Whole Wheat English Muffins

Store-bought english muffins do not compare to these homemade whole wheat ones! They are simple to make and use ingredients that I always have at hand. Because the dough needs to rise for about an hour I normally make a batch the night before while I’m feeding the kids so that they are ready and waiting to toast up in the morning.

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For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

First, combine the yeast and water in a small bowl with a spoon and set to the side.

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Next put a small sauce pan on the stove on low and put 3 Tablespoons of the butter as well as all of the milk in there. When the milk is warm and the butter has melted, pour this into a mixing bowl and whisk in the yogurt, honey & salt.

 

 

 

 

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Now dump the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

 

 

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 60-90 minutes. It will double in volume and you will see the yeast making holes rise in the dough.

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Preheat your oven to 350 and place a sheet pan in the oven to heat.

Get a saute pan warm on med-low with 1 Tablespoon of butter in it. Once the butter has melted, use an ice cream scoop and put two smaller scoops into each muffin, placing the second scoop of dough on top of the first to get some height to the muffins.

 

 

Cover the pan and allow the muffins to cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, flip them over and replace the lid on the pan. Allow the muffins to cook another 3 minutes and then place them in the oven. Cook the english muffins for 11 minutes in the oven and then move them to a cooling rack. Start the next batch of melted butter and muffins on the stove while the first one is cooking.

With a smaller sauté pan like the one pictured, I do 3 batches of muffins. In the morning we cut our muffins in half, toast them, and then enjoy them with butter and jam. My kids go crazy for them and I keep and serve them for a few mornings.

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Apple Butter in the Instant Pot

We have a farm near us here that sells 40b boxes of apples for $10 every Friday, so I have been busy making apple pies, apple sauce, and now apple butter. I’ve made the slow cooker versions of apple butter before and really loved them, but I thought that it would be nice to get a batch of it done in an afternoon vs a entire day and a half in the slow cooker (including canning).

Because my apples are the Pink Lady variety and pretty sweet already, I only used 3 cups of sugar total for 10lbs of apples for this recipe, and it tasted very sweet when it was done. Most online apple butter recipes ask for more than twice that amount of sugar, but it all depends on the sweetness of your apples and the level of sweet tooth your household has.

This recipe is super simple and the longest part is peeling the apples. I peel mine because they are not organic, but if yours are you could always leave the peels on- especially since much of the nutrition of the apple is in the peel. It will break down in the cooking process and still blend up smoothly with a hand blender.

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  • 10lbs apples
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup water

First, peel and core the apples

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Now add 1 cup of water to your Instant Pot and then layer in half the apples. Sprinkle both sugars over the apples and then add in the rest. Put the cinnamon and cloves on top of the remaining apples. This left my Instant Pot very full, as you can see- I could barely get the top on.

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Then set your Instant Pot to cook for 2 hours on manual pressure with the valve in the sealed position.

When the time is up, place a dish towel over the steam valve and do a quick release. Press cancel on the Instant Pot so that it doesn’t stay warm and open the lid. I let my apples cool for a while before I used my hand blender on them so that I didn’t burn my hand while blending.

As you can see, the apples break down a lot and shrink down in size to half the volume that you started with.

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My apples and spices blended down easily with a hand blender into a smooth, silky consistency.

You can now either freeze your apple butter in mason jars or tupperware, or process in a water bath and can. I ended up with 11 pints of dark, tasty apple butter to enjoy and give out to friends.

 

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Basil Pea Risotto in the Instant Pot

One of the most popular uses for the Instant Pot that I hear among my friends is for a quick and delicious risotto. With minimal work and about 20 minutes, you can achieve a perfect texture and just play with your main ingredient from there.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Cups arborio rice
  • 5 Cups stock (whichever you prefer- veg or chicken, or water mixed with bouillon if you must)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 Cup dry white wine
  • 2 Cups frozen peas, defrosted in warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil (or a basil “stir in paste” works almost as well in the winter)
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 Cup sour cream (optional but delicious)

Start by setting your Instant Pot on sauté mode and when hot add the butter & olive oil.

