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5 Favorite Instant Pot Recipes for Beginners

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After my last, heavy post on grief, I wondered how I could segue into a light and fluffy post on my five favorite no fail Instant Pot recipes for beginners? From grief to recipes? Really? I pondered this question with my sister to which she replied, “Jen. No matter how deep we are in grief or what kind of day we have had, the kids still need to eat.”

Truer words have never been spoken, and my sister has been right there with me. We could have the worst day, filled with tears, sadness and heaviness but the kids still need dinner. Life goes on, and moms have to take care of business. So we wipe our eyes, and move on. One foot, and one dinner, after another. And my Instant Pot has been a life saver.

Disclosure: Links to the mighty Instant Pot in this post are affiliate links. Which means if you were to click on the link here and buy, I get a very small portion. No cost difference to you. Just need to let you know. 

The Instant Pot: Appliance, Myth or Legend?

My friends were making this appliance seem like the answer to all my dreams. Suddenly they were all professing their love of their Instant Pot like they were infomercial actors. The perfect hard-boiled eggs in 5 minutes! Cook a whole chicken in just 25 minutes! Steel-cut oats cooked to perfection in 4! But wait! There’s more! 😂

My sister told me this appliance would, and I quote, “change my life.” I mean, seriously.  Change my life. I wanted to laugh, but she was serious. I told her, “But, I like my Crock-Pot…” to which she replied, “When you get the Instant Pot you can THROW AWAY your Crock-Pot!”

With an endorsement like that, I didn’t think twice about clicking to buy it when I saw the Instant Pot go on sale on Amazon (and it’s on sale NOW!!!) Get it mamas. It WILL change your life.

When my Instant Pot arrived I was scared. It is intimidating, especially for a cooking-challenged person like me. There are a whole lot of buttons, and scary beeps, and steam, and sounds. Hold me!!!!!! One of the first times (I think) I turned it on right, I just stood there staring at it while it started to come to pressure.

I was just a girl, standing in her kitchen in front of the Instant Pot, hoping everything would be okay.

And it was! Most of the time that is. There are fails. But we have to learn and move on. And once I got the hang of it, and I am getting the hang of it, I have to admit it is pretty darn amazing. I use it 3 – 4 times a week and I LOVE IT!!!

So I wanted to share five recipes that even a newbie like me was able to figure out which were DELICIOUS.

All photos compliments of their respective blogs and I will link to each in the recipes. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

This was one of the first recipes I mastered. Soups are amazing in the IP, because you can sauté and soften your veggies on the Sauté function IN the IP before you add your liquid! Then, this recipe instructs you on how to cook the WHOLE chicken for your soup also in the IP. It’s a one-pot wonder! My kids love CNS (chicken noodle soup) and we love this recipe.

Click here for this Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup recipe

Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches

I get tired of the same stuff for dinner, so it is fun to mix a warm sandwich into the rotation. This is a great meal for the family because you can prepare the meat and then fix the sandwiches when you get home from running around doing all the things we do every day as moms!

Click here for this Instant Pot French Dip Sandwich Recipe

Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

You guys. This quite possibly is the BEST. MEATLOAF. EVER! It’s like magic done in the IP. And you cook your potatoes right there underneath your loaf! Juicy and delicious. I subbed ground turkey, omitted the BBQ sauce, and added in some shredded parm like she suggests in the recipe. Didn’t brave the sprouts. It is truly spectacular. Kids don’t like meatloaf? They will like this one. Try it!

Click here for the Instant Pot Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes recipe

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

Cheese. Tacos. Pasta.
Three of life’s greatest foods in one easy to make Instant Pot dinner that will knock your socks off! It’s only calls for 6 ingredients and will be done in 30 minutes. Sure to become one of your weeknight dinner staples!

Click here for this Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta recipe 

Instant Pot Perfect Steamed Broccoli 

 I HAVE to share this method for cooking the best steamed broccoli because broccoli is one of the few veggies my kids like.  I didn’t even KNOW cooking something in the IP for ZERO minutes was a thing! It is. Here’s how to do it…

Click here for the Instant Pot Perfect Steamed Broccoli Recipe

Do you have some favorite IP recipes to share? Ones that are easy for beginners? Please link in the comments below!

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Yummy 4th of July Recipes for Kids

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Yummy 4th of July Recipes for Kids

Break out the adorable red, white and blue outfits, sparklers, stars and stripes…because the 4th of July is right around the corner this week!  I love, love celebrating this holiday with my family, and have complied a round-up of fun 4th of July recipes for kids, sure to please even the littlest of eaters (and critics!) at your family BBQ.  Plus, you’ll have fun making these with your tiny chefs!

4th of July Breakfast Toast
Idea and image found on http://www.buzzfeed.com 

  4th of July Breakfast Toast

How cute is this??  A great, pretty healthy way to start off your holiday…and sure to impress your kiddos.

