Ricotta Butternut Squash Pizza with Spinach

Ricotta Butternut Squash Pizza with Spinach | Naturally Ella

If you’ve caught on by now, you might have noticed that many of my components I share also happen to work well with pizza. Olive tapenade, garlicky greens, and romesco are a few of my favorites. And obviously this, roasted butternut squash (with this pizza!) This pizza is a version that finds itself in rotation during the cooler months. I typically don’t use ricotta but I’ve been finding I have leftover ricotta stashed in the refrigerator more often than not. Best of all, I give a vegan riff below (and I barely miss the cheese!)

Read more and see the recipe.

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Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

This is the recipe I use anytime I want perfect sugar cookies. They bake up beautifully with nice structure and a hint of snap when you break them in two. Especially if you can wait that extra minute or two, when they make the shift, in the oven, from just-plain-baked to golden and toasted. The dough is an absolute dream to work with. And the flavor? They have just the right amount of salt to counter the sweet. This recipe makes enough dough to yield plenty of cookies, with dough left over to freeze. I typically run out of energy before I run out of dough. I thought I’d posted this recipe long ago(!), but a search through the archives proved me wrong! I’m also including the icing I like.

Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

As far as icing goes, I have a lot of thoughts. 😉 I have a base recipe I use and then tweak it from there. Sometimes, I like my icing to have be somewhat translucent, like a wash – so I add more water. Other times, I want it more opaque, so I leave it as written (below). I always like it to be a bit matte, and not hyper-glossy, so that’s what you’ll get here. Also, have fun with natural colors. You could do tiny hot-pink dots on the trees pictured with some raspberry powder plus a bit of the icing added to it. I like saffron for yellow, matcha for green, etc. Play around!

Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Pro-tip! Keep your eyes peeled at yard sales, flea markets, and the like for special cookie cutters – that’s where you’ll find the gems. I have a bin of favorites that I can go to each time I make cookies.

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Turmeric Vegetable Fried Rice

We’re taking a new, healthier spin on a greasy take-out staple with this Turmeric Vegetable Fried Rice!  We added turmeric for an extra anti-inflammatory kick. It also just makes the rice look really pretty and yellow. Turmeric is a multi-purpose spice. It’s rich in curcumin, which has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial […]

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This is How to Become an Instant Pot Whisperer

The thing that struck me most as I started to use my Instant Pot regularly, as I began to haunt the various Instant Pot groups, and read the comments peppering Instagram (#instantpot), is the following. There are countless people out there who have purchased this of-the-moment appliance who never use it. They’re nervous about pressure cooking in general, or have no idea how to weave it into their culinary life. Others let it sit on the counter relegated to occasional bean preparation, or yogurt. Don’t get me wrong, the legions of Instant Pot fans are strong (and encouraging, and helpful!), but there are a lot of individuals out there who are clearly overwhelmed, not quite inspired, or can’t quite find their Instant Pot tribe (important!). If any of these scenarios apply to you, I hope this post can help a bit, perhaps reframe how you think of this kitchen tool moving forward, particularly if you’re a new user.

Here are some suggested ways you can approach Instant Pot cooking from a place of enthusiasm, and (hopefully) an anxiety-free place of mastery and calm! I also have an ever-evolving Instant Pot Starter Guide that I add to regularly, and a growing list of Instant Pot recipes that I’ve written, and tested.

1. Focus on a Single Function: For me, straight out of the gate, it was the pressure cooker functionality. If you focus on a single function, you’re less likely to get over-whelmed with all the other buttons, sounds, different models, and whatnot. Build your confidence one recipe at a time using your chosen “initial” function, and then branch out from there. After pressure cooking, I branched out to the slow cooker functionality.

Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka Make this: Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka

2. Easy Answers. If you’re a member of the Instant Pot Facebook Group (along with nearly 1,000,000 others!) familiarize yourself with the lefthand “search” function on desktop. It’s fantastically helpful if you have a question, problem, or just need a confidence boost. There is likely someone in there who has asked your question before, and chances are, someone has volunteered an insightful answer.

3. Start Simple: Break in your Instant Pot with a simple pot of beans, or a straight-forward weeknight meal. Getting one solid success under your belt makes a huge difference in what you can imagine is possible. This Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka is a ringer (pictured above). As are the Instant Pot Fiasco Beans (Pictured below).

Instant Pot Fiasco BeansMake this: Instant Pot Fiasco Beans

4. Try at Least Two New Recipes a Month. Or one a week if you’re more ambitious 😉 It’s such a great way to manageably build a repertoire of go-to recipes over the course of a year. And, it’s always fun to try new recipes – especially if they work! It’s like when I would tell people to try cooking with an ingredient they’ve NEVER cooked with once or twice a month. Over a year, it’s fascinating how much that can impact your home cooking, and what you’re eating.

