Instant Pot/Mac & Cheese

I consider myself a pretty damn good cook. But let’s be honest, some days the leftovers go to the trash. I’m not perfect, but part of what makes me a decent cook it by trial and error. Lots of trial, some errors.

The big craze right now is the Instant Pot. Not InstaPot, but Instant Pot. Bottom line, it’s an electric pressure cooker that has other features to steam, saute, make yogurt, etc. The pressure cooker is nothing new. I inherited one from my Papa and Nana years ago. And I made killer stew and dog food that better that some people food I’ve made. And that was really it. Recipes on the internet were hard to come by, and Pinterest wasn’t a thing. So I experimented, I took some favorite recipes, mostly crockpot, and converted times and make them in the pressure cooker. The flavor was better. The time was faster.

Well fast forward to last year. I kept seeing posts, on Pinterest, on Facebook, about this Instant Pot. Finally put together that it’s a pressure cooker. And decided I kinda needed on. My pot became part of our family for Christmas last year.

In the last 6 months or so, I’ve learned that, as far as the IP (Instant Pot) goes: think about what YOU like, what your family eats…and start there. Take your favorites, figure out the times (use the book that comes with it), search Pinterest, but start with what’s familiar. I’ll cover this more later, but keep that in mind.

Last night, I made macaroni and cheese. There are about 2,037 recipes for IP mac and cheese. I like to just read over the recipes, note the ingredients and times, and then go from there. Time is the biggie with the IP.

This mac and cheese can me modified so many different ways, but here’s what happened here last night, and it was heaven on a plate.

Langostino Mac & Cheese

1 pound pasta (I used elbow, it’s what I had)

4 cups of water

1T salt

1t dry mustard

 

Using manual setting, adjust to 5 minutes. Once complete, quick release, open and stir. Most of the water will be gone, so you’re good. Switch pot to “saute.”

Here’s where you get to get creative. You need to add somewhere between 16-18 ounces of cheese.

While stirring, add:

1 cup evaporated milk

Cheese

Pepper (to taste)

Hot sauce (depends on your liking)

For langostino mac, I added: 8 ounces of white cheddar

6 ounces of swiss

4 ounces of gruyere (which is close to swiss)

Add cheese by the handfuls, one handful at a time. Let it melt, add the next.

Here’s the deal, USE BLOCK CHEESE AND SHRED IT. Packaged shredded cheeses are packaged with an anti-clumping product. I swear it hinders the melting. Hand shredded cheese will yield the best results.

While it’s still in the pot, add the langostino. We buy them at Costco, where they’re already cooked. I just had to thaw them. I added about a pound, give or take.

Then, pour that delicious mess into a baking dish, and top with panko breadcrumbs. Put it in the broiler, but keep an eye, they get dark quickly! And you down want to dry out your mac and cheese.

Don’t fear the pot. I adapted a plain mac and cheese recipe to be more what I wanted, and I only did it after I searched a baked lobster mac and cheese.

After this, here’s what I learned…pasta is: 1 pound of pasta, 4 cups of water, 5 min pressure, then QR. Now we can transfer that to other pasta recipes…see, it’s a start! 🙂

 

 

When three become one…

Kathy Mattea sings a song, “Who’s Gonna Know.” It’s a slow ballad that rocked my world back in 1994. She sings a chorus of: 

Cause who’s gonna know but me

Who’ll help me recall those small memories

When I’m all that’s left of this family of three

Who’s gonna know but me

I remember thinking, “that’s me.” I’m the only product of my parents. There are his kids. And her kid. But I’m the only “theirs.” But that song played on radios 23 years ago. It’s now 2017, and my Kathy Mattea cassette, yes…I said cassette, is long gone. In those years, a lot has happened. I graduated from college. I moved away. My parents got divorced in 1997, the same year I got married. My dad remarried three years later, my mom remarried later. I had a baby. And another. And life just went along. 

While life was happening, I never thought much about that family of three. I have my dad. I have my mom.  And I’m busy raising two amazing kids. And I’m getting older. Which means my parents are too. And “BAM” it’s now 2017, and they’re both slipping away from me in all senses of the word.

My mom has dementia and Parkinson’s. I am now her court appointed conservator and guardian, as the task was too daunting for her husband to handle. She resides in a facility full time, and no longer recognizes me, her own flesh and blood. My dad is being very well taken car of by his wife, as his memory fails him a little more each day. And he’s beating prostrate cancer as I type. 

My parents are alive, I know this makes me ultimately luckier than others. But the parents of that family of three are not capable of the memories that we shared. And ohmygoodness…I miss them like hell. I was to say to my dad…”do you remember…”but I don’t because I don’t want to frustrate him. I want to call my mom and ask her about that peach cobbler she made, but I can’t because she’s not capable of conversation. And I wish that I had a sibling, who I could revert to, who I could reminisce with, but I don’t. 

