Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Instant Pot Chocolate Peppermint Rice Pudding

Instant Pot Chocolate Peppermint Rice Pudding is a 30 minute holiday recipe made in a pressure cooker. Make this easy dessert or decadent breakfast for Christmas morning.

This post contains affiliate links.

I can hardly believe Christmas is less than 2 weeks away! I haven't watched any holiday movies yet and I still need to wrap all of my gifts. I have been making up for my lack of prep in other areas by making holiday treats. Last weekend I went to a cookie brunch, I made gingerbread and sugar shape cookies to decorate with a friend, and created a new recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Rice Pudding. This rice pudding turned out so good that I made it twice and I couldn't wait any longer to share it.

My extended family has a strong Norwegian heritage {I'm 50% Norwegian}. We have a Christmas Eve tradition involving rice pudding that many Norwegians share. Norwegian rice pudding is called risengrynsgrøt and is made with milk, sugar, cinnamon, and butter. The holiday tradition is to hide an almond in one cup of the rice pudding. My extended family is large {over 40 people} so we sing several Christmas songs and pass the cups around. Once the singing is over, everyone eats their rice pudding and whoever has an almond in their cup receives a gift. This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

I researched risengrynsgrøt online and found out that the rice pudding tradition started in ancient times in Norway and Scandinavia. Whoever found the almond in their rice pudding would be the next person to get married. Others think the tradition comes from a European game from the 1500s called "King of the Bean" - "instead of an almond, a bean was hidden inside a bread or cake and the finder was appointed King Bean – with the right to fabricate name to the others around the table." {source} There is also a Scandinavian holiday tradition of leaving a bowl of porridge for Santa instead of cookies. "Santa's" job was to look after people's farms, and leaving him porridge meant there would be a good harvest.

I think Santa would approve of this chocolate peppermint version of rice pudding. The best part is this recipe is made in the instant pot and is ready in 30 minutes.

Instant Pot Chocolate Peppermint Rice Pudding
Yields: 4-6 servings

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
3 cups milk + 1/2 cup
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Add rice, milk, maple syrup and salt to the instant pot.
2. Close the lid of the Instant Pot to seal it. Make sure the vent is set to "sealed."
3. Select "Porridge", which is automatically set to cook for 20 minutes.
4. After 20 minutes, the Instant Pot will beep. Immediately push the "Keep Warm" button. Wait for 10-12 minutes for the pressure to naturally release.
5. Release any remaining steam from the vent and lightly cover the valve with a towel.
6. Stir in vanilla paste, peppermint extract, espresso powder, 1/2 cup half and half and 1/2 cup milk.
7. Top with chocolate chips, sprinkles and a few Tablespoons of milk if you want a creamier texture.

{Adapted from Sweet & Savory Meals recipe for Instant Pot Rice Pudding}

Monday, December 11, 2017

Chipotle Chicken Soup + Meal Prep with Jewel-Osco Grocery Delivery

My Dutch oven or slow cooker are simmering soup at my home every week during fall and winter months. Chili, chicken noodle, and split pea are a few of our favorites. However, it's nice to spice things up once in awhile, and that's what I did with the recipe I'm sharing today for Chipotle Chicken Soup. I used a chopped chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and lime juice to create a unique flavor in this soup - and it made the house smell delicious.

This post is sponsored by Jewel-Osco. All opinions and text are my own.

The best part? I didn't have to leave my house on a chilly day to pick up any of the ingredients. I used Jewel-Osco's new Home Delivery service to order groceries online and have them delivered to my home. I have one word about this experience: amazing. Will I visit the grocery store again? Yes. But, I didn't realize how much I would enjoy the convenience and time saved when ordering groceries online. This service is especially helpful for my family which includes a 1 year old toddler and two working parents, one of which travels often for business. Scroll below to learn more about Grocery Delivery with Jewel-Osco and our meal plan for the week.

I made the Chipotle Chicken Soup in my slow cooker, simmered on high on a Sunday afternoon. I'm a big fan of chipotle flavor, because it adds smokiness and a bit of spice. In this recipe, I used one chopped chipotle pepper and a Tablespoon of adobo sauce to add a punch of flavor. If you like spicier food, I suggest adding a second or even a third chipotle pepper.

We enjoyed this soup for dinner and had leftovers for lunch for several days.

Chipotle Chicken Soup
Yields: 6 servings

1 pound boneless chicken breasts
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalk, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 chipotle chile, chopped
1 Tablespoon adobo sauce
2 medium yellow potatoes, cubed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup half and half
Juice of 1-2 limes

Topping ideas:
Shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

1. Chop onion, carrots, celery, and chipotle pepper. Mince garlic.
2. Wash and chop potatoes into cubes.
3. Add chopped onion to a slow cooker/crock pot. Add chicken breasts, carrots, celery, chipotle pepper, olive oil, chicken broth, water and spices. Stir in adobo sauce.
4. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours.
5. Remove the chicken and shred it - return to the slow cooker. Stir in half and half and the juice of 1-2 limes.
6. Top each bowl with cilantro, cheese, avocado, and/or crushed tortilla chips.