Firecracker Popcorn
Idea and image found on http://thenerdswife.com

Firecracker Popcorn

A yummy, easy, festive snack – yes, please!

4th of July Fruit Kabobs
Idea and image found on http://thefrugalgirls.com

4th-of-July-Fruit-Kabobs-from-TheFrugalGirls.com_

There are SO many creative ways you can make fruit kabobs, but I thought this one was pretty cool. I especially love the addition of the star marshmallows – yum!

Watermelon Pops
Idea and image found on http://catchmyparty.com 

Watermelon Pops

This is seriously the easiest recipe I found.  And you know what?  My kids will probably eat these with more enthusiasm, simply because they look like a popsicles.

4th of July Strawberries
Idea and image found on http://www.cutefoodforkids.com

4th of July Strawberries

Deliciousness. Period. My kids will probably eat 20 of these at a time!

American Flag Veggie Tray
Idea and image found on http://www.livinglocurto.com

American-Flag-Vegetable-Tray

I thought this was a really adorable way to serve your veggies.  And you can pick and choose your vegetables, depending on your family’s preferences (and flag color coordination, of course!).

Fruity Stars and Stripes Flag
Idea and image found on http://www.bettycrocker.com

Fruity Stars and Stripes Flag

My kids will pretty much eat anything with graham crackers.  And this is such a cute way to get them involved and help make 4th of July edible “flags.” Love it!

Wild Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches
Idea and image found on http://www.partytipz.com

Wild Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

This is a (semi) healthier dessert option to serve your kids and party guests – and it looks delicious!  Frozen berry yogurt with red/white/blue sprinkles, sandwiched between graham crackers. YUM!

Red White and Blue Rice Krispie Treats
Idea and image found on http://mylitter.com

4th-july-rice-krispie-treats-

Again, I have found SO many Rice Krispy treat recipes, and I thought this one looked super fun for the 4th of July. And such a cute (and easy!) treat to make with your kiddos!

MnM Sparklers
Idea and image found on http://ourbestbites.com

Pretzel Sparklers

Not only a delicious dessert to serve, but how fabulous would these look, doubling as centerpieces?  So fun for a family 4th BBQ!

What are your favorite kid-friendly 4th of July recipes?  Please share below!
And happy 4th of July!  Enjoy a wonderful day with your families.

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Weeknight Dinner Shortcuts That Might Change Your Life

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Susanne’s 22 weeknight dinner shortcuts below just might change your life. Seriously. When I read them, I immediately thought, “why haven’t I been doing these things already?!” Enjoy mamas. They are brilliant! If you agree -will you please pin the image and help share the love? Thank you! 
weeknight dinner shortcuts

Last week I shared that Oprah.com shared four of Susanne’s amazing do ahead weeknight dinner shortcuts that save a ton of time when pulling together a meal. Susanne had so many of these types of tips I had to write a post with all the shortcuts she came up with. Hope they help!

Weeknight Dinner Shortcuts – It’s All About the Prep

 

If you can set aside some time on Sunday, or even Monday morning if you have kids in school, these easy do ahead food prep tips will save you a ton of time.

1. Make a rub for salmon, pork or chicken thighs and store in an airtight container.

2. Chop an onion, lasts 1 week in an airtight container.

3. Chop garlic, store in an airtight container with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover.

4. Make your own vinaigrette, which lasts for about 1 week – it makes for a quick healthy salad, use it as a marinade or drizzle it over some steamed veggies for extra flavor.

5. Trim + clean veggies on Sunday, and then they are ready for steaming during the week. Quick cooking method for the night of – just add about 1 inch of water in your pot to boil quickly, and place in a sieve covered with a lid. Try to slightly under steam to keep the crunch/nutrients.

6. Prepare your brown rice, quinoa or noodles, etc. on Sunday and store in an airtight container to heat up quickly for an easy side dish.  Heat up the night of serving with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil or butter to bring back to life.

7. Slice carrots, celery, bell peppers, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower or whatever raw veggies your kids like and serve it as a side with ranch or hummus (or fave dip).  Or you can serve it as an app to get the veggies in your kids bellies while mom is scrambling to get the rest of dinner together.  It’s fun to let the kids pick a new veggie when they’re at the store with you to try something new – my girls discovered they like broccoflower.

8. When preparing your Sunday Dinner, make double and freeze half.  If you do this immediately (instead of letting it sit in the fridge a few days) you don’t think of it as “leftovers” but a second dinner.

9. Choose a versatile protein for your Sunday night dinner and make extra so then you can add it to salads, twice baked potatoes (or sweet potatoes), paninis, flatbread pizzas, tacos, pastas or stir fry during the week.  (Think pulled pork, roasted chicken, flank steak, pork loin, etc.)

