Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese

Pressure cookers are definitely the hot “it” appliance right now. I’ve had an old stainless model for years, that I use for canning – but at 16 quarts too big to use for general use in my kitchen. So this fall I hopped on the old bandwagon and purchased an 8-quart Instant Pot, and haven’t looked back since!

I’m hesitant about unitaskers in my kitchen, and I was skeptical how much I’d actually use the thing on a regular basis. Turned out I was pleasantly surprised, using it at least two times a week in my kitchen. To be able to make a quick chicken or vegetable stock in under an hour blows my mind.

Not to mention other tasks like potatoes cooked to perfection in a few minutes, dried beans that taste they’ve been simmering all day long in an hour, or this easy macaroni and cheese – which goes from pot to table in two shakes of a lamb’s tail (just a little over 10 minutes).

You could take it to the next level by pouring the finished mac into a baking dish and topping with more cheese (or breadcrumbs, if that’s your thing) and popping into the oven for a few minutes to melt. But, we usually don’t get that far. I’ve also been known to throw in a cup of diced ham and a chopped head of broccoli to bulk it up and make it a one-dish meal that everyone always loves.

Do you have an electric pressure cooker? What are some of your favorite recipes to make in it? Share in comments!

Fall has arrived here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia – which means, oyster harvests are in full swing in the waters surrounding our little peninsula. From the salts on the seaside, to the sweeter guys harvested out of the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers on the western shore – we have such an amazing variety of oysters in Virginia.

A couple of weeks ago the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce hosted it’s 45th Annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival – an event that’s anticipated all year long. Fried oysters, steamed oysters, raw oysters…a true celebration of the briny bivalve.

I was running around taking photos to earn my keep, in exchange for my ticket. But, I managed to tote over my little portable grill and snag a few oysters to throw on it, to get some photos to share of this super easy way to prepare them with you guys.

Oysters on the half, brushed with a simple garlic-herb butter while on the grill. Couldn’t get easier, delicious, or more impressive. If shucking isn’t your thing, you can steam them until they pop open, and then pry off the top shell – the garlic butter will still keep them plump and juicy.

If you’re really lucky, like I was on this particular day, you may find a tiny friend lurking inside your oyster. Pea crabs are considered a delicacy by many around here, tender yet slightly crunchy little crustacean parasites that like to set up shop inside our oysters. We eat them, but if it’s not your thing – by all means, serve them their final eviction notice before enjoying.

A few minutes on the grill is all you need, just until you see the butter start to sizzle. A little squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish.  Enjoy them hot, and be prepared to reload the grill. You can’t eat just one!

The big game is this weekend! Anyone planning on having a party? Or heading somewhere where you want to bring something to share? I’ve got the perfect munchie to fit the bill, if that’s the case!

Y’all know I love to incorporate seafood into my dishes whenever possible, and for a throw-down like Sunday’s event – it’s always fun to splurge a little bit for your spread…

Since most of my local seafood shacks are closed for the off-season here on the island, I took a road trip “across the bay” to my closest Whole Foods Market – in Hampton Roads, to see what kind of goodness they were offering for the big game!

While I’m usually not a purveyor of pre-made items, their uber-tubs of guacamole have always been a favorite for me (incidentally on sale this week). I’ll usually buy one to snack on with some chips on the way home! So, I decided to use that as a base for my guacamole for both simplicity, and times sake.

For the shrimp salsa, I picked up some of the gorgeous grey shrimp found at their seafood counter (another sale item this week – score!). Their fishmongers are always so knowledgeable, and always ready to answer any question you can throw at them! I love that they work with small, local fisheries whenever possible. Knowing that I can still support sustainable fishing practices, while shopping at a large grocer, is very important to me. Just another reason why I love Whole Foods, and everything that they stand for.

So, those shrimp. I roasted them with the shell on (helps to retain moisture and tenderness) with some fresh lemon, oregano, and lots of pepper. Once they were perfectly cooked I let them cool down enough to peel, then give a rough chop. Combined with a little tomato, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and a bit of cilantro to brighten it up – the rustic, chunky salsa was the perfect contrast against the smooth, creamy guacamole. And, it was so pretty on the plate!

The perfect addition to your big game day buffet.  

Disclosure: I have a partnership with Whole Foods Market and was compensated for my work, but all words and opinions are my own.

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Raising three little boys, quick economical meals are something that are a constant around here. We love tacos, and my version of a homemade Hamburger Helper is always a hit, and who could forget spaghetti? But on this particular evening that I’d taken out some ground beef, I wasn’t feeling any of those options.

I decided to whip up a from-scratch version of the classic Manwich sauce in a can, and made homemade Sloppy Joes. They took just a few minutes to throw together, out of ingredients that I usually always have on hand. A little bit of tang and a little bit of sweetness to the sauce hits all the right spots on the flavor scale, everyone really enjoyed them!

I think this would be a great option for a cookout instead of burgers. The beef could easily be mixed up and kept warm in a slow cooker for serving. I kept it simple and served with some potato chips and my favorite coleslaw.  In fact, I put a spot of coleslaw on my sandwich. Don’t knock it till you try it!

Source: adapted from Allrecipes