Thursday, December 8, 2016

Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken and Brown Rice


I got an Instant Pot on sale on Black Friday, and after a few easy things over the weekend I was ready to try a more ambitious meal. I was pretty nervous because I couldn't find a recipe for exactly what I wanted to do, so I had to combine different things, but it turned out perfectly. We'll definitely be making it again! I used the pot-in-pot method to cook the rice separately from my chicken. After playing around with different stuff I had on hand, I ended up using the liner from my old rice cooker to be the rice pot, but any oven-safe container will do; I also had a Pyrex bowl that was pretty close to the right size.

The instructions I use here are specifically for brown rice and frozen chicken breasts. If you're using thawed chicken and white rice, your rice will need less water (most ratios I've read suggest 1:1 for pot-in-pot white rice) and a shorter cook time (probably more like 12-15 minutes).

3 large frozen chicken breasts (or 4-6 small ones), not thawed
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon apple juice concentrate OR 4 tablespoons apple juice
3 tablespoons honey
A dash of pepper
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups water

Mix together soy sauce, vinegar, apple juice/water, honey, pepper, sesame oil, and garlic. Place sauce and frozen chicken breasts in bottom of pressure cooker. Rinse rice and place in smaller oven-safe bowl or pot (test to make sure that your inner pot will fit inside your pressure cooker, on top of the chicken, without overfilling the cooker), with the water. Cover with foil and if your inner pot doesn't have a handle, use tin foil to make a "sling" to go under the pot for easy removal.

I used the liner from my 6 cup rice cooker for my inner pot.
Here it is covered in foil with a folded-tinfoil sling.

Place your rice pot on top of the chicken—either directly on top, or using the Instant Pot trivet upside-down like this:


My rice cooker pot inside the Instant Pot—
it hits right at the Max Fill line.

Put on pressure cooker lid and cook for 23 minutes. (It took mine about 10-15 minutes to come up to pressure at the beginning.) I am not familiar enough yet with my Instant Pot to know the ins and outs of pressure releases, so I'm not sure if there's a specific method that works best with this recipe, but I ended up letting my pressure cooker sit for between 5 and 10 minutes and then letting the rest of the pressure off with the quick release valve because we needed to eat right then. ;) It worked great and I did NOT make the pot explode! It was cooked enough that I suspect it would be fine to do quick release from the start, but also fine to leave it on warm and let the pressure release naturally if you want to keep it warm for awhile.

Everything about this meal was perfect—the chicken was cooked perfectly, the rice was excellent, and the teriyaki sauce is the best I've ever made and one of the best I've ever tasted. I've been trying all year to imitate the sauce from my favorite teriyaki joint, and while this wasn't quite to that level, it was pretty darn close!

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Flaky Layered Biscuits


I love biscuits. Isn't that a requirement of being truly Southern? While I've never met a homemade biscuit I didn't want to devour, I've been working for years to perfect my biscuits and come up with THE best biscuit recipe I'd ever tasted. For a long time, our favorites were these Buttermilk Drop Biscuits—and while I totally love those, my one frustration was that they weren't very good for those days when I really wanted to cut a biscuit apart and slather it with strawberry jam. 

Enter these beauties. They are tall, tender, flaky, and layered, like biscuits from a fancy restaurant. And they are good. SO good. So good that the first time I made them I ate enough to give me a stomach ache. (I don't recommend that.) I suspect these biscuits will be the ones I'm making most often from now on! I did some experimenting in making these and threw the conventional biscuit wisdom (don't over-work the dough, etc.) out the window. I was nervous, but the picture speaks for itself! 

3 cups flour (I use half wheat, half white)
1 t baking powder
1 1/4 t salt
1 stick butter, grated
1 - 1 1/2 cups whipping cream (regular, not heavy)

Preheat oven to 450. Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder. Grate in butter and mix with fork. Add one cup of cream and then continue adding until dough is moistened enough to hold together, but not wet. Turn onto floured countertop and knead once or twice to help dough hold together. Roll out with floured rolling pin, then fold into quarters and roll again. Repeat folding and rolling five or six times, until the dough is elastic and smooth, then roll to 1/2 inch thickness (yep, it's thicker than you usually would roll a biscuit—it's part of what makes these extra-good!). Cut biscuit rounds from dough and place onto a pan very close together, so that their edges touch (this makes them rise higher). Really cram them as closely together as you can! Bake 14-15 minutes or until golden-brown on top.

