Coffee On The Patio

We are on vacation in southern California till next week, and no one loves a vacation more than I do. While we have the perfect room in our favorite hotel, I do miss my husband. He had other plans and didn’t come with us. And I miss coffee in bed; my husband brings me coffee in bed every morning…the perfect, non-grouchy start to the day.

Since he isn’t here, I order coffee from room service every morning. We’ve been here for two nights, and both mornings, I have enjoyed my coffee on our balcony, overlooking a bubbling fountain, palm trees, giant Bird of Paradise plants, and lush gardens. With all the beautiful vegetation, hummingbirds are plentiful…and very entertaining.

Years ago, I learned about different plants and their names, but at 52, I don’t remember them. I wish I did, so I would know what to call the ones the hummingbirds keep visiting. Maybe I will take pictures of the plants and send them to my friend, Michelle, who owns Corner Copia Gardens in Fairhope, Alabama. She will know them all.

My parents used to love coffee on their back porch every morning. And they loved watching birds while they were out there. There’s just something peaceful about it. And today, the weather is great…not too hot, not too cold. In fact, if my parents were here, they would likely sit out here watching the birds all day.

My daughter and her friend have walked down to one of the hotel restaurants for some avocado toast, their favorite. They both love it, and they swear one of the ladies in the restaurant makes it better than anyone else in the world. She gave me her recipe when we were here in January, and while my daughter likes the way I make it, she says it doesn’t measure up. (See recipe below) I don’t eat it; I’m not big on breakfast…just coffee, thanks. And I’m glad, because with the girls in the restaurant, this is the perfect opportunity for me to just enjoy my coffee in the peace and quiet.

We will be here for another week or so, and I will have the same routine every morning. No rush to start the day, as this, for me, is just going to be a relaxing vacation. I rarely just relax on vacation, but that is my goal.

Ahhh…there’s another hummingbird! I’m trying to get a picture, but he’s just too fast for me. I think I will pour another cup…

Avocado Toast

Ingredients: sliced sourdough bread, avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt.

Directions: toast two slices of sourdough bread. Slice open avocado and spread the avocado on the toast. Drizzle with olive oil. (I usually drizzle it and spread it.) Drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on each slice and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.



Gone But Not Forgotten

Today is the anniversary of the death of a very dear friend. We became friends in 2004, right after my daughter turned one, and her son (her first child) was about six months old. Our lives were intertwined for years. Dynamics changed as our kids got older. My friend took a job. She moved to the west coast. She and her husband divorced. They moved again to the east coast…New England. But we always remained friends. Was our friendship always perfect? No. She was hurt when she took her job and our playgroup didn’t envelope her kids the way we should have. We didn’t always agree with each other’s decisions. But we were friends. We were the kind of friends who would have always been friends…and then she died.

And here’s what I always hear…”Life goes on.” But what exactly does that mean? Her life didn’t go on, but the lives of her children, family, and friends have gone on. Because she had moved away years ago and never answered her phone, she wasn’t a part of our daily lives in Charlotte anymore. But she was a part of my life…and she was a part of the lives of others. I’m not going to say all that sappy stuff like “she lit up a room”…or “she was always good.” People were drawn to her, and I was flattered that she picked me as her friend. But she wasn’t perfect, just like I’m not. But dang it…she was my friend. And she was the mother to two children…now aged 13 and 15. She was the daughter of two wonderful parents who loved her beyond measure, and her sister and brother….well, they adored her too. She loved her family more than anything, and they were always active in her life. But her life stopped on June 4, 2018. Gone too soon. She was just 46, even though the priest at her funeral kept saying she was 47…that actually made me chuckle during the service, thinking of what her response would have been, “Are you kidding me?! Don’t make me older than I am!”

