Winter Blues Need Comfort Food
Comfort foods can help you beat the winter blues
Dark mornings, darker evenings, and chilly gray days in between mean winter is here. For many of us, with the coldest season come the winter blues, which can leave us feeling down, depressed and less energized than usual. Don’t let the winter weather get you down, battle those blues with hot and comforting dishes. It’s called comfort food for a reason!
Winter weather calls for a steaming cup of hot cocoa along with some hot, soul-soothing comfort food. Comfort food is food that makes you want to stay in and get cozy. It is food that is simple and doesn’t require a lot of work. It is hearty and warming. Soups, stews, casseroles, and chili, along with anything that is gooey and cheesy usually fit the bill.
A tool we love is the Instant Pot, which is getting a lot of buzz these days. Maybe that's because it is only one small appliance which serves as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and more. As those of you who already have one know, an Instant Pot is great to have for preparing all of your favorite winter comfort foods. From gooey baked pastas to meaty stews to bone broth, the Instant Pot is one tool that does it all.
For those of you who haven’t jumped on the pressure cooker bandwagon yet, the term might conjure up images of the old-style pressure cookers your grandmother used to use, with their dangers of rupturing and blowing their contents all over your kitchen. Fear not; modern pressure cookers have pressure-release systems designed to make them absolutely safe. There are different manufacturers, sizes, and features on the market, and the sheer diversity of options might make selecting one seem daunting. For a good reference guide, check out Pressure Cooking Today.
Instant Pot recipes for comfort foods
To help get us through those cold and gray days ahead, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite comfort foods to make using the Instant Pot fun and easy. Many of these recipes were provided by our very own Farmview Schoolhouse Instant Pot enthusiast, Kjesti Easton. Kjesti has shared her knowledge of the Instant Pot, along with tips, recipes and tasty treats in several classes over the years. Stay on the lookout for future Instant Pot class offerings.
Baked Potato Soup
1 1/2 lbs. Potatoes (red, yellow or Russets)
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Flour
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
4 cups Milk
1 tsp. Better than Bouillon chicken base
1/2 cup Sour cream
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
3 Green onions, diced
1 (3 oz) package Real bacon bits
If using red or yellow potatoes, scrub them clean. If using Russet potatoes, peel them. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of your Instant Pot and then place trivet in the bottom. Place potatoes on top of the trivet.
Cover the Instant Pot and lock the lid. Make sure valve is set to “sealing.” Set the pressure cook button for 10 minutes on high pressure for red or yellow potatoes and 20 minutes for Russets. When the timer beeps carefully move the valve to “venting” to let the pressure release. When you can, remove the lid.
Remove the potatoes and set aside. Discard the water. Turn to the sauté setting on “less.” Melt the butter. Once butter is melted whisk in one tablespoon of flour at a time until you get a creamy, lump-free roux. Add in the salt and pepper. Let it start to bubble, whisking constantly.
Once it is bubbling add in the milk and Better than Bouillon and whisk. Adjust the sauté setting to high heat. Whisk every few minutes until the milk starts to thicken and bubble.
Turn the Instant Pot to the warm setting. Stir in the sour cream, cheddar, diced onions, and bacon.
Smash the potatoes with a potato masher. Stir the potatoes into the Instant Pot. Salt and pepper the soup if needed.
Ladle into bowls and serve.
Kalua Pork (courtesy of Kjesti Easton)
3 slices Bacon
1 3-5 lb. Pork shoulder roast
1 cup Water
Alaea Red Hawaiian Coarse salt (or smoked/kosher salt)
Press sauté and place bacon in the bottom of the liner to sizzle.
Cut pork into 3-4 pieces.
Rain down 3/4 tsp of coarse salt (or 1/2 tsp of fine ground) per pound of meat, on all sides.
Place pork in a single layer atop of the bacon and pour a cup of water into the liner.
Lock lid and press cancel, then manual. Press + button until it reads 90. When time is finished, turn the cooker off until the pressure drops.
Open carefully and shred pork with forks. Enjoy!
15-Bean Soup with Sausage (courtesy of Kjesti Easton)
2 tbsp. Vegetable oil
12 oz. Hot or sweet Italian sausage
1 Onion, chopped fine
1 Carrot, peeled and chopped fine
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Minced fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried
4 cups Low-sodium chicken broth
10 oz. 15-bean soup mix, no flavoring packet, rinsed, picked over and salt-soaked overnight
2 Bay leaves
8 oz. Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped
1 large Tomato, cored and chopped (or half a can of diced tomatoes)
Salt and pepper
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in pressure cooker pot then brown sausage on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil on medium heat (sauté button, wait for hot). Add onion and carrot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic and thyme for 30 seconds.
Add broth, soaked beans, and bay leaves, while scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add sausage to pot.
Lock lid in place and bring to pressure for 25 minutes.
Quick release pressure at the conclusion of time, being careful to avoid steam burn. Open lid away from you.
Remove bay leaves and sausage. Cut sausage into 1/2 inch thick pieces.
Bring soup to simmer (sauté), stirring in chard and tomato.
Cook until greens are tender (approx. 5 minutes).
Stir in sausage and season to taste with salt and pepper.