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by: Emily St. John Mandel

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Instant Pot Spicy Beef Stew

I don't know about you but as a mom of two busy littles I find I am always scrambling to get dinner on the table before the children get hangry or their bedtime arrives. Enter the Instant Pot. It is an electric pressure cooker and probably by far the best machine I have ever bought for my kitchen since the KitchenAid mixer came out.

I was able to make this wonderful Beef Stew in about 45 minutes tops including prep, cook, and dishing up time. The meat falls apart, the carrots are cooked through, the potatoes tender, and the flavor is like you slow cooked it.

I will probably continue to share my favorite things to make in my lovely Instant Pot in the future here but feel free to comment with questions about this nifty device. Keep an eye on online retailers as I have seen it go on sale multiple times in the last year.

Bonus points as this is a Whole30 compliant meal. If you are unfamiliar with Whole30 you basically remove all processed foods and sugar. Meats, veggies (aside from legumes like peas), fruit, nuts (except peanuts) and oils, eggs are on the menu for Whole30 meals. That excludes grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol, carrageenan, msg, or sulfites,and dairy. Also off the list are baked goods/treats make with approved items like banana pancakes or ice cream. paleo pizzas. I have completed two 30 day whole30 challenges and am gearing up for another.  For more information click here.

Instant Pot Spicy Beef Stew

3 lbs beef stew meat
2 -3 tablespoons of coconut oil
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press)
1/2 large onion, chopped
5 good size carrots, chopped to 1 1/2 inch pieces
5-6 medium Yukon potatoes, chopped to 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2-2 1/2 cups broth/beef broth
2-3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of chipotle paste (go easy )
2 teaspoon oregano

Turn Saute button on and add coconut oil. While it heats salt and pepper the meat. Once melted add beef stew meat and brown on all sides (as best as you can with that much meat. Roughly 4-5 minutes.) Add garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, chipotle paste, broth, and then spices. Stir up to combined and put the lid on. Make sure steam valve is set to seal. Turn on to meat/stew button for 35 minutes. When 35 minutes is up, turn off Instantpot and quick release the valve. Be careful of the steam. You are also welcome to just let it naturally release if you have the time. I did not tonight.

Serve.  Delicious. This was slightly spicy. Some may find it too spicy. If you are that person then just leave off the chipotle paste.

I hope if you try my recipe you come back and tell me how you liked it, or how you modified it for your family!


Friday, December 9, 2016

25 Days of Cookies - Soft Gingersnap Cookies dipped in White Chocolate (Snow on the Mountain)

I know it's been a while since I had a new post on my blog. It's my favorite time of year and I am participating in my dear friend Natasha's  #HousefulOfCookies 25 days of cookies blog hop.  Today I have one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes for you.

white chocolate soft ginger cookies
Snow on the Mountain Cookies

There are certain smells that we all associate with happy memories of childhood. Fresh cut grass, Christmas trees, chocolate chips cookies, and popcorn all evoke a warm, fuzzy feelings.  Well, the one thing evokes those feelings for me is Soft Ginger Snap cookies. My grandmother used to have a Tupperware container of them sitting on top of the refrigerator for when we would visit.

When I went gluten free 5 years ago learning how to make my favorite baked goods was at the forefront of my mind.  I rationalised that these cookies not only had to taste like their originals but they had to hold up so that no one would suspect there is anything different about them. This gingersnap recipe was originally based off Faithfully Gluten Free's Soft Gingersnap cookie recipe. I started with hers. Then from there I shifted the recipe to make it a true replica of the ones my Grandma Ellen always had waiting.

You can use other gluten free pre-made flour mixes. I have made this recipe with several different mixes. The most important part of this recipe is that you need cold butter. Just as if you were making a pie crust. If you use warmer butter, your dough will spread out and the cookie will be crispy (So if that's your thing, then room temperature it is.)  There is good news too. If you aren't gluten free and would like to make this recipe just add that much all purpose flour.

