Monday, January 22, 2018

Instant Pot FAIL #1: Bone Broth

Okay, so I shouldn't be disappointed in my first #IPfail. I should have expected this! Brad and I were just discussing YESTERDAY how if I'm ever going to be one of those working moms who come home at 5pm and have dinner on the table at 6pm without the stress of cooking, I have to practice, practice, practice. I'm only good at the things I'm good at because I've had years of practice and trial and error. I cannot expect myself to be a wonderful, stress-free cook overnight! Not even with this magical new appliance of mine - the Instant Pot! the next few lines that you read... this is me giving myself grace...

Because there are not possibly enough hours in the day to accomplish all.of.the.things and still enjoy the little moments.

While I was clipping inspirational quotes for my Commit30 planner inspiration board, I found this quote (as it relates to working motherhood):

"I've never seen a 50-50 day. It's not a balancing act. It's constant compromise and sacrifice."


  • 2 weeks ago I started my third MBA class. I currently have an "A"! The class is only 6 weeks long.
  • Yet... I haven't run a single mile in 2 weeks (and that's okay)
  • Over the last 2 weeks (at work), we've been preparing for a major testing weekend and I've been working more hours with my team.
  • Yet... I've only cooked during the weekends. Brad has done most of the feeding-us Mon-Fri. (and that's okay)
  • The last two weekends have been full of more family activities and less "prep for the week" chores! This is a major win in my book.
I'm kinda validating my rookie-error that led to this Instant Pot Fail to the fact that I was trying to juggle too many things on Sunday afternoon when I attempted to make Bone Broth for my Chicken Soup. But aren't we (as moms) always trying to juggle "too many things" ?

So here is what I did....


I didn't even think about it.

Saturday night I made a successful Lemon Chicken Thighs (which I will post about next) and then I took the ring out of the lid to wash it! I've noticed that my sealing ring has started to smell like last night's dinner. Saturday night when I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, I took the ring out and gave it a good wash. It was sitting on the drying rack under a mountain of other random kitchen items that were washed.

Sunday when I took my carcass out of the deep freezer, I was chopping the veggies and I was also feeding Jo some lunch (yes, we still eat fish sticks around here... just not as often... ha). Well, I was having trouble getting the carcass to fit because all of the bones were just frozen solid in a large gallon zip lock bag. So I had to "saute" some water and my carcass to get the bones to unfreeze so I can put the lid on.

We were also approaching nap time. And you know how that is! If Joanna doesn't get escorted to her room by 1pm, she usually won't fall asleep until about 2:30pm. She finds this "second wind", refuses nap and then when she finally does fall asleep, she doesn't wake up until 4-4:30pm. Then she wakes up grumpy. It's a dreadful process that we JUST went through on Saturday because we were out in Austin having fun together and we went down for nap later than normal.

So, I was juggling my carcass, Joanna's lunch and feeding myself all before that 1pm deadline. AND I FORGOT TO PUT THE SEALING RING BACK INTO MY POT

Look how beautiful my veggies and carcass were...

And I should have known something was wrong when...
  1. My pot started letting out more steam than normal, with the lid on.
  2. The little "water catcher" on the back was FULL of water, TWICE!
  3. I saw water on the floor, immediately right of the pot and the kitchen island it's sitting on.
  4. I found water all over the counter top.

But I just kept going about my 2hour count down to making Bone Broth because I was determined to take my MBA test during Joanna's nap time. And I got it done! I got an A on my test!

...and I also burned the sh*t out of that carcass and veggies. And I ended up with a pot full of bones and scorch! 

The realization that my Bone Broth is all Bones :(
The "how the heck am I going to clean this up" while dumping into the trash!
 So, what did I do next?

I texted two of my Instant Pot Sisters for a good laugh. I called my MIL for some suggestions on how to clean the gunk out of the bottom of my pot. And then I threw myself a little pitty party.

I almost didn't cook dinner at all. 

Apparently some boiled vinegar and water will start the process of removing the gunk....
Round 1 - vinegar and water
Then, took the pot to the sink and put some baking soda. It started to fizz and I started to scrape (or scour like google calls "cleaning"). I had to ask my MIL what the heck that meant too :)

Then, we went on to Round 2 of vinegar and water... and by this point I was getting hungry! And still considering giving up on actual dinner.

Round 2 - vinegar and water
PS - Joanna and I ate cereal for dinner on Friday night when Brad was working second shift at the hospital. I honestly had guilt about feeding her cereal again (this time on Sunday night) - and thats probably the primary reason why I proceeded to actually cook dinner once I got the pot cleaned! Plus, I couldn't really send "left over" cereal with Brad to work another 10hr overnight shift. I felt guilty about that too.

