Instant Pot Pot Roast

[Mostly written in January 2019, posted way late :/] I finally got an Instant Pot! Well, we got it – my husband and me, from my husband’s parents for Christmas. I’ve been considering it for at least two years… I see so many people rave about it. But I wasn’t sure what it would add over my existing kitchen implements. Now that I have an infant, though, and less time to cook, I thought it was finally time to get one and cut down on cooking time.

I’m still learning how to use it. The first two things I did were steamed broccoli and steamed artichokes. The artichokes were a little over steamed and the broccoli was way over steamed. And I’m not sure it cuts out time for steaming. Maybe for the artichokes it did. Then I made butternut squash soup. This went better. I’m not totally sure it was less work/time than making it in a Dutch oven, but it was pretty easy and quick.

And then today, I made a pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and onions. I had a 2.5 lb bottom round roast from Butcher Box. I looked up a recipe to make it in the Instant Pot and found this one from La Creme de la Crumb, which also called for carrots and potatoes – two things I had on my counter and needed a plan for. Check.

I used chicken stock, because that’s what I had on hand, and only 3 cups because that’s what I had and I forgot to add an extra cup of water until after I’d closed the lid and the pressure was building. My roast was smaller than in the recipe, so I hoped it would be ok. It was. I also did the pressure cooking step for 55 minutes instead of 60-80, again since my roast was smaller. I actually think this was a bad decision and that the meat would have benefited from a little more cooking time. It was a litttttttle tough to shred. But I didn’t need to shred it a ton, just into chunks.

It was so nice to do all the steps in one pot! And I made gravy! I’ve never made gravy. Clean up was super easy. I didn’t have to watch or stir or check or anything (except a bit during the gravy-making stage). It still took a while, but would’ve taken way longer on the stove or in the oven. I’m hooked.

I ate it for dinner over some kale to get some greens in. I meant to give Gabriel some of the meat to suck on when I fed him solids for dinner, but I forgot.

We had leftovers for several meals. I’m not sure pot roast ever has been or will be a favorite meal of mine, but I would definitely consider doing it in the Instant Pot again!

Holiday-themed Weekend

My approach to weekends has changed a bit since having Gabriel. I used to be v.e.r.y hesitant to make plans, preferring to hole up and homebody (and often cook :)). I still would probably prefer that, but it’s no longer possible with an infant, who needs to be looked after and somewhat entertained all day. It’s nice to spend time together, but it’s also sometimes exhausting (especially if he’s fussy) or boring (if we read the same book five times or just sit on the floor and bang toys around). So having activities to do to get out of the house is often a welcome distraction for us both. It keeps us entertained. So I find myself saying yes to more things than I used to. This weekend I did four events in two days, which would have been totally unheard of pre-baby. And enjoyably, most were holiday-themed!

On Saturday, I attended the annual Baltimore Delta Gamma alumnae ornament exchange. I brought Gabriel, of course. Dan works overnight on Fridays so sleeps til 1 or 2pm on Saturdays. I love this event. The hostess has a lovely home and makes a delicious brunch, and we exchange ornaments white elephant style. I came home with two anchor ornaments that look nice on our tree. Gabriel did great. Around his nap time, I put him in the Ergo to see if he’d sleep on me, which we hadn’t tried in months. It took a bit (~20 minutes?) but he eventually fell asleep. It was nice, because we don’t cuddle like that anymore (goal: independent sleep habits, achieved). And then I think he slept on the car ride home.

That evening (okay, late afternoon really), we went to a friends’ house to have latkes and light Hanukkah candles. She has a two year old and a three month old and was very impressive wrangling them both (Dan and I weren’t much help unfortunately – they mostly wanted their mom’s attention) until her husband came home. It was really nice to visit. Gabriel had a 30-minute late bedtime, but was okay.

On Sunday, we had three couples over, two of which have two kids each, ages 3-6. Four of the six adults went to high school with Dan, and we all try to get together roughly annually. Before Dan and I lived in the area, we would see them when we came to Dan’s parents for the holidays. Now that we live nearby, we don’t see them any more frequently unfortunately, but it’s nice when we do. I made this chili from The Real Food RDs (added kidney beans near the end), and it was a big hit. One couple brought cornbread and beer, another cookies, and the other cookies. We had a great visit, got to enjoy entertaining in our new house, and proved that multiple young children can survive in and enjoy the space.