A note on the subject of gluten-free flour blends. There are so many out there. I am particularly fond of making my own as noted below. It works very well, and though it takes extra time to weigh and measure all the components out, I have found that this mix works and tastes pretty close to AP flour.

gluten free ginger cookies

3/4 cup butter (cut into small cubes for easier mixing)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups Gluten free flour (You can use your favorite mix. I use a mix from Gluten Free on a Shoestring's blog/books)
1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your flour mix includes xanthan gum)
1tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
Additional sugar for rolling the cooking in

White chocolate chips
1 tbsp shortening or canola oil

In a medium bowl add flour, xanthan gum (if not included), baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Mix together and set aside.

In another mixing bowl start with the butter and sugar, cream together. Add the egg and molasses, mix. Slowly add in the flour and spice mixture 1/3 at a time waiting until each part is incorporated before adding another section.  Once all combined if the dough is too soft place in a covered container in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liner. When ready to bake take 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop and roll the ball in your hands, then roll in extra sugar.  Placing 2 inches apart then press down slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes on the sheet and then move the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Keep in an air-tight container after fully cool. Try not to eat them all in one go.

The cookies are great just by themselves but at Christmas time I love to add a bit of a flourish. This final step would be to dip them in white chocolate.

Place white chocolate chips and shortening or veggie oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50% power for 30-second increments until the chips are almost melted, Stir until smooth. Alternately you can place 3/4 of the chips in the bowl a once that is mostly melted add the last 1/4 of the chips in. Stir until smooth. If needed heat for an additional 15 seconds then stir.

Dip cooled cookies halfway in the chocolate chips making sure to dip on both the top and bottom of cookie (or dip the cookie in face side down in the chocolate) cool on a sheet of wax paper until they harden then move the cookies to an airtight storage.  Finally, if you want to drizzle the white chocolate you can use a fork or spoon to give the cookie a more rustic look.

Snow on the Mountain Cookies, #housefulofcookies
Don't forget the most important step in any cookie recipe: Taste test! 

Merry Christmas friends and new followers. I'm off to finish up making some other Christmas goodies and if you are lucky I might even share a blog post or two about them!  Be sure to keep checking back with Mrs. Houseful for more cookies to try this year!

Monday, April 6, 2015

First Review Live

Please go over to Girl Who Reads and read my first book review on Eviction Notice by Robyn Wyrick by following this link:

Eviction Notice Review

Girl Who Reads is a great website with reviews, meet the author posts, and other topics for anyone interested in books, reading books, reviewing books, etc.

Hope you enjoy my review and if Eviction Notice sparks your interest go buy it please!  I think you'll love it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Hobby for a book lover!

Have you been to Girl Who Reads?   I love finding new books that others have found interesting which is why I started to follow her blog and her Facebook page.

This last week I saw a posting on her Facebook page asking for new book reviewers.  I am a avid reader and love leaving opinions for other people curious about books so I replied that I was interested.

She asked that I submit a review from a book I've read this year so I selected The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

Here is my review for that book:

The Bone Season

I have read it twice now. Once last year and once again this year to prepare for the release of the second book The Mime Order.

Anyway, Girl Who Reads, Donna liked my review and I am now set to read and review books a couple times a month!

Check it out: Girl Who Reads - About

When they become available I send out a small post with a link to the website.

What are you reading? What are your suggestions of things for me to read?

Happy Wednesday folks!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A BANG and a fizzle

So my intention when I woke up this morning was to make my quiches, strain off my chicken stock, make banana bread and mini muffins, and probably make more Gluten free flour mix.

I did get bacon cooked and ready for the quiches, and the chicken stock from the bones of my Cost-co chickens was done over night in the slow cooker and one in my big chili pot that needed to be simmered this morning for 15-20 minutes.

