Chocolate syrup is deliciously versatile. Stir it in hot or cold milk or coffee for a treat or pour over ice cream to make it even more decadent. Then there’s old fashioned sodas and baked goods made with chocolate syrup. With this chocolate syrup recipe, you can make delicious chocolate syrup with just a few basic pantry staples whenever you need it.
Sure, it’s easy to pick up a bottle from the supermarket, but with this easy chocolate syrup recipe, you can make it for a fraction of the cost and without a trip to the store. By making it, you also have control over the ingredients. Use your favorite cocoa powder, experiment with the type and amount of sugar or swap out the vanilla extract for something a little more creative to make it your own. I can totally see using peppermint extract to mimic the flavor of Andes mints. Or, if you’re a fan of Terry’s Chocolate Orange chocolates, add orange extract.
Like most of my recipes, this chocolate syrup is gluten free and dairy free.
This chocolate syrup recipe is so easy and delicious. With only a few pantry-staple ingredients needed, you'll never have an excuse not to make it. Should be good for at least a month when stored properly. I usually find plenty of ways to use it up before then.
1cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2teaspoonsaltor to taste
1teaspoon vanilla extractor to taste
Mix the sugar and cocoa together in a saucepan until thoroughly combined.
Add the water and half of the salt (1/4 teaspoon). Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Continue to boil while constantly stirring until the mixture thickens a little. (It will thicken more as it cools) This should take around 3 or 4 minutes.
Carefully taste and add the rest of the salt, if desired.
Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.
Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like using a glass jar.
The vanilla extract and salt amount can be adjusted according to taste. I can also see swapping out the vanilla for peppermint or orange extract.
While I try to write recipes as clearly as possible, it’s easy to miss a step or make assumptions. If anything is confusing, please don’t hesitate to comment with your questions. If you make this recipe, please let me know what you think.
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I love the slightly spicy, creamy Zuppa Toscana soup from Olive Garden. Since going gluten-free and dairy-free, Zuppa Toscana and pretty much anything Olive Garden are out of the question. With the cold weather, though, I really crave soups. I made some potato soup a few days ago that was yummy, but just not the same. Today I realized I happened to have everything I needed to attempt a sausage and potato soup very much like Zuppa Toscana.
It doesn’t have quite the same creaminess due to substituting almond milk. Cashew milk is a creamier substitute, but I didn’t have any on hand. For a first dairy-free attempt, it turned out pretty darn close.
I made my sausage potato soup in my electric pressure cooker. You could easily make it in a slow cooker or on the stove top, but I like how the pressure cooker really develops the flavors, similar to cooking in a slow cooker but without the long cook time. I also love that I can use the saute function on my pressure cooker to brown the sausage. This prevents having to dirty a skillet, like I would if I used a slow cooker.
Electric Pressure Cooker, unless cooking on stove top or slow cooker.
1lb Ground Sausage
3-4 Largish potatoes, sliced
1medium Onion, dicedWhite or yellow.
2-3 cups Kale, torn or chopped.Could substitute spinach or other greens.
6-8 cups Chicken broth (gluten-free if desired)You want enough to cover the rest of the ingredients in the pot without too much over.
2cups Almond or Cashew milk
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
Select the "Saute" function on the pressure cooker.
Add the olive oil and brown the sausage.
Add the onion a few minutes before the sausage finishes browning to soften.
When the sausage is browned, turn off the "Saute" function.
Add the potatoes, kale, broth and seasonings. Do not add the almond or cashew milk yet.
Lock the pressure cooker's lid in place and select the "Soup" function. I used the 30 minute function.
After the cooking is complete, either wait for pressure to naturally release or CAREFULLY do a manual release. Soups spray and spatter if you immediately try to release the pressure, so I recommend waiting at least ten minutes if you are going to manually release the pressure.
Add the almond/cashew milk and stir. The soup should be hot enough to heat the milk addition without additional cooking.
I don’t really measure recipes like this, so most measurements are approximate.The stove top instructions are basically the same. Brown the sausage in a big soup pot, add the ingredients except the milk and simmer for around thirty minutes. Add the milk and serve. For the slow cooker, brown the meat on the stove, add everything but the milk to the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add the milk and serve.
Please leave a comment if you try this and let me know how it turns out. If any of my instructions need clarification, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments, too.