10. Toast nuts and store in airtight container to sprinkle on salads or veggies.

11. Take inventory of your freezer proteins to help plan for the week and build your menus around what you might already have on hand.

12. Poach a whole chicken in the crock pot, then shred it and have protein for the rest of the week. Cheaper and better for you (less salt!) than those rotisserie chickens you can buy. Save the stock and you also have chicken stock for the week to save or freeze in ice cube trays to add to recipes.

Easy Weeknight Menu Ideas

 

Most important thing is to keep things simple and take it easy on yourself, you are doing an amazing job getting a home cooked meal on the table for your family.  Try not to get caught up in, I don’t have such + such ingredient and then get paralyzed.  Most of the time you’ll find your family won’t miss it.  The focus is sitting down to a healthy meal with your family and connecting.

13. Buy thin cuts of meat like thin sliced chicken breast, chicken tender pieces, pork chops, salmon, sole, etc… the thin cuts cook quicker.

14. After you’re done sautéing your meat, take it out and cover it with foil and quickly sauté your prepped veggies in the same pan with a little EVOO, garlic + onion.  That pan will give your veggies a ton of flavor and it’s less to clean up.

15. “Breakfast for Dinner” breakfast is always quick to cook and usually a big hit mid week.  A fave in our house are Egg BLT sandwiches with a little side salad.

16. Factor a Crock Pot recipe into your busiest day, and these always make for great leftovers (or freeze for a second dinner).

17. Don’t be afraid of a big salad for dinner, throw everything in to make it filling, your fave veggies, croutons, beans, cheese, crumbled bacon, or salami other deli meats on hand, hard boiled eggs, etc.  We love making tuna salad or egg salad and serving a big scoop over power greens (or fave salad) with cannelini beans, avocado, tomato, green onion.  If your kids protest the salad, serve it “deconstructed” or separated into groups on their plates so they are eating the same things but just not tossed together.

18. Embrace tradition– my girls are super into Taco Tuesday Night right now- and tacos can be made out of anything!  Ground beef, chicken, salmon, diced pork chop, whatever you have on hand that you can sauté up with a little onion, garlic and oregano salt and pepper.  All you need from there is tortilla, cheese, salsa and/or guac any veggies you like to add…

19. Think raw foods for your side dishes, a beautiful sliced avocado or tomato drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper is so delicious and nutritious.  Or sliced cucumber with a drizzle of rice vinegar, shaved zucchini ribbons topped with EVOO, parm cheese and salt + pepper.

20.Keep frozen peas and frozen corn (or fave veggies) on hand for a quick and easy side dish, sauté with a touch of butter salt and pepper.  They are flash frozen and are fresher than their canned counterparts.

21. We love Bragg Liquid Aminos which is like a spray soy sauce, for our steamed veggies. [amazon affiliate link]

22. One-pot dinners are great and less to clean up! Chili, big batches of soup, one-pot pasta, etc. Freeze half of the batch for easy dinners later on for our busiest days.

I hope you have found these weeknight dinner shortcuts helpful! Do you have any of your own to share? Please comment below!

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We are on Oprah.com. Pinch me.

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I have mad love for Oprah.

She’s the person I always select when asked “If you could sit next to anybody (living or dead) at a dinner party, who would it be?”

When her talk show ended, I cried.

So when I received an email from a food editor at Oprah.com about collaborating on a meal prep tip feature, I lost it a little.

Tiny Oranges had a chance to be on Oprah.com?!

It was a full circle moment mamas.

Immediately I got on the phone with Susanne, and after sharing some squeals, she put together a list of brilliant meal prep tips she cooked up in her talented culinary mind.

And friends, Susanne’s tips are published right here on Oprah.com!!!!! Please click over and celebrate our moment in the Oprah sun with us.

Enjoy!

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Garlic Maple Pork Roast

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slow cooker pork roast recipe

Sponsored Post 

Did you know that the month of October is National Pork Month affectionately known as Porktober? Yes, friends, you might have learned something new today. To celebrate Porktober, Susanne and I will be featuring two yummy pork recipes this month perfect for fall entertaining.

Today’s delicious slow cooker pork roast recipe is sure to be a hit. You can click here for a downloadable copy of this menu. Here was how our dinner went over and a how-to of Susanne’s slow cooker pork roast recipe.

Celebrate Porktober at Costco!

During the month of October at Costco, you can find specials on these pork cuts:

Now through 10/12: Boneless Chops and Roast Specials
10/13 – 10/19 Boneless Sirloin Tip Roast
10/20 – 10/26 Whole Boneless Loins

So Susanne, her cute 7 month pregnant belly, and I hit our local Costco to take advantage of the roast on special for this recipe.

