Chicken Mac and Cheese

Reading now:

I finished watching part of the HBO drama “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” with Oprah since I adore the book.  The book is fantastic and was a hit at our book club!  I really couldn’t finish the HBO show.  I was bored …. maybe because I knew what was going to happen?  I’m not sure.  I stopped watching after 30 minutes.

I did also start the Margaret Peterson Haddix series “The Missing, Book 1″ that was in one of our 4/5th grade classrooms.  It was great!  A very fast read – I think I finished in a couple of days.  The plot moved along and the kids were interesting characters.  I love the revelation at the end.


What kid doesn’t like chicken or mac & cheese?  This dinner was a hit with kids big and small and will be for yours too!  I just love the Instant Pot and use it to cook almost everything now from roasts, pasta, rice, yogurt, stew, soup and chicken.  I haven’t used my slow cooker in years now unless I need to keep something warm for a pot luck.  I don’t like how chicken dries out and the roasts are still not cooked all of the way by the time I get home.

I do include how to make this without a pressure cooker/instant pot in the Notes section!

**Warning**  If you do use the Instant Pot or pressure cooker for the recipe, please release the vent SLOWLY.  I made the mistake of releasing the valve full blast!!  Pasta water and chicken stuff sprayed everywhere!  But don’t worry!  You can learn from my mistake.  Use a towel or wooden spoon to move the vent halfway slowly and not quick like me 🙂


Chicken Mac and Cheese
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small bite size pieces
  • 8 ounces dried elbow macaroni or spiral pasta (I like whole wheat)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups half and half or milk
  • 1 Tb. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces) (or use your favorite cheese)
  1. Add to you instant pot: 6 cups water, chicken and pasta. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. (No pressure cooker/instant pot? Just go to the notes section)
  2. Once finished cooking, SLOWLY open the valve HALFWAY. Allow the pressure to slowly release.
  3. Pour the chicken and pasta into a colindar.
  4. Meanwhile, put the pot back on the stove or insert back into the Instant Pot. Switch it to saute mode and keep it on normal. Add the half and half, flour, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk together! Allow the mixture to come to a boil and boil to thicken for about 2-3 minutes. Whisk while it boils to keep the bottom from getting too hot!
  5. Now, add your pasta, chicken and cheese back into the pot. Stir it all up and eat!
  6. Serve warm with a salad, peas, broccoli or any of your favorite veggies!
No Instant Pot? Fear not! Just cook the pasta and drain. Use the same pot to the saute part of the recipe where you mix the half and half, mustard, etc. Boil and thicken 2-3 minutes. Add the cheese. Stir. Add the pasta. Add in some rotisserie chicken and voila![br][br]Recipe from “The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


Simply Homemade Ham and Bean Soup

Ham Soup

Good morning!

If you notice on the homepage – I have a new Twitter account!  It is @ThisIsMaryEllen and will include more Educational items that I am learning in my graduate classes and using in my classroom.  Graduate school was SO much easier before kids, house and a full-time job!!!  If you are thinking of going after college and can figure something out financially, just DO it because it is ten times harder later to take those classes.  Mizzou is pretty rigorous though and there are easier programs out there.  But if they are so much easier, do you learn as much?  Probably not.

Lesson Learned this week:  So, I spent $36 to have my transcript reviewed by the Missouri Department of Education.  I am enrolled in 9 credit hours now and planned to do 6 hours in the summer.  But!  The transcript review says I only need THREE more hours this summer instead of SIX to be certified Gifted K-12!!!  Happy Dance!!!  Because that $36 saved me over $1000 this summer!  And the moral of the story is: sometimes it pays to spend a little money up front.


This past week I was making ham and bean soups to find something simple and delicious.  Most of us will have some leftover ham next weekend, right?  And sometimes there isn’t enough for everyone to get a second meal out of it.  Or, you are just tired of plain ham.  So, make this soup instead!  It is filling, healthy and delicious.

Freezer friendly if you want to make a big batch, too!  So if you are worried about buying too big of a ham this week – don’t worry, this recipe has got you covered!

