Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Instant Pot Taco Rice

This comfort food combines taco-seasoned meat with cooked rice and salsa in a hearty bowl of family-friendly food. This recipe is great to serve a crowd, too. Use the Instant Pot for easy clean up!

image of a bowl of taco rice topped with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, corn, lettuce, and tortilla chips

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This is not a pressure cooker recipe, but I am including it in my Instant Pot on Campus series for a couple of reasons. First, this recipe is a family favorite which my son has cooked on the stovetop many times under my tutelage. I'm posting it on my website so that he can access it without sending me texts at 10:49pm asking how to make it.

photo of an Instant Pot programmed to use the Sauté function

Second, using the Sauté function on the Instant Pot or Mealthy (or Brown on the Presto) makes your electric pressure cooker function like a high-sided electric skillet. When I make this dish in my 12 inch cast iron skillet I inevitably fling some of the contents all over the stovetop as I'm stirring. That results in a thorough cleaning not only of the skillet but also of the stove. Using the Instant Pot to cook this meal saves clean up!

The third reason I'm sharing this is because I think that electric pressure cookers are hidden gems for disabled cooks. Instead of having to strain to access a stovetop to brown meat--or pay to modify the stove height--cooks can position the electric pressure cooker on a convenient flat surface and work in comfort. Wear an apron and mind the splatters, though.

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This comfort food combines taco-seasoned meat with cooked rice and salsa in a hearty bowl of family-friendly food. This recipe is great to serve a crowd, too. Use the Instant Pot for easy clean up!

What is Instant Pot on Campus?

I'm glad you asked. My Instant Pot on Campus series are recipes that have a handful of ingredients and easy preparation. I'm sending my son back to campus this fall armed with an Instant Pot, a wooden flat bottomed spoon ($2 at IKEA), and this website. We're spending the summer practicing so that he will be successful in the kitchen. Please share with any budding campus cooks you know! (Disclaimer--check with Residence Life to make sure electric pressure cookers are allowed. My son will be staying in a campus apartment with a stove so I know this appliance is OK.)

Each Instant Pot on Campus recipe has similar features. I'll tell you what you need to buy at the store (and some tips to save money). I'll tell you what you need to have on hand in the kitchen. If you want to Level Up, I'll offer suggestions for making the meal a bit fancier. Lastly, I'll provide troubleshooting tips for what could go wrong and how to prevent/fix it.

Other Instant Pot on Campus recipes I've published are Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs and Instant Pot Vegetarian Breakfast Burritos. Let's get started!

What you need at the store

image of ingredients used to make Instant Pot Taco Rice

  • 1 pound ground meat
  • taco seasoning
  • 16 ounce jar of salsa
  • rice

At the store you need to pick up a pound of ground meat, taco seasoning, a jar of salsa, and rice. Since you're seasoning the meat well, you can use any type of ground meat that falls into your reusable shopping tote. Minnesota produces a lot of turkeys so there is a lot of ground turkey meat available to me--but choose what is readily available to you: ground beef, ground pork, ground chicken, ground venison, or plant-based products!

I buy taco seasoning in bulk because I use it often, but a packet (good for seasoning one pound of ground meat) will do fine. If you wish to buy in bulk check natural food stores (and BYO jar) or Costco for bulk taco seasoning.

Do not waste your fancy jars of salsa on this recipe! Save them for dipping chips where the taste is much more apparent. If you've got an inexpensive picante sauce feel free to use that. (Disclaimer: Frontera is our current chip-dipping brand and what I had on hand.)

You can use most any type of rice for this recipe--short grain, sushi, jasmine, long grain, minute, brown or basmati. I would avoid arborio just because it's pricier than the others and you don't need or want the creamy result. As always, whatever cooked rice you have is the kind you should use.

When you have extra cooked rice--even from Chinese takeout!--you can wrap and freeze it for later use. Thaw in microwave and it's as good as fresh.

What you need in the kitchen

  • electric pressure cooker or skillet
  • cooking oil
  • something to stir with (I like the $2 flat bottomed wooden spoon from IKEA)
  • water
  • the ability to cook your rice (microwave for Minute rice, rice cooker, saucepan or IP)

Level Up

image of ingredients used to level up Instant Pot Taco Rice

To Level up this recipe you'll want shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, cooked corn, diced red onion, refried beans, salad greens, chopped tomatoes, and/or tortilla chips. In fact, Taco Rice is a terrific way to serve a crowd because everyone can customize their own bowls. You can double this recipe and still use a 6 quart electric pressure cooker.

image of ground turkey and taco seasoning cooked in an Instant Pot


Because you are not cooking this meal under pressure there are no concerns about the amount of liquids or any worry about Burn errors. You may find the normal Sauté setting to be a bit too hot--if so, push the Sauté button again until the temperature light illuminates Low, not Normal or High. Remember it takes a while to get hot--it will take a while to cool down as well. Watch out for oil spattering when you first add the meat!

image of cooked rice being added to an Instant Pot while making Taco Rice

Recipe Notes

  • This recipe is gluten free as shown. Check your taco seasonings, but all other ingredients do not contain gluten.
  • The recipe is best with cool cooked rice, so plan ahead to have your rice cooked and cooled. Even a bag of minute rice zapped in the microwave and then transferred to the fridge will work better than fresh hot rice.
  • Feel free to use inexpensive salsa in this recipe and save the good stuff for dipping with chips
  • This recipe reheats really well for breakfast or a midnight snack.
  • Use any type of ground meat: beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, venison, or plant-based.
  • This recipe can be doubled in a 6 or 8 quart electric pressure cooker.

