12/30/16

0 7 Dipping Foods to Bring to A Party!


New Year's is just around the corner. Are you hosting a party or bringing something to eat?

I have some ideas for you! They all are dipping foods...food that you can grab with your fingers and dip, eat....dip and eat....and repeat to your heart's content.

You can make these Refried Bean 7 layer Dip cups using canned refried beans ~ quick and easy and love the idea that each person can 'double dip' into their own dip!

Speaking of Dips...this one is a crowd favorite ~ Southwest CousCous Dip.  Cous cous, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocados are bursting with fresh flavor; it wouldn't be a bad idea to spoon this into individual serving cups as well and served with crispy tortilla corn chips.




Making salsa has never been easier. Fresh onions, anaheim peppers, cilantro, and garlic bring a simple can of stewed tomatoes to life for this Fast and Easy Salsa.


Ooooohh... I love a warm, cheesey dip. Can't get enough of this Queso Blanco Dip! Smooth, creamy, with just the right amount of 'heat' to keep me dipping...



Can't forget this classic Creamy Hot Artichoke Dip. It gets extra creaminess points by using creamed spinach....



Oh man...this one is good. Not a dip, but it's a finger food that you can dip into your favorite marina sauce. You can purchase frozen ravioli, dip, bread, and fry them for an amazing appetizer that feels like eating a mini-meal... Fried Ravioli will be a hit at your next gathering!


Ummm...can't forget to add this one. Chinese New Year is celebrated at the end of January and these Sweet Cream Cheese Wontons served with Sweet N Sour dipping sauce are a sweet and tangy treat.


I am sure if you pick any of these fun dipping foods and bring them to a party, it will be enjoyed by everyone and they'll be asking YOU for the recipe.

Enjoy!

12/27/16

0 Simply Ham & Bean Soup: Pressure Cooker & Slow Cooker


When I introduced pressure cooking to a friend of mine, she wanted to make a ham and bean soup. Not just any ham and bean soup, but one her mother made when she was a little girl.

I got a hold of her mom and she seemed shocked that I asked for the recipe.

"Put a ham hock (bone) in the slow cooker, add water, and beans."

"That's it?"

"Yep, that's it."

"What kind of beans?"

"I don't know....any kind of white beans...."

I knew there had to be more to it than that, so I scoured the Internet, my pressure cooker books for recipes and ended up with this very simple (and fast, if you use the pressure cooker) soup.

I used one pound of Great Northern beans, although you can use any of the following:
Cannellini, flageolets, white kidney, tepary or navy beans.
The smaller, Great Northern beans provide a tender, buttery taste to this soup.

You will need to pick through your dry beans, taking out any broken beans, small stones or shriveled up beans. I only found about 20 or so in my pile of beans.


Rinse your beans well, using a colander or strainer. Drain.



To Soak or Not to Soak? - Totally up to you, a personal preference!
Soaking the beans can cut the cooking time in half.
Soaking can help make the beans easier to digest for some people.
Improved texture and flavor with the quick soak vs overnight soak.
No soaking can have a deeper flavor, be firmer to the bite, and keep their shape while cooking. 

Bean Cooking Tips:
As a general rule, the older and drier the beans, the longer they'll take to cook. Use beans within 6 months of purchase for best results.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil or butter to prevent foaming or to prevent a loose bean skin from blocking the vent.
Do not fill the pressure cooker more than half full.
Adding too much salt can slow down the cooking time, so don't add more than what the recipe calls for. Salt can help tenderize the beans. 
Always use a full natural release. Wait for the pin to drop before opening the cooker.
If you are cooking your beans in an acidic (tomato based) broth, soak your beans and cut the cooking time in half. Unsoaked beans don't become tender if cooked in an acidic broth. 
Cook beans, drain, cool and freeze in 1 1/2 cup portions for recipes that call for a 15 ounce can of beans. 

----------------------------------
Cover with 8 cups of water and stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt or 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt. 

You can do one of the following:

1. Let your beans soak overnight, at least 8 hours -or-
2. Quick Pressure Soak your beans in the pressure cooker. Cook for 3 minutes at high pressure and do a full natural release. This will take about 45 min.
3. Forgo the bean soak and do a longer cook time, 25-30 minutes. 


I chose to do a Quick Pressure Soak. Next time, I will put the rinsed beans in dry (unsoaked) and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Here are my 'quick soaked' beans...