In my Tips to Save Money on Food post, I mention buying ham on sale after the holidays. I love cooking a ham at the beginning of the week. It provides sliced ham for a few meals. Then I cook a pot of red beans or pinto beans with what’s left of the meat and the ham bone for lots of flavor and richness.
Sometimes that gets boring, though. After cooking a ham on Sunday, I wanted something to use some of the ham that was different but easy. I also needed something that used ingredients I already had on hand. A quick internet search found this delicious Potato Ham Soup shared by Sandy at Simply Happy Foodie. It’s written for one of my favorite appliances, the electric pressure cooker, and uses basic ingredients that are common kitchen staples.
Since this isn’t my recipe, I’m linking to the original at Simply Happy Foodie. I made a few changes to the original to make it gluten and dairy free. I also had to make a few adjustments to make it work with what I had on hand. Those I will share here.
Potato Ham Soup hacks
In place of milk or cream, I used coconut milk to make it dairy free. Almond or cashew would probably work well, too.
For the flour, I subbed an all-purpose gluten free flour blend. Cornstarch also works well as a gluten free thickener. I would recommend reducing the amount of cornstarch to 1-1.5 tablespoons, though, because, to me, cornstarch gives things a different flavor.
I had russet potatoes on hand, so that’s what I used.
The recipe called for thyme. I’m out, so I added poultry seasoning instead.
The original recipe suggested cheese as an add-in. To add a little cheesy flavor without dairy, I sprinkled in about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.
That’s it. This soup is a great way to use up leftover ham. With an electric pressure cooker it’s done in under an hour, start to finish. Check it out at Simply Happy Foodie, and if you need a gluten-free or dairy-free option, use the adjustments I’ve shared here.
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Clearing out to make room for new products. Everything listed here is at least 50% off the original price. If you see something you like, get it now before it sells out.
A few days ago, I thought it would be fun to make Christmas cookies. Then I remembered that my Christmas cookie cutters had disappeared, we were out of any sort of sprinkles for the cookies and I really didn’t want to make decorator frosting or go to the store for supplies. My solution? DIY sugar sprinkles!
Jars, plastic containers or sandwich bags, one per color. (Ideally something with a shaker top, which I didn’t have)
Spoons or shakers
How to make the sugar sprinkles
Measure about 1/4 cup of sugar into each container.
Add 2-3 drops of food coloring to the sugar.
Shake or stir until the color is evenly distributed.
Let air dry. I just left the lids off the jars and set them on the stove while the cookies baked, stirring occasionally. If you use bags or plan to store it for a longer period of time, you may want to spread it on parchment or a cookie sheet to make sure it is super dry.
The recipe I used for the cookies was the sugar cookie cutout recipe from my trusty red and white Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. To make them gluten free, I substituted Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour. If you are new to gluten free baking, it is a great flour to start with. I have had lots of success making all my old recipes gluten free with just that simple substitution.
My solution for not having cookie cutters was to use a round glass to cut out “ornaments”. We dusted some of the cookies with the sprinkles prior to baking. For the rest, I made a simple icing that got dusted or caked with sprinkles, depending on who was doing the decorating.
This was originally posted in 2017. With the Instant Pot Prime Day discount, I thought it might be useful to re-share for all the electric pressure cooker newbies.
Last Christmas my lovely parents bought us an 8 qt. GoWise Pressure cooker that I have used almost daily ever since. This is the exact one I have:
With all the sales happening, and the Instant Pot craze still going strong, I know lots of people will be getting an electric pressure cooker and then wondering what to do with it. At least that’s what I did. Now that I’ve used mine for a while, I have some favorite uses for it to share with newbies. I have never used an official Instant Pot, so I can’t say how they compare. They should work about the same, though, so if you have an Instant Pot or other similar electric pressure cooker you should be able to enjoy all this awesomeness, too.
10 Reasons I Love My Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)
Easy Instant Pot Boiled eggs:
Boiled eggs on the stovetop are easy, unless you’re getting ready for work or school or have young children or are otherwise easily distracted. Then you either burn them or undercook them. Peeling them also is hit or miss. Sometimes the shell comes off easily, other times it takes half the egg white with it.
In the electric pressure cooker, I can put a dozen eggs in the steamer basket with a little water, push the button for eggs (mine has 1,3, and 5 minute settings for soft, medium and hard), and forget about it. The end result is perfectly cooked eggs that peel so easily my two year old can do it.