Simply Homemade Ham and Bean Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 8 servings
  • 1 and 1/3 cups dried Northern Beans (soaked overnight) or 2 cans (15oz.) or 4 cups cooked
  • water if using dried beans
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery (or 1/2 cup; I like a lot of celery)
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 2 teaspoons or cloves of minced garlic
  • 5 cups chicken broth (low sodium is what we use)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups chopped ham, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon white or black ground pepper
  1. First, if you are using dried beans, I soak them overnight. Then, I add them to my Instant pot and cover with water until the water just barely covers all of the beans. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes and let sit for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure. Drain and use. If you are using canned beans, then simply drain and rinse them. Set aside.
  2. Into a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped carrots, celery and onion. I like to chop these in my mini electric chopper – so must faster!
  3. Once the vegetables are soft and onion starting to become translucent, add the garlic. Cook 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chicken broth. I do not like my soup too soupy. Feel free to adjust the amount of broth to how thick or thin you want your soup.
  5. Add mustard powder, ham, beans and pepper.
  6. Cook about 30 minutes on medium heat or until it has simmered for at least 15 minutes. You can let your soup simmer for much longer if you like. I would advise putting the beans in 15 minutes or so before serving because the beans are already cooked and you don’t want to cook them again.


Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Herb crusted pork tenderloin recipe

On the home front is this super sweet family session from last week.  I love the nearby park and taking photos where families with small children that only need to drive 5 minutes away.  It’s so hard with small children especially in the evening!  These are some of my favorites…

Mary Riley Photography Children Photography Wentzville St. Louis MO

Mary Riley Photography Children Photography Wentzville St. Louis MO


Mary Riley Photography Family Wentzville St. Louis MO


Recipe:  If you are a busy family like this one, you need this recipe in your life!  Pork tenderloin is one of the most versatile, cheap, quick and easy dinners on the face of the planet.  And let’s face it.  We all get sick of chicken.  Okay, well I do.  Check pork tenderloin alternatives here!

So super simple to freezer and eat.  Or prep this on Sunday to make on Monday or Tuesday.  Costco sells pork tenderloin packages in 2 packs with 2 tenderloins in each.

Herb crusted pork tenderloin recipe

How I cook pork tenderloin:

If I have lots of time (25-30 minutes) –> Leave whole and cook.

If I have no time at all (10-15 minutes) –>  Cut into 1/2″ or 3/4″ medallions and cook in a skillet.  The increased surface area will cook it faster.   Or one of those large grill pans that go on your stove top.

Herb crusted pork tenderloin recipe

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 2 – 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed (silver skin removed)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 lemon zested, optional
  1. Add olive oil to a 12″ cast iron skillet and preheat the skillet on medium high heat. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While they heat up, .combine the rest of the ingredients into a small bowl: garlic, thyme, basil, rosemary and a little zest of a lemon if you like. Rub these onto the pork.
  3. Cut the pork into medallions if you like. Or I usually cut mine once in half to ensure faster cooking.
  4. Once the pork is full of herbs, put into the skillet. Brown on one side about 4-5 minutes. Flip. Brown on all sides and the last side, don’t flip. Just put the skillet into the oven
  5. The size of your pork tenderloin will greatly determine cooking time. I start at 20 minutes. I also use a probe thermometer and set it for 145 degrees. Once the internal temperature hits 145, pull the skillet out of the oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.
You could also make this in the pressure cooker for 14 minutes on high.[br]You could also make this in the slow cooker for 4 hours on low.


Oh Yeah – Fried Chicken … Don’t Be Scared

fried chicken breast recipe with olive oil

In five years with this blog, I don’t think I have EVER fried anything.  But these chicken breast on sale were just screaming to be fried.  I’m not sure how dead chicken breast can scream, but they can.  So without further ado – here is one pansy who never EVER fries anything.  And lived to tell the tale.  So you can too.

