There are a few foods that conjure up childhood memories for me – tomato soup is one of them. I remember having a bowl of warm, creamy, tomato soup any time of year. My favorite way to enjoy it was to dip in saltines. A close second was the grilled cheese accompaniment. Even my husband, who was raised in a different country remembers his dad making him tomato soup. My kids have *gasp* never had the condensed soup of my childhood, but they all like this version that I prepare in theInstant Pot®, especially when I make grilled cheese on the side.
We have had the most glorious spring. After an unseasonably mild winter, spring came early. It’s been warm and sunny and we have been grilling out more often than not. Today it’s a seasonably appropriate dreary April day. My newly planted grass seed could certainly use the drink, and my husband could use a break from grill duty. I decided that I had a taste for my Easy Lentil Soup, but I was out of green lentils. However, I did have a bag of red lentils, so I created a new lentil soup recipe. This red lentil soup is just as easy to make as my other recipe. If you have never used red lentils before, they do not hold their shape like other lentils. They become creamy and delicious as they cook down. One of my favorite lentil soups uses sumac to add brightness and a little bit of sour flavor. I never have sumac, so I used fresh lemon juice after cooking the soup in the Instant Pot®. If you do have sumac, feel free to stir in a teaspoon before cooking the soup.
Today is the first day of spring break. Since we are not in a rush to head off to school, I had a bit more time to work on a cooking technique that I recently heard about. It is called the “pot-in-pot” method and it is used for cooking grains in the Instant Pot® pressure cooker. Instead of placing the grain (oats, rice, quinoa, etc.) directly in water in the Instant Pot®, you mix the grains with water in a bowl, place the bowl on a trivet, and then cook them that way. Most often this method is used to cook a grain WHILE you cook something else below it in the pressure cooker. I love this method, because it makes cleanup a breeze. If you like steel cut oats, give this method a try.
Happy New Year! I hope the New Year brings you health and happiness. In the spirit of good health, I feel like I have to make a little confession. I don’t really like kale. It’s too bitter, I’d rather eat a potato chip and there are other greens that I prefer in my smoothies, so why do I feel the need to keep trying to like it? It turns out that there are two ways to prepare it that I do not mind, so I guess I don’t TOTALLY hate kale. If it is shredded and massaged in tasty vinaigrette, it’s pretty good. I also enjoy it in a soup like this. It holds up really well pressure cooking in the Instant Pot® and seems to lose some of its bitterness as it cooks.
This recipe is not my own. Full credit goes to my 11-year-old son. He has a sudden interest in cooking and has been watching old reruns of Good Eats on Netflix. My son is the sole vegetarian in our house, and sometimes I buy him special vegetarian treats. I recently bought him frozen corn and poblano tamales, and while he liked them enough, he asked if we could try making them better. I told him yes, thinking (hoping) he would just forget about it. A week later he asked me to buy corn husks and masa. I said sure, and threw them in a cabinet – out of sight. The next day he came to the kitchen with a recipe written on graph paper and his kindle with Alton Brown’s tamale episode ready to show me. I knew he would not relent.
I don’t know if you heard, but the Chicago Cubs just won the World Series!!!!! We are pretty big fans over here, and our week has been filled with soaking in every celebratory moment – including my kids getting to meet the amazingly generous and kind MVP, Ben Zobrist. There were many post-midnight bedtimes for everyone in the last week, and TIRED does not begin to describe the exhaustion level in our house. Today I wanted a day with no obligations. We all headed to bed early last night and slept in late today. I thought about a quick PB&J lunch, but my kids have been bingeing on Halloween candy for the last week, and need to get reacquainted with vegetables. I decided to make a vegetarian friendly “no-chicken” noodle soup. It was just what we all needed. Warm, comforting, and quick to make in the Instant Pot®. The perfect way to ease into a relaxing and soothing weekend.
Today is such a gorgeous fall day. The sky is bright blue and the leaves are beginning to peak. I decided to take my 2 year old on a walk to the park. We played for awhile and then continued walking away from home, because it was absolutely gorgeous and I love to be outside. After awhile, I realized we were about 40 minutes from home and both my daughter and I were suddenly STARVING. I did not have any snacks, so I decided to distract her with fallen leaves and neighborhood Halloween decorations. Meanwhile, I fantasized about any number of things I could make for lunch. Since I was so hungry, I knew I could be tempted by some bad choices, so I needed something healthy and substantial to combat the junk food cravings. A goddess bowl (or glory bowl, or Buddha bowl) sounded perfect. Quinoa, assorted veggies, dressing and toppings would be just the thing. All I needed was to make some quinoa and preferably in my Instant Pot®.
I have been in denial about the change in seasons (as I always am), but as I take my morning walk, I have noticed the beautiful trees are changing to vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. Fall is officially here. The days are getting shorter, the weather is cooler, and despite being sad that summer is over, I am in the mood for cozy sweaters, boots, and Fall foods. This week, I picked up a butternut squash at the market, but I did not have a plan in mind. My favorite way to prepare squash is to roast it in the oven, however, steamed squash in the Instant Pot® is great for mashing and using in soup. I have plans to use this in a risotto that I will hopefully share with you soon.
Do you know what happens when the calendar moves from August to September? It’s officially all of the things PUMPKIN SPICE SEASON! I try not to be a crazy person. I haven’t even gotten my first pumpkin spice latte from the pumpkin spice latte store and I haven’t made a pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread. What prompted me to make Pumpkin Spice Steel-Cut Oats this morning? Honestly, I wasn’t celebrating the start of Fall, because let’s be real – I am not quite ready to let go of Summer. The truth is, I was out of a lot of food. I did have a box of almond milk, steel-cut oats, a can of pumpkin puree and three hungry kids. So ready or not, our house is embracing pumpkin spice season with this warm and hearty oatmeal.
Sweet Potatoes are one of the foods that I always have on hand. I used to roast them in the oven once a week. Now I throw a bunch in the Instant Pot® and have them ready to go for a dinner side dish, an add-in to a breakfast hash, or as one of the main ingredients in my favorite Sweet Potato and Black Bean Lasagna. Instant Pot® Sweet Potatoes are tender, creamy, and an easy way to make sure you have nutritious foods available.