Sunday, April 8, 2018

Two ingredient icebox yogurt cake

Icebox cakes are as old-fashioned as iceboxes themselves. They are traditionally made with cookies like chocolate wafer cookies layered with whipped cream. After sitting in the fridge for a few hours, the wafers soften and become cake-like. Why not use thick, tangy, creamy Greek yogurt instead of whipped cream, and pair it with graham crackers? The tangy yogurt combined with the graham crackers creates a no-bake cheesecake! This is so simple I can't even call it a recipe.  Feel free to put own spin on it and try a bunch of different flavor combinations.

Here's what I do:
6-8 sheets of graham crackers (regular, cinnamon, or chocolate)
16 oz flavored Greek yogurt, any amount of fat (so many possibilities here! Vanilla, strawberry, honey, or lemon are all great!)

I place them in a Tupperware container that happens to fit two rows of graham crackers perfectly. Start with a base of graham crackers, then layer on some of the yogurt, repeating for 3-4 layers, ending with yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Makes 4 servings. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Instant Pot Harvest Squash Risotto

Butternut squash risotto with cranberries, pepitas, and blue cheese
After discovering how easy risotto is to make in the Instant Pot, I've been on a kick lately. I love the idea of using winter squash to add creaminess. I suggest two ways of finishing the dish. For a more traditional risotto, add Parmesan cheese. For a tangy twist, add dried cranberries, blue cheese, and pepitas.

Instant Pot Harvest Squash Risotto
2 T butter
1 medium onion, diced
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
2 T white wine vinegar or acv (optional)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup pureed winter squash (butternut, pumpkin, or acorn)
3/4 t salt
1/2 t poultry seasoning
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 lb (or 1 packed cup) fresh spinach, chopped

Then, to finish, either:
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese stirred in
or
stir in 1/3 cup dried cranberries, and sprinkle on blue cheese and pepitas

Saute onion in butter until golden on high in Instant Pot. Add garlic and rice, and toast, stirring frequently, for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients except spinach and finishing ingredients. Close Instant Pot with the pressure valve to sealing. Cook in Manual (Hi) for 6 minutes, then quick release. Rice should be fully cooked but al dente and moist. This always produces the perfect texture for me, but it is easy to tweak if necessary. If rice is too firm, saute until softened. If too dry, add water to loosen. If too moist, let it stand for a few minutes. It absorbs a lot of water as it cools. Stir in remaining ingredients. Makes 4 main course servings.

Contrary to popular belief, risotto holds well in the fridge and freezer. Just add water and reheat in the microwave, checking often to be sure it doesn't overheat. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Instant Pot beet risotto

When I lived in the Boston area, I loved to go to the Foundry, which would occasionally have a beet risotto special. I'm not usually a beet person or a risotto person, but there was something better than the sum of its parts about this fuchsia, goat-cheesy dish. I ate that risotto on my birthday and on the day I defended my PhD dissertation. 

Risotto usually takes a lot of babysitting, so I never considered making it until owning an Instant Pot. Pressure cooking makes it possible to make perfectly creamy risotto with a totally hands-off approach. Just saute the ingredients, add liquid, seal, and cook for 6 minutes, and you're done! I like to take a root-to-leaf approach and wilt in the beet greens at the end for a pop of color and freshness.

Instant Pot beet risotto
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 small beets, unpeeled, diced or shredded; greens chopped and reserved
3/4 t salt
1/2 t herbes de Provence or thyme
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 T lemon juice
goat cheese for garnish

Saute onion in oil until golden on high in Instant Pot. Add garlic and rice, and toast, stirring frequently, for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients except lemon, beet greens, and goat cheese. Close Instant Pot with the pressure valve to sealing. Cook in Manual (Hi) for 6 minutes, then quick release. Rice should be fully cooked but al dente and moist. This always produces the perfect texture for me, but it is easy to tweak if necessary. If rice is too firm, saute until softened. If too dry, add water to loosen. If too moist, let it stand for a few minutes. It absorbs a lot of water as it cools. Stir in lemon and greens, which will wilt quickly. Serve topped with crumbles of goat cheese. Makes 4 main course servings.

Contrary to popular belief, risotto holds well in the fridge and freezer. Just add water and reheat in the microwave, checking often to be sure it doesn't overheat. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Instant Pot misir wat

I have posted before about my love for Ethiopian food. This love often goes unrequited because we don't have any Ethiopian restaurants near our city. As such, I've created an easy approximation of one of my favorite dishes, misir wat (red lentil stew). I stopped short of making my own injera, the flatbread typically served with it, because teff flour is hard to find around here. Instead, I make an easy 3 ingredient Indian crepe out of chickpea flour.

