Easy Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Once your Instant Pot comes to pressure, you are only 3 minutes away from delicious Mac & Cheese!

What I love most about this quick and easy recipe is that you’re only dirtying one pot, and there’s plenty of flexibility to upgrade this Mac & Cheese with things like fancier cheeses (think gruyere), and add-ins at the end like chopped cooked bacon, or veggies (I topped this batch with Tyson’s Buffalo Chicken Strips)!

Ingredients
Serves 4 as a meal; 8 as a side dish
• 1lb uncooked elbow pasta (I used Barilla Pipette)
• 4 cups cold water
• 3 Tbs unsalted butter
• Pinch salt
• Pinch black pepper
• 3 Cups shredded cheese (I used half sharp cheddar and half cheddar monterey jack blend)
• 1/2 cup milk (whole or 1%)

How To:
1. Place water, salt and pasta into Instant Pot (mine is a 6qt). Stir. Close lid and set to high pressure for 3 minutes. Be sure valve is on “sealing”.
2. Once done, do a quick release and remove lid. Add butter and stir until melted. Add cheese, pepper and milk and stir until creamy.
3. Top with your favorite toppings, or nothing at all!

Slow Cooker-Turned-Instant Pot Creamy Tortellini with Spinach & Mushrooms

When I stumbled upon this recipe from Betty Crocker, I couldn’t wait to try it. It seemed simple enough – slow cook the broth and veggies all day, then add the tortellini and cream cheese at the end. Well of course I was running late for work, and forgot to get my slow cooker together before I left the house!

I had a nice girls night planned, and really wanted to make something different, so I thought all day about how I could still make this recipe when I got home, and not have it take almost 8 hours. My solution: The Instant Pot!

I think I’m in favor of this version better, since you get a lot of extra flavor from sautéing the vegetables first – give it a try and let me know what you think!

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I used the same ingredients in the same proportions as the original recipe, just changed the steps to make an 8-hour meal take just 45 minutes!

Instant Pot Creamy Tortellini with Spinach & Mushrooms
Serves 4-6 • Approx 45 minutes start to finish
Ingredients:
  • 1 package (8 oz) white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 package (20 oz) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz)
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

How To:

  • Turn on Instant Pot to SAUTE mode and add butter, allow to melt.
  • When the Instant Pot reads HOT, add mushrooms, onions, soy sauce, salt and pepper in cooker. Saute until vegetables are soft and lightly browned.
  • Pour vegetable broth over vegetable mixture and turn off SAUTE mode. Stir and scrape to pick up brown bits on the bottom of pot.
  • Add tortellini and cream cheese to pot. Stir and cover, and select SLOW COOK for 30 minutes.
  • Open Instant Pot when done and stir in fresh spinach. Let stand 5 minutes (sauce will thicken). Top with Parmesan cheese and basil.

Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Looking to mix up your Taco Tuesdays? Try fajitas! My recipe is quick, easy, full of flavor – and best of all – the entire meal cooks on one sheet pan!

So far, I’ve only done this with chicken, but you can definitely use steak, turkey breast or even just stick with a ton of veggies. The key to even cooking is to be sure that your ingredients are cut all around the same size – that way you don’t end up with under-cooked meats with over-cooked vegetables. Another great tip is to use a large Ziplock back to mix up your ingredients – simply knead the bag of ingredients to get them evenly coated with your seasonings. Alternately, you can use a large bowl, but use your hands to mix for the best result!

This recipe easily serves a family of 4, but you can double it up for a crowd and simply use two sheet pans.

