• Instant Pot Short Rib Lasagna

    WELCOME! As you can probably tell by the title of this recipe, I recently came into the possession of an Instant Pot and boy do I have a lot to say about it. First off, I got my Instant Pot for $30 (THIRTY. DOLLARS!!!) because I got a bunch of Amazon gift cards for Christmas and this seemed like as good a purchase as any, right? Watching it deduct $75 from the list price made me feel like one of those extreme couponers and I finally GET IT. My first adventure was this chicken tortilla soup and after working out some of the kinks it turned out delicious, so I was feeling confident. I then came across this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis and thought, I can adapt this to my Instant Pot no problem!!

    Well, as I’m sure you can guess, it was in fact a problem. But, the magic of this blog is that I work this out so that you don’t have to! Turns out, Instant Pots do NOT like flour, and if you add even the tiniest bit of flour to your sauce, it will sink to the bottom, burn, and tell you repeatedly that the whole thing is burning four to five times until you take everything out, scrub the inner pot, and the start over. Yeah. So, I did this several times and had several full on tantrums before it worked. I still get mad at myself very easily when cooking things don’t work out the first time I try them, which I know is a bad habit and one I am certainly trying to kick, but this was truly testing me.

    Now, another note about Instant Pots is that while yes, they definitely cut down the cooking time on things like stews and short ribs that would otherwise take several hours, you have to factor in the time that the pot takes to come to its set temperature and pressure, which, according to the manual, can take anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes depending on the volume and starting temperature of the food inside it. So, if your ribs need to cook for an hour and 10 minutes total, remember to add in an average 30 minutes or so because the hour and 10 minutes doesn’t start until it’s come to full pressure. After several false starts, my short ribs had almost come to a full, high pressure cooking situation several times, and as a result, I ended up lowering my overall cooking time to take that into account. However, according to the chart that came with my pot, beef ribs should be cooked for about 20-25 minutes per pound, so you can use that factor accordingly.

    This is what it should look like, if you don’t burn yours several times before starting like I did!

    In the end, this worked out and the lasagna was to DIE for, but I for sure gave myself a baptism by fire here. I feel as though my Instant Pot and I are destined to be enemies, but like ones that have some playful banter going, you know? I look forward to getting to know the ins and outs of this thing, and seeing how many day-long recipes I can turn into quicker projects. This recipe can also be started on a stovetop instead of the Instant Pot, and I’ve included those directions at the bottom as well.

    Anyways, enough ranting, here are 5 things to be happy about today before we get to cooking:
    ONE. When it’s been a week since New Year’s and you’re still following some resolutions.

    TWO. An afternoon iced coffee to give you that energy kick you need.

    THREE. Waking up to rain on a Saturday morning with nothing to do but stay in bed and catch up on TV.

    FOUR. When you hear your grandparents talk about things they used to do growing up.

    FIVE. Aquariums.

    Ingredients

    2 Tbs olive oil
    4 oz. diced pancetta
    3½-4 lbs. bone-in short ribs
    Kosher salt, to taste
    2 medium onions
    2 carrots, peeled and diced
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tbs tomato paste
    1 cup dry red wine
    1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
    2 cups beef broth
    2 sprigs rosemary
    4 sprigs thyme
    2 bay leaves
    2½ cups jarred pasta sauce (or your own if you feel like it!)
    2 boxes no-boil lasagna noodles (12-15 noodles total)
    3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    2 cups parmesan cheese

    Steps (stovetop directions at bottom)

    ONE. Turn your Instant Pot to Sauté, then add the olive oil. When the olive oil is heated, add the pancetta and cook until crisp and rendered. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. In the pot with the rendered fat and olive oil, sear your short ribs for roughly 4 minutes, meat side down, turning if necessary so all sides are cooked. Do this in batches if you need to! Transfer cooked ribs to a bowl and set aside.