Using Saute Low, melt the butter and saute the onions for about 3-4 minutes.
Add the minced garlic, and cook till aromatic, about 2 minutes.

I had a leftover ham bone from a spiral cut ham. Add the ham bone (or ham hocks), about a pound of ham pieces, rinsed beans, salt, and pour 8 cups of water over everything.

Cook using High pressure for 12 minutes, with a full natural release, about 20-30 minutes.
You do NOT want to use a quick release. If you do, you may get beany soup spewing from the pressure valve, with split and mushy beans. Letting it naturally release completely is much better.

Open the pressure cooker, remove the ham bone using a pair of tongs, into a bowl.



Using a ladle, scoop about 2 cups of cooked beans into another bowl. Use an immersion blender or stand blender to puree the beans and put back into the soup. This will help create some thickness to the soup.


Remove some of the larger pieces of ham, cut them up and return to the pot of soup. I love using kitchen scissors for this job, as I don't have to wait for the meat to cool. 


Salt & pepper to taste. 
I gave this soup and the recipe to my friend as a Christmas present.

She loved the soup ~ it didn't last long and now she has the recipe to make it any time she wants. 



Enjoy!

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Ham & Bean Soup 
Ingredients
1 pound (about 2 cups) of Great Northern Beans, picked through and rinsed
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt (or table salt or 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt)
8 cups of water (omit if you are not soaking your beans)

2 Tablespoons of butter
1 1/2 cups of chopped onion (1 large onion)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or diced
1 teaspoon of sea salt or 1/2 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt
1 ham bone + 1 lb of ham or use about 1 lb of ham hocks
8 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Sort the beans, removing any broken, split, or rocks. Rinse the beans, cover with water and stir in salt. Choose an overnight soak or quick pressure cooker soak.
     1. overnight for 8 hours
     2. Pressure cook on High for 3 minutes, allow to fully naturally release (about 30 min)
     3. Add beans unsoaked - use a 25-30 min cook time as noted below.
Drain and rinse the beans.
In the pressure cooker, select saute and melt the butter.
Add chopped onions, cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add minced garlic, saute till aromatic, about 1 minute.
Put ham bone & ham into the pressure cooker.
Add rinsed beans and 8 cups of water.
Pressure cook on High for 12 minutes, with a full natural release (about 30 minutes).
    Unsoaked beans: use 25-30 minutes, high pressure, and natural release.
Remove ham bone from soup and remove any ham left on the bone.
Remove large pieces of ham and cut into bite sized pieces.
Remove about 2 cups of beans and puree using an immersion blender or stand blender.
Put cut up ham and pureed beans back into the soup.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Variations:
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 celery stalk, chopped
1-14oz can diced tomatoes (us in place of 1 3/4 cup of water)
Bay leaves
Garnish with parsley or add a dash of hot sauce.

Enjoy!
Slow cooker: Put all ingredients (rinsed beans, salt, butter, onion, garlic and 8 cups water) into slow cooker. Select low for 8 hours.  At the end of cooking, remove the ham bone and proceed as directed in the above recipe.



12/18/16

0 Instant Pot Creamy Egg Nog!



Egg nog is a favorite around the holidays. If you are concerned about using raw eggs in egg nog, you may want to try this 'cooked' or custard version. Cooking your eggs will ensure that your egg nog is free from any salmonella bacteria, which is great if you have guests that are young, pregnant, or elderly. It is important to use fresh eggs and fresh milk with this recipe. What works even better is using superfine sugar and freshly grated nutmeg.

This recipe is super easy, as you don't have to separate your egg/egg whites, or whip up some heavy cream to add later.

Let's get started!


This is a cool tip, and one that you will want to use for this recipe and for when you make yogurt in your Instant Pot.

Put several ice cubes into your pot. This will help prevent your milk mixture from scorching or sticking to your pot. I didn't believe it till I tried it. Here's the science behind it:

"This will pre-coat the metal surface with water molecules and the coat will protect the surface from direct contact with the milk proteins when you pour the milk in. When the pot becomes heated, the molecules take longer to contact the hot metal and bond to it. So less protein sticks to the bottom of the pan and scorches." - NYT Yogurt Making Tips 

Dump out the ice cubes and water, but don't wipe the pot dry.


