven. I plan to try that myself.

In the meantime, give this recipe an A+++.

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Well, I promised an Instant Pot update and I stuck by my word (hooray!). I’m trying to find other recipes worth trying, but I did buy more frozen meatballs in the meantime for spaghetti.

I really wasn’t sure what to make of the Instant Pot when I first got it, but I can genuinely say I’m happy with it now. Will it replace all cooking in my kitchen? Of course not, but it’s a fun way to try new recipes and also get dinner on the table fast when I need to.

I’ll keep you posted as I continue on this Instant Pot journey. I’m going to have to try a roast at some point. Maybe some soup? The options are endless!

Erin

Masking the scars: My favorite makeup go-tos

As you may or may not know, I was in a serious car accident about two years ago. The car I was in was struck by a drunk driver going nearly three times the legal speed limit. Our car was torn open as a result, and the gas tank exploded right by where I was seated.

Needless to say, I suffered burns to my face and scalp. It’s been a difficult journey (and one that isn’t even yet over) but I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way to help mask my scars. While there’s nothing wrong with scars (and they should always be celebrated!), I still want to cover the redness/rough texture if I’m out and about.

With that said, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite makeup products that have helped me over the last two years. While not every item I use will make sense for everyone, I’ve run the gamut of products and thought something I use may help solve a problem someone else has.

Without further adieu, here’s a short list of some of my favorite makeup products with review:

Glossier Boy Brow

My right eyebrow was burnt in the accident, but it has mostly grown back. It’s a bit thinner now though, which has had me looking for ways to fill my eyebrows in without *looking like I filled my eyebrows in.*

And y’all, there were a few days for awhile where my eyebrows looked ROUGH. It was a process.

I’ve tried so many products (WunderBrow is excellent if you’re going swimming, FYI) but Glossier’s Boy Brow (I use the brown shade) has been life changing. I use it daily, whether I’m going out or just hanging at home. It has helped my right eyebrow look so much more normal and I can’t thank Glossier enough for creating this product.

And if I ever need any extra help just filling in my eyebrows, Benefit’s Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra Fine Shape & Define is the way to go.

Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45

I’ll never forget the day I was finally cleared to wear makeup after my accident. I went straight to Sephora without a clue of what to buy. I knew I needed products with SPF (because a scar’s pigmentation can permanently change if exposed to too much sun) but how could I slather sunscreen on top of makeup?

Enter Peter Thomas Roth’s Instant Mineral SPF 45.

The woman at Sephora that worked with me that day showed me this product and I’m obsessed with it. I keep one in my bag in the summer, just in case I’m caught outside for too long and need some extra protection. And I always use it as a setting powder when I’m done with my makeup.

It’s a neutral-color, it’s easy to apply and the SPF 45 is perfect for what I need. This is a product I’ll never be without.

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer

My scars are red. Well, not red *red* anymore, but definitely a darker shade of pink. Laser treatments and time can help, but it’s something I’ve worked hard to correct.

I’ve found that Make Up For Ever’s Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer is a good place to start. It’s light and perfect if you’re trying to even out light redness. It’s not going to remove severe redness though, which is why I have two products on hand for this very issue (more below).

I recommend this product if you’re looking to color correct just a little redness. They also have other colors if you have something else bogging you down.

Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Color Corrector (in green)

As I mentioned above, I need something that can really reduce redness on some areas os my skin. That’s why I turned to Lancome’s Ultra Wear Camouflage Color Corrector.

Here’s the thing: It’s VERY green. When you put it on and start blending, you’ll look a little like Kermit the Frog (or like you’re going to be sick). It’s OK, though. It blends well (just give it a minute!) and it really does reduce redness.

I typically only wear this product if I know I’m going somewhere, will be photographed, or it’s a night out. For day-wear, I typically stay just with my Make Up For Ever version and use foundation to help cover additional redness.

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Now, I have way more products that I use beyond just these four. I wanted to start here though, because these are staples in my makeup routine. Caring for scars has been a learning process, but it’s been fun to get to know other makeup and beauty products along the way.

Prior to my accident, I had hardly tried anything different in the makeup world. I was a powder concealer and bronzer gal, with a little blush, eyeliner, and mascara. I now use a bit more, but I like to still keep it simple. The products above allow me to do that and to still feel like me.