Most of the ingredients for this soup were in our Jewel-Osco grocery order. The online ordering process was simple and fast, with helpful categories and a search box. Our home delivery was prompt with helpful staff. Home delivery is available in a time window {1, 2 or 4 hours} and the cost ranges from free to $5.95 for purchases of $150 or more. For same-day delivery, orders must be placed before 1:00 pm. We ordered late afternoon on a Saturday and had the groceries delivered between 8:00 and 10:00 am on Sunday. I drank coffee, listened to a podcast and played with baby C without rushing to the grocery store on a Sunday morning. Perfection.

Our grocery order for the week included:

Produce: Bananas, plums, pears, raspberries, cranberries, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, red peppers, avocado, garlic and ginger.

Pantry: Salsa, pumpkin puree, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, green beans
Breakfast: Steel cut oats, Cheerios, mini pancakes
Dairy: Half and half, cottage cheese, butter, sharp white cheddar cheese, ice cream {for a party!}
Snacks: Chips and Larabar bites
Not pictured: Chicken breasts; chocolate chips {for holiday baking}

Our meal plan for the week:

Pumpkin Chai Slow Cooker Oats
Cheerios / pancakes and fruit

Leftover Chipotle Chicken Soup
Baked sweet potatoes with veggies

Chipotle Chicken Soup
Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala with Cauliflower and Peas
Butternut Squash Pasta with broccoli

Interested in trying this service in the Chicago area? I highly recommend it! Check out the Jewel-Osco grocery delivery site at Delivery is available daily, from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. Grocery pick-up is also available if you prefer it to home delivery. The minimum order for both delivery and pick-up is $30.

You can also get $25 off your groceries for the week and free delivery on your first order {you must spend $100 or more} with the code JEWEL. This is valid for orders until Feb. 28, 2018.

Have you ever tried grocery delivery or pickup? Let me know if you try the service from Jewel-Osco!
    This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

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    Thursday, December 7, 2017

    Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Foodies

    This Stocking Stuffer gift guide for foodies is a great way to get inspired to finish your Christmas and holiday shopping, with a range of gift ideas that are small in size. This "foodie" gift list is perfect for your favorite friend or family member that loves cooking or baking in the kitchen.

    I love reading holiday gift guides! Last year I posted two gift guides - one for Foodies and one for Runners. I thought it would be fun to add a guide for smaller, stocking stuffer gifts this year, especially since I'm not quite done with my Christmas shopping. There are still two Fridays left... plenty of time.

    This post contains affiliate links.

    1.  Nessie Soup Ladle - Set of 2 Spoons

    2. Mini Tongs, Set of 3

    3. Silicone Mini Whisks, Set of 2

    4. Milk Frother

    5. Vosges Haut-Chocolat Mini Exotic Chocolate Bars

    6. Le Creuset Teaspoon

    7. Nesting Mini Measurement Beakers

    8. Mason Jar Flip Cap Lid

    9. I Could Eat a T-Rex Spaghetti Measuring Tool

    10. Lodge Miniature Skillet

    Need more ideas? Here are a few more "foodie" gift lists:

    Friday, December 1, 2017

    25 Holiday Activities in Chicago

    Chicago is a wonderful city for holiday and Christmas activities. This post includes 25 holiday-inspired events, from performances, to ice skating, to a gingerbread house decorating party - one for each day of December until Christmas is here.

    One of the reasons I love living in a big city is the opportunity to experience and participate in a variety of events and culture. The holiday season is a particularly good time to try new things with family and friends. You can find holiday activities taking place every weekend across the Chicago area. I learned about many new {to me} events while researching this post. With a newly minted one-year-old in my family this year, we will likely only make it to a few things on this list.

    1. Visit the Christkindl Market

    The Christkindl Market is one of my favorite holiday activities in Chicago, with three locations this year - Daley Plaza, The Park at Wrigley, and Naperville. We visited Daley Plaza two weekends ago when my mom was in town and it was packed with people. I need to go back to pick out a Christmas ornament and enjoy Gluhwein.

    2. Lunch at The Walnut Room - Macy's

    The Walnut Room is exceptionally festive during the holiday season, with a huge Christmas tree and holiday decor. The restaurant has been open since 1905 at what was once Marshall Fields {now Macy's}, located on State Street in the Chicago Loop.

    3. Caroling at Cloud Gate

    If you're a Christmas caroler, you can get your sing on every Friday at 6pm at the Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. Click here for more information.

    4. Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

    Navy Pier hosts an annual winter carnival at Navy Pier that families with children would love {large crowds aside}. The event is open until January 7. Click here for ticket information.