    TWO. Add all chopped vegetables to the pan and allow to sweat, scraping the brown bits from the bottom as you go. I learned this the hard way, the scraping of the Instant Pot is NECESSARY, otherwise you will continue to get an annoying “burn” message. Add kosher salt here (about 1 to 2 tablespoons) and cook until the veggies are translucent and soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    THREE. Add the red wine, crushed tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste, then add the seared short ribs and pancetta, layering so that no tomato paste will burn to the bottom of the pot. Make sure that the meat is entirely covered by the liquid, but that the liquid is not going over the 2/3 limit of your pot! Tie together the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves with twine and toss in on top.

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    FOUR. Securely close the top of your Instant Pot and set to the “Meat/Stew” setting, on Normal, and adjust the cooking time based on the amount of meat you’re cooking with. According to the Instant Pot cooking chart, it should be about 20-25 minutes per pound of beef ribs, so mine cooked overall for 1 hour and 10 minutes (if you count how many times it came up to temperature and then claimed it was burning lol).

    FIVE. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Once the meat is finished cooking, remove bones and herb bundle and shred the meat, placing it in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of the tomato cooking liquid to the meat and mix. Feel free to save the remaining sauce for pasta, however I would let it chill and then skim some of the fat off once it hardens. To assemble the lasagna, spread a thin layer of jarred tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Add a layer of 4 to 5 lasagna noodles, breaking them and arranging them as necessary to fit. Spread half the meat mixture over the first layer of noodles, then top with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of parmesan. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the meat, and then another cup of mozzarella plus ½ cup parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles, 2 cups of jarred tomato sauce, 1 cup of mozzarella, and the rest of the parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

    *For the stovetop, simply complete steps one through three in a dutch oven or other large pot, then cook for 3 hours, uncovered for the last hour, before continuing with step 5.

    Now bask in the praise of your dinner guests! YUM! xoxoxoxoxoxoD

     

     

  • Swedish Almond Tarts

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Greetings from Connecticut, I hope that you have all enjoyed last nights festivities and are now tucking into a beautiful New Years Brunch. Maybe the thought of rising from your bed right now is too much to bear, but I hope these cutie little tarts change your mind. This week’s recipe is brought to you by one of my faves, Molly Yeh, and they are without a doubt the most photogenic and versatile little tarts I have ever seen. Called Mazariners, they are of Swedish origin, and feature a richly buttery tart shell cup, filled with what I can only describe as pure heaven, aka a dense, moist almond-y cross between a cake and a chunk of marzipan. Traditionally, it’s topped with a white glaze and a cherry (which btw, would be so cute), but following Molly’s recipe, I used a cranberry juice glaze for a hint of tart and a dose of natural rosy color.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my New Year’s resolutions this year, because most years I don’t make any, and then when I do, I ignore/ forget them approximately a week later. But now that I’m an adult, and have pretty much settled into life after college, I figured it was about time I held myself accountable for these things. I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s what I’ve got so far:
    Resolution #1: Get better with money. Seriously, STOP spending money I promise you don’t need that 12th sweater (me @ myself all the time).
    Resolution #2: Drink more water. For some reason I can’t get this one to stick, and even after countless reusable water bottles, I find myself reaching for my iced coffee instead, but it’s ENOUGH.
    Resolution #3: Cut down on waste. Ever since a particularly scarring episode of Blue Planet II I haven been trying to limit the amount of plastic that I use, but I know that I could be doing more to protect our futures and the safety of other inhabitants of this Earth.

    Okay that’s maybe good for now, I’m hoping that by putting these out there, I’ll actually have to do them because now everyone knows, so bring on 2019!! Anyway, let’s get this year off on the right foot and start with 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. When you fall asleep almost immediately after climbing into bed.
    TWO. The clean plate club.
    THREE. Tree branches coated in snow or frost and sparkling in the light of a streetlamp.
    FOUR. Having the song end right as you pull up to your destination.
    FIVE. Things you don’t have to work at to enjoy.

    Okay now let’s bake!!