But that BANG of energy fizzled quick today.  Fickle third trimester energy bursts.  Oh well. I spent quality time with the little man while I rested (while my brain was telling me I should be working).

I got a small burst of energy around 10:30 and decided since our replacement part for the crib arrived, that I would finish making it and get some things organized in the kids' room.  Only to find out one bolt is missing...sigh moving. So I piled little man into the car and went to the hardware store (made more enticing because it is located next to a Dairy Queen and that made me daydream of Dilly bars).

Much to the searching of the two employees they couldn't find the right length bolt for me to use. DOUBLE SIGH.

So naturally I did stop at the DQ and thought it would be a good time to stock the freezer with those amazing bars because I think this summer is going to be a HOT one here in the Pac-NW. We've already reached what is our normal mid-summer High this last week so best be prepared.

After blogging last night I gave myself a mantra, "What have I done today to prepare for little miss?"  I tell myself if I do a little each day then this next 6 weeks will fly by and I'll be more ready that if I attempt to wait for a big burst of energy one day.

One thing I did today to prepare was clean out my fridge and see what I could make for dinner that was low in dairy, gluten free (of course), and easy because my energy was just sapped. I took some rotisserie dark meat chicken I needed to use up, a bag of frozen peas & carrots, diced up some onions left over from my GF onion rings I made this week, 3 cloves of garlic minced, a can of green beans, a small can of creamed corn, and 3 red potatoes from my produce co-op dice small and some chicken stock from the last time I made it.  I created a Chicken pot pie filling/soup mixture using water, chicken stock, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup milk and salt and pepper.

I served it in a bowl like soup with some left over GF hamburger buns I made the same night I made the onion rings. It was pretty darn delicious. The bonus was that there was enough left over that I dumped it into a Gallon size freezer bag, labeled what it was, and stashed it in my freezer for more of the same meal, or maybe for a almost as quick chicken pot pie.

After supper I was sidelined by this on again off again ear ache, toothache, and general pain and discomfort of having a wiggling baby inside my belly.  I feared I wouldn't get anything cleaned up or put away in the kitchen.

After doing some venting to a friend on Facebook, I felt well enough to get up and try to get the things I was working on in the fridge, freezer, and dishes done so I can cook tomorrow. My chicken stock is back in the rinsed out stock pot after being strained twice. Tomorrow I will skim the fat off and put it in some Ziploc gallon sized bags to go in the freezer. Dishes are done and as soon as I'm done writing, I'm going to quick chop up the broccoli so I can blanch it tomorrow for my quiches maybe while I make some banana bread or muffins in the morning.

I hope this helps inspire any of you who are trying to get a bunch of things prepared for your little one's arrival that every small bit helps.  Until tomorrow where I will hope for more BANG and less fizzle!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

16 months later...

Well it certainly has been a long time since I posted last.

I will do a separate blog later next week explaining where I am at with the Gluten problems.

SPOILERS - I am still gluten free and have been as best as I can since May 6th, 2013.

What am I doing these days...

Well in the last month my hubby, son, and I have all downsized, weeded, thrown away, given away many things we were "hoarding" (including our massive book collection) and moved into a small 2 bedroom condo 2 miles from our old place. We no longer have roommates, my son turned 3, my hubby turned 30, and I turned 33.  Hubby left his job of 6 1/2 years to a new contractor position with a neat family company. Oh and did I mention I'm pregnant with baby number two (due August 2nd) and we moved our selves except the furniture?

So what else are you doing Lis?  Heh, well making a major dent in my crafting to do pile. I completed 7 burp clothes for the baby, a minky/flannel blanket, a bobby pillow cover, cradle bed fitted sheet for the antique cradle we use the first few months (while baby is small enough), and now my nesting instincts have switched from unpacking, organizing the new place, and still weeding through things (man that is the best thing about being pregnant when moving I tell you), to preparing for the little one. Saturday will mark 6 weeks until my due date.