In a separate bowl, whisk your eggs.




Add your sugar. I started with 3/4 cup. If you have superfine sugar, that will mix in and dissolve more readily.


Add your milk. I used 1%, but you can use any milk percentage you want. Whole milk will give you the creamiest texture.

Pour your mixture into the Instant Pot. Close the lid, the vent, and select Yogurt, then Adjust. Your display should read Boil. Yogurt and More will light up.


When the cycle is complete, take the temperature with an instant read thermometer. It should read at least 160°F. If not, select Saute, Adjust to Low, and stir the milk till you reach 160°F. This will give you a custard style egg nog and help thicken it.


Pour the milk mixture over a fine mesh sieve that is set inside a bowl or 8 cup glass measuring cup.


Scrape out the cooked egg mixture from the bottom. Don't worry! The ice cubes have prevented the egg/sugar mixture from scorching and sticking. The egg mixture is very soft.

Push all of the the egg mixture through the sieve. Don't worry, your egg not will not be lumpy. It will be smooth and creamy. You may need to scrape the bottom of the sieve to continue.



Add your half and half to the warm egg/milk mixture. Stir till combined.


Add vanilla extract and ground nutmeg. If you have access to a microplane zester and fresh nutmeg, go for it. The taste and aroma will be incredible!


Put this mixture into a covered pitcher or container and chill for several hours or over night.
Shake or stir before serving.


Enjoy!

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INSTANT POT CREAMY EGG NOG
6 eggs (use fresh eggs)
½-1 cup sugar, depending on your taste (I used ¾ cup granulated)
2 cups fresh milk
2 cups half and half or heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼-1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg (I used ¼ teaspoon)
4-6 ice cubes
Fine meshed sieve

In a medium size bowl, whisk the eggs.
Add sugar, whisk to dissolve.
Stir in 2 cups milk.
Set aside.

Put ice cubes in the pressure cooker liner. Swirl the pot to move the ice cubes all across the bottom of the pot.


Empty the ice cubes and water, but do not dry the pot.

Add the egg mixture to the pot.
Cover with pressure cooker lid. Close the vent.
*Select Yogurt, Adjust. Pressure cooker will display BOIL.
Cycle should finish in 20-25 minutes.
Open the pressure cooker, whisk, and take the temperature.
If the temp reads 160°F or higher, remove the pot.
If not, use Saute Normal, and whisk till you reach 160°F

Set a fine meshed sieve over a large bowl.
Pour the hot egg mixture into the sieve. Scrape any cooked egg into the sieve.
Using a rubber spatula, stir and push the egg mixture through the sieve.

Stir in half & half or heavy cream until smooth.
Add vanilla extract and nutmeg.

Pour into a covered pitcher or container, and chill for several hours or overnight.
Egg nog will stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Makes 6 cups of egg nog.

Adapted from Food.com Susie in Texas

*If you do not have a yogurt setting, try these settings. You will need to whisk during heating and take the temp till you reach 160°F.


Sauté Normal (160°-176°F)
Keep Warm (145°-172°F)
Slow Cook Less (190°-201°)

12/16/16

0 8 Family Favorite Cookies + Frozen Cookie Dough Gifts

SOFT CHRISTMAS SUGAR COOKIES

When celebrating or giving edible gifts, cookies are always a favorite. The ingredients are readily available, they are easy to make, don't take much time, and best of all, they are enjoyed by everyone!

These soft sugar cookies are something that can be enjoyed year round ~ there are birthdays, holidays, family reunions, baby and wedding showers. That's the fun of a sugar cookie ~ it can be custom made for just about any occasion. I have found several tips that can make your sugar cookie baking and frosting experience quick and enjoyable. Just click on the link under the picture.

Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These crispy, chewy oatmeal cookies are so versatile! You can add chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, toffee pieces, chopped nuts, raisins, craisins, or spice it up with cinnamon and cloves. I love how you can get so many tastes and varieties out of one cookie recipe. 

Applesauce Chocolate Chip Cookies
These ultra-soft, cake-like, pillowy cookies are filled with melty chocolate chips and scented with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. We have been enjoying these cookies as long as I can remember. These cookies were an excellent sweet gift for an elderly neighbor who could only have soft foods. 


