Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

It’s been cold here in the Hudson Valley. Like, not just regular winter-cold, but chills-you-to-the-bones cold. The weather has me craving comfort food, and in particular potato soup. I have a great Crock Pot potato soup recipe that I love, but I didn’t want to wait for hours. I decided to make this version in my Instant Pot, and I was ladling up lunch in about half an hour — you can’t beat that!

Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Hearty, comforting, and ready in under 30 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces bacon, diced (save for garnish)
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 4-5 medium russet potatoes, diced
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 c. sour cream (optional: additional for garnish)
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (optional: additional for garnish)
  • dried potato flakes (optional: for thickening if desired)
  • sliced green onion (optional: for garnish)

Instructions

  • Turn your Instant Pot on saute. Add the bacon pieces and let them cook until crispy, about 5-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain grease from bottom of pot, leaving just a light coating.
  • Add diced potatoes, chicken broth, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula to remove all the browned pieces off the bottom. Cook for a minute or two and then tur off Saute Mode.
  • Lock the lid and turn knob to SEALING. Set to pressure cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. When time is up, quickly release the pressure by turning the knob away from sealing
  • Open the lid and mash the potatoes until some chunks remain. Add can of evaporated milk, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Stir well. If the soup is too liquidy, add dried instant potato flakes a few Tablespoons at a time until you reach the desired thickness.
  • Top bowls with reserved bacon and sour cream, cheddar, scallions, and/or chives before serving.

Happy New Year 2022!

Ah! A new year! I thought it might be a good time for a blog design refresh and a new post. 

2021 certainly seemed like a long year, didn’t it? Last night as I was watching year-end recaps, I couldn’t believe that some of the news events had taken place less than 12 months ago. But we made it through! Who knows what the next year holds. It’s a little hard to be optimistic, but we all will just keep plugging along, do what we can to make the world a kinder, safer place, and hope for the best, right?

So, how did you spend your New Year’s Eve? I made shrimp tacos for dinner, then we visited a friend for a little while. We rang in 2022 at home and I actually stayed up to flip the calendar!

Today I am just doing some cleaning and organizing, watching old episodes of Criminal Minds, and planning out some crochet projects to tackle this year. (Nevermind that I still have a few to finish up from last year… of course!) For dinner I’m making brown sugar baked ham, broccoli-cheese-rice casserole (a recipe I have not made in many years), and asparagus.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year for all of us!

Happy Homemaker Monday, November 22, 2021

Well, it has been ages since you’ve seen me around here. How is it the end of November already? Wow, the time just flies! I am taking some time off of work for Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d join in with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM with Happy Homemaker Monday.
 
 
The Weather?
It’s damp, gray, and cool today. Pretty much all week we will have highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s. Hello, November!
 
How I am feeling this morning
Well, it’s afternoon now, and I’m actually feeling quite tired. I thought I slept well last night, but maybe not as well as I thought!
 
On my mind
Just hoping that my medical tests are fine (and quick) this afternoon. I am having my annual mammo/ultrasound this afternoon and while I’m there I’m having one additional test done for fibroids. Yay! Super can’t wait for that to be over. Also hoping for safe travels for my son who is taking the train home from college on Wednesday. I haven’t seen him since he left in August so obviously I am really excited he will be home!
 
 On the breakfast plate
For breakfast I had oatmeal with chocolate protein powder, blueberries, and a sprinkle of walnuts.         
 
Right now I am
Just trying to kill some time before I need to leave for my appointment.
 
What I’m wearing today
Jeans and a grey long-sleeve tee that also has white polka dots. It is super soft and cozy!
 
On my reading pile
So many books! I am currently reading 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak for Global Lit Book Club, and I am also reading Don’t Call it a Cult by Sarah Berman. Both a great so far!

On today’s to do list

I have chipped away at most of the things that needed to be done. I still should put away some folded laundry. Dinner is in the crockpot. I need to pick up Noah at work after my appointments.

 On my tv

Kind of in-between shows right now. We finished up Dopesick, and also watched The Hot Zone. I’ll keep up with my usual shows: Big Sky, La Brea (so dumb, yet entertaining), Law & Order: SVU, Bob’s Burgers, etc.
 
What I’m listening to
Nothing! Just a quiet house right now which is kind of nice.