3 T butter
1 red onion, chopped
1 T ginger-garlic paste
1 t salt
2 t paprika
2 t smoked paprika
3/4 t cumin
3/4 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cardamom
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t fenugreek (optional)
1/2 can fire roasted tomatoes with chiles or 1 tomato, chopped
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
6-8 oz fresh or frozen chopped spinach (optional)
1 T lemon juice

Instant Pot/pressure cooker instructions: Saute onion in butter until caramelized. Add ginger-garlic paste and spices and saute for a couple more minutes. Add remaining ingredients except spinach and lemon juice. Cover pot, turn vent to sealing, and set to manual pressure to 9 minutes. When finished, turn the vent to release steam. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve.

Stovetop directions: Follow directions above, except instead of pressure cooking, cover pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until lentils are tender and just starting to fall apart.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

5 Ingredient Healthy Breakfast Fruit and Nut Butter Cookies

I wanted to develop a recipe for easy, healthy cookies that I could munch on as a breakfast, snack, or dessert. The nut butter plays a starring role in this recipe. There are a lot of benefits to this approach: nut butters are full of healthy protein, fiber, and fat. They act in place of butter or oil and also create structure like flour (similar to the way almond meal can be used in the place of flour). This also means that you can cut out a lot of carbs by using a nut butter instead of some of the flour/grain. Adding a substantial amount of fruit, like banana, applesauce, or pumpkin, adds sweetness, moisture, flavor, and nutrition. These ingredients are natural egg substitutes, so this is an accidentally vegan recipe! The recipe is easy and adaptable, so feel free to play around with it!
Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

Here is the base recipe, and below are a few specific nut butter/fruit combinations I like.


5 Ingredient Healthy Breakfast Fruit and Nut Butter Cookies
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 cup ground flaxseed (optional; can substitute chia seeds or another 1/2 cup oats)
1 cup plus 2 T sweetener
1 cup (8.5 oz) nut or seed butter (e.g. almond, peanut, cashew, sunbutter)
1 1/4 cup fruit puree (e.g. applesauce, mashed ripe bananas, pumpkin puree)
1 t vanilla (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Lay spoonfuls of dough on a greased or parchment-lined sheet pan. Squish down to the thickness you desire. They will not spread or rise. Bake on top rack for 25 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown and centers are tender but firm. Makes about 20 cookies.


Peanut Butter Banana Cookies
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 cup ground flax (optional; can substitute chia seeds or another 1/2 cup oats)
1 cup sweetener (I do half honey and half Splenda)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg (optional)
1 cup (8.5 oz) peanut butter
1 1/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 11 oz or 3 medium bananas)
1 t vanilla (optional)

Follow directions for master recipe above.


Apple Almond Butter Cookies
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) oats
1/2 cup ground flax (optional; can substitute chia seeds or another 1/2 cup oats)
1 cup plus 1 T sweetener (I do half Splenda and half brown sugar)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1 cup (8.5 oz) almond butter
1 1/4 cups applesauce (about 12 oz)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1 t vanilla (optional)

Follow directions for master recipe above.


Pumpkin Almond Butter Cookies
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 cup ground flax (optional; can substitute chia seeds or another 1/2 cup oats)
1 cup plus 2 T sweetener (I do half Splenda and half brown sugar)
2 t cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 cup (8.5 oz) almond butter
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 t vanilla (optional)

Follow directions for master recipe above.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Healthy One-Bowl Banana Muffins

Ever since making my Morning Glory Muffins and Pumpkin Pepita Muffins, I've been on a healthy muffin kick. My muffins always contain as much fruit as possible and are made with whole wheat and other healthy ingredients.

I try to each a banana every day as an afternoon snack, but I am also very picky about the state the banana needs to be in. It has to be yellow with no brown on it. That means I would have a lot of food waste on my hands if I didn't do something else with the older bananas. So, I wait for them to get really brown, then peel them and pop them in a baggie in the freezer. Once I've collected enough, I defrost them and make these muffins!

Healthy banana muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar and/or Splenda
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup chia seeds (optional, but I love the extra crunch and nutrients they provide)
1.5 t baking soda
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 5 large bananas, or 1 lb of banana flesh)
1/3 cup plain or Greek yogurt
1/3 cup softened butter or oil
2 large eggs (you can omit if you'd like to go vegan. They may not rise quite as much. Be sure to use the flax or chia seeds listed above and add 3 T water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 12-count muffin pan* with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. Fold everything together just until no dry pockets remain. The batter will be very thick. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them heaping full.

Bake for 5 minutes at 425. Then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. (This initial temperature burst helps it to rise.) Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until no longer squishy in the middle.

*You could turn this into banana bread by making it in a bundt pan. It will take around 40 minutes to cook.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Healthy Pumpkin Pepita Cranberry Muffins

I have a new recipe just in time for pumpkin season! I already have a huge collection of recipes involving canned pumpkin as an easy way to add produce to savory and sweet dishes. This recipe is modified from my One-Bowl Morning Glory muffin recipe, and its even easier because you don't need to cut up any fruit!

