Instant Pot

Ratatouille (Instant Pot)

Have you guys tried Ratatouille? I discovered this Slow Cooker version from Our Best Bites several years ago and have been making it every summer since then. It was on my menu plan again the other day, but I didn’t plan well enough to get in in the slow cooker on time (tell me I’m not the only one that does that 🙄), so I improvised with the Instant Pot and it was amazing!

It’s such a great way to enjoy summer veggies, and it’s super forgiving- don’t like eggplant? No problem, just use extra zucchini! It’s great served over whole wheat pasta, quinoa, rice, or eaten with a loaf of good bread. Oh, and you might want to sprinkle some Parmesan on top! If you don’t think you’re kids will be excited about a bowl full of veggies, have a family movie night and watch Ratatouille while you eat it! So fun!

Instant Pot Ratatouille - a great way to use summer veggies!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons oil (olive or avocado)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Adjust your oven rack 4 inches from the broiler, and turn the broiler on (if your broiler has different settings, choose medium).  Line 2 baking sheets with foil.  Divide the veggies evenly between the 2 baking sheets.  Drizzle about 3 Tablespoons of oil over each sheet of veggies, then add 2 cloves of garlic to each sheet.  Toss each sheet of veggies until everything is combined (I use my hands), and spread into a single layer.

Broil, 1 sheet at a time, until vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes (keep a close on them, especially if your broiler only has one setting!).  Stir them around once or twice during this time.

Transfer the veggies to the Instant Pot and add the tomatoes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Give it a good stir. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot, and set to Pressure Cook on High for 2 minutes. When it’s done cooking, quick release the pressure. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and add addition salt and pepper if needed.

Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

slow cooker

Slow Cooker Chili

I’ve tried many chili recipes over the years, but this one has become our favorite. It has great flavor without being spicy, so it’s great for the kiddos (although you can definitely amp up the heat if you want!).

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To make it even easier, I like to spend some time on the weekends to prep and make it into freezer meals so that there’s no work involved on the day I’m going to serve it. To do this, follow the directions in the first step. Then instead of putting the meat mixture in the slow cooker, let it cool a bit, then place it in a freezer bag. Add the remaining ingredients to the bag and stick it in the freezer. Then when you’re ready for it, defrost overnight, and dump in the slow cooker. If you’re taking the time to do this- you might as well make at least a double batch so you’ll have 2 dinners prepped at once!

These are great to keep in the freezer for times when you want to bless another family with dinner.  It seems like when someone has just had a baby, or they’re grieving a loss, they get bombarded with food the first few days. If that’s the case, they can stick this in their freezer and save it for a night they really need it!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbl oil
  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced small
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbl chili powder
  • 1 Tbl cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbl brown sugar
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Directions

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and brown the meat, onions, and bell peppers. Drain any excess grease if needed. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Cook a few minutes.
  • Scoop the mixture into a 5-quart (or similar size) slow cooker. Stir in the brown sugar, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans.
  • Cover and cook 8-9 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high. (The chili will thicken slightly the longer it stands after cooking.) Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  • Serve with your favorite chili toppings- shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapenos.

Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Dressings, Sauces, Dips

Cantina Salsa

This salsa is a staple around here! We eat in on anything and everything! I often quadruple the recipe when we’re feeding a crowd, and I’m always amazed at how quickly it disappears.

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Ingredients

  • 2 -14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Chipotle Tabasco Sauce

Directions

Place everything except the Tabasco and one can of tomatoes in a blender. Pulse a couple times. Add the 2nd can of tomatoes and pulse until everything is chopped but not pureed. Add the Tabasco sauce a few shakes at a time, taste testing along the way. Refrigerate a couple hours for best flavor.

Recipe from Our Best Bites

Instant Pot Sides

Quinoa (Instant Pot)

Quinoa in the Instant Pot takes about 20 minutes start to finish, but only about one minute of that is actual hands-on time. It seriously couldn’t be easier, and it comes out perfect every time!

If you have leftover Quinoa, use it to make these yummy Power Muffins!

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Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Quinoa
  • 3 Cups Water
  • a pinch of salt

Directions

Add the quinoa, water, and salt to the Instant Pot insert.

Secure the lid on the Instant, making sure the valve is set to “seal” and not “vent.

Select Manual and set for 1 minute.

When the time is up, turn the pot off and let it sit for 10 minutes before releasing any remaining pressure. Don’t let it go longer than 10 minutes, or it will get mushy!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. 

Ground Beef/Ground Turkey

Sweet Potato Taco Packets

Sweet Potato Taco Packets are so good, and so healthy! They’re packed with sweet potatoes, ground turkey, black beans, and spinach. Don’t want to heat up the kitchen? Throw them on the grill instead!

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground turkey (ground beef works too!)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 cans (15-ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped small (1/2-inch pieces)
  • Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados or guacamole, salsa, olives, cilantro

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425.

In a large skillet, brown the ground meat and onion. Drain grease, if needed.

Add the seasonings, and tomato sauce, stirring well.  Add the water, spinach and beans and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat

Lightly grease the center of 6-8 foil pieces, each about 12-inches long.

Place about 1 cup of sweet potato chunks in the center of each piece of foil arranging them into somewhat of a single layer; sprinkle with salt and pepper (don’t skip this step!). Add a heaping 1/2 cup or so of the meat mixture on top. Bring the long sides of foil together over the filling and fold tightly down. Fold and crimp each edge until tightly sealed and a little packet is formed. Repeat with all the pieces of foil and ingredients.

Place the foil packets in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Carefully open the foil packets and add your favorite taco toppings!

Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Dressings, Sauces, Dips

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing from the store kind of grosses me out, but homemade ranch…I could eat it with a spoon! I’ve tried several good recipes, but most of them call for fresh herbs, or fresh lemon juice.  I love this recipe because it uses ingredients I always have on hand, and it’s delicious!  If you’re trying to get your kids to eat more veggies, try serving it with this!

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or regular milk
  • 3/4 – 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-3 teaspoons white vinegar

Directions

Whisk all ingredients together, except for the vinegar (or just dump everything in a big mason jar, put the lid on, and shake the heck out of it). Start adding the vinegar a teaspoon at a time, tasting as you go. Add additional salt & pepper if needed. Store in the fridge (it stays good at least a week or 2!).

Recipe from Barefeetinthekitchen

Snacks

Chia Bites

These little Chia Bites are great to have on-hand for a quick snack, or to throw into lunchboxes! I like to make a double batch and use them all week! We prefer natural peanut butter (the ingredient label is just peanuts and salt), but I’m sure regular peanut butter would work great too! This is a fun one to get the kids involved with- they’ll love rolling them into balls!

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Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/4 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 2 Tbl Chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Shape into balls and store in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Recipe from Super Healthy Kids