Even in the microwave, I have a hard time getting potatoes and sweet potatoes to cook properly. It seems like I always have to restart it a few times to finally get them done. With the pressure cooker, I set it for 15-17 minutes depending on how soft I want them, and they are always done. I’m trying to quit using my microwave all together, too, so the pressure cooker is definitely the faster option compares to the oven.
Slow cooker recipes:
Anything you’d make in a crockpot can be cooked in the pressure cooker. You can either use the slow cooker setting, or, if you forgot about cooking dinner until after lunch, you can cook it under pressure and have it done in an hour or less.
Not only that, but, unlike with a slow cooker, you can use the sauté setting to brown meats or anything that needs browning first. That means more flavor with fewer dirty dishes.
If I forget to presoak dry beans, I’ll put them in my pressure cooker for five minutes to do a quick presoak, drain, and add back to the pot along with the seasonings and broth or cooking water, then cook using the bean setting. It’s possible to skip the presoak entirely and go straight to cooking, if I’m short on time, but I prefer to presoak when I can.
If I get them cooking early enough in the day, I’ll switch to the slow cooker setting after they’ve cooked with pressure. That gives them the super yummy, second day flavor on day one.
Stews, soups and curries:
Browning meats and onions in the pot add flavor, and you can use the pressure then slow cook trick to further develop the flavor.
Smaller meats like chicken breasts, vegetables and rice can be put into separate heat-proof containers and steam cooked at the same time. I usually cook too much at once to do that, but when it works out, it is handy and doesn’t heat up the kitchen like using the oven. Easy All in One Electric Pressure Cooker Meal
It cooks rice even better than my little rice cooker, and I don’t risk burning it like I do on the stovetop. (There’s lots of distractions here, people.) I don’t use it much for rice, though, since I usually cook curries and things I serve with rice in the pressure cooker. Whenever my rice cooker dies, though, I’m seriously considering a second, smaller pressure cooker as a replacement.
I haven’t quite perfected yogurt with any method yet, but so far, the best I’ve made is in jars on the trivet in the pressure cooker. It is still a little runny, but it works well for smoothies.
Baking in an Instant Pot:
I’ve only done this once, but thought I’d mention it. You can bake cakes and breads in it by setting the bread or cake pan on the trivet and adding water to the pot for steam. This helps keep the bread or cake moist, which is especially handy for baking with gluten or grain-free flours.
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Many people eat gluten free (g-free), either by choice or need. For those with celiac, eliminating gluten is an absolute necessity. Others find that, for one reason or another, they feel better when they avoid it. In my case, I kind of accidentally discovered that joint pain in my hands and feet go away and I’m less brain foggy when I avoid gluten. Other family members suffer from breakouts and rashes that flare whenever they eat something with gluten. I strongly believe that if you feel bad after eating something, you should probably stop eating it, so we do our best to avoid gluten all together.
Eliminating something that is such a big part of your diet is daunting at first, but there are a few things that can make the transition easier and less expensive. These tips focus on gluten, but many will also help if you need to eliminate other foods.
Start with real foods
Processed foods often have hidden fillers and ingredients, and specialty gluten free foods are expensive. In contrast, fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, beans, eggs and dairy are naturally gluten free in their pure forms. Rice is a grain that does not contain gluten. Starting from scratch with real food ingredients that you know naturally don’t have gluten is often easier and definitely cheaper than scrutinizing food labels and buying special gluten free versions of normally wheat based foods.
Go simple with seasonings
For the most part, single herbs and spices are gluten free. Certain spice blends may have gluten, though. Making your own blends is the safest bet, but if you have a spice blend you love, most manufacturer websites list whether their products contain gluten.
While not technically an herb or spice, most soy sauce contains gluten. La Choy is a major brand that is made without gluten. Bragg’s liquid aminos are another form of g-free soy sauce.
Most vinegar is g-free. Malt vinegar is not. You’ll also want to check the label on flavored vinegar to be sure.
Cooking oils don’t have gluten unless seasoned with something containing gluten.
Find your current gluten free staples
Look at the foods that currently stock your pantry. What things that you buy are already gluten free? For us, we usually keep a box or two of cereal around for snacking or a quick breakfast. Most cereals are made with wheat and therefore have gluten, but some that we already bought, like Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Rice Chex are gluten free. Knowing that, I can continue to keep a box or two of cereal we already liked on hand.
Likewise, we keep tortilla chips on hand for snacking or nachos. Most tortilla chips don’t have gluten and inexpensive. Since gluten free crackers are both hard to find and usually expensive, tortilla chips are an easy cracker substitute as well.
