By Guest Blogger Katrina Capistrano

I was never attracted to pressure cookers before because I was never introduced to one. Looking back, I realize how I have missed an entire world of food! Now that I have, there’s no going back.

Some of my fondest childhood memories revolved around the kitchen watching my dad learn how to cook, but none of those involved a pressure cooker.  Everything was over the stove, simmering for hours to make sure the meat was fork tender. My dad’s necessity to learn how to feed his family turned into a love for cooking which sparked my passion for all things culinary. I’m not a professional by any means, but my years of watching my dad afforded me the ability to create recipes and meals by taste and smell.

Growing up, dinner was time spent together as a family – no excuses, no exceptions. I’ve carried that routine into my own family life. With the kids growing up so fast and both my husband and I working full time, it does become difficult to manage schedules and keep our dinner routine.  Oftentimes, finding creative ways to get dinner done under 30 minutes that are varied and healthy has proven to be the most challenging. I quickly realized that I needed to find a better way to whip up the same meals I learned years ago instead of spending hours on the stove. I even tried cooking meals ahead of time and storing in the fridge, but even that was time consuming while juggling everyone’s schedules. I was beginning to fall into the cycle of convenience – take out!

During last year’s Black Friday deals, I came across the Instant Pot.  As a kitchen gadget addict, I bought it on a whim. Yes, I admit – I’m a kitchen gadget addict. If it’s something for the kitchen, I probably have it. Well, my whim arrived on my front porch and that was the beginning of my love relationship with my Instant Pot.

Before it arrived, I thought the Crock Pot was the best invention.  If Ygritte of “Game of Thrones” were next to me, she’d put me to shame and say, “You know nothing, Katrina Capistrano.” Like all relationships, it was up and down at first. Almost a year together and I’m still learning new things and she doesn’t cease to amaze me. As an Instant Pot newbie, I took to Pinterest. That helped me get the basics in as I was learning.  Now, I opt to forego the stove if it’s something I can make in the Instant Pot. Who wouldn’t want to be able to cook an entire meal in one pot, under 30 minutes without sacrificing flavor and the tenderness of the meat? Did I mention you can cook from frozen??

For my family of 4, my Instant Pot Lux 5 Qt. is just fine. More mouths to feed may best be served by a larger size. The Pot truly is a time saver, not so much in prep-time but in cooking and cleaning-up.  As a kitchen gadget, I give it a full 5-star rating, thanks to its available functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté pan, and warming pot. If you don’t already own one, let this be your nudge. Buy one and start your own love relationship. If you find yourself on the market for an Instant Pot, I highly recommend checking out this year’s upcoming Black Friday deals.

Being Filipino-Chinese American, I do lean towards Asian recipes, however I’m a fanatic when it comes to soups. I often turn to Pinterest to find Instant Pot equivalent recipes of foods I like to cook. If it’s not there, I rely on the cooking time guide. My favorites would have to include the Zuppa Toscana Soup, Korean Beef, and the Homemade Applesauce to pair with pork chops.  Feel free to check out my Pinterest Page. You’ll find an over-abundance of boards, in particular the Instant Pot Craze Board.

Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana


~ 1 lb. Ground Italian Sausage, mild
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 cups fresh kale
~ 1 medium onion, diced
~ 3 large Russet potatoes, unpeeled and sliced into ¼-inch slices
~ 6 cups Chicken broth
~ 2 tbsp. Olive oil
~ ¾ cup Heavy Cream or Half & Half


~ Using the “saute” function, heat the olive oil. Add onions and cook until they begin to become translucent.
~ Add the Italian sausage, crumbling up into smaller pieces and cooking until browned.
~ Add garlic and allow to cook just until fragrant, about a minute.
~ Drain off excess grease if desired and return to pot.
~ Add potato slices and chick broth.
~ Lock the lid into place and set to “sealed.”
~ Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes using the Manual setting.
~ When cooking is complete, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, followed by a quick release.
~ When pressure valve has dropped, remove the lid and add kale to the pot. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale as you stir.
~ Pour in cream or half & half, stirring to combine.

*Recipe courtesy of Margin Making Mom

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