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Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4 • 30 Minute Cook Time

  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Bell Peppers (I used a combo of 1 green, 1 yellow and 1 orange)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 2 Tbs Chili Powder
  • 2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Steak Seasoning (optional, but delicious – I use McCormick Montreal Steak)
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Corn or Flour Tortillas

B014EA53-3567-406E-87CE-5B55B136D0B0 (Fajitas Before and After Baking)

How To:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F; spray a large sheet pan with nonstick spray.
  • Wash produce and pat dry chicken. Slice peppers and onions into strips and place into a large Ziplock bag (or large bowl).
  • Slice chicken breast into thin strips so that they’re about the same thickness as the peppers and onions and place into Ziplock bag (or large bowl).
  • Combine all seasonings in a small bowl and add to chicken and peppers. Drizzle with olive oil and mix all ingredients well, so that they’re all coated with your seasoning.
  • Dump mixture on to your prepared sheet pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are soft and starting to brown. At about the 5 minutes left mark, warm your tortillas in the oven on a piece of foil so that your whole meal comes out at once.
  • Topping Ideas (maybe the best part!): Shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, fresh tomatoes, jalapenos

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Air Fryer Banana Bread

Yes, you read that right! Moist and delicious banana bread IS possible in an air fryer. I’ll include links below to the exact air fryer and pan I used, but this should work with any air fryer, and any round cake pan that fits into yours!

My banana bread mix is the same I use if I were to bake it in the oven – filled with ripe, sweet, bananas, chocolate chips, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon – except in the air fryer, it takes 35 minutes instead of an hour!

Air Fryer Banana Bread
Makes one 7″ Cake Pan (or small loaf pan)

• 3 TBS Unsalted Butter, softened
• 1/2 C White Sugar
• 3 Ripe Bananas
• 2 Large Eggs
• 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
• 1 C Flour
• 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
• 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp Salt
• 1/2 C Chocolate Chips (optional, but recommended!)

How To:

  1. Preheat air fryer to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together eggs, bananas, butter, sugar and vanilla (by hand, stand mixer or electric mixer).
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and gently blend until combined.
  5. If using, fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Spray cake pan with nonstick spray and pour batter into pan. Place in air fryer basket, close and cook at 300 degrees F for 35 minutes.
  7. Remove from fryer and flip to release from pan. Let cool completely before serving.

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Links to products I used (I have no affiliation with these, just passing on items I have had success with!):

Tomatoes from… tomatoes!

One of the easiest ways to grow tomatoes is, well, with tomatoes! This fun hack gets started right in a paper or plastic cup, and once your seedlings are nice and tall, transfer them to a pot outside to continue growing!

I did this trick last spring and we got a nice bunch of tomatoes by the end of the summer. Give it a shot and let me know how yours grow!

Step 1: Pick your favorite tomatoes and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices; prepare a cup filled half way with garden soil (I use organic Miracle Grow).
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Step 2: Place tomato slices into soil and press down about 1/4 inch. Cover with about a 1/2 inch of soil and pierce hole in the base of cup to allow for drainage.

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Step 3: Water lightly and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a sunny spot inside or outdoors.
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Photo #1 was taken FOUR DAYS LATER! Photo #2 was taken 8 days after planting!
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Happy Growing! I’ll update as my plants keep growing 🙂

Oven (or grill!) Potato Pouches 🥔

This is one of those throw-it-in-and-forget-about-it kind of sides! The end result is a creamy/crispy/flavorful side dish that goes with just about anything (we had ours with steaks). Feel free to experiment with the spices and pouch contents! Some ideas using the same process:

  • Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon & brown sugar
  • Yukon gold potatoes with parsley
  • Russets with bacon in the pouch!

Potato Pouches – serves 4

  • 4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves freshly crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each dried herbs – rosemary, thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Aluminum foil
  • How to:
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Slice potatoes about 1/4″ thick.
    3. Line a sheet pan with a full sheet of foil, spray with cooking spray.
    4. Place potatoes and garlic in the center of the foil and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper.
    5. Cut up butter and place on top of potatoes.
    6. Tear a second piece of foil and place on top of potatoes. Bring up sides and cinch together to make a sealed pouch.
    7. Bake for 35 minutes (or 20-30 mins, flipping every 15 mins, on a hot grill).