On the menu this week

Monday: Crock Pot chicken Curry
Tuesday: ?
Wednesday: Pizza (pick up after getting Jacob from the train station — can’t wait to see him!)
Thursday: Thanksgiving! Roast turkey with gravy, sausage and cranberry stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, cranberry sauce, apple crisp, pecan pie.
Friday: Turkey soup and sandwiches
Saturday: ?
Sunday:?

From the camera

Sadly, I haven’t taken too many photos lately. I need to start picking up my camera again!

Looking around the house

Laundry to put away, but mostly clean. My crochet projects are next to me, just waiting to be picked up later tonight!
 
To relax this week, I will
Crochet some holiday gifts, do a little online shopping to take advantage of sales, work on Christmas cards, watch tv

On my prayer list

The holidays are so hard for many people for a variety of reasons, and I am keeping them in my thoughts.
 
Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead! 

Heading Into Autumn

And just like that summer’s gone! Well, we all know that technically there are a couple weeks left, but let’s be honest — once September rolls around, my mindset shifts to apple-scented candles, cozy blankets, spooky movies… It’s my favorite time of year! Seems as though I skipped summer here on the blog, so a quick recap might be in order!

Summer was incredibly busy with work. I laugh at anyone who claims that library work is quiet and not stressful. These fools have no idea what it is like working in a modern library. We were bustling with patrons, which was wonderful. We kept our programming outside for the most part, which worked really well. Our summer reading program was one of the best we’ve had in terms of participants and hours read. I may have been a ball of nerves for the last three months, but professionally it was worth all the effort.

The family is doing well. Laura celebrated her 12th birthday, Noah his 16th birthday, and Jake his 19th birthday! We all are fully vaccinated and I am happy to say no one had any issues whatsoever. Jake is back on campus for his sophomore year in college where he’s studying Psychology and Economics. School starts tomorrow for middle school and high school. I’m a little nervous for the kids to be fully in-person, but I am also thankful for our community. Something like 96% of the district teachers are vaccinated and New York has a mask mandate in place so hopefully we won’t be seeing high Covid rates or closures like schools in other parts of the country. Only time will tell.

The gardens did not fare well, I am sad to say. Once we got into the hot & humid weather I just didn’t have it in me to keep up with them. Add in some of the heavy rains we had and I was stuck with water-logged plants. In mid-August I decided to clean things up and got stuck with a horrible case of poison sumac all over my arms, my leg, and part of my chest (don’t ask me how, but I can only guess there were oils on shirt that seeped through). I was pretty miserable!

Craft-wise, I have just started the Wave After Wave pocket shawl. I know that pockets shawls are last year’s trendy item, but I never got around to making one and this will be perfect to keep at work. I’m also still plugging away on my C2C blanket that I started in the spring. There was a stretch where I just didn’t feel like working on anything with yarn — that tends to happen in the hot weather.

And as for the blog… honestly I almost deleted it completely the other day. I am currently off work because I have quite a bit of PTO to use, so I thought I’d come in and try to spruce things up and get back to posting regularly. Well, I have no idea what happened or when it happened, but something was totally fakakta. Images that were hosted within my site were not displaying, I couldn’t view any of my media in my WordPress admin console. So after two days, a lot of research into 403 errors, updating this, disabling that, last night I finally figured out how to fix the error. Not only that, but I also learned why for the past few years Pinterest and my blog did not get along. And I discovered a cool plugin that generates a printable version of your blog. I cannot explain how excited I was about that. I have posts here going back to 2006, when I switched from Blogger to WordPress (I’ve actually been blogging since 1999, believe it or not — my earliest entries were just hand-coded in HTML). I’m so thankful that I can put together a document of all those memories! So I guess in hindsight it was a good problem to have because in the end I solved a number of other issues, too.

Well, I suppose that’s enough catching up for now. I’m hoping to get back to semi-regular posting, so hopefully I see you sooner rather than later! 

Sunny Saturday

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone’s weekend is off to a great start. It is pretty much the perfect Spring day here in the Hudson Valley: sunny, clear skies, and in the 50s. I love, love, love it!

This morning I took care of laundry, vacuuming, and putting some things away. After a quick lunch Laura and I decided to go for a walk over at Burger Hill Park. We live so close by; I don’t know why we don’t go here more often! The views are gorgeous, it’s quiet and peaceful, and it’s a great walk.

