Instant Pot Week #1 Turkey Tetrazinni

I am currently in the middle of a kitchen deep clean. The deep clean means getting rid of anything I haven’t used in the last three months, including ingredients, cookware and small appliances. Yeah, its brutal.

One appliance that is in danger of getting dumped are my pressure cookers. I love them and think they are a useful tool but I haven’t used them much in a lot longer than 3 months. In order to save my pressure cookers from the donation box, I am making a concentrated effort to use them more, starting with a week’s worth of recipes using the pressure cooker here on A Solitary Feast.

First recipe is Turkey Tetrazinni. A lot of people think you can’t cook pasta in the pressure cooker. You can but it is a little tricky, especially if you are using a tomato based sauce as they tend scorch on the bottom of the pot, giving the dreaded burn notice. If you like tomato based sauces for your pasta, check out this recipe at Desserts for Two to see a great recipe for Spaghetti in the Instant Pot . Its one of my favorite recipes for making Spaghetti in the Instant Pot.

A couple tips for making pasta in the Instant Pot.

  1. Add your liquid first and then use a spatula to scrap the stuck on bits from the bottom of the liner if you used the IP to brown the meat. This will remove any stuck bits from the bottom of the liner and could possibly cause a burn notice.
  2. Don’t add your pasta in on big clump. Add it in several different layers going in different directions. This will help keep the pasta from cooking into one big clump.
  3. Don’t stir the pasta into the liquid. Just make sure it is submerged by gently pressing it into the liquid. Don’t let the pasta touch the bottom of the pot.

Turkey Tetrazinni

Adapted From The Instant Pot Bible The Next Generation

1 TBS butter

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lb turkey tenders, cut into thin strips

1/2 tsp Oregano

1/4 tsp nutmeg or cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons chicken broth

6 oz raw spaghetti, broken to fit the liner of the pressure cooker

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated

Set the pot to saute. When the pot is hot, add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.

Add the turkey and cook until no longer pink, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the broth and scrape the bottom with a spatula to loosen any stuck on bits. This will help prevent a burn notice. Layer the pasta in batches over the broth. Don’t stir. Instead gently push the pasta into the liquid, making sure it doesn’t tough the bottom of the pot. It doesn’t need to be completely covered with liquid.

Lock the lid. Cook 6 minutes on high. When done, quick release the pressure. Add the cream and stir well to get all the noodles mixed in. Turn off the heat. Add the parmesan and stir until the cheese is completely melted.

When you first open the pot it is going to look like a lot of liquid is in the pot. Have faith, once you add the cream and cheese and let it sit a few minutes it will be perfect.

Skillet Taco Spaghetti And A Review

I am always looking for resources for 1 or 2 to share with you. It’s hard to find cookbooks and blogs for 1 or 2 and much harder to find ones that are worth recommending. It seems that most cookbooks and blogs for one or two think of small batch recipes in terms of special occasions like Valentines day. They forget we need to eat the other 364 days of the year.

Other small batch cookbooks fill their recipes with partially used packets of processed ingredients like we don’t deserve anything better just because we are single. I am rather picky about my small batch cookbooks and blogs. If I wouldn’t personally use them, I am not going to recommend them. So today, I am excited to be able to recommend to you Betty Crocker Right Size Recipes Delicious Recipes For 1 or 2.

Things I like about Right Sized Recipes:

1. While a few of the recipes use processed ingredients, most don’t.

2. The ingredients are easily found at most grocery stores.

3. The recipes are for food I would actually like to eat.

4. The recipes don’t have an excessive amount of ingredients or take an excessive amount of time to make.

5. They include some recipes for a small slow cooker.

6. There is an extensive chart showing what other recipes use your leftover ingredients.

What I don’t like:

1. The portions are very small

So does the cookbook meet the criteria I have for including the book in my library? Does the food taste good? Yes, every recipe I tried tasted good. Will I cook out of this book on a regular basis? Yes, the cinnamon frosted molasses cookies and no knead Parmesan Rosemary bread are already on my list to make again. I also have a list of more recipes I want to try.

The recipes are easily doubled or fleshed out with a salad or other vegetable sides.

Skillet Taco Spaghetti

From The Right Sized Recipes Cookbook

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 lb ground beef

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 cup water

1 cup chunky style salsa

2 oz raw spaghetti, broken in half

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Add ground beef and garlic. Cook 5 -7 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Stir the remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Pressure Cooker Taco Pasta, Hamburger Helper Style

597This week I came upon some pressure cooking controversy. Yeah.  I couldn’t believe pressure cookers have controversy either but they do.  I was online looking for a pressure cooker pork loin recipe.  I found one I thought I could adapt to my liking and was reading through the comments to see what other people did with it when I came a cross a comment that said, ” I wish people who use pressure cookers would stop lying about how fast pressure cookers  get things done.  By the time the pressure cooker came up to pressure, cooked the food and released pressure I could have done this quicker on the stove top.” While this lady is a little harsh, she isn’t necessarily wrong but she isn’t entirely right either.

The lady is right when she states that the recipe could have been done in about the same time, if not a little quicker, on the stove top.  Recipes that are fairly quick on the stove aren’t necessarily going to be quicker in the pressure cooker.   I have tried several recipes I have adapted on  A Solitary Feast, and the pressure cooker doesn’t do many of them any faster then on the stove top.  Where the pressure cooker shines in these types of recipes, at least for me, is in its fix it and forget it ability.  I can just throw things in the pressure cooker and leave the kitchen.  This is with my electric pressure cooker.  I would not attempt this with a stove top pressure cooker which needs more attention to regulate the heat.  I like knowing the pressure cooker will switch to the keep warm setting when it is done. I can eat at my leisure.

