Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Instant Pot Japanese Curry

Sweet carrots, tender potatoes, and savory chicken are stewed together in a flavorful curry that is definitely full of spices but not overwhelmingly hot. This Japanese Curry is a different twist on a familiar dish that just might get you out of your dinner rut.
Have you ever been stuck in a meal rut. Where you just feel like you make the same dishes on repeat every week? That’s where I have been. Everything I thought about making for dinner was either something that I had made recently, or it was something that my hubby can’t have (he’s watching his cholesterol). So, I reached out for suggestions, and one friend suggested this Japanese Curry from Just One Cookbook. I have made many curries (Thai, Indian), but have never even heard of a Japanese Curry before. I decided to try it, and I’m so glad I did! 

If you’re stuck in a rut, and looking for something new, this just might be it.

Pressure Cooker Japanese Curry 

  • 3 small to medium onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 big carrots, cut into bite size pieces 
  • 3 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite size pieces 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  •  lb boneless skinless chicken thighs,(1½ lb = 680 g) cut into bite size pieces 
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp oil (vegetable, olive, etc.)
  • 3 cups chicken stock (3 cups = 720 ml)
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter (42 g)
  • 4 Tbsp all purpose flour (30 g) (You can use GF flour as well)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (6 g)
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala (6 g)
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (1-2 g) (optional for spicy)

Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot and heat 1 Tbsp. oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to make sure nothing is stuck. Press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button. Add in the carrots, potatoes, chicken, and 1 tsp salt. 
Put the lid on, turn the knob to “Sealing.” Press the “Meat/Stew” button, and set for 15 minutes. 
While that is cooking, melt the butter in a small sauce pot over medium heat on the stove. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns a little brown (tan). Whisk in the curry, Garam masala, and cayenne (if using). Turn off heat and let sit until the Instant Pot is done cooking.
When the IP is done, slowly turn the knob to “venting” until all the pressure is released. Carefully remove the lid and whisk in the roux (butter/flour/spice mixture), the ketchup, and soy sauce. Cook on “Sauté” for 5 minutes, then turn off. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Super-Flaky Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Super flaky whole wheat biscuits, can they really exist? It sounds like an oxymoron, but I can assure you it's not.
     Biscuits are a something that we make a lot in this house. Whether it is as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup, the equal partner in southern biscuits and gravy, or just to eat on their own with butter and jam, they often show up on our table. Since switching us over to an organic, whole foods way of eating a few years ago, I have had a difficult time making a tender and flaky biscuit. I have made multiple batches, using different flours and techniques, and I think I have finally hit the holy grail. I adapted my hubby's favorite recipe from The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (which is an AMAZING cookbook, if you don't already own it, you should!). The key is to use a whole wheat flour that is lighter in texture, and won't result in heavy hockey pucks when baked. Whole wheat pastry flour is the answer. Using it instead of regular white or red whole wheat flour results in a light and airy biscuit with flaky layers. Something that I wasn't quite sure existed in the whole food world until now.
If you don't have whole wheat pastry flour, you can use soft white whole wheat flour, but it will be a little more dense. If you don't care about eating whole foods (whole wheat), you are more than welcome to use regular unbleached all-purpose white flour. I still would recommend that you buy organic, because of all the controversy over wheat.
But, as always, use what you have and what you and your family like. If you haven't had success making whole wheat biscuits before, then I suggest you give this recipe a try as written. It just might make you a whole foods convert.
As I mentioned earlier, these biscuits are phenomenal on their own, but our favorite way to eat them is smothered under a healthy serving of white, peppered, sawmill sausage gravy. It may not look like much, but it tastes out of this world. Yum!

Super-Flaky Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits
adapted from The Food Lab

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour, (plus more for counter)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, but into 1/4 inch pieces
2 Tbsp butter melted (to brush on top)

Preheat oven to 425F. With a food processor, or a pastry cutter, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter until the butter is in small pea sized pieces. In a large bowl, stir together  the flour/butter mixture with the buttermilk and sour cream until just combined. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until it is just combined (adding flour as needed). Roll out the dough into a 12 inch square, and then fold in thirds (like a wallet). Press or roll the dough out again and repeat the folding process. Roll out the dough for a third time and cut into 4 inch rounds. Place them onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and brush the tops with the melted butter. Bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes, but it will vary depending on your oven).

