What’s for Dinner? — Instant Pot Lobster

As promised, here is the update on what we had for Easter Dinner– Lobster!

Did you know that Aldi sells frozen lobster tails? It is usually a special, but my Aldi seems to always have them in stock. They sell two to a package for $12.99. So I can basically serve a lobster dinner to the three of us for less than going to Red Lobster or Outback. We used to get away cheap, but my son has been expanding his food repertoire and that now includes things like sushi and lobster.

The best part about having an Instant Pot is that it means you can cook things from frozen with no thawing. So here is what I did:

Materials:

Ingredients:

  • 6 Lobster Tails (frozen)
  • 1 cup water
  • Old Bay (optional)
  • Lemon (optional)
  • Butter (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Place 1 cup water in the Instant Pot. If adding Old Bay, do so now.
  2. Place rack in the bottom of the Instant Pot.
  3. Place three lobster tails on the rack, shell side down.
  4. Place steamer basket on top of lobsters.
  5. Add three more lobster tails to the steamer basket.
  6. Close lid and vent. Set Instant Pot on Manual on High Heat for 3 minutes.
  7. When time is up, Quick Release so as not to over cook.
  8. Serve with butter and lemon. Enjoy!

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Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

Another holiday is upon us and of course I found a way to use my instant pot to its best advantage…Easter Eggs! Of course before we could do any coloring, I needed to cook the dozen eggs. What would I do without this wonderful kitchen tool?

Now, some may say that you could easily make the eggs on the stovetop instead of using the IP, but honestly, they haven’t seen me cook. I have tried the stove and they don’t always come out right. My husband tried the hack of using the over and a muffin tin, but then your eggs get this brown burnish tinge to them that doesn’t play well with coloring your eggs. I have never had any problems using the IP. So here is what I did…

Materials:

Ingredients:

  • One dozen eggs
  • Water
  • Ice

Procedure:

  1. Pour one cup water into your Instant Pot .
  2. Insert steamer rack and basket.
  3. Place eggs in basket. –if you are using less than a dozen eggs, you can use the insert dividers or tinfoil to keep the eggs from moving around too much.
  4. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and close the vent. Set on Manual on high heat for five minutes.
  5. Let natural pressure release for five minutes, then quick release the rest. You may want to use a towel to turn the vent, it will be hot!
  6. Prepare a bowl with water and ice. You need enough that it will completely cover your eggs.
  7. Using tongs, move eggs carefully into the bowl containing the ice water. —Be careful not to drop the eggs into the ice bath. I did that and an egg broke.
  8. When eggs are cool, use your favorite coloring kit or eat them as is.

Of course, coloring eggs is a great small “c” activity that can be done with the whole family. My son had a friend over today and I have to say that even teenagers can still have fun coloring eggs (Dad helped too!).

I plan to use the Instant Pot a lot this weekend as I prep food for the holiday. I picked up both a roast and lobster tails from Aldi, so I haven’t decided which will grace our table on Sunday. I am leaning towards tails on Saturday and roast on Sunday. What are you planning on making?

Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Growing up, it was a tradition that St. Patrick’s Day meant corned beef and cabbage. I have been trying for over twenty years to duplicate the texture and flavor of my mom’s traditional dish. I have tried slow cookers, the oven, and the stovetop; but none of it has come out with that falling apart texture or buttery flavorful cabbage. So I did a test run with the Instant Pot.

I have to admit, I did my research beforehand and was shocked to see that people were saying it takes 90 minutes in the IP. However, I saw it in multiple places so there had to be something to it. Worse-case scenario, I was down a couple bucks for the price of the meat. This is a two-part IP recipe since if you put everything in the pot at once, your cabbage will basically be non-existent. When the 90min countdown was done, I was nervous that we would be eating McD’s instead for dinner. However, when step two was complete, I have to admit things were looking good.

Good is an understatement! This was the best corned beef and cabbage that I have ever had (sorry, Mom!). So if you want to duplicate it, here is what I did:

Materials:

6qt Instant Pot

• Cutting board

• Knife

• Measuring cup

Ingredients:

  • 2lb Corned beef with seasonings
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Five small white potatoes, halved
  • Small cabbage, quartered
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup baby carrots

Procedure:

  1. Place corned beef in Instant Pot with chicken broth and seasoning.
  2. Set IP to Manual, high-heat, for 90 minutes. NPR
  3. Add cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Top with butter.
  4. Set IP to Manual, high-heat, for 5 minutes. NPR
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Creativity means not just doing things the way they have always been done. I love updating family favorites using modern techniques or tools. Do you have any family traditions that you have put a new spin on?

