[Instant Pot] Loaded Potato & Cauliflower Soup

This is what I felt compelled to cook this week when, for the first time in my life, I got SNOWED IN. The three feet of snow that fell on my yard last Saturday came as a bit of a surprise – the forecasts predicted only a fraction of what arrived that day, and they also didn’t tell me it was going to keep dumping more all week. Can’t say I ever expected to see that happen this first winter in our new home on the Olympic Peninsula, famously one of the sunniest places in the Pacific Northwest which historically averages only 2 inches of snow annually. Out of my element, I set up camp in the kitchen.

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[Instant Pot] Double-Decker Chicken Marsala + Parmesan Polenta

Today, we make a long overdue return to Double-Decker Dinners! This pressure-cooker recipe theme is all about finding the right combination of foods that compliment each other to round out a satisfying meal, and also happen to harmoniously take the same amount of time to cook together in my Instant Pot. This challenge never fails to pique my culinary imagination, so stay tuned – more experiments are in the works.

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[Instant Pot] Roasted Tomato Soup

Ever think about using your Instant Pot to transform fresh tomatoes into soup? Think about it! I gave it a shot for the first time this Summer, and the results blew me away: rich, velvety, and intensely flavorful.

Ever wonder why so many recipes tell you to remove the seeds and skins from tomatoes? I avoid that step whenever I can, and not just because it’s annoying…

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[Instant Pot] Maple Espresso Creme Brulee

Here comes the fanciest dessert ever to step out of my Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have a special talent for foods that need to cook in a hot, wet place – including the finicky oven/hot-water-bath setup required by cheesecakes and, yes, creme brulee!

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California Date Shake Frozen Yogurt

Over the past week, Seattle has found itself in the middle of both a record-setting heat wave and a thick haze of smoke. Naturally, these conditions make me nostalgic for my days in southern California. (zing!)

In all seriousness though, I really have been doing some California Dreaming. With summertime in full swing, I’m craving sunshine and avocados, and generally feeling inspired by left coast vibes (the Cowabunga Lifestyle, you know?)

Given this set and setting, I got into the kitchen and combined two beloved regional socal desserts:

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Steel-Cut Bircher Muesli

I’ve been charmed by overnight oats before, but until recently I had never tried what you might call the “original recipe” – bircher muesli. This dish was popularized in the late 1800s by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, who served it daily to the high-profile guests of his Alpine wellness retreat. The doctor’s intention behind this humble and wholesome “little mush” was to find a palatable way to get more raw fruit into his patients’ diets. Homeboy was driven by some puzzling proto-raw-foodism beliefs, but I’ll cut him some slack… You can’t blame the guy for living in what was essentially the dawn of nutrition science (people often forget that nutrition is such a young field; for perspective, realize that humans had no concept of vitamins until 1912). I have to give him credit for being ahead of his time in many ways, especially in making connections between health and harmony with nature. And, of course, for inventing my latest summertime breakfast obsession.

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[Instant Pot] Chicken Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

“#1. Make a Lot of Soup”

This was the first directive scribbled to myself on a note titled “Foodprep Strategy,” a deliberate attempt at eating well and staying sane in this time of post-movingnew-life-upheaval. New year, new city, new kitchen, new climate, new grocery stores, new work-from-home transition, all around brand new routine.

In my disoriented state, emerging from a maze of cardboard boxes to hit the ground running as Dinner Captain once again, I turned to soup. Nourishing, crowd-pleasing, inexpensive, efficient to cook in large batches, quick to reheat, and warming for cold bellies… soup has been serving me well.

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[Instant Pot] Ropa Vieja: Cuban Shredded Beef Stew

Ropa vieja. Be still, my heart.

While I was studying to become a dietitian, I lived in Miami for three years. Moving to Miami can cause some serious culture shock, even for a Florida native, but I have to admit that crazy town has some perks.

Some of the best perks were getting to know Cuban friends and their Cuban FOOD. In Miami, I met some of the world’s nicest people who got me very well acquainted with Cuba’s rich culinary traditions. Cafecitos. Maduros. Picadillo. Pastelitos. And one of my personal favorites, ropa vieja, a classic comfort food that makes you feel at home whether you grew up eating it or not. It’s a flavorful stew made with peppers, tomatoes, and flank steak cooked low-and-slow until the meat is tender enough to effortlessly pull apart into long shreds that resemble the fibers of threadbare cloth, hence the name (ropa vieja = old clothes).

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Avocado Fudge Brigadeiros {Brazilian-style dark chocolate truffles, for your Olympic viewing pleasure}

This may be the most festive snack you can enjoy while watching the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. Not only is the brigadeiro the hosting country’s most beloved dessert… there’s also something delightfully ironic about admiring world-class athletic prowess, while eating bonbons on the couch.

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Sweet Corn, Peach & Basil Salad

Today, let’s practice a summertime exercise in keeping it simple. It’s what the universe beckons us to do in this season of plenty, when the sun’s peak puts nature on overdrive, and the plants we cultivate positively vibrate with vital energy. It’s a magical time to love fruits and vegetables.

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