    5. Holiday Flower Show at Lincoln Conservatory

    The Conservatory in Lincoln Park is free and holds a holiday flower show event during the holiday season. I haven't visited this event before but am planning to take C this year. Click here for more information.
    6. Christmas Around the World at Museum of Science and Industry

    Christmas Around the World is one of my favorite holiday events in the area. The Museum of Science and Industry goes all out with holiday decor, including many Christmas trees decorated in the theme of different countries. I visited twice this year when C was a tiny baby. It's a very family friendly event.

    7. Ice Skating

    I'm extremely uncoordinated, but I can take a few slow laps around the ice skating rink as good as anyone! There are many ice skating options in Chicago, including the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon and McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink. Click here for more information on indoor and outdoor skating rinks.

    8. ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

    I always make an annual trip to the free ZooLights exhibit at Lincoln Park Zoo, rain {snow} or shine. I didn't make it last year since C was only a few weeks ago, but I'm hoping we find ourselves there this year to check out the holiday light displays and festive music.

    9. Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum

    If the weather holds up in the coming weeks and doesn't get too chilly, we are planning to take C to see the Tree Lights exhibit with his grandparents at the Morton Arboretum. I have heard it is a beautiful event and very festive. Find more information on tickets here.

    10. CTA Holiday Train

    We rode the CTA holiday train for a few stops last night and C saw Santa for the first time. I'm sure he was quite confused but he seemed to enjoy the festive lights. Find the holiday train schedule here.

    11. The Nutcracker - Joffrey Ballet

    There are many performances of The Nutcracker around Chicago, including the Joffrey Ballet. My mom and I went to a performance when she was in town visiting a few years ago and it was unbelievable - absolutely beautiful scenery and music. I would go back in a heartbeat.

    12. Wonderland Express at Chicago Botanic Garden

    A family-friendly train exhibition through the holidays. Find tickets here.

    13. Holiday Flower Show at Garfield Park Conservatory

    Garfield Park Conservatory puts together a beautiful holiday flower show with a different theme each year {last year's theme is pictured below}. Spending time in the heated conservatory is perfect for the winter months, and the Conservatory is free {though donations are greatly appreciated}.

    14. Christmas-Themed Pizza at Marie's Pizza & Liquors

    Marie's Pizza is well-known on the northwest side for its exceptional Christmas decorations and tasty pizza. We haven't been before but have enjoyed their pizza - I hope we can find a time to take C this year. Check out this article for more information.

    15. Holiday Tea

    I love going to tea service for lunch or in the afternoon, especially during the holiday season. I have visited the Drake Hotel for their holiday tea {pictured below} but several other hotels and restaurants offer tea service as well. Click here for a list of restaurants that offer high tea service.

    16. Home Alone Concert at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    On December 9 and 10, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is performing the movie Home Alone, in concert. Click here for more information on tickets.

    17. Dance-Along Nutcracker at the Chicago Cultural Center

    This weekend {Sunday, December 3} the Chicago Cultural Center is hosting a free nutcracker event with dance lessons and performances. What a neat experience for kids! Find more information here.

    18. Gingerbread House Decorating Party - Park Grill at Millennium Park

    I have only tried decorating a gingerbread house once, and it was somewhat of a fail. Perhaps doing so in a group setting would be more successful! The Park Grill at Millennium Park is hosting a Gingerbread House Decorating Party on Sunday, December 17. Find tickets here.

    19. Art Institute Chicago - Holiday Thorne Rooms

    The Art Institute decorates their tiny homes / rooms exhibit with festive holiday decor. I have never visited the Holiday Thorne Rooms, but would love to add it to our event list this year. Can anything be cuter than tiny Christmas trees?

    20. Ugly Sweater Party - Park & Field in Logan Square

    Time Out Chicago is hosting the first annual Ugly Sweater Party in Logan Square on Thursday, December 7, featuring cocktails, s'mores and board games. Sounds like my kind of holiday event. Click here for more details.

    21. Ultimate Holiday Movie Series - Time Out Chicago

    Time Out Chicago is hosting the Ultimate Holiday Movie Series at Lagunitas Brewing Company and Baderbrau Tap and Kitchen, showing holiday movies with drinks. Find more information here.

    22. The Night Market Before Christmas - Chicago Athletic Association

    The Night Before Christmas is a pop-up shopping event on Tuesday, December 12, taking place at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel. The event will also feature local food and drink vendors. Find more information here.

    23. A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carol is an annual performance in Chicago, taking place this year at the Goodman Theatre. Click here for ticket information.

    24. Christmas Performances - Broadway in Chicago

    Ken Ludwig's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas - Emerald City Theatre
    Irving Berlin's White Christmas

    25. Run a Holiday Race

    My friend S and I have run a few holiday races together over the past few years, including the Rudolph Ramble and Santa Hustle race. The photo below is from an exceptionally mild holiday race where we made the mistake of wearing {wool} Christmas sweaters to the run. Find a list of December races in the Chicago area here.

    Interested in more holiday-inspired posts?