Smooth & Easy Hummus Recipe

Hummus is one of my favorite foods. I could eat troughsful of it, so long as it’s good hummus. For me, the stuff you can buy at the grocery store is never quite right. It’s stiff, pasty, and just not quite right. Plus it can be pretty expensive! Fortunately, hummus is also dead simple to make.

I’ve had a lot of practice. I used to get home from cooking all day in a restaurant and throw some together because I was starving but also exhausted but also didn’t want to eat something that wasn’t delicious. This smooth, easy hummus recipe fits the bill perfectly. If you’ve never had hummus that didn’t come from the grocery store, give this a try!

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Instant Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken with Orzo Pasta

This creamy ranch chicken with orzo is a comforting, easy-to-eat dinner made in the Instant Pot. You don't even need to thaw the chicken.

A while back, a friend posted this recipe in an Instant Pot recipe group. Thanks, Anna! I made a few little changes, and this is now a family favorite. This post contains affiliate links.

This creamy ranch chicken with orzo is one of those comforting, easy-to-eat dinners that takes basically no effort to put together. You don’t even need to remember to thaw the chicken. That’s right; you can make this with frozen chicken breast (or thighs).

The ability to cook from frozen is one of my favorite features of the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker, by the way. The texture is usually a little better if you do thaw the chicken first, but in a dish like this it’s not that big a deal. You can proceed from frozen and feel not even a tiny hint of regret. It does take about an hour from frozen, but can be done in 30 minutes if you thaw the chicken ahead of time.

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Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread

Nutella-swirled banana bread whips up in ten minutes and isn't fussy - it's practically no-fail!

I’ve always loved banana bread, but I’ve been baking it a lot more lately. Part of that is because I have a friend who’s going through a hard time who likes it; part of that is because I’ve been testing a recipe for you, dear reader. And here it is, finally: Nutella-swirled banana bread, for those days when you need a little extra oomph with your dessert disguised as breakfast.

Banana bread is so simple to make but so good. I don’t quite understand how it exists in both of these spheres at once, but there it is. You can mix up the batter in a single bowl (unless you’re adding Nutella, so… you’ll need an extra bowl for this one; sorry). Once you’ve decided to make a loaf, it can be in the oven in ten minutes. There aren’t fifty-eleven things to clean up, and it’s not fussy about mixing method or, well, anything, really. It’s like your best friend in quick bread form. Comfy, like flannel pajamas. Sound good? Read on!

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Milk Tea: My Favorite of All Beverages

Cold, sweet, aromatic milk tea

Many years ago now, I was thirsty while shopping in a Japanese grocery store (in Columbus, Ohio – I miss it there, sometimes). I took a look in the refrigerated case and there, beckoning, was some beverage I’d never seen before: Milk tea. I take my hot tea with just milk, so I was intrigued. I picked it up, and I’ve never looked back. Since buying smallish imported bottles got expensive fairly quickly, I decided to try to make my own milk tea at home.

I’ve been doing this for about 10 years occasionally, but in the past year or two, this has been a fairly regular afternoon beverage choice for me. I do love hot tea, but – especially when it’s nearly 80F in February – sometimes a nice, icy, cold drink option is preferable.

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Simple Cream Scones: Family Tea Time

Tender cream scones are easier than you think! Make some to enjoy this afternoon.

I’ve been talking a lot this year about my plan to implement family tea time (or coffee hour; I really can’t decide what to call it). I wanted to get back in the habit of baking, and I also wanted a way for us to reset in mid- to late afternoon. Afternoon is kind of the worst. So I’ve been baking a lot, and it’s been making me happy. One of my favorite easy recipes is this one, for simple cream scones; it’s adapted from King Arthur Flour’s website.

Scones, if you’re not familiar, are kind of similar to lightly sweet (American) biscuits. They should be soft and tender, and are best eaten freshly warm out of the oven. I like mine with just the barest hint of sweetness, so that it’s not overkill when I top them with jam. (We stock up on Bonne Maman Quatre Fruits at Costco, when they have it.) I think scones with additions like blueberries or dried fruit or even, deliciously, chocolate chips, are a bit of a different matter; they should still be flaky but I don’t tend to split and top those, so sometimes I use a bit more sugar in the first place.

Cream scones (and all scones, really) are also dead simple to make. Truly. You only need one bowl, and you can turn the dough out directly onto the baking sheet – lined with parchment or a silicone mat (this is an affiliate link), of course – so there’s barely any washing up to do. I feel like I’m talking Britishly in this post. It’s not intentional. My three-year-old was telling me we needed to buy a picnic rug so I think we may all have had too much Peppa Pig as of late.

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The Best Chili Ever – in an Instant Pot

Deliciously complex chili in under 90 minutes - and it's better as leftovers!

It’s a big claim to make, I know. Not just the best chili ever, but in an Instant Pot, too? Yes, friends. It’s true. This is the most amazing chili ever, and you will mark the day you first made it in your calendar and celebrate its anniversary every year.

OK, that might be hyperbole – but only a little. This recipe started as something I saw on Sara Moulton’s old show on Food TV – before it was Food Network, I think. Does anyone else remember her hour-long show, where viewers were encouraged to cook along? And folks would call in with questions? I loved that show. Sara Moulton is the bee’s knees. She was also the executive chef at the dining room of Gourmet magazine (may it rest in peace) for a long time. For all its bourgeois sensibilities, Gourmet really only ever printed quality recipes – you can still trust them.

An old roommate gave away my entire box of Gourmet back issues, not that I’m still bitter.

Anyway, I saw this recipe presented on Sara’s show, and I thought, “that sounds alright; I’ll give it a try.” It’s probably been fifteen years – see, I didn’t mark the date in my calendar, and now I regret it – and I’ve made a few tweaks here and there. But this is still my go-to, #1, best chili ever recipe, and the Instant Pot has made it so fast and easy there’s no reason not to make it.

Deliciously complex chili in under 90 minutes - and it's better as leftovers!

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