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

I have often heard about enjoying apple cider doughnuts in the fall, but this California girl had never had that autumnal treat before. From what I gather, farmers markets and apple picking farms offer these delicious baked or fried treats to their patrons in the height of apple season. They are cake doughnuts, instead of my preferred yeast variety, so I've never been that tempted to try. While I'm usually not a fan of cake doughnuts, I do have a doughnut pan to make them because they are my husband's favorite kind. Since we moved to Northern Idaho we have been blessed enough to press our own apple cider from the wild apple trees near us, and there are no words to accurately describe how delicious it is. The fresh cider is the best I've have ever tasted, hands down. So, the idea of putting that concentrated apple flavor into a baked good (and rolling it in cinnamon sugar to boot!)  peaked my interest in actually trying my hand at making these seasonal doughnuts myself.

I researched a lot of recipes, and combined a few to make something new. The results were a light, fluffy baked round of cake, that has more natural apple flavor than I have ever tasted outside of the fruit and juice itself.
There are one or two surprising ingredients, but they really make these doughnuts something special. These are baked, and not fried, and use 100% whole wheat so you can feel a little less guilty about indulging in more than one.
My doughnut pan makes 24 doughnuts, so that is what my recipe is for. If you don't have a group or large family to cook for, then you can divide the recipe as needed. 

The real key to these doughnuts is the apple cider concentrate. You boil down apple cider (or juice, if that is all you have) until it is reduced by half, then add that condensed liquid to the batter. This is where the apple flavor comes from. Yes, a little comes from the applesauce I used (I actually prefer the Costco brand for the price in store), but most of the taste comes from the apple cider concentrate.

As always, I use organic ingredients, and that is what I recommend. However, you can use whatever is available to you.

Here's the recipe:
Adapted from thefauxmartha

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
Makes 24 

5 cups organic apple cider
      Boil this down by half to get the apple cider concentrate for the recipe. (This will take about 20 minutes, depending on your pan and stove. Keep an eye on it.) Cool before using.

9 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup organic applesauce 
1 1/3 cups + 1/2 cup apple cider concentrate (see above)
8 cups organic white whole wheat flour 
4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt (increase to 1 tsp if using unsalted butter)
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom 
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup pure organic maple syrup (or honey)
4 large eggs (pasture raised is best)


6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup apple cider concentrate (see above)
1 cup organic sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small pot, melt butter. Stir in cider concentrate, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Into the cooled butter/cider mixture, whisk in sugar, maple syrup (or honey if using), and eggs until evenly combined. 
Stir together wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
Spray doughnut pan with non stick spray. Add batter to a piping bag (or zip-top bag with the corner cut off) and pipe evenly into the pan.
Bake for 7 minutes. They will be light golden, not brown. (The color mostly comes from the topping.) Allow to cool 1 minute before removing donuts onto a cooling rack.
Make the topping by melting the butter and whisking in the cider concentrate.  In a separate bowl or dish, mix together cinnamon and sugar.
Quickly dip each doughnut in butter/cider mixture and lightly coat in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place back on cooling rack. Best served same day. Left overs can be kept on the counter uncovered, or in an open paper bag.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Layered Rigatoni with Bolognese and Parmesan Bechamel

I made up this dish one night when I wanted something like Pasticio, but without the eggplant or Greek seasonings.  I also don't care for the naked noodles in Pasticio. I like my noodles dressed in a coating of sauce to flavor each bite. I never was one for plain pasta. So, I threw this recipe together with what I had on hand and I think it turned out really good!
This dish was actually the first complete dish that my 7 month old ate. (We are doing Baby-Led Weaning. If you are curious what that is, I recommend this book. And if you are pregnant, or have a baby and want to try your hand at it, and need some guidance, this cookbook is a great place to start!) She gobbled this meal up like it was the best thing she's ever had, and her older siblings reacted pretty much the same way. The only person that wasn't over the moon about it was my husband. He likes more flavor, so when I make it again I'll add some red pepper flakes, and more garlic to suit his tastes.
As with all my recipes, please feel free to change up the flavors to your liking.
Before going in the oven.
Because this dish requires 2 sauces (a meat sauce and a white sauce) there is a bit more prep work involved, but it's well worth it.
After it's done baking. 
You can bake it for 15-20 minutes, or you can just pop it under the broiler if you're in a hurry. By the time you layer it in the baking dish, everything is already cooked. You're just looking for that delicious brown color on top.
You can't really see the layers well here, but they are there.
It all comes together into one scrumptious meal.
Organic ingredients are recommended (that's what I use), but not essential.

Here's the recipe:

Layered Rigatoni with Bolognese and Parmesan Bechamel

1 lb Rigatoni Pasta, cooked

Bolognese (Meat Sauce):

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 small to medium onion, diced
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced 
24 oz pasta sauce

In an extra large skillet, over medium high heat, add the oil and meal to the pan. Break up and cook the ground beef. When it is brown, add in the onions, zucchini, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the pasta sauce and stir to combine. When the sauce boils, turn off the heat and stir together with the cooked rigatoni pasta. Pour the pasta and meat sauce mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, and spread out into an even layer.