Yields about 1 dozen.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Oat & Wheat Sandwich Bread


Prep Time: Easy to medium (easier than most bread recipes, a little more involved than many I've shared on this blog)
Source: Smitten Kitchen (slightly adapted)

There are few things I love more than a loaf of fresh bread, especially smothered in butter and homemade jam. While I have a few trusty recipes I use as my go-to—namely this one and this one—I also love to experiment with new ones. Lately I've been making a new soft-crusted sandwich bread that I absolutely love—it's tender but still hearty, and I also think much more filling because the dough is enriched with milk and eggs. (Those are totally optional, but the texture is definitely different without them.) According to the Smitten Kitchen recipe this can also be a refrigerated dough, but I've not had success with that as the dough itself isn't moist enough and develops a spongy texture when I try to refrigerate it. If you left out some of the flour and allowed it to be a stickier dough that didn't hold its shape at all, then it would be great in the fridge. So far, I've just been making batches of this and then freezing extra loaves for super low-maintenance bread for days at a time.

This recipe yields two loaves, but I've also doubled it for four or 1 1/2'd it for three. When I did 1 1/2, I still just included two eggs.

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
(My trick: mixing hot water and cold milk, then I don't have to warm the milk)
1 T instant yeast
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
3 T molasses or honey (I measure it after the oil in the same cup, and then it doesn't stick!)
1 T coarse salt (if using fine salt use a bit less)
2 cups rolled oats
5ish cups whole wheat flour

Combine all ingredients except oats and flour, and mix together with a spoon or stand mixer (using the dough hook attachment). Add oats and then flour and mix for a minute or two. The dough will be fairly sticky and wet and probably won't pull away from the bowl much. Let rest for five minutes and then mix for another two minutes, adding more flour if needed; I like to get mine to the point where it's just beginning to pull away from the sides of the bowl but not forming a firm dough ball. Turn dough onto a floured counter, spray or rub your bowl with oil, and knead the dough a few times, then form into a ball and put back into the greased bowl. (I usually lightly grease the top of the dough as well.) Let rise for at least an hour, longer if you like (it's hard to over-raise a relatively high-moisture dough like this—it's very, very flexible). Preheat oven to 350 and shape loaves (you can do this either by forming them into cylinders or by rolling them out on the counter and then folding them over until they're roughly the size of your bread pan) and put into greased bread pans. Bake 8- or 9-inch loaves (normal sized loaves) for 40-50 minutes and small loaves for 25-30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on cooling racks. Or slice up and eat with butter, warm and delicious. I won't tell. ;)

Protip: Don't let your toddler spit in the bread dough. I'll let you guess whether or not that happened here!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Healthy PB Chocolate Muffins

Lately these have been my go-to breakfast: I bake a bunch at once, freeze most of them, and every morning I pull out two and microwave them for thirty seconds. That, plus whatever fruit I have in the house, makes a really satisfying and filling breakfast that keeps me full until lunchtime - which is saying something where my metabolism is concerned! I actually put this recipe through a nutrition calculator and was excited to see that each muffin has 8 grams of protein. (That's more than an egg!) I'll include the full nutrition info at the bottom.

2 eggs
1/4 c canola oil
1/2 c honey
1/2 c kefir (or buttermilk, 1/2 milk and 1/2 yogurt, or milk soured with a little lemon juice)
1/2 c PB
1.5 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c oats
1 T baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/3 c cocoa

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a full-sized muffin tin. Add eggs, oil, honey, kefir, and peanut butter to a medium-sized bowl and mix thoroughly. Carefully scoop flour and oats onto the top of the wet ingredients without stirring them in. Add baking powder, salt, and cocoa, and use a fork or a whisk to sift them into the flour mixture before stirring the dry ingredients through the wet. Fill muffin cups and bake for 18 minutes. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Protein Snack Cookies (Gluten-free, Sugar-free)

Prep time: Easy

I'm off sugar again, which of course means I'm looking for a few more healthy-but-sweet snacks to help me get by. I've made these protein cookies from Kula Mama twice now and really enjoyed them both times. They're not overly sweet—definitely more of a snack than a dessert in most cases—but that's the way I prefer them, anyway! The recipe is very flexible and easy to adapt. I also think it would be delicious with some cocoa powder, but I'm currently out so can't test out that theory!