This recipe is part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share, the farmer's market, the garden, the neighbor's garden, and great deals on ugly produce at the grocery store.

I'm sharing more recipes on my Pinterest boards, follow me there. If you like a good peek behind the scenes like I do, follow me on Instagram. Need a good read? I'm sharing articles of interest on my Facebook page, follow me there. Want to know How to Use This Blog?

image of a spoonful of Instant Pot Taco Rice held over an Instant Pot

image of a bowl of Instant Pot Taco Rice topped with shredded cheese, vegetables, and tortilla chips

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This comfort food combines taco-seasoned meat with cooked rice and salsa in a hearty bowl of family-friendly food. This recipe is great to serve a crowd, too. Use the Instant Pot for easy clean up!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Shrimp and Garlic Scape Scampi

Shrimp seasoned with garlic scape pesto and parsley then tossed in a wine/butter/lemon sauce and served over pasta.  This is local seasonal eating. The high falutin' way.

Photo of shrimp, garlic scape pesto, and parsley in a wine/butter/lemon sauce over pasta.  Seasonal eating. The high falutin' way.

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You're either here because you've got garlic scapes and want ideas for how to use them, or because you're looking for a different twist on the classic Shrimp Scampi. Either way, let's start with a little background info so that we're all on the same page.

What is a garlic scape?

Garlic grows in a bulb--like a tulip--and produces a flower. Unlike tulips, though, you don't want this flower--so you cut off the scapes while the flower part is still a tight bud. That's a garlic scape. Old Farmers [my Dad] say cutting off the bud forces enables the garlic plant to put all its energy into making a larger base or head or bulb. We're all about bigger bulbs of garlic, right?

image of a garlic scape in a garden bed

Since garlic--again like tulips--ripens but once a year there's only one shot to get garlic scapes each year. If you don't grow your own garlic [and here's a DIY post on planting/harvesting/putting up a year's supply of garlic and pesto from one raised bed] you can find scapes at a farmer's market of from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share. It is rare to find them in a grocery store which is all the more reason to eat locally--they are a versatile veggie!

Image of a cast iron skillet with shrimp, garlic scape pesto, and parsley in a wine/butter/lemon sauce over pasta.

The requisite Food (Blogger) Origination Story

The first time I made Shrimp Scampi was in high school.  In an effort to save money I decided to make my boyfriend our pre-prom dinner at home. [We went to different high schools and attended two proms--though I have no memory of actually going to his prom . . . perhaps we just ate shrimp scampi at my house instead?].

I got the recipe on a piece of lab paper from Miss Tigani, my high school biology teacher. That scrap of paper hasn't been seen in decades, but the basics of scampi--garlic, butter, parsley, lemon, white wine--stayed with me.  I thought the milder taste of garlic scapes would go nicely for my family.
See, while I would love me some garlic shrimp from the white shrimp truck on the North Shore of Oahu, I know that the resulting 3 days of garlic oozing from my pores would not be appreciated by my spouse.  So I'll stay on the mainland and create this instead.

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Shrimp, garlic scape pesto, and parsley in a wine/butter/lemon sauce over pasta.  Seasonal eating. The high falutin' way.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Instant Pot Vegetarian Breakfast Burritos

Use the Instant Pot to speed up your meal prep! In this recipe we'll cook eggs and potatoes at the same time in the electric pressure cooker then create Egg and Potato Breakfast Burritos, Egg Salad, and Mashed Potatoes. Cook once, eat twice, and get out of the kitchen to enjoy life!

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Welcome back to my Instant Pot on Campus series! I created this recipe series to help my son learn some basic recipes for when he heads back to school armed with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. You can see my inaugural IPOC recipe, Spaghetti and Meatballs, right here.

Each of the Instant Pot on Campus recipes will have several things in common. These recipes use a small number of ingredients and have easy prep. I'll walk you thru what to buy at the store, what you'll need in the kitchen, what could go wrong and how to fix it, and how to Level Up when you're feeling fancy.

In today's recipe we're going to cook two building blocks--hard boiled eggs and roasted potatoes--and combine them in various ways to make a variety of meals. This Instant Pot recipe works for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

What to buy at the store

photo of ingredients used to make Instant Pot Egg and Potato Breakfast burritos

These ingredients are handy to have around because they keep well. If you only grocery shop once a week, use this as your go-to meal the day before you shop (kinda like your 'I'm doing laundry' outfit).
  • Eggs (up to a dozen)
  • Small potatoes (up to 3 pounds waxy Yukon or redskin type--NOT russet)
  • tortillas
  • cheese (cheddar or colby jack works great)
  • Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce

I generally get my eggs from the local coop which means I'm getting whatever size the chickens are laying, but anywhere from Medium to Jumbo will work in this recipe. The larger the egg, the longer you may wish to cook to achieve a chalk-like yolk.

As for potatoes, the smaller the better works best in this recipe. You will not cut the potatoes before cooking, so choose egg-sized or smaller potatoes to make sure they are fully cooked.

If you've got a box grater, a block of cheese is generally cheaper per pound than a bag of shredded cheese. However, it's a timesaver just to open a bag and shake out what you need. Your choice! Same with tortillas. If you prefer breakfast tacos, get a smaller corn or flour tortilla. If you've got a bigger appetite, get the burrito-sized tortilla.