Apple Butter for Days

I’m honestly not sure what possessed me to make apple butter in my Instant Pot. It may be because fall is my favorite time of year. Or, perhaps it was the abundance of apples when I went shopping for other fun food for my daughter’s midterm break. More likely, I saw something on social media about apple butter and I decided if that person could do it, I could give it a whirl too.

As I mentioned before, I am glad I purchased more apples than I needed since my youngest treated the apples like they were a meal for the better part of the week.

I thought it would be a good idea to give the apples a nice bath in the sink. I put clean, cool water into the sink with white vinegar and squeezed half a fresh lemon in for good measure.

Aside from the fact that everyone and their brothers could have touched these apples & I did not plan to peel them, I also like to remove as much of any waxy coating I can. These weren’t organic apples.

Once I had them washed and dried, I set about coring and slicing them. Again, I didn’t want to remove the skins because I had it in my head they might add to the thickness of the end product and I, personally, like to eat apple peels with wild abandon. My favorite days were when my Grandma had to peel a bunch of apples for something, but didn’t need the peels. She could cut them in one, long strip and I would share them with my sister (or eat them all–it depends on which of us is telling the story).

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Midterm Break Eats

My oldest is in her first year of her undergraduate education. Her school has a midterm break in October. It fell on a weekend when my husband traveled to DC to run the Army 10-miler. With both my girls home, I decided to try and make some good eats for us to enjoy. My oldest had requested some hot Buffalo Chicken Dip. I obliged! While at the store collecting ingredients and a few other things, I decided to grab a handful of items that could turn into a pretty awesome dinner.

First, I found an Instant Pot recipe for BBQ beef and decided to give it a whirl. I knew even my picky pants youngest might eat it if it involved MEAT…she’s a fan.

The key, I have found, is not to necessarily let her see what things look like going into the Instant Pot. Unless she’s helping prepare it from the start and watching it build into this final photo on the left, it’s best to just put on the lid and turn the machine on quickly.

This beef recipe only took a short amount of time (an hour-ish) to be completely ready to enjoy. The girls ate a few helpings; my oldest and I put some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce on top and ate the shredded beef on sandwich buns.

Anytime we have BBQ anything, the obvious choice for a side is macaroni and cheese. I had picked up the ingredients for it and then realized once the beef was resting that I hadn’t really even started the side dish.

Don’t worry, friends! A quick wash of the Instant Pot insert, and we were back in action. This mac & cheese recipe literally took 4 minutes once the pot came to pressure.

You cannot BEAT that! Our side was ready in no time. I will say that it took me a bit longer because I like to shred my own cheese rather than using the bagged varieties.

I chose to use some of the spices from our favorite baked macaroni & cheese recipe in this dish as well.

Next time, I will plan my cooking better and have time to bake off the mac and cheese for a bit so we can employ the crunchy bread crumb topping everyone loves so much.

Trust me when I say: no one was disappointed. Because my husband was not home to eat his usual platefuls of food, we actually had leftovers. I was able to send about a quart of mac & cheese and a takeaway container of beef back to my daughter’s dorm with her.

She was happy and I’m sure she also enjoyed the Buffalo Chicken Dip, celery and tortilla chips I packed up for her, her roomie and her boyfriend. I kind of think I managed to up my mom game just a little thanks to my Instant Pot.

While at the market, I also purchased a TON of apples. I want to try my hand at making apple butter in my Instant Pot. I better hurry, though! My youngest takes the apple-a-day saying along with the “if a little does a little good, a lot will do a lot of good” saying to heart. She’s been plowing through my apples at lightning speed! I can’t say I blame her–they are the perfect fall fruit!

I honestly think purchasing a second insert for my Instant Pot is the way to go. I’ll let you know when I pull that trigger and how I might use a second insert in planning for Thanksgiving!

Instant Pot to the Rescue!

DinnerPic1I have been wanting to try this recipe for pasta in my Instant Pot since I found it.

