My first experience with the Instant Pot

Pressure cooking isn’t new, but the past few years everyone has been obsessed with the Instant Pot. At first it didn’t make sense to me why anyone would want to pressure cook their food, so I resisted diving in. It wasn’t until recently that my interest outweighed my hesitation and here I’m sharing all about my first experience with the Instant Pot.

Growing up we never had a microwave and, truth be told, that made me a bit of a snob about them. When I first heard of the Instant Pot, I thought it was a fancy microwave that wasn’t for real cooking. All I saw were posts promising “fast meals” and “simple cooking.” So I assumed it was another gimmicky appliance that would eventually collect dust.

Well, I was wrong and being a bit of a snob.
Okay, a total snob.
The Instant Pot is actually a really useful kitchen tool.

Last Christmas my in-laws bought us the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 6 qt. Programmable Pressure Cooker and we finally broke it out a few weeks ago. For months it’s been in its box giving me some serious side eye, but I was just too intimidated to use it. If you’ve ever read through the manual on one of these cookers you know how overwhelming it can feel. Whenever I thought about using the Instant Pot I would put it off because it felt like going back to college.

We finally unboxed it and tackled the beast head on, fear be damned. Turns out that our first time cooking with the Instant Pot was a super fun experience!

first experience with the instant potI found this Chicken Coq au Vin and we agreed it was perfect for our first round with the Instant Pot. We began by cooking the bacon and then sautéed the onions, tomato paste, and garlic in the reserved bacon grease. Then comes the fun part – pressure cooking the remaining ingredients: red wine, broth, chicken, bay leaves, thyme, mushrooms, and carrots. This process only took 8 minutes to complete. Once the pressure was released (we used quick release), we went back to sauté mode and reduced the liquid.

In total this meal only took about 20 minutes to cook
and it was super easy and delicious!

instant pot coq au vinI hadn’t expected something so initially overwhelming to also be this exciting, but it really was. The recipe was simple enough for an IP newbie and setting it up turned out to also be a breeze. This experience was pretty perfect. Although I was in such disbelief that the chicken was actually cooked that I cooked it a bit longer to be sure. It all just felt too good to be true, ya know? Next time I’ll have more faith in the results though because this meal was just so good. Our Instant Pot will definitely be holding near-permanent space on the counter going forward. We served ours with the crumbled bacon on top and a side of these Sage Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes. It was perfection!

January Book Roundup

I’ve been in love with reading since I was old enough to hold a book. From beginning picture books to Harry Potter to Pride & Prejudice and Little Women, there’s just something so magical about cracking open that fresh new spine and diving into new worlds unknown. So, I was thinking about how to share what I’m reading and I came up with the Monthly Book Roundup!

Of the four books I’ve read so far this year, my favorite January read was: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gotlieb.

booksThis book was such a surprise for me. I’m a fan of self-help books, my favorites often coming from Brené Brown, but this one is different. It’s about a therapist, her patients, and her own therapist. An interesting insight into their private lives that definitely made me think about my own life in new ways.

It teaches the reader in subtle ways simply by existing. It’s enlightening, funny, inspiring, and sad all at once. Every story, even the sad ones, felt so familiar as if I knew each subject personally. My favorite insights, however, were from Lori’s own life, especially the interactions with her own therapist, Wendell. They were so funny together and it made me realize that not even therapists are infallible.

They’re as messed up as we are and that was so refreshing.

The book is 432 pages with chapters that alternate between Lori’s personal therapist sessions and a few of her clients. Each patient gave permission to be included and the length is necessary for a full picture of each story. Admittedly, about halfway through, I switched over to Audible and liked that much better. The narrator was excellent and really added something extra that my own inner voice couldn’t. This brief foray into the mind of a therapist was so fun and intellectually stimulating and I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t normally read books like this, I think you’ll enjoy it too.

OTHER BOOKS READ IN JANUARY:

  • The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
  • Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
  • Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

Thanks for reading. The monthly roundup will be back next month with my top book(s) for February. Have you read this book? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you have any favorite reads so far this year? Tell me below!

Super Simple Hazelnut Brownies

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple CookbookA few years ago I stumbled across the instagram account of my now favorite food blogger, Tieghan Gerard, the face behind the drool worthy site, Half Baked Harvest.

I was immediately drawn in by her photos, which are insane, and then I tried some of her recipes and was hooked. The food never disappoints, but what kept me coming back to HBH every day wasn’t the food, it was Tieghan herself. You can just tell from her videos and the way she engages with her followers that she’s such a genuine person.

Since following her she’s published two cookbooks that have quickly become staples in my kitchen. They’re gorgeous and I love having a bit of Half Baked Harvest at home. Her newest book, HBH Super Simple, has quickly overtaken the first and become my favorite cookbook. I use it constantly and my husband actually likes every meal I’ve made. (Does that count as wife goals? Haha!)

