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Power cooking

By Staff | Feb 26, 2016

KELLI BLOOMQUIST’S 5-year-old son, Landon, enjoys placing the family’s farm-fresh eggs in the pressure cooker to hard boil them. He and his siblings also love to make egg salad. They can handle it all, from peeling the eggs and mixing all the ingredients together, she said.

DAYTON – With six children between the ages of nine and four, Kelli Bloomquist is always looking for ways to save time in the kitchen.

She’s found it in the form of an electronic pressure cooker. Two, actually.

“When a friend called me at Christmas break and told me about all the meals she was making in her pressure cooker, I thought she was crazy,” said Bloomquist, who is raising her family on the Century Farm where her husband, Paul, grew up. “There’s no way I would use my old stove-top pressure cooker every day.”

“Then she explained she’s using an electronic pressure cooker that works similar to a Crock Pot,” Bloomquist added. “I bought one just to try it and loved it so much I bought a second one.”

Bloomquist, a full-time professor of digital mass communications and journalism at Iowa Central Community College, in Fort Dodge, uses her two pressure cookers at least three times a week to prepare everything from hard-boiled eggs to barbecued pork to soup and stew.

KELLI BLOOMQUIST, of Dayton, uses her two pressure cookers at least three times a week to prepare everything from hard-boiled eggs to barbecued pork to soups and stews. The pressure cookers have been named R2-D2 and BB-8 by her “Star Wars”-loving kids.

The pressure cookers (which have been named R2-D2 and BB-8 by her “Star Wars”-loving kids) are also multi-purpose tools. They double as slow cookers and can be used to saute vegetables if the lid is removed.

The Instant Pot can even make cheesecakes and yogurt, Bloomquist said.

Ziti with meatballs from the pressure cooker has become a hit in the Bloomquist household.

“My 5-year-old son, Landon, saw a recipe for ziti with meatballs on a pressure cooker infomercial around New Year’s,” Bloomquist said. “He insisted we try it, and it has become a family favorite.”

“I truly throw every ingredient – including the noodles – into the pressure cooker and walk away.”

ZITI WITH MEATBALLS from the pressure cooker has become a hit in the Bloomquist household. “I truly throw every ingredient — including the noodles — into the pressure cooker, push start and walk away,” said Kelli Bloomquist.

Bloomquist, who grew up in Spencer and said she learned to cook in 4-H, values both the versatility and convenience of electronic pressure cookers.

“The pressure cookers allow me to spend time with my family or get other things done,” she said.

Easy hard-boiled eggs

Time is precious to Bloomquist, who is pursuing her doctorate degree while raising Grace, 9; Emilia, 7; Noah, 7; Blake, 7; Landon, 5; and MeiLi, 4, with her husband, a professor of instrumental music at ICCC. While the Bloomquists have many demands on their schedules, they eat together as a family as often as possible, especially every Sunday after church.

“Preparing meals can be tedious after a busy and exhausting day, so if a kitchen gadget doesn’t save me time and sanity, it isn’t worth it,” Bloomquist said. “Depending on the recipe, a pressure cooker can save time, but with other recipes it takes about the same time as making a meal on the stovetop.”

“The difference is that I’m not baby-sitting the pan as things cook. I can help with homework or play with kids instead.”

It’s a plus that all the Bloomquist kids love to help with cooking.

They also enjoy working in the family’s large garden, which produces an array of vegetables and fruit each summer.

“We try to eat as clean as possible,” said Bloomquist, who has one picky eater and another child on a gluten-free diet due to medical needs. “Also, feeding an army of growing kids can be really expensive, so we decided a couple years ago to raise and cook our food like our grandparents used to on the farms.”

The family raises laying hens, and the kids enjoy checking for eggs every day.

Landon likes to put the eggs in the pressure cooker to hard boil them. He and his siblings also love to make egg salad. They can handle it all, from putting the eggs in the appliance to changing the settings to peeling the eggs and mixing all ingredients together.

“In the past I’ve had a terrible time peeling the shell off of our farm-fresh eggs,” Bloomquist said. “I’ve tried just about every trick in the book, and nothing has ever worked.”

“But hard boiling in the pressure cooker makes the shell fall right off, so it’s really simple for the kids to make egg salad themselves.”

In addition to raising their own eggs and vegetables, the Bloomquists bake their own bread and raise some of their own meat.

“Landon is a farm kid through and through,” Bloomquist said. “For his fifth birthday last March, he asked for hogs, so he raised four hogs that we now have in our freezer.”

Barbecued pork roast is simple to make in a pressure cooker, requiring only three basic ingredients.