This is better than KFC guys!!  And cheaper. And healthier. Faster?  Well by the time you get into your car, drive over to KFC, pay your bill and drive home you could have some nice juicy chicken at home.

Have a lot of chicken and can’t eat it all?  Well I will eat it!  Oh well… or you could freeze it.  Then just reheat in an oven for a quick and easy meal.  You don’t want to microwave it unless you want soggy fried chicken and… what’s the point of that?  Or cold.  I love it cold too.

fried chicken recipe with olive oil

Here are just some quick tips for non-greasy and yummy chicken:

  1.  Use a Dutch oven.  You can use a 12″ cast iron skillet.  It just splatters more.  I had almost no splatter with my Dutch oven.
  2.  Olive oil is healthy-er and that is what I used.  You could use any oil you like.  Traditional fried chicken in the south is fried in Crisco.  But I had olive oil and did just fine.
  3. For non-greasy chicken, pull it when it is done.  Don’t let it sit in the oil past that.
  4. How you put the cooked chicken down is important!  I put a cookie sheet covered in paper towels on my counter.  Cover that with a wire rack.  Put the cooked chicken on the wire rack.  This way the bottom won’t get soggy.  This is what you see at KFC as well -a wire rack to hold the chicken.
  5. I didn’t marinade my chicken.  Nope.  No buttermilk no nothing.  Because well … I’m lazy and forgot!  I’m sure it is tasty and we could do a taste test on marinaded and non-marinaded.
  6. Yup just 5 tips

fried chicken recipe with olive oil

Oh Yeah – Fried Chicken … Don’t Be Scared
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 cup whole wheat or AP flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (omit if you don’t like spicy!!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin if you have it)
  • about 3 pounds chicken breast (4 large chicken breast)
  1. Mix together in a shallow bowl: flour, salt, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne. Add some black pepper if that floats your boat.
  2. In another shallow dish, whisk together the eggs.
  3. Put a large Dutch oven on the stove or 12″ cast iron skillet and fill 1/2″ high with olive oil. Heat on medium heat.
  4. If your chicken breasts are thick – like 1″ or more at the large end, take a knife and slice them in half horizontal to create two thinner chicken breast. You want them about 1/2″ thick.
  5. Now have your assembly line going: first chicken, then flour, then egg mixture, then plate.
  6. Dredge chicken in the flour, then egg, then back in the flour mixture again. Set on the plate. Repeat until all the chicken are ready to go.
  7. Using tongs, add the chicken breast into the oil one layer at a time. Mine could hold 2-3 pieces at once. Cook 5 minutes. Flip. Cook another 5 minutes.
  8. Set the chicken down on a wire rack over a cookie sheet and/or paper towels. Repeat with all the chicken. If you are worried about them getting too cold, then place into an oven at 170 degrees to keep warm.
  9. Serve warm with your favorite fixings. Mine are mashed potatoes, coleslaw and green beans.
If the chicken is not cooked through the middle, place in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or so.


Pot Roast & Instant Pot Recipes


Pot Roast Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Happy Sunday!



There were over 200,000 Instant Pots sold on Amazon on Prime Day.  I have been posting about it since I received mine this winter and thought I would compile.

Use these recipes as guides.  The shredded chicken can be used with BBQ sauce, salsa or just plain to freeze for later.  The rice pudding can be made using the Rice or Brown Rice instructions and served for a side dish with fish or a stir fry.


Rice Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Rice Pudding

Homemade Yogurt Instant Pot Recipe

Greek Yogurt and Plain Yogurt


Shredded Chicken Instant Pot Recipe

Shredded Chicken

Pork Tenderloin Instant Pot Recipe

Chili Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin

Pork Chops Instant Pot Recipe

Asian Style Pork Chops with Broccoli

Chicken Enchiladas Instant Pot Recipe

Chicken Enchiladas


I realized I have made pot roast in the pressure cooker half a dozen times and never posted it!  Here is the pot roast we make.  Cut into chunks for beef stew and faster cooking times 🙂

Forget to put the 3 pound roast in the slow cooker this morning?  Make it in the Instant Pot tonight!  We think it tastes BETTER than the slow cooker.  Plus you get the added health benefits of the pressure cooker.  Woo hoo!

