Columbian Chicken Stew


Most people think that chicken soup is a great dish for icky weather days. Days when it’s dark and overcast. When you turn on the lights in the house because the clouds make it feel like evenings.  Soups are great comfort foods on days like this, but I grew up loving soups and ramens on hot days too. I think it made it feel a teeny bit cooler while still bringing in that comfort food feeling deep in your chest. Obviously, I still had a glass of ice water to go with it.  I took this recipe from the Serious Eats website and found the potatoes to be very bland even after modifying it a few times.  I thought, at first, the blandness was because of the modifications I had made that first time. I had literally tossed everything in just like my maternal grandfather did when he was cooking in my youth. I had fingerling potatoes on hand so used those (uncut) instead of the standard russet or golds that most people would use. I also added a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes since I had them on hand and they were about to go bad anyways. (I should probably also mention that the soup itself was delicious – it was just the potatoes that felt bland)

The next time I made this, I made sure to mix everything together so that potatoes and tomatoes and chicken were all layered together. I used Yukon Golds and cubed them up evenly hoping that the non-peel sides would help sop up some of the liquid and add some flavor to the soup. The result had a small bit more flavor, but I wonder if the lack is more because I don’t normally eat cooked potatoes that aren’t fries these days.

Of note – this recipe didn’t require liquid like most pressure cooker recipes but when I lifted the lid there was tons. Which is probably why it took almost an hour to make? I might try a little water next time to see if it goes quicker. Most gurus will tell you that water is essential as this is part of what allows the pot to come to pressure. (Heat creates steam, etc, etc etc.)


Recipe: Serious Eats
Prep Time: Unknown
Time to Pressure: too dang long
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Time from start to finish:  approximately 1 hour from the time I sealed the pot.

Three weeks in…

We’re 3 weeks into our training plan and my husband has learned quite a few non-runner, wife related things. Things like I take lots of reminding to get my okole moving if I don’t have plans to meet someone at a specified time. That he has a better chance of motivating me to hurry up if his running clothes is on and waiting than it would be if he waited for me in his underwear.

Run run runThat being said, We got out there for the mere 40 min run on Saturday morning and had a decent time. I tend to run without music as much as possible because I use the time to evaluate how the run is going and ruminate on life in general. With our strides being different, it’s easy to run alone and run with him at the same time. I can’t tell you how enjoyable it has been to have his company when I run. I can only hope that the process is bringing him as much joy as running has for me in the last six years. I’m just not sure why it takes so long for me to motivate myself to get out on the trail.

The pain might has something to do with it. When I sprained my ankle a few years ago, it changed everything about how I run. That’s probably not special to say, but given how much I loathed running 10 years ago (and definitely all through my school years) it’s not particularly surprising. While the time was decent, I still dealt with a bunch of pain. On the outer sides of my feet as if I has issues with Supination instead of the Overpronating like I was familiar with. There was also some issues with pain in my IT Band. This I was somewhat familiar with but this time (and the two previous times I had run), the pain radiated past my knee into my calf. When it occured, I tried to power through it as much as possible and took walk breaks when I couldn’t.

Post run and post food, we went to look into getting Justin formally fit with a new pair of shoes for his training journey. Up until this point he had picked a pair that he thought he liked and used it for both working out as well as for every day use. The nice kid at Run 26 in Mill Creek brought out some Brooks since that’s what he was wearing as well as some other models. After a few test jogs, Justin chose the new Saucony model. The whole process made me realize that maybe it wasn’t just me and I asked if there were any changes in the model shoe I was using. My newest trainers were Adrenaline 16’s I had picked up earlier this year to replace a LE pair I had bought during the holidays. I’ve been using Brooks for quite a few years now so I’ve always just moved to the newest model.

While the store employee indicated that there hadn’t been, when I took the same question to Facebook with a description of my symptoms enough people chimed in with similar issues to have me move back to my older shoes. I can feel the runs more with the age of these shoes, but at least the cramping and pains have subsided for the most part. Now, however, I must search for a new pair since this can’t be a permanent solution.