She was active. She exercised all the time and ate really well most of the time…even though we did love eating Doritos together late at night when we vacationed in Maine. She loved red licorice, Zotz candy, and Spree candy. Those were her weaknesses…her guilty pleasures. She didn’t eat them all the time, but she sure enjoyed them when she had them! There was a candy store in Kennebunkport, Maine, that sold the perfect red licorice for her, and we were regulars there. Once, she was going to another store, so I went to stock up on candy. I had forgotten my wallet, so she gave me her credit card and her drivers license. I laughed, saying, “Ummm…if they ask for ID for the credit card, there is no way they are going to believe this!” She was tall, dark, and Irish/Italian. I’m short, fair, and Anglo. She said, “Just take it!” Luckily, they didn’t ask for ID, so I was able to stock up on licorice, Zotz, Spree, and good old-fashioned candy cigarettes for us. Go ahead. Grimace. We didn’t care. Candy cigarettes were old school, and we liked them.

My friend had suffered since she was a teenager with various types of cancer. Lymphoma, breast cancer, leukemia…life wasn’t easy for her, but she kept living it…till she didn’t. I think I always believed she would continue to beat cancer…till she didn’t.

Her children, a boy and a girl, are being raised by their very capable dad. He’s a good dad, exposing them to the world while also making sure their souls are nourished. They go to camp with other children who have lost parents to cancer. They have loving grandparents, and they have aunts and uncles who love them too. But they don’t have their mother. She’s not there every day to encourage them to finish homework. She’s not there to hug them when they need it. She’s not there to guide them, listen to them, help them, parent them.

So yes, life goes on…but it goes on without my friend. For her children, life goes on without their mother. For her parents…without their daughter.

Things happen all the time that make me think of her. Every time I go to Dunkin’ Donuts and order an iced coffee with extra cream, I think of her. Every time I drive past her old house in Charlotte…at least twice a week (I do it intentionally)…I think of her. Every time I think of summer on the beach in Maine…I think of her. Or summers at the pool…all our friends had memberships at different clubs, so we would alternate the pools we visited during the summer. Every time I eat Spree or Zotz, I think of her. I even saw a Santander Bank in Cancun and thought of her…she had worked for them at one time. I was talking with someone last week about Mike’s Pastries in Boston…thought of my friend; she introduced my daughter to cannolis at Mike’s Pastries. Every time someone mentions the Virginia Creeper bike trail, I think of her and the time we took our children…it turned into a comedy of errors, but we survived. Every time I pass the hospital, I think of her, because we actually spent quality time there together, when she was having chemo. Mention California Pizza Kitchen, and I think of the time she almost died from an anaphylactic reaction when we were having lunch there. When I think of my daddy’s cancer diagnosis, I think of her too, because I was on my way to dinner with her when I found out Daddy had pancreatic cancer. And every time I hear about a young person who has cancer, I think of her and how long she fought.

My friend hasn’t been forgotten. She is still a part of our lives and our regular conversations. She taught us a lot about friendship. Tonight, our playgroup friends will gather for dinner, sans kids, to drink a toast to our friend who is no longer with us…one year gone. Life goes on…but it goes on differently.




Happy Birthday, Joe Willie

I’ve never met him, but I haven’t given up hope. Maybe one day, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to meet Joe Namath. A few years ago, when I took a crazy road trip through several states, on the way home, I made a detour, just so I could visit the plaque honoring Joe Namath in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. It’s right outside the Carnegie Free Library in downtown Beaver Falls, if you decide to go.

Back in November, I wrote a piece about books as Christmas gifts, and one that I recommended was Joe Namath’s latest autobiography, All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters. At the time, it had not yet been released, but I recommended it anyway, because well…I think he is a fascinating person. And now it’s out! It was released this month. Lucky me…my friend, Linda, gave it to me for my birthday. My birthday was Monday, May 27, but I find it fitting that she gave me the gift today, May 31…Joe Willie’s birthday.