Once the butter has melted add the onion. Let the onion cook, stirring often until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes (remember the Instant Pot gets very hot on sauté mode).

Add in the rice and stir to coat with oil, toasting the rice itself for about a minute while constantly stirring. Once you start to see pieces of rice turning a bit brown, add in the white wine, bay leaf and garlic. Stir this in well for about 30 seconds.

Pour in the stock and mix. Close the lit and set the vent to sealing. Set the instant pot on manual and 6 minutes (on high if you have the 7-in-1 model).

Take half of the peas and a tablespoon of water and puree in a food processor until you have a smooth, bright green paste.

Once the 6 minutes are up on the Instant Pot do a quick release and open the lid. It will appear that there is still quite a bit of liquid in there but don’t worry- it firms up very quickly. Put the Instant Pot back into sauté mode and stir in the peas and pea puree, basil, and sour cream. Grate in parmesan and salt and pepper to taste while you continuously stir the pot until the liquid is absorbed and you have a sticky yet creamy consistency to your risotto and serve immediately.

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Celery Root Soup in the Instant Pot

 

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I love using celery root in soups, roasted with other vegetables, and as a puree. This week I have been craving broth-based blended soups that are hearty yet not heavy and that have clear, simple tastes.

Using the Bone Broth that I made in my Instant Pot, I threw together this soup in a total of 25 minutes (including cooking time!).

For this soup you will need:

  • 2 large celery roots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tart apple
  • 1 lb yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 leek
  • 3 cups broth, either chicken or vegetable will work, or bouillon
  • 2 cups water

First,  thinly slice the leek then peel the garlic and dice the rest of the vegetables.

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Then put your instant pot on the sauté function; add oil and allow it to heat up for 30 sec or so.

Add the leeks and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Your Instant Pot sauté function is pretty hot- I would correlate it to a high on your stove top- so you really need to keep an eye on the Instant Pot while it is on in this mode.

When the leeks are softened, add all of the other veggies and toss in the oil.

The add 2 cups of water and 3 cups of broth; chicken or vegetable broth would work here.

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Place the lid on and lock it. Set the Instant Pot to Soup mode and adjust the time to 20 minutes. Ensure that the pressure valve is in the closed setting.

 

 

 

 

When the 20 minutes are up, do a Quick Release of the pressure and open up the lid.

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If you have a hand emulsifier or hand blender, I find it easiest to simply blend the soup straight in the Instant Pot liner and serve it out of there. You could also puree this in a blender of course.

I like to add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

 

 

 

Mine was perfect with some fresh cracked pepper on top and freshly made wheat bread!

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Bone Broth in the Instant Pot

My toddlers go through a roasted chicken or two a week, and I like to use the leftover chicken to make a bone broth to keep handy for drinking alone or to use in soups and other future dishes. I simply buy the organic roasted chickens at the grocery store and once the meat has been eaten, I toss it in the Instant Pot with whatever scraps of veggies I have in the refrigerator along with a dash of apple cider vinegar. The process takes maybe 5 minutes of active time total and you’re left with a rich bone broth.

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To make a simple bone broth you will need:

  • one roasted chicken carcass
  •  1-2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot

optional ingredients- I just add whatever I have here:

  • some herbs, fresh or dried (I used a small bunch of thyme here)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 potato or 1/2 sweet potato, parsnip etc.
  • any veggie scraps that you have in the fridge left over from cooking
  • 2″ fresh ginger
  • 1/2 a lemon

Place all items in the Instant Pot liner and cover with warm water.

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Make sure to keep the water under the max line that is printed on the inside of the stainless steel liner:

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 Close and img_3581lock the lid and press the Soup button and then the + button until your display reads 120. Now your Instant Pot will come up to pressure, which could take as long as 30 minutes since it is so full, and then it will count down from 120 until it reaches 0, at which point it will stay warm and very slowly release pressure on its own. This is called Natural Release (NR). If you were to release the pressure valve on the top and get that strong stream of pressure coming out of the pot enabling you to open it more quickly, this would be called a Quick Release, or QR.

