Instant Pot Applesauce

Instant Pot applesauce - in just 8 minutes -  is the quickest way to enjoy this sweet & tart bowl of homemade applesauce. You can also make it in your slow cooker! | themillennialmenu.com

My favorite thing about fall is definitely orchard apples. Macintosh and macoun straight from the orchard just taste so much better than buying a regular old apple at the store in the middle of winter. They're crunchier, sweeter, and just all around better. So, when fall rolls around, I take advantage of the abundance of orchard apples to do a little baking, including homemade applesauce - this time in my instant Pot (or your slow cooker!)

I grew up enjoying homemade applesauce in the fall, made on the stovetop and finished with a food mill. I realized that I could re-create this recipe using my beloved Instant Pot (in just 8 minutes!) and my Vitamix. The recipe came out perfectly and was so easy to make - and much easier than hand cranking the food mill for half an hour. 

The other great thing about applesauce is that it really doesn't matter what apples you use. It's actually better to not use all of the same kind. For this recipe, I used apples from my CSA, which came with a bunch of different varieties of apples. Macintosh or macoun are a good base, but adding in a few granny smiths or your other favorite varieties will give the applesauce a good range of sweet and tart flavors. For sweeteners, I love sweeter things, so I used refined white sugar (mmm!) You can also use maple syrup or honey, if you prefer, and add it after the cooking process to your own personal taste.

Sadly, I ate all of my applesauce within a few days, enjoying it as a snack at work whenever I wanted a little bit of sweetness to fuel me through lesson planning or grading papers. If you can resist, applesauce freezes well, meaning you can enjoy fall all year round.



Instant Pot Applesauce

Makes 6-8 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Apples: the perfect snack!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes (Instant Pot) or 4 hours on low (Slow Cooker)
Total Time: Depends on cooking method

Ingredients

  • 8-10 medium apples (Orchard apples are the best. My favorite are Macintosh, but a variety, including a granny smith or too, will yield the best results)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup white sugar Substitute: maple syrup, honey

Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free, Dairy-free, Vegetarian, & Vegan

Directions

1.  Peel all of your apples and cut into relatively thin slices.
2. Add the apples, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 cup white sugar (or sweetener of your choice) to the Instant Pot. You don't even have to stir.
3. Turn the Instant Pot on high pressure for 8 minutes, or turn your slow cooker on low for 4 hours. Walk away!
4. Once the apples are done cooking, you'll likely want to puree your applesauce so it's smooth. I found that adding about half the applesauce to my beloved Vitamix, blending it for a second or two on high, and stirring it back into the rest of the more chunky applesauce led to a good consistency. You can do the same in a regular blender or with a handheld immersion blender, if you have one, until the applesauce is your desired consistency. Enjoy!

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or a few months in the freezer. Applesauce freezes really well since it's just fruit, and there's nothing better than tasting like you're at the orchard in the dead of winter.


Butternut Squash & Apple Soup Recipe

This Butternut Squash & Apple Soup takes just 15 minutes of prep time and then your slow cooker or instant pot does all the work! Happy Fall! | themillennialmenu.com

The best part about living in New England might be the fall, and therefore, the opportunity to make homemade soups with farm fresh harvest ingredients, like this Butternut Squash & Apple Soup recipe. Not only is this hearty vegetarian soup a delicious way to celebrate the season, it's also shockingly easy to make. I spent about 15 minutes total actually making the soup, and my Instant Pot did all the rest. This recipe is the ideal pressure cooker or slow cooker recipe for a cool fall day.

If you can chop and press a button or two, you can make this soup. It's full of butternut squash, apples, potatoes, and onions that simmer down into a delicious soup in your slow cooker or pressure cooker while you're out enjoying the cooler weather. One of my favorite parts about this soup is that it freezes so well - I made a double batch and now I know I have some last minute dinners or lunches on hand for when things get busy this October. 

Speaking of busy, that word has defined my past few months. After a non-stop summer, I transitioned into a amazing but crazy new job as a high school history teacher and also moved apartments. While we kept eating good food (most of the time), I struggled to find the time to post about it. I usually found time to snap a picture before digging in, so I'm looking forward to sharing some new recipes with you this season. As I settle into a rhythm of things after some big changes, I look forward to posting more regularly and hopefully sitting down to get that Rome travel guide done.

