Ah, the nostalgia. Growing up, I remember my grandmother planting a huge garden every year. And, every year, I spent the better part of my summers sitting on her front porch picking, shucking, and snapping until I thought my little fingers would snap off because, well, “we’ll be eating good this winter.” I also remember how she would arrange all of the freshly prepared bounty of vegetables in the kitchen in preparation for the very meticulous job of canning. She would run everyone out of the kitchen once she was ready to begin the process, as canning was a sterile job and the pressure cooker could “blow up.” Year after year, we were graced with countless jars of green beans, corn, and tomatoes; along with various other delicious foods, such as canned soup mixes and sauerkraut. I still can close my eyes and breathe in the heavenly aroma filling the entire house as the vegetable and fruits were meticulously prepped for canning or freezing.
As an adult, once I had become a mother, I had longed to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps in having a healthy and bountiful winter harvest prepared for my family. So, I began to take up gardening myself. After a first couple of successful seasons with the produce I created, I decided it was time to take my gardening to the next level. I purchased a pressure cooker and various sizes of canning jars. To be completely honest, I was terrified of trying the pressure cooker out for the first time. It was massive in size and given that my grandmother had never allowed anyone in her kitchen while she was doing her actual canning, I had never really seen on used before. At that time, there was no such thing as smart phones, YouTube, or Google, so I read the instructions provided with the pressure cooker, and reluctantly set about canning my first vegetables. Before long, I had my pantry filled Mason jars of green beans, tomatoes, and corn. I had also even attempted pickles, and while they did not turn out as crunchy as hoped, they tasted amazing. The sense of pride I felt was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
However, as time went on, my job changed and with it, my life had changed as well. The time that was necessary for tending a garden and canning vegetables seemed to be lost to me forever. So, eventually, I got rid of my treasured pressure cooker. For the following years, I really never thought much about it. It had been a time consuming and unnerving process, with the fear of the cooker “blowing up” always in the back of my mind.
Recently there has been a resurgence of sorts in the pressure cooker. They certainly do not look like the pressure cookers of old and are used commonly in most households today for preparing meals, rather than canning. This new generation of pressure cooker has become a staple of many homes. Understandably so, with the ability to cook a pack of chicken from still frozen to ready to shred in a mere fifteen minutes. You can search the internet and find hundreds upon hundreds of recipes for the modern pressure cooker. Additionally, they still have the ability to do canning as well. However, I have not found many people using them for canning as much as meal preparation.
Following the watching of a myriad of YouTube videos, reading some blogs online, and a handful of infomercials on the television, I decided on purchasing the Power Pressure Cooker XL. It would be no stretch to say that I am utterly in love with this new addition to my kitchen. Although admittedly, when I used my modern day pressure cooker for the first time, I was nervous because of the underlying threat that had been instilled into the recesses of my mind from childhood. It did not take me long to get more comfortable with my new cooker and begin to experimenting with new recipes. With the ability to boil a dozen eggs in a mere six minutes and prepare a creamy chicken and rice dish in under twenty minutes, it is no surprise why these modern pressure cookers are all the rage.
I sometimes follow recipes that I can find online, but I often play around with ingredients that I have on hand and make my own versions of many popular dishes. I recently prepared a dish for my family that was a huge favorite. And, in light of the fact that I only used one pan- the pressure cooker- it will be a dish that I intend to make often. I decided on a chicken taco soup, and given that it was a Tuesday, it seemed a fitting dish for Taco Tuesday.
I prepared my chicken in the pressure cooker, which only took fifteen minutes. Then I removed the chicken to cool and emptied the water in the bowl. While the chicken was cooling, I replaced the bowl to the cooker base and added my remaining ingredients. Finally, I shredded the chicken and added to the mixture and stirred to mix it well. Then, I set the pressure cooker on the slow cooker setting, which has an automatic time set of two hours, then it will shift to keep warm. I went back to finish my workday and let the pressure cooker take care of the soup. At the end of my workday, my family was treated with an absolutely delicious chicken taco soup, and I became the hero of the household. But, we all know the real credit goes to the Power Pressure XL!
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken ( for my recipe I used chicken tenderloins- if using large breasts, only 1 lb needed)
1 ½ C water (for pressure cooking chicken)
2 cans black beans
2 cans whole kernel corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
1 ½ C chicken stock
- Place 1 ½ cup water in pressure cooker
- Set rack in cooker and add chicken on top of rack
- Close pressure valve
- Press the chicken button on cooker- 15 minutes
- Once completed, open pressure valve to release steam (USE CAUTION)
- Remove chicken and allow to cool
- Remove wire rack and empty water from bowl
- Replace bowl and all tomatoes, beans, corn, chicken stock and taco seasoning
- Shred chicken and add to mixture, stir to mix well
- Select slow cook setting on pressure cooker- 2 hours
- Serve warm with tortilla chips and favorite toppings.
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