5. Find your People. Said another way, take some time to find your Instant Pot tribe. The main communities are robust, generally welcoming, helpful, fast, and high volume. That said, joining them can be like merging onto a fast-moving six-lane highway, and maybe you’re more of a country road type of person? My advice? Patiently take some time to poke around. For example, I know I like to cook and focus on vegetable and plant-centric recipes, so, I’ve joined a number of Facebook Instant Pot groups that focus primarily on that. There are IP healthy recipe groups, IP paleo groups, IP Whole30, IP for Weight Watchers, IP Indian recipes – lots of options (all these are on FB). Date some groups, see where you feel inspired and at home, and settle in. There’s also an #instantpot hashtag and you can watch corresponding Insta-story videos and whatnot.

6. Read the Manual. Do it, but then circle back to recommendation #1 up above. Focus. Single function 😉

There are so many of you out there with a lot of experience. If you can give new IPers a single piece of advice, what would it be? I’m hoping your insights will also inspire anyone just starting out on this journey from the comments. xx, -h

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Herbed Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Herbed Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

When I was dreaming up this recipe, I was seeing bright, vibrant colors: electric green mint, magenta cranberries, and golden brown pecans.

Oh, and I was also thinking about the flavors. Don’t you worry. This salad is a total flavor bomb! Let’s do this!

This 30-minute recipe all starts with a sumptuous cranberry compote we’re going to turn into a creamy vinaigrette. Cranberry compote is so simple to make.

Herbed Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette from Minimalist Baker →

Roasted Butternut Squash | Cooking Component

Roasted Butternut Squash | Cooking Component

Of all the things I could share, I realize roasted butternut squash is rather boring. However, it’s such a major component in my cooking this time of year. I use butternut squash is almost every way imaginable. So, I decided to share this roasted butternut squash recipe less for the recipe and more for all the inspiration I can share.

A quick note about peeling: find yourself a good vegetable peeler. I’ve yet to really encounter a squash that my vegetable peeler couldn’t handle. However, if you’re in doubt, a sharp knife will also do the trick.

Read more and see the recipe.

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Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

A weeknight-friendly enchilada has to check a lot of boxes for me. You ready for the short list? Here we go. These enchiladas need to be knock-out delicious AND: easy to assemble, free from pre-cooking any components, a healthful alternative to all the heavy cheese versions out there, and, ideally, in the oven in less that ten minutes. That’s the dream scenario. And after some experimentation, I offer you these. They’re tender enchiladas made with black beans, sweet potatoes, and a stealthy turmeric boost. There was also a focus on making a version that was plant-based and vegan (which is what you see here), but also easily adaptable. If you want to add a bit of feta to the filling here (if you’re not vegan, of course) then go for it. It’s a recipe that should be able to accommodate much of what you might dream of rolling into a tortilla and baking until bubbly and golden.

Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

This recipe is similar in spirit to the Last Minute Lasagna a bunch of you have been making. In fact, I started working on both of those around the same time, so if you like one of them, give the other a try as well.

Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

Quick Vegan Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

A couple of notes, I wrote the recipe calling for canned winter squash – anything like pumpkin, sweet potato, or another winter squash will work. Whatever you and your family tends to like. I stumbled on a canned butternut squash during a spin through Trader Joe’s, a while back, stocked up, and that is what you see pictured here. You can, of course, use squash you’ve roasted at home in place of canned – it just makes the process less quick ;)…

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Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka

If you have an Instant Pot, please make this. Please. Pasta fans especially, this one is for you. As many of you know, within the Instant Pot community, mushroom stroganoff is quite popular, and you see many versions of it highlighted. Some are over-the-top decadent, others are quite healthy and hearty. This is my take, trying to land squarely in the later camp. My rogue move? Infuse a bit of vodka with crushed caraway seeds. Use it to spike your mushroom base as it cooks. So, a bit like penne alla vodka, but the mushroom stroganoff version. You can use whatever pasta you like (whole-grain, gluten free, chickpea, rice, etc.), I use creamy nut milk in place of actual cream, and a splash of olive oil to kick things off to start, in place of slabs of butter. You won’t miss any of it. This version is vegan, vegetarian, cozy, comforting, simple, and adaptable.

Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka

Here’s a quick video where you can see how this comes together:

Serving suggestions: I’m going to argue that you need to counter all of this brown with a good amount of green. I enjoy this with a sizable green salad, or stir some chopped kale directly into the stroganoff, as it completes cooking. I make note of the specifics down below.

Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka

Pasta selection: One of the great things about this recipe is that you can use whatever pasta you like, and you can experiment with favorite shapes. I’ve had success with penne, and rotini, but you can absolutely use whatever you (or your family) really likes. I often reach for one of the legume/bean based pastas for weeknight pastas, and play around with more traditional (and homemade wheat noodles) on the weekends. Mix it up some, this recipe is perfect for it.

Instant Pot Mushroom Stroganoff with Vodka

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