I know I’m not the only one behind the curve on the Instant Pot. I purchased mine over a year ago, and most of that year, it has been sitting in my cupboard just waiting to be used.
Last year, at about this time, I browned some sausage in it for a breakfast casserole I was making for a brunch at my house. After that, I put it away and haven’t given it much thought since. It’s not that it didn’t work well. It did. The problem was simple…
I was afraid of the Instant Pot.
It’s that whole pressure cooker thing. I have childhood memories of my mother telling me to stay away from the pressure cooker when she was using it to cook cabbage or turnip greens, because it could blow up. And she wasn’t kidding. It could, but it never did at our house. It did happen at a friend’s house, when his mother was cooking turnip greens in the pressure cooker. Greens went everywhere! According to my friend, there were turnip greens on every wall in the kitchen and even hanging from the ceiling.
Now you understand my fear.
Well, Friday night I was home alone. My husband was at the beach with friends, and my daughter was spending the night in Raleigh, a few hours away, for some lacrosse games. Normally, I would go to the games, but since my husband was gone, someone had to be home with our three dogs. Plus, I was actually looking forward to an evening home alone to do whatever I wanted and eat whatever I wanted.
As it turned out, cooking was what I wanted to do. After spending the afternoon in a local thrift store, I went home to cook dinner for one.
I had decided I would have my favorite chicken spaghetti, using spaghetti squash instead of pasta, for dinner. It’s one of my favorites, but the rest of the family…not so much. I was talking on the phone with my funny, reliable friend, Mary Ann, as I prepared to cut the spaghetti squash to bake it in the oven for an hour or so before making the casserole. And she stopped me, asking, “Why don’t you use your Instant Pot? You don’t have to cut through that hard squash, and it will be ready in 10 minutes.” I told her, “OK. I’m going to use it, but you know I’m afraid of it. You have to walk me through it.” And she did.
I did exactly what she told me to do, and lo and behold, I had a cooked spaghetti squash in about 15 minutes, because the Instant Pot has to pressurize before it actually starts cooking the squash. But 15 minutes is fantastic compared to the hour it usually takes! And I didn’t have to risk life and limb trying to cut through that hard squash! I just stuck it in the Instant Pot whole!
It was a masterpiece! It came out perfectly cooked. I sliced it in half (it was so easy!) and scraped out the seeds before scraping out the actual “spaghetti”…the meat of the squash…with a fork. I added all the other ingredients and popped it in the oven for about 25 minutes, and voila! Chicken Spaghetti! As soon as I stuck it in the oven, Mary Ann reminded me I could have done all that in the Instant Pot too. Next time…baby steps.
At least I’m not afraid of it anymore! If you’re afraid, don’t be. Mary Ann has never had a problem with hers, and she uses it all the time. Mary Ann will likely have to walk me through it every time I use it, but that’s OK…it gives us an excuse to talk (as if we need one).
Here’s the recipe for my chicken spaghetti, which really started out as Mary Ann’s Chicken Spaghetti, because she gave me the recipe years ago. I’m sure I don’t do it exactly the same way she did, but it’s good nonetheless.
- 1 Spaghetti squash
- 1 rotisserie chicken, plain
- 1/2 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can Rotel Original tomatoes and peppers
- 1/2 can diced tomatoes
- 3/4 grated cheese of your choice (I use Colby jack for mild flavor)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Preheat oven to 375
- In Instant Pot, pressure cook whole squash per Instant Pot directions.
- Pick chicken off the bones and place in a mixing bowl.
- Mix 1/2 cup of the cheese with other ingredients in bowl with chicken.
- When squash is cooked, allow Instant Pot to depressurize for a few minutes before removing. On a plate, cut the squash in half and scrape out seeds/strings, using a spoon.
- Using a fork, scrape “spaghetti” from the meat of the squash and fold it into other ingredients in mixing bowl.
- Pour into 8×8″ casserole, spreading evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the top.
- Cover and bake in oven for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10 more minutes, till cheese is melted.
For more Instant Pot recipes, check out the healthy recipes from Hungry Girl website here. She also has a really good, easy Instant Pot recipes in her new book, Hungry Girl Simply 6, which you can purchase from Amazon here.
Enjoy your Instant Pot!