Next up? Well the plan says 50 minutes which at a 15/16 min pace means we might get 4 miles or so, but we signed up for a 10k on Saturday. A good friend of Justin’s says it’s good placement in our training plan as he’ll most likely learn what the wall feels like and plan for it later on when the training plan calls for that type of mileage.


I’d like to come up with a title wittier than “Applesauce” but I noticed that the last few Pressure Cooker posts have said “Easy”. Since I didn’t want to keep saying “Easy XXX” for pressure cooker recipes (even though they are), I thought I’d start with just Applesauce. After all, that’s what this is going to be. This pretty, pretty apple.   I like eating applesauce and  previously I was buying the type that comes in pouches so all you have to do is twist off the cap and stick it in your  mouth and let it hang there until it’s empty. Helpful when you’re busy writing or sketching, juggling pets, or just too damned lazy to use your hands. I’ll let you decide which one I usually am. At any rate, after a trip over to Yakima and an “accidental” purchase of a couple dozen apples that were a good price I realized that it couldn’t be all that hard to make your own. Thankfully, Youtube makes it really easy to prove that correct.

Everyone’s grandmother’s got their own way to make it and ideas of what you should and shouldn’t put in it. Peels, cinnamon, added sugar. LOTS AND LOTS of options. I just wanted easy.  So I found THIS video that wasn’t too long winded, out of focus
AND had easy ingredients. Apples + water.  I was skeptical of the idea of skins, so I peeled mine, set it on the stove and waited the allotted time with happy results. After getting my Instant Pot, I tried to duplicate it there and picked a random apple that I liked to eat and the results? Weren’t as wonderful. I ended up with a soupy mess wondering where I went wrong. The pot spewed during the Quick Release making a sticky mess and once I blitzed the softened apples it wasn’t what I was hoping to see. Still delish but not…. Not the applesauce you’re used to seeing. I tried again recently and found better results. Lesson? Like in pie, the apples you use make a difference. It’s not like cooking with wine where you choose one you’d like to also drink. You could probably experiment on your own, but as I like Galas I think I’ll stick with this recipe.

This time I used Gala apples and was much happier with the results. I started with 8 good sized apples and peeled them down. You don’t have to if you have a good blender, but I got husband to brew me an apple pie beer and he needed the peels for that recipe. I put all these apples in the pot and added 1 cup water and then set it to 7 minutes manual High Pressure. This took 10 minutes to come to pressure and I did a Quick Release immediately. Thankfully everything stayed where it should and only steam came out. I then dumped all the apples into my Vitamix using a large slotted spoon and gave it a quick blitz. When I first started making applesauce I would carefully pour them into these reusable pouches I found on Amazon, but this time I just grabbed some handy jars. 3 half-pints and a Quart Jar later, I’m happy with my results.


I don’t do a full canning process on these so be aware that if you don’t these aren’t shelf-stable and will only last a short while. If you have young kids though, that shouldn’t make a difference as it will probably be gone long before it can sour and spoil.



Recipe: 8 Gala apples, 1 cup water

Prep Time: depends on how fast Peter Piper can peel a bunch of apples. Or if he even wants to.
Time to Pressure:10
Cook Time: 7
Release Pressure after: immediately

Time from start to finish:  Approximately 15-20 minutes


Side lesson: don’t buy roadside fruits/veggies unless you have a plan for them.

Getting Back in the Groove

I’m not going to lie. Unlike most people, I like the way I look in my fitness gear. It makes me look thinner and I feel stronger and more confident. A lot of that has to do with what I’ve accomplished. If you have seen my Runner Runner page, I’ve accomplished quite a lot in the last 10 years. Gosh, I’m just now realizing as I write this that it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve started this journey as a runner. Who knew that I’d enjoy it so much?