Look for the easy substitute
Like substituting tortilla chips for crackers, there are other easy swaps. Corn tortillas usually don’t have gluten and can be substituted for flour tortillas. Rice is often a good substitute for pasta, or substitute rice noodles. If you have an Asian grocery nearby, you can usually find rice noodles there for cheaper than a mainstream supermarket, as well as leafy greens and spices for cheap.
Make it yourself
It’s fairly easy to find gluten-free flour now, so making your own gluten free cookies, pizza crusts, pancakes, breads, etc. is a good option. I love Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour. With it, I can continue to make my favorite deserts just by substituting it for wheat flour. There are other good gluten free flours on the market, too. The most important thing is to know if it is blended to be an exact 1 to 1 substitute or if you need to add something like xanthan gum to give it the stretchiness and rise that you usually get from gluten. For example, Bob’s Red Mill has an All Purpose Gluten Free Flour that is not the 1 to 1 blend. It is a little denser and does not have xanthan gum already blended. I like blending it with tapioca flour, which adds some stretchiness. That works well for things like gluten free flour tortillas. For things that need to rise, though, like cakes or breads, I also add xanthan gum if I’m using the all purpose and not the 1 to 1 blend.
When buying gluten free, shop around
Sometimes you really just want to get some gluten free penne pasta or a g-free bagel. More and more grocery stores regularly stock g-free pastas, breads and desserts, but they can be pricey. If you find them on sale, stock up and freeze the extras. Alternative grocery stores sometimes offer better prices, too. Aldi has a decent selection of g-free breads, pastas, and baking mixes at a lower price than most other stores. I even found some gluten free donuts there recently.
Locally, we have a surplus/discount/closeout grocery store called Town Talk. They frequently have udi’s bread in the range of two loaves for $3.00. I periodically stop in and stock up when I can.
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Just because you might be at home more doesn’t mean you have more time to cook. Whether you’re working from home, helping virtual learners or homeschooling, it’s likely you’re just as busy as ever. I love using my electric pressure cooker for busy days. It’s like having someone cooking in the kitchen while I work on the million of other things needing done.
One of my favorite fast recipes is chicken and vegetable quinoa. It takes minutes to prepare, is super healthy and cooks fast, so it’s perfect for busy days. The basic recipe is really easy to customize, so it’s a good meal to use up odds and ends from the fridge.
Customizing your quinoa
Try it with beef, sausage, tofu, beans, eggs or skip the protein and add more vegetables. If you have leftover chicken, shred it and use it instead of raw chicken breasts.
If you have time to chop vegetables, clean out the produce drawer and use whatever you have on hand. Use up those veggies before they go bad!
Kale is another nice addition. Throw it on top before pressure cooking and stir it in at the end. Since it’s a hardier green, it holds up well to pressure cooking.
Change up the flavor by adding soy sauce, hot sauce or your favorite seasonings. For a mild dish, I like using poultry seasoning.
Don’t like quinoa? Use rice and adjust the cooking time based on your pressure cooker’s recommendations.
It’s easy to pack for lunches or take on picnics, too.
Instant Pot Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa is a quick, last minute dish that is great hot or cold. Customize it by swapping out the protein or vegetables depending on what you have on hand.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Electric pressure cooker, such as an Instant Pot
1tbspoilolive oil, coconut oil or preferred cooking oil
1 medium onion, diced
1cup chicken breast, cut into bite sized piecesCould also use pre-cooked, shredded chicken
1 cupfrozen mixed vegetables
2cupschicken broth or water
salt and pepper to taste
Turn the pressure cooker to "Saute" and add oil.
Add the onion and chicken if you are not using pre-cooked chicken.
Saute until the onion is translucent and chicken is browned.
Press "Cancel" to stop sauteing.
Add broth, quinoa and vegetables to pot and stir.
Add salt and pepper, if desired.
Lock the lid and set cooker to two minutes on high pressure.
Allow pressure to release naturally when done.
Fluff with fork and serve.
The great thing about this recipe is it is easy to customize. Try it with beef, sausage, tofu, or skip the protein and add more vegetables. If you have leftover chicken, shred it and use it instead of raw chicken breasts.Clean out the veggie drawer and use whatever you have on hand.Change up the flavor by adding soy sauce, hot sauce or your favorite seasonings.It’s easy to pack for lunches or take on picnics, too.
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