Pumpkin Pepita Cranberry Muffins
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup sweetener of choice (I do 1/2 cup Splenda and 1/2 cup brown sugar)
3/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or other nuts or seeds
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup ground flax or chia seeds (optional)
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup milk of choice
1/3 cup oil (I use coconut or olive. You could leave out the oil altogether, but I don't recommend it. The oil will give the muffins a better texture and a lighter crumb. If you skip the oil, the texture might be a tad gummy texture.)
3 large eggs (you can omit if you'd like to go vegan. They may not rise quite as much. Be sure to use the flax or chia seeds listed above and add 1/4 cup more liquid)
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 12-count muffin pan* with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. Fold everything together just until no dry pockets remain. The batter will be very thick. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them heaping full. (It may look like you have too much batter, but it will all fit if you heap it. The muffins will rise a little, but they will not spread, so don't worry about making a mess. Bake for 5 minutes at 425. Then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. (This initial temperature burst helps it to rise.) Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*You could turn this into pumpkin bread by making it in a bundt pan. It will take around 40 minutes to cook.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Cauliflower Casserole

My best grad school friend, Glutenless Goddess, used to make a fabulous buffalo chicken pasta from A Year of Slow Cooking. I think she even won a cookoff with it. Well, I was reminiscing about big potluck meals with fellow starving grad students, and I started to crave it. Could I make something with those same flavors using cauliflower? Yes! It works really well as a substitute for noodles in any sort of baked pasta dish. This is the idea behind my cheeseburger cauliflower helper, jalapeno popper cauliflower gratin, and baked fake-ziti

This is my favorite way to eat cauliflower yet! The cauliflower softens and takes on the texture of pasta and gets enveloped in a super creamy, cheesy, tangy sauce. Whenever we buy rotisserie chicken, we always seem to have an awkward amount leftover--not quite enough to make a meal. This recipe is the perfect way to use it up! It tastes even better as leftovers and freezes well, too. Serves 6-7 main courses.

Buffalo Chicken Cauliflower Casserole
3 lbs cauliflower florets
2 T water
1/4 t salt
8 oz cream cheese (I use lowfat)
6-8 ounces grated jack, cheddar jack, or pepperjack cheese, a handful reserved for sprinkling over the top
3/4 cup Frank's buffalo sauce
1/2 cup (3 oz) crumbled blue cheese
1 cup (8 oz) cooked shredded or cubed chicken (this is a great way to use up leftovers from a rotisserie chicken (optional)
1 t garlic powder (optional)
1 t worchestershire sauce (optional)
1/2 t smoked paprika (optional)

In a large oven and microwave safe casserole dish, microwave frozen cauliflower, 2 T water and salt until softened, about 15 minutes, stirring and checking every now and then. Preheat oven to 375. In a separate mixing bowl microwave cream cheese or put in preheating oven until soft, mix all remaining ingredients except cauliflower. Once mix is combined, stir in cauliflower and any remaining liquid, and return to casserole dish. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes, until cauliflower is hot and bubbly, and the top is slightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving; the cauliflower will absorb the remaining liquid and "set".

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Brown rice jambalaya (Instant Pot, pressure cooker, and stovetop recipes) from a native Louisianian

As is tradition, I made my brown rice jambalaya recipe for my lab's end-of-year party yesterday. This time, I wanted to try to "hack" jambalaya to make it a little easier and tastier. I've been experimenting with my new Instant Pot multicooker lately and have learned that it makes excellent brown rice using the pressure cooker setting. The pressure cooks it quickly and evenly, forcing just the right amount of moisture into the grain without it getting mushy, breaking up, or sticking to the bottom. Don't get me wrong, my jambalaya recipe comes out great when made on the stovetop as well, but it does take some patience for all the rice to cook through.

I used the same recipe I have already posted on this blog, except I halved it because I have a 6-quart Instant Pot. An 8-quart or larger cooker would allow you to make the full recipe. The original recipe makes an almost comical amount of food, so I had no qualms about halving it and still having enough for a party of 9. In fact, I'll post the halved recipe below with Instant Pot and stovetop instructions so those who would like to make a more reasonable amount of food don't have to do the math.

Jambalaya is a Cajun rice dish in which rice is cooked in stock with lots of seasoning, meat, and veggies, all in one pot. By the end of cooking, the rice should absorb all the liquid, have fluffy, distinct grains, and have an al dente texture. The key to making good jambalaya is getting the ratio of liquid to rice just right. I have seen restaurants outside of Louisiana serving meat and sauce on top of steamed white rice and calling it jambalaya. This is not jambalaya!

