Monday, January 30, 2017

Instant Pot Red Curry Pork Soup

This curry has a thinner sauce than many and is very tasty all on its own as a soup.   Of course, you can serve it over rice if you prefer, but the sweet potatoes add enough of a "carb" element that it isn't really necessary.  The broth is a tasty mixture of coconut milk, red curry, and pork broth. In the broth is a combination of rich, tender pork; creamy sweet potatoes; and bright, crisp-tender green beans.   Of course, you can substitute other veggies if you have something else on hand that you prefer.  Lime juice and cilantro as garnishes make everything taste extra fresh.

Instant Pot Red Curry Pork Soup (adapted from Bon Appetit's Food Lover's Cleanse)

Vegetable oil
2 to 2-1/2 pounds bone-in country style pork ribs or 1 pound boneless pork shoulder cut into cubes
6 cups chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
1-1/2 T red curry paste
3/4 cup coconut milk (shake well before measuring)
1/2 tsp kaffir lime powder (optional)
1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces green beans, sliced into 2-inch pieces
Cilantro and lime, to garnish

1. Heat the Instant Pot to sauté and add the oil. When it gets hot, add the pork and brown well, working in batches.
2. Add all the pork back into the pot and add the chicken broth. Cook on manual for 25 minutes at high pressure. Let the pressure come down naturally for 15 minutes, and then release remaining pressure.
3. Remove the pork to a plate at let cool slightly. Then remove the meat from the bones and shred.
4. Meanwhile, measure out 2-1/2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.
5. In a separate pot, brown the onions in a little oil over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes.  Season with a little salt. Add the curry paste and stir to combine. 
6. Add the coconut milk, kaffir lime powder, and reserved chicken broth from cooking the pork. Bring to a boil, and add the sweet potatoes.  Cover. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
7. Add the reserved pork to the pot along with the green beans. Cover and cook 2 minutes, until everything is tender and hot. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

I made this ice cream cake last year for my husband's birthday, but am somehow just now getting around to posting it! Which is clearly a crime, because this cake is wonderful.  I figured out the components by combining several different recipes and ideas from around the Internet, plus our own flavor preferences.  It's very reminiscent of a Dairy Queen cake, with a bonus brownie layer because: life is always better with a bonus brownie layer.  Mint chocolate chip is my husband's favorite ice cream, so we ran with that flavor profile here.  But, of course, you can change up the ice cream flavor, cookie flavor, or even substitute a cookie or blondie base in place of the brownies.

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

In an 8-inch round springform pan, layer:

1. About half a box of prepared brownie mix (a thin layer), baked until just cooked.  Cool and freeze overnight.
2. Half a carton ice cream (I used Breyer's mint chocolate chip) -- beat in a stand mixer until smooth before adding to the pan.  Top that with chopped Oreos (I used mint Oreos) and a thick layer of hot fudge sauce (warmed until just pourable).  Freeze overnight.
3. Beat the other half of the ice cream until smooth, layer on top of the Oreo-hot fudge sauce layer, and then pop in the freezer.  Beat one cup of heavy cream with a little vanilla and a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar, and then spread on top of the ice cream cake.  Freeze until solid.
4. To serve, carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan.  Heat up a knife under hot running water to easily slice the ice cream cake.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


This version of a margarita leans heavier toward the orange side of things than the lime side of things, but still isn't too sweet.  Because there are quite a few other ingredients besides the orange juice, the color isn't too different from a normal margarita, but you'll definitely be able to taste the difference.  You can adjust the amount of simple syrup to make this sweeter or tarter according to your preference.

Serves 2

3 ounces tequila
2 ounces lime juice
2 ounces orange juice (strain through a fine-mesh strainer)
1/2 ounce orange liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup

Combine everything in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into glasses over ice.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Loaded baked potato soup

I am a big baked potato fan -- one of the most memorable is from the Big E Fair in New England:

This recipe is a fun way to get all the flavors of a baked potato in soup form -- perfect for a snowy day.  If you've got an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, the recipe is also super fast to prepare (and even with a regular pot of boiling water, it doesn't take too much longer).  Once the potatoes are cooked, they're turned into soup with the addition of milk, chicken stock, and sour cream.  Of course, you can sub in vegetable stock if you want to keep this vegetarian.  We topped our with traditional baked potato toppings -- green onions, bacon, and shredded cheese -- but you could use anything you like on a baked potato.  I think minced steamed broccoli and Cheddar would be very good as well.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 4

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup flour
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup light sour cream
Salt and pepper
Toppings: shredded Cheddar, crispy bacon, minced chives or scallions, or anything else you like on your baked potatoes!

1. Cook the potatoes -- I use my pressure cooker (4 minutes on high pressure), although a pot of boiling water will work just as well (plan on about 10-15 minutes in that case).  Drain the potatoes, return them to the pan, and mash with a potato masher until they're as smooth or chunky as you like.
2. Combine the flour with about 1/2 cup milk in a medium bowl, and whisk until smooth.  Gradually whisk in the remaining milk and then the chicken stock.  Add to the potatoes, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the soup is thickened and bubbly.
3. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sour cream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
4. Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with your choice of favorite baked potato toppings.

    Friday, January 20, 2017

    Strawberry Hot Fudge Sundaes with Toasted Marshmallows

    I've unfortunately forgotten where I got the idea for this ice cream sundae -- I think I saw a photo with similar ingredients somewhere online, but can't recall where!  In any case, this sundae is super decadent and delicious -- you should absolutely make it as soon as possible! The fun element here is toasting marshmallows under the broiler in the oven -- it's really easy to do, but adds something special to the sundaes.  Fresh berries provide a needed burst of bright, tart flavor to an otherwise rich dish, and of course there's hot fudge sauce because -- why wouldn't you add hot fudge sauce?  

    Strawberry Hot Fudge Sundaes with Toasted Marshmallows

    Hot fudge sauce
    Oil spray 
    Ice cream of your choice (fudge ripple or strawberry are both favorites)
    A few strawberries, minced

    1. Heat up the hot fudge sauce until hot.  Set aside.
    2. Preheat the broiler on your oven. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with oil.  Set out a few marshmallows on the baking sheet, and the broil briefly until browned on top.  Keep a very close eye as the marshmallows will burn very quickly -- do not step away from the oven!
    3. Build your sundaes: a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge sauce, strawberries, and toasted marshmallows.
    4. Serve right away!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Lemongrass Chicken Noodle Bowls with Coconut Broth

    The coconut broth for this soup? It's so good it almost doesn't matter what else you add to your bowl! In fact, I think it would be a great restorative all on it's own if you're feeling under the weather.  The rest of the time, you can add in noodles, chicken, and crisp veggies to make it a meal.  Feel free to play around with the toppings here depending on what you're in the mood for or have around the house -- this would be a great way to use up extra veggies you have in the crisper.

    Lemongrass Chicken Noodle Bowls with Coconut Broth (adapted from Cooking Light)
    Serves 4

    1-1/4 cups coconut milk, divided
    3 T minced lemongrass (I buy it in a tube, because I'm a cheater!)
    2 T sambal oelek
    6 bone in-skin on chicken thighs
    1 cup chicken stock or water
    6 garlic cloves, crushed
    1 large onion, peeled and quartered
    2 carrots, scrubbed and each cut into 4 pieces
    2-inch piece of fresh ginger, scrubbed and thinly sliced
    2 T low-sodium soy sauce
    1-1/2 T fish sauce
    1 T fresh lime juice
    1/2 tsp granulated sugar

    To serve:
    8 ounces wide rice noodles or other Asian-style noodles, prepared according to package directions
    Thinly sliced cucumber
    Minced fresh cilantro
    Unsalted peanuts

    1. Combine 3/4 cup of the coconut milk, the lemongrass, and the sambal oelek in a large Ziplock bag.  Add the chicken, seal well, and turn to coat the chicken in the sauce.  Place in the fridge for at least 8 and up to 24 hours to marinate.
    2. Place the chicken stock or water, garlic, onion, carrots, and ginger in the Instant Pot.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer on top of the veggies, and pour any additional marinade on top.  Seal the Instant Pot, and hit the "Poultry" button.  Quick release the pressure.  (No pressure cooker? Cook in a slow cooker on low for 7-1/2 hours.)
    3. Remove the chicken and shred into bite sized pieces, discarding the skin and bones.
    4. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer.  Skim off as much fat as possible, and then add to a small saucepan with the remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk, along with the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar.  Simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
    5. Assemble the bowls: add a scoop of broth, along with noodles, shredded chicken, cucumber, cilantro, and peanuts.

    Sunday, January 15, 2017

    Denver Sheet Cake

    This cake is pretty much identical to Texas Sheet Cake -- I'm honestly not sure what the difference is.  But, the New York Times called it Denver Sheet Cake, so my mom and I had to try it out since my husband and I recently moved to Denver!  The cake base is tender, moist, and chocolate-y, with a glossy frosting and crunchy toasted nuts on top.  This cake travels and keeps well, and makes a lot -- so it's great for a potluck or another event with a crowd.  

    Denver Sheet Cake (adapted from the New York Times)

    For the cake:
    1-1/4 cups flour
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    Generous pinch of salt
    8 T softened butter
    1/4 cup cocoa powder
    1/4 cup buttermilk
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    1/2 tsp vanilla

    For the frosting:
    4 T softened butter
    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    3 T buttermilk
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    Generous pinch of salt
    1/2 pound powdered sugar
    Chopped walnuts or pecans, to finish

    1. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
    3. Combine the butter and cocoa with 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Whisk until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, glossy, and beginning to bubble. Remove from the heat.
    4. Fold the cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.  
    5. Scrape into the pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Cool completely.
    6. Make the frosting. Combine the butter, cocoa, and buttermilk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Whisk frequently until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and bubbling around the edges.  Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl (use either a stand mixer or electric mixer).
    7. On low speed, add the vanilla, salt and sugar to the chocolate mixture.  Mix until smoothed.  Pour over the cake while still warm.  Sprinkle with nuts and let cool before serving.

    Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Instant Pot Beef Curry with Sweet Potatoes

    This beef curry is fantastically flavorful, and using sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes is a nice change of pace.  The sweeter flavor of the potatoes combines nicely with a savory-sweet-spicy curry sauce.  Plus, made in the Instant Pot, this recipe is super simple to prepare.  After cooking, the beef is fall-apart tender and full of flavor.  The original recipe is "paleo," so white rice is definitely verboten, but I'm a rule breaker so I think this curry is excellent over rice.  :)  You can switch out the Massaman curry paste for another one if you prefer or if that's what you have on hand -- I think red or yellow curry paste would both be great here (green curry might be a little odd).

    Instant Pot Beef Curry with Sweet Potatoes (adapted from Nom Nom Paleo -- but warning, my version is not paleo!)
    Serves 4

    1-1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, brisket, or boneless short ribs, cut into large cubes
    1 tsp kosher salt
    Vegetable oil
    1 T Thai curry paste of choice (I used Massaman curry paste)
    1 cup light coconut milk
    1 T soy sauce
    1 T brown sugar
    1/2 T fish sauce
    1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
    1 medium onion, peeled and cut into medium slices
    2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
    Thinly sliced scallions, to serve
    Cooked Jasmine rice, to serve

    1. Sprinkle the beef chunks with the salt and set aside while you chop the veggies and prepare the sauce.
    2. Heat a generous drizzle of oil in the Instant Pot using the "Saute" function.  When it is hot, whisk in the curry paste and stir until fragrant and sizzling.
    3. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce, brown sugar, and fish sauce, and whisk to dissolve the sugar.  Cook for a minute or so, stirring, and then turn off the Instant Pot.
    4. Add the beef cubes, sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots, and stir well so that everything is lightly coated with the sauce.  Seal the lid, and press the "Meat/Stew" function.
    5. When the Instant Pot beeps, let the pressure come down naturally for 10 minutes, and then quick release any remaining pressure.
    7. Serve over rice with scallions sprinkled on top.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2017

    Pizza Night!

    Caramelized onions, fresh garlic, mozzarella, pepperoni, green harissa, and Manchego cheese!