The Boneless Pork Shoulder Butt Roast at Costco comes in packages of about 16 pounds, which is already cut in two roasts.  One half of this package is perfect for this recipe, or if you have super-sized crock pot, double the rest of the ingredients and go for it!

Costco Pork Specials in October

Slow Cooker Pork Roast Recipe 

Slow Cooked Garlic Maple Pork Shoulder Roast

Serves a crowd of 8-10 with leftovers

Ingredients:

6-8lbs Boneless Pork Shoulder (or pork butt)

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground nutmeg

3 tsp Salt

(For salt, my favorite is Maldon Sea Salt Flakes which comes in easy dissolving flavorful flakes. Affiliate link.)

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

12-14 garlic cloves, smashed

then 1 more teaspoon salt when sautéing garlic

1/4 cup Sherry Wine

1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup (not the fake stuff)

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp molasses

1/8 cup Worchestershire sauce

3 T White Wine Vinegar

Ready, Set, Cook!

1. Mix in a small bowl the nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper.

pork roast rub recipe

2. Cut the Pork Roast in half to get more surface area to sprinkle the Pork Shoulder Roast generously with salt and pepper, the ground cloves and nutmeg.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium and brown the both pieces of the Roast on all sides.  Place in your crock pot turned on to low.

browning pork

3. Turn the heat down to medium low and quickly sauté the garlic in the pan drippings until golden (taking care not to burn) and then deglaze the pan with the Sherry Wine (stirring with a wooden spoon to get all of the good flavors off the pan).  Season with 1 tsp Salt + a little Pepper.

garlic

4. In a separate bowl stir together the brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup and pour over the Pork Shoulder Roast followed by the garlic and Sherry mixture.

pork glaze

5. Cover with a lid and let slow cook into deliciousness for 8 hours.  If you’re home and able, flip the roasts around halfway through the day.  When the meat is tender and falling apart, remove from the crock pot onto a sheet pan covered with foil to let cool a bit before you pull apart.

Pulled Pork

6. Last comes the sauce! Strain the remaining cooking liquid through a sieve into a fat separator.  If you don’t have a fat separator, place into a clear measuring cup and let sit still for a few minutes so the fat will rise, then spoon the excess fatty liquid off leaving just your delicious cooking liquids.

pork sauce

7. Pour into a small pot and bring to a simmer on your stovetop.  For every 1/2 cup of liquid you have stir in 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and a little salt and pepper to taste.  You can play around and add more vinegar if you like a tangier flavor!   (The sauce is a thin, light consistency.)

Serve Pulled Pork on a platter, either drizzled with sauce or pass the sauce around the table because you’ll probably want to add some more!

Here is our friend Sara ready to serve it up. Bring on Porktober!

serving pork

Now for the delicious pork side dishes.  Both of these were a perfect complement to the flavors in the pulled pork.

Roasted Acorn Squash Recipe 

Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 Acorn Squash

4 Tbsp of butter, cut into 4 pats or squares

sprinkle of brown sugar

sprinkle of chili powder

Salt and Pepper

Ready, Set, Cook!

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Cut Squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a foil line sheet pan with 1 pat of butter in each, a sprinkle generously with brown sugar, chili powder, salt and pepper.

Roast for about 1-1 1/4 hours or until flesh pierces easily with a fork.  Turn the oven to broil and watch carefully for about 1 min to get golden brown deliciousness.  Take care when removing from oven not to spill the pool of yumminess in the middle, as you want every bit of this to make it to your mouth.

roasted acorn squash

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad  

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels Sprouts

1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped + toasted

1/2 cup Shaved Romano Cheese pieces

1/4 c Dried Cranberries

1/4 cup fresh Lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp salt (kosher or sea salt- Maldon is my fave)

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Ready, Set, Cook!

Make sure brussels sprouts are rinsed clean and trimmed, then slice lengthwise, then place on flat edge and chop into a very thin slaw, stopping when you get to the white end.

Stir together the lemon juice + EVOO briskly add salt and pepper.

Mix all ingredients together and toss with the dressing to coat.  Taste for seasoning, if needed add a little S+P.  Garnish with Romano Cheese shavings.

(Can make a few hours ahead and let the flavors mingle.)

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Our Porktober Dinner was a Huge Success! 

Susanne’s recipe was simply out of this world! When my husband walked up the drive to meet us after work for dinner, he said he could smell the aromas from down the street.

We love a great slow cooker pork roast recipe for fall entertaining because of the “make ahead” capability. The pork was delicious – so tender and juicy.  Putting it on butter rolls to make sandwiches the next day for leftovers was almost as good as the main meal.

The kiddos even gave the pork a thumbs up!

We invite you to visit your local Costco this month and try out this recipe for a group of friends.  Nothing better than sharing a good meal over some laughs this fall.

pork collage Happy entertaining from our family to yours! 

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