Creamy Dreamy Pressure Cooker Macaroni And Cheese For A Crowd

I got an 8 qt Instant Pot right after Thanksgiving on a cyber Monday sale.  I chose the largest one because I’m generally cooking for a crowd, or at least trying to have some leftovers.  I realized they were an exciting new kitchen appliance, but I did not know they were like the new breadmaker.  The closer it got the Christmas, the more I heard people talk about how there was a shortage, and where could they find one?  Meanwhile, mine was sitting happily in its box.

Without dragging you through paragraphs of pictures and text you don’t want to read, I’ll just say that it’s a decent appliance, but I’m not getting rid of my crockpots.  If you go into the purchase with the idea in mind that you will be able to make things a bit faster, but not perform miracles, you’ll be OK.  But if you think this thing turns water into wine, you’re overestimating the power of an Instant Pot.  Also, did anyone else think it was Instapot?

So I’ve used this bad boy a few times now.  My first victim was chili, and I will say that was ho hum.  Nothing spectacular.  Pork butt.  OK, faster than usual.  Nice.  Chicken wings… again, faster, but had to broil them after so I wouldn’t gag on slippery wings.  I made macaroni and cheese, and that was a success.  Instead of boiling, draining, adding, throwing in a crockpot, I could do it all (and faster) in the Instant Pot.

After a couple tries, I settled on a recipe that I like pretty well.  I shared it in a Facebook group, and will share it here.  It’s your basic pressure cooker M&C recipe, just tailored to how I like it.  I’m not too big on measuring, but I think this is pretty close.  Try it and tweak it.  I think you’ll be happy with it.  If you’re making a smaller batch, you’ll have to do the math.

Creamy Dreamy Pressure Cooker Macaroni And Cheese For A Crowd

Mix in pot:
3# macaroni
1 stick butter (cut into chunks/tablespoons – doesn’t need to be melted or anything – frozen is even fine)
15 shakes Tabasco (or whatever hot sauce, depending on your desired flavor, I went heavy)
1 T. ground mustard
2-3 T salt (depending on your desire for saltiness, I added more at the end)
1 T. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
12 c. H20

Pressure cook on HIGH for 4 minutes, use quick release.  No need to drain, the pasta absorbs it all.  At this point I gave it a little stir.  Then…

2 cups heavy cream & 2 cups milk (or 4 cups half and half… possibly more, depending on consistency)
2 pounds freshly shredded sharp cheddar
1 pound freshly shredded Muenster (or other soft cheese)
~ 1 pound freshly shredded parmesan
(Mix cheeses in slooooowly. I kept mine on sauté and dug deep to make sure that cheese was getting melted in real nice.)

Mangia!  It’s delicious!

One Page Calendar 2018

I’ve seen these one page calendars, and they intrigue me.  I could find examples for 2017, but not many for 2018, and I wanted one for my planner.  I might end up doodling up one for fun, but for now I made a printable one that I can copy off of (or print and paste in my journal, if I want).

This version of a yearly calendar I find visually appealing, seeing how the days make patterns.  Feel free to print one out, if you’d like. You can print the image, or click on it to go to the PDF version of the 2018 one page calendar.

One Page Calendar 2018

Sweet Potato Toast

I love toast.  Growing up breakfast was toast.  Or eggs and toast.  Cereal, oatmeal… but probably with toast.  My mom would also serve up homemade bread, which took toast to a whole new level.  So, sometimes our snacks were toast.  Not only did I eat it, but I have memories of my mom sitting at the table with her coffee and toast; lots of them (memories, that is).  Her sacred toast time.  Similar to tea time, but with toast and coffee.

We ate good bread.  If not homemade, we had wheat.  Generally the “better” wheat bread, that toasted up crunchy, chewy.  I like mine almost a little burnt.

Years went by and I still eat toast.  I buy bread, I baked bread.  In the last few years, however I found that when I make homemade wheat bread, I walk around feeling like a belly full of air for a while.  Air surrounded by a brick, actually.  So, I stopped making my homemade wheat bread and started crying.  Not really.  Maybe a little, inside.

