Author Archives: Dakotapam

About Dakotapam

Professional fundraiser, Pastor's wife, and mom to six. Some people say I have my hands full, but I say I am living life with both hands full!

bullet journal supplies.

How to Start a Bullet Journal : Part 1-Gather your Supplies

Welcome to the How to Start a Bullet Jouranl series!

Today you will learn about the bullet journal supplies you are going to need. While you might want to eventually pick up some other items, the following list provides everything you need to get started. I totally recommend starting simple and working up from there! The simpler that you start, the more likely to keep up with your BuJo!

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Instant Pot

Instant Pot 101: Get Started on the Right Foot!

What is an Instant Pot? Is it for me? Where can I find one?

What is an Instant Pot? Is it for me? Where can I find one?

I remember when my mom got our first microwave.  It was a revolutionary kitchen appliance that promised full meals in minutes- everything from a popcorn snack to a turkey dinner with chocolate cake for dessert.  It promised mothers everywhere that their days of slaving away in the kitchen were over. (Granted, those cakes didn’t turn out that great. And that turkey? But, still! You didn’t have to turn on the oven!)

Why am I thinking about revolutionary kitchen appliances?  Because we now have one for OUR generation. Forget the Keurig with coffee at the touch of a button.  (Wait, don’t forget about that, God bless coffee.) Ninja blenders that make everything known to man in a blender?  Meh. Let’s talk about the big one. The one EVERYONE is talking about.

THE INSTANT POT.

I’ve seen buzz building about the Instant Pot for a while now.  I’ve seen people raving about it, how it makes the best food in half the time.  I thought about getting one on Black Friday but didn’t make the leap. It’s a pressure cooker, you see, and that thought can be intimidating.  (I mean, we’ve alllll heard about our grandma’s pressure cooking exploding, right?)

Our household was recently given an Instant Pot for Christmas (Thanks again, Uncle Matt!) and can I tell you—IT IS EVERYTHING I EVER HOPED IT COULD BE.  My friends and family all know about the Instant Pot, because I can’t stop raving about it. I tell random guests at Target, my workplace, about the Instant Pot.  I post recipes on Facebook. I may be obsessed.

So when Dakotapam suggested I guest blog with her about the Instant Pot, I jumped at the chance.  I’m so excited to share my knowledge with all of you—I mean, I already talk about the Instant Pot with perfect strangers, so I may as well keep it going!

Today I’d like to give you an introduction to the Instant Pot.  What exactly is it? Which Instant Pot is Right for me? Where do you get one?  

WHAT IS AN INSTANT POT?

From the Instant Pot website:

“The Instant Pot incorporates the functions of five cooking appliances into one:  pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and warmer. It speeds up cooking by 2-6 times using up to 70% less energy, and, above all, produces nutritious healthy food in a convenient and consistent fashion.”

There are different types and sizes of Instant Pots.  They come in three sizes: 3 quart, 6 quart, and 8 quart. There are three different model types: (there is also a wifi enabled model, but it has questionable reviews)

  1. Duo 7-in-1 (Series)  Instant Pot(R) Duo Series is a 7-in-1 programmable cooker, built on our best selling Lux series.The Duo Series combines the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge maker, steamer, sauté/browning, yogurt maker and warmer.
  2. Duo Plus 9-in-1- Instant Pot® Duo Plus 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker is the next evolution in the Duo Series, the number 1 selling product in the Instant Pot® Family. The Duo Plus kitchen appliance combines the functions of a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Cake Maker, Yogurt Maker, Sauté/Searing, Steamer, Warmer and Sterilizer.
  3. Ultra 10-in-1– Instant Pot® Ultra 10-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Cooker is the next generation in kitchen appliances.  Designed for the home chef looking for a greater degree of customization and control for even greater precision cooking.

WHICH INSTANT POT IS RIGHT FOR ME?

First of all, you have to choose the size of your pot.  If you’re single or are married with no children, go with the 3 quart.  You’ll make smaller amounts of food, plus you probably don’t need the extra size.  