Finally, yesterday evening we went to another friend’s house in Hampden to celebrate their daughter’s third birthday and walk to 34th St to see the wild Christmas lights that the entire block participates in. They do it every year, it’s a Baltimore thing, but I’d never gone. There was a Santa on a Harley Davidson and other Baltimore things. We didn’t stay for long – it was again past Gabriel’s bedtime and he was letting us know it, but it was still fun to walk around with him and see the lights.

I think we (well, me) paid for the schedule disruption this morning when Gabriel woke up crying an hour early. Dan always says something like, well, maybe he’ll sleep well tonight, or maybe he’ll sleep in, when he gets less sleep due to missed naps or late bedtime. But no – it throws everything out of whack and usually results in less sleep for me. But I’m starting to be well-rested enough to think that sometimes it’s worth it, because I had a lot of fun this weekend!

Pumpkin Nut & Seed Loaf

Today is the day after Christmas. Dan and I arrived home from Albuquerque at 1am, where we’d been celebrating with my family and close family friends. I don’t have work today, so I’ve been spending the day shopping and cooking to prepare for the week.

I mentioned last week in my post about what I’ve been up to lately that I’ve been making Alanna’s Cranberry Pumpkin Nut & Seed Loaf on Love & Lemons regularly. I’m not generally into alternative foods to replace other foods… I never wanted to ‘soy-sage’ when I was vegetarian, and I don’t want non-bread┬á(i.e., gluten free)┬ábread now. But. This is nicely termed a ‘loaf,’ not bread. And it’s delicious. And, it’s probably not even gluten-free because I’ve been using regular Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats. So there.

It does have grains (oats) in it, and I’m not sure where the paleo community stands on psyllium husk (okay, I just googled and found this as one data point), so this isn’t really a paleo-friendly recipe. I eat it in the morning, generally as part of my breakfast after working out. The ingredients initially made me fear a bathroom nightmare, but it hasn’t caused any problems. Ahem. (It’s had no effect either way, as far as I can tell.)

I have not once followed the recipe exactly. I try to keep the oats, binding ingredients┬á(flax, chia seeds, and psyllium husk), and wet ingredients to the right proportions, but I’ve varied the nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and oil each time I’ve made it. I may have varied the maple syrup one or two times also, since I often prefer┬áto limit my use of sugar in recipes, even natural sugar. I’ve used almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, dried apricots, dates, and raisins. Often in more or less the right amounts, but often less as well. I’ve used olive oil and melted coconut oil for the oil. I’ve used canned pumpkin and homemade pumpkin. Today, I added some shredded coconut.

I cut each 9×5 loaf into sixteen thin slices. I toast and eat one each morning with butter. The rest stays wrapped tight in tin foil and kept in the fridge for eating over the next two weeks. Yum.

Below are some of MY photos, but if you follow the link to the recipe on Love & Lemons, there are some really beautiful photos.

My host in Albuquerque sent me home with some fresh frozen roasted green chiles, bless her. My holiday in Albuquerque included posole and green chile stew instead of traditional Christmas fare. We left in a bit of a hurry yesterday, and Dan was sad that he missed another serving of green chile stew, so I promised him I would make him some at home. Voila!

I didn’t follow a recipe, but I progressively threw all of the following into a Dutch oven, brought it to a boil, turned it down, and simmered for over an hour:

  • 1 tbsp? bacon grease
  • 1 onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Less than half of a red pepper (the amount determined by what was leftover in the fridge)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 10 oz. green chile (6 oz.┬áof the defrosted fresh chiles, plus 4 oz. from a container – but still from New Mexico)
  • 3 russet potatoes (~650 grams)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 container (4 cups) beef stock

About to head downstairs and eat it now. I haven’t tasted it yet! Hopefully it’s good :-).

In addition to the green chile, I also brought home New Mexican pi├▒on coffee and memories of luminarias, beautiful New Mexican scenery, and a barely-white Christmas.