Saturday, February 10, 2018

Instant Pot Clam Chowder

I was skeptical of giving this recipe from Hip Pressure Cooking a try, but when I was planning our Super Bowl party and finally realized who was playing, a menu of “Cheeseteaks” and clam chowder fit the bill. The one could be made in the slow cooker and the other in the Instant Pot was a plus. Before you worry that the clams will get tough in the instant pot, if you are using canned clams as I did, they are added in at the end and simply heated through. The flavor comes from cooking the veggies in clam juice. New England Clam Chowder
1 cup chopped bacon (about 4-5 slices thick bacon)
1 medium onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes (red or russet), cubed
2 cups clam juice (8 oz bottled plus the juice from the canned clams was perfect)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme

1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
11 oz frozen or canned clams (I used 2-6 oz cans)

Sauté bacon until it releases much of its fat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to scrap up the bits of flavor from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the clam juice, potatoes, bay, thym and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on high pressure for 6 to 7 minutes, depending upon the size and type of potatoes. Quick release when the time is finished. (I used my 6 qt instant pot and had no issues with steam).

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in flour for a quick roux. With the instant pot on sauté-low, stir in the roux, milk cream and clams. Simmer the chowder, stirring ocassionaly until it has thickened slightly and the clams are heated through, about 5 minutes. You may sauté on medium if you are nearby and able to stir frequently. Season to taste.

Serves 4

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Slow Cooker Hot Cocoa

Just before Christmas, we hosted our first cold-weather kids' party--11 children plus 14 parent/grandparents and it was too cold to go outside. Although there was food and snacks galore, the hit of the party was the hot chocolate! Even though my husband is a fervent hot chocolate fan, it had never occurred me to serve hot chocolate in the slow cooker at a party. I'd done it with hot cider but never made that obvious leap.

Anyway, if I was going to do it, I decided I might as well do it decadently. Enter this recipe from Sally's Baking Addition. I've since made it not quite as decadent, using whatever milk I've had on hand. Toppings such as marshmallows, whipped cream, and even candy canes are essential for kids, but I'm good with it plain. Even though we've left it on warm for 4-6 hours, scorching has never been a problem but keep an eye on it just in case.

Slow Cooker Hot Cocoa
6 cups whole milk (or any lesser fat %)
2 cups heavy cream (or half and half)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, grated or chopped
1/4 cup (heaping) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a 4-6 quart slow-cooker. (Anything larger and I would double the recipe.) Whisk vigorously to incorporate the cocoa powder. Cook for 4-6 hours on low and 2-4 hours on high. Be sure to stir every 45-minutes to make sure the chocolate melts evenly and the mixture does not scorch. Switch to warm when the hot cocoa is a the desired temperature.

Serve with whipped cream, marshmallows, candy canes, etc.

Leftovers, assuming there are any, may be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Maple Syrup Banana Muffins

My Easy Banana Muffins recipe is one of the oldest in my recipe collection. They're definitely tasty, but my preferences for sweetness have changed significantly over the years. Now with two littles, I'm not too keen on feeding them tons of sugar in something homemade that's not a cake or a cupcake. That's why I was ecstatic to discover this recipe from Gimme Delicious that uses maple syrup (and not too much of it) as the sweetener.

Maple Syrup Banana Muffins
Adapted from Gimme Delicious

2 c white whole wheat flour
1/4 c rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 c mashed bananas
2 eggs
1/2 c maple syrup (or honey)
1/3 c canola oil
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add wet ingredients. Mix to combine.

Pour into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 14-16 muffins

Monday, July 3, 2017

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

It seems as though some weeks we're barely squeaking by in bananas come Saturday due to the battle between putting them in smoothies or the little guy consuming 1-2 each morning. Other weeks, we have nearly two bunches remaining at peak ripeness (or beyond). As there are only so many muffins I can bake at a time and only room for so many in the freezer, enter banana pancakes!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe from Simple Bites, titled "Fluffy Banana Pancakes." I habitually forget the melted butter in the microwave which means they're still delicious, but definitely not fluffy.

My little guy usually helps with the banana mashing...mash one, bite two, mash, bite, etc...Nonetheless this recipe makes a very large batch of pancakes, which I freeze for the rest of the week.

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes
Adapted from Simple Bites

1 c rolled oats
3 c white whole wheat flour
1.5 TBS ground flax
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 c milk
1 c yogurt (plain or vanilla, greek ok)
3 TBS melted butter or canola oil
1/3 c honey
1 1/3 cup smashed bananas, about 4 medium
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Whisk dry ingredients together, then mix in wet. Cool on a greased griddle until bubbles appear. Flip and cook until golden brown.

