Italian American Style Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

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I grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood and every Sunday, we all ate as a family and had meatballs and pasta. It was a given, it was never questioned, and it was delicious. My grandmother made the best meatballs, and although I am sure all of us show favoritism towards our family members when we say “this is the best,” my bias stands–hers were the best and always will be.

My mother, my aunt, and I have tried to keep our memory of her alive through her recipes, and her meatballs are no exception. But as of two weeks ago, I started the diet that is the antithesis of all that is Italian–the Keto diet.

For those of you who are not familiar, the Keto diet is one of the strictest forms of a low-carb diet. For my body type, I am only allowed 18 net carbohydrates. The FDA suggests (assuming a non-specialized diet) a significant amount more: “The FDA recommends that 50 percent to 60 percent of your total food intake comes from carbohydrates. The percent daily value for carbohydrates, as shown on food labels, is calculated for the average adult consuming about 2,000 calories per day. Percentage daily values for carbohydrates assume you consume about 300 grams of carbohydrates per day.”

So you may think, if the FDA is suggesting 300 total carbohydrates, how can you possibly survive on 18? Well, the Ketogenic diet (a.k.a Keto diet) changes your body’s fuel source so that your food intake percentages are largely dependent on fat. In fact, the Ketogenic diet has people eating 70% of their daily calories from it! It’s a totally new way of eating.

The foods on the Keto diet are delicious–steak with butter, eggs and bacon, cheese (need I say more?); however, the limitations are challenging, especially when you are traveling, you’ll have to do some hardcore research beforehand. In fact, I just came back from a trip to Tennesee, and every time we went to a restaurant, I had to make modifications, Google the ingredients and nutritional facts. Sugar and carbohydrates are in so many things we eat that it’s tough to navigate at times. Honestly, if you are on the Keto diet or considering it, make sure you mainly cook at home, meal prep if you have to.

I thought the second I went on a low carb diet (especially the restrictive Keto diet) that Italian food would be out of the question. It took me a bit of time, but I recreated my grandma’s meatballs and used her techniques. All I had to do was substitute the bread crumbs and bread. Every other ingredient is Keto approved–ground meats have no carbs, eggs are welcome, herbs, pecorino romano cheese, etc.

When you go on a diet like Keto, there are recipes you’ll find abound, especially on Pinterest. However, as someone who loves to cook and develop recipes, I made it my mission to combine what my grandmother would do with what I would have to do in order to these meatballs okay for me to consume. I did not want to sacrifice flavor nor texture.

I made my own Italian seasoned “bread crumbs” by freshly grinding pork rinds, Pecorino Romano, and Italian seasonings. I used 647 Italian bread (lowest carb, but most certainly resembles regular bread), soaked it in heavy cream instead of milk (believe it or not, milk has carbohydrates and sugar!). I made my mixture as grandma would, with a soft touch to make the texture airy and light. I also had to make a lower-carb tomato sauce as many tomato sauces are not allowed (jarred already made sauces are the worst–but even crushed tomatoes have natural sugars).

I aimed to be able to replicate, not merely substitute my grandmother’s meatballs, and I believe I was successful. This is evident as even my carb fiend of a husband highly approved. (He had spaghetti with the meatballs and sauce, the lucky devil). It honestly tastes just the same!  After carefully calculating, my math works out that my meatballs are a welcome addition to a low-carb diet. I calculated 2 carbs for three meatballs, 4 for 6 meatballs. Pasta sauce is 5 carbs for 1/2 cup serving, and I only needed a 1/4 cup (maybe even less!)

Note: Before you make your meatballs, you must make your own Italian “bread’ crumb mixture. All your spices you should have already in your pantry, especially if you’re a lover of Italian food. Nothing crazy fancy here. Pork rinds are your friend…tasty and 0 carbs! The “bread” crumb mixture will make a bit more than you need, so feel free to make a lower-carb Chicken or Eggplant Parmigiana with it! 🙂

Enjoy!

Ingredients for Italian Seasoned “Bread” Crumbs

  • 1 cup of Pork Rinds, ground **Please see note!
  • 1 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano, grated (feel free to substitute grated Parmesan as well, but I like Pecorino Romano the best!)
  • 1 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoons of Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Dried Oregano

**Note: I used my dry container on my Vitamix to grind the pork rinds, but any food processor or blender will do. You’ll need about half a bag of Pork Rinds. You can get these at the dollar store. Seriously. The brand I used is Brim’s Snack Foods. The bag is .3 oz (85.g), and I only needed half the bag to get the 1 cup of ground pork rinds).

Directions for Italian Seasoned “Bread” Crumbs

  1. Gather all your spice ingredients, grated cheese, and a bag of pork rinds.
  2. Grind up about half a bag of pork rinds to the texture of traditional bread crumbs. You will need exactly one cup, so measure it out!
  3. In a bowl, combine pork rinds, grated cheese of choice, and spices. Use a form to combine evenly.
  4. You will use 1 1/2 cup of this mixture for the recipe, leaving with a cup for you to spare. Feel free to store in a jar and stick the “bread” crumb mixture in the refrigerator for later use.

Nutritional Information for Italian-American Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

Total  Size: 30+ Medium-Sized Meatballs (Serves 4-6)

Nutritional Macros (Three Meatballs): 2 net carbs, 3 total carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of fat, 19 grams of protein, 255 net calories

Nutritional Macros (Six Meatballs): 4 net carbs, 7 total carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 36 grams of fat, 37 grams of protein, 509 net calories

Nutritional Macros for Rao’s Sauce with Lei Mangia’s Modifications (1/4 cup): 2 net carbs, 2 total carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 67 net calories

Nutritional Macros for Rao’s Sauce with Lei Mangia’s Modifications (1/2 cup): 5 net carbs, 5 total carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of fat, 1 gram protein, 134 net calories

Ingredients for Italian-American Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

