Instant Pot Jambalaya

When my sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year, I instantly knew what to say – an Instant Pot! (See what I did there.)  I’ve been playing around with this genius of an appliance for a couple of months now and am SO excited to share my first recipe for an Instant Pot Jambalaya.

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Instant pot recipes are perfect for weeknight meals. When I get home from work, I have just enough time to prep all of the food, sauté and combine in the Instant Pot and it does all of the cooking while I’m at the gym. A great way to enjoy a meal that typically takes an hour plus in less time giving you back time to your day.

With Mardi Gras right around the corner, I’ve been fixing for some jambalaya. About 6 years ago my now husband and I took a trip down to New Orleans a.k.a. N’awlins and ate copious amounts of the stuff. We enjoyed it so much that we even took a cooking class at Crescent City Cooks and learned how to make it.

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Honestly, I’ve only made it a few times – mostly because it is a bit of a timely process. And so, one of the first recipes I decided to create was delicious, spicy, jambalaya. Just as with all of my other attempts at the Instant Pot, it did not disappoint.

The final product is a spicy and delicious rice-based dish, stuffed with shrimp, chicken and sausage and loaded with spicy creole seasoning. For the herbs, when possible I recommend the fresh thyme and basil to dried varieties. But either work well!

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Instant Pot Jambalaya

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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The quick and easy, yet full of flavor jambalaya your Mardi Gras celebration needs!


Adapted from: Instantpot.com

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb Andouille sausage, sliced

Directions

  1. Set Instant Pot to “Saute”. Coat chicken with 1 Tbsp creole seasoning, and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the chicken from heat and set aside.
  2. Sauté andouille sausage until browned on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Add onions, mushrooms, and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add rice, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomato puree, creole seasoning, and chicken. Close the lid and press “Rice” cooking on high pressure for 12 minutes.
  4. When the rice is cooked, release steam, remove the lid, and add sausage and prawns. Stir to combine. Place lid back on the Instant Pot, press “Manual”, and cook an additional 5 minutes on high pressure.

Hazelnut Biscotti

It is a rare treat for me to stumble upon some biscotti. A huge fan of the Italian biscuit, I do enjoy the crunchy texture and nutty flavor. While most traditional biscotti recipes feature almonds, I’ve recently been on a hazelnut kick. 

Since this was my first go at it, I decided to adapt the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Almond Biscotti recipe. I swapped the slivered almonds for chopped hazelnuts and to really amp up the flavor, decided to swap 1/2 a cup of all purpose flour for hazelnut flour. Worked like a charm! 

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Martha’s recipe calls for no butter or oil and like most biscotti recipes are twice baked. There were quite a few negative comments following the original recipe, suggesting they had mistakenly left out butter or that it resulted in a terribly crumbly cookie that doesn’t hold it’s form. 

They even made me a bit nervous about slicing the biscotti, suggesting a 1/4 in. slice would be nearly impossible to create given the dry and crumbling nature of the final product. And so I first did 1/2 in. cuts and once my confidence was restored, sliced those in half to achieve the beautiful 1/4 in. slice. 

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While it could have been the natural nut oils in the hazelnut flour or chopped hazelnuts, it didn’t prove to be a problem for me! The biscotti turned out wonderfully – both in texture and taste. Next time I’ll definitely be creating a chocolate glaze to dip them in – would be heavenly! 

I made these last weekend and have been enjoying them every morning for breakfast with some hot tea. Such a wonderful way to start the day 🙂

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Hazelnut Biscotti

  • Servings: 30-40 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
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Make a batch on the weekend and enjoy them all week long!


Credit: MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.
  2. Add chopped hazelnuts and beat until combined. Divide dough in half and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Form each half into a 2 1/2-inch-wide, 3/4-inch-tall log. Bake until dough is firm but gives slightly when pressed, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack, 20 minutes.
  3. With a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch slices on the diagonal and arrange, cut side down, on 2 parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. Bake until biscotti are crisp and golden, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets and flipping biscotti halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Spaghetti Squash

Confession: I am addicted to carbs. I love pasta, bread, pizza, carbs, carbs, carbs. But some nights – especially after a long weekend of sweets and drinking, it’s nice to go low-carb, but not sacrifice flavor. And with that, I give you my Spaghetti Squash recipe. 

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This beauty of a dish combines freshly roasted and shredded spaghetti squash, chopped mushrooms and tomatoes as well as handfuls of arugula and parmesan cheese. Unlike many spaghetti squash recipes, this one is not eaten “in the boat” but is instead treated more as traditional spaghetti – tossed lightly in the sauce. 

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After slicing the spaghetti squash in half, it’s super important to season it before baking in the oven. My go-to is a simple mix of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. This helps add flavor to the overall dish. Another important spaghetti squash tip is to not overcook it! If so, your results could be more of a mushy squash mix versus stringy strands of spaghetti squash. 