Soft, Chocolate Crackle Cookies

This Chocolate Crackle cookie has a crispy/chewy/sweet exterior and a puffy, soft exterior that is a perfect fit for any chocolate lover. This recipe came from a cafeteria recipe that called for 36 cups of flour. Don't worry, I downsized the recipe just for you!

Spice Shortbread Cookies

These Spice Shortbread cookies are .... get this... made from a cake mix. A crunchy cookie that is rolled in powdered sugar that is both crispy and chewy. These are a nice, sweet change from a traditional butter or chocolate cookie. 

Buttery Shortbread Cookies

In the same vein as the Spice Shortbread cookies, these simple, buttery shortbread cookies are light and crispy. Take these cookies up a notch and drizzle them with melted caramel, chocolate, and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Or, spread some jam on top of the cookie and sprinkle a crumbled up cookie on top. For a more festive flavor, you can add eggnogg, diced ginger, butter rum extract or toasted pecans to the dough.

How to Freeze Cookie Dough

Sometimes, the BEST gift is one that can be saved and enjoyed later. You can portion, freeze and label just about any drop cookie dough recipe. After freezing, put cookie dough into freezer safe baggies, label with cookie name, directions, and date.

Puffy Snickerdoodle Cookies
This soft, puffy cookie is a classic take of a buttery sugar cookie that is rolled in a cinnamon sugar mix. This is a perfect cookie to add to a collection of cookies on a party tray.

Soft Gingerbread Men Cookies
For many families, it is a tradition to make and decorate Gingerbread Men...I've also seen these cookies turned upside down and decorated as reindeer....I need to try that this year! This recipe uses butter, which gives this cookies a soft texture. They have the perfect blend of spices, which always remind me of the holidays.

Enjoy!

12/15/16

0 Instant Pot 7-1 Price Drop in time for Christmas!

Amazon has the Instant Pot 7-1 for $79 and free Prime shipping! 

Just in time for Christmas, and the earlier Black Friday price was $68.95, so this is a good deal!

If you have ever thought about trying out pressure cooking, now is the time. Electric pressure cooking is safer and easier than ever.  Think of it as a 'crock pot on steroids.' The reason I purchased an Instant Pot is because you can make yogurt in it, without using pressure. 

I make thick, creamy yogurt in this machine twice per week. You can make a little, or a lot. You can make your yogurt a regular consistency or super thick, like cream cheese. You can make it taste very mild, or mouth puckering tart. 

Creamy Homemade Yogurt


It takes only 10 minutes of hands on time to make yogurt, and the Instant Pot does the rest over night, while I sleep. I wake up to warm yogurt that is ready to strain in the fridge and 3 hours later, it's perfect with a little bit of sugar and vanilla extract. A thermometer and yogurt strainer come in very handy when making yogurt. 



Instant Pot BlueTooth Smart


There are some pre-set buttons, but mostly, I use Saute, Manual (high pressure and low pressure), and the yogurt settings. Many recipes you find here and elsewhere will tell you to use high pressure 95% of the time and tell you how many minutes to set your cooker. The DUO 7-1 and the Smart both have low pressure, which I use for hard boiled eggs that peel like a dream, seafood, and delicate veggies, like broccoli.
Easy to peel Hard Boiled Eggs ~ even if Farm fresh!


For Thanksgiving, I was able to proof dough for 4 dozen soft, buttery, Dinner Rolls in my Instant Pot! There are 3 yogurt settings and the lowest one is the perfect temp for raising bread.




In the past, I only used my pressure cooker for mashed potatoes and veggies, like carrots. Now I'm cooking up Sunday Pot Roast, making Chocolate cheesecakeOne Pot SpaghettiCreamy Mac N CheeseSalmon, and much, much more. Even Kettle Popcorn!

Kettle Corn Popcorn

Tender Roast Beef, Potatoes & Carrots ~ all in the Instant Pot!


So, TODAY only, for a limited time on  Amazon, the price for the Instant Pot Duo 7-1 6 quart is $79,  For Prime Day in July, it was $69.99.  Black Friday this year, it was $68.95. So, now is the time to buy one.

Instant Pot Duo 7-1 6 quartimage from Instant Pot.com

You can purchase through my affiliate link, which does not cost you anything, and by doing so, I receive a very small commission, which I put back into this blog, researching recipes, testing them out and putting them here for you to enjoy.

Thank you for being loyal readers and supporters of Frieda Loves Bread for the past eight years!



