I acquired an Instant Pot a couple years ago for Christmas. When I first used it, I basically viewed it as a super fast Crock Pot and didn’t explore any of its unique functions. My parents would tell me about the dishes they used it to make – curry, fish, ribs, the list goes on – but I never experimented on my own. Its main use in my kitchen was to cook chicken at a high speed.
Clearly I’ve been under-utilizing the Instant Pot. I have a cookbook with 200 recipes, a Pinterest account, and access to the internet, so there’s reason to neglect this small appliance anymore.
My initial inspiration for dusting off my Instant Pot was a craving for Indian food. My dad’s made a couple Indian dishes in his Instant Pot that my mom’s raved about, which tempted me to read some recipes. I found a recipe for chicken tikka masala and decided I needed to try.
Cooking with the Instant Pot was simple. Seriously, it couldn’t be easier, and I can’t believe I didn’t try before. There are a variety of settings which makes it so versatile, but the settings are few enough that it isn’t overwhelming and hard to screw up if you follow the recipe. An added bonus is how easy clean up is, because there aren’t many pots and pans used. Many recipes only require the use of one pot. I’ll definitely be using the Instant Pot more often.
Other reasons I need to use the Instant Pot more often are to perfect this recipe, and be able identify potential flaws in other recipes. This dish lacked flavor, and I only used half the chicken called for. Had I used the correct amount, it would have been so bland. Next time I’ll add a little more spice. I’ll also add some vegetables. Potatoes or bell peppers would be a welcomed addition, bringing texture and flavor.
The dish wasn’t all bad, though. The chicken was tender and I got to eat basmati rice, which I love and don’t eat often enough. I’m excited to experiment more with the Instant Pot, and to make more Indian dishes.
Like many Americans during the pandemic, I’ve gone many days in a row without leaving my house, resulting in far fewer trips to the grocery store. Pre-pandemic I’d make a trip once or twice a week, and rarely planned more than a couple meals in advance. And while the pandemic has changed my grocery shopping habits, it hasn’t changed my planning habits (or lack thereof), and I’ve ended up with both a pantry and fridge devoid of ingredients. The quarantine has, however, forced me to get more creative and resourceful as a cook, which has been equal parts fun and flavorful.
Since making chicken piccata, I’ve had capers in my pantry and no reason to use them. But in the spirit of creativity and resourcefulness, tonight I decided to find a way. This spirit manifested itself into a pasta dish, of course. A salty, garlic-y, lemony pasta dish that satisfied my savory craving. Here’s the recipe:
Start by boiling pasta in salt water. Cook bacon over medium heat until it’s reached desired crispiness. Remove bacon from pan to a plate lined with a paper towel to blot the grease. Add chicken to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and onions. Rinse capers and add to the pan. Add butter and cook down. Add cooked pasta to the pan. Add bacon back to the pan. Squeeze lemon juice and add basil. Serve warm and enjoy!
As much as I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, some weeks I’d rather just eat cereal for supper, and this has been one of those weeks. Sadly, I ran out of Raisin Bran and my only option was to cook. Since my pantry failed me and I had to make something, I decided it was going to require very little effort, so I settled for the easiest of all dinners: a sheet pan meal.
Sheet pan meals are a dream when you’re lazy, and I often am. There are endless options, they taste amazing, and they’re nutritious. I opted for lemon chicken and bacon-wrapped asparagus. Here’s what to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butterfly 1 chicken breast and pound down so it’s an even thickness throughout. Place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and lemon pepper. Wrap 2 bundles of asparagus stalks in slices of raw bacon. Place on the baking sheet with the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic. Bake for 25 minutes.
I love sheet pan meals. Simple, quick, delicious. I see more in my future.
In case I haven’t publicly professed my adoration for pasta enough, let me do so once more: I love pasta. Therefore, in my quest to amass an arsenal of recipes for one, I need a trove of pasta recipes. One with a lemon butter sauce and wilted spinach is of utmost importance to perfect.
To start, boil linguine in salt water. Use about 1/8-1/6 of the box. Cut up half a chicken breast into small cubes, salt and pepper, and cook in an oiled pan over medium heat. Melt 1/4 stick of butter in the pan and add 1/8 tsp of minced garlic and 1/8 tsp of parsley. While butter is melting, add 1/2 cup of spinach and the juice of 1 lemon. Add noodles once al dente. Toss to smother noodles in lemony, buttery deliciousness.
Making this dish couldn’t be simpler, and when portions are smaller, ingredients cook faster making time in the kitchen minimal. And, although it’s pasta, it’s pretty light, making it a great weeknight summer meal. Enjoy!