I still buy bread, in fact, our favorite toasting bread comes from Costco and it’s called Alpine Bread, which you can find right here.  It is literally THE BEST TOASTING BREAD I’ve ever had.  My son’s girlfriend eats it when she comes over, and now asks me to get her a bag when I go so she can take it back to her dorm.  I’ve only found this bread at Costco, and it’s worth my membership.

Back to the whole point of this post.  I have had to cut back on bread.  There it is.  For many reasons, I just can’t consume it like I used to without paying a price.  I’ve made low-carb breads and muffins, but what I miss the most if I’m not allowing myself bread is toast.  It’s an easy, tasty breakfast.  It dips well in eggs.  So, I’m always looking for alternatives, and this one (sweet potato toast) was mentioned by one of my cousins.

Wash (don’t peel) a medium-sized sweet potato.
Cut it in rounds (I did length-wise, afraid I’d lose the rounds in my toaster).
Pop it in the toaster for a few toastings (mine were thick and I think it took five).
When it starts to brown up a bit, it’s done.
Top with whatever you normally top toast with.

sweet potato toast

That’s it.  Verdict so far from me is that it’s an interesting alternative.  It definitely tastes like a sweet potato, and doesn’t have the texture of toast.  But I think in experimenting next time that I’ll slice it a bit thinner to see what that does to the texture.  It’s an intriguing idea.  I’d love to have an alternative option in mornings when I’m needing to cut back on bread.  My biggest concern is the waste.  One potato made two slices for me, but there was half a potato left to rot.  This makes me wonder what would happen if I made a “batch” of toast, and then put the leftovers in the fridge to re-toast and crisp up when I need them.

Starbucks Unicorn Drink Review

All this fuss over a fruity-looking drink with way too many calories.  If you’re going to Starbucks and ordering anything that comes with a straw inserted and whipped cream on top, you’ve already blown your “eat healthy” goal for the day.  But kudos to SB for raising that hype bar.  People won’t shut up about it.  Hilarious and sad.

Here’s my review:  Didn’t try it.  No appeal.

Phone Charger + Washi Tape

We are always at a lack for phone chargers in this house!  I ordered two from Ebay just before our trip to South Carolina, and then ordered a couple more earlier this week.  Frank needs one for his car, so one is already claimed, and I need one for myself (since the last one I had seems to have flown the coop).

Most of the chargers in the house are either black or white and fit the Samsung/Motorola phones.  It’s hard to tell who borrowed what charger.  As I unwrapped my precious new friend, I came up with an idea.  Washi tape.

I can’t admit to patience and precision on this little project.  I’m sure someone can improve on the final product with a little more time spent lining patterns and seams up.  I just wanted a quick way to mark my territory on this charger.

Cover your charger with Washi!


I haven’t written here for a while, and I know this. The last time was January of 2014. A little over a year.  After Franny got hit by that car, we ended up having to get a lawyer (something I really would have rather not done), and the defendant’s lawyer wanted to see everything, including my blog.  Kind of took the charm out of writing anything here, even if I know it’s public, and I know anyone can read it.  Although, let’s be honest, I doubt may people are shuffling through the dust bunnies here any more.

The internet has changed.  Facebook came to the blogger’s door, tested the lock, and kicked it open.  Blogging is now a “job” and some of the people who I remember blogging alongside back in the day now actually make a living off their blog.

I’m one of those people who longs for the days when things were (a bit), I guess.  I rarely visit blogs, use Facebook multiple times a day, and mean to post a million things (on here) that I never do.

That’s part of Facebook that I don’t like, I guess.  My blog is mine, I do and say as I please – to a rational point.  Facebook is different.  People have expectations and whine about them when they aren’t being lived up to (too many food posts, too many kid pics, pet pics, too many posts, too many quotes, too man WHATEVER).  As if everyone owns a piece of Facebook.