I’m not going to pretend to know everything about him. I know Joe grew up in Beaver Falls. I know he went to The University of Alabama and played football for the legendary Bear Bryant. In fact, Coach Bryant said Namath was the best athlete he ever coached. From there, Joe went on to play quarterback for the New York Jets, and after guaranteeing a win against the Baltimore Colts, he led the Jets to win Super Bowl III. *Here’s a little trivia: the first two Super Bowls were also won by a former Alabama QB, Bart Starr, who played for the Green Bay Packers.

While in New York, Joe earned quite a reputation as a ladies man, wore fur coats on the sideline, was given the nickname Broadway Joe, and disagreed with then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle over his ownership of Bachelors III, a Manhattan bar. Years later, when I was in my early 20s in 1989, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Mr. Rozelle during an Atlanta Falcons game, and we talked about Joe. I don’t fully understand what transpired between them, but I know that by 1989, Mr. Rozelle had respect for Joe. He spoke very highly of him to me.

When I was a little girl, Johnny Carson was still the host of The Tonight Show, and even though I was usually in bed by 10:30, when the show came on, my parents would let me stay up and watch anytime Joe was one of the guests. Of course, I’m sure much of the humor went way over my head, but he was always smiling and self-deprecating. He had that wavy hair and that sweet smile…he had the X Factor…charisma. And he still has it at 76. That’s how old he is today…76.

I also remember his appearance on The Brady Bunch. I was so jealous of those Brady kids, even if Bobby got Joe to visit by deceptive means. I was green with envy.

When I arrived at lunch today, Linda had my birthday gift all wrapped up with a pretty bow. Her husband went to Auburn, so it never occurred to me that she would give me Joe’s autobiography. As I started to unwrap it, I realized what it was, and I’m sure my face lit up! Fortunately for everyone else in the restaurant, I have laryngitis, so they didn’t have to hear me squeal with joy. As soon as I had it opened, I double-checked the date on my phone, and I told Linda, “I love it! And you gave it to me on Joe’s birthday!” She had no idea, of course, and I could seem like a total stalker for knowing it, but I don’t care.

As for now, I’m sitting on the sofa reading the book already. I’ve read great reviews for it, so I’m sure I’m going to love it. I’m just thankful to Linda for giving it to me. I’ll be celebrating Joe’s birthday by reading about his life. If you’re interested in getting a copy of the book, you can purchase through Amazon here.

Happy Birthday, Joe Willie!

I’m Absent-Minded

Back in the 1960s, Disney released a movie called The Absent-minded Professor. It starred Fred MacMurray of My Three Sons fame. (If you’re over 50, I know exactly what just happened with your brain when you read My Three Sons. You started humming the theme song and envisioning the opening sequence with all the cartoon feet. I do it too. You can see the My Three Sons opening and some snippets from the show here.) Meanwhile…back at the ranch…The Absent-minded Professor was released before I was born, but I remember watching it as a child…maybe on The Wonderful World of Disney on a Sunday night? Or maybe even in re-release at the theater in downtown Brewton, Alabama? It was about a bumbling, absent-minded professor who accidentally invented something called flying rubber that gained energy with every bounce. Pretty darn good family movie, actually…you can watch it on Amazon Prime here.

Well, when I was a little girl, i wasn’t “bumbling,” but I was absent-minded. I could spell anything and remember any piece of trivial knowledge and any phone number, but I could not remember where I put things. My parents called me “the absent-minded professor,” a reference to the film.

Sadly, not much has changed. Well, I can still spell really well. My memory is not what it used to be, but I’d still say it’s better than average. But that absent-mindedness? It is alive and well. On any given day, I can’t find my keys, because I wasn’t paying attention when I put them down somewhere. They might be underneath something, or in the bottom of my handbag….or even in the door. Or maybe I can’t find my handbag. Or I don’t remember where I left my phone or my hairbrush. I can even stay in one room and still misplace things. It drives my husband crazy. I call him Rainman, because like the character in the film of the same name, he is very orderly. He never misplaces anything. He does, on occasion, lose things, but that’s completely different than misplacing...loss is permanent, and misplaced is temporary. I’ll save that for another day.