I have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes again this time around (5 weeks earlier in fact) and the standard procedure is that they won't let me get to my due date because of not wanting the baby to get too big.  So I literally have 6 weeks or less to finish everything my brain is asking me to get done before SHE arrives.  That's right - we're having a girl!

This week's project has been figuring out ways to stock my small chest freezer with food for us to grab, thaw, reheat for when I don't want to THINK about what to make for dinner.  This time around Hubby won't have any paternity leave, and while my mother is coming for 2 weeks, and possibly we may have help for the whole month of August with guests coming to help, I don't want to rely on her vacation time to do all the cooking.

So what am I doing today to help me prepare.  I made a trip to Cost-co to purchase a few things I know we will want to have stocked before baby gets here (dishwasher detergent, AA batteries for the toys big brother has and electronics that require them to function, fruit for the 3 year old fruit monster who lives with us.)  While I was thinking of things I needed to get (making a list for the 3rd trimester baby brain that is ugly) I thought - hey I love those rotisserie chickens. Why not get 2-3 each time I go, clean off the meat, chop it, and freeze it so we can use the meat in a jiffy later on.

I also notice the local grocery store had a wonderful sale on Large AA eggs this week and decided it would be a great and easy thing to prepare a few quiches to pull out and reheat while the eggs were cheap!

So I came home with 3 chickens, some bell peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, strawberries and raspberries, a bit block of medium cheddar cheese, dishwasher soap, freezer quart and gallon bags, batteries, freeze dried fruit snacks, and a large case of my favorite diet soda.

Part of this nesting for me was that I felt - what if baby girl got impatient and came earlier than 6 weeks - sure I have her clothes washed, cradle ready, crib partially together (a story for another blog), and bottles in the cupboard - but I didn't have diapers or formula (in case Breastfeeding works as well as it did with big brother).  So I came home with a small package of Newborn diapers, and a medium package for size 1 in case she's bigger than we anticipate, and a container of formula.

This trip alone makes me feel much more in control and less panicky about being so close to the end. The chickens yielded 4 lbs 9 oz of chicken meat which i chopped and divided and placed in the freezer. The bones, carrots, celery, garlic, spices, and onion (from my pantry) all got placed in either a stock pot on the stove or the slow cooker with water to make home made chicken stock. Tomorrow I'll strain it (probably twice), then portion it out into 2 cup portions in freezer bags, lay them flat in the freezer to harden, then have them ready for when we want to use it to make mashed potatoes (would highly recommend boiling your potatoes in chicken stock versus water) or soup.

Anywho, that about puts me where I'm at today. Tomorrow I'm hoping to get the quiches made - bacon with cheese, and broccoli with cheese for sure, bake some banana bread and banana chocolate chip mini muffins, and maybe get some apple slices on the dehydrator since it won't be so hot out tomorrow.  Until then loyal readers (if you are out there...)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Major life changes

So you may be asking where did I go? Did I drop off the planet? Probably for you 2 followers and family/friends that read my posts it's not a big deal.  I have many photos ready to blog about in the past couple weeks but life has thrown me a curve ball.

The diagnosis isn't official yet but I am waiting on the results of a skin biopsy that will tell me what myself and my dermatologist suspect...that I have a skin disorder called Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) which is an EXTREMELY, oh my goodness you can't even imagine, itchy rash with blisters. Now on top of that about 80-90% of the people with DH also have Celiac's disease which means Gluten is now my worst enemy.

I am in the process of de-contaminating my house. 95% of my kitchen utensils/bakeware/cookware will need to be replaced due to possibly contamination.

Last night I spent my "family craft night" purging out my's quite empty compared to what it used to be. I have a tub of cooking things that are currently gluten free all sealed so that I can eat without problems.

That's just the kitchen...Gluten can be found in shampoo, conditioner, lotions, soaps, lipstick, lip gloss, chapstick, envelopes, stamps, playdoh, toothpastes, diaper cream, wipes....

It's going to be a long process...