I love the mixture of mushrooms and tomatoes with some chopped onion and sliced garlic. It tastes so fresh and the rich umami flavors of the mushroom provide that extra savory flavor I like in my comfort food. 

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Lastly, like any good pasta dish, it’s crucial to top your pasta with a healthy handful of cheese. The sharpness and hard texture of parmesan is perfect for this dish and really rounds out the flavors. 

Hope you enjoy this dish! 

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A fresh, light spaghetti squash recipe perfect for a low-carb dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 3lb spaghetti squash
  • 2  cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2  cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese plus more for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Cut each squash in half lengthwise from stem to tail and scrape out the seeds.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Place squash, cut-side down, onto the prepared baking dish. Place into oven and roast until tender, about 35-45 minutes.
  5. While squash is cooking, toss sliced mushrooms, chopped onions and tomatoes in a pan on medium-high heat.
  6. Gently stir in garlic and add salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Remove baked spaghetti squash from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.
  8. Using a fork, scrape the flesh to create long strands.
  9. Add spaghetti squash stands to pan with vegetables.
  10. Stir in arugula and cheese till combined.

Valentine’s Day Dinner Review – Dolma

For the past couple of year’s, my now husband and I have decided to forgo the overpriced menus and reduced portions on Valentine’s Day and cook a delicious home meal together. This year, with the holiday falling on a Tuesday and a special restaurant in mind, we decided to instead venture out for a fun evening and delicious eats at Dolma in Jersey City. 

If you’ve ever been in the Van Vorst Park section of Jersey City, you’ve definitely passed this gem of a restaurant on Grand Street. It’s in an adorable pink building with the best area for outdoor seating that is absolutely Pinterest-perfect in the summer. 

We’ve been to Dolma twice before, both times to enjoy their delicious brunch menu and couldn’t have imagined a better way to taste their dinner options than with the Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu which included a soup and salad, appetizer, entrée and dessert. To say we were full at the end of the meal would be an understatement. 

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Let’s get into the goodies. First, salad. A classic green house salad. Fresh, with a light oil-based dressing. Clean and healthy way to kick-off the meal. For soup we had two choices – lentil and ginger and carrot. I opted for the lentil soup. It smelled amazing of spices and veggies. That said, I was hoping for a more flavorful soup. The lentils however were cooked to perfection and I enjoyed that it quite light given the amount of food to come. 

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Next was the appetizer. Another confession – I LOVE octopus. I’ve literally been craving it as of late. Talk about an expensive craving. And so was thrilled to see this as an option on their menu. It was served with pickled vegetables – yum! The octopus was cooked wonderfully – tender not chewy. 

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The entrée I went for was the Filet Mignon. I know, more steak. But it was definitely worth it! There were three mini filets, each with a different topping – balsamic glaze, some sort of BBQ-flavored sauce and a butter and chives sauce. The steak was cooked to a warm pink medium-rare center, just as it should be! The balsamic glaze was my favorite topping and then the butter and chives followed by the BBQ. Based on my Edward’s Steakhouse review, you already know I love the beefy flavor of steak on it’s own and so I enjoyed the lighter sauces more 🙂

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And as if on cue, for dessert I opted for the crème brûlée. It was delicious! Nice crispy, sugary top with a warm custard below. Thank goodness for that dessert stomach! 🙂

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At the end, this was definitely an amazing Valentine’s Day dinner. The intimate setting of Dolma really made the evening all the more romantic – there were only 6 couples seated comfortably in the small restaurant! We’ll definitely be back soon!

Strawberry White Chocolate Donuts

Something you won’t see too much of here is chocolate. Don’t get me wrong – I do like chocolate, I’m just not a huge fan of the stuff. Sure, I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and throughly enjoy chocolate chip cookies. You’ll never find me with a chocolate cupcake or scoop of chocolate ice cream.

Now that that’s out-of-the-way, let’s talk about white chocolate. A chocolate that I like more than your traditional milk or dark chocolate. And while true chocolate-devotees will say that white chocolate isn’t even chocolate, that’s fine by me. Call it what you will – I like it, I like it a lot.

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And so when I was writing this recipe I wanted it to do create a healthier, baked cakey donut that wasn’t too sweet as the white chocolate and strawberry glaze would be sweet enough. Folks, we have had success.

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Since white chocolate is oh-so-sweet, I tried to make a donut that was not-so-sweet. To do so, I used organic coconut sugar instead of traditional white sugar. This also gave the donuts a nice brown color. I also added some organic strawberry powder, made from crushed organic freeze-dried strawberries, into the batter to amp up the overall strawberry flavor.

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I was initially inspired by the strawberry powder to create a pretty pink glaze for Valentine’s Day and am so happy with the end result! Hope they make your day just a little sweeter.

