[Instant Pot] Insta-Pumpkin! DIY Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Puree

I love and respect canned pumpkin as much as the next fall baking enthusiast – but if you have a local source for fresh pie pumpkins to take advantage of, you can’t beat your Instant Pot for the easiest way to prep your own pumpkin from scratch. A pressure cooker can make quick work of dense vegetables like pumpkin – instead of baking in the oven for a whole hour, you can get your squash fully cooked in just 15 minutes under pressure.

I’ve seen a lot of noise online about pumpkin puree, so I must submit my Hot Take on the juicy controversies:

canned pumpkin isn’t really pumpkin!” … let’s settle down with the labels, man! Botany is not so black-and-white. It’s true that the “Dickinson Pumpkins” that the major producers source for their canned goods are a different species than the pumpkins at your grocery store, and that labeling regulations allow “canned pumpkin” products to contain different types of squashes within both of these species – but the reality is that “pumpkin” is just a vague term for, well, pumpkin-like squashes. Like many other common vegetables, “squash” is a broad category that covers several species and seemingly infinite varieties (I’ll refer to my favorite culinary botanist for the full trip down that rabbit-hole: Cucurbita Squash Diversity). 

fresh pumpkin puree is bland and watery and terrible for baking” … Nonsense! Don’t let Big Pumpkin tell you there’s anything you can’t accomplish with fresh ingredients in your own kitchen. It may be true that your favorite brand of canned puree is reliably flavorful/sweet/dense – but in the many articles I’ve seen urging readers to not waste their time cooking fresh pumpkin, all of them end with a comment section full of dissenters who treasure their annual fresh pumpkin pies.

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[Instant Pot] Dark Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Today we revisit the first and most popular of my Instant Pot dessert recipes: the classic Greek Yogurt Cheesecake. This time… it’s chocolate! Sometimes the occasion calls for chocolate cheesecake, and this is my go-to method for turning my basic recipe into a super-rich and deeply chocolate-ized treat.

Aside from revealing my chocolate-ization techniques (!) – the other reason I’ve been overdue to return to this recipe is that I’ve discovered a new cheesecake crust that I’m WAY into. Believe it or not, the secret ingredient is dried almond pulp, which I am always scheming to get rid of because the man in my house has a serious DIY almond milk habit (the pulp is the mass that remains after soaking/blending/pressing to make nutmilk). This coarse almond meal does a beautiful job replacing graham crackers in a crumb crust – it comes out less sweet than a graham crust, which I appreciate, and gains a tasty nutty quality. Another added bonus for some of you: it’s gluten-free, too!

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[Instant Pot] Double-Decker Coffee Pot Roast + Butternut Mash

Double Decker Dinner is a personal favorite Instant Pot recipe theme, all about finding the right combination of foods that pair together as a balanced meal and that can be stacked and cooked at the same time in the same pressure cooker. It’s one-pot wonderful! 

I’ve been told that my grandmother cooked a famously aromatic pot roast made with coffee. Unfortunately nobody knows the recipe, so imagined how I would like it to taste. Deeply savory, slightly bitter but countered with natural sweetness from onions, enhanced with thyme and bay leaf, and finished with a touch of syrupy acidity from aged balsamic vinegar. I gave it a shot, and it was love at first bite. Now, I am here to make sure nobody loses this recipe!

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[Instant Pot] Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Cozy comfort food – it’s what I need right now! This creamy soup is made from roasted broccoli, real sharp cheddar cheese, and an earthy-sweet foundation of onions, carrots and celery. It’s also enriched (in both the culinary and nutritional sense) with a healthy dose of hemp seeds, which blend into a creamy texture without any need to add actual cream.

Reflecting on my favorite soup recipes, it’s hard not to notice a pattern: there are a lot of creamy soups made with roasted vegetables. Why? First, because roasting makes vegetables delicious! Second, because it reflects an efficiency in my food-prep workflow. If it’s the weekend and I’m heating up my oven to cook dinner or bake anything, I always try to double-down and bake or roast several foods in that single session. It saves time and energy, and it’s always handy to have extra roasted veggies on hand. 

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[Instant Pot] Carrot Cake Steel-Cut Oats

This winter, I found a new favorite cheerful make-ahead weekday breakfast. This golden bowl features whole-grain steel cut oats with no refined sugars, instead sweetened and enriched with lots of carrot (2/3 cup freshly grated root per serving), fresh ginger, warm spices, raisins, juicy pineapple tidbits, and flakes of toasted coconut. 

Top as you please with even more nuts and fruits, and a swirl of your favorite creamy dairy or nut milk. Then revel in the moment of cozy glory you achieved. Then tomorrow morning, reheat and repeat. 

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[Instant Pot] Double-Decker Saag Paneer + Cauliflower Rice

Double Decker Dinner is a personal favorite Instant Pot recipe theme, all about finding the right combination of foods that pair together as a balanced meal and that can be stacked and cooked at the same time in the same pressure cooker. It’s one-pot wonderful! 

I love paneer – it’s a fresh non-melting cheese common in Indian cuisine, uniquely made without salt or rennet. To make it, milk is simply cooked with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice; when the curds precipitate from the whey, they are gathered and pressed into a firm block.

This recipe is my favorite way to eat paneer: the rich, chewy, cheesy cubes are seasoned, crisped, and tucked into this classic curry of creamed greens. I like to serve it with a bed of steamed cauliflower rice – this extra helping of veggies pairs well with the rich curry sauce, and leaves room for a side of bread if desired (I am still working on perfecting my homemade sourdough naan… If you’re interested in that recipe, speak up in the comments to move it up a notch on my priority list!)

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[Instant Pot] Pumpkin Salted Caramel Flan

Silky-smooth custard, salty-sweet caramel, pumpkin-spiced joy. This seasonal treat is a perfect fit for Instant Pot’s dessert wheelhouse – like we learned when we made Maple Espresso Creme Brulee and Greek Yogurt Cheesecake, high-pressure steam can be a very effective way to quickly and evenly cook any custard.

If you’ve never made caramel before, it’s an interesting reaction to observe. Upon heating pure sucrose, the sugar molecules begin to break down and their pieces get shuffled around to form a virtually infinite array of new and different compounds, each with unique flavors and aromas. This is why as caramel darkens, it gradually becomes less sweet and more complex.

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[Instant Pot] Double-Decker Cheesy Taco-Stuffed Peppers + Quinoa

It’s Double Decker Dinner Time! My favorite kind of one-pot wonderful balanced meal – there’s just something so satisfying about stacking and cooking two foods in one Instant Pot.

This easy recipe begins by using Instant Pot to saute a mix of seasoned grass-fed ground beef taco meat with chopped veggies. We stuff as much as we can into split bell peppers, arranged on a steamer basket – and whatever doesn’t fit is left in the pot and joined by a cup of quinoa. Both layers cook together in just one minute pressure-cooking time!

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[Instant Pot] Insta-Broth! The Art & Science of Pressure Cooker Bone Broth

A good broth is a beautiful thing – a magical culinary elixir that extracts the hidden goodness from bones and other kitchen scraps… Food that would otherwise go to waste, but that still has deep flavor and powerful nourishment to offer.

Broth is an ancient food. It’s been around as long as people have boiling food in water. Long-simmered stocks made from vegetables, meats and bones have a history of recognition for not only their culinary value, but also their nutritive merits. Humans have a long tradition of strengthening weak constitutions with broth, from its use by early nutritionists as an inexpensive protein-sparing diet staple for the malnourished, to everyone’s favorite cold remedy – chicken soup.

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[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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