For this recipe, I combined the list of America’s Test Kitchen’s pot roast ingredients with the method of a pressure cooker.  America’s Test Kitchen know their stuff.  If I had to have just one cookbook to carry with me on a deserted island, it would be “Cook’s Illustrated” by America’s Test Kitchen.

For Beef Stew, I basically follow the same recipe.  I toss a few tablespoons of flour in there and the meat is already chopped of course.  Then, I cook it on high in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes.

Pot Roast & Instant Pot Recipes | I Have Made So Far
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 3 lb. chuck roast (I have used bottom round and top round too), trimmed of fat
  • 1-2 onions, quartered
  • 1 carrot, 1″ pieces (or I use 1 cup baby carrots)
  • 1-2 celery ribs, 1″ pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tb. tomato paste (freeze the rest for later)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp, kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1-2 russet potatoes or red potatoes, 1″ chunks (optional)
  • 1 cup water or beef broth or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
  1. Put your oil in the instant pot and hit “sauté”. Once hot, trim the meat on all sides. Turn machine off.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (except peas) into the pot. Seal the pot and make sure the toggle is on “seal” instead of “vent.”
  3. Put the machine on “Beef” or use “Manual” and cook on high pressure for 70 minutes.
  4. Once finished, vent using the quick release method.
  5. If you want to add peas, simply add them now and close the lid. They will cook in the pot for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve warm and eat!


Super Fast (NO Forks!) Shredded Chicken | Instant Pot

Shredded Chicken 2 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Good morning!  This weekend we attended the 2016 St. Louis Air Show.  It was quite a show!!!  Wow!  All the planes, helicopters and jets you could want.  Here are some of my favorite photographs I took at the show.   I shot these with a Nikon D7100 55-200mm lens.  Why use that camera?  It isn’t full frame.  This cropped sensor camera makes my 200mm lens now 300mm lens.  Woo hoo!  It’s just the regular old lens that comes with the camera.  Nothing special about it.


Air Show 2 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 3 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 4 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 5 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 6 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 7 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 8 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri



Shredded Chicken 4 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Great for all those upcoming Graduation Parties!!!  This is the BESTEST, FASTEST, EASIEST way to ever make shredded chicken.  I don’t know about you, but boneless skinless chicken breast does not fall apart in the crockpot.  No matter how long you slow cook it.  That stuff is so lean that it takes me half an hour to shred and even still – the shreds are big and chunky and uneven.  But no more!

Shredded Chicken Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Today we make any kind of shredded chicken we want!  I used this chicken for:

Freezer Meals…


Taco Filling….

add per pound of chicken:  1.5 Tb. chili powder, 3/4 tsp. coriander, 3/4 tsp. cumin, 3/4 tsp. oregano, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup chicken broth, after cooking: 2 tsp. cider vinegar and 1 tsp. brown sugar with salt and pepper to taste



BBQ Chicken Sandwiches…

add 1/2 cup chicken broth and BBQ sauce to taste

BBQ Pulled Chicken-2253 on Whisk Together

Chicken salad….

Whatever you like!

The recipe is based on the sale packages of chicken at our store.  The sales are usually packaged in 4 pound packages, so that is what I make and then freeze.

Shredded Chicken 3 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Super Fast (NO Forks!) Shredded Chicken
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 16 servings
  • 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  1. For pressure cooker: add ingredients. Turn on for 15 minutes on high pressure.
  2. For slow cooker: add ingredients. Turn on LOW for 3 hours.
  3. For oven: add ingredients to casserole dishes in one layer. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees 40 minutes or until clear.
  4. Now the magic: add half the chicken to a mixing bowl. Turn on your mixer to low. Mix until shredded – about 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat as necessary. Add some of the broth made in the pan back to the chicken for freezing, tacos or BBQ filling.
  5. For taco meat and BBQ meat, I removed the chicken stock from the pot. I added about 1/2 cup of stock back into the pot. I added my taco or bbq seasonings and cooked on saute for about 10 minutes.


Crockpot Lentil Soup

Detox Lentil Soup

What’s so awesome about lentils?

Lentils are cheap.

Lentils can be stored a long time because they are dried.

Lentils are a great source of potassium, calcium, niacin, zinc and Vitamin K.

Lentils are rich in fiber and lean protein.

Lentils are a super food!  We love our super foods here on Whisk Together!  🙂

Lentils are like chicken… they take on the flavor of whatever ingredients they are cooked with.

Detox Lentil Soup 3


This soup is great for those of you trying to lose weight!  Lots of protein, fiber and veggies.  Or trying to maintain weight.  Or just need a nice warm bowl of soup.  It is a nice blank canvas for anything you would like to add to it.  Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon infused grapeseed or olive oil, red wine vinegar, etc. all taste great as a finishing touch.  If you are trying to add a “Meatless Monday” to the dinner menu, this soup would definitely fit the bill!  Simply add a side salad or whole grain bread.

Detox Lentil Soup 2

To keep the week going smoothly, I try to get a few things done on Sunday.  One of those is making a big batch of soup and one large bowl of salad.  That way I always have something to grab for lunch or a back up for dinner.  Especially since these soups and most of my salads don’t contain meat or dairy mixed in, then I don’t feel like it is going to turn bad in 6-7 days.

Crockpot Lentil Soup
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Serves: 8 servings
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (peeled and cut into 1/2″ silces)
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes (Yukon Gold works well) or sweet potatoes (peel if you prefer and chop into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced (more garlic for more garlic flavor)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup dried green lentils
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 handfuls baby spinach or kale chopped into 1″ pieces, optional
  • 1 lemon, squeeze the juice into the soup
  • Optional garnishes: fresh parsley, dried parsley, Parmesan cheese
  1. Into a large slow cooker, add all of the ingredients from butternut squash through ground pepper.
  2. Cook on high 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  3. Add baby spinach and squeeze lemon juice into soup. Allow to wilt about 5 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste! I added quite a bit of salt and pepper. I also added Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute because it tastes great on everything.
  5. Add 1-2 cups of additional broth for a thinner soup. I like my soups on the thick side.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy.
Recipe adapted from Grace and Salt[br]



Simple Chicken Enchiladas and Pressure Cookers | Instant Pot

Chicken Enchiladas-6119 copy

My friend and old neighbor Hilary posted on her Facebook page about a new Instant Pot appliance.  It could cook beans in 12 minutes!  Chicken soup – from frozen chicken – in 30 minutes!  So, yes I had to buy one.  The slow cooker is great and all.  But you know.  It’s slow.  We like fast 🙂  Ha ha.  Well, more like we want options.  I like the options and freedom to make an entire pot roast in 35 minutes.


So how does this pot work in the real world with kids and errands, food and budgets?