  • 1 1/2 pounds of Ground Beef, Pork, and Veal (it’s usually labeled meatloaf/meatball mixture in a grocery store).
  • 3 Medium Eggs
  • 1 cup of homemade “Italian Seasoned “Bread” Crumbs”** (Recipe above for the breadcrumbs–please don’t actually use bread crumbs and kick yourself out of Ketosis! I am saying you need to use the Pork Rind version, duh.)
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (or Parmesan Cheese0
  • 2 slices of 647 Bread, diced (Please, no substitutions. If you do, you are under your own risk. This is the only bread I can find that is low enough in “net” carbohydrates to make this recipe possible!)
  • 1/2 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced fresh
  • 1/2 cup of freshly chopped Parsley
  • 1 28 ounce jar/can of Tomato Sauce of your choice***

***Note about tomato sauce: Be mindful of carbohydrates and sugars in whatever sauce/crushed tomato mixture you use. I use Rao’s as that only has 4 carbs per serving (1/2 cup). I add garlic and olive oil and fresh herbs to the sauce, and believe it or not, the garlic cloves count as carbohydrates. I used to add sugar to my sauce or grate a carrot, but that is off-limits here. If you simmer the sauce a while, it should taste great! Read your nutritional labels, people! Again, you will have 1/2 the carbs if you only use 1/4 cup of sauce.

Directions for Italian-American Meatballs (Keto/Low Carb)

  1. Heat up your choice of tomato sauce (I use Rao’s). I sauteed 6 cloves of minced garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil, and once garlic was fragrant, added the jarred sauce. Before serving, I minced up fresh parsley and basil to taste. Be sure to stir the sauce from time to time.
  2. While your sauce is heating through/cooking, prepare your meatball mixture.
  3. Mince up at least 1/2 cup of parsley. Grab the bunch, cut off the stems (use only the leaves). Roll up the bunch in a tight bundle and chop parsley relatively finely.
  4. Next, peel and press/mince garlic.
  5. After prepping your ingredients, get a liquid measuring cup or bowl and fill with heavy cream.
  6. Next, take out your two slices of 647 bread. Dice into small cubes. Put cubes in cup or bowl with heavy cream to soak for a few minutes.
  7. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, and veal mixture. Crack three eggs. Take your cloves of garlic (or use a garlic press) and put in the same bowl.
  8. Next, add Italian seasoning, grated cheese, fresh parsley, and liquid bread mixture. Yes, include all the cream as well as the soaked bread.
  9. With a light hand, combine ingredients, making sure to evenly distribute all ingredients. Do not overmix!
  10. When everything is evenly mixed, use a medium cookie scoop and press meat mixture into the scoop and squeeze out. Roll the mixture into your hands into a ball. Make sure all meatballs are evenly sized! You should have at least 30 (my recipe made 33).

Methods of Cooking Meatballs

  1. Use a baking sheet with a rack (if you don’t use a rack, you will have a fatty, congealed mess) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. Pan-sear the meatballs in a skillet with olive oil (cast-iron preferred).
  3. Put the meatballs in your sauce to slowly cook.

**I personally baked the meatballs to get them started, and then I seared them after. There’s nothing like the crispy edge of a meatball. I used my Blackstone Grill to sear all the meatballs at once as it is quite messy and time consuming the fry the meatballs. But man–is it a tasty step. You decide! 🙂

To serve meatballs, dollop your tomato sauce on top (but please measure, if you’re counting carbs) with more fresh parsley. Garnish with basil, if desired. If you would like, add a side of fresh ricotta cheese–it’s a fabulous combination! 🙂

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(No-Churn, No Ice Cream Machine) Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

 

 

Hi everyone! I am a food gadget addict; I will admit it. I love my cooking tools and use almost all of them! I am not one, however, to buy what I do not need (sorry for those of you who “need” an avocado dicer, an onion chopper, or a strawberry huller…it’s called a knife!) I love having all pieces of equipment I need to be able to make whatever I want, whenever I want. I do not like to buy gimmicks or anything cheap/flimsy–I buy what will enable me as a home cook to expand my horizons. And when I buy my equipment, I spend a pretty penny buying good quality, higher-end materials.

And now that it’s summertime, I have ice cream on my mind. For years, I have had my eye on the Kitchenaid Ice Cream Attachment, but could never justify the cost of $80. How many pints would I need to make to recoup the cost? Although the same argument could be made for the $199 Kitchenaid Pasta Attachment I have…there’s no way that I’ve made $200 worth of pasta yet! Ha.

Last year, I splurged and bought a Vitamix blender, despite not being a gym rat who has a need to make daily smoothies. On the surface, it seems like it would be a waste for me. But believe it or not, I use it in ways I would never realize–I grate mounds of fresh Pecorino Romano cheese, I’ve made awesome creme brulee/custard bases. I’ve made killer cocktails and flawless emulsions like Hollandaise and Garlic Aioli. Oh yeah, and I do actually once in a while make a smoothie for a quick, healthy breakfast.

Well today, I put my Vitamix to a new challenge: ice cream. Could my blender make ice cream? I read an article in Cook’s Country and realized that a blender is actually preferred to a stand-mixer whipping. The blender does not aerate the heavy cream (the main ingredient in ice cream) too much, which is perfect. There’s a science to ice cream making, and although the recipe here does not include eggs (I believe eggs need to be churned), the texture of this ice cream is velvety-smooth and akin, if not better, than store-bought.

And I know I usually like to make a project, but when I tell you that this ice cream was made in less than five minutes, with no special equipment other than a blender and a loaf pan (you know, the one you use for your occasional hankering for banana bread), you’re going to want to make it immediately. Most people have a blender, and I think that this will seriously be a gamechanger. All you need to do is wait six hours, so feel free to start this in the morning and come home to this treat after a hot, humid day.

I decided to make Mint Chocolate Chip because it’s my husband’s favorite and mine. The ice cream base can be changed if you so decide you want to make vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough, you can. If you use the same ratio, you should have the same results. Enjoy!

Special Equipment (but not really)

Blender (high-powered preferred, like Vitamix/Blend-tec, but any blender will do!)

Loaf Pan (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch)

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream, chilled

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup of whole milk

1/4 cup of light corn syrup

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract

1/2 teaspoon green food coloring (optional, but we all love that color!)

