Ever just need an easy meal and wish you could run to fast food? Chipotle, anyone?
But we’re a make-from-scratch kind of site, being good stewards of our budget…yet who has the time to make it happen some weeks!
Like this one.
Can I just confess something? This has been quite the week…
We just got back from vacation last week, which – as you know – always means the next few days are spent catching up. Now add to that chaos the fact that we just moved four weeks ago.
*cue circus music*
But when we returned from vacation, our lives shifted into high gear. We had extended family in car accidents, doctor appointments, and other significant life events. One of the best ways I know how to serve family is with food. So over the last 24 hours, I’ve cooked 19 freezer dinners and 36 freezer lunches/breakfasts.
Now, lest you think I am Super Woman – meanwhile my family ate cold oatmeal for dinner last night. Sigh.
With all this crazy food-prep (and crazy life!), I find myself needing recipes that are quick, easy, yummy, and create more than one meal. Being allergy-friendly is a bonus. And better yet – a meal that is ridiculously easy to prepare but tastes like I spent hours in the kitchen.
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
The Instant Pot has gotten a lot of hype over the last couple years – for good reason. It really can do just about anything.
Although it can seem a bit daunting to use at first, it really becomes quite simple once you give it a try.
Use the techniques, tips and simple recipes from the Instant Pot Guidebook to get started, and before you know it, your Instant Pot will become indispensable!
Fit Allergies and Special Diets by Making a Copycat of Your Favorite Fast Food Meal
Which is why I am over-the-moon giddy about my Allergy-Friendly Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Chipotle-Style Beef Barbacoa recipe.
My family LOVES Chipotle, but the meat is often too spicy for my kids. Making my own at home means I can control the heat while still enjoying the depth of flavor. I originally found this recipe on Food.com, but it called for a bunch of steps that dirtied a LOT of dishes – like using a blender, searing beef in a hot skillet, etc.
Sure, that can be delicious. But in my mind, “quick and easy” should also mean “virtually no clean up.”
So I experimented with this dish and found that mixing the spices in the blender and searing the beef in a hot pan first really didn’t add that much. And even better still — I tweaked the recipe to make a dry mix that I could store in a glass jar in my pantry and pull out whenever I wanted to make my dinner. Win-win!
This meal is also GAPS/Paleo-friendly — as well as gluten, egg, dairy, AND soy free. It doesn’t get better than that, friends.
So here’s my simplified recipe! Don’t forget to scroll past to see the freezer-meal instructions.
I always made this as a slow cooker recipe, but if you’ve followed my posts you know how much I love my Instant Pot! It’s easy to take your favorite slow cooker recipes and make them in your Instant Pot as I’ve done here – we included instructions for both.
Where to find a Pressure Cooker
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. You can even get a carrying case to travel with it!
If you really want an old school pressure cooker for the stovetop, you can browse them at Amazon – this is the set that I got for our wedding so very long ago. Mine is actually a 7L size (which is over 7 qts) and the one included here is only a 6-quart.
The best thing about these is that they have a glass lid for normal cooking, and they are the two pots we use MOST of all in the last 14 years! So if you have no extra space, just replace a big pot with a pressure cooker and you only need to store the lid additionally. I admit I’m not sure I ever used the pressure function with the smaller pot, but I love both sizes for normal cooking.
If I had to do it over, I’d get this set because it has an 8-quart pot and a larger steamer basket that could also do pasta or potatoes. The members of our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse often ask about how to help kids heft a heavy pot of water to the sink to drain, and this is the best solution – pulling out a basket insert rather than lifting boiling liquids around.
Looking for an allergy-friendly meal to wow your friends and family? This mouth-watering recipe will leave you asking for extra helpings, while blowing you away with its dump-and-go easy prep.
- 1 Tbs. cumin (make it heaping if you like spicy)
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. chipotle dried spice
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1?2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 3 bay leaves
- For the slow cooker I like to use a 3-5 pound chuck roast
- For the instant pot I use 2-4 pounds Beef Stew Meat (or roast cut into 1-2″ squares)
- In a large crockpot or your instant pot, combine wet and dry ingredients. Swirl with a spoon to combine.
- Scoop out 1 Tbs. of mixture and SET ASIDE in a jar in your refrigerator. (Don’t do this if you have already added raw meat!!!)
- Add meat.
- For slow cooker – Cook on low 6-8 hours. For instant pot – Check the seal, secure the lid, close the sealing valve. Select MANUAL pressure for 30 minutes.
- For instant pot – Once the program is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally.
- When finished cooking, REMOVE BAY LEAF.
- Shred beef, incorporating the liquid (this is where your flavor is!).
- Spoon reserved mixture from fridge over the meat, which helps brighten the flavor.
- Serve with chips, lettuce, cheese, and your other favorite taco toppings. For a Paleo version – Serve with cauliflower rice, plantain chips, lettuce, avocado, and/or tomatoes.
No grassfed beef in your area? ButcherBox is an online source that is just awesome. Get free Paleo-approved bacon on your first order HERE.
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(free shipping too!)
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
Chipotle … Powder?
Finding the dry chipotle at your local grocery store may be a challenge. You’re looking for the plain spice, not a hodgepodge of blends. Consider these options on Amazon from McCormick or Byrne & Perry’s.
Hints for Making A Dry Mix
One of my best secrets in the kitchen is to make a dry season mix so that I don’t have to do any last-minute measuring when it comes time to assemble the meal. So the next time you’re making a dinner that involves a lot of spices, consider measuring out a few spares.
Just don’t forget to label your food when you’re done (especially if you are making a dry mix)!!!
Instructions for the Freezer Meal
After cooking and shredding the meat, divide the meat into appropriate meal sizes. I recommend planning on a 1/2 cup serving per person – you can go more or less depending on your family needs.
Toss into your favorite freezer container (I prefer plastic bags; don’t hate me) and freeze. When it comes time to eat: thaw, reheat, and serve!
We’re always looking for short cuts here at Kitchen Stewardship, and freezer cooking is one way to quickly get healthy dinners served each night.
That is why Katie partnered with Once a Month Meals to create a Real Food menu. With 5 recipes, each doubled, you’ll have 10 delicious dinners waiting for you in your freezer!
Find more tips and recipes for your Instant pot HERE!
My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once!
She’s offering a free sourdough cornbread Instant Pot recipe!
This cornbread is delicious, nutritious, super easy to make, and it only needs 12 minutes of cook time.