Parmesan Bechamel (White Sauce):

1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk, hot
1 tsp dry basil (optional)
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for top

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pot. Stir in the flour and cook until it bubbles (about 1 minute). Whisk in the hot milk slowly until the sauce is smooth and there are no lumps. Add the dry basil (if using), and nutmeg. Continue to cook the sauce over medium low heat, whisking constantly until it  boils and thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste, whisking and cooking for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan. Pour the sauce evenly over the pasta and meat sauce in the 9x13 baking dish. Top with more grated Parmesan cheese and bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes. If the top is not brown enough for your liking, you can place it under the broiler for a minute or two. (If you're in a rush, you can skip the bake time and just place it under the broiler to get brown.)

It can be served right away, but if you let the dish cool for 20 minutes before serving, you will be able to slice it nicely. (Think of it like lasagna.)

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Raspberry Sweet Rolls

Is anyone else conflicted about their feelings on the changing seasons? We're at that bittersweet time when summer is easily fading out, and fall is slowly creeping in. I LOVE cooler weather, but it also kind of makes me sad because I lament all the bounties of summer, and I dread the impending winter. I'm excited to use my oven more, and bake to my hearts content, but I'm also sad that it's the end of the summer berries, melons, and stone fruits. Making dishes like these Raspberry Sweet Rolls helps me celebrate the best of both worlds. I get to celebrate the last of the summers delectable berries, and I also get to relish in the warmth of a hot oven making the house feel cozy with it's heat and delicious smells.

I don't know if baking classifies as therapy, but it sure works for me. So, if you're having trouble resolving your feelings about the changing seasons, then try these rolls. I bet they help you too! If nothing else, they taste amazing and are a real show stopper when served for breakfast or brunch.
I just used half the recipe of my go-to cinnamon roll recipe, and swapped out the filling for one of sugar and berries with just a touch of corn starch to hold the juices together after baking. 
If you happen to not have fresh berries, that is perfectly fine. Frozen berries work really well here, and actually hold their shape better than the fresh variety.
The cut rolls are baked on a parchment paper lined sheet pan, and only take about 15 minutes.

After the rolls have baked up to brown perfection, with puddles of sweet cooked rasperries, they get slathered with the best vanilla cream cheese frosting. The frosting melts into the rolls and makes them really special.

After they have cooled a bit, then I frost them one more time, and serve them while they are still warm. You can see how the berries have made their own jam beneath the rolls. They render me speechless they are that good.

So, whether or not you are looking for a little baking therapy like me, or you just want to enjoy something deliciously different from your average cinnamon roll, these rolls will do the trick. I hope you enjoy them!

*As always, organic ingredients are recommended.

Here's the recipe:
Adapted from twopeasandtheirpod

Raspberry Sweet Rolls

1 3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
3 Tbsp dry active yeast
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 eggs
5 1/4 cups flour 

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened salted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3 1/2 cups raspberries

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) softened salted butter
1/2 block (4 oz) softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (can use lemon extract or lemon zest if you want a lemon frosting)

In a stand mixer, combine water, sugar, oil, and yeast and let sit for 15 minutes. It should puff up. Add salt, eggs and flour and knead with dough hook (or by hand) for 10 minutes. Dough should pull away from sides, but may stick to the bottom of the mixer bowl. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. 

Mix together the brown sugar, white sugar, and cornstarch for the filling. Set aside. 

Put about 1 tablespoon of oil on the counter or cutting board. Press out into a large rectangle. Spread with the butter, and sprinkle with the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Evenly sprinkle on the raspberries. Roll up tight, but not too tight. Cut into 12 rolls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. 

 Bake for 12-15* minutes at 400 degrees. (Start checking at 12 minutes. It might take up to 20 minutes depending on your oven. They are done when brown and when the bread part of the roll reads 200 degrees on a thermometer.) Turn the pan once during baking. 

While they are baking, mix together the frosting. Using a hand mixer or whisk, whip the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla (or lemon), and the powdered sugar one cup at a time. It's done when it's smooth and light. 