Strawberry White Chocolate Donuts

  • Servings: 12-14 donuts
  • Difficulty: medium
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Your new favorite Valentine's Day Donut

Ingredients

    Donut
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Strawberry White Chocolate Glaze
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry powder
  • 1 cup white chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup red and pink sprinkles

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease and flour two standard doughnut pans.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat together the coconut oil and sugars until smooth.
  4. Add the eggs, almond milk, strawberry powder, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Add in the baking powder, baking soda and flour, whisking until combined. Mix minimally to ensure tenderness.
  6. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, so that they’re about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes. Donut overcook!
  8. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 to 7 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  9. Prepare the glaze while donuts cool by melting the white chocolate, strawberry powder and coconut oil in a small pot on medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  10. Once the chocolate and powder melt, dip the top of each donut into the mixture to coat evenly.
  11. within two minutes of coating, top the glazed doughnuts with sprinkles, if desired.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

This weekend was my best friend’s bachelorette party in New York City and it was SO much fun. I obviously made all of the reservations where food was concerned and will be posting some pictures from that later this week on my Instagram!

After a long weekend of drinking and fun, I am looking forward to this quiet evening at home with my wonderful husband and this beautiful plate of pasta. I love pasta. I love mushrooms. I love prosciutto. Basically this dish was made for me. And now you can enjoy it too.

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But no seriously, I love mushrooms. If I could, I would (and sometimes I do) eat mushrooms with every single meal. I’ve never met a mushroom I didn’t like. You can definitely expect to find many more mushroom recipes here in the future!

While I generally prefer fresh pasta to dried, we had some of the dried stuff on hand and it worked just fine. Especially given the extra cooking the pasta takes on to really soak up this rich stroganoff flavor. Its delicate texture works well with this flavor-packed while refreshingly light sauce. My mushroom mix consisted of primarily maitake and shiitake.

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I hope this dish brings you as much warmth and happiness as it does me. It’s by the book, and by the book I mean Bon Appétit. I love it as is and wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe the amount of mushrooms.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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The most delicious pasta dish you didn't know you needed.


Credit: bonappetit.com

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto (about 6 slices)
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelles, maitake, oyster, crimini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 ounces pappardelle or fettuccine
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium.
  2. Arrange prosciutto in a single layer in pot and cook, turning once or twice, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  3. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same pot over high. Cook mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender, 5–8 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallots and 1 tsp. thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add stock and reduce heat to low. Bring to a simmer and cook until only a thin layer of stock coats bottom of pot, 5−7 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
  7. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Crumble half of prosciutto into pot. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add cream, return to a simmer, and cook, tossing, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add butter, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  10. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more thyme and crumble remaining prosciutto over; season with pepper.

Porterhouse Steak at Edward’s Steakhouse

It’s restaurant week in Jersey City, NJ (where I call home), which is one of the happiest weeks of the year for me. It gives me an excuse (not that I need one) to try a new restaurant and indulge a little bit more via prix fixe menu options.

Last night we tried Edward’s Steakhouse for the first time and were blown away by the delicious smells of butter and steak from the OUTSIDE! Before we even entered, we were already hooked.

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We were promptly seated in their back room. A small-er, dimly lit space, nearly full with guests. After a deep read of their fair wine menu, I selected a bottle of Rioja, which was delicious – a great compliment to the meal.

My husband and I decided to opt for the 38 oz. porterhouse for two special on the restaurant week menu, which was served with mashed potatoes and sautéed broccoli. For appetizers, we shared the baked clams and oven roasted plum tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

The clams were good, a choice by my husband. I’m not a huge fan of baked clams in general as there’s always too much breading for me and this time was no exception. That said, they were not dry and had good flavoring, which played in their favor.

The fresh mozzarella and tomato was a tasty upgrade to a traditional caprese appetizer as the oven roasted plum tomatoes had rich flavor and paired well with the balsamic reduction.

As for the main feature of the evening, the porterhouse was absolutely perfect. Served medium-rare, and topped with fried onions. There were two sauces that accompanied the steak, however I decided to stick straight to the meat to savor every beefy bite.

The broccoli was tender and cooked in just the right amount of garlic. The mashed potatoes were a buttery delight and whipped to a creamy texture that melted in your mouth.

To close out our bottle of wine and the meal, I had the crème brûlée and my husband enjoyed the icebox cake. Crème brûlée is my favorite dessert and I literally order it whenever a restaurant serves it. That said, their take on it was good. A good combination of rich cream and light flavor. My main disappointment was with the burnt sugar on top – not as crisp or as thick as I typically like it but again, still good.

All-in-all I will be back at Edward’s Steakhouse as the meal, service and wine were all exceptional. Definitely a meal I’d recommend, any week of the year. In the future, I’ll also be posting more photos 🙂

 

Edward’s Steakhouse – 239 Marin Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07302

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