Instant Pot Paralysis and Getting Out of My Side Dish Rut

I’m part of a large group of impulsive people who bought the Instant Pot a few weeks back when it was on super sale. I’d heard about all of its wonders, from yogurt making to 6-minute chicken, but I’d also seen the price tag. So when it was half-off, I didn’t hesitate. Now, it’s been sitting on my counter for three weeks, intimidating me with all of its buttons, bells, and whistles. It’s a pressure cooker, not a landmine, but I still can’t bring myself to use it for fear of blowing up my kitchen. So I continue to search for the perfect introductory Instant Pot recipe that speaks to me without saying my last rites.

A lot of the recipes I’ve found come from Skinnytaste. While I’m working up the courage to try her chicken taco chili in the pressure cooker, I did take a stab at the zucchini tots, which merely require a grater and good old-fashioned oven cooking. I can only steam veggies so many times, and all of my favorite frozen sides at Trader Joe’s come in servings of “about 3” which might as well read “not enough for your family, Lindsey.”

Gina describes this side as kid-friendly, which of course it is, but you don’t need kids to appreciate a good tot. When my super picky 2-year-old didn’t want hers, I was exasperated on the outside for show, “Fine, I guess I’ll have to eat them so they don’t go to waste,” and all Homer Simpson on the inside:


Abbie doesn’t like pizza — yet — so I’m confident she’ll come around on these zucchini tots with time. For now, they are a hit with the rest of my household. I will say I should’ve added more breadcrumbs to my batch, but they were still delish. I’m no Beatrice Peltre, but this is how my tots turned out. No filter, no photography skills, no nothing:


Hopefully my next food post will be about my adventures with the Instant Pot…and I won’t be typing it from the burn unit at the hospital.


No Whine with Dinner, 2 for 2!

I’m blessed that Jed is not a picky eater, but lately I’ve found myself in a recipe rut, offering him the same dishes (“quesadillas or chicken nuggets?”). I make sure to incorporate different sources of proteins, especially fish, but when it comes to my tilapia repertoire, I’m a one-trick pony. I don’t know if he was getting bored, but I was. So I scoured the Internet, and after much deliberation, decided on this healthy eating, family-friendly cookbook by the “Meal Makeover Moms” :

Don’t be deterred by their gimmicky name– as Registered Dieticians, the Moms know their stuff. There were some other cookbooks that got great reviews like the The Sneaky Chef, but like I said, Jed’s not a picky eater so I wasn’t looking to hide the nutritious stuff… just looking for new, fun ways to cook it! So far I’ve tried two of the recipes and with both man and child, I’m batting a hundred.

Friday night, I made their Spaghetti Zucchini Pie. There’s no pie crust per say as it’s cooked in a baking dish (more of a casserole) but it’s delish! This pic from Fitness Magazine is way prettier than my final product:

No Whine With Dinner's Spaghetti Zucchini Pie via Fitness Magazine

But I was able to cut a square or two out that weren’t too embarrassing to look at:

Looks aside, it tasted great! For those who do have picky eaters at their table, the zucchini is shredded so you can hardly taste it. It definitely adds a lightness to the dish, though. As someone who’s cooking for a family of  zucchini lovers, I might add more in next time. Or maybe a squash to mix things up! I also like how the ingredients call for dried basil. I know I can always upgrade to fresh basil, but dry is much more budget-friendly and always in my spice cabinet. Fitness Magazine also shares the recipe here.

COOKING WITH KIDS? I let Jed (two-years-old) whisk the eggs and then mix the milk in with the eggs. He loves to whisk!

THE “DISH” DISH: Easy to Moderate. Immediately, I only had a mixing bowl, sauce pan and skillet. After we finished the leftovers (bonus!) the baking dish was a tad icky, but after a soak it wasn’t a big deal. If your dishwasher works better than mine, I’d just toss it in there.

Dave was on his way back in from Charlotte, so it was up to me to keep the home fires burning. After I made dinner, I made fire! (I will forgo the gratuitous image of Tom Hanks in a loincloth shouting at the night sky. And I will definitely spare you a pic of me in a loincloth.)

I was pretty proud of myself. With all of the stories on the news of places accidentally catching fire, I was amazed what a difficult time I had starting my own. But after 20 minutes (and the sacrifice of most all my knuckle hairs) it was a-blazin’!

Last night, I made the Sweet Chili Glazed and Walnut Crusted Tilapia only without the walnuts. We didn’t have walnuts, I’m not too crazy about them anyhow, and I was trying to avoid another trip to the store. This recipe came from the book’s Bloggers’ Best chapter, where they feature recipes from their favorite mom bloggers. This one is from Jenny over at Picky Palate. I was halfway into the preparation when I realized that I also didn’t have chili powder, so I substituted cayenne pepper and a little garlic powder. Of course I was way more careful with the cayenne than I would’ve have been with the chili powder. I little of that stuff goes a long way! But the heat of the cayenne ended up matching perfectly with the sweet of the honey in the glaze.

SWEET PLUS A LITTLE HEAT. Why show you mine when Jenny's looks SO much better? 🙂

Next time though, I’ll try the recipe in its original form: chili powder, walnuts and all!

COOKING WITH KIDS? Let them mix the bread crumbs together with the chili powder, salt and pepper. And then help brush on the honey glaze. Just like using a paint brush in art class!

THE “DISH” DISH: Easy. Just a small bowl for the honey, a dishwasher-safe shallow bowl for the bread crumb mixture and the skillet. I probably could’ve used an extra dish during prep, but one less dish to wash just meant a little more honey to wipe off the counter (and cookbook!).

What’s your go-to, kid-friendly cookbook or blog? Any favorite recipes? Please share!