Yesterday presented the perfect opportunity as I worked a marathon day at work and my girls were home waiting for a good dinner. This could not have been more simple and it couldn’t have tasted much better.

I used our normal choice of pasta sauce (herbs already included), so I didn’t add in the suggested dry herbs. No matter! It came out great. We almost always have frozen meatballs in the freezer, so that ingredient is typically handy. The full-on mozzarella you see in this photo (added at the end of the actual cooking) came from a Blue Apron meal that we never managed to make. It was delicious along with some Parmesan cheese stirred through the dish.

Just be careful when you stir that pasta at the end! Even when you think all the steam has dissipated, you may be surprised and burn a fingertip. Ouch. But I managed to forget about it once we dug in to dinner.

You can add a side salad or some crusty bread and have a great family meal in no time. DinnerPic2Although this one is not Paleo, it is certainly better than choosing fast food when your day has expended all your energy.

Within a few minutes, the Instant Pot was working on our dinner while I changed clothes, received updates from the kids, pet the dogs, and poured a glass of wine. And really, what more could a tired mom ask for?!

Have you found some super easy, yet extremely tasty recipes for your Instant Pot? I would love if you dropped your favorite links in a comment. We are always looking for new ideas!

Day Two of Smoothie Review

On Saturday, I had an 8-hour shift at my side hustle. I did NOT want to go, but I am not one to skip an obligation.

 I decided to try the Cold Brew & Almond smoothie for my second review.

My youngest assisted me. I’ve decided that to make future smoothie attempts easier on myself, I am going to move my smoothie of choice from the freezer to the fridge the night before I plan to make it. In the morning, it should be ready to blend without spending time in the microwave.

 

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Let’s Make Smoothies!

My Daily Harvest shipment arrived yesterday & I was super excited to try it out this morning. Day One of subscription service smoothies is in the books!

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How Much Is Your Time Worth?

Time may be finite, but I certainly try to bend the rules and cram as much as humanly possible into 24 hours. Sometimes this works, but eventually energy and motivation wane and the basics necessary for comfortable living take a hike. Namely, household tasks like laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning become exhausting propositions. Or, those tasks are impossible to do because I am at one job or another and not even available to complete them.

Some services realize that we all have a price and have been sending me coupons with gradually increasing discount amounts. This week, two services hit the sweet spot and our family will be giving them a try.

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Go Ahead. Grab the Granola.

Have you ever paused in the grocery aisle and debated whether to buy something obviously the next best thing to homemade (maybe better?!) or something with more ingredients on the label and a factory birthplace? Was the reason for your pondering the price of the more personal product? I had a crisis of conscience in the grocery store aisle this morning, but I decided to grab the granola.

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Three Things I Am Adding To My Life

After having been on this planet for four-and-a-half decades, it now seems that my body is teaching me lessons I was loathed to learn in my 20’s or even 30’s. Being a hard-charger who rarely says “No” to a task and saw resting as weakness, it has been difficult to realize that my body is no longer willing to stay quiet when I abuse its many delicate systems. I’ve decided to make some changes, and keep other recent changes going, so that I can make sure my body doesn’t call it quits before I am ready to go.

Maybe you can benefit from adding some things too?

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My Word for 2017

Everyone seems to have a word for 2017. I’m sort of still trying to dig myself out from the mess that was 2016. I feel like that year steamrolled me worse than any other in a very long time. And, if you knew me at all, that is certainly saying something.

I think, though, that I have landed on a word that would make life in 2017 more enjoyable and productive. That word is STREAMLINE.

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Black Friday Cometh

I have been an online shopper since before online shopping was convenient and mainstream. I shy away from crowds and those times of year when shopping is just too peopley. So, how I find myself working in the belly of the beast by choice this holiday season is beyond me.

I took the plunge. I’m a seasonal sales associate at an extremely popular department store and I will be working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

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