Yesterday, I remembered I had received some checks in the mail over the weekend, and I wanted to take them to the bank to deposit them. I got my paperwork “folder,” and as I went through it, I realized the checks weren’t there. I had a vague recollection of putting the checks somewhere for “safekeeping.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember where I was keeping them “safe.” I did such a good job of putting them away that I hid them from myself. Panic set in, as it always does when I misplace something important. I started retracing…did I put them in a drawer somewhere? Did I accidentally throw them away? And any time I get into a frantic search, I talk to myself out loud about it. “Where could they be?” “What the heck did I do with them?” “Where did I put them?” “How could I be so stupid?” “Oh my gosh, I’m a lunatic!” I repeat those phrases…over and over. My pulse rate rapidly increases, and I’m sure my blood pressure goes sky high. I break out in a sweat and move swiftly, searching and searching.

My husband has long known not to comment during these episodes, and he knows not to jump into the fray uninvited. He learned a long time ago that I will go nuts if he says, “Where was the last place you saw them?” Or “You always do this.” He even knows not to offer to help find them. He knows I have to manage the panic alone.

And of course, the whole time I’m frantically searching and talking to myself, I’m also thinking, “How embarrassing if I have to call those people and ask them to reissue those checks!” I’m also thinking, “They are going to think I’m an idiot!” If this has ever happened to you, you know the mental anguish that goes with it. If it has never happened to you, well, good for you…you get the Organizer of the Year Award.

Eventually, yesterday, I did find the checks. They were exactly where I had put them for safekeeping…tucked away inside a notebook inside the folder of paperwork. Whew! Disaster averted. It took a few minutes for my pulse rate and blood pressure to get back to normal, but I was really proud of my husband, who stood in the kitchen nearby throughout the search, pretending to peel some fruit, but never uttering a word or so much as glancing my way. After I announced that I had found the checks, he turned to me and simply said, “Good!”

The cycle continues, I guess. I will always be absent-minded. I will always misplace things, and I will always talk to myself. At least I’m a good conversationalist…


Let’s Go To The Movies

Yesterday I checked the Fathom Events website to see what old movies will be shown in theaters this month. If you’re not familiar with it, Fathom Events, in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies, releases at least one “old” movie a month in theaters all over the country, and sometimes you can find a favorite.

In the past, I’ve seen Big with my friends and their daughters. For my 50th birthday, some friends took me to Smokey and the Bandit…and even smuggled in Dr. Peppers in glass bottles for us to enjoy during the show! If they’d known how to make a Diablo Sandwich (from the movie), I’m sure they would have smuggled that in too. We also saw, on another occasion, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and last year, I forced my teenage daughter to go watch Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with me, in hopes that she would fall in love with the movie I had watched with my mother and had loved for so long. No dice…she fell asleep about halfway through it.

This time, when I checked the website, I was thrilled. Today and Wednesday night, May 8, True Grit will be on the big screen in a theater near our house, and later in the month, Steel Magnolias, a favorite of many of my friends, will be shown.

True Grit was a favorite of my daddy’s. He loved John Wayne, and he loved westerns, so True Grit was the perfect combination. And Rooster Cogburn is a memorable character. The film was originally released 50 years ago, in 1969. I remember watching it on television with my parents when I was a little girl. Back then, we had to wait a couple of years for a movie to show up on TV…edited and censored.  I don’t remember much about the plot, so I guess I’ll need to go see it Wednesday night to try to refresh my memory. Daddy would have loved knowing I’m planning to go.