Burger Hill Park

Burger Hill Park

Burger Hill Park

As for this afternoon, I think I’m going to do a little more tidying and then work on my blanket a bit. Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Happy Homemaker Monday, April 26, 2021

How I am feeling this today…
Ready for the week! I have a pretty busy week ahead so I spent time yesterday organizing tasks, menu planning, and setting myself up for success.

The Weather…


Seems like a nice week ahead of us! I know a lot of people who would like it warmer, but I am totally OK with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Summer will be here soon enough — let’s enjoy spring!

On the breakfast plate…
Well, it’s long past breakfast, but I had an apple danish and a cup of tea today. For lunch I had a cup of homemade chicken noodle soup. (Call me a snob, but I just can’t stand the canned stuff!)

On my reading pile…
Yesterday I finished Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill, and I really liked it a lot! I think it’s a book that appeals to a certain personality, though. I can see why some people aren’t charmed by it, but I really enjoyed it. I also recently finished Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Mari, which is for my May Global Literature Book Club. I fell absolutely in love with this book. It is sad and emotional, and really got to my heart. Both are quick reads (or quick listens if, like me, you’re on an audiobook kick). Currently I’m getting a jump on the June Book Club selection, which is Disoriental by Négar Djavadi. I also have The Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss checked out. It looked like a sweet little book.

On my TV…
Drew and I started watching “The Last Man on Earth” on Hulu and it’s pretty good. Also, the usual “Law & Order: SVU” as well as the new “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”

On the menu this week…
Monday: Chicken cordon blue
Tuesday: BBQ pork chops and macaroni & cheese
Wednesday: Tacos
Thursday: Meatloaf
Friday: Take out (?)
Saturday: Kielbasa and pierogis

Looking around the house…
I did a ton of cleaning yesterday, catching up on laundry, washing the floors and organizing things so I’m not in bad shape! I have a pile of clean laundry to put away and I really need to clean up my “nest” area (as I like to call it) around my favorite chair. It’s where I have all of books, yarn, planner stuff, etc.

To relax this week I will…
I started a new blanket over the weekend (just a C2C pattern), so I’ll keep hooking away on that.

Something I want to share…
If you’re on Instagram and want to learn about government in a non-partisan way, follow SharonSaysSo. I absolutely love her Stories and at some point I want to take one of her Government for Grownups classes. She explains things really clearly, is not judgy at all, and she’s hilarious! Check her out.

What’s New Around Here

Forsythia

Well that week flew by, didn’t it? I don’t even know how it happened, but here we are… Wednesday again!

Spring flowers

Last Friday morning I got my 2nd COVID shot (Pfizer vaccine), and it wasn’t that bad. About four hours after the shot I got the same dull headache at the back of my head, and the sore neck I got after the 1st shot. I powered through work and by the time I sat down at home around 5 PM I realized how tired I was.

Shot #2 - Done!

The next day I felt really good when I woke up, but halfway through the morning I started to feel tired and slightly achy. If it wasn’t a Saturday I definitely could had pushed myself, but since it was the weekend I just took it easy and drank a lot of water. By Sunday I was my old self again! I went grocery shopping in the morning and spent the afternoon crafting.

This first half of this week has been a blur! Monday I was really busy at work, editing and submitting a grant. Yesterday was Drew’s birthday. He used a Lowe’s gift card to get some plants for the side of our driveway. We started working on this area last year and are trying to really fill it in with shrubs and flowers.

For dinner he wanted chicken marsala from a local restaurant so we ordered that to-go and just relaxed in the evening.

This morning I caught up on laundry, washing extra blankets that we probably won’t need again until the fall. I made tortellini soup for lunch. I have just been craving lately and since we had some spinach that really needed to be used up, it was the perfect excuse!

Tortellini Soup

After that I ran a few errands with Noah and Laura. I went to pick up my prescription (sigh, not there — our medical practice is really dropping the ball when meds need to be re-upped), dropped off some clothing donations, grabbed a few items at the store, and then we swung by Stewart’s for a treat — an ice cream cone for Laura and hot dogs for Noah, who had skipped lunch (knowing we were going to Stewart’s).

Once we got home I threw together a fajita marinade for chicken tenderloins, prepped corn for tonight, and made a delicious banana bread with dark chocolate chips. Oh, I can’t wait to grill a slice for breakfast tomorrow!