Happiness and Cake

Did you know that March 20th is the International Day of Happiness? What makes it even doubly happy for me is that I will be defending my dissertation proposal. So fingers crossed!

Maybe because Happiness Day falls in March, but many refer to the month as Mindful March or Happiness Month. So for this month, I will be talking a lot about happiness. Happiness and creativity often go hand in hand. Last night was my first night without any homework, dissertation work, group work, or class meetings for a couple of weeks now…yes, it has been rough so far which is why this site has been empty of any updates. However, I left work in an awesome mood and I had energy last night, so I decided to put some everyday creativity to work. I baked!

Okay, so it might not look like much, but this Pineapple Upside Down Cake was the first one I ever tried to make and it was so yummy. I brought some with me to work today for lunch and it was even better the next day. I can’t wait until dinner tonight because I can have some more for dessert. Yum!

If you would like to make your own, here is what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can pineapple rings (keep the juice!)
  • 1 can pitted cherries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325.
  2. Drain your pineapple juice from the can into a measuring cup. You should get about 1 cup, but if not, add enough water to equal 1 cup.
  3. Dump your pineapple juice, oil, and eggs in the mixer. Mix until well combined.
  4. Add your cake mix, mix on medium speed for about 2min. Set Aside.
  5. Take your 13×9 pan and coat the bottom with the melted butter.
  6. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the butter evenly over the pan.
  7. Place your pineapple rings evenly over the bottom of the pan, on top of the butter/brown sugar combo.
  8. Place your cherries in any open spaces left on the bottom of your pan.
  9. Next, dump your cake batter evenly on top of the fruit.
  10. Bake for 45-50 min. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. If the toothpick, when poked in the middle, does not come out clean, put your cake in the oven for a few more minutes. Be careful not to burn the cake!
  11. Take out of the oven and let cool.
  12. Take a spatula and loosen the edges of the cake from the pan.
  13. Place parchment paper on top of the cake with a baking sheet on top of that and flip your cake pan so the cake is now upside down on the baking sheet.
  14. Enjoy!

Seriously, how can you not be happy when you have such a sweet dessert as a treat?

Aldi Cheese Pizza Hack

So full disclosure that this is not an original idea, though my own topping idea. Why have I never thought of it before, I will never know though. It really is a bit like, duh!

Recently, I joined an Almost All Aldi group on Facebook for sharing recipes and tips. It is being run by a blogger I have been following called the Mashup Mom (seriously, if you live near an Aldi, follow her and join the Group!). A question was asked in the group a couple of weeks ago about the toppings that people put on their pre-made Aldi pizzas (I think the brand is called Mamma Cozi). These are huge pizzas and already come with a variety of toppings, but apparently people kick it up a notch by adding other stuff onto it. So I thought, why not?

Now this can also be done with any pre-made pizza, but in this scenario it is all Aldi. It was raining the day I picked up my groceries and my receipt did not survive, so I can’t remember how much the uncooked pizzas cost, but I can guarantee it was less that it costs to get delivery –which we do not have! Can you believe there is no pizza delivery in my area? I can get Domino’s and Papa John’s, but as an Italian blooded girl from Jersey, that is not real pizza. There are two places to pick up pizza, but it is expensive to get a large pie with toppings. It is cheaper and so much more convenient to have pizza on hand in the fridge or even the freezer.

As I mentioned, this is a huge pizza, so the first thing you need to do is cover your oven rack in aluminum foil because it is not going to fit on a baking sheet.

Next take your pizza out of the wrappings and place directly on the rack. Next, add your toppings. I started with a five cheese pizza and added Prosciutto pieces and extra cheese. (I was going to add pineapple because pineapple on pizza is awesome despite what some may think, but realized I didn’t actually have any in my pantry).

Then we cooked it according to the directions on the box, about 18 minutes.

Yum! Definitely trying this one again. This would also be fun to do with my son and his friends the next time they have a PS4 tournament. It is cheap enough to have multiple pies, though my oven certainly isn’t big enough to cook it all at once!

What are your go to pizza toppings? Comment below to share your favorite flavor combos.

**I also want to mention that if you ever see the big flat boxes of Mamma Cozi refrigerated pizza breadsticks with sauce, pick up a couple boxes! These taste just like Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread…Hey, not all things about the chain pizza companies are bad.