And I’ll happily circle back with more makeup and beauty product recommendations soon. If there’s something you’re particularly interested in, let me know. You can email me, tweet at me, or leave a comment below.

With that said, I’m off to get my face ready for the day.

Erin

Charge On

Life has been crazy lately. Between a half-marathon, changing jobs, traveling, co-hosting radio shows and more, it’s been busy. For that reason, this blog is far overdue but actually fitting because the last month has really given me a chance to try (and I mean really try) the product I’m about to share with you.

Let me introduce you to the Charge On protein bar. The awesome folks at Complete Nutrition had heard I was on the hunt for a good protein bar and reached out with the Charge On bar. Here’s a little more from them directly:

The Charge On™ Protein Bar is designed for people who want real nutrition from real food! This naturally sweetened healthy protein snack includes ingredients such as almond butter, coconut oil, cherries, and cashews. With 20g of protein, only 5g of sugar, and real, delicious whole food ingredients, this protein bar is stacked.

First and foremost, I’ve tried both the Dark Chocolate Cherry and the Salted Caramel Cashew and they are good. I mean it. Some protein bars are tolerable and you convince yourself that you don’t mind them (but in reality, you hate them). That’s not the Charge On bars at all. They don’t taste like protein bars, which means I’ve been using them quite a bit on the go.

Co-hosting a radio show? Charge on. Running errands over lunch? Charge on. Need a boost before a run? Charge on.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Why? Because I’m giving YOU the opportunity to win a box of the Dark Chocolate Cherry Charge On bars (8 bars, $20 value). All you have to do is head over to my Instagram, find the photo of the Charge On bars, like the photo and tag a friend. I’ll randomly draw a winner on Friday, June 9.

With that, I’m off. Charge on, y’all.

Erin

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Disclosure: I received these products complimentary from Complete Nutrition for testing purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hello Fresh: A Review

You know what’s better than food? Free food. And thanks to my friend Jamie, I was able to try Hello Fresh free for a week. It was delightful.

I’ve never subscribed to a food delivery service so I was intrigued. I’d helped cook a Blue Apron meal once before, but I’ve never actually tried one of the services for myself. I figured I’d give it a go, learn a few new recipes and see what all the fuss was about.

The box arrived on Wednesday, March 15. I immediately liked how everything was separated, so I knew exactly what items went with what meal. It also made storing everything super simple in my fridge. The one note I’d make for the future is to take a quick inventory of everything. I didn’t think to go through each box and I ultimately ended up missing out on an item (more on that later).

So, what did I think about the meals? Without further adieu:

Meatballs on Top of Cavatappi with Broccoli and Pesto Cream Sauce

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This had the most calories per serving of the three meals I received (950kcal) but it tasted really fresh. It had pesto, cheese and fresh-squeezed lemon, so the flavors were really nice. I didn’t do an amazing job with the meatballs so they turned out a little less round and more random looking, but still very good. Overall, I’d eat this again.

Grade: B+

Dukkah-Crusted Cod with Cranberry Couscous and Roasted Veggies

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This had to be the favorite of the three meals. Despite missing the cranberries (which honestly wasn’t a huge deal), this dish came together really well. The fish was flaky, the vegetables roasted perfectly and the couscous cooked really well. It was also the simplest to make, oddly enough. I’d recreate this again, no question.

Grade: A

Chicken Under a Zucchini Blanket with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

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So, my mashed potatoes were more chunky than I think intended and I blame myself for that. I should have cooked them longer (but I’m always impatient with boiling potatoes). I also probably piled too much zucchini on the chicken, but that’s not a bad thing I suppose. Overall, this one was good. It wasn’t my favorite, but it would be easy to make again and I liked the idea of a vegetable bake on top of chicken vs. bread crumbs.

Grade: B-

Overall, I thought Hello Fresh was great. I loved the way their product is packaged and their customer service is great. When I let them know I was missing an ingredient, they responded within minutes and credited me for a future order. Their response time was seriously impressive.

I don’t think I’d order something like Hello Fresh every single week, but if there’s a week I’m feeling uninspired with my own cooking? I’d definitely let Hello Fresh do the work.

Now I’m hungry.

Erin

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