1/4 cup coconut oil or butter (both are good and give it totally different flavors)
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 cup nut butter (I use PB)
1 t baking soda
3 cups oats (for gluten-free cookies use GF oats)
If desired, you can swap out some of the oats for seeds or nuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional—obviously with chocolate chips they're no longer refined sugar-free)

Preheat oven to 350. Melt oil or butter and peanut butter together just until they're softened. Add sweetener, vanilla, and eggs, and mix together. Stir in baking soda. Stir in oats and any additions. Spoon onto sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. I've been freezing most of mine—they're good right out of the freezer or after thawing for about half an hour. (I'm sure they'd be good microwaved, too.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Giada's Alfredo Sauce

Source: Food Network
Prep time: Very easy

I've never been a huge red-sauce-on-pasta fan, and so it's not really a surprise that when I discovered as a child that people actually ate pasta with something other than spaghetti sauce, it was love at first taste. Alfredo sauces in particular have always been a favorite of mine, and they're on of the few things that I'll occasionally indulge in these days, even when it means a stomach ache later for my dairy-sensitive self. I've shared several cream sauce recipes here in the past, including my previous favorite alfredo sauce. A year or two ago, however, I discovered this unusual-but-totally-amazing alfredo sauce from Giada de Laurentiis, and there is been NO going back for the Baldwin family. If we have alfredo these days it's always this recipe, and it never disappoints. As if that's not recommendation enough in itself, it's very fast and easy to prepare and usually cooks up in much less time than it takes your pasta to boil.

Because the original recipe called for a rather odd amount of pasta, I have adjusted the proportions a little to suit a regular 1lb box of pasta instead. I often halve it for the two of us, depending on how hungry we are; it makes at least 4 generous main-dish servings. It isn't nearly so good the next day, which always breaks my heart, but a tiny drizzle of fresh cream on the reheated noodles goes a long way.

1 one-pound box of your choice of pasta
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan
The zest of your lemons, if you used fresh
Salt and pepper (the original recipe called for freshly-ground white pepper; I usually use freshly-ground whatever-I-have-on-hand)
A sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)

Cook the pasta in salted water until it's done according to your taste; drain and set aside. In a large skillet or in the empty pasta pot, stir all but 1/4 cup of the cream with the lemon juice to combine, then add butter and heat over medium heat just until the butter has melted. Turn heat to low, add the pasta, and toss until it's coated. Add the remaining ingredients (including reserved cream) and stir everything together over low heat until the sauce thickens a little, about one minute. Served immediately, garnished with a little more parmesan if desired. To revitalize leftovers, drizzle just a little bit of fresh cream on noodles after reheating and toss.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Banana Zucchini Bread {Refined Sugar Free}

I've gone off refined sugar this summer, but was dying to do something with the abundance of summer squashes that have appeared in my garden this week. A little tinkering in the kitchen with a nice ripe banana and some natural sweeteners produced a batch of muffins that knocked my socks WAY off—it's light, moist, sweet, and utterly delicious. And guess what? It's healthy, too! It's tweaked from my favorite-ever zucchini bread recipe that I got from my Aunt Jeannie several years ago. It's also fairly flexible depending on what you have on hand, although Mahon and I both agreed that the (real) maple syrup in it is the true secret ingredient that makes it lick-the-plate good. In the future, I'd like to try subbing some applesauce for some of the sweetener or oil, but I didn't have any today.

3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 T vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup real maple syrup (it doesn't have to be real, but if it's not, then it won't be free of white sugar...)
2 packed cups of zucchini
1 very ripe banana, thoroughly mashed
2 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 350, and grease either two dozen muffin cups or 2 loaf pans (or one muffin pan and one loaf pan, or—you get it!). In a large bowl, stir eggs, oil, vanilla, honey, and syrup until well blended. Add zucchini and banana and combine. Gently add the flour so that it sits on top of the liquid ingredients and then sift cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the flour before incorporating the dry ingredients into the wet ones. (See what I did there? You managed the whole wet-and-dry-ingredients thing in ONE BOWL!) Fold into prepared pans and bake for 19 minutes (muffins) or 40 minutes (loaves). Enjoy!