12/13/16

0 No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Pie



I was asked to make a pie for Thanksgiving. I didn't have a whole lot of time to fuss with a crust, filling, baking, etc., so I hunted for a quick no bake pie.

Peanut butter and chocolate are always popular and many of the recipes I found used a commercial non dairy whipped topping.  Some of my family members feel strongly about *fake* whipping cream and after looking at the ingredients, I'm not surprised.

"Water, hydrogenated vegetable oilhigh fructose corn syrupcorn syrup, skim milklight cream and less than 2% sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), natural and artificial flavor, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate and beta carotene"

Could I just use my own natural whipped topping? It's only heavy cream, some granulated sugar and vanilla extract.

It is SO much faster to make your own whipped topping, rather than waiting for a commercial whipped topping to thaw out...

Whip your heavy cream on med speed, then to high speed till you get "soft peaks" where the cream folds over...


Turn the mixer back on high speed, and sprinkle in your granulated sugar and vanilla till you get "stiff peaks" where your whipped cream stands straight up.


Transfer the whipped cream, gently, into another bowl while you mix the creamy peanut butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar.


Take about 1/3 of the whipped cream and "fold" the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Folding simply means using a spatula the gently scoop up the peanut butter and turn it over, scoop up, and turn it over, etc. T


This will help keep your mixture light and fluffy. If you vigorously stir the whipped cream into the peanut butter, you will deflate all that wonderful whipped air you put into your cream to make it light and mousse-like in texture.

Add in the second third of whipped cream and "fold" till you don't see any white...then finish off with the last of the whipped cream and fold till the whipped cream is completely mixed in and you don't see any white.


Use a spatula or an offset spatula to gently spread the filling into the prepared crust. What you see above is a Mock Chocolate Cookie Crust that takes minutes to mix and 10 minutes to bake, using a 9" glass pie plate. This is a great substitute for when you can't find chocolate cookies or wafers for a cream pie or cheesecake.

Cover and chill the pie.

This no bake pie is GREAT on it's own, or, you can take it over the top, make it extra special with a chocolate ganache topping. Ganache is a fancy word for a mixture of cream and melted chocolate.

Heated heavy cream is poured over chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chips and allowed to sit for a minute. The hot cream melts the chocolate ~ stir until all the chocolate is melted and very creamy.


Use a spatula or offset spatula to spread the warm topping onto the chilled pie.


Don't spread all the way to the edge. You will want the peanut butter filling to PEEK through and let your guests know what deliciousness lies underneath...


The homemade whipped cream worked just fine. It tasted incredible. The chocolate ganache topping added an extra special touch.

"...tastes like a giant peanut butter cup!" one family exclaimed.

I had to hurry and take a picture before it quickly disappeared. Which it did.

This pie disappeared more quickly than the pumpkin pie. Or the pecan pie.

So, if you need a quick and easy dessert that is sure to please, this will fit the bill. You can save time by buying a pre-made chocolate cookie crust, mix the filling and chill for several hours before serving.  I froze a few of these pies whole and gifted them to family members as part of their Christmas gift.

Enjoy!

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No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Pie
Ingredients
1 prepared chocolate cookie crust, 9"
-or- 25 chocolate sandwich cookies
-or- Mock Chocolate Cookie Crust recipe - A brilliant recipe if you can't find cookies/wafers!
4 Tablespoons butter, melted

Filling
1 (8oz) carton of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

Ganache Topping
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
Bring cream cheese to room temperature.
In an electric mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with whisk attachment until soft peaks form.
While mixing, sprinkle granulated sugar until stiff peaks form.
Add vanilla. Remove from mixing bowl and put into another bowl. Set aside.
Clean mixing bowl. Mix together peanut butter, softened cream cheese, and powdered sugar.
Using a spatula, fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream into peanut butter mixture, till completely mixed in. Fold in the next third of whipped cream, and then the last third, till you don't see any white whipped cream in your peanut butter mixture.
Spread filling into prepared cookie crust.
Chill for 4-6 hours in the fridge.

To make ganache topping, put chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl.
In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil.
Pour over chocolate chips, let sit for a minute.
Whisk/stir until smooth.
Cool slightly. Pour over peanut butter pie.
Refrigerate for 2-4 hours or until set.
Can freeze up to 3 months if well wrapped.


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