  1. My #1 reason and I think the machine will pay for itself:  dried beans.  Dried beans are super cheap.  Plus they have no added salt.  For years, I tried different methods to cook dried beans.  They never turned out right.  They never tasted as good as the canned beans.  Why?  Because canned beans are pressured cooked at the factory.  Resistance is futile.  I have been assimilated.  Chicken and beans cooked in 25 minutes.  Just plain black beans cooked in 12.
  2.  You can make your own yogurt!  I have not personally done it myself.  I cannot go through a gallon or even half gallon that fast.  But it has a yogurt setting and does everything automatically.  I did research it and the pot hibernates the yogurt for 8 hours – people suggest 9 hours for thicker yogurt.  Just push the + button and you’re all set.
  3. Why do I like this better than a stove top model?  The warm function.  The pot automatically stops and switches to “warm” to keep your food hot and avoid overcooking.  If you have a stove top pressure cooker, then you must turn it off yourself.  Or some people use two burners – one to heat the pot to pressure and move it to another to keep the pressure going on a lower setting.
  4. Why would you buy a stove top model instead?  If I had 5 or 6 kids, I would need the stove top model.  This instant pot holds 6 quarts.  But it is a pressure cooker.  And just like a slow cooker as well, you cannot fill it to the top.  So, larger families may want a 8 qt. stove top pressure cooker instead.
  5. You can make rice!  No more rice cooker or sticky rice or undercooked/overcooked rice.  Cooks rice perfectly.  Automatically.
  6. Healthier food:  Pressure cooking cooks food faster. The faster it cooks, the more nutritional value it can retain.  Also, the less water you need the less vitamins and minerals will go into the water and out of the food.
  7. You can make porridge! From my research, the porridge function is very popular outside the USA.  But hey, you have the option.
  8. You can steam vegetables.  Well, I usually make mine in the microwave.  But if you like your vegetables steamed, this device will do it for you automatically.
  9. The one thing I have always liked about the expensive Williams Sonoma Slow Cooker is that you can brown your meat in the same device.  The Instant Pot lets you brown your meat as well on the Saute Setting.
  10. After the cooking is finished, you can press the saute button to thicken your sauce or gravy or soup by letting it boil just like if you were using the stove.

Here is a link to the manual if you are still curious.  Instant Pot Manual.


Instant Pot

Now, once you have a pot.   How do you cook with it?  I found a lot of books on Amazon.  The #1 book had a lot of reviews complaining that the author uses a lot of pre-made mixes, cream of somethings, etc.  So I skipped that one and found “The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

Pressure Cooker Book

A ton of recipes including the one on this blog post.  My one comment would be that the cooking times seem long.  The corned beef was finished cooking in 35 minutes.  The book recommended 80 minutes.  My corned beef was a little smaller than the recipe, but still.  I like their recipes and kitchen testing notes on every recipe.  The only thing I do differently is make sure that the cooking time is closer to what the Instant Pot recommends instead of the book.

*Note any and all links are not affiliated.  I live in Missouri and cannot have them.  So enjoy no strings attached 🙂

Chicken Enchiladas-6116 copy


Pressure Cooked Chicken Enchiladas
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 1 tsp. dark brown sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 – (6-8 oz.) chicken breasts
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 cup (8 oz. can) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup light colored beer or chicken broth
  • 2 Tb. chili powder
  • 2 Tb. fresh lime juice
  • tortillas, tortilla chips, salsa, cheddar cheese (optional add ins)
  1. In a small bowl, mix the spices together (from brown sugar to garlic powder). Sprinkle onto the chicken and pat down.
  2. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker on the saute setting. Brown the chicken on all sides for about 5 minutes.
  3. Now add the tomato sauce, beer/broth and chili powder. Cook for 14 minutes on high pressure.
  4. Once finished, use the valve to quickly release the steam.
  5. Stir in the lime juice and shred the chicken apart. Or eat the chicken as is with the sauce. Or add the chicken to some tortillas with cheese and bake for 15 minutes or so in the oven.
  6. To make this in the slow cooker: Add all ingredients except the lime juice. Cook on high 3-4 hours. Shred and eat.
  7. To make this in the oven: Add the spiced chicken to a 9×13 pan. Mix the sauce and pour on top. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
Recipe adapted from The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book


Slow Cooker (or Roasted) Turkey Breast with Gravy


Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy-4495 on Whisk Together Label

Book:   I attended MomCon 2015 with some awesome others like Crystal Paine, Margaret Feinberg, Sherry Surrat, Amena Brown and the amazing Bob Goff.  I cannot wait to summarize what awesome stuff I learned this weekend!  For now, I will introduce and review “Thresholds: How to Thrive through Life’s Transitions to Live Fearlessly and Regret Free” by Sherre Hirsch.  The novel fits in perfectly with our theme for the year as well: a Fierce Flourishing, don’t you think?  A threshold is a doorway to another room.  We all go from room to room at times in our lives – transitioning from one part to the next.  Something in our life changes such as moving away to college; or something changes within us like the mom tired of staying at home with the kids and wants to go back to work.  Familiar rooms become comfortable.  But, we cannot grow without being a little uncomfortable.  Sherre Hirsch describes one of the greatest things that holds us back from other “rooms” that might be better – fear.  The next room though is never as bad as you think it might be.