Banana bread

Yup, it was a busy day! But the good kind of busy. After all that, I just sat down to relax a bit and enjoy my day off. I finally settled on a blanket pattern for this yarn that has been staring me down for months. Nothing exciting — I just decided to do a C2C pattern. My reasoning is that there’s really no guesswork involved. Once I use half my skeins, I will start decreasing and that will be that! It’s also what I consider a pretty mindless pattern — one that I can work on while watching TV in the evening. Maybe once it’s done I’ll add a more intricate border. We’ll see.

New C2C lap blanket

Dinner came together quick, and it was delicious! I had scored some of the Elote seasoning from Aldi and was excited to try it. The corn was definitely spicy! I’m not sure if it was everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

Chicken fajitas

Well, I guess that catches us up! Drew is finishing up the dishes, and that’ll be about it for tonight. Hope you all had a great day!

Blogging Like it’s 1999

Well, it’s been a while. Again. The other morning I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw this image and it reminded me of my poor, neglected, little blog here.

Rhonda’s comment reads,
“Listening to Prince and reading all your heartwarming comments yesterday gave me an unexpected but fun idea. If any of you are keen to join me and return to blogging the way we used to when it all first started, then please use this awesome Prince-inspired hashtag, #letsbloglikeits1999, so that we can all follow along! Who knows—maybe this is how we get the movement started? 🙂

Friends, let’s blog like it’s 1999!


Who’s in?”

The funny thing is… I actually started blogging in 1999. Back then we were calling them “online journals” but… yeah. I’ve been at this for quite a while and I definitely support Rhonda’s sentiment of blogging like it’s 1999. I love that other bloggers are embracing this, and I know I keep saying I want to write more, I want to get things down. And then… well… life kind of gets in the way. Work, family, chores, a freaking pandemic. It all just snowballs, doesn’t it? But I think I’m going to print out this Instagram pic and keep it in my planner where I’ll see it every day and it will hopefully remind me to get on here more often.

Happy Twin Peaks Day

For those who don’t know, I’m a Twin Peaks superfan. I was absolutely obsessed with the show when it came out. I own 5 or 6 different Twin Peaks books. I even wrote an extensive research paper on it for a media studies class back in college. So yes, I like to celebrate this silly little “holiday” annually.

Last year during quarantine, we watched the show with Jake and Noah, who also really loved it. Since Jake is away at school, Noah and I still decided to do something special! The last few years I’ve been on top of things and had cherry pie ready, but this year donuts and (of course) a damn fine cup of coffee did nicely.

coffee & doughnuts

Today I also decided to take the advice of Agent Dale Cooper. This is one of my (many) favorites quotes from the show:

With that in mind, and remembering writing about my February Funk yesterday, I decided to treat myself to some beautiful tulips.

tulips in tote

tulips

tulips

Can’t you just feel the warm air and catch the scent of rain and grass? Ah, spring is coming, it really is! In the meantime, I’ll enjoy fresh flowers as a reminder!

February Funk

It’s that time of year… spring is close, yet seems so far. We’re all getting tired of being cooped up in the cold weather, tired of sweeping up sand and road salt, and just… well… tired. It’s the end of February.

And it’s not just me, which is comforting. Seems there are quite a few people out there who also are experiencing a lack of motivation and general feeling of blah. That’s a technical term, you know.

Helping me rise out of it, though, is something new that I recently purchased. Ta-da!

new camera

I’ve been researching cameras for quite some time. I bought my last camera, a Nikon D40 that served me very well, over 13 years ago. And over those 13 years life has changed a lot! I wanted something a little more sophisticated than a basic point-and-shoot, but I really didn’t want another DSLR (at least not right now). Well, this Lumix fits the bill nicely! It’s referred to as a “bridge” camera — exactly what I wanted. And oh boy, is there a lot to learn! The features are really impressive, and I am still amazed that I can send a photo from the camera to my phone via WiFi! I’m feel like my passion for photography has been reinvigorated. I’m going to try to carry it around with me because, well, you never know when you’re going to see something that strikes you.

Another thing I’m doing is going through my books. We’re hoping to having a book sale at work in late spring/early summer, so that’s always easy way for me to pass things on. I have so many cookbooks, most of which I’ve picked up at other book sales, and some of them can definitely go in the donation pile.

Craft-wise, I haven’t been doing too much aside from collecting a lot of ideas! Noah did ask me to make him a hat in a new color, so I started on that. It’s just simple HDC ribbing, so it’s perfect TV crochet.

crochet hat

That’s just a quick little update from me! Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!