The Baker Upstairs: 2021

1.14.2021

Antipasto Pizza

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This savory made from scratch antipasto pizza is loaded with delicious flavors!
This savory made from scratch antipasto pizza is loaded with delicious flavors!
If there's one thing my family will always eat happily for dinner, it's pizza! Whether it's delivery or homemade, it's always a favorite at my house. When my husband had a more regular work schedule, we used to have pizza night every Friday, and I had totally perfected my homemade pizza crust and pizza sauce recipes so that I could basically make them in my sleep. These days, with his erratic work schedule changing every week, and a new baby in the house, I have definitely gotten out of the habit of making homemade pizza regularly. It's a total shame, though, because it's both delicious and easy to make!

I always love trying out different flavor combinations for pizza, and this antipasto pizza has so many different and delicious flavors that complement each other! It's easy to customize depending on what you have on hand, but I really love the combination of salami, pepperoni, black olives, and artichoke hearts. Add two different cheeses and a chewy and crisp homemade crust, and it's totally irresistible!
This savory made from scratch antipasto pizza is loaded with delicious flavors!
My favorite way to assemble pizzas is to spread out the dough on a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal. Add the sauce, cheese, and toppings, then transfer the whole thing to the oven using a pizza peel or a large cutting board. I always bake my pizzas on a pizza stone, but if you don't have one you could easily use an overturned cookie sheet instead. Be sure to preheat the oven with the pizza stone (or cookie sheet) inside so it will be hot when the pizza dough is placed on top of it. This will help the dough to get extra crispy while it's cooking and it makes for a nicer crust. If you haven't made homemade pizza from scratch before, this recipe is a great way to start. This pizza is fantastic!
Antipasto Pizza

for the crust:
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the toppings:
3/4 cup pizza sauce (I like to use this recipe)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
3 ounces pepperoni
3 ounces salami, chopped
1/2 cup chopped black olives
3/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 with a baking stone or overturned cookie sheet inside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit five minutes, or until bubbly. Add the flour and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Knead gently, adding more flour as needed, to form a soft dough. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Spread the dough out on a piece of parchment paper or a pizza peel to form a large circle. Spread the pizza sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a one inch margin around the edges. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top, then spread the pepperoni, salami, black olives, and artichoke hearts evenly. Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese over the top. Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated baking stone or cookie sheet using a pizza peel or large cutting board. Bake 8-9 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
This savory made from scratch antipasto pizza is loaded with delicious flavors!

1.12.2021

Sugar Cookie Bars

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These delicious frosted sugar cookie bars have all the taste of sugar cookies, but without the rolling and cutting!
These delicious frosted sugar cookie bars have all the taste of sugar cookies, but without the rolling and cutting!
I will never turn down a cookie, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be either chocolate chip cookies or sugar cookies. They are the two kinds of cookies I make the most often, and I have a ton of different variations of both of them on the blog. These sugar cookie bars are one of my favorites, because they're much quicker and easier to make than traditional sugar cookies, but they taste every bit as delicious. That's a definite plus when I'm tired and short on time, and just want a sugar cookie!
These delicious frosted sugar cookie bars have all the taste of sugar cookies, but without the rolling and cutting!
The sugar cookie base is thick and soft, and not too sweet, which means it's totally okay to pile on the frosting. I like to beat the frosting until it's extra light and fluffy, almost like whipped cream. The combination of the two is totally delicious! If you're making these for a crowd, you could easily double the recipe and cook them on a rimmed baking sheet. A 9 x 13 pan is plenty for my family, though! They're fairly rich, so I usually cut them into 24 smallish squares. They're really great with a glass of cold milk!
These delicious frosted sugar cookie bars have all the taste of sugar cookies, but without the rolling and cutting!
Sugar Cookie Bars

for the bars:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons half and half or milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
food coloring (optional)
sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray, and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg white, sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract, and mix until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt to form a crumbly dough. Press the dough into the prepared pan to form an even layer, and poke the dough every few inches with a fork so it will bake evenly. Bake17-20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and half and half until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt, and food coloring, and beat again until fluffy. Spread over cooled cookies and add sprinkles. Cut into squares (I did 24 squares, but you can make them as big or small as you would like). Enjoy!
These delicious frosted sugar cookie bars have all the taste of sugar cookies, but without the rolling and cutting!

1.08.2021

Blueberry Streusel Baked French Toast

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This blueberry streusel baked french toast is easy to make in advance, and totally delicious!
This blueberry streusel baked french toast is easy to make in advance, and totally delicious!
Now that we're in full-on winter mode, I am really missing all of the fresh fruits and vegetables we ate over the summer! One of our favorite summer traditions is berry picking at an adorable local farm that we love, and we always pick way more than we can eat. I use the extra berries to make jam and to bake delicious treats, and I usually end up freezing a lot of them to save for the colder months. I have a huge bag of blueberries in my freezer that I've been using for blueberry muffins, but I wanted to branch out a little, and decided it would be fun to use them in some baked french toast. This blueberry streusel baked french toast turned out completely delicious, and I love that it was so easy to make!
This blueberry streusel baked french toast is easy to make in advance, and totally delicious!
We love baked french toast around here, and I've already made several delicious varieties of it in the past (like this baked pumpkin french toast and apple cinnamon baked french toast). This blueberry version is equally tasty! I think it's especially delicious when it's made with homemade french bread, but store-bought will definitely work as well. It's super easy to make ahead of time, and I love that you can put it together the night before and then just pop it in the oven in the morning. If you're really short on time, you can skip chilling it in the fridge, but I definitely think the texture is better if it has chilled for at least 3-4 hours before baking. This blueberry streusel baked french toast is a fantastic breakfast that everyone will love!
Blueberry Streusel Baked French Toast

for the french toast:
1 loaf french bread
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla

for the streusel topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside. Cut the french bread into 1 inch cubes and place in the prepared baking dish. Mix in the blueberries. In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread pieces and blueberries. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the french toast. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until the french toast only jiggles slightly when shaken and is golden brown on top. Let cool slightly before serving.
This blueberry streusel baked french toast is easy to make in advance, and totally delicious!