Living regret free also means letting go of “perfect.”  God made the world and called it “very good.”  The bible never called it in Genesis as “perfect.”  But letting go of perfect allows us to communicate honestly with each other.  A room perfect for one person, may not be perfect for us.  The goal in life shouldn’t be to find the perfect room – the perfect husband, perfect house, perfect job, etc.  The goal is to make the decision that is best for us in that moment knowing it might be different or the opposite of what we might think.

The book weaves stories from the bible of Jacob, Moses, and others to support her conclusion.  In addition, she draws upon a plethora of people she has counseled over the years to describe and support her assertions.  Moses argues with God that he can’t do the job.  In Exodus 3-4, Moses doesn’t say “okay.”  He argues in fear of failure.  One woman is paralyze by failure when she commits to never arguing with her husband.  This created a lot of built up resentment and lack of communication.  Many other examples throughout the book relate the ideas — like maybe we should spend more time talking about all the bumps in the road rather than the end journey — to us in a personal way.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy-4501 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  Everybody needs this recipe in their back pocket!!  The turkey is soooo moist and the gravy tastes fabulous.  The scent of rosemary and orange zest together sounds weird, but try it and you’ll love it.  Heaven smells like oranges and rosemary I tell you.

We love turkey here, but sometimes I don’t have time or want a 18 pound bird to cook.  Once in a while, frozen turkey breast will sell for $1.49/pound at the store which is when you want to snag these birds for some great homemade cooking.  Most everyone here eats the white meat anyway so might as well make it!

This is great for dinner, or if you have leftovers – eat them that week or freeze for later in a ziplock bag.

**To make this in a slow cooker, you will need the larger 6 qt. size slow cooker.  If you cannot find a 6-7 lb. turkey breast, then it may not fit.  When testing a 9 lb. breast, it wouldn’t fit into my slow cooker and had to be roasted in the oven.

**Slow cooking will not result in crispy skin on the outside.  But, I don’t eat that part anyway.


Slow Cooker (or Roasted) Turkey Breast with Gravy
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
Turkey breast roasted to perfection and made with gravy – Slow Cooker option included
  • 3 Tb. butter
  • 1 onion, coarse chop
  • 1 carrot, coarse chop
  • 1 rib of celery, coarse chop
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or water)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 6-7 pound whole bone-in turkey breast (for slow cooker or roasting)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tb fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 4Tb. softened butter
  1. In a large skillet, add 3 Tb. butter and melt.
  2. Add veggies (onion, carrot, and celery) and cook 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  3. Add flour and cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup broth. Stir until heated through and not so lumpy. If cooking in slow cooker, add this all to the slow cooker. If not, keep in the skillet and allow to simmer until it reaches the thickness you like.
  5. Add the rest of the broth, water, wine, thyme and bay leaves to the slow cooker as well, or to the skillet if roasting. For roasting, simply cool and store in the fridge to heat up later when ready to serve.
  6. Mix the 3 garlic cloves, rosemary, orange zest and 4 Tb. of soft butter together in a bowl.
  7. Take the orange butter and rub it under the turkey breast skin. Press it in to distribute.
  8. For slow cooker: Add the turkey breast on top of the gravy. It should be skin/breast side up. Cook on low 5-7 hours. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees. Remove and rest under some foil for 20 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, take the slow cooker drippings/gravy into a pot or skillet. Skim the fat off the top and simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.
  10. For roasting: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prep a roasting pan and V-rack inside. Place the turkey that has been rubbed with butter skin side/breast side up onto the rack. Pour 1 cup water into the roasting pan and pop it all into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to the 325 degrees and cook about 60 minutes. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven. Rest for 20 minutes under a foil tent. While resting, put the gravy back into the original skillet or a pot and heat. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


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