This simplifies grocery shopping, too.

“We shop at the grocery store once a month, and even then it’s minimal because we raise or grow most of our food,” Bloomquist said. “We try to get each of the kids involved with meals, because it’s a great learning opportunity and helps to teach them responsibility and food safety.”

It’s important to read the instruction manual or do some online research about electronic pressure cookers before using one, she noted.

She also suggested going online to check out social media communities of pressure cooker lovers focused on specific appliance brands or special diets.

Every Saturday, Bloomquist gets out her pressure cookers and slow cookers and prepares 6 pounds of hamburger and 20 chicken breasts separately.

The meat is stored in separate tubs in the refrigerator and is used in meals throughout the week.

“I always add extra water to the chicken breasts each week and then separate that out, add a little more water and have chicken broth to use in recipes,” Bloomquist said. “I’ve learned by trial and error to have at minimum of 1 quart of liquid in the pressure cooker before hitting the start button.”

Planning ahead is the key to success with pressure cooking and food preparation in general, said Bloomquist, who is looking forward to remodeling her kitchen this summer. “If I cook a ham, for example, I save the extra meat and bones and make ham-and-bean soup in the pressure cooker the next day.”

“For my family, electronic pressure cookers have been a godsend.”

Pressure cooker hard-boiled eggs

Place the trivet into the pressure cooker pot. Place eggs on top of the trivet.

Once the lid is secured, place the cooker on the manual setting for 7 minutes. Once the slow release has finished, the eggs can be removed from the pan.

Either remove the shell immediately, or place eggs in the refrigerator for use later on.

Note: The Bloomquists typically add 18 eggs at a time to their pressure cooker, but the timer should be the same even for six eggs.

Pressure cooker barbecue pork roast

1 large pork roast

2 bottles Not Your Father’s Root Beer

1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce

Place the pork roast in pressure cooker pot. Add root beer and barbecue sauce.

Once the lid has been placed on the pressure cooker, choose the meat setting and adjust to 90 minutes.

Note: Bloomquist has even put the timer to 120 minutes when she adds a pork roast to the pressure cooker before her family leaves for church.

Perform a quick release to release the cooker’s pressure.

Pressure cooker cowboy stew

The Bloomquist children make up names for meals and love what they call “Cowboy Stew,” which is essentially beef stew with some biscuits added.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds beef stew meat

1 large red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 each chopped green and red pepper

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

3.5 cups beef stock or broth

1 15-ounce can pinto beans

1 cup whole-kernel corn

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 can refrigerated biscuits or homemade biscuits

With the pressure cooker’s lid off, heat oil on high until sizzling. Season the stew meat and place in the cooker until lightly browned.

Add onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, green and red peppers, tomatoes and beef stock.

Place the pressure cooker lid on and lock. Set for 20 minutes on high.

Perform a quick release to release the pressure cooker’s pressure.

With the lid off, set to high and stir in pinto beans and corn. Bring to a simmer.

Stir in cornmeal and simmer 2 minutes to thicken.

Separate biscuits and drop in and let simmer 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Pressure cooker baked ziti with meatballs

3 1/2 cups water

1 baggie of pre-made meatballs

1 pound ziti

1 onion, chopped fine

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 jar spaghetti sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Place water, meatballs, ziti, onion, pepper and spaghetti sauce into pressure cooker pot. Press the soup/stew setting and adjust to 20 minutes.

Once the cooking is complete, do a quick release of the pressure valve.

Serve ziti with fresh basil.

Pressure cooker baby back ribs

3 racks baby back ribs

4 tablespoons granulated garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon coriander

1 small onion, diced

1 cup water

2 cups smoky barbecue sauce

In a small bowl, blend together garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and coriander to create seasoning blend.

Cut the baby back rib racks in half and season with spice mix.

Place 1 cup water in the pressure cooker pot, and add the ribs side by side. Add diced onion.

Evenly pour the barbecue sauce over the ribs. Place the lid on. Press the soup/stew setting, and adjust the time to 30 minutes.

Do a quick release of the pressure.

Brush the ribs with barbecue sauce from the pot.

Pressure cooker chicken Alfredo rice casserole

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups rice

2 chicken breasts, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

2 ounces cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

2 1/2 cups half-and-half

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 head broccoli, chopped

Saute the garlic in the pressure cooker. Add the rice, chicken, butter, cream cheese, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, half-and-half, and broth. Mix well.

Cook on high on the pressure cooker’s slow cooker setting for 2 to 3 hours.

Add broccoli. Stir to combine.

Cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Serve with fresh Parmesan cheese.

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