The happy ending is that my pot cleaned up like new and my Spaghetti dinner turned out excellent. Joanna didn't speak the entire dinner (she is usually a chatter box pointing out the things she doesn't want to eat) and she ate everything on her plate. I'll have to share that recipe with you guys later this week. But tonight, all I could do was laugh at my pot of Bones and chalk it up to a lesson learned...



PPS - I will be attempting this Bone Broth for my Chicken Soup again. And this time, I won't forget the Sealing Ring :)

IP Rookie Stephanita

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Instant Pot Recipe #2: Sweet Potato Chili

It's been pretty cold around here since days before New Years. Up until recently, I was beginning to believe that Austin was warmer than Dallas. But it's snowed twice in December and winter just started! Maybe it's a fluke, or global warming... but in my opinion, it's still much nicer than living in the Northeast or Midwest :| ...I'm sorry if you live in that area of the country!

The first week into the New Year has been treating us well. My primary goals for this week have been to get organized at home and at the office, and ready for my next MBA semester to begin again and that organization includes planning just about everything that I can, in order to maximize the hours of the day and stay focused. We've got a lot to do before our baby boy arrives in April and the only way I can wrap my head around it all is to write it down and make it happen. I want the weekends to be more relaxed with Joanna and I don't want her to feel like they are meant for grocery shopping and getting ready for the upcoming week - and this past fall had felt just like that. This next year is about slowing down on the weekends and having fun more. I have even tried running to the grocery store on the way home from work one night that we are going to be eating leftovers for dinner, which means a few extra hours on the weekend for new adventures with Brad and Jo in 2018.

Anyways... I love hot, soupy meals during the cold months, who doesn't? And I also love this Sweet Potato Chili recipe and I've been making it in my slow cooker for the last 2 years or so. I never knew you could put sweet potatoes in chili and have it turn out so savory and yummy. If you ventured over to the link you'll also find lots of other recipes. But Alex (the blogger in the link) has a new blog at she started in 2017 and I'm always checking in to see if she has any new recipes over there!

CategoryWeekend Meal
This was still much faster to cook in the InstaPot versus the slow cooker. But maybe I need to get faster at chopping veggies ;)

That's my kid snacking while we get dinner ready! ;)

For this recipe, I just followed Alex's ingredients and I attempted to adjust the time to make it in the InstantPot. I say attempted because it was extremely yummy, but my sweet potatoes almost came out like mush. The last two recipes I've made (this one and the next one I plan to share), have been a little "over cooked" and I think I need to start backing off on the time.

This recipe especially. I didn't think about it at the time, I just aimlessly followed another blogger's recipe times (like you guys are probably doing with mine? bad idea! I'm still am amateur at this!) and set the timer to 20 minutes on Pressure Setting and that was definitely way  too much because my potatoes were literally falling apart. I mean literally mushing apart. What I didn't realize at the time was that all of my ground beef was already cooked and the pressure cooking was really intended to cook the sweet potatoes and infuse all of the flavors together. That should take no time at all right? Now that I'm searching a little more I did find some alternative times which could have made this meal a weeknight meal instead of a weekend meal.

This was right before the tomatoes,
beans and broth were added
Although my potatoes were pretty mush, Brad and I ate it up like there was nothing wrong (as I spent the entire dinner rehashing what I did in the kitchen and taking mental notes for corrections next time - the cooking time below is adjusted so your potatoes don't come out like mine). That man will eat just about anything I cook and never make me feel like I shouldn't be allowed in the kitchen <3 Joanna doesn't like sweet potatoes (she is weird) so if I can recall correctly, she ate rice, broccoli and some of the meat and beans from the chili (on the side!). And that's okay with me because I have learned not to get my cooking-skills validated by my 2 year old :)

Here is the recipe.... it was pretty easy. I normally would have made this with ground turkey, but we've been eating a lot more ground beef around here lately.

Instant Pot Sweet Potato Chili


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • EVOO
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can Rotel (Diced tomatoes with green chilies) Do not drain
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 3 cups chicken broth

  1. Using the Sauté setting on your Instant Pot, preheat on normal for 1.5 minutes
  2. Sauté your ground beef with the spices and minced garlic until mostly cooked
  3. Add in chopped onion and green pepper and sauté a few minutes longer (2-3 minutes, ground beef should be fully cooked by now)
  4. Add chopped sweet potatoes, mix into ground beef and sauté for 1-2 minutes while mixing
  5. Add in rotel, black beans, broth and mix with a spoon
  6. Place the lid on, and lock it, setting the valve to sealing.
  7. Cook on manual High Pressure setting for 8 minutes, and allow the Instant Pot to release naturally (do not use the quick release lever, but let the pressure indicator lower on its own.)
  8. Switch the valve release, and remove the lid carefully.

I poured my chili over a bed of fresh spinach and topped it with cilantro and greek yogurt!

I hope you enjoy!