Instant Pot Magic

Okay, so I finally did it… I bought an Instant Pot.  I’m sure you’ve heard of it, unless you’ve been living under a bridge, in which case you should maybe rethink your life choices because I can think of much better places to reside.  Anyhoo, I decided for it’s maiden voyage that we would make mac ‘n cheese because it’s something everyone loves and it seemed simple enough. I apologize in advance for not taking more pictures… if you are ever at our house during mealtimes, you’ll understand why it’s sometimes very difficult to take photos between the distractions of cats and children.

Bottom line, it’s so easy to use and I love all of the settings and how big it is.  Now… is it actually quicker?  Usually, if only by a few minutes.  The one thing you have to take into account is that while it may only take a few minutes to cook something, you have to add in 10-15 minutes for it to actually reach pressure before it starts cooking and then another 10 minutes I think for the pressure to naturally release (NR).  This recipe called for Quick Release (QR) and I was not prepared…  I had to quickly get a towel to cover up a 3 foot steam geyser of a combination of water and butter (which the noodles had been cooking in).  It was messy to say the least.  All in all, though, it took about 15-20 minutes tops to make and it made a huge amount and was super tasty.

I’ve also done hardboiled eggs and they came out almost perfectly… I think I could have done a minute less.  I’m excited to try a whole chicken and I also love that I now have a second slow cooker, because you can use this for that as well!  I can’t wait to try the saute feature and I’m going to try my hand at yogurt soon too, so I’ll share how that turns out. Did I mention it’s easy to clean too?  I think even easier to clean than our rice cooker, so we may get rid of that eventually.

I’m really excited about this kitchen gadget.

 

**The above link is an Amazon Affiliate link, so if you use it, I do get a little kick-back**

Week(end) in Review – Game Night Edition

Happy Monday!

Linking up with Meghan from Clean Eats, Fast Feets for another Week in Review!

So it’s really just the weekend in review rather than the whole week, but that’s mostly because Josh and kids were getting over various illnesses and who wants to relive that?  The fun really began on Friday when friends from Wisconsin came to stay for the weekend.  I also tested the new little camera I picked up with my surprise bonus.  I wanted something that was lighter for traveling with and I think my little Sony A6000 is going to be just what I need once I get used to it.

TV watching or game playing… who knows.  I’m loving that it’s getting lighter outside each day.

Since I’m allergic to bunnies, I may never actually get to have real ones… I’ll have to be happy with fake ones on the table in the meantime.

Munchies and stuff for game night!

Hello, Kendra and Tyler!  (Or Skyler as Phoebe kept calling him). Haha!

Chip sneak!  Better than his sister who snuck I don’t know how many cupcakes and proceeded to only lick the frosting off them.

I soaked these cherries in Amaretto for 24 hours and then dried them and dipped them in white chocolate candy coating and sprinkles.  So potent and good!!

The taco dip also went fast, as did the Buffalo Chicken wraps I forgot to get pictures of.

The first game played before other people arrived (and the kids’ favorite).

Think Uno… only with poop.  You have to try not to clog the toilet. So gross, and perfect for any kid.

This picture was as the night was beginning to wind down, I believe.  If you’re looking for games to play, though, Betrayal at House on the Hill is always a fun one. Utter Nonsense got a lot of laughs, as did Joking Hazard.  Wow… I’m not sure if we actually got around to any other games besides those… if we did, it’s slipped my mind.

Anyway, it was a good weekend and we need more game nights.  Happy Monday!

Soda Roundup So Far…

We’re making our way through our case of sodas and while there have been mostly hits, there have also been some misses, which I guess shouldn’t be all that surprising.  So, a quick rundown.

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I could do without Rowdy Roddy Piper’s Bubble Gum Soda.  It tasted exactly like medicine you get as a kid that you are told will taste good because it’s Bubble Gum, but it just tastes sweet and pink and also gross.  Josh wasn’t as disgusted as I was and finished it.

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The Key Lime Pie only disappointed a little. It was really good – don’t get me wrong – it just didn’t have as much lime flavoring as I was hoping for.

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If you assume that buying Bacon soda is just a bad idea, you are correct.  Maybe if it had tasted a tad more like bacon it wouldn’t have been as terrible as it was, but it really only vaguely tasted like bacon and one sip was all that I needed. Josh may have taken a few more sips before he poured this one down the drain.

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This was a fabulous grape soda.  Even Josh who doesn’t like grape flavored beverages agreed that this was a good one. Definitely a favorite so far.

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I don’t typically buy banana flavored anything, so this was Josh’s pick, but it was really good.  It tasted exactly like a banana flavored Runt and would be fabulous mixed with a little rum.

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Another win, but we both thought it would have been better if the honey flavor was stronger. You could only just barely taste it, but it was creamy and delicious.

