Skinny Cheesecake

22 Jan

As I’ve mentioned in many of my recent posts, I’ve gotten an instant pot electric pressure cooker.  When you get an instant pot, and you start researching what you can use it for, there are 2 things that people are very vocal about.  Yogurt, and Cheesecake.  I love yogurt, but it’s cheap and I’m probably not going to go through the trouble of making my own. Cheesecake, however.  Well that’s another story. Challenge Accepted!  I will provide directions below for both oven baking and instant pot baking. I read a bunch of recipes, then made substitutions and switches and crossed my fingers, because you know, cheesecakes are finicky. The results are DELICIOUS.  When you join an instant pot discussion, it becomes clear rather quickly that there is one reigning queen of pressure cooker cheesecake, and her name is “this old gal” so, I took a few tricks from “This old Gal” on how to cook the cheesecake in the instant pot.

Note, I made this in a 7 inch spring form pan so these slices are smaller than an average cheesecake, but still enough to feel like you’re scratching your cheesecake itch.  This is a traditional cheesecake, but if you like the idea of Peanut Butter Cheesecake better, I’ve got that too.  Also, you try this yummy  blueberry orange cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, check out this recipe I posted a while back! 

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 7 whole graham crackers (that’s 7 of the sheets of 4 rectangles).
  • 2  TBSP light butter or margarine (i used 50 cal per TBSP)

Filling:

  • 16 oz Neufchatel Cheese (sometimes marketed as 1/3 fat cream cheese) Room temp
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup splenda
  • just a pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • orange zest from 1/2 an orange
  • 3-4 drops of lemon juice (i just used the stuff in the plastic bottle this time but you could use zest from half an actual lemon instead)
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 1 room temperature egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk

Instructions: 

  1. put all the graham crackers into a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 25 seconds.
  3. Pour melted butter into cracker crumbs and stir until they are all well combined.
  4. Spray your spring form pan generously with cooking spray.
  5. Pour the crust mixture into the pan and use your fingers to press it evenly across the bottom, and up the sides just about an inch or so.  You can use the bottom of a glass to get a more consistent thickness and texture.
  6. Place the pan with the crust inside, into the freezer for 20 minutes to set while you work on making the filling.
  7. Once you’ve got your crust in place, it’s time to start making your filling.  It’s important to make sure your cheese is softened pretty well.  It should be very soft and pliable inside the package.
  8. Place your cream cheese, sugar, splenda, salt, flour, vanilla extract, orange peel, lemon juice, and milk into a mixing bowl.  Use stand mixer or electric beaters to cream these ingredients together until they are smooth.
  9. Add eggs, one at a time, and then yolk.  Mix until just incorporated after each one.
  10. Once filling is mixed together, pour it out on top of the crust, and spread it evenly across the pan.

Cook it! 

For the oven:

  1. Place your spring form pan on large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and fold the sides of the foil around the sides of the pan.
  2. Set pan inside a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  3. Very carefully place the whole contraption into the oven and bake at 325 for 55 minutes.  When the cake is ready, the edges will look done, but about 1 inch in the middle of the cake will still be jiggly.  This is perfect. It’s going to continue cooking in the next step.
  4. Turn off oven and prop door open.  Allow the cake to sit in the oven, turned off, door slightly open for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove to a cooling rack and let it cool completely before moving to the refrigerator.  Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before serving.

For the Instant Pot:

  1. Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the bottom of your Instant Pot, and then add the trivet.
  2. Place a paper towel over the top of the pan, and then loosely attach a piece of foil over the top to hold the paper towel in place.  Fold the edges of the foil loosely over the sides of the pan. The foil should not be tightly sealing up the pan, just loosely attached so the paper towel stays stretched across the top.  This paper towel will catch any condensation so it doesn’t settle on the top of your cake and ruin the texture.
  3. Create a foil sling by placing a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil (about 2 ft long) on your counter, and folding it longways about 4 times.  So at the end, the foil strip should be about 4 inches wide, and 2 ft long.  Place your spring form pan directly in the center of this aluminum strip and pull the sides of the foil up to the top of the pan.  You’re going to use these pieces of foil as a handle to lift the hot pan out of the pot once cooking is done.
  4. Use the “handles” on the foil sling to lower your cake onto the trivet inside the Instant pot.
  5. Set the IP to high pressure, manual setting for 32 minutes.
  6. Once time is up, allow the Instant pot to sit for 18 minutes (NPR). Do not release any pressure until this 18 minute time frame has passed.  Once your 18 minutes has passed, release any remaining pressure manually.
  7. Use handles from the foil sling to remove the pan carefully and place the pan on a cooling rack.
  8. Unwrap the top of the cake and discard foil and paper towel.  Allow cake to cool on the cooling rack 1 hour before placing into the refrigerator.
  9. Refrigerate 6 hours to overnight before serving.

