Mashed Potatoes in 8 Minutes, Beef Stew in 35

Back in March I began a new career in wine sales. I love my job but find one of the biggest challenges is getting a good meal together if I haven’t planned ahead. But last Christmas I bought my husband an electric programmable pressure cooker, and it’s been a life-saver. I am using it all the time.

One thing about my job is the inconsistency in my schedule. I am driving all over lower Fairfield County and at the mercy of I95 and Merritt Parkway traffic, which seems to get worse each week. I sometimes have shorter days where I’ll get home at a reasonable time, and then at the end of each month, I’m working well into the late evening. So, planning dinner is a challenge, as I’m not always certain when I’ll get home and not always sure if my husband will be home with food ready or ready to cook.

I have found that I can still get dinner on the table in under 45 minutes if I use the pressure cooker, but more often can get it done in 20 minutes if it’s not elaborate or needing extra time to cook. Beef stew, like our family recipe of “Eintopf” which normally takes at least 3 hours to cook, can been cooked from start to finish in around 45-50 minutes– including the peeling of potatoes, cutting of onions and browning of beef.  My Instant Pot cooks the stew in 35 minutes. Now, if I had planned I could also use the slow cooker (crockpot) to make it, but this is for when I haven’t planned, which is more often than not.  

How about cooking potatoes in 7-8 minutes to mash? For those nights when I can make dinner in 20 minutes (because we’ve got a practice, scout meeting, etc and that’s all the time I have), it’s a game-changer.  And I just learnt that I can make baked potatoes using it in 25 minutes. 
Pressure Cooker Mashed Potatoes
4-5 medium to large Russet potatoes
1/4 cup milk
1/3 stick of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut potatoes in half or quarters (not too small), add to pressure cooker and cover with cold water. Set Manual time to 8 minutes Pressure. When done and steam/pressure is released, drain potatoes and add milk, butter, salt and pepper. Mash until you’ve got consistency you like. (You can add more milk if you need.)

We made chicken curry last week in 10 minutes… using chicken thighs. All we had to do was add the cut up chicken thighs to a good-quality jarred sauce with a little extra water (the water will evaporate). The entire meal took 15 minutes– the time it took to cook the rice.


I am not getting paid to endorse any product, I just love this! And I’m sure it’ll make a great gift for the busy person. 

Chicken, Andouille and White Bean Stew

Wish I had more time— to write among other things!  I tried writing this post last night near midnight after I had just finished filling out paperwork for my 6 year-old’s new school.  One thing I loathe when they get back to school is all the papers that come home— flyers and notices.  Last year all three were in the same school and I’d get everything in triplicate.  Now a different school along with the original, different schedules (not even on the same holiday schedule which will be tricky!), different lunch programs (it’s tough navigating that without dealing with two different providers) and I’m sure more papers coming home.  It takes up so much time— time to fill out, time to sort, time to throw away.

I was too tired to write last night and then today, when I finally got the chance, I got consumed by news of the earthquake in New Zealand where I have many loved ones.  I am putting off laundry yet again to write… for those wondering how I find the time! 

Last night I created a new recipe based upon a Southern or Creole-style dish.  I would have loved to have made gumbo but didn’t have any okra or filé so it wouldn’t have been authentic.  (Funny I got introduced to and fell in love with gumbo while working in Wellington, NZ)  And I didn’t want to overdo it with spices for my kids by serving red rice… so I went with plain white rice.   


I used organic free range boneless chicken thighs that I cut into smaller pieces.   This is a great way to stretch out your budget and reduce your cooking time.  I used chicken Andouille sausage which I like because it means less “meat” in our diet but you can use the more traditional made from pork.  Most of my vegetables and herbs were from our CSA and the organic white beans were canned.   It was a pleasant moment when I sat down to eat and watch the children dig in with such gusto.  My middle son asked if it was “chili” I replied that it was “chicken and sausage chili”.  They all loved it but my 6 year-old said it was a little spicy for him— that was mostly the Andouille.  I think it took me about 20 minutes of prep and active cooking and another 10-15 of simmering.   So, at least I found the time to do this.

Chicken, Andouille and White Bean Stew

  • 3-4 chicken thighs, skinned and boned, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 Andouille sausage links, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 can Cannellini (white kidney) beans
  • 3-4 tomatoes, peeled (or one can) and crushed
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 lg or 2 sm celery stalk, diced
  • 1 sweet green pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown chicken and set aside.  Heat olive oil in pan and sauté onions and celery until clear.  Add garlic and peppers and cook until soft.  Add paprika and chili powder stirring for one minute.  Add tomatoes, chicken stock, chicken, sausage, beans and herbs. Cook for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Serve over rice.

As I mentioned, it was delicious and the boys gave it thumbs up but with a bit of extra milk and water drinking to counter the heat.  I ate some leftovers for lunch today— even better which is often the case with tomato-based foods.