However, if you’d like to cook bigger amounts and have leftovers, go for the 6 quart.  I have a family of five and have found that the 6 quart is plenty big enough for us.

And, if you have a larger family like Dakotapam, you’re going to want to go for the 8 quart.  (Some people have all three- just depends on what you want to cook!) Now that I’ve become comfortable with my first Instant Pot, I’m really considering getting the 3 quart—I think it would be perfect to have the main dish in my 6 quart, and my side dish in the 3 quart!  

Once you settle on the size of your pot, you need to choose the model.  Each model has different features, and with more features, they get more expensive.  I was the most comfortable starting with the Instant Pot Duo, as I was a beginner. I can see how the Ultra model is great, though—there are lots of fun extra features on it!  I’d highly recommend going to the Instant Pot Website and really reading about each model, and making your decision based on that.

Note: There are also “off” brand electric pressure cookers out there, but I HIGHLY recommend getting the Instant Pot brand.  (I’m not getting paid to say that, by the way, I just really believe in the company!) Their pots have been tested and have really been the ones that work the best.

WHERE DO I BUY AN INSTANT POT?

These electric pressure cookers can be found at a variety of stores and also online.  Target, Kohls, Wal-Mart, Bed-Bath and Beyond, and Best Buy all carry them.  They are popular, though, and if you want to go right out and buy one you might have to go from store to store, as many places are out of stock right now. If you’re willing to wait a few days, go with Amazon.com. Most Instant Pots at Amazon are on Prime, so they’ll be at your door in about two days. Plus, there are tons of accessories on Amazon as well!  (More on that in another post!)

While you’re waiting for your Instant Pot to arrive, you can do plenty of recipe research on Pinterest!

I’ve seen many people purchase an Instant Pot and then say they wait weeks, even months to try it out.  It may seen daunting, but I’m here to tell you that it really is easy! I’ll be back every week to help you get to know your own Instant Pot, and before you know it, you’ll be cooking delicious meals in it every day, and wondering why you even have a stove.

 Next week we will explore places to find recipes, as well as some easy first timer recipes for you.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments as well! Have fun picking out your Instant Pot this week!

hard boiled eggs

How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs Two Ways

hard boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a busy family snack staple! Eggs are a fantastic, inexpensive protein source and are SO versatile.

I like to boil up a big batch of hard boiled eggs every Saturday after picking up my groceries. If I start them right when I get in the door, they can be done and cooling by the time I am putting away all of the food!

Both of these methods are fool proof!

Stove Top Hard Boiled Eggs

Fill a large saucepan with tap water. Gently add your eggs. I prefer to only have one layer of eggs on the bottom of the pan. I can fit a dozen in my 3-quart saucepan.

Heat the eggs and water to boiling. When the eggs are at a nice rolling boil, remove them from the heat and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid.

Set a timer for 12-15 minutes. I like softer set yolks, so I opt for the 12 minute timing.

When the time is up, drain the hot water from the pan and place the eggs in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.

I then store the eggs in their shell in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs

The Instant Pot is a game changer for my hard boiled eggs!

The Instant Pot combines the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge maker, steamer, yogurt maker and warmer. This is the one that I own. (note: I just checked and Amazon has it at a VERY good price currently!)

The Instant Pot takes all of the babysitting out of the hard boiled egg equation.

If you search for Instant Pot Hard boiled egg recipes you will find all kinds of versions that sound like a crazy secret code. You will usually see 5-5-5, or 4-4-4 methods.

This method refers to the time of each stage, for example, 5-5-5 refers to 5 minutes at high pressure, 5 minute natural release and then 5 minutes in an ice bath.

People have very good results with this method. BUT, one of the things I enjoy about the Instant Pot is my ability to set it and forget it. Also, I don’t have an ice maker, so an ice water bath seems a bit of a bother to me.