1/2 cup-3/4 cup of chocolate chunks (feel free to substitute any chocolate you want, like a crushed Oreo cookie, chocolate chips, etc.)

Directions for No-Churn, Blender Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

  1. Process cream in a blender until soft peaks form, 20 to 30 seconds.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the blender jar and continue to process until stiff peaks form, about 10 seconds longer.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, stir in condensed milk, whole milk, light corn syrup, sugar, peppermint extract, green food coloring, and salt.
  4. Process until thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed.
  5. Pour cream mixture into 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.
  6. Once evenly poured into the pan, add in your choice of chopped chocolate/cookies and mix. Add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup, depending on preference. Stir evenly.
  7. Press plastic wrap flush against surface of cream mixture. Freeze until firm, at least six hours. Serve.

Grilled Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair and Garlic Bread Baguette

 

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Happy Monday! I will be doing two posts today to make up for my long absence from the blog!

Shrimp Scampi is the classic lemony, garlicy Italian delight. I hardly make shrimp, let alone Shrimp Scampi, despite my undying love for it sauteed, fried, grilled, as a dumpling filling. My husband just isn’t into shrimp; hey, to each their own.

But tonight, I  just really wanted shrimp. I put my needs before my husband’s (for the first time ever…ha), and it turns out that even the non-lover of shrimp enjoyed this one! We were both in absolute awe. I haven’t made this in years, but it suddenly came back to me, just like most Italian dishes I grew up making and enjoying.

This was one of those meals where every bite was just perfect. I did a lot of this by feel, so I am doing my very best with my approximation of how much I used of each ingredient. I will be sure to make it again and get the exact measurements for those of you who need a recipe to feel reassured! 🙂

I hope you enjoy. We most certainly did! 🙂

Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair

1 pound angel hair pasta (or different pasta if you desire–angel hair cooks the fastest, though!)

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided (2 for shrimp, 4 for pan sauce)

1.5-2 pounds of uncooked, extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave the tails on for presentation–also, keep shells if you want to make small shrimp stock)

1 tablespoon of sea salt (NOT for cooking–only for brining the shrimp!)

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you’re not into spicy, you can do 1/4 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons of garlic salt (I used the grinder from Trader Joe’s), divided (1 for shrimp, 1 for pasta)

1 teaspoon of Tastefully Simple Garlic Bread Seasoning, divided (1/2 teaspoon for shrimp, 1/2 teaspoon for pasta)

**(This seasoning is optional, but I love it! If you can’t find it, use a similar seasoning that has some or all of the following: garlic, onion, parsley, red bell pepper, chives).

1 lemon, juiced, plus 1/2 lemon, zested (make sure there’s no white, bitter pith)

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay–be sure to drink the rest with dinner)

5 tablespoons salted butter (plus, I added more butter from the garlic bread butter spread–figure you’ll need a stick and a half for both)

1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

Garlic Bread Baguette

1 French, store-bought baguette

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon of Tastefully Simple Garlic Bread Seasoning  (If you can’t find it, use a similar seasoning that has some or all of the following: garlic, onion, parsley, red bell pepper, chives).

Directions for Garlic Bread Baguette

  1. Make sure your stick of butter is softened. If it’s not, use your microwave setting to do so (do not melt it!)
  2. Using a spatula, mix the Garlic Bread Seasoning with the butter. Let sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.
  3. Cut your baguette in half and then slice the middle to make two even pieces.
  4. Once the Garlic Bread Butter flavors have melded, spread your butter evenly on the baguette. **
  5. **Note: Don’t be shy. You do not, however, need to use ALL the butter. Some of the leftover butter will be used for the shrimp scampi to finish!**
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  7. When your sauce is almost done reducing, put your bread in the oven on a baking tray. It should take no more than 5-6 minutes. Check for doneness periodically. Be sure to toast to a golden brown, but not over bake!

Directions for Shrimp Scampi

  1. First, peel and devein your shrimp (leave tails on for presentation). **Optional, but recommended: keep your shells and make a quick shrimp stock by boiling hot water and pouring it over the shells that are wrapped in cheesecloth). Steep for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Next, add deveined and peeled shrimp to a bowl of cold water (about 3-4 cups) and add a tablespoon of sea salt (note: do not use hot or even warm water as that will literally COOK the shrimp). Swirl the shrimp around in the salt water and brine for at least 20 minutes–may do so for up to an hour.
  3. While the shrimp are in the brine and you are finishing prepping, get a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
  4. Mince up your garlic (or use a garlic press, like I do), roughly chop your parsley, and zest your lemon. Once you’re done zesting the lemon, cut in half to use the juice. Roll the lemon with the palm of your hand to get the most juice out of it.
  5. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water, over medium heat, and cook until al dente. Angel hair pasta should take no more than five minutes! Feel free to substitute a different pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, if desired, and cook to specified direction on the pasta box.  Leave the pasta in the colander and drizzle a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Once at least 20 minutes have passed, drain the shrimp and blot with a paper towel. It’s okay if there is a little bit of water left (but not too much).
  7. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, garlic salt (1 teaspoon), and Garlic Bread Seasoning (1/2 teaspoon) to shrimp. Toss to coat. If grilling, add to ungreased grill pan once your sauce is almost done reducing.**
  8. For your sauce, heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil.
  9. ***Note: I did not cook the shrimp in the pan like most people do (I wanted the grilled taste), so what is listed below is what most people will do if they do not have an indoor grill pan. If you do want to do what I did, preheat your grill pan to medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes and grill your shrimp (as mentioned later) when your sauce is almost done reducing.**shrimpgrill
  10. Once shimmering and hot, add the shrimp and saute until just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and reserve. (Only for those without a grill pan.)
  11. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet, then saute for until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and white wine and raise the heat to high. Let the liquid reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the butter, add a ladleful of the pasta cooking water (if you made shrimp stock, add a little bit of that as well) and return the shrimp. Remove from the heat.
  12. Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the skillet along with the chopped parsley and toss. Add the lemon zest and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Add remaining Garlic Bread Butter (that was not used on the baguette) onto hot pasta to finish–about 1/4 cup worth.
  14. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

 

Homemade Lamb and Beef Gyros (Sous Vide and Rotisserie)

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Happy Tuesday!