Now I get a colander inside of another pot lined up to strain the broth quickly:

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Then I open the instant pot once the pressure has fallen and the latch will work and strain the broth. Here is my finished product, which I then spoon into freezer bags of 2 cups each and label them (if I’m not going to make a soup with it or drink it straight away!).

 

Almond Milk in the Vitamix

Have you ever read the ingredients list on the side of your favorite almond milk? It’s not just almonds and water. Fortunately a couple of the top brands (Silk & Blue Diamond) have now taken out the carrageenan, but So Delicious and Pacific Foods brands do still contain it at this time.  Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that has been linked to gut inflammation and even colon cancer in some studies. It is something that I avoid at all costs on our labels, and is in many organic foods that you would otherwise consider healthy (yogurt, non-dairy ice creams, non-dairy milks, and even some infant formula!!).

Beyond carrageenan, manufacturers add sweeteners and fortify the milk with vitamins like Vitamin A Palmitate, which is derived from palm plantations that are potentially damaging to ecosystems.

There has been a class action lawsuit against some of these almond milk manufacturers because upon testing only a few almonds are in each box of almond milk, thus you are really not getting much of the nutritional value of the almonds in the end.

Making almond milk only takes a few minutes and if you buy almonds in bulk you can save money and always have fresh almond milk on hand!

I use my Vitamix for this task, which we are crazy about in our household, but any good blender will do. You will need a nut milk bag as well.

To make great almond milk you will need your blender and:

  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 4 cups of water
  • optional flavoring: 2 dates, 2 tsp vanilla paste or extract, or a dash of honey

I start by covering 1 cup of almonds with water and putting it in the refrigerator overnight.

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Raw almonds need to soak at least 12 hours to become soft enough to make a good creamy milk. This soaking also activates the enzymes in the almonds and adding to the nutritional value.

In the morning, I simply strain this water out of the bowl using a clean hand, and then dump the almonds into the Vitamix. Using the measurements on the side of the Vitamix container, I fill it up to the 5 cup line with cold water.

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Start out by running the Vitamix on a low level  of 2 first for 15 seconds and then increase it to an 8 and let it run for about 3 minutes.

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Stop the Vitamix and pour your liquid into a nut milk bag inside of a larger bowl.

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Now suspend the cord of your nut milk bag and let the milk strain out for about an hour.

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When most the liquid stops dripping, wring out as much more of it as you can get with clean hands. Pour the liquid into your bottle and you are done!

Save that almond pulp to make almond flour, which I’ll do a future blog post on.

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For our almond milk, I don’t add any sweetener of flavoring. We use it mainly for our adult protein smoothies and prefer it plain. You could certainly throw a couple of dates in there when blending, or a bit of honey, or some vanilla (paste, extract or bean) if you would like it to be vanilla-floavoured.

Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot, a step-by-step tutorial

Let me preface this detailed tutorial with telling you that making yogurt in the Instant Pot is very simple and absolutely worth it. Making your own yogurt saves you money, is healthier than buying store-bought yogurt with added sugar, and the creamy finished product will knock your socks off taste-wise.

Please don’t get overwhelmed with the number of steps here; I have laid them out with such detail in order to make the procedure foolproof. Once you have made a couple of batches, you’ll easily have the hang of it and will see that each step only takes a few minutes. That said, this process takes a total of 9.5 hrs before straining the yogurt, which takes an hour or more depending on your method.

The only Instant Pot that works easily for yogurt is the 7-in-1, or the Instant Pot IP-DUO 60A silicone whisk is also preferred over a wire one, as the former can add a metallic taste to your yogurt. You will also need an instant-read thermometer, and some way of straining the yogurt (a nut milk bag, a yogurt strainer, or a tea towel laid in a colander).