Where the lady went a little overboard was in saying that pressure cooks were lying about how quickly things cooked  in the pressure cooker.  When I tried a BBQ chicken recipe in my in my pressure cooker that said it cooked in 12 minutes,  it wasn’t lying, it cooked in 12 minutes.  Once the pressure cooker comes to pressure it does take 12 minutes to cook.  The time it takes to get the pressure cooker to pressure isn’t included in the cooking time because so many things can affect that time.  It takes longer for the pressure cooker to come to pressure if you use frozen food, how full your pressure cooker is, how big the pieces of food are, what kind of pressure cooker you have and on and on.  This omission isn’t unusual in recipes.  Stove top recipes don’t include the time it takes for your oven to preheat or a pan to heat the oil to saute your aromatics. Prep times in general aren’t included because no cookbook author can know the cook’s knife skills, the condition of the cook’s equipment and the million other things that effect the time it takes to prep a recipe.  As you gain more and more experience with your pressure cooker you will be able to judge the total prep and cook time more exactly.   Where I think this lady went wrong was in having unrealistic expectations of what a pressure cooker actually does.

This is the first recipe I created that I cooked in my pressure cooker.  The idea behind the recipe was to have a homemade equivalent of Hamburger Helper, make it in one dish. I like to brown the hamburger before adding it to the pressure cooker line, my 2 quart pressure cooker doesn’t have a saute function,  so I can drain as much fat as possible.  It isn’t necessarily the fastest recipe or the recipe that will save you the most time in the pressure cooker but it is rather tasty.

Taco Pasta

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1 cup elbow macaroni

1 8 0z can tomato sauce

1 cup water

Brown the ground beef and onion on the stove until the ground beef is no longer pink.  Drain well.  Add the ground beef and remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker pot and gently stir to combine.  Lock the lid and set the pressure cooker for high pressure and 6 minutes.  When the pressure cooker is done, turn of the unit and let sit for 10 minutes to release the pressure.  When you remove the cover the hot dish will look a little soupy.  It will firm up a bit when it sits for a few minutes.  I added a sprinkling of cheddar cheese to my serving.

Bacon Ranch Salad

1110Before I started eliminating processed food from my diet, Suddenly Salad Bacon  Ranch pasta salad appeared on my table almost weekly.  It was quick, easy and, best of all, cheap.  What more could you ask for?   I was really disappointed that Suddenly Salads couldn’t be part of my diet anymore.

What I didn’t know then is that homemade Bacon Ranch pasta salad is just quick, easy and cheap as the boxed stuff and best of all, devoid of unnecessary chemicals the manufactures feel need to be there.

Last week I gave you a recipe for a homemade ranch dressing mix.  You can use that here.  You could also buy a package of Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix or use already prepared ranch salad dressing mix here also.  Also, feel free to add or eliminate any vegetables you want.

Bacon Ranch Salad


1 cup dry shell pasta

½ cup frozen peas

1/3 cup real mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp ranch dressing mix

1-2 baby carrots, shredded

1 TBS bacon bits

¼ tsp onion powder

Bring water to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Add shell pasta and carrot; boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together, the peas, ranch mix, bacon bits, onion powder, and mayonnaise. Mix well. Add pasta and carrots. Stir together until everything is coated. Chill and serve.

10 Recipes Every Beginning Cook Should Know #1 Mac and Cheese

One of the things I like about my current job is the totally random conversations I get to have with customers while I am helping them. Yesterday I had  a random conversation with a fellow Dr. Who fan about how Christopher Eccelston is a totally underrated Doctor.

However, my most favorite random conversations generally revolve around food and cooking.  I was talking to  a customer about my blog and being a food blogger when she looked down at her cart of frozen dinners and jarred pasta sauces and said “You must think I am absolutely horrible.  I know I should cook from scratch with real food. I just don’t know where to start. It’s all so overwhelming.  If you were me where would you start?”

I assured her I didn’t think she was horrible.  I used to cook the exact same way.  As for the rest of the question I told her I would give it some serious thought because I had never thought of it before. I would give her an answer the next time she was in the store.

So after some serious thought I came up with 10 recipes that I think every beginning cook should know.  The recipes either are some thing people think takes a lot of time to cook from scratch but doesn’t or looks complicated to make but isn’t.

The first recipe I think every cook should know how to make is macaroni and cheese . It is one of those recipes that people think takes forever to make from scratch but really doesn’t. In fact, making homemade mac and cheese takes about the same time to make as a box of mac and cheese but tastes much better. I like simple things so I only use cheddar cheese in this recipe. I always have cheddar cheese on hand.  You could use any cheese or combination of cheese you like.

You could also add any spices, herbs or meats you wanted to to fancy it up a bit  but, like I said, I like things simple.

Macaroni and Cheese


1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

1 TBS butter

1 TBS all purpose flour

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Prepare the macaroni according to the package directions. Keep warm.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat; whisk in flour until smooth.  Cook, whisking for 2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the milk and cook , whisking constantly, for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add the cheese mixture to the macaroni as well as the salt and pepper; mix well.