Are you over turkey and leftovers? I am! I love Thanksgiving, but I get bored and want to go for something international immediately after. My husband and I love Greek food, so it came to me that I wanted to make my stuffed grape leaves. But that’s not all. I wanted a gyro in the worst way, too.

Recently, I acquired a Ronco Rotisserie. Do you remember the commercial from the 1990s-2000s? “Set It and Forget It!” Best slogan ever. My problem? I have an obsession with watching it go round and round! One of my best friends told me that I ironically “stalk my food.” I can’t help it–it’s truly mesmerizing. I made rotisserie chicken two weeks ago, and I contemplated even doing my turkey in it for oven space purposes. So you can say I have a bit of an infatuation.

For all of you who know me personally, you know I am also a huge Sous Vide fan. It’s the best for proteins, and the low and slow water bath makes the meat extra juicy. So I had to use my Anova as I do for all my meat cooking.

I decided to grind my meat, blend in a food processor into a paste (it sounds gross, but trust me, it needs to bind!), sous vided for two hours, and then I seared it for about 30 minutes in my rotisserie. Last final step? I carved the meat into thin slices into a sizzling hot cast iron pan for a little extra crispy edge. Absolute perfection.

The homemade Tzakiki sauce came together in a snap too. It’s creamy and indulgent and totally makes this classic Greek dish complete.

My husband said this is a “Top 5” meal–10/10. He isn’t wrong. It is perfect. Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients for the Lamb and Beef Gyro Meat

  • 1.3-1.5 pounds of Ground Beef
  • 1 pound of Ground Lamb
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Dried Oregano
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Black Pepper
  • 1 small White/Yellow Onion (I used yellow)
  • 1 fresh garlic clove

Ingredients for the Tzatziki Sauce

  • 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2-3 tablespoons of garlic powder (to taste)
  • 1/2 small lemon, squeezed
  • 3 teaspoons of dried dill
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Other Ingredients

White Pita Rounds (4-6)

Vegetable Toppings (Lettuce, Tomato, Red/White Onion–your choice!)

  • **Feel free to make the pita rounds too, but the store bought ones, if heated up properly, taste great!) This recipe serves 4-6, so you would need at least 4-6 pita rounds.
  • ***You may also add in any vegetable you want. Some people like sliced onions, most people like tomato. I sliced up only a few small grape tomatoes for mine as lettuce has a bad reputation as of late (thanks Romaine outbreak!)

Special Equipment

  • 8-10 cup Food Processor (I have a Cuisinart 8 Cup)
  • Sous Vide (Immersion Circulator)–I have an Anova; Joule works well, too!
  • Rotisserie Machine (**optional, but it’s what I used. You can also simply broil the outside and rotate in the oven if need be.) <–P.S: I bought my rotisserie for $20 on Facebook Marketplace, so fear not!
  • Cast Iron Pan (Somewhat optional–this is for the extra searing at the end. I guess you could use another pan, but cast iron is highly recommended!)

Directions to the Pantheon of Street Food (How To Make the Gyro Meat)

  1. First, take out your food processor. Pulse until finely diced your onion and garlic clove.
  2. Next, add the ground meats (lamb and beef), salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.
  3. Grind the meat mixture into its a paste (it looks gross, but trust me, it’s divine). If you find it’s not all evenly getting mixed, stop the machine and use a spatula to push down the meat to make sure everything is ground evenly.
  4. Once it’s a “meat paste,” dump onto a piece of parchment paper.
  5. Next, transfer it to a large piece of plastic wrap. If you need another piece of plastic wrap, that’s fine! You are using the plastic wrap to mold the meat into a round log.
  6. Once you have rolled the meat into a log, portion out a large enough bag with your vacuum sealer. I have a Food Saver. **Make sure you remove the plastic wrap when the “log” is inside the vacuum-sealable plastic bag.**
  7. Once you have the meat sealed, you are ready to heat up your water!
  8. Get a large pot/sous vide container of water big enough to cover your meat. Fill the water between the minimum and maximum water lines that are listed on your circulator.
  9. Preheat your Sous Vide (Anova, Joule) machine to 150 degrees F. Once your water is heated up to temperature, put the meat log (is there a nice way of saying this?) into the water, and set a timer for two hours.
  10. As your Sous Vide is heating up/cooking your meat, go make your sauce!

Note: If you don’t have a Sous Vide, you can try putting the meat into a loaf shape on a sheet pan and put it in the oven at 325-350 like you would a meatloaf, but I have never tried it this way. Plus, if you don’t have a Sous Vide, I am not sure what you are waiting for. It’s the best! It’s worth the $100 investment!

Making your Tzatziki Sauce

  1. Scoop out two cups of plain Greek yogurt into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Peel your cucumber and then Microplane/grate your cucumber (not too finely nor too thick) into the yogurt.
  3. Next, slice open half a lemon. Squeeze the lemon into your yogurt mixture (make sure there are no seeds!)
  4. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried dill to your yogurt mixture.
  5. Stir all ingredients and taste. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
  6. When you’re satisfied, leave the mixture out to homogenize. The flavors will improve as it sits.

Putting It All Together

  1. Once your meat has finished cooking in the Sous Vide, it’s time to get it nice and browned on the outside.
  2. If you have a rotisserie, put the meat onto the prongs and put it into the machine and set for 30 minutes. If you don’t have, you can try carefully broiling the meat, rotating to ensure even browning on all sides. Alternatively, you can sear the meat whole in a cast iron pan/dutch oven. Again, I used a rotisserie as most gyros you order out are “gyrated” (if you go to a Greek place, you’ll likely see the vertical Doner Kebab machines).
  3. Once the meat is browned evenly on all sides, let the meat rest.
  4. Heat up your cast iron (preferably) skillet to medium-high heat. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil on the pan, spinning the pita round in the pan to help coat the oil.
  5. You will first heat up your pitas on both sides. You want the pita to be a little browned, but soft and pliable. About 1-2 minutes per pita (30 seconds to a minute per side).
  6. Once the pitas are warmed, you should slice the meat very thinly and cook in the same pan. You want a golden brown texture. Flip the meat often not to overcook.
  7. Assembling the pita: On the warmed pita, apply about a tablespoon of Tzatziki sauce and spread all over the pita. Then add your “salad” toppings of choice. Add the hot, seared meat on top.
  8. Fold and eat. Enjoy. Devour. Your life just may change today. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oatmeal Cream Pies

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Happy Monday!