I make my jambalaya with brown rice. Why not? It's healthier, and it's going to end up brown anyway from the caramelized onions and delicious meat juices. No one will know the difference. Brown rice has a slightly firmer texture than white rice, so it holds together better. My jambalaya combines elements of both traditional Cajun and Creole recipes, it has the fluffy texture of Cajun (brown) jambalaya with just a subtle hint of tomato, without being bright red or tomato saucy like a Creole jambalaya. The bit of tomato adds just enough acidity to perk up the flavor. Garnishing the jambalaya with fresh green onions brightens the flavor and adds color.


Brown Rice Jambalaya (serves 8-10)
1 lbs boneless chicken thighs, raw or cooked, cut into bite-sized pieces. Leftover turkey works great here too. One of the best jambalayas I made was with leftovers from Thanksgiving turkey that Glutenless Goddess made.
1 lb sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices (Ideally, Savoie's andouille. If you don't happen to live in Louisiana, kielbasa or smoked sausage will work. When I lived in Boston, I borrowed chourico from the large Portuguese population, which was an excellent substitute. Now that I live in Oregon, the best sausage I can reliably get is Johnsonville Andoullie [insert lament about Oregon's lack of diversity here]).
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Tony Chachere's seasoning. This is our standard seasoning blend for almost everything we make in Louisiana. You can find it at any grocery store. It may change your cooking life.
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 lb long grain brown rice (about 2 heaping cups), rinsed and drained
15 oz can diced tomatoes
just shy 2 cups chicken or turkey stock
Tabasco sauce to taste
1 bunch chopped green onions, for garnish

Instant Pot or pressure cooker instructions:
Set cooker to saute. If using raw chicken, brown, then remove and cut into bite-sized pieces. Next, brown sausage until it's almost blackened. Add the veggies and saute until they reach a dark caramelized color. Add all remaining ingredients except green onions and stir.

Secure lid and ensure it is set to "sealing." Set the Instant Pot or pressure cooker to 20 minutes. Once it is finished cooking, allow it to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then manually release the rest of the pressure. Stir in green onions and serve with extra Tabasco sauce, if needed.

Traditional stovetop instructions:
Heat a large dutch oven to medium-high heat. If using raw chicken, brown, then remove and cut into bite-sized pieces. Next, brown sausage until it's almost blackened. Add the veggies and saute until they reach a dark caramelized color. Add all remaining ingredients except green onions and stir. 

Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a simmer. Reduce to low heat, and cook, covered for 50 minutes. At this point, check to see if rice is tender. If not, cover and return to low heat until the rice is tender. Resist the urge to add more liquid if the rice is not cooked yet. There is plenty of steam floating around in there, and as long as you keep it covered, it WILL cook through! Only stir the jambalaya once or twice once it starts cooking--stirring too much will break down the rice, and you will end up with something resembling risotto! Stir in green onions and serve with extra Tabasco sauce, if needed.

NOTE FOR STOVETOP VERSION: Thanks to a reader comment, I've started soaking my rice in the chicken stock or broth called for in the recipe. It makes the rice cook a bit quicker (usually in about an hour) and more evenly. I soak it for 8 hours to overnight, but even just a little while helps. Pour the rice and the soaking liquid into your pot after all of your meats and veggies have browned, cover, bring to a simmer, and cook as directed above. Soaking is not needed if using an Instant Pot/pressure cooker, because these cookers are so efficient at getting moisture into the rice.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Jalapeno Popper Cauliflower Gratin

I was so in love with my recipe for jalapeno popper mac and cheese that I had to make a low carb version. Essentially, it is a combination of that recipe and my recipe for cauliflower cheese. This recipe has all the creamy, spicy flavors of a jalapeno popper, and the cauliflower takes on the texture of pasta. And it only has about five ingredients!

Jalapeno Popper Cauliflower Gratin
Approximately 2.5 to 3 lbs cauliflower florets
2 T water
3/4 t salt
8 oz cream cheese I use lowfat
8 ounces grated cheddar or cheddar jack, a handful reserved for sprinkling over the top.
2-4 jalapenos, thinly sliced (2 will yield a mild-medium dish, and 4 will yield a spicy dish)
1 t garlic powder
black pepper to taste (I like a lot)
6 slices cooked, crumbled bacon or 1/4 cup bacon bits (optional)
1/3 cup salsa verde (optional; adds a nice kick of zesty flavor)

In a large oven and microwave safe casserole dish, microwave frozen cauliflower, 2 T water and salt until softened, about 15 minutes, stirring and checking every now and then. Preheat oven to 375. In a separate mixing bowl microwave cream cheese or put in preheating oven until soft, mix all remaining ingredients except cauliflower. Once mix is combined, stir in cauliflower and any remaining liquid, and return to casserole dish. Bake, uncovered for 20 minutes, until cauliflower is hot and bubbly, and the top is slightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving; the cauliflower will absorb the remaining liquid and "set".