I could go on and on, listing what I miss. But it won’t change one damn thing. I can riddle myself with guilt, either my own, or by letting others dump it on me. But that won’t change a damn thing either. This is a “it is what it is” scenario.

So I do the best I can.  I embrace the lucid moments with my mom, though she has yet to recognize me this year. I will repeat this and that to my dad,  27 times if that’s what it takes. And some days, I’m making appointments with a dermatologist for a teenager, and dealing with Medicare. But I’m didn’t the best I can. I’m missing a soccer banquet because I have to drive home, as the $500 plane ticket really wasn’t an option. I’m constantly struggling to trade one guilt with another. 

But it’s what I’ll continue to do, as long as this life will let me. I’ll find the joy in holding my mom’s frail, cold hand. I’ll feed her and giggle when she eats things like peas, that she always passionately hated. I’ll repeat to my dad, time and again, when I’m coming to town. I’ll smile and answer him, every time he asks, “how old are the kids?” I’ll do what I can to grasp the fingertips of what’s left of this family of three. 

Who’s Gonna Know, Kathy Mattea

13 days to go…

I swore I wouldn’t write a blog about weight loss. But here I am, right out the gate…writing about weight loss. I did say I’d write about life, and for me…the two collide.

I’m at a crossroad here. A shitty crossroad. Either “buy new clothes.” Or “lose weight.” Clearly my dislike of shopping has trumped my love of eating.

Let’s rewind a few years back, to that time when I actually met my goal (I accidentally typed “goat” and a quote like that is totally something I would say.) Anyway, after I hit that ever elusive number, I had surgery. It was a hysterectomy that landed me a one way ticket to a five day hospital stay as the result of complications. Then I was gifted with THREE months of NO exercise. And I quit. I just gave up. Surrendered. That was June 2014. Almost three years ago. I had followed the Fast Metabolism Diet, which I liked, but it was a a lot of prep. A whole lot. So, like I said…I quit.

Life happened. And without too much attention to it, in 2.5 years, I gained…gulp…30 pounds.

But, the past is the past, and it’s in the past. It’s not worth spending time there. After doing some research (scouring Pinterest), I jumped on the Whole 30 bandwagon. If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend the getting the book. But the basics are:

  1. No sugar
  2. No grains
  3. No legumes
  4. No dairy
  5. No alcohol

I’ve made it to day 17. I’m still alive. My family is still alive. And I’ve learned some things.

  • I hate zucchini noodles. Just typing that made me want to gag.
  • It’s Girl Scout Cookie season, dammit.
  • No Wine Wednesday, makes for an easy Thursday.
  • Pasta and rice don’t always have to be a side dish.
  • Coconut milk is pretty amazing, even in soup…
  • No Wine Wednesday sucks.
  • My Instant Pot is the best kitchen gadget ever

It’s actually been easier than I thought. I don’t know if it’s the 30 day clock ticking. When the time is up, I’ll have to decide what I’m going to reintroduce, but I will say this, it’s helped to make me very aware as to what I’m stuffing in my face. I’ll update again when I complete the 30 days.

In the meantime, happy Friday…we made it.

…and here we go…

So, here it is. My FIRST EVERRRRRR blog post. I’d like to think that someone will read this, but maybe not. And that’s ok. Because you see, I’m doing this for me, for my family, for my kids…maybe my grandkids. For the record, those grandkids will be in the far, far future.

When I pondered the whole blog thing, I thought I needed to have a “brand” or some sort of common theme. I can’t write a blog entirely about being some 40something  married mom of two. Oh wait…I probably could. But I want to talk about goats, because who doesn’t? And teenagers. And jobs. And second jobs. Oh, there’s cooking, which I love, and there’s eating, which I love more. There are diets to discuss (see my last sentence). And any other damn thing that crosses my mind. And I can, because it’s MY blog.

So then I decide that I’m going to do this, and I have to come up with a name. It’s taken me years. Probably two years. No rush, right?

So here I am, all living on the edge, writing this. But it’s not THAT edge. It’s not the edge of an adventurous undertaking. I really don’t have a huge sense of adventure at all. I live on these edges…

On the edge of insanity. On the edge of my house actually being clean. And somedays on the edge of it being dirty. On the edge of being organized. On the edge of complete chaos. On the edge of crying. On the edge of laughing (sometimes when it’s inappropriate to laugh at all). On the edge of perfection. On the edge of falling apart. You get what I mean.

So please check in now and then to see what’s up. I feel a little pressure to be entertaining, but most of all, I want to stay true to who I am.

So there you have it. I’m over here living on the edge….but not THAT edge.