Also of note: I prefer to make my yogurt batches by the half gallon. It cuts down on heating and cooling times, and I am able to achieve really consistent results in the consistency of my yogurt. I have found that with the whole gallon batches of yogurt I have to hit the boil button 2-3 times to get the milk to the desired temperature to actually break down the proteins, and I have sometimes even then gotten runnier yogurt. Also my yogurt strainer fits a half gallon perfectly.

These are the ingredients that I use for my yogurt batches

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You will also need 1/4 cup of yogurt starter. For the first batch you will need it from the store. Anything that contains live cultures noted in the ingredients will work. You can then use some of your existing yogurt for each following batch, for up to 6 or 7 generations.

I prefer to start with Maple Hill Creamery Whole Milk Plain Grass-Fed Yogurt

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For the remaining ingredients, you will need:

  • 1/2 gallon milk (I always use whole organic, but 2% would work as well)
  • 2 Tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (Vanilla extract also works, as does a vanilla bean pod if you have one handy, opened up lengthwise with scissors. I like the vanilla paste because it has the actual seeds of the pod in it, it’s easy to add, and lasts a long time.)

    1. Begin by taking the lid off of your Instant Pot and hitting the yogurt button once and then the adjust button until the display reads BOIL

 

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Don’t get distracted and walk away here- your Instant Pot is on high. I like to get it started while adding the milk and dry milk powder just to save myself a few moments as I’m always trying to get the yogurt made as early in the day as possible.

2. Measure out 8 cups of milk and pour it into the stainless steel liner of the pot.

3. Add 2 Tablespoons of dry milk powder and whisk to combine.

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4. Place lid back on Instant Pot and lock it, and set vent to closed position.

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5. Now let the Instant Pot run and heat the milk up for you. Today this took 24 minutes for me from when I closed the lid. When the milk has been heated the instant pot beeps at you and the display changes from “boil” to “yogt.”

6. Remove the stainless steel liner from the Instant Pot and allow the milk to cool.  You will be starting with a temp just below 180F, and you need the milk to reach about 116F so that you can safely add the live yogurt culture without killing it.

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Removing the stainless steel liner from the Instant Pot allows it to cool more quickly. I keep a whisk next to the liner and stir it up every time I walk by, every few minutes. If you’re in more of a rush you can also fill the sink with an ice bath and cool the yogurt in there more quickly, stirring more often. Just letting the liner sit out it took about 45 minutes to completely cool for me today.

7. Once the milk has cooled for to 116F, you now add 1/4 cup of your yogurt starter and whisk it in well.

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8. Now put the liner back into the Instant Pot and close and lock the lid. Press the Yogurt button and then Adjust until the display reads “8:00”.

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Your Instant Pot will then clear out to read 0:00 and it will start counting up, minute by minute, until it hits 8 hours.

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Once your Instant Pot has reached 8 hrs, it will beep and the display will change to “yogt.”

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9. Now take the lid off of the Instant Pot- it will open right up because no pressure will have built in there, the temp didn’t get high enough- and pour the yogurt into your strainer. img_3557

Here is the side view- the whey will slowly drip through the strainer and collect on the bottom:

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This is where you could alternatively use a tea towel over a colander or a nut milk bag suspended from a cabinet pull to strain your yogurt. In my experience these two methods strain the yogurt quickly- in about an hour you have a very thick product. With my yogurt strainer it takes more time- about 6 hours.

Here is my yogurt after sitting in the refrigerator overnight:

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You can see the whey that has collected in the bottom:

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I will do another blog post in the future about uses for whey- it is a valuable liquid!

Sometimes my yogurt comes out too thick and I whip some of the whey back into it. This is also when you can add the vanilla of your choice.

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You can see how thick this yogurt is- the strainer is turned at almost 90 degrees here. My family loves it super thick and creamy!

My half gallon batches of yogurt almost completely fill the 6-cup glass pyrex that I have designated to hold yogurt.

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