Immediately after removing the rolls from the oven, frost them with a little of the frosting. It will melt into the rolls. After they have cooled slightly, frost again with desired amount. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Salted Caramel Sauce

A couple nights ago, my friend invited my family and me over for ice-cream sundaes. I asked her what we could bring, and she said just to bring our favorite topping. While my favorite topping for ice cream is the chocolate sauce/hot fudge that my dad taught me how to make, I thought I would try my hand at making caramel sauce.
From all that I've seen and read it seemed fairly easy. It's basically sugar, water, and cream. Everything else is just extra.
So, at 5:10pm I decided I would make the caramel sauce. If it didn't turn out, then I wouldn't take it, but I was hoping it would. We needed to be there by "6-ish" so I was cutting it pretty close, but that tends to be how I do things lately. Last minute, and off the cuff.
So, I looked at a couple recipes. Got the gist of the method, and started cooking.
If there is any trick to this at all, I would say it is to NOT STIR while it's cooking. Stirring increases the likelihood that your sauce will develop crystals, turn grainy, and "sugary." I added a touch of corn syrup to my sauce as a preventative measure. It has a different chemical make-up than the granulated sugar has, so when it bonds with the sugar during cooking, it prevents crystallization. Alton Brown explains it really well, if you're interested in the culinary chemistry of it all. His show Good Eats changed my cooking world forever.
It took 15 minutes for my sauce to come together start to finish, because I used the biggest pot I had. It cooked faster than it would have in a smaller sauce pan, so I was able to cool the sauce quickly and pour it into a jar, and get my family out the door in record time.
I was a little nervous at how it would set up, but it worked beautifully. It was thick enough to coat the spoon, and the ice-cream, but it wasn't overly thick or chewy. Just perfect.

My friend asked for the recipe, so that's what prompted me to share it with you. I honestly just threw it together, without measuring, as I do most things, so I had to go back and figure it out.

*As always, I use organic ingredients, but feel free to use what you have.
Also, the type of salt you use will determine how salty the final product is. (This what I use.) I recommend adding a little at a time to make sure the taste is to your liking. The type of butter used will also affect the flavor. I use salted butter. If you use unsalted butter you will probably use more salt than is listed.

Here's the recipe:

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup organic pure cane sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp corn syrup 
1 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp fine sea salt (to taste)
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract

In a large sauce pan, stir together sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook over medium high heat, without stirring, until the mixture turns a deep amber color (about 10 minutes). Turn off the heat and whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will rise and bubble up fiercely, so be careful as you whisk it all to combine. When it has stopped bubbling, add in the salt, butter, and vanilla. Stir to combine and serve warm or at room temperature. Store in a glass jar or other airtight container.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

 Have you jumped on the electric pressure cooker bandwagon yet? I hopped on 2 years ago and I’ve never looked back. My Instant Pot has made my life so much easier. Especially when we moved into our new house last year and I had to find a way to cook my meals for 3 months without a stove/oven. Nearly every meal for my family was made in my Instant Pot.
 Now there are a ton of recipes out there for macaroni and cheese made in an electric pressure cooker. So many that I wasn’t even going to bother sharing mine; but I was asked to bring this recipe to an activity at church and demonstrate how to make it, so I thought I might as well post it for all of you as well. To tell you the truth, I don’t make it the same every single time. But, I marked down the measurements for how I made it this time, and this is what you have.

The recipe is super easy. Basically, you just put the dry noodles in the Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker), cover with water and cook for 3 minutes. When it's done cooking, let it sit for 1 minute and then do a gradual quick release. When the pressure is gone, you just stir in some cream (milk, half and half, evaporated milk, what have you) and cheese until it's creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and you're done. It couldn't be simpler, and the best parts (besides the taste of course): no big pot of water to drain, and no need to use a rue! I'm telling you, it's some sort of voodoo, but it works!
You can jazz it up with some other spices and/or aromatics, as I've done in the following recipe, but it's all based on your tastes. If you like to use smoked cheese, by all means put some smoked Gouda in there. You like onion and garlic? Add it in to your hearts content. You like Velveeta instead of cream cheese? Go for it. My kids like their mac and cheese to look bright like the stuff from the box, so sometimes I will add a dash of turmeric for color. It doesn't change the flavor, it just colors the cheese sauce to look more appealing to the kids. Seriously, you could add nearly anything from any other macaroni and cheese recipe that you love, and it would work here. I added some cooked bacon the other day and it was amazing! Once you learn how to do the method, the recipe is just an after thought.  Adapt it all you want.

Here's the recipe:

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound pasta
3 1/2 cups water 
2 Tbsp butter
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups cream, or dairy of choice (divided)
10 oz shredded cheddar cheese (about 3 cups)
salt and pepper to taste (I usually add 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper)

Put the dry pasta into the pot of your electric cooker. Cover with the water. Put the lid on and seal it. Cook on manual for 3 minutes. Let sit one minute, and then gradually release the pressure. Leave any remaining water in the pot. Keep the pressure cooker on "keep warm." Stir in the butter, cream cheese, ground mustard, onion powder, and garlic powder. When the butter and cream cheese are melted, add in 1 cup of cream. Gradually add in the shredded cheese, stirring to melt. Add cream to get the consistency you prefer. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
If there is any left over you can store it in the refrigerator. When you reheat it, you will need to add a splash of milk to thin out the cheese sauce.

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