My husband was away fishing for a week, so I wanted to make him something that I knew would make him excited to come home (besides me). And so, I decided to make these Oatmeal Cream Pies that he rates a 10/10. He’s hard to impress, but these sure do it!

As a child, I remember coming home from school and being elated to open up a pre-packaged snack like a “Cosmic Brownie” (anyone remember those colorful round sprinkles?) or an “Oatmeal Cream Pie”. I was overjoyed. The marshmallow, creamy filling with the earthy, brown sugar laden oats always made my day. The Moon Pies came as a close second growing up as well..graham cracker, chocolate outside, and marshmallow inside–the perfect instant smore.

And as much as the nostalgia waves can entice me to want to go for those snacks again, I much prefer making them from scratch, especially these Oatmeal Cream Pies. Sorry, Little Debbie, but I need you to step aside.

These Oatmeal Cream Pies are absolutely perfect. The cookie itself is very soft from the molasses, butter, and brown sugar. The filling is gooey and sweet to contrast the hearty oats.

Major Tips: It is essential to make sure you absolutely wait for the cookies to be completed cooled before moving them and/or applying the filling! They will fall apart otherwise! Also, do NOT overmix–you don’t want to toughen the batter! Last tip: Make sure you space out the cookies as specified in the recipe otherwise they will spread into one another.

This dessert is so easy to make, and they take almost no time to prepare.  They bake for 7-9 minutes, which means you can have your dessert ready in about 30 minutes or less, including cooling time. You don’t need to be a slave to your oven to make these, making it appealing to make all year long, including the summer!

These are great to make ahead as the cookie itself will not dry out. If you bring these to a party, you’ll definitely be a hit! You’ll be making everyone reminisce their childhood, but you’ll be taking over that memory with the bakery-like freshness from this homemade version. Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients for 8 sandwiches (this recipe can be doubled easily!)

Cookies
1 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 cup butter, melted
1⁄3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned oat, or quick oat

Filling
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk, or heavy cream (you may need to add more if the consistency is too thick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow creme (Fluff, Jet-puffed–whatever you can find. Tip: If it says 7 ounces on the jar, it will work–so need to buy two containers!)                                            1/4 cup of powdered sugar **(optional–the marshamallow creme makes this sweet enough for sure)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar until well combined.
3. Add the molasses, vanilla, and eggs, and whisk thoroughly.
4. Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until just combined.
5. Add the oats and mix until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the batter or it might result in tougher cookies.
6. Using an ice cream scoop (or about 2 tablespoons), scoop out cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches (8 cm) between each one. You may also use a silicone pat if you have one as well!
7. Bake for 7-9 minutes. The cookies will still be very soft, so be sure to let them cool thoroughly. Be sure to let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about two to three minutes before moving to a cooling rack so they don’t fall apart.
8. While cooling, make the filling by beating the butter, milk, vanilla, and marshmallow fluff until well combined. I used my immersion blender, but a hand blender or stand mixer would work fine as well.
9. Once the cookies are cooled, put a spoonful of the filling on one cookie and sandwich with another. Repeat until all the sandwiches are made.

 

Sunday Sous Vide Egg Bites (Just like Starbucks)

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Happy Sunday!

Meal prepping. Keto (Ketogenic) diets. These are all trends as of late. And even though I’m not following a high fat diet for weight loss, I can say that these Sous Vide Egg Bites would make any dieter feel like they were not dieting at all.

Often times, I don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning. But I love a hot breakfast, particularly a sucker for eggs and bacon. So usually I’ll stop and blow $5-6 a day on breakfast alone when I don’t have to! By making these ahead, I can have my hot eggs and bacon without having a tasteless, rubbery result.

Sorry Instant Pot Fans: I have tried to make these by buying the silicone mold for an Instant Pot, and while  they’re good, they’re not as great as the ones I’ve had at Starbucks. I find it the Instant Pot that the eggs are a bit watery from condensation.

And although I love my Instant Pot for many things, I have to say that if you want to truly recreate these Egg Bites, you need to use the Sous Vide (French for “under vacuum”) technique to get the perfect consistency. The ingredients also play a part in its perfection–the cottage cheese gives these eggs a light airiness (I have tried with sour cream and it’s too heavy!)

Sous Vide is my favorite way of cooking as of late. It’s not quick, but it’s the best. By making my eggs this way, I get creamy, custard-like eggs that are beyond satisfying. There’s no other cooking process that can give you this texture. It’s surreal!

To make these eggs, you’ll need (4 ounce) small mason jars and a Sous Vide (I have an Anova, but I’ve heard great things about Joule as well.) Hopefully, you have these already. If you don’t, you need to–you’ll be making these every week. I have not made a different make ahead breakfast for work in over a month! Still in awe with these lovely cuties! Plus, by making these, you’ll only be paying about $4.00 for a week’s worth of breakfast instead of $5.00 a day at Starbucks.

Ingredients
4 eggs
4 tablespoons of cottage cheese
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese**
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese**
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 pieces of thin bacon cooked crisp
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese for broiling (optional)                                                           1-2 dashes of hot sauce (optional, but listed as an ingredient for Starbucks–it gives it a slight tang!)