Makes at least 2 dozen

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Apple Oatmeal Nut Muffins

I think my plan will be to post recipes with or without pictures, simply to preserve them in my collection. Then later I can return and add photos.

We managed to go apple picking twice this fall. Though I didn't get the variety or mass quantities that I have in past years, we had plenty for snacking and enough for some new baking adventures. My little guys are muffin fans, but many muffins have a ton of sugar and butter. I was very attracted to this recipe because it is sweetened with maple syrup and has very little oil/fat. This recipe makes a drier, almost savory muffin, but I like them as do the littles.

Apple Oatmeal Nut Muffins
(adapted from

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup apple, coarsely grated
1⁄2 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil 1 1⁄4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
2⁄3 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine oats, apple, maple syrup, yogurt, egg and oil in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nuts. Fold the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined

Spoon batter using a muffin scoop into 12 large paperlined or greased muffin tins. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Crepes, Crepes, Crepes!

As we're moving in less than a month, it's becoming rather urgent to get a bunch of recipes posted as I soon won't have my massive post-it collection on my kitchen cabinet to glance at if I don't feel like wading through my forty Pinterest boards. Since we had crepes for breakfast, I figured today was the day to post this.

For ages, crepes were simply a dessert thing to me. Berries, chocolate, and whipped cream! Who knew they could be less sweet (but still yummy) or savory and would make a great breakfast for lunch? After trying a few variations, I've decided that this is my favorite recipe. This recipe is simple and that it's mixed in the blender making for quick clean up makes it all the easier. Even my husband has made these! I typically use white whole wheat flour, but whole wheat pastry flour has worked in a pinch. I'm sure you could also omit the fiber and use all purpose.

White Whole Wheat Crepes
3 eggs
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted + extra for cooking

Put all ingredients in blender and mix well. If the troops aren't too restless, let the mix stand about 15 minutes.

Melt and swirl around a small pat of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Angle pan and pour about 1/4 cup or enough batter on one side to thinly and evenly cover the pan. Very quickly swirl the batter around to cover the pan in one thin layer.

When the pancake looks set (about 1-2 muinutes), start using a spatula to push the edges. Go slowly and stop if the pancake starts to tear and wait another minute. Flip the pancake, which should be golden brown, and cook till golden brown on the other side (another 1-2 minutes).

Remove from pan and serve with berries, chocolate, maple syrup, whipped cream, chicken, spinach, or anything your heart desires!

Store covered tightly with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to a few days. You may want to reheat using a wet paper towel.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (GCE)

I've been making my usual whole wheat pizza dough for years. We love it, but it makes two medium pizzas, rather than two large unless you like extremely thin crust pizza. My husband does love thin crust, which is why I've made it for years that way (plus the associated calorie savings). However, with two hungry toddlers, one who's particularly finicky about toppings and might only eat cheese and crust some days, I decided to look for a dough recipe that would allow me to make thicker crust pizzas. This recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs, Good Cheap Eats. I modified it a bit to use some white whole wheat flour and optional King Arthur Pizza seasoning, which is basically a cheese and garlic powder (and a was total impulse buy that I've come to really love).

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 1/2 cups bread flour (or all purpose)
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor
1 tablespoon yeast

Mix ingredients together in the order required for your breadmaker. Set to "dough" cycle. I bake my pizzas at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

Makes 2 large pizzas

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Apple Pie

This recipe from Living on a Dime was just the thing for the first recipe made with the 20 pounds of apples we picked this weekend. Sweet, but not too sweet, it complemented the slightly salty pie crust perfectly. Other than omitting the nutmeg in favor of more cinnamon, I followed the recipe precisely as written. I used a combination of Ida and Mitsu apples.

Apple Pie

6-7 cups of medium apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. butter
double pie crust

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl except the butter. Pour into the pie crust. Dot with chunks of the butter and top with the other crust. Cut steam slits in the top crust and sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn down to 350 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes, until apples are tender and juices are bubbling nicely out of the steam slits.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Grilled Steak Salad with Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts

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Steak Salad with Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts
2 1-lb sirloin or top round steaks, about 1" thick
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 TBS red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, minced
8 c mixed greens
3 TBS pine nuts, toasted
6 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Season steak with salt and pepper and grill or pan fry until desired degree of doneness. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing thin.

Whisk together rosemary, red wine vinegar, mustard, and garlic.

Toss greens with dressing, then top with sliced meat, pine nuts, and cheese.