Even though I've been getting my life in order, it's been so exciting to see the blog really take off over the summer. I love hearing from new readers - who aren't my mom! - when they've made a recipe. I am also honored to have earned some recognition from Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Millennial Blogs - coming in at #50. Thank you! As I start my new job and get settled in my new apartment, I'm excited for new beginnings and milestones with not just my life, but also this blog. Please continue to share with me when you make my recipes - it makes me so happy - and continue to reach out about travel recommendations, questions about cooking and grocery shopping, and more. And stay tuned for more recipes coming at you soon!



Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Makes 6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Butternut Squash: Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini  //  Potatoes, carrots, and/or onions: Chicken Pot Pie
Prep time: 5 minutes + 10 minutes at the end
Cook time: 30 minutes (Instant Pot) or 5-8 hours (Slow Cooker)
Total Time: Depends on cooking method - but minimal "hands on" time!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds butternut squash, diced (See the Grocery Guide for tips on what/how to buy)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red potato, diced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (chicken would work too, for non-vegetarians)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt, pepper




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free & Vegetarian Friendly
Dairy-free & Vegan: Substitute dairy-free milk (coconut milk would be good) or omit the milk.

Directions

PREP WORK
1.  Dice the butternut squash, onion, potato, and carrots.
2. Add the vegetables to your pot (whether Instant Pot or slow cooker) with 4 cloves minced garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, a pinch of cinnamon, and 2 cups vegetable broth. 
3. Turn the Instant Pot on high pressure for 30 minutes, or turn your slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours. Walk away!

LAST STEPS AFTER COOKING
4.  Once the soup is done cooking, you need to puree it. The best way to do this is with a blender. I hate immersion blenders, or I'm just really bad at using them, it's unclear, so I pour my soup into my beloved Vitamix and be really, really careful not to burn myself. Do the soup in two batches, pouring the pureed soup into a new pot (because you can't mix it with the un-pureed soup, obviously) and starting over adding new soup to the blender. This sounds complicated but I promise it's not. It's just pouring liquid back and forth. You can do it!
5. Once the soup is pureed, stir about a cup of milk into the soup. You might need to heat the new pot up on the stove for a bit if the milk brings down the temperature, but my soup was so hot that the milk brought it to a perfect serving temp.
6. Add any additional salt & pepper to taste. Serve with fresh bread and enjoy!

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or a few months in the freezer. I LOVE popping single-serving bags of soup into the freezer (freeze them flat first for quicker thawing later, then stand them up to save space once they're frozen). I store my soups in freezer quart bags and label them clearly with a Sharpie before freezing. Enjoying "soup in a bag" (that has since been defrosted) is now a culinary delight in our apartment.

LUNCH TOMORROW - There's nothing like a hearty bowl of soup to warm up your day at work. Pack with a slice of crusty bread to scoop up the last spoonful.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Since this soup freezes so well, I would just use your ingredients to make an extra-big batch and keep portions in the freezer for quick weeknight meals or last minute lunches. If you do have extra ingredients, like butternut squash, the sauce from my Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini recipe is delicious on any and all types of pasta. Potatoes, carrots, and onions are extremely versatile ingredients and they're a great base for my favorite hearty Chicken Pot Pie recipe.


Microwave Corn on the Cob

Microwave Corn on the Cob is ready in just 3 minutes start to finish. Farm fresh doesn't get any easier than this! | themillennialmenu.com

We're right in the middle of summer produce season and that means corn on the cob is calling my name. I can remember summers sitting in our backyard husking corn for dinner and waiting for it to boil just so we could slather it in butter and salt to enjoy. This summer, my mom started raving about this new hack for cooking corn on the cob that I wanted so share with you all because it literally gets you a vegetable side dish in 3 minutes and you press approximately 3 buttons to do so.

Did you know you can cook corn on the cob, un-husked, in the microwave? Yep, that's right. Just put it in the microwave unhusked for about 3 minutes (add about 1 minute if you have more than 3 or 4 ears in there, or do 2 batches). Let it cool when it comes out for about a minute so you don't burn yourself on the steam. Carefully husk the corn, letting steam escape as you go. Add butter and salt (or whatever else you like) and enjoy! We've been having it multiple times a week thanks to our farm share. 

This trick is great because I know that side dishes can be annoying. I think for the first 6 months of this past school year we only ate asparagus because I could put it in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil and it tasted good 7 minutes later. This trick makes it easy to mix things up a bit. Side dishes are an important way to make meals more interesting and enjoyable but also to get your full range of vitamins and nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle. So, this 3 minute microwave corn trick leaves you with no excuse not to enjoy the farm fresh corn that is all over the place. Confession: I still cut my corn off the cob as a tribute to the days when I had braces, so please forgive me. This hack leads to delicious corn on or off the cob.


Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

This beautiful, fresh chicken pot pie is a simple recipe that is freezer-friendly and great for lunches at work! | themillennialmenu.com

I've been on a puff pastry kick since posting my 3-Ingredient Baked Brie last week, indulging in this comforting Chicken Pot Pie recipe. Chicken Pot Pie is my ultimate comfort food, right after Kraft Mac & Cheese (I know, I know...every foodie has their vice.) I had chicken pot pie all week for lunch this past week with a nice salad and felt so satisfied. I've definitely found a new Sunday meal prep lunch to add into my work lunch rotation. This recipe just tastes like comfort food should taste, with the buttery, flaky puff-pastry crust, the creamy, veggie-stuffed filling, and the hint of thyme. 

Chicken pot pie sounds like an impressive dish to me, but it's actually much easier than I would have thought to make. Part of the secret comes from the puff-pastry crust, which is buttery and delicious and definitely not the 3-hour chore that making your own crust from scratch would be. Once you do the prep of simmering all of the veggies and chicken together to make your filling, it's really a set it and forget it dish once it's in the oven. About 30 minutes later, you're opening the oven door to a beautiful, golden-brown crust and bubbling chicken and veggie goodness.

Another huge perk of this recipe is it's freezer-friendly. Last week, I made a double batch and froze a few portions for my shortened work week this week (hello, vacation!) and have been enjoying chicken pot pie again this week for lunch. Personally, I followed the recipe below through the end and then froze the fully cooked pot pie so when it defrosted, it was ready to take with me for lunch. You could also stop after step 12 and wait to finish of baking your pot pie until you defrost it later. In this case, add at least 20 minutes for cooking time. Either way, I highly recommend you make a double batch, because this recipe is going to leave you wanting more.



Chicken Pot Pie

Makes ~5 lunch servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Puff pastry: 3-ingredient baked brie or mini apple pies //  Frozen peas: Quinoa Fried Rice
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (see Grocery Guide for more info)
  • 1-2 chicken breasts (depending on how much meat you want in your pot pie/how deep you want your pie filling to be)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium-sized Russet potato, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth, depending on how soupy you want your filling to be
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons oil (canola, vegetable, or olive all work well)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted (Optional)




Dietary Substitutions:
Not gluten-free friendly
Dairy-free: Substitute dairy-free milk or omit the milk.
Vegetarian Friendly: Leave out the chicken for a hearty vegetable pot pie. You can also try substituting firm tofu in for the chicken, added at the same time of the cooking process.
Vegan-Friendly Follow dairy-free and vegetarian recommendations, plus leave off the butter or use a vegan margarine to brush over the top of the pie.

Directions

DEFROST THE PHYLLO DOUGH & PREP THE BRIE
1. Take out one sheet of puff pastry and defrost for approximately 15 minutes on the counter.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and turn a sauté pan on medium heat.
3. Add 3-4 tablespoons oil to the pan.
4. Dice 1 small yellow onion, 1 medium red potato, 2-3 peeled carrots, and cut 1-2 chicken breasts into bite sized-pieces.
5. Add the vegetables to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. 
6. Add the chicken to the pan and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the chicken becomes opaque. 
7. Add 5 tablespoons flour to the pan and stir to coat the chicken and onions, cooking for 2-3 minutes more.
8. Add 1-2 cups chicken broth and 1/4 cup milk to the pan and stir, cooking 2-3 minutes.
9. Add 1 cup frozen peas and leaves of 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme.
10. Add salt & pepper, to taste.
11. Simmer all of the ingredients for 5 minutes.
12. Transfer to a baking dish. A rectangular dish works best because the puff pastry sheets are rectangular and will cover your pie better. Layer the puff pastry sheet on top of the filling and brush with butter, if desired, to help the pie get a golden-brown look. Poke the middle of the pastry twice with a fork to let steam escape.
13. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 350°F. You'll know when the pie is done when the filling is bubbling, the crust has fluffed up and expanded and is a golden brown color.

Yum.

This beautiful, fresh chicken pot pie is a simple recipe that is freezer-friendly and great for lunches at work! | themillennialmenu.com

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for 3-4 days per FDA recommendations (confession: I eat this for a whole week so it's more like 6 and I have yet to die.) You can also freeze either wrapped in plastic wrap or in a ziplock bag with the air squeezed out.