As for Steel Magnolias, being shown in theaters May 19, 20, and 21, well, I have lots of friends who can quote the whole movie. It’s difficult for me to believe it is the 30th anniversary of its release. I guess I was pushing 22 years old when it came out. Anyone who grew up in the south can relate to the characters. In fact, many of us see ourselves in certain characters. While the southern accents are a little difficult to bear at times, I can get past that for the plot of the film, because truly, I feel like I know these women. I feel like I have met someone just like each of them at some point in my life. If you’re familiar with the film, I’d love to hear which one you think you are. I know I’m not Truvy. And I know I’m not Annelle or Shelby. I think I’m probably most like M’Lynn with a helping of Ouiser and a little slice of Clairee. Maybe? My friends might think differently…

No matter which Steel Magnolias character you think you are (or aspire to be!), this is a good opportunity to see it on the big screen again. Movies are at their best on the big screen…with a big tub of popcorn, some Milk Duds, and a soda. I plan to be there.

To see the schedule of re-releases by Fathom Events and TCM, check out the website here. In addition to their partnership with TCM Big Screen Classics, they also offer lots of other events on the big screen…boxing matches, ballet, operas, and more.

See you at the movies!


Teens and Life Skills

A friend and I were talking a couple of weeks ago, and she told me about an experience she had with a babysitter the weekend before.

She and her husband were going out at night and asked a teenager to babysit their nine-year-old daughter. The daughter had not had dinner, so my friend got out a few canned items, put them on the counter, and told the babysitter to heat those up when the little girl got hungry.

When she got home, the cans were still on the counter. Worried her daughter had not eaten dinner, she asked the babysitter, “Did she eat dinner?” The babysitter told her that her daughter had, indeed, eaten dinner, but she gave her something else, because...she…did…not…know…how…to…open…the…cans. 

We had a good laugh about it, but it made me think: does my own 15-year-old daughter know how to open a can? That afternoon, when my daughter got home from sports practice, I asked her, “Do you know how to use a can opener?” She assured me she did. Hmmm…. I took her into the kitchen so she could prove it to me. And she did. Whew!

When she was younger, we once had a housekeeper who wouldn’t let our daughter do anything for herself: put on her shoes; get dressed…she was two or three…old enough to put on her own slip-on shoes, but the housekeeper would always run over and try to help her. She could do it fine when the housekeeper wasn’t around! It drove me insane! If that housekeeper had remained with us, our daughter might not know how to do anything!

I know people have their own ideas about what teens need to know before they graduate from high school. I’m not even going to look at anyone else’s online list, but I’m going to share my own ideas with you.