    Makes: 12 tarts
    Prep Time: 45 minutes- 1 hour
    Inactive Time: 1 hour
    Bake Time: 30 minutes

    Butter Tart Shell Ingredients

    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1¾ cups flour
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    ¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
    2 egg yolks (save both whites for the filling!)

    Almond Filling Ingredients

    1 cup almond meal (aka almond flour)
    ¾ cup sugar
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
    1 tsp almond extract
    1 egg
    2 egg whites (left over from tart shells above)

    Glaze/ Decorations

    1 cup powdered sugar
    1-2 Tbsp cranberry juice
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
    Assorted sprinkles, herbs, or sugared cranberries!

    Steps

    ONE. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until totally incorporated (you’re not looking for butter pieces in this dough). Add the egg yolks and mix until the dough comes together- it will take a minute, it will look like the dough is too dry at first but I promise it won’t be. Remove the dough from the food processor and form a rough disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

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    TWO. In the same bowl of the food processor- it doesn’t even need to be cleaned out!- combine the almond flour, sugar, salt, and butter until smooth. Add the almond extract, leftover egg whites, and whole egg, and continue to blend until the mixture is thick and smooth. Set aside while you form the shells.

    THREE. Grease a muffin tin generously. On a floured baking mat or surface, roll your shell dough to about a ¼ inch thickness, making sure that it isn’t sticking to any surface as you go. Using a 4-inch circular cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles (dough can be re-rolled once if you run out of room for all 12 at once.

    FOUR. This part takes some patience, so carefully take a pastry circle and place it in each cupcake tin, gently pressing so that it molds to the bottom and sides. I had some rips here and there, but don’t get frustrated!! Use leftover scraps and patch up any thin, ripped, or uneven places and no one will be the wiser! Repeat will all 12 circles, and place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.

    FIVE. While the shells are setting in the freezer, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Fill the frozen shells evenly- I started with a tablespoon in each cup, and then added evenly from there. For me, it ended up being about 1½ tablespoons of filling per cup, You want it to be about ¾ of the way full, because the filling does puff up while it bakes. Bake the filled cups on the lower rack of your oven for 30 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and the tops and shells are lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in their pan, and then gently lift each cup from the tin using an offset spatula and cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.

    SIX. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, cranberry juice, and vanilla, adding more powdered sugar or juice until the consistency is pourable but quite thick. You want it to sit mostly on top of each tart without going thin or completely dripping down the sides. While the glaze is still wet, top with your desired decorations, and enjoy!!

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    HAPPY NEW YEAR!! xoxoxoxD

     

  • Braided Jammy Breakfast Breads

    Over this year I’ve conquered many a fear, but none that I am more proud of than my old fear of bread. Maybe I was just doing everything wrong before now, but after making these beautiful braids, it’s clear that this recipe is going to become a staple in my home. Inspired by two different people, this original recipe comes from Zoe Francois of Zoe Bakes, in her new book Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I believe the original recipe used raspberry jam and cream cheese with a hint of lemon, so my second bread closely resembles that one. Last week, I came across Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen, preparing her variations on this beautiful bread and by then, I was convinced. So, here we are, with one classic raspberry and lemon, and a second that tastes like breakfast and pie in one. What is it, you ask? Oh only blueberry jam with cinnamon cream cheese and maple glaze! I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s truly heavenly.

    With next week being Christmas, I’ll be taking a week off to spend time with all my siblings and family together, as well as my best friend, who works with the Peace Corps and is home from Ethiopia for just two weeks!!! But never fear, for I will be back New Year’s Day with a fresh start to 2019 and plenty more to be happy about in the future. If you celebrate, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy, prosperous New Year full of food and happiness.