    Monday, January 9, 2017

    Potato-Asparagus Tangle with Green Harissa

    There are a lot of recipes that I say I'm going to make again, but never get around to it -- this is one of those I really have made quite a few times.  Part of what keeps bringing me back to it is the green harissa sauce -- it's fresh, green, and a little spicy in a totally addictive way.  I recommend making more than you need because it is also fantastic anywhere you'd use a hot sauce -- on eggs, avocado toast, even pizza!  The green harissa is tossed with roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, and fresh spinach for a hearty vegetarian salad, and then topped with an egg for protein and shaved Pecorino cheese for a hit of salt.  The combination is amazing!  The original recipe calls for poaching the egg, but any preparation with a runny yolk is good -- I've also made this with soft boiled eggs which is really pretty.

    Potato-Asparagus Tangle with Green Harissa (adapted from Bowl + Spoon)
    Serves 4

    For the Green Harissa:
    1 garlic clove
    1 cup mixed leafy herbs (a mix of parsley, cilantro, and mint is excellent)
    1/2 jalapeno (or a whole one if you like it spicier), seeded
    Juice of 1/2 lemon
    Generous pinch cumin
    Generous pinch salt
    3 T olive oil

    To complete the dish:
    1-1/2 pounds Yukon golds, cut into chunks
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper
    1 pound asparagus
    1 cup arugula (lightly packed)
    4 or 8 eggs (one or two eggs per person)
    Shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, to garnish

    1. Make the harissa.  Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a mini chopper and process until finely chopped.  Add the oil and process again until well combined.
    2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with foil.
    3. Cook the potatoes until just tender, either in a pressure cooker for about 3 minutes or in boiling water.  Drain and let cool slightly.  Transfer the potatoes to one of the baking sheets, and toss with a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast 30-35 minutes, until nicely browned.
    4. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer on the second baking sheet, and roast 15 minutes.
    5. Combine the roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus in a large serving bowl.  Toss with 2 generous spoonfuls of the harissa and toss to coat.  Add the arugula and toss again, adding more harissa to taste.  (Any leftover harissa will keep well in the fridge and can be used anywhere you'd use hot sauce.)
    6. Poach (or fry, or soft boil) the eggs just before serving, for about 3 minutes.
    7. Serve the potato-asparagus tangle topped with one or two eggs and a generous sprinkle of cheese.

    Saturday, January 7, 2017

    Beans and Greens Burrito with Lime and Chile

    My sister-in-law got me the cookbook A Modern Way to Cook for Christmas, and I am loving it! The photos are beautiful and the recipes are really creative and inspiring.  Below is a recipe for fantastic Mediterranean-Mexican fusion burritos -- nothing authentic about it, but these are really delicious all the same.  Warm tortillas are stuffed with lime-spiked black beans, wilted kale, and simple versions of freshly made salsa and guac.  Salty feta is the perfect complement to these ingredients, and you can optionally add steamed brown or white rice if you like to make the burritos more filling.  This dish has a lot of components, so it's a nice one to make with other folks in the kitchen (or make some of the components ahead of time) -- but, the extra work is well worth it.  Yum!

    Beans and Greens Burrito with Lime and Chile (adapted from A Modern Way to Cook)
    Serves 4, easily multiplied

    Fill warm flour tortillas with:

    Lime-Chile Black Beans: melt coconut oil in a pot, and saute minced garlic and red chile until browned.  Add a small spoonful of smoked paprika, and then stir in the juice of one lime and one or two cans of black beans, drained and rinsed.  Season with salt.  Let bubble for 10 minutes or so, smashing some beans with the back of a spoon.

    Lime-Oregano Kale: melt coconut oil in a large skillet, and add one bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped, along with a pinch of oregano, the zest of one lime, and a pinch of salt. Cook until wilted, stirring often.

    A couple of handfuls of minced cherry tomatoes mixed with the juice of half a lime, chopped cilantro, and a little salt.

    Two mashed avocados, mixed with  the juice of half a limechopped cilantro, and a little salt.

    Steamed rice

    Crumbled feta cheese