[Sourdough] Pumpkin Donuts

It’s not often that I fill my dutch oven with oil for deep-frying – but this pregnant lady felt like kicking off the Baking Season with a bang this year… and after prepping a big bowl of Insta-Pumpkin, I couldn’t stop dreaming of homemade sourdough pumpkin donuts!

On a perfect rainy Fall weekend morning, this batch warmed our hearts and earned true epic status by featuring three sweet topping options: spiced cinnamon sugar, salted maple glaze, and dark chocolate glaze. Choose your own adventure, or choose all three like me! 

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[Instant Pot] Insta-Pumpkin! DIY Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Puree

I love and respect canned pumpkin as much as the next fall baking enthusiast – but if you have a local source for fresh pie pumpkins to take advantage of, you can’t beat your Instant Pot for the easiest way to prep your own pumpkin from scratch. A pressure cooker can make quick work of dense vegetables like pumpkin – instead of baking in the oven for a whole hour, you can get your squash fully cooked in just 15 minutes under pressure.

I’ve seen a lot of noise online about pumpkin puree, so I must submit my Hot Take on the juicy controversies:

canned pumpkin isn’t really pumpkin!” … let’s settle down with the labels, man! Botany is not so black-and-white. It’s true that the “Dickinson Pumpkins” that the major producers source for their canned goods are a different species than the pumpkins at your grocery store, and that labeling regulations allow “canned pumpkin” products to contain different types of squashes within both of these species – but the reality is that “pumpkin” is just a vague term for, well, pumpkin-like squashes. Like many other common vegetables, “squash” is a broad category that covers several species and seemingly infinite varieties (I’ll refer to my favorite culinary botanist for the full trip down that rabbit-hole: Cucurbita Squash Diversity). 

fresh pumpkin puree is bland and watery and terrible for baking” … Nonsense! Don’t let Big Pumpkin tell you there’s anything you can’t accomplish with fresh ingredients in your own kitchen. It may be true that your favorite brand of canned puree is reliably flavorful/sweet/dense – but in the many articles I’ve seen urging readers to not waste their time cooking fresh pumpkin, all of them end with a comment section full of dissenters who treasure their annual fresh pumpkin pies.

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[Instant Pot] Dark Chocolate Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Today we revisit the first and most popular of my Instant Pot dessert recipes: the classic Greek Yogurt Cheesecake. This time… it’s chocolate! Sometimes the occasion calls for chocolate cheesecake, and this is my go-to method for turning my basic recipe into a super-rich and deeply chocolate-ized treat.

Aside from revealing my chocolate-ization techniques (!) – the other reason I’ve been overdue to return to this recipe is that I’ve discovered a new cheesecake crust that I’m WAY into. Believe it or not, the secret ingredient is dried almond pulp, which I am always scheming to get rid of because the man in my house has a serious DIY almond milk habit (the pulp is the mass that remains after soaking/blending/pressing to make nutmilk). This coarse almond meal does a beautiful job replacing graham crackers in a crumb crust – it comes out less sweet than a graham crust, which I appreciate, and gains a tasty nutty quality. Another added bonus for some of you: it’s gluten-free, too!

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[Instant Pot] Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Cozy comfort food – it’s what I need right now! This creamy soup is made from roasted broccoli, real sharp cheddar cheese, and an earthy-sweet foundation of onions, carrots and celery. It’s also enriched (in both the culinary and nutritional sense) with a healthy dose of hemp seeds, which blend into a creamy texture without any need to add actual cream.

Reflecting on my favorite soup recipes, it’s hard not to notice a pattern: there are a lot of creamy soups made with roasted vegetables. Why? First, because roasting makes vegetables delicious! Second, because it reflects an efficiency in my food-prep workflow. If it’s the weekend and I’m heating up my oven to cook dinner or bake anything, I always try to double-down and bake or roast several foods in that single session. It saves time and energy, and it’s always handy to have extra roasted veggies on hand. 

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Broccoli Sprout Pesto

Fresh broccoli sprouts are a staple food in my kitchen, especially in the winter when it’s the main home-grown vegetable crop we’ve managed to keep in season. Sprouting is one of the simplest ways to grow your own fresh food, especially for people limited by their climate, space constraints, or urban captivity. You don’t need access to the outdoors or even a sunny windowsill, because seeds are designed by nature to push their own way through dirt and set sail with their first leaves before they can start catching solar energy to power their growth. 