    Some notes on this bread: I give the preparations for two variations of cream cheese, jam and glaze fillings, but you have total creative license here! Fill them with chocolate like my incredibly talented friend Taylor, fill them with different jams or homemade jams or make them savory! It’s totally up to you, and it will be delicious any way you slice it. Also, when following this recipe, she mentions that the dough is easier to roll and slice if it’s been chilled after it rises, I was slightly pressed for time so I skipped this step and found it to be perfectly manageable, but if you’re having difficulty with forming the shape, try to refrigerate the dough for a while! Finally, this dough should be cooled completely before it’s glazed so that the glaze doesn’t melt right off, but it would be delicious warmed up before eating. There’s also no need to double this recipe for two loaves, one batch of dough is divided into two.

    Before we get to breading and braiding, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. The smell of bread baking and filling your whole house.

    TWO. Having specific candles for specific holidays and seasons.

    THREE. Hosting a dinner party with a signature cocktail.

    FOUR. Star Wars Episode IV.

    FIVE. Spending New Year’s Eve in your pajamas with friends and never having to venture into the cold.


    Makes:
    2 braided loaves
    Prep Time: 1 hour
    Inactive Time: 2 hours
    Bake Time: 30 minutes

    Bread Dough Ingredients

    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
    1½ tsp dry active yeast
    1½ tsp kosher salt
    ¼ cup honey
    4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
    3½ cups bread flour

    Filling Ingredients

    8 ounces cream cheese, divided in half
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    Pinch of nutmeg
    ½ tsp lemon zest
    2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided in half
    ¼ cup blueberry jam
    ¼ cup raspberry jam
    Egg Wash (1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water)

    Icing Ingredients

    1 cup powdered sugar, divided in half
    ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
    Splash of vanilla extract
    2 to 3 Tbsp maple syrup
    ½ tsp lemon zest
    2 to 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    Milk, to thin glaze as necessary

    Steps

    ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon), mix together the beaten eggs, yeast, water, salt, honey, and melted butter. Add the flour and, without kneading, mix with a paddle attachment or with a large spoon until combined. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

     

    TWO. In two separate bowls, make the cream cheese fillings. In one bowl, mix together 4 oz. cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 Tbsp granulated sugar. Set aside. In a second bowl mix together the remaining 4 oz. cream cheese, lemon zest, and remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.

    THREE. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust your rolling surface with flour, and divide your dough in half. With the first half of dough, roll into a rectangle that is roughly 9″ x 12″. It may take some stretching, I found that it tends to shrink back at first.

    FOUR. Transfer the rectangle of dough carefully to your first baking sheet. Using a ruler and a knife or bench scraper, lightly mark the dough into 3 long sections, this will make it easier to fill and fold. In the center third, spread an even layer of the cinnamon cream cheese, then top with the blueberry jam, spreading with an offset spatula to keep everything uniform.

    FIVE. Using a pair of kitchen shears (or a knife), cut the two outer thirds into ½ inch strips all the way down. To form the log shape, alternate folding a strip from each side across the filling in a slant, from top to bottom, to form a braid. Wrap the tray in plastic wrap the baking sheet loosely in plastic wrap and allow to sit for an hour before baking.

     

    SIX. Repeat steps two through five with the second type of cream cheese and jam, and allow to rest for an hour.

    SEVEN. When there’s about 15 minutes left in the bread’s hour long rest, preheat your oven to 350ºF. To bake, brush each loaf with your prepared egg wash, and bake for 30 minutes, switching trays halfway through to ensure both loaves brown evenly.

    EIGHT. While the loaves are cooling, prepare the glazes in two bowls. In the first, mix ½ cup powdered sugar with cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. If it’s too thick for pouring, it can be thinned with milk as necessary, or thickened with more powdered sugar. For the second, mix the remaining powdered sugar with lemon zest and lemon juice, adjusting the amounts of lemon juice and sugar as necessary so that the glaze is opaque and thick.

    NINE. When the breads have cooled completely, drizzle generously with the glazes (with a spoon or with a ziplock with the tip cut off) and enjoy at any time of the day or night, but specifically for breakfast with a cup of coffee by the Christmas tree or on the couch.

    YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoD