The Bardsley family loves the recipe for sloppy Joes found in “The Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook” by Carrie Forrest. (Marija Vidal)

The Bardsley family loves the recipe for sloppy Joes found in “The Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook” by Carrie Forrest. (Marija Vidal)

Keep your kitchen cool this summer with Instant Pot meals

This stay-at-home mom loves the “The Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook” by Carrie Forrest.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do on a summer evening is preheat my oven, stand over a hot stove and spend hours in the kitchen. It’s the same thing with grocery shopping — although I appreciate the air conditioning.

I want summer meals to be as easy as possible. Exotic ingredients that require multiple stores to find are out, quick dinners with minimal ingredients are in.

One way I simplify summer cooking is by following my tried-and-true meal planning schedule: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Wheatless Wednesdays, Throwback Thursdays (leftovers), Fish of Friday, Spaghetti Saturdays and Sunday Chicken Dinners. That takes a lot of the hassle out of menu development. All I need to do is find a good cookbook and plug in recipes.

This summer I’m excited about a new cookbook I bought called “The Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook” by Carrie Forrest. I have tried 14 of the 75 recipes in this book, and each one has been easy to assemble, budget friendly and something my kids ate without complaining. The portions are generous enough for lunchtime leftovers.

When I first bought my Instant Pot about two years ago, I was terrified of pressure cooking. Knowing that my new small appliance could explode if I didn’t follow the instructions was scary. But once I learned simple safety rules like never open the Instant Pot unless the float valve is all the way down, I gained confidence.

In fact, I love my Instant Pot so much that I’ve upgraded to the lux model. Now that I own two Instant Pots, I can prepare a main course and a side dish at the same time.

In colder parts of the year, I use my Instant Pot to cook broth, stews, chilis and pot roasts. But I haven’t used my Instant Pot very often during summer until now because recipes I found online seemed to be hit-or-miss. “The Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook,” however, is full of home runs.

The book divides recipes into five sections: basics and staples; grains, beans and veggies; soups, stews and chilis; seafood and poultry mains; and beef and pork mains. Throughout the book there are tips for accommodating vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets, as well as suggestions for prepping meals ahead of time.

Every recipe I’ve tried in this cookbook has required 15 minutes of prep or less. I throw ingredients into the Instant Pot and walk away. Family favorites include sloppy Joes, Indian butter chicken and turkey bolognese. I’ve also made a crustless quiche for breakfast, using a springform pan inside the Instant Pot.

Bring on the sunshine and lazy afternoons! The only way I could make summertime cooking easier on myself would be for my kids to prepare dinner. But that’s another type of pressure cooking altogether.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

Sloppy Joes

These sloppy Joes are perfect for those evenings when you don’t have anything planned but need dinner on the table fast. You literally just need to add the meat and spices to the Instant Pot and let it do all the work. These sloppy Joes can be served on a hamburger bun, or on top of sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds 90% lean ground beef

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 (16-ounce) can tomato puree

½ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Purple slaw, for garnish (optional)

Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Select Saute and add the oil to the inner pot. Once hot, add the ground beef and cook, using a spatula to break apart the beef, about 3 minutes.

Press Cancel and add the onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, tomato puree, ketchup, soy sauce and brown sugar. Stir to combine.

Lock the lid into place. Select Pressure Cook or Manual, and adjust the pressure to High and the time to 10 minutes. Make sure the steam release knob is in the sealed position. After cooking, naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure.

Unlock and remove the lid and stir the sloppy Joe mixture to make sure it’s well combined.

Serve immediately garnished with purple slaw and parsley, optional, or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Meal prep tip: The meat has a ton of flavor, so it’s great for leftovers. Besides serving it on a bun or over potatoes, you can also serve it on top of a salad for a low-carb option.

Gluten-free option: Use tamari in place of the soy sauce.

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