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You can’t really go wrong with a plain old Vanilla Cream and this one was pretty tasty, although probably not the best vanilla cream I’ve had.

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I really had high hopes for the Peanut Butter and Jelly.  Maybe that was foolish.  I’m not gonna lie, though, I think it was possibly worse than the bacon flavored soda and tasted nothing like PB&J… at all. I don’t know what exactly the taste was, but Josh’s face sums it up.

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The Little Things

It was a very busy and slightly crazy weekend, both personally and the world in general.  There was no missing the news this weekend and how horrible it was.  I admit, it starts to make me wonder what kind of world we’ve brought two children into.  I admit I often avoid the news because it’s either all very trivial celebrity gossip or it’s just very awful.  Both make me shake my head, just for very different reasons.  Honestly, I’m not even sure what to say when it comes to the state of the world we live in.  It makes me sad that there has to be so much hate and violence, though.  I’ll never understand it.  So, this weekend I focused on my family.  We celebrated the 2 years that Phoebe has been with us and then on Sunday we went and bought her a big girl bed.  These pictures aren’t from this weekend, but from a few weeks ago when they helped me make a pie.

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As you can see, Phoebe was also due for another trim, but she’d rather have her hair in her eyes then let me trim it for her… which I guess I can’t say that I blame her for that.  I’m not a hair stylist for a reason.  Anyhoo, it’s always hit or miss with the kids in the kitchen. Some days they’re thrilled to help out, and others not so much, so when Enzo asked if he could help, I couldn’t refuse and he pulled his chair up to the counter.  Phoebe is never one to be left out and pulled a chair over as well.  Thankfully, Key Lime pie is pretty easy to make and what’s not to love about crushing up graham crackers?

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I’m sure Phoebe would argue that sneaking bits is probably the best part, but Enzo was far too intent on getting the right amount so we could do the actual fun part, which is when you get to push the button.  I love how excited they get at the thought of just pushing a button to make something happen.  I often forget about taking joy in the little things, but the kids have been helping me remember that it’s often in the little things that we find the most joy.  Whether it be coloring in a coloring book or sipping hot cocoa and watching it storm or putting flannel sheets on the bed when the weather gets cool… it doesn’t have to be much.

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While we were at Target yesterday with the kids, a woman actually walked over to me and smiled and said, “I just wanted to tell you how adorable your family is. It made my day to see you all.”  So often I feel like we’re a chaotic mess and it was such a huge thing what she said.  Usually I try to keep the kids corralled, but we didn’t today and while it may irritate some people that our kids are giggling and having a great time looking at everything, there are people who also find joy in seeing two very happy kids shopping with their parents and having a grand time.  It may have even been her words that kept me from getting frustrated with them when the didn’t want to listen and Enzo kept removing things from shelves and Phoebe would suddenly run down an aisle out of the blue. Granted, having a parent for each of them helps, but this stranger’s words also helped me take a step back and just watch them from someone else’s point of view. I could either get irritated like some people, or I could smile and laugh like so many others watching them interact with each other and everyone and everything around them.  I chose the latter. I think we all just need to slow down a bit and learn to smile more.

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Yum!

I’ve been hearing about it forever and wondering if service would ever come to area, and finally we were able to try Blue Apron.  There really couldn’t be better timing as I’ve been in a major cooking rut lately.  The fact that we have two very picky eaters right now doesn’t necessarily help things either.  I’m sure it’s just a phase, but it’s been all too easy to just sigh and make them things I know they’ll eat over and over and over again.  Easy, but so boring and it’s not going to help them overcome their lack of adventurousness when it comes to food.

(Excuse the poorly lit photos… it was cloudy and late).

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We’ve had several deliveries so far, but this one was the first meal we made.  Turkey Sloppy Joes.  The flavors were great as have been all the meals we’ve had so far.  The kids haven’t been huge fans of everything, but I’ve loved the new ideas – especially when it comes to making veggies, even by making very simple changes.  Instead of making the corn the way we always do, I now have some new techniques that I really love and Phoebe especially enjoyed it.  I can still count on Enzo to always eat green beans, so now we just have to see if they’ll be tempted by anything else.

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One way I’m trying to get Enzo to be adventurous is to have him help me in the kitchen, but so far that only seems to work with sweets. Ha ha.  We had friends over this past weekend, so both kids helped me make a pasta salad.  Phoebe helped me stir and dump ingredients while Enzo helped me do some chopping with his own little knife.  He did great quartering olives and dicing bell pepper with me and I’m enjoying giving him some new tasks to help out with.  He’s been such a great helper lately in general and while he may fight putting away toys, he really likes helping with other chores like mopping or taking care of his sister.  I’ll take help where I can get it. 😉

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