****Cheeses can be substituted, but if you want it to taste like Starbucks, you’ll need to use Gruyere and Monterey Jack Cheese. I love using just Cheddar sometimes! Use what you have and love!**

Directions

  1. Fill a stockpot or Sous Vide container to your minimum water line. Set your Sous Vide Cooker at 167 degrees.
  2. While the water is heating up,  add 4 eggs, 4 tablespoons cottage cheese, the 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, salt, and hot sauce to a blender. Puree until it is a uniform mixture.
  3. Spray 4 jars (I use half-pint wide mouth jelly jars) with a non-stick spray. Break a piece of bacon into each jar. Pour egg mixture into jars. Wipe the rim of the jar to make sure it is clean, then place the lid on the jar. Place jars into the sous vide. Feel free to use tongs if you feel the water is too hot to handle.
  4. Once the Sous Vide has reached 167 degrees, cook eggs for about 35 minutes or until they are completely set. Note: If you use a bigger jar (like a regular 8 ounce jar), it will take longer!
  5. Remove eggs from the jars when they are done. Sprinkle additional shredded Gruyere cheese on top, and broil until they jut turn brown, if eating immediately.
  6. If saving for later, let cool down and then put into the refrigerator to eat during the week.
  7. For reheating during work mornings, take lid off of jar and microwave for 30 seconds. It should come right out of the jar by shaking it down if you sprayed the jar well! If you don’t have time to broil the top, just microwaving is fine–it’ll just have the creamy texture.
  8. Repeat every Sunday, if you’re crazy like me. 🙂

 

 

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

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Happy Monday!

Forgive me for not posting. Life gets in the way sometimes! But what happens when you get lemons? You make lemonade? Nope. You make Lemon Meringue Pie–and make them small for added cuteness.

I love making two-bite desserts, like two-bite brownies. Not only are they adorable, but they also are good for dieters and dessert lovers alike. It’s a great palate cleanser! These are super lemony!

Personally, I am a huge fan of chocolate, but lately, I’ve been craving citrus. Lemons to me are so bright, fresh, and clean–and it makes me feel like I am not in a dull, cold, miserable winter. I feel like when I zest a lemon, it’s like a free aromatherapy session; all my tension seems to fade.

This dessert is for the lemon lover in your life, and it really couldn’t be simpler to make. I make it with a mini muffin tin, store-made crust (don’t tell anyone), and fresh lemon curd. The lemon curd is so good by itself that I would double the batch and have an English tea party. 🙂 This recipe makes 24 mini bites, but you may find that they disappear sooner than you anticipate. Enjoy!

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies (makes 24 servings…in which you may consume half in one sitting).

The Lemon Curd

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

The Crust

  • Store-Bought Pre-Made Crust (I used Pillsbury’s)–one out of the box is enough to make 24 mini pies. You can use a standard pie recipe you like too, but for this dessert, the pre-made works great!

The Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
 Directions:
  1. Take our crust and make sure it is thawed properly on the counter. It’ll become more pliable this way.
  2. Next, make the lemon curd. In a large heatproof bowl (or use a double boiler), mix eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Set bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and custard-like, about 8 minutes. If you see any small pieces of egg, not to worry! Your mixture will be strained and those fragments will not be in the final product.
  4. Once you strain the mixer, it will become velvety smooth. Strain mixture with a mesh sieve or metal strainer and into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately an hour and a half.
  5. While your lemon curd is cooling in the refrigerator, take out your pie crust and spray your mini-muffin pan with cooking spray. You should also at this time pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Using a small cookie cutter/biscuit cutter (or anything you have, like the bottom of a glass, that is the size of a silver dollar), cut out 24 circles.
  7. Using your thumb and forefinger, stretch the circles you would like a small pizza. Place each small circle of dough in the muffin tin. Press down the center with your finger first, then press along the side. Try to make sure each cup is even.
  8. Once your tart shells are formed in the mini-muffin pan, put shells in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Once finished cooking, allow the shells to cool in the mini muffin pan.
  9. While the tart shells are cooling, make the meringue using the leftover egg whites from previously. I find a hand mixer on high works best to get the peaks!
  10.  To make the meringue, you will beat egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form, about another 10 minutes. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue and top filled tarts. Tip: If you do not have a pastry bag, put your filling in a plastic Ziplock bag, twist around tightly, and cut the slightest bit at the tip to simulate a pastry bag. 🙂
  11. Once everything is cooled, put cooled shells on an oven safe plate or pan. Fill with the lemon curd, about a teaspoon each. Next, top with the meringue, swirling around the tart and making a small indent on top.
  12. Lastly, broil the tarts for about 1-2 minutes–until lightly brown or golden brown. Don’t leave them in too long–you just want the meringue to get toasty! Alternatively, if you have a kitchen torch, you could individually brown the tarts.
  13. Eat right away or stow in the refrigerator for a cool, refreshing snack! 🙂

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Pepitas

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Happy Sunday!

What says fall more than pumpkin? Butternut Squash. Step aside there, Jack. Butternut Squash is so much nuttier, creamy, and versatile to its cousin the pumpkin.

Save the pumpkin for the lattes, the rolls, and the pies. Butternut Squash is your best friend for your fall menu.

This Butternut Squash soup is one of the first recipes I ever made growing up (first was Pasta Fagioli, second was Butternut Squash soup, and my third dish I ever made was Butternut Squash Ravioli–see?) I remember making this for my father who was deeply opposed because he had never enjoyed a squash soup in the past. He dropped his spoon in awe. He gave me compliments galore–a man who seldom says much as his expectations were higher than high.

And so, I aim to relive this fond memory by making this at least once a year during the peak of fall. But to be honest, this year has be so unseasonably warm that I haven’t wanted to turn on my oven. Luckily, today was rainy and it was Sunday, so it was perfect day for me to make soup.

Also–mild confession–I am watching what I am eating. For those who know me, I never diet. The reason I don’t diet is probably pretty obvious–I love food, and usually the best tasting foods aren’t the lightest.

But this soup is the exception. It’s delicious, healthy, low-calorie–but firstly great tasting. I have been perusing blogs and Pinterest lately to find other food miracles, but I find some are disappointing, like when I attempted to make pancakes out of bananas and ground oats. No, they’re not the same. Most of these recipes “resemble” the “guilty pleasures” in appearance, but the taste leaves something to be desired. This soup is guilty pleasure that is also guilt-free calorically. It’s also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants galore.