1.06.2021

Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

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This instant pot white chicken chili is simple to make, and so hearty and delicious!
   
This instant pot white chicken chili is simple to make, and so hearty and delicious!

We've been lucky enough to have a pretty mild winter so far here in Portland, but we've entered a long stretch of rainy days, and things are feeling a little gloomy for me. We only get around eight-ish hours of daylight every day anyway, but with gray skies and rain pouring down most of the day, everything just feels damp and cold. I've been doing what I can to make things feel cozy and warm in the house, and we've really been enjoying cuddling together near the warm fireplace. Nothing says cozy like soup for dinner, and we've been enjoying a variety of soups, stews, and chilis lately. This instant pot white chicken chili is simple and quick to make, and always a family favorite! 
 
This instant pot white chicken chili is simple to make, and so hearty and delicious!

This chili is adapted from my delicious slow cooker chicken chili (so feel free to use that recipe instead if you don't have an instant pot). I love how the instant pot makes everything quicker and easier! The chicken is tender and delicious, and I love that it has that cooked-all-day flavor and texture after just 30 minutes in the instant pot. I used great northern beans and black beans because that's what I had on hand, but you can substitute whatever kind of beans are your favorite, in whatever combination you like. I love to serve this chili with some sweet corn muffins on the side. It's a hearty and delicious meal that's perfect for warming up a cold winter day!

This instant pot white chicken chili is simple to make, and so hearty and delicious!

Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 small can of green chiles
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen corn
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon chicken base (or 1 bouillon cube), dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sour cream

for topping:
shredded cheese
tortilla strips
sour cream

Place the chicken breasts into the instant pot. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, chicken broth, green chiles, beans, and corn. Secure the lid on the pot. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release for ten minutes, then use the manual release. Pull out the chicken breasts and shred using two forks, then return to the pot. While the pressure is releasing, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a paste. Cook 2-3 minutes, until light golden. Whisking constantly to prevent lumps, slowly add the milk and the water/chicken base mixture. Continue to cook until thickened, then add the salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the instant pot, and stir to combine. Add the sour cream and stir until combined. Serve with toppings of your choice, and enjoy!

This instant pot white chicken chili is simple to make, and so hearty and delicious!

1.01.2021

Apple Cinnamon Dutch Baby

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This apple cinnamon dutch baby pancake is made with simple ingredients, and super delicious!
This apple cinnamon dutch baby pancake is made with simple ingredients, and super delicious!
Happy New Year! After taking several months off to spend with my new baby (and posting sporadically for most of 2020 due to a difficult pregnancy), I'm hoping to get back in my groove this year and post more regularly on the blog. It's anyone's guess how successful I will actually be, but I'm at least starting the year with good intentions. :) I've never been very big on new year's resolutions, and this year I am setting the bar pretty low. My main goals for the new year are that we continue surviving, that we try to find as much joy as possible, and that we continue to be thankful for all of  our blessings, even when things are difficult. I have no idea what is to come this year, but 2020 proved that my little family is a lot more resilient than I had thought we were, so I'm hoping we will make it through!

We usually like to have a nice New Year's Day brunch as a family, but this year my husband signed up to work both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, so the kids and I will be enjoying cold cereal and watching Netflix in our pajamas. :) If I was making brunch, though, this apple cinnamon dutch baby pancake would be at the top of my list. We make dutch baby pancakes pretty regularly around here, but this apple cinnamon variation is a new favorite! 
This apple cinnamon dutch baby pancake is made with simple ingredients, and super delicious!
I've seen these on the menu at some of our favorite breakfast restaurants, but had never actually tried one until I made this homemade version. The dutch baby batter is delicious as usual, and the apples bake until they're sweet, tender, and flavorful. The combination of the two is totally delicious! We ate ours with a little powdered sugar on top, but I'm sure they would also be delicious with a little drizzle of syrup. My kids could not get enough of these pancakes and everyone in my family cleared their plates. This is definitely a new favorite recipe!
This apple cinnamon dutch baby pancake is made with simple ingredients, and super delicious!
Apple Cinnamon Dutch Baby

for the apples:
6 tablespoons soft butter, divided
2 small apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

for the batter:
6 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour, sifted
1 cup milk
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 400. Add three tablespoons of butter to a 9 x 13 baking dish and place in the oven during the last ten minutes of preheating. Toss the apple slices with the cinnamon and sugar, then spread them evenly in the melted butter. To make the pancake batter, add the eggs to a blender and blend until light yellow. Add the sugar, salt, flour, milk, and remaining two tablespoons of butter, and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture over the apples in the pan. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the pancake is deep golden brown and puffed up. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.
This apple cinnamon dutch baby pancake is made with simple ingredients, and super delicious!