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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Cookiedough Cheesecake 1

This dessert combines two favorites: cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies. The crust is made from chocolate chip cookie dough. The filling is a vanilla cheesecake. The top of the cheesecake is then dotted with chunks of cookie dough and baked.

Chocolate Chip Cookiedough Cheesecake 2

If you want a more chocolatey cheesecake, you can stir additional chocolate chips into the cheesecake batter.

Chocolate Chip Cookiedough Cheesecake 3

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Instant Pot Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

Making mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot is a perfect way to quickly cook the potatoes, and free up a burner on the stove. Then you can mash and stir all of the good stuff directly into the potatoes in the Instant Pot. After preparing, you can leave them in the Instant Pot on the warm setting for several hours before serving. This is very helpful when preparing a big meal with lots of last minute cooking details.

Yukon gold are my preferred type of potatoes for making mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes are great for baking, but can make for mealy mashed potatoes.

I flavor my mashed potatoes with butter, milk, cream, sour cream, and garlic. You can use regular minced garlic in these potatoes (or leave out the garlic all together), but using roasted garlic makes them a million times better! Sometimes I add a little bit of fresh grated Parmesan cheese as well.

To keep your potatoes nice and hot, be sure to heat the butter, milk, and cream before mixing them into the mashed potatoes. I like my potatoes slightly whipped with a mixer to remove most of the lumps, but don’t overwhip them or they will become gummy.

Here is a tutorial for roasting large quantities of garlic:

I roast about 3 pounds of garlic at a time (on a day I can leave the windows open), then freeze it in several 1 cup containers. I always have one container in the refrigerator to use whenever a recipe calls for garlic.

RECIPE:

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Red Beans & Rice with Smoked Sausage

Red Beans & Rice with Smoked Sausage

This is an easy-to-make, family friendly recipe. (Unless you are the one of my five children who won’t touch anything that looks like a hot dog or sausage. She just picks around those and eats the rice and beans.) I usually have all of these ingredients on hand, so when I end up at the end of the day and don’t know what to cook, it is easy to pull some smoked sausage out of the freezer and put this together.

You can start with uncooked rice, or use leftover cooked rice to prepare it even faster.

The amounts of spice in the recipe will make a mildly spicy dish. Adjust the amount of Cajun seasoning and tabasco sauce to your family’s spice tolerance.

RECIPE:

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Chocolate Cookies & Cream Cake

Chocolate Cookies & Cream  Cake

Even with all of the new and exciting Oreo flavors that are released each year, there is something about the classic cookies and cream flavor that can’t be topped. Especially when they top a 3-layer chocolate cake filled with thick and delicious Oreo frosting!

When making this frosting, do NOT make it ahead of time. The Oreo crumbs become very soft in the frosting and will completely mix in if the frosting is left sitting too long (giving you gray frosting instead of flecked cookies & cream).

Chocolate Cookies & Cream Cake 3

It is also important when frosting this cake to do a thin crumb coat first. It will keep you from overmixing the frosting and make smoothing the frosting much easier and faster. And you do need to work fairly quickly so that the Oreos don’t dissolve into the frosting base.

Chocolate Cookies & Cream Cake 2

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Seven Layer Dip

Seven Layer Dip

We are going old-school today, with a seven layer dip straight out of the 80’s. Sometimes the classics are worth a revisit.

I like the spiciness turned up a notch, so I use spicy refried beans mixed with diced canned chiles. But since there are a lot of flavors going on in here, I stick with a simple guacamole: avocados, lime juice, and salt.

Technically, there are more than 7 ingredient layers in this chilled dip, but the olives, green onions, and diced jalapenos aren’t really distinct layers  so I count them all as one layer.

This makes an easy appetizer to assemble ahead of time and then pull out for the big game!

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Sugar-Free Raspberry Cheesecake Streusel Bars

Sugar Free Raspberry Cheesecake Streusel Bars

These sugar-free bars are made with a coconut/almond shortbread type crust, topped with a cheesecake layer swirled with fruit, and sprinkled with a delicious streusel topping.

These photos shows the bars with a raspberry fruit filling. You can also use blueberries, strawberries, or a mix of different berries.

Sugar Free Raspberry Cheesecake Streusel Bars 2

I like to bake these cheesecake bars in a water bath to keep the crust and edges from over-darkening and ensure the cheesecake layer bakes evenly. If you choose not to use a water bath, I recommend using a metal baking pan. Metal pans distribute heat much better than glass or ceramic when baking and your bars will bake more evenly.

RECIPE: Continue reading

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