  • Use a can opener to open a can. Obviously.
  • Crack an egg and scramble it. If you can’t cook anything else, this one is essential, preferably without eggshells in it.
  • First Aid. Know how to stop/treat bleeding; recognize if you need stitches; How to make a temporary sling; recognize serious illness (appendicitis, heart attack, etc.); treat a bloody nose; treat a bee sting. It’s also very important to know how to operate an Epipen; you never know when you will be the only one who knows how to do it in an emergency!
  • Heimlich maneuver. This is an important one. I’ve known several people who have been saved by it. They also need to know how to perform the Heimlich on themselves in case they are alone and choking.
  • Escape a burning building. It’s important to know to stay low and move swiftly. Don’t open a door if it feels hot to the touch. And more…
  • Budget. It can be difficult to budget. When I was first out of college and making very little money, it was all about choices. I learned to pay essentials first, set some money aside for saving, and make good choices about what I wanted to do. Sometimes, I had to pass on some things I wanted to do.
  • Write a check. Check-writing is rare these days, but it is a necessary life skill. By the time our teenagers are in their 30s, checks might be obsolete, but for now, they need to know how to write a check. It’s also important to know how to do banking transactions: deposits, withdrawals, transfers, etc.
  • Check the oil in an automobile and add engine oil. You don’t want your child to find herself 200 miles from home with the “add engine oil” light on in her car, but if she does, you want her to know what to do.
  • Put gas in a car. One would think this is obvious, but in New Jersey, it’s illegal to pump your own gas, so I wonder what happens to those people when they get to another state? Years ago, I knew a woman whose husband had always pumped gas into her car for her. While that’s gallant (my husband takes my car to fill it up regularly), it’s important to know how to pump gas.
  • Negotiate new cities (without fear). This is not an innate skill. It is one that is acquired by experience, and it is crucial for survival, if your child plans to do any travel. I learned it as a teen.
  • Swim. Yes, everyone needs to know how to swim. It doesn’t have to be pretty.
  • Pack a suitcase. Someone once told me about an adult (over 40) whose mother packed her suitcase for a vacation. While I hate packing, I know how to do it. I’ve been doing it since my first trip to Disney world when I was six. My daughter hates it too, but she has been packing her own suitcase since she was about seven or eight. *She went on an adventure trip to Iceland last summer, and someone who “had the inside scoop” insisted on packing for her, and I was OK with it, because we know nothing about wilderness packing…and frankly, we don’t need to know.* It’s not likely she’ll do another trip like that again…she is her mother’s daughter and likes nice hotels.
  • Iron a shirt/pants. I can iron just about anywhere…a floor, a bed, a countertop. I grew up ironing, and I actually enjoy it. Need some ironing done? Invite me over, and if you’ll chat me up, I’ll catch up all your ironing…just ask my friend, Angela, whose ironing I’ve done before! My teen daughter knows how to iron. She also knows how to use a steamer to release wrinkles from her clothes.
  • Check in for flights at the airport. People need to know how to make sure their bags have name tags on them; check in; get boarding passes; check bags; clear airport security; find their gate; change planes; stow baggage on planes; and retrieve their bags at their destination. They also need to know how to get ground transportation.
  • How to cross a city street on foot. Kids who don’t live in urban areas don’t learn how to cross city streets on foot unless they have some practice doing it. It’s a life skill.
  • How to tip. Living in the US, it’s important to know how/when to tip. They need to know how much to tip in different situations and when to tip. My daughter does her own tipping at restaurants with friends. I now encourage her to do some of the tipping at the airport (skycaps) and hotels (bellman, valet, doorman, housekeeping),  so she will become comfortable with it.
  • Clean a toilet. You don’t have to enjoy it, but you have to do it.
  • Vacuum.
  • Use a plunger in a toilet. Definitely need to know how to do this. It’s not fun, but it’s essential.
  • Repair a hem. I don’t care if she uses hemming tape, but it needs to work.
  • Sew a button onto a shirt/jacket/pants, etc. When I was fresh out of college, I worked as a flight attendant. I arrived at a hotel one night to realize one of the buttons was falling off my blouse. The hotel had a sewing kit, and I re-attached the button with ease. Not everyone can do it. Teach your children.
  • General safety. Safest places to park. Be aware of surroundings. How to know if you’re being followed, and what to do if you are. What to do if you’re approached by a stranger. The necessity of locating emergency exits in buildings, theaters, hotels (and planes) all the time…especially crowded ones. How to avoid dangerous situations. What to do in active shooter situation.
  • Weather safety. Growing up in Alabama, we had to know what to do in case of a tornado. Even though they are rare where we live, it’s important to know. Know what to do in lightning.
  • Use a bottle opener, a corkscrew, and open a bottle of champagne properly and safely. Sounds basic, I know, but a lot of adults don’t know how to use a corkscrew. And the cork isn’t supposed to fly out of a champagne bottle (dangerous) or make a lot of noise. It’s an art. It’s one they shouldn’t need till they’re over 21, but just in case…they need to know how dangerous a flying champagne cork can be.

I know I’m forgetting some things, so feel free to comment any skills you want to add. I know “change a tire” will be on there, but that one is iffy. While I know how to change a tire, lug nuts are often difficult to remove, and lots of newer cars don’t carry spares. Therefore, it’s important to know how to call for roadside assistance (through the manufacturer or AAA). There are lots of other necessary life skills…recognize an abusive relationship; when to walk away; etc.

Let’s hear your suggestions…


Behold! The Instant Pot!

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!