LUNCH TOMORROW - This is my new favorite weekday lunch and/or freezer meal. I'll make a batch on Sunday and enjoy it every day for lunch throughout the week. You can also freeze portions (or an entire pie) and reheat later either in the oven (either already defrosted or still frozen) or in the microwave (already defrosted). 

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Unless you make a double batch, you'll have one extra sheet of puff pastry left. Use it to make my 3-ingredient baked brie or mini apple pies, or check out Buzzfeed's 18 Easy and Inexpensive Desserts You Can Make with Puff Pastry. I made the brie for a Saturday night app and then used the leftover puff pastry for this recipe for lunch for the week and it worked out perfectly. I keep my frozen peas in the freezer for another batch of chicken pot pie or Quinoa Fried Rice


3-Ingredient Baked Brie

Phyllo-Baked Brie with Raspberry Jam Recipe is so easy and only 3 ingredients | themillennialmenu.com

This 3-Ingredient Baked Brie recipe is my first ever 3-ingredient recipe on the blog - and possibly my favorite. Not only is it so simple - it looks impressive, like you spent hours preparing it instead of just 5 minutes. If you're looking something to bring to a friend's house for dinner or to make for your parents, this appetizer is sure to impress.

The three ingredients are simple: start with brie cheese, top it with a delicious fruit jam (I used raspberry here), and wrap it up in store bought puff pastry. Pop it in the oven and in about a half hour, ooey gooey melted goodness is bubbling away underneath a buttery, flaky crust. So yeah, you should probably make this. 

Full disclosure: I ate this plain, with no serving or scooping mechanism other than a fork and knife. It's really unnecessary to even pretend you're not just trying to eat melted cheese straight. BUT if you're into that, serve this with your favorite cracker like Ritz. Make it a full on meal by adding it to a cheese and meat platter, maybe with some grapes - but know the baked brie will be the star of the show.



3-Ingredient Baked Brie

Makes ~4 appetizer servings, approximate
Other recipes with these ingredients: Phyllo doughchicken pot pie or mini apple pies
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
Total Time: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (see Grocery Guide for more info)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of raspberry jam Substitute: Any kind of jam or jelly you want! Orange marmalade is another one of my favorites.
  • 1 package brie cheese (either in a triangle or circle shape, depending on what your store has)




Dietary Substitutions:
Not dairy-free, gluten-free, or vegan-friendly
Vegetarian-friendly


 

 

Directions

DEFROST THE PHYLLO DOUGH & PREP THE BRIE
1. Take out one sheet of puff pastry and defrost for approximately 15 minutes on the counter.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. [Optional Step:] Brie cheese is encased with a white rind that keeps it fresh and soft inside. Chewing it is a little tough and it has a unique taste that is unpleasant to some. If you'd like, you can cut off this rind. I used a small paring knife to cut off the top layer of the rind pretty easily. See how to do this here.

ASSEMBLE THE BRIE & BAKE
4. 
Lay out the puff pastry flat on the counter. Place your brie in the middle of the dough. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of your fruit jam or jelly over the top of the brie, adding more or less depending on your taste.
5. Wrap the pastry around the brie. You should bring the edges of the pastry together so the brie is wrapped tight like a present. Kind of like this. You can't really go wrong here - just make sure there is no where for the brie to leak out towards the base of the cheese, and you'll be fine. I had a bit of excess pastry that I trimmed off, so if you end up in this situation, you can trim off any extra. 
6. [Optional Step:] Brush the top of the brie with melted butter to get that beautiful golden brown look when it comes out of the oven.
7. Bake on 400°F for 30-35 minutes. Begin peeping at the brie after 25 minutes and see how it's holding up. It should be fully cooked (not raw and shiny), flaky, and slightly browned. It will likely take about 30 minutes to be fully cooked.

Yum.

A slice of phyllo-wrapped baked brie oozing with raspberry jam is the easiest appetizer you'll ever make - only 3 ingredients! | themillennialmenu.com

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - This dish is best enjoyed warm in one sitting. I don't recommend you have any leftovers - chances are slim, anyways, because the melted goodness is irresistible.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Unless you make a double batch, you'll have one extra sheet of puff pastry left. Use it to make mini apple pies or chicken pot pie, or check out Buzzfeed's 18 Easy and Inexpensive Desserts You Can Make with Puff Pastry. Or just more baked brie.