Certainly not me. I disliked exerting myself when I was younger and it never dawned on me that it was a great way to lose the weight that was slowly creeping up on me. Unhappiness and inattention will do that to you. I digress though. This post isn’t about the sad place I was in back then even if it did lead me to the wonderful life I have now.

This post is about getting started again. About 1.5 years ago, I took a spill. Anyone will tell you that spills happen. That’s life. It’s learning to get back up again and keep going that makes all the difference. Both in running and that fun allegory for life as well. This spill however was big and said alot about my running form. They forced me to take a hard look at what I was doing fitness wise and pay more attention to the advice I had been given since starting my journey.  injured star wars

When it happened, I joked that the tree jumped out and attacked me, but the truth is that I don’t have a strong core and it was even weaker when I decided to start running back in 2008. What actually happened is that in the middle of an easy trail run, I stopped paying attention to where I was placing my feet and turned my ankle well enough to sprain it. It was a painful and shocking noise. I have great running friends. Some offered to carry me back to our starting area and all of those near me stopped to ensure I could go on. I hobbled carefully and determined I could walk but soon after I decided I should go home and put my feet up. It was at home that I realized it wasn’t a simple sprain and worried that I had actually broken my ankle. Lucky me – the guy had just left for Japan the day before on a week long work trip so it was me and the pup at home alone to make the determination via Dr Google. Not the greatest resource for anything but worry. Luckily I have a cousin who is a nurse who gave me some sage advice and a Mom who lives relatively close (an hour away) who was able to bring ice for ice packs and crutches to make things easier. And like any good mom she did my dishes, took the pup for a walk and then called after she left suggesting a sit down and scoot down the stairs instead of hop down with the crutches JUST to be safe. I also had a chiropractor visit scheduled a week away.

With a back to back 10k/Half Marathon almost 2 months away, I was concerned about being able to hit my goals. The Doc worked his magic and was optimistic but shortly before the race said he thought I could walk the 10k but wasn’t confident I could do both. Stubborn me tried anyways. Looking back I wonder if the healing process would have been quicker if I hadn’t been stubborn and tried. I finished the 10k painfully and was swept for the first time at mile 4 of the Half Marathon. I knew it was going to happen and was even ready for it. But being ready for it and having it happen are two different things. I cried a lot of tears but a lot of friends in my internet community cheered me on and reminded me of the work I have put in these years since I started. That I was braver than those who had yet to start.



yanni walk

It’s now 1.5 years later and I’m gearing up for my first real training season since that fateful fall. The sweet husband gifted me with a race entry for Avengers Half Marathon this coming fall and as added incentive signed up for it as well. His first Half Marathon! The ankle still has twinges often but an MRI indicates that it’s healed just fine. Tomorrow we head out for our first training run of the schedule I’ve built for us and I’m both nervous and excited.



Spaghetti Squash so much easier

Spaghetti Squash is another one of those dishes I’ve never gotten consistent results with. Like Acorn (disclosure: I’ve never eaten Acorn Squash) or Butternut Squash, it’s got a hard outer shell and the soft meat inside. I’m too lazy to cut up a butternut squash and typically buy it already in soup form or already cut up and ready to cook. What sets Spaghetti Squash apart though is the fact that the inner meat is stringy when cooked and resembles cooked Spaghetti.
IMG_20151204_192739Many people, me included, tend to use it as a low carb substitute for pasta. You can put it under Marinara Sauce and add some meatballs and many people would never know that it was veggie and not pasta. As an added bonus it is high in Vitamin C and low on the glycemic scale. Enough science though since I’m not a nutritionist and this is more about pressure cooking and not science.

You can cook Spaghetti Squash in the oven or the microwave. I don’t like using the oven myself because you not only have to wait for the oven to pre-heat, but it takes an hour to do so. I’ve always cooked it in the microwave and come out with mixed results. Sometimes 10 minutes was perfect, other times it took 30-some minutes to get it to the perfect consistency.  And by perfect I mean, easy to fork apart into pieces that resembled angel hair pasta. Anything less than perfect and it feels like you’re chipping away at an ice block. Obviously not the desired result.

