Ya’ll, I fell in love at first sight with the Insta Pot in Alpine, Texas over shredded chicken tacos. I couldn’t believe the innovation of a kitchen appliance that could turn frozen chicken breasts and a jar of salsa into something so flavorful in twenty minutes. I love my slow cooker as much as any busy parent, but it definitely has its limitations, and somehow, all the food seems to start to taste the same. I have definitely been in a rut lately that not even Pintrest could get me out of. I envied friends who took the time to prep ahead or make meals ahead on the weekend. I simply couldn’t get myself to follow through with it regularly.
This past weekend after a few weeks of insane business, that always seem to sneak up on me with May, I decided I had to have one. Anyone who has chatted with my lately knows that my family has been on a journey of minimalism and intentional living. I really try to be thoughtful about my purchases, and hadn’t reached they point of convincing myself that I really needed to have this kitchen appliance. Between end of the year school projects, events, family obligations, kids sports activities, wrapping up my teaching semester, my husband’s work commitments, you all know what I mean about May…. I had to do something.
Like every busy parent, I often found myself with all the ingredients that I needed for my meal, but no time to prep ahead or make dinner before my kids had gorged themselves on every snack possible or revolted. Our dinners ended at 8 pm, right around the time this mama turns into a pumpkin, and my kids know, “Ya no quiero nada, con nadie.” I could barely stand to be by myself, let alone starting bedtime routines with any tenderness or patience at that hour.
So, this morning, while at running errands, I sent my husband a text. A text informing him that I was purchasing my Mother’s Day gift. I had begun following Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo, and got excited about the possible menus and extra time. I brought my Insta Pot home yesterday afternoon, promptly setting it on my counter and hitting Pintrest for recipes for recipes for what I had on hand. I decided on picadillo, a typical Cuban comfort food, jasmine rice with avocado salad, and roasted carrots.
I picked the kids up from school, and we all excitedly began prepping dinner. While Selena, not Selena Gomez, blared from our speakers, we chopped the veggies, and I began browning the ground turkey in the Insta Pot. Yes, that’s right...you can brown and saute in the actual pot, and then add the remaining ingredients. After 15 minutes, our delicious picadillo was flavorful and ready. I decided to use the same Insta Pot to cook 3 cups of jasmine rice. I would normally turn to my rice cooker for this, as I am notorious for burning rice in regular pot, but after 12 minutes, my rice was fluffy and perfect.
Following Michelle Tam’s advice, I began pot of black bean soup, where I sauteed onions, garlic and peppers before adding dry beans and broth to cook for 30 minutes while we ate our dinner. This was a meal that I usually reserved for a home school day, because of the time it took to soak, cook, stir and watch the beans. ¡No más! This is now one of the easiest dinners I will make.
Cooking with my children is one of the things that keeps us most connected in to the Spanish language, and our latino heritage. Our family enjoys cooking foods from my native Guatemala, but we also love Mexican, Venezuelan, Spanish and Cuban inspired dishes. Tonight we spoke and sang in Spanish, danced salsa, and fed our souls and our bellies with our delicious dinner. On another note, I don't think I had to remind my kids once, "En español." Spanish is connected naturally to them on nights like this.
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