The flavor and texture is what I enjoy most–it’s creamy, nutty, and buttery without having to add anything. The secret to me is slowly roasting the butternut squash first as it enhances its natural sweetness. But beware: some people who make this soup load it with unnecessary, dessert intensity sweetness–like brown sugar, cinnamon, and wayyyyy too much nutmeg which totally kills the flavor. Not all recipes are made equal for this soup–that’s for sure.

I have a lot of optional additives like apple, sour cream, bacon, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). You make this soup your own. In terms of the apple, I don’t personally cook the apple in the soup, although the original recipe included that step, so I have it there, but I personally think it’s necessary. Make this any way you like! If you’re vegan or vegetarian, feel free to leave out the bacon, but I personally love the flavor and texture it adds!

Also a note on butternut squash–I know they are a pain to cut, but it’s best to buy it whole. To make it easier (and safer) to cut, microwave it about 5 minutes first before you try to split it in half to roast. I prefer roasting it in the skin for flavor and caramelization reasons. If you happen to use pre-cut butternut squash (no judgement, I have done it before!), just make sure you buy two 20 ounce containers otherwise it won’t be enough squash for the amount of chicken stock. Also, I believe roasting it in the skin tastes more flavorful, but if you’re short on time, it will be still very good.

Butternut Squash Soup with Crumbled Bacon and Pepitas (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (about 2.5-3 pounds)

Olive oil (to drizzle on squash halves)

Pinch of grated nutmeg

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 strips bacon

1 medium to large onion, diced

Three cloves of garlic finely minced/pressed (must be fresh–none of that jar stuff!)

1 tablespoon of minced or grated fresh ginger

1 green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped (optional, I never use do this, but feel free!)

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock (you may use broth, but I think stock is richer)

Optional Condiments

Chopped chives

Sour cream

Chopped Bacon (I hate to say this is optional, but…it is.)

Pepitas (get a small bag–they go a long way)

Instructions

STEP 1

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  To soften the squash, put the whole squash in the microwave for five minutes. This will help with slicing. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub the halves with a touch of  olive oil and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the flesh is very soft, about 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

STEP 2

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Alternatively, if you are not garnishing your soup with bacon, you may saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in canola oil or olive oil. Add the onion, minced garlic, and ginger to the hot pot and cook until the onion is translucent (but not browned), about 3 minutes. Add the apple and cook until soft, another 3 minutes or so (I don’t include the apple in my recipe, but feel free to follow this if you want.)

STEP 3

When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add it to a blender or large food processor. Add the contents of the pot and pour in enough broth to cover. (Be careful not to overfill; work in batches if necessary.) Process until very smooth and return to the pot. Stir in the remaining broth and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and a touch more nutmeg (it may have enough nutmeg, so don’t over do this). Garnish with crumbled bacon, chives, pepitas, and sour cream (if using).

Enjoy! A cup is roughly 80 calories. If you add on all the condiments for one serving, this is about 120 calories. 🙂

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Happy Sunday!

My husband loves chocolate chip cookies. They’re his absolute favorite. Heck–I think they’re everyone’s favorite cookie. It’s a cult-classic. But I have made many cookies and have been disappointed. You would think that a simple flour, butter, sugar combination shouldn’t be so difficult, but it truly is an art form to master these cookies.

And with a lot of trial and error, and a lot of people telling me their recipe is great (and being disappointed), I almost lost total hope that I would ever get a chocolate chip cookie that is just right.

You see, I love soft, chewy, pillowy cookies. Not cakey. Not hard. I like them to have the consistency of just coming out the oven even when they’ve been cooled off and stowed away. Often times, cookies taste great out of the oven, but then the sugars solidify and toughen the cookie. No bueno.

Chocolate Chip cookies, in my opinion, have to be soft and chewy. And because of my high expectations, I am often disappointed. Until this recipe came to me.

I spent countless hours cross referencing recipes, analyzing the scientific outcomes of particular compounds, and I finally arrived at this recipe. It’s the perfect cookie. It’s scientifically proven to be chewy because of three main factors:

1.) Melted butter (the fat and flavor is necessary)

2.) Dark brown sugar (the molasses keeps the cookies moist)

3.) Cornstarch for softness

I also don’t have a lot of patience for cookies that require chilling, but for this recipe it’s okay because all you need is an hour of chilling. If you have the time, you can chill it for longer, but these cookies are perfect within the hour–score!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (6 oz) butter, melted and cooled (I used Kerrygold’s salted butter–highly recommended!)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (I used dark brown sugar)
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (feel free to add more!)

Path to Cookie Heaven

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer (or a handmixer in a separate bowl) beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugars for a minute. Then, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined.
  3. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix briefly, just until there are no flour clumps left. I incorporated a half a cup at a time. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour or more.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325 degrees, making sure you have the racks in the middle of the oven.
  6. On a cookie sheet, put down a silicone liner (or you may use parchment paper, but I recommend a silicone liner for best results). Using a cookie scoop, portion approximately 20 cookies. Make sure they’re spaced out accordingly. Tip: Feel free to add in more chocolate chips on the top of the cookie for aesthetic purposes. You may add more chips also when it comes out as well.
  7. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating half-way through, or until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden, but the center of the cookie still looks soft and just slightly under-cooked. Let cool on the baking sheets until the cookies are firm enough to remove, approximately two minutes.
  8. Enjoy!

 

 

Kahlua Triple Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust (Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot)

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Happy Wednesday!

My brother loves chocolate cheesecake, and my father, once an avid baker, would normally heed the request. However, my father has fallen off the baking trail for a while, and the torch has been passed to me. I was told I needed to make this chocolate cheesecake for his belated birthday celebration, or I would be excommunicated from the family forever.