This is one of the things I’ve been wanting to try since I first got my Instant Pot. I popped it in whole  and set my pot to 10 minutes on manual and then it was supposed be 7 minutes “rest” but I didn’t take the lid off until 10 minutes. I can’t tell you how excited I was to open the lid and find that the skin peeled off like butter. The only thing I will need to remember for next time is to cut in half before peeling so the seeds are easier to remove. But even that was awesome – When cooking in the oven or microwave, cutting into a spaghetti squash took some strength AND you have to be careful not to hurt yourself. This wasn’t an issue in the instant pot and in fact, the skin cracked while cooking! While I found this ability awesome, it also made it harder to separate the seeds from the meat of the squash. Cutting it in half would probably make that easier, but either way it’s MUCH quicker than the oven option AND you get more meat off of the skin.
Another nice thing is that once your squash is ready, you can then keep the Instant Pot on and use the Meat Setting to brown your hamburger for meat sauce. Or be adventurous and try other things. 🙂  What type of things do you like Spaghetti Squash with?


Recipe: 1 squash, 1 cup water

Prep Time: Not applicable
Time to Pressure: I forgot to measure
Cook Time: 10 min
Release Pressure after: 7 minutes

Time from start to finish:  Approximately 15-20 minutes

Boiled Eggs made easier

Boiled eggs are probably one of the first things people learn when they learn to cook. One of the easiest and yet still sometimes troublesome.  Cracked shells, eggs that don’t peel cleanly thus looking “ugly”, off-center yolks, too much grey (sulpher) on the yolk, smelly eggs, the list goes on and on.  As you grow older and your cooking repertoire grows, you dissect the process learning different tricks and ways to cook them trying to get “perfect” every time. Or at least I did.

Tricks like adding salt or baking soda to the cooking water.  Specific cooking times followed by ice baths for varying specific times. Oh yes, and then there is the trick of piercing the shell but not the inner lining to create a pocket of air and water between the egg and the shell. Like many, I found some success but never consistent success with any of these methods.

IMG_20151201_195645After I first posted pictres of my first attempt using my pressure cooker to “boil” eggs, people asked why? It wasn’t any quicker to the methods we grew up with. I had to explain, though, that what I found is that I had to monitor my eggs less and also use less water. Oh yeah, and those consistent results I’d been looking for. Not on that first try though. This picture shows you that first try. The bottom squished egg? It was peeled as soon as I pulled it from the pot. (Another plus – being able to handle the egg without tongs sooner)  It was definitely cooked, but the whites were definitely rubbery in consistency. I put the other 5 eggs in that small batch in an ice bath as soon as I could. 5 minutes later, I got that perfect looking one at the top. Both eggs peeled super easy without problems while also having that perfect look we all want for dishes such as deviled eggs. The next batch then showed me that the ice bath wasn’t even necessary, just time to cool a bit more.



Recipe: 5 Min High Pressure, Steam Setting. Pressure Valve Sealed and released 5 min after Steam Setting finishes. (5-5-5)
Prep Time: Not applicable
Time to Pressure: Approx. 5 Min
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Time from start to finish:  <15 min from the time I sealed the pot.

Teriyaki Short Ribs

Growing up, Short Ribs were this long cut of meat with 2, maybe three small bones in them. They were grilled and served at barbecues and potlucks all summer long and the best, juiciest, most delicious thing on your plate. After I moved out of my parents home, I continued to buy them from the local korean market and cook them for friends who short rib
enjoyed them just as much as I did. Then one day I happened upon these. They were a big hunk of meat and one big bone. After I looked at them for a while, I realized they were the
same thing, just cut differently. Some research told me that this cut also took WAY longer to cook! Auwe!  2 ½ – 8 hours for them to cook to a tender state? Not my style of cooking! I grew up thinking things should be done quickly or in a set it and forget it style. Made getting other things done in the house that much easier.