Serves 4

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween Pillows

A couple of years ago I became obsessed with making pillow covers. It's a quick and easy sewing project that results in a fresh look for the whole room. Now as each holiday season rolls around, I hit the holiday fabric section at Joann's when the sales are good and whip up a set for us or to gift. Sometimes, however, my fabric buying gets ahead of my crafting time. I purchased this fabric last year, but never got around to putting it to use.

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Since these all fit so nicely on one couch, I think I need to think about acquiring more pillow for the other couch and chairs. :)

MS Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake - My birthday cake!

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I turned 36 this year. Surprisingly, it was a bigger deal for me than turning 35. Possibly because last year I was 7 and 1/2 months pregnant or because my husband was working 12-hour night shifts or because my toddler was going through an extremely difficult sleep stage, I just didn't have time to worry about it. This year, however, I felt like 40 is knocking at my door. I'm definitely not grown up enough to be 40! Anyway, what better thing to do than celebrate with an obnoxiously decadent cake? I didn't want to go too crazy as I have a toddler and a 10 and 1/2 month old underfoot, but I did want something fancier than my regular cake. I'd pinned this recipe from Martha Stewart some time ago and decided it try it.

With loads of butter, eggs, and chocolate, this is quite a dessert. The actual cake is surprisingly quite light and fluffy. While I won't say that it is a complicated recipe, there are a number of steps. I actually messed up the caramel because you're meant to bring it to the soft-ball temperature in candy-making 238 degrees). However, the darn mixture kept boiling over even after I switched to a larger pot. So I gave up about 5 degrees short, which yielded a runnier caramel, which is perfect for ice cream. Luckily, when the buttercream hardens it holds the cake together beautifully, so it's not a huge deal. Enjoy!

MS Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake
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For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

For the caramel:
4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 sticks cold butter, cut into tablespoons

Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is dark amber, about 14 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully pour in cream (mixture will spatter); stir until smooth. Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees, about 2 minutes. Pour caramel into a medium bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Coarse salt
1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
Coarse sea salt for garnish.

Whisk together cocoa and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl until cocoa dissolves. Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt in a clean bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted chocolate and then cocoa mixture until combined. Let stand for 30 minutes before using.

To assemble the cake:
Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create a level surface. Cut each in half horizontally to form 2 layers. Transfer 1 layer to a serving platter, and spread 3/4 cup caramel over. top. Top with another cake layer, and repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers, leaving top uncovered. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Cake layers and caramel can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Martha notes that they actually taste better when refrigerated and have a better texture for stacking. Bring the caramel to room temperature before using. The frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.  photo IMG_6145.jpg

1st Birthday Cake - Yellow Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Well, I'm only about six months overdue in posting this creation, but better late than never, right? I started drafting this post ages ago but never published it....

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My younger son turned 1 year old! I have no clue where the previous year went. I still vividly remember all the blood tests, weekly doctor's appointments, and worrying about what we'd do with our toddler during delivery and subsequent stay in the hospital. Amusingly, my husband actually didn't remember that our awesome babysitter stayed at our house for 2 or 3 days while we were in the hospital and apparently thought our son had stayed with friends instead). Rather a big memory glitch in my opinion as one of the reasons I embarked on a mad hunt to find reliable paid care for our hospital stay as our closest friends live at least 45 minutes away. Plus, they have jobs and children of their own which might have made it challenging to drop everything and take our older child. Baby #2 arrived about 3.5 hours after I checked into the hospital and maybe a mere 4 hours since I was sitting in my OB's office telling her that I didn't think I was in labor only to find out I was more than 7 cm dilated. (*Sigh) Yet another opportunity for my husband to say "I told you so."
Getting off track here.

For my baby's birthday for whatever reason I thought he seemed like a white cake kind of guy. I love chocolate cake and had made my favorite chocolate cake for my older son's first birthday two years ago, but somehow I thought Baby #2 wanted a vanilla cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting. Hitting the cookbooks, I used a cake recipe from my big Gourmet cookbook and a frosting recipe from an old copy of Betty Crocker's Baking Classics.

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Yellow Cake
2 3/4 c sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 TBS butter (1.5 sticks), softened
1 1/2 c sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1.2 tsp vanilla
1 c whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two cake pans by lining them with parchment paper or buttering and flouring them.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and continue beating for 5 minutes more. With the mixer on low, gradually add flour and milk in batches until mixture is smooth.

Divide mixture evenly into pans. Bake 20-25 minutes until tester comes out clean and cakes are beginning to pull away from sides of pans. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove cake from pan to cool completely before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream
1/2 c butter, softened
4 c powdered sugar
2 TBS milk
2 tsp vanilla

Mix butter and powdered sugar until well combined. Beat in milk and vanilla until desired smooth consistency is reached.