Monday, April 9, 2018

Instant Pot Recipe #4: Spaghetti

I am alive! And we have a new baby in our house!

Disclaimer: I've had this spaghetti blog post drafted since February (so let's just pretend that we are still in February :) but something distracted me after my week of vacation (ahem... work?), and then baby boy Ganey came 4.5 weeks early! I've got a bit of catching up to do but I have several dinners and even a dessert recipe successfully accomplished in my InstaPot :) I really do love this thing!

[Let's take a time machine back to mid-February...]

We've been in vacation mode around here this week with my parents in town from Florida and my SIL and kids in town from Panama. I have to admit that we LOVE living in Texas and we are so grateful for our career opportunities - but it just plain stinks not having cousins around. Watching Joanna this week with her cousins was just a beautiful sight that really encourages me to plant some more mommy-seeds and hope she finds "her people" that she will grow up with. I am secretly jealous of those people you meet in life who are still close with, or have stayed in touch with their childhood friends. Community is such a vital part of parenting and I'll admit that living in 3 different cities in the last 2 years hasn't helped our cause. 

Anyways, here is Joanna and her cousins Sade and Noah <3

This week, any domestication duties that I've had were mostly related to food shopping and cleaning up the kitchen. These are things that I could totally live with! Well, except for the food shopping. I've gotten a lot better in (January and February) 2018 because of my new habit to make a thorough grocery list BEFORE I go to the store :) opposed to just buying whatever I think we might need, while at the store with a toddler. The ladder generally means we are coming home with junk food. When I plan-ahead my grocery list and dinner menu (like most areas of my life), I feel way less pressure to fill up the cart with mediocre options at store. More on this topic later when life got crazy, the baby came early and I can't even remember to put Easter eggs on the grocery list and my family goes to the store 3x in one day :) ha!

HOWEVER - I realized I hadn't shared the simplest recipe to date with you guys! Having my parents here this week reminded me of how difficult parenting is and how much my parents overcame while raising 4 children in Miami, FL without either of them having completed higher education. It's astounding to think that they both arrived in this country not knowing any English and how their hard work (sometimes working 3-4 jobs combined) and determination gave fruit to all of the opportunities that were passed along to my brothers, sister and I. Spaghetti reminds me of my childhood because it was my favorite meal. I distinctively remember my father cooking half of the ground beef portion for spaghetti and half of it to make spicy chili for him and my brother. It's just one of those dishes that flood me with memories.

So although I didn't actually make spaghetti this week - we've made it a few times in the InstaPot and it has always been excellent. I will share (another) disclaimer that my daughter doesn't like chunks of tomatoes in her spaghetti. So, we take the extra step to make our own spaghetti sauce and then blend it before adding the meat and noodles. The perk to this is that I can hide TONS of veggies in the sauce - carrots, broccoli, spinach, peppers, you name it! The downfall is that it normally takes longer to saute all the veggies on the stove top, let the sauce simmer for a while, then puree it until its nice and smooth. I've learned that when I make my own sauce, I need to use more liquid. The InstaPot really does require the liquid to keep the contents nice and moist and my sauce has come out a little too thick because I just didn't have enough liquid - so I've been adding beef broth or chicken broth, I always have a recently open carton in the fridge.

I followed this recipe from The Salty Marshmallow for inspiration. Like I said, the only difference is that I made my own sauce instead of using a jar of spaghetti sauce. We also find that store-bought sauce has a lot of sugar in it. One thing that isn't so appealing to the eye is the color of my spaghetti when I make my own sauce - it's not RED! Joanna doesn't seem to mind but when I take pictures of it, I notice that the color doesn't do anything for my own appetite.

Simmering the homemade spaghetti sauce
I actually made this batch the same night that I attempted to make bone broth in my InstaPot and failed miserably because I forgot to put the sealing ring back into the lid. Ooops! But the day wasn't a total failure because Joanna ate up the spaghetti and even asked for more. Let's just say that by the end of that Sunday evening, my cooking-heart was full.

Once I get passed chopping all the veggies, sauteing and simmering them, it really is super easy to add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot. If I am working from home that day, I can add all the ingredients and then leave the house to go pickup Jo from school. Once we arrive back home, dinner is ready to serve.

Before the spaghetti sauce
Did I mention that Joanna loves spaghetti as much as I do? I mean, I really don't know WHO in this world doesn't like spaghetti.

Due to Jo's egg allergy, we buy and eat whole wheat (almost) everything. After making this recipe a few times, I learned that our cooking times generally take longer to make sure the noodles are nice and soft.

All done!
Like I said, our homemade sauce doesn't photograph well. But I but you $10 that no one in your family will even notice all the veggies that you hide in there. I generally use two cans of tomatoes, 1 small can of tomato sauce and chop up any veggies that I have on hand.

I adapted my recipe from: The Salty Marshmallow

Instant Pot Spaghetti


  • 1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Teaspoon EACH Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Pound Spaghetti Noodles 
  • 1 (24 Ounce) Jar Spaghetti Sauce (I made my own and added veggies I had on hand)
  • 36 Ounces Water, 1 1/2 Jars
  • 1 (14.5 Ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
  1. Set the Instant Pot to saute' and add the ground beef.  Add the spices.  Cook the meat and seasonings, breaking the meat up until it's completely browned.  Turn the Instant Pot off. Drain any excess grease from meat if necessary.
  2. Break the spaghetti in half and place on top of meat in the Instant Pot.  Pour over the spaghetti sauce, diced tomato, and water.  Push the spaghetti down with a spoon if necessary to make sure it is completely covered in liquid.  
  3. Seal the instant pot and set it to manual mode, high pressure, 8 minutes cooking time (add more time for whole wheat pasta - I cooked for 15 min).  When the time is up, use manual quick release to open the Instant Pot.  Stir the spaghetti well.  Serve immediately.
We like our spaghetti with a side of garlic bread and parm cheese. That's exactly how my parents always served it when I was growing up!