Pressure Cooking cuts that time down so I took the recipe I grew up using for short ribs and tried it with this cut. Imagine my delight when I found it even better and more juicy than the short ribs I grew up with! Bonus that the bone just falls right out. The only downside to using this recipe with this cut is that this cut is much fattier than the thinner versions. I’ve got plans to try other recipes with this cut so keep watching for those.

This recipe, like I said, is one I grew up with. Good on short ribs, bulgogi, chicken and probably many other proteins. An all purpose teriyaki recipe if you will. Mix ½ cup Shoyu (I use Aloha Shoyu), ½ cup water, 2T sesame oil, 3T (about) Honey (or ¾ cup Sugar), 1t minced Garlic. mix well. Add ribs to pressure cooker in one flat layer fat side down.. This should be about 2-3 lbs. Pour the sauce over it and seal the lid. Set it for Manual High Pressure, 50 min, then release the pressure immediately.  Enjoy!


Prep Time: <5 minutes
Time to Pressure: unmonitored
Cook Time: 50 minutes

Time from start to finish: approximately 1 hour

Split Pea with Ham

IMG_20160325_211216One of my husband’s favorite dishes is Split Pea soup. For many, this is a traditional post holiday meal to make with leftover Ham and Bone. This past Thanksgiving, I was embarrassed to admit to him that I had never had it before. To my surprise though, it was completely delicious!

When we came home from that quick vacation, I made it for him again using one of those pressed ham loafs you can buy year around. I didn’t see a reason to buy a whole bone-in ham when it was just the two of us. Sadly, it lacked the flavor a bone-in ham has. I made it again tonight because a friend recently mentioned that they were having a ham and promised to save the bone for me. I also managed to find a pressure cooker version of the recipe! Lucky me right?

I chopped all the loose meat of the ham bone which combined with the leftover turkey I had, was way more than enough meat for the two of us. After adding the Dried Peas, sliced Onions, Carrots and Celery & liquid (4 cups chicken broth & 2 cups water) I closed the pot up, set it for High Pressure Manual and 9 minutes. The recipe I used indicated that I should let the pot naturally depressurize and like many Instant Pot fans, I sat impatiently waiting for the natural pressure to release. Thankfully, another group member said that after 10 minutes I could release the pressure carefully but recommended I keep a dishtowel on hand for any loose spatter. The pot had been sitting for 28 minutes already so I was excited!

The pressure released nicely with no abnormal sputter and when I gave the initial stir, it was to the delicious looking soup you see above.

Recipe Used:
Prep Time: <5 minutes
Time to Pressure: Approx. 40 Min
Cook Time: 9 minutes

Time from start to finish: 1 hour 5 min.


Under Pressure



Pressure cooking used to be a thing done more regularly but for some reason, we’ve (That royal – all of us US Citizens “we”) gotten out of the practice. Might have something to do with them exploding as a common practice. Might have something to do with the lure of how easy fast food and TV Dinners are. Who knows?  Either way, the introduction of the Electric Pressure Cooker has renewed an interest in the style of cooking and I am one of the masses that joined the crowds.

I talked someone into gifting it to me a year ago and like many, it sat for a bit before I finally started playing with it. This is my log of things I’ve made and my thoughts on each of those processes. The first thing I ever made was ribs. Because that was the Youtube video that convinced me I “needed” one. Then I ventured onto other things slowly and it’s only been the past few months that it entered into the regular use rotation. I’m good at remembering at 5:45pm that someone should start thinking about what’s being made for dinner. When that fails, you go out to eat right? Wrong! This pot changed that and here’s a few ways I was able to do it. I’m moving it out of my Facebook album into a more public setting so others can benefit through my successes and failures. And because I miss writing. Hope you enjoy!