I miss my messy drawer of a blog where I shove recipes, kid stories, links, pet pics, product reviews, and basically everything else –and anything else– I want.  Blogs used to be the place to do that, but now there’s a gazillion other places.

I still write in my off-line journal.  And I want to still write here.  I don’t know if I will keep things here, or move it somewhere else.  But I enjoy looking back at old posts (I often use the recipes for a reference), and wish I had more of them.


Jalapeño Popper Dip

I made this for New Year’s Eve – going to be on regular rotation now. SO good!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Jalapeño Popper Dip


16 oz. cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
6 jalapeños, chopped and deseeded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs (or crushed Ritz)


Let cream cheese soften at room temp. for about 10 minutes. Combine cream cheese, mayo, and jalapeños in a bowl and stir (or beat) until smooth. Add the grated cheeses, reserving 1/4 c. of the cheddar; mix well. Sprinkle bread crumbs over, then sprinkle on the remainder of the cheddar cheese. Put in an oven-safe dish and bake at 350 degrees until golden and bubbly.

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Making Facebook ‘Must Try’ Recipes

Everybody sees them – the Facebook posts, the food. Scrolling down through your feed, the eye catches on one recipe or another. The MUST SHARE or IT IS SOOOO GOOD recipe. Most of them have junk in them that I just don’t buy – “Take one pre-packaged this, add it to the other chemical-laden that, add some more chemicals…

I did decide to try two recipes yesterday, though, because our menu has gotten a little boring. I have no idea of the original source, but found the exact recipe below. It’s all over the ‘net. That’s the problem with the Facebook recipes. Unless you do share them, they’re lost in your feed. I copy/pasted the recipe, but don’t know where it came from. The recipe below is the exact one.


Serves 4 to 6 as an entree

12 ounces linguine pasta (I used 16 – why use 3/4 of a box?)
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 large sprigs basil, chopped
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken broth – it’s all I had)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired . Season to taste with salt and pepper , stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with parmesan cheese.

This didn’t get the raves I was hoping for. It was eaten, but there was no call for me to throw it into regular rotation. We eat a lot of spaghetti around these parts, and they are fickle.

I do love sitting around the table with my family, though. It’s a little slice of heaven on earth. I completely relish every day we are able to. With one moved out, one home for the summer for college – our family dinners are few and far between, and not a daily event like the were years ago. Meal planning helps me get the family around the dinner table. I’m glad I took the time to do it this week.

For dessert: Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake

I didn’t get to try any of this, but it seemed to be a hit. My family seems to really like Honey Buns (they taste like cardboard and chemical sugar to me), so I thought it would be fun to try this. They said it didn’t quite taste like a Honey Bun, more like a coffee cake, but it was good. I made it using a make-your-own boxed cake recipe, since I didn’t have a boxed one on hand.

Honey Bun Cake

1 – package white cake mix, (reserve ½ cup dry cake mix)
2 – sticks butter, softened
1 – cup plain Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
4 – eggs
½ – teaspoon vanilla extract

½ – cup reserved dry cake mix
½ – cup packed brown sugar
1/3 – cup chopped nuts, optional
2 – teaspoons cinnamon

3 – cups powdered sugar
1 – teaspoon vanilla extract
6 – 8 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees grease bottom only of 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Remove ½ cup dry cake mix and set aside. Add remaining cake mix to a large bowl: add butter, yogurt, eggs and vanilla; beat at medium speed. Spread half of the batter in the pan. Stir together reserved dry cake mix, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts if using. Sprinkle over batter. Spread remaining cake batter on top. To make spreading easier drop batter by dollops over cinnamon mixture then spread using an offset spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown and cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cake cool.

Prepare the glaze by stirring together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. If the glaze is too thick keep adding a bit of milk until it’s to the consistency you want. Poke the top of warm cake with a fork. Drizzle and spread the glaze completely over the cake.

Cook’s Note: I pour half of the glaze over the cake and let it seep into the cake and then wait about 15 – 20 minutes and add the remaining glaze mixture. (This was a good tip – worked well.) Cool for one hour before slicing.