*Not exactly, but my family’s cunning use of guilt could be perceived as such!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love making cheesecake, but it’s very time consuming. My typical cheesecake takes me a solid 2 1/2-3 hours to prep and bake, and an overnight time for the cake the set up. It’s so hot in July, and I try my best not to turn on my oven unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Luckily, I recently purchased an Instant Pot on Amazon Prime Day, the latest crave in the pressure cooker community. I was hesitant to purchase one because I don’t like to buy gimmicky, unnecessary appliances–ever. But I did enough research and was intrigued with the idea that the Instant Pot could not only expedite cooking though the powers of pressure cooking, but it can also act as a slow cooker, a yogurt maker, and it has a sauté option to help sear meat, and  to help get a kickstart on aromatics. It sounded too good to be true, and although I don’t think it is a machine that would replace my trusty stovetop and oven for good, it’s definitely a winner. Especially for custardy desserts like cheesecake!

When I saw this pressure cooker could be used for cheesecake, I was skeptical. But I was also intrigued because I thought about my cardinal rule for making cheesecake: I always create a waterbath to prevent cracks and general overcooking. The pressure cooker, or in my case, the Instant Pot, is essentially steaming my cheesecake just the same by putting two cups of water underneath the rack-raised cheesecake. Because it’s a countertop appliance, I am not raising the temperature in my apartment one bit! No oven needed! Additionally, because it is a pressure cooker, my cheesecake only needed 28 minutes of active cooking time versus the hours I have wasted before.

If you’ve made cheesecakes before, you know the usual drill: bake the cheesecake for an hour, open the oven door while shutting off the heat for another hour, and then you need to cool it on a rack for some time. With this appliance, or any other pressure cooker, you can make your cheesecake and cool it in under an hour. And if you’re afraid that a pressure cooker is going to texturally change the cheesecake–it doesn’t. It tastes as if you baked in the oven, and this way it is guaranteed to be silky, creamy, and smooth!

My one note of caution is this: remember the inactive times associated with a pressure cooker. Yes, pressure cookers advertise times that seem incredible, like this one–but it takes time for the pressure cooker to “preheat” (about 10-15 minutes), and most importantly, time for the machine to depressurize (super important–you NEVER want to open your pressure cooker prematurely–it’s dangerous!), which is approximately 15-20 minutes depending on what you’re making. Because this cheesecake has two cups of water, it does not take too long at all to depressurize. And whatever you do, don’t rush the process! Do not do a so-called quick release–the cheesecake is continuing to cook as it is depressurizing, and this amount of steam release is not gentle enough for this dessert.

In a nutshell, the convenience of the instant pot and the perfected results is making me forgo the use of my oven for a cheesecake ever again! For this recipe, you don’t even have to bake the crust either as it’s prepared and then set in the freezer for ten minutes!

In addition to having excellent cooking results, this cheesecake is of course powered by great ingredients. I use Kahlua (or any coffee-based liqueur) to enhance the chocolate flavor. I also use my higher end vanilla extract. My favorite is Nielsen-Massey’s  Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, which you can easily grab on Amazon.

I also believe in using good chocolate, but for some reason, I find this triple chocolate needs the milk chocolate to distinguish itself from the bittersweet ganache topping and the oreo crust. If you prefer a different chocolate, go for it!

Other recommended equipment (helpful, but not necessary): Food Processor (I have an immersion blender, so I have a small hand food processor attachment I use to crush the oreos) and my trusty Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. Also, make sure you know what size pan you’re using because a larger cheesecake cannot be made in the pressure cooker as it is too large. A 7 inch springform pan is a must!

Ingredients

Crust
    • 20 whole Oreo cookies (yes, even the white part!)
    • 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted then cooled
Cheesecake
    • 1 lb room temperature cream cheese, room temperature for two hours
    • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup white sugar
    • 1 whole egg – room temperature
    • 2 egg yolks – room temperature
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 8 oz of chocolate (I used Hershey’s milk chocolate, but you can use bittersweet chocolate if that’s your preference)
    • 1 tsp higher end vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon of Kahlua or coffee-based liqueur
    • 1 tbsp flour (optional–I did not use this)
    • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
Ganache
  • 3/4 cup  bittersweet chocolate chips (or a bar–you’re just melting it, so it does not matter)
  • 3 oz heavy whipping cream (or half and half)

Instructions

    1. Spray the 7″ springform pan with cooking spray.
    2. Add two cups of water to the instant pot and place the rack on the bottom.
    3. Make a tin foil sling to lift the cheesecake in and out of the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Essentially, you are folding a piece of tin that’s long enough to be able scoop out your cheesecake.
Crust
    1. In a food processor, combine the whole Oreo cookies and the butter. If you don’t have a food processor, put the cookies in a plastic bag and break them up with a heavy item like a rolling pin, until you have fine crumbs.
    2. Pour the crumb butter mixture into the bottom of the pan and pat until it is evenly distributed on the bottom. Put in freezer for 10 minutes.
Cheesecake
    1. In a food processor or stand mixer (I use my stand mixer for this step), mix the cream cheese with dark brown sugar, white sugar, and cocoa powder.
    2. Once combined, add one egg followed by the two egg yolks.
    3. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream.
    4. Continually scrape the bowl down. Add Kahlua, vanilla, and flour  (flour is optional) and mix until creamy.
    5. Pour mixture into the springform pan and smooth with a spatula.
    6. Place pan on the tin foil sling and slowly lower into the Instant Pot.
    7. Set Instant Pot to maximum pressure for 28 minutes.
    8. Once done, turn machine off and let it return to normal pressure for 15 minutes.
    9. Unlock lid and use sling to transfer pan to cooling rack for an hour.
    10. Chill in refrigerator overnight.
Ganache
    1. Put the 3/4 cup of chocolate in a bowl.
    2. Heat the heavy whipping cream to a simmer. Pour over chocolate.
    3. Chocolate will melt, stir until incorporated. Once incorporated, use a spatula and spread over the top of the cake.
    4. Put back in refrigerator to cool.
    5. If you like, use a vegetable peeler and slide the peeler on chocolate for chocolate curls for garnish and/or crumble some oreos!
Recipe Source (but modified by Lei Mangia): SerenaLissy.com