Tag: food review

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


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


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+++.

*** *** ***

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!


The Instant Pot Diary: First go-round

Ah, the Instant Pot. I was gifted the magic kitchen appliance for Christmas, which was both exciting and terrifying all at once.

You see, I didn’t want an Instant Pot. In fact, I specifically told my mom when she asked that I did not want one. And yet, I received an Instant Pot.

Something about a pressure cooker unnerved me, but my mom thought it would simplify cooking for me. I vowed to at least give it a try, even though I was convinced I would blow up my house.

I documented the journey on Twitter just in case it really happened.

My first recipe was a simple one. I had joined the ‘Instant Pot Community’ on Facebook, which is currently sitting at more than 1 million people strong. As a note on that, there are a lot of posts that show up in your newsfeed when you’re in a group of over 1 million people. I’ve had better ideas in my lifetime.

Aside from being bombarded with recipes and questions every time I logged on to Facebook, the Instant Pot Community did tell me the best thing to start with: spaghetti and meatballs. I started with this recipe, which promised dinner in 10 minutes.

Well… sure.

Here’s the thing a lot of people don’t tell you (or at least didn’t tell me): Instant Pots have to pressurize (duh, Erin – PRESSURE COOKER) and frozen foods take longer for that process to happen. Well, I had poured an entire 1 pound bag of Hy-Vee frozen meatballs in the pot (the Italian style, to be exact), so I was waiting a long time for that sucker to pressurize.

Once it did pressurize though, the whole thing was pretty slick. It cooked for 10 minutes, I released the pressure and voila – dinner was done! The best part? It was literally one bowl to clean (aside from the dishes we used to eat), which was a major selling point to me aside from anything else.

The only thing I learned is that you have to make sure you cover all spaghetti noodles with sauce or water. I missed a few, and they turned out a little crunchy. The rest were great though, and the meatballs were perfect.

For someone who didn’t even want an Instant Pot, I’m pretty addicted at this point. It’s easy, convenient, and a little fun to use. The next night I even threw a bag of Trader Joe’s chicken fried rice in with a cup of water, threw it on the sauté function for 5 minutes, and it turned out perfect. Sold.

I’m trying meatloaf and mashed potatoes next, so thoughts and prayers. We’ll see how it goes. And I’ll make sure to recap it here, because if I don’t document it – did it even happen?

By the way, if you have any recipes I should try, let me know. You can tweet at me, email me, or leave a comment here.


P.S. Could I have taken literally any worse of a photo for the cover of this post? Probably, but this one is still… something. I was hungry, people. No time to correct the lighting or remove the spaghetti splatters.

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


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


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


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.


Continue reading “Hello Fresh: A Review”