After some trial and error, I have found that 2 minutes on steam setting and then simply walking away works great for my eggs.

Update: My newest foolproof version is EVEN BETTER! (especially if you prefer your yolks on the less cooked side). Cook the eggs on 4 minutes on LOW PRESSURE, perform a quick release, and run eggs under cold water until cooled. I almost never get an exploded egg with this method, also. I cook mine for 3 minutes on low pressure because my 8 qt Instant Pot tends to cook things faster than most recipes suggest. IT is important to learn the “personality” of your pot!

Here is how I cook my hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. In my 8 quart pot, I put a cup and a half of water into the inner pot. Then I place a trivet in the pot and stack as many as two dozen eggs on the trivet. Close the pot and set to sealing and set the pot to steam for 2 minutes. I let the pot naturally release, and when I remember my eggs (usually a half our later) I open the pot and store in the refrigerator.

Hard boiled eggs cooked in the Instant Pot are the easiest eggs you will ever peel!

Uses for Hard Boiled Eggs

I use hard boiled eggs as a quick snack or breakfast on the go. They also work great in an egg salad, in potato salads or on top of a green salad.

Hard boiled eggs in their shells will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. Some people like to peel their eggs in advance to save time, but if they are cooked in the Instant Pot, they will peel so easily it is not necessary to peel them in advance.

Products to Make This Recipe Easier

What is your favorite way to eat hard boiled eggs?

declutter your space

10 Easy Decluttering Baby Steps

By now, have seen seen the Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” or have at least seen the endless internet memes featuring some of her rules for decluttering your home.

All of my bookish friends had this kind of reaction to her “book rules”

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To be fair, she really only meant to keep the books that really spark joy…and if you are someone like me, yes, they ALL spark joy! Well, all that remain in my library–I DO donate to the local library used book sale every year!

One of the joys of the Marie Kondo method, which she outlines in her best selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is that if you follow her carefully prescribed system, (and yay! I am SO a systems girl) your result will be a much more orderly space.

The downside, however, is that a system such as Kondo’s takes a significant time commitment.

What can you do if you really want to get started with decluttering and organizing, but you only have a few 15 minute blocks of time?

declutter your space

Here are some great ideas for getting started with decluttering:

Declutter Just One Surface

Clear your kitchen table. If that’s too overwhelming, choose a section of your countertop. Make it a surface you see daily, and be sure to keep it spotless. A key factor here, is teaching your family to repect this clear space as well!

Declutter a Shelf

Now that you have a surface cleared that you will see every day to provide you motivation, you can move on to another small task. Empty just one shelf. take everything off of it, then decide very carefully what is worth putting back. Remember to continue to keep it neat.

Designate a Paper Zone

Nothing accumulates and gets out of control like papers. Designate an area as a catchall for your paperwork, and always place new papers in that tray or box.

Find Homes for Five Things

We all have a few items that never seem to get put away. Carefully choose your five most commonly left-out items, and find special places to store them.

Donate Three Pieces of Clothing

Clothes are often the worst to declutter. Choose just three pieces to give away each day while getting ready. Soon you’ll have a bag full.

Dump One Drawer

Pick just one drawer in your home to declutter. Then dump it out. This lets you see everything at a glance and makes the sorting process easier.

Organize Your Medicines

Medicine, bandages and other health supplies should be kept together. Tackle just your medicine cabinet, creating a neat and tidy place to keep the up-to-date items you use most regularly.

Create a Simple File System

Remember that paper zone? Soon it will overflow. Designate just a few file folders to hold your most common categories of paperwork. Then sort through the documents in your tray to file them quickly in their place.

Take That Bin to the Car

Once you have a few tiny tasks underway, you’ll likely end up with a sizeable amount of stuff to donate. Take the bag or box out to your car to deliver to the thrift shop. See how easy it is to get rid of stuff?

Envision Your Finished Room

These small decluttering tasks are adding up. Take a look around and picture how your room might look when completely pared down and organized. Visualization is a powerful motivator.