So, because my guy is a chocoholic I had to make the five-ingredient hazelnut brownies (six counting the chocolate chips, which I think are essential).

I mean, she had me at Nutella, but only 6 ingredients for brownies?! Sign me up!

browniesplate of browniesplate of brownieshand holding a brownie

Grab a copy here: Half Baked Harvest: Super Simple Cookbook
(I’m not affiliated in any way, just a fan sharing the love.)

Six- Ingredient Hazelnut Brownies
Yields 9
These brownies are moist, super fudgy, and delicious!
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Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup nutella
  2. 2 large eggs, at room temp
  3. 4 tbs salted butter, melted
  4. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, but I think they're essential)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350. Line a square baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the nutella, eggs, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips (if using... USE THEM). Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake until the brownies are just set, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Let cool and enjoy.
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest: Super Simple Cookbook
Fig & Froth http://figandfroth.com/

Born & Bread Bakehouse

bakery wallThere’s a magical little bakery in Lakeland, Florida called Born & Bread Bakehouse that is every foodie’s dream come true. It took years to get there, but two weeks ago I drove up and it was everything I hoped for.

Born & Bread isn’t just a bakery where you run in and choose from an assortment of pastries and breads. I mean, yes, they have all of those things, but they also have something that other bakeries don’t. That is an infectious buzz in the air that makes you want to do what they’re doing. Or to at least be a part of it somehow.

The massive crowd wrapped around the building waiting for some delectable treat is also a testament to the magic within.

bakery menu

My first impression is that the owner and her enormous staff has this place running like a well-oiled machine. It’s one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen, to be honest. Maybe that’s because I’m a foodie with a major love for pastries, but I don’t think that’s all it is. These people are friggin’ rockstars in aprons and I’m officially a fangirl.

The pressure to keep the line moving is intense so I ordered as quickly as I could and paid. I ordered cruffins (bananas foster and brownie batter), chocolate chip cookies, granola, and a maple sweet cream cold brew coffee.

bakery

Once you order you stand aside and wait to be called to pick up your package of goodies. Due to the amount of people, finding a table is next to impossible. It took a bit of waiting, but we snagged a table in back and I finally got to tuck into that bananas foster cruffin. Every bite made a huge mess as the flaky pastry fell to pieces in my hands and mouth. This thing was culinary magic and I finally understood the hype. The drive up at the crack of the dawn was totally worth it. 

The next day I put the brownie batter cruffins in the oven for 10 minutes and that took things to a whole new level. As my husband and I bit into them the mascarpone and brownie batter filling oozed out, dribbling down our chins, and I felt like Augustus Gloop from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory with that sweet chocolatey mascarpone cream all over my face.

It was glorious.

granola and brownie batter cruffins

The entire experience was amazing, as you’ve clearly gathered by now, and I can’t wait to go back for more. It’s worth every second of standing in the crowded line outside of the bakery, the frazzled ordering, and luscious crumbs falling all over yourself. If you’re ever in Lakeland, FL be sure to check it out. You won’t regret it.

bananas foster cruffin

Mastering the Art of Food Blogging

food bloggerWhere would the world of food be without Julia Child? I mean, I’m sure it would still be a thriving space overflowing with decadence, but it’d also be lacking, right?

I fell in love with Child when the popular film Julie & Julia hit the big screen in 2009. Of course Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci had a lot to do with it because they’re absolute perfection. However, I’m a foodie, so it was easy to relate to her equally unabashed love for food as well.

Every character enchanted me, but it was Julie cooking her way through this laborious cookbook that initially pulled my focus. The idea was just so brilliant that I berated myself for not coming up with it first. Julie’s year in her small kitchen made me want to do something similar in my own cramped space.

Whenever I watch the movie I feel invigorated anew. So, here we are, after far too many years of flopping about. I’ve decided to dedicate this space primarily to food, from my own too small kitchen and beyond.

Exploring the culinary world within and around me just feels right at this stage of my life.

When I was young, I learned the basics of cooking, and because we’ve never had a microwave, learning to cook was essential. Luckily I had my mom to show me where to begin and I’m so glad for that because it gave me the desire to experiment in the kitchen and to explore diverse foods in restaurants from early on. Start ’em young, right? 😉

As a result, when I began brainstorming the objective for this blog, food was at the top of the list. Books and photography were close seconds, and as such they’ll be present here too. I’m not claiming to be a master chef or baker, I’m also not a photographer, but I’m a student of life and I want to expand my skills while eating really delicious food, reading good books (cookbooks too!), and documenting every flour covered sizzle and splatter along the way. That’s why I’m here. To do more of the things I love, to become better at doing them, and to share all of that with you.

As Julia Child said in her glorious cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking:

“Just like becoming an expert in wine — you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford — you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”

For more about me, click here! Do you have any suggestions for recipes or books you’d like to see on the blog? Comment below!