By the time they reach that point, these tiny plants are brimming with glucosinolates, the precursors to isothiocyanates, which are plant defense compounds known for their hormetic anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic impact on the humans who eat them. This story mirrors the one about garlic and allicin – again, tissue damage (the plant’s sense that it is being eaten!) is a trigger for the conversion of a stable storage molecule into a reactive defense molecule. In the case of broccoli sprouts, myrosinase is the enzyme that converts glucoraphanin into sulforaphane. For the same reason we chop garlic before cooking to maximize its potency, it is also optimal to break down broccoli sprouts. My favorite way is pesto.

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[Instant Pot] Carrot Cake Steel-Cut Oats

This winter, I found a new favorite cheerful make-ahead weekday breakfast. This golden bowl features whole-grain steel cut oats with no refined sugars, instead sweetened and enriched with lots of carrot (2/3 cup freshly grated root per serving), fresh ginger, warm spices, raisins, juicy pineapple tidbits, and flakes of toasted coconut. 

Top as you please with even more nuts and fruits, and a swirl of your favorite creamy dairy or nut milk. Then revel in the moment of cozy glory you achieved. Then tomorrow morning, reheat and repeat. 

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[Instant Pot] Double-Decker Saag Paneer + Cauliflower Rice

Double Decker Dinner is a personal favorite Instant Pot recipe theme, all about finding the right combination of foods that pair together as a balanced meal and that can be stacked and cooked at the same time in the same pressure cooker. It’s one-pot wonderful! 

I love paneer – it’s a fresh non-melting cheese common in Indian cuisine, uniquely made without salt or rennet. To make it, milk is simply cooked with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice; when the curds precipitate from the whey, they are gathered and pressed into a firm block.

This recipe is my favorite way to eat paneer: the rich, chewy, cheesy cubes are seasoned, crisped, and tucked into this classic curry of creamed greens. I like to serve it with a bed of steamed cauliflower rice – this extra helping of veggies pairs well with the rich curry sauce, and leaves room for a side of bread if desired (I am still working on perfecting my homemade sourdough naan… If you’re interested in that recipe, speak up in the comments to move it up a notch on my priority list!)

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[Instant Pot] 50 Clove Garlic & White Bean Soup

Garlic lovers only! Fifty whole cloves – half roasted until deeply caramelized, half left sharply raw before pressure-cooking – make this soup very powerful.

Because this recipe is made with hardy produce that stays available through the cold season, it is an excellent candidate to accompany your winter grilled cheese sandwiches after your freezer supply of Roasted Tomato Soup runs out. Instant Pot makes it easy to pressure-cook garlic, onion, herbs, broth, and soaked dry white beans into a creamy, fiery, satisfying soup.

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Maca Mocha Cocoa Mix

My pantry is never without a stash of this homemade DIY dark cocoa mix. Warm, cozy drinks are an important staple for this Florida Girl adapting to life in northern Washington, you know? I mix it up in bulk, and I’ve been known to pack it up into jars for a simple handmade-with-love holiday gift. This year, I wanted to share the recipe with you in time to give you a chance to do the same!

My not-so-secret ingredient is maca – Lepidium meyenii – a plant in the brassica family (cousin to broccoli and all its cruciferous brethren) native to high altitudes of Peru. In the Andes, it’s long been eaten as a staple food and regarded for traditional medicinal uses. The dried root is thought to enhance endurance, and is known to contain glucosinolates and other compounds that can contribute to antioxidant and anticarcinogenic effects. It has a nutty flavor and aroma reminiscent of butterscotch that I really adore in my cocoa mix.

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[Instant Pot] Pumpkin Salted Caramel Flan

Silky-smooth custard, salty-sweet caramel, pumpkin-spiced joy. This seasonal treat is a perfect fit for Instant Pot’s dessert wheelhouse – like we learned when we made Maple Espresso Creme Brulee and Greek Yogurt Cheesecake, high-pressure steam can be a very effective way to quickly and evenly cook any custard.

If you’ve never made caramel before, it’s an interesting reaction to observe. Upon heating pure sucrose, the sugar molecules begin to break down and their pieces get shuffled around to form a virtually infinite array of new and different compounds, each with unique flavors and aromas. This is why as caramel darkens, it gradually becomes less sweet and more complex.

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