Loaves and Dishes: No pressure, my step-daughter to the rescue

I’m gonna admit, tensions are high. This week, I’ve run a pressure canner and a pressure cooker in my kitchen at the same time! You seriously can’t get much more pressure than that!

Am I the only one whose mother scared them to death about staying in the kitchen while the pressure canner is jiggling away? I get it going and leave. Better yet, I talk Mr. Loaves and Dishes into running it outside on the gas burner. Try it sometime!

Speaking of pressure cookers, have you tried an Instant Pot yet? I’ll admit, I was skeptical. Personally, I own an old school stove top pressure cooker and frankly, I haven’t used it for much up until now. Mainly I make ribs in it and then put it away until next time. Until recently, other than ribs, everything I made in it was just a mushy mess.

Que the mystery music. That is, until my step-daughter showed up with her little Instant Pot with its cute little songs for when the lid goes on and when it’s all done cooking. I won’t lie, we’ve had some darn good meals out of that little thing. She taught me how to make baked potatoes in it and she prepared her mother’s Korean Chicken and Rice. We’ve sampled fettuccine made with something other than your basic noodles and a few other items as well.

In fact, her Instant Pot inspired me to get my own pressure cooker back out and begin trying new recipes myself. I mastered baked potatoes, cooked carrots, lentil soup and my own beef stew recipe (it uses turmeric because my doctor said I could benefit from more of that in my diet). My favorite thing to do in my pressure cooker, though? It’s chicken.

For some number of years, I’ve been buying rotisserie chicken from the grocery or precooked chicken in the freezer section when I need chicken for a casserole, tacos or any other recipe that requires precooked chicken. I mean, those are great options when you are trying to get things done fast. They aren’t the most affordable, though.

Typically, I buy chicken in large packages and freeze it in two-person servings for later. Let me tell you, throwing a couple frozen piece of boneless skinless chicken (thigh or breast but the thigh has more flavor) into the pressure cooker with ½ cup of broth, a talespoon of oil, garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper, then pressure cooking on high for about 12 minutes and then allowing a natural release for about 10 minutes is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to get that casserole on the table! That chicken is ready to be cut into pieces or shredded for the perfect dish!

I’m happy to share my pressure cooker recipes with you and I’ll have a Pressure Cooker Indian Chicken with Rice ready sometime later this week or next if you want to duck on over to the Loaves and Dishes website. You can also find all of these recipes on the Loaves and Dishes YouTube channel; I shoot everything from directly overhead and that way you have a bird’s eye view of what goes into the dish as I talk you through it. Besides, we are neighbors and if you have a question, you can just shoot me an email or go to the middle of Danbury and shout my name. I’m sure I’ll hear you.

Running a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot is a great way to keep the heat out of your kitchen this summer and the recipes are fast and fairly hands off (for the most part, you just throw everything in and turn it on!). Here’s a word to the wise though, don’t Google “pressure cooker accident photos” or you’ll know why my mom scared me to death about pressure cooking.

Beef Stew

1 lb. stew beef, cut into one-inch pieces

½ cup water

3 ribs celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

¼ cup Worcestershire

2 bay leaves

Place all ingredients into the bowl of the pressure cooker. Secure the lid and bring up to full pressure/temperature. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Allow the pressure cooker to come back to room pressure by natural release. Remove bay leaves before serving


You can start with frozen stew beef as long as you give it a few minutes longer. If you watch the video, you’ll see that’s what I do.

Cut beef into bitesized pieces (about one-inch cubes).

The secret to tender beef stew is cooking it a long time (if cooking on the stove top and really 25 minutes in a pressure cooker is a long time). If your stew beef is too hard to chew, it’s because it didn’t cook long enough. Stew beef tends to have a lot of connective tissue and that takes a long long time to break down (which is just a few more minutes in the pressure cooker than something like chicken).

Add peeled potatoes cut into 1-1½ inch cubes if you prefer.

People often say, “I don’t like celery” or “I don’t like carrots.” Actually, those just add some flavor and because they get quite soft, you don’t really taste them individually. That said, the flavors they add to the beef are really on point. For the most part, the carrots and celery break down completely and you barely see them in the stew.

Add a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes instead of water if you prefer a tomato-based beef stew.

You’ll give a nice pop of flavor if you serve up some cheese, sour cream, green onion and a bit of shredded cheddar with your beef stew.

You can substitute pork shoulder for the beef if you like, but then, of course, it’s no longer beef stew. Other substitutions include one chopped whole onion for the onion powder, three cloves minced garlic for the garlic powder, and a ½ tsp. celery seed for the celery.

Pro tips:

Serve over a bed of rice or baked potato for a delicious alternative.

Add in fresh veggies like squash and zucchini in the summer time for a healthy addition.

Wendi Spraker is CEO, Food Writer, Recipe Developer and Dish Washer at www.loavesanddishes.net/ and one of the Dorks with Sporks duo, a mother-daughter “adventure in take-out” podcast. Find them at https://dorkswithsporks.com/.

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