As we enter a new year, I sure hope we find new and better changes to each of our lives.

Many of us have had difficult times this past year. I sure hope those are behind us and we have some good times to look forward to.

I started off with a great Christmas spent with my son and boyfriend. It was a very quiet peaceful day. This was our first Christmas together in six years. I did lots of cooking and sharing homemade treats with others, which I really enjoy doing.

The sad part about this year was the lady that I consider a mother to be became rather ill. She’s in the hospital now. Aunt Janet Luke has always been Superwoman, taking care of everyone. Now we are all doing our best to take care of her and Uncle Bob. Please keep her in your prayers as doctors try to figure out what’s wrong with her and then figure out how to get her back on her feet. 

I bet many of you got new cooking gadgets for Christmas such as the air fryers and instant pots. I personally got the Instant Pot and a large surface indoor grill. I’m looking forward to learning new recipes for both.

I’ve been asked several times about Instant Pot recipes so I’m going to share with you some of the best ones I have found and suggestions on things you might want to purchase to go with your Instant Pot. First, let me suggest the silicone egg mold. You will use it a lot and well worth having around.

I’ve seen dozens of recipes for Instant Pot egg bites. These are great for breakfast and can be made ahead and heated in the morning for breakfast before school for a nutritious breakfast. 

Veggie Egg Bites (Instant Pot Version)

Ingredients 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1/4 cup chopped mushrooms 

1/4 cup chopped broccoli florets 

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper 

Kosher salt and black pepper 

Cooking spray 

4 large eggs 

1/4 cup heavy cream 

1/4 cup sour cream 

1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 

Directions 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, broccoli and bell pepper. Then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Spray a silicone egg mold with cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, heavy cream, sour cream, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Divide the cheddar, veggies and egg mixture among the cups. Cover snugly with foil and carefully lower onto the trivet. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set the pressure valve to sealing. Then press the steam button and set it to 10 minutes. (Note: it will take several minutes for the pressure to build, after which the 10-minute timer will automatically start counting down). After 10 minutes are up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then use the handle of a wooden spoon to move the valve to Venting, which will let the rest of the pressure release quickly. When the pressure is fully released, remove the lid, then remove the silicone mold from the machine. Peel back the foil and turn the egg bites onto a plate. They should pop right out.

Cook meatloaf in an Instant Pot once and you’ll never use your oven to make it again. 

Instant Pot Meatloaf 

Ingredients 

Meatloaf:

6 slices bread

1 cup whole milk

2 pounds lean ground beef (90/10) 

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. kosher salt 

1 tsp. black pepper 

1/4 tsp. seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s 

1/3 cup minced parsley, plus more for serving

Tomato Sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup

6 Tbsps. packed brown sugar 

1 tsp. dry mustard 

A couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce 

A few dashes of hot sauce

Directions 

For the Meatloaf:

Place the bread in a large bowl and pour the milk on top.  Let the bread absorb the milk for a few minutes.  Add the ground beef, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, seasoned salt and parsley. Mix with clean hands or a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Set aside.  

For the Tomato Sauce:

In a separate bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Stir until smooth.  

Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape about 5x7 inches. Place the loaf in the center of a 24-inch piece of heavy duty foil. Fold up the sides to create a form that will help support the meatloaf, folding the long ends so they can be used as handles to lift out the meatloaf after it’s cooked. Place the trivet inside the Instant Pot and set the foil and meatloaf contraption on top of the trivet. Spoon half of the tomato sauce over the meatloaf, reserving the rest. Carefully pour 1 cup water into the bottom of the Instant Pot, being careful not to pour it on the meatloaf. Secure the lid and set the pressure valve to Sealing. Press the Manual button and set to 40 minutes. When the cook time is up, use the handle of a wooden spoon to move the valve to Venting to let the pressure release quickly. Remove the lid. Remove the meatloaf from the Instant Pot and peel back the foil. Slice the meatloaf and brush on 1/4 of the remaining sauce. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and the remaining sauce on the side.

With the sudden chill outside, I had this great desire to make homemade chili. Normally I make it in the crock pot which takes overnight to complete. With the new Instant Pot, the process is much quicker and that warm bowl of chili is ready in less than an hour. And I’ll have to say it’s some of the best I’ve ever made.

Instant Pot Chili

Ingredients 

2 pounds ground chuck (1 pound ground chuck plus 1 pound ground turkey)

1 quart V-8 Juice

1 (29-ounce) can tomato purée or crushed tomatoes 

1 (15-ounce) can red beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 large onion, chopped

4 ribs celery, diced

1 cup diced green bell pepper

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 1/2 tsps. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt (or more to taste)

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions 

Turn your Instant Pot on to the sauté function. When hot, toss in the ground chuck and turkey (if using turkey). Brown for about 5 minutes, breaking up as you go. Add in the onion, bell pepper and celery. Brown for another 5 minutes. It’s OK if the meat still has some pink in it. Turn pot off and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir. Pressure on high for 7 minutes. Quick release. Serve with cheese, crackers, Fritos, whatever you desire. Enjoy!

Another crowd pleaser on a cold day is taco soup. No need to wait overnight for this hearty soup. Using the Instant Pot has it ready in less than an hour.

Instant Pot Taco Soup

Ingredients 

1-2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey (93 percent lean); use a little oil for browning turkey

1 packet taco seasoning mix, about 3 Tbsps.

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 packet ranch dressing mix (optional)

1 (10-ounce) can Rotel

1 (7-ounce) can diced green chilies with juice 

4 cups chicken broth

1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14-ounce) can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14-ounce) can red kidney beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

To Finish:

4 (5-inch) corn tortillas, cut in thin strips optional, but adds a nice masa flavor

1 cup frozen corn (or 1 can of corn, drained)

Garnishes:

Sour cream

Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

Tortilla chips

Avocado, large, diced

Red onion, diced

Jalapeño, sliced

Directions 

Turn the Instant Pot on to the sauté setting. Add the meat (add little oil if using turkey). Cook for a few minutes. Add the taco seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked. Add the ranch packet, if using Rotel, green Chiles and chicken broth. Stir and place a glass lid on the pot to help the broth heat up faster. Once the broth is at a slow simmer, add all of the beans and stir well. Add the can of diced tomatoes, but don’t stir. Place the lid on the pot and lock in place. Turn the steam release knob to the sealing position. Cancel the sauté setting and then press the pressure cook/manual button (or dial) to choose 6 minutes. The pot will take several minutes to build up the pressure before the timer starts. When the cooking cycle has finished, let the pot sit undisturbed for 15 minutes. Then do a controlled Quick Release of the pressure by turning the knob towards the venting position in short bursts (I use a wooden spoon handle). When you feel confident that no soup will spew out with the steam, open the knob all the way. When the pin in the lid drops down, you can open the lid facing away from you. Give the soup a stir, carefully as there could be some hot steam pockets in there. Taste and adjust salt, if needed, then add the tortillas and the corn. Stir well and let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to help dissolve some of the tortillas. Serve with any of the garnishes you like. 

Joyce Jacks is a native of Barrow County and a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School, Athens Technical College and the University of Georgia. She can be reached at georgiagirl2424@yahoo.com.

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