Need a Holiday Shortcut? This Teacher Rocks the Instant Pot

If you’re a teacher you are frantically running around trying to find the latest toy for your own kid (which by the way is the stuffed shark that sings that “catchy” baby shark dododododo song- only $150 on Amazon!) while writing lesson plans, grading a zillion papers and trying to find a gift for under $5 for the secret Santa (are we even allowed to call it that??) But the holidays also mean something else. Food. Lots of food! And all that goes with it. Like the time it takes to make that special holiday dish that your family just has to have because it wouldn’t be Hanukkah without it! Or the fact that Nonna’s Christmas Strufuli is going to pack a few extra pounds onto your already “need to lose 10 lbs.” frame.

So what’s a teacher to do?

We try to please everyone and often leave ourselves until last. Good habits like eating well go right out the window. One of the things that I have learned in this busy season is that there is no shame in shortcuts. I used to love when Sandra Lee was on the Food Network. She would make all her little shortcut foods then tablescape a beautiful table on a dollar store budget. And she made a cocktail to go with it all! You rock Sandra! When I tried to recreate some of Sandra’s ideas I found that maybe they took a little more time and effort than I had or wanted to put in. So I started looking for ways that I could eat healthy yet keep my sanity. Enter my Instant Pot. I am a big, big fan of the Instant Pot. It’s not the blow up device of your grandmother’s day. For people that don’t like to leave a crock pot on all day, this item is a godsend. Plus, I can even prep bags of food to just throw in the pot, and 30-40 minutes later I have dinner on the table.

“Pot Heads”?

Devoted “pot heads” (yes that’s what they call themselves) make everything from hardboiled and souvide eggs to cheesecake in their Instant Pot. I bought a 2nd smaller pot just to make yogurt in.  That’s right I make my own yogurt! And if you knew how easy it was you would too! Healthy eating is easier than you thought. So if you are looking for a holiday gift for yourself or another teacher friend, check out the Instant Pot. And I am not getting any kickbacks from IP, although on a teaching salary it would be nice, and you all know what I mean! My cousin does have a Cuisinart, which he loves, but the prices on the IP right now make it affordable on our salary. Here are 2 recipes to get you started!

IP Yogurt

I use a 3 qt IP for this recipe.

1 – 52 oz/1.5 liter  container of Fairlife milk. I use 2% or 4 % because they work better in this recipe than skim.

1 T plain yogurt (I use Greek)

  1. Put milk in IP.
  2. Whisk in yogurt.
  3. Put on lid and set IP for yogurt setting. That’s it. I set it for about 9 hours on average.
  4. I usually let it sit in the inner container covered in the fridge overnight. It makes it creamier then I put it in little mason jars.
  5. Eat plain or with a dab of honey or fresh fruit or stir in some pureed baby food like the bananas! Yum!!!

IP Cube Steak My hubby’s favorite! Serves 4

1 lb. cube steak

10 oz. can French Onion soup (I used Campbells)

1 T steak sauce  (I used A1)

1 packet Au Jus gravy mix  (McCormack)

2 T corn starch.

10 oz. water (just fill empty soup can)

Place cube steak in IP (I use my 6 qt for my dinner type dishes but this could easily be made in a smaller 3 qt).

Pour gravy mix packet over steak and add in soup and water.

Use “Manual High Pressure” on the IP for 4 minutes.

Do a “Natural release” for 5 minutes. Natural release is when the IP is done counting down the cooking time you let it sit while the pressure releases. Then do a “quick release”. This is where you open the pressure valve and let the steam out. CAUTION: I put a towel over the vent when doing this release so that the steam is contained. Be careful not to get close to the steam.

Place IP on sauté and add in corn starch to thicken gravy.

Serve with a side of green beans or your favorite salad and potato or rice and Enjoy!

Laurie Satmaria teaches Family and Consumer Science.'

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