    Easy Air Fryer Chicken Wings

    The easiest way to make crispy-on-the-outside, tender on the inside chicken wings is in an air fryer! These wings are delicious with your favorite sauce – we coat ours in Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce mixed with a little unsalted butter 🙂

    I use a 5.8qt Cosori Air Fryer, but any air fryer will work!

    What you’ll need:

    • 2lbs chicken wingettes (we use Perdue)
    • Salt and pepper
    • Your favorite sauce for coating

    How to:

    1. Preheat air fryer for 5 mins (at 380°F)
    2. Pat dry chicken wingettes and lay in a single layer in preheated fryer basket
    3. Close fryer and hit “chicken” function (or cook at 380°F) for 40 minutes
    4. At the 20 minute mark, pause fryer and turn wings. Close and continue cooking
    5. Remove from fryer and coat with your favorite sauce

    (After 20 mins ☝️)

    (After 40 mins ☝️)

    Tips:

    • When making a large batch, place cooked wings on a sheet pan and keep in a warm oven until ready to coat

    Air Fried Sweet Potato Fries

    It doesn’t get easier than this! 🍠

    Serves 3-4 • 20 minute cook time

    What you’ll need:

    • 2-3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed with skins on
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons Trader Joes Everyday Seasoning (or any other seasoning blend you like)

    How to:

    1. Preheat air fryer to 380° F for 5 minutes.
    2. Cut sweet potatoes into strips as shown above. Make sure they’re as close to the same size as possible so they cook evenly.
    3. Toss sliced potatoes with olive oil and seasonings and add to air fryer basket.
    4. Set timer for 10 minutes, shake basket, then set for another 10 minutes at 380°.

    The BEST Instant Pot Chili

    Confident, eh?

    I’m saying this Chili’s the “best” for a few reasons. The first one being that it’s QUICK. This recipe takes about 35 minutes from start to finish (and that includes the initial sauteeing and coming to pressure time!).

    Another thing that’s great is that you can use ground beef, turkey or chicken; and finally, my favorite – you can pretty much throw in as many veggies as you like and still end up with a really good, hearty chili. Some ideas for extras are chopped celery, chopped spinach or kale, and mushrooms.

    I chose to go the ground turkey route in this one, and added one of my favorite little extras – a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in the spice mix – gives it a little sweet heat kick (but feel free to use any spice combo you like).

    The BEST Instant Pot Chili

    Serves 4

    Pressure cook time: 20 mins

    You will need:

    • 1lb ground turkey, beef or chicken
    • 2-3 peppers (I like a combo of yellow and green), diced
    • 1 yellow onion, diced
    • 3 carrots, sliced
    • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
    • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 28oz Can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 12 oz Can red kidney beans
    • 1/2 Cup water
    • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (you’ll thank me!)

    How to:

    1. Turn your Instant Pot on to “Saute” mode and add olive oil.
    2. Brown meat, stirring and chopping up as you go until all pink is gone. Add peppers, onion, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring about 2 minutes.
    3. While still in saute mode, add the crushed tomatoes, beans, water and spices.
    4. Close lid, place vent to “sealing” and switch to high pressure cook for 20 minutes. Once the time is up, quick release and enjoy! Our favorite toppings: shredded cheddar jack cheese and sour cream.

    Air Fried “Baked” Potatoes

    Crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, these “baked” potatoes are done in just 45 minutes in your air fryer – without heating up your oven!

    What you’ll need:

    • 3-4 russet baking potatoes
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • Sea salt (or regular salt)

    How to:

    1. Pre-heat air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes.
    2. Scrub potatoes under running water and dry with a paper towel.
    3. Use your hands! Add about a tablespoon of olive oil into the palms of your hands and rub onto potatoes.
    4. Sprinkle salt on potatoes and place into the fryer basket.
    5. Cook for 45 minutes at 400°F and top with your favorite toppings!