Makes 8 servings= 247 calories per serving

Editors Note:  My husband likes his cheesecake plain. I like mine with cherry topping.  Since the slices are small, I used 2 tbsp of kroger light cherry pie filling (shown below) to top mine.  That brought my calories up to 273.  My threshold for desserts to be listed on this site as low calorie, is 300 calories or less.  That being said, my husband chose to eat a 1/6th sized serving instead of 1/8th which brought his calories up to 327 with no topping. If you really love cheesecake and you’ve got calories to spare… go for it.  Cut it into 6’s instead of 8’s.

 

 

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Traditional Meatloaf

18 Jan

I already have 2 fantastic meatloaf recipes on this blog, which are go-to comfort recipes for me.  However, I wouldn’t call either of them “traditional” meatloaf. I recently bought an instant pot electric pressure cooker, and I found myself wanting to try a meatloaf recipe in it, but that also led me to realize I hadn’t cooked a normal, traditional meatloaf in a long time.  So, I considered all the things I loved about my 2 existing meatloaf recipes, and added what I know about traditional meatloaf, and came up with this one.  A mommy’s on a diet original.  I’ve listed the traditional oven baking directions below, with a note at the very bottom for how to do this in an instant pot.

If you like meatloaf, try my other 2 recipes for Sweet and Sour Meatloaf, and Individual Meatloaf Muffins for a different flavor!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 25 Saltine Crackers
  • 1 (5 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic (garlic powder)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce

  • 2/3 Cup ketchup
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP prepared mustard

 

Instructions

  1. Crush all 25 of your crackers and place them into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add beef, tomato sauce, ¼ cup water, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl.
  3. If you’re using onions, put them in the microwave with 1 TBSP water for 30 seconds to soften, then dump into beef mixture
  4. Mix everything in the bowl together well. You can wear gloves and use your hands to do this, so you can really get in there and incorporate everything well.
  5. Form your loaf into whatever shape you like it and place it inside a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  6. Bake uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes. And then remove meatloaf.
  7. Mix all Sauce ingredients together in a bowl, and pour evenly over the top of meatloaf.
  8. Increase oven temperature to 400 and continue baking 15 minutes or until center of loaf reaches 160 degrees.
  9. Remove the meatloaf from the oven, and let it rest

 

Makes 8 servings= 263 Calories per serving


Editors Note: If you use 96%  or 97% lean beef, decrease calories by about 30 per serving.  Add another 2 TBSP water to beef mixture before baking to try to make up for loss of moisture with lower fat content. I recommend using a higher fat content (but still lean) like 90-93% lean.

Instant Pot Directions:

To make this in an instant pot, use 1 cup of water in the pot, and add a trivet.  Shape your meatloaf and create a platform to hold it using several layers of aluminum foil.  Place your meatloaf on foil, shaping the edges of the foil loosely up around the sides of your loaf. Top with about 2/3 of the ketchup mixture. Place the foil and the loaf on to of the trivet, and cook by sealing your pressure vent, selecting manual, 40 minutes, high pressure. Allow you can quick release the steam (QR).  Remove the meatloaf from the pan by lifting the trivet handles before taking the temp of the meat (if you take the temp inside the very hot pot, it will not give you an accurate reading) Use a digital meat thermometer to test center of the loaf, and if it hasn’t reached 160, place back in for 5 additional minutes at a time, QR, until temp is reached.  Once it’s done, spread remaining ketchup over the meatloaf, take it out of the pot and stick the meatloaf, foil and all on a baking sheet and throw it all under the broiler for a few minutes until ketchup is thick and sticky.  Allow the meatloaf to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting.  Enjoy 🙂

 

 

Homemade Applesauce

17 Jan

I never have really been an applesauce girl so to speak.  However, I’m definitely a “warm apple pie filling poured over a 100 calorie cup of vanilla ice cream” kind of girl.  And I decided to make homemade apple sauce tonight, which turned out really delicious.  But before I put it in the fridge to cool for tomorrow night’s dinner, i snuck a half cup while it was still warm and it was glorious!

Again, I’ll give you both the crock pot and the instant pot versions below.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs of gala apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (if you’re using the crock pot. Not needed for instant pot)

Directions: 

For Crock Pot

  1. Mix all ingredients together in crock pot, and heat on high 3 hrs, or low 6 hrs.
  2. Once time is up, open lid and stir apples until they have broken up and sort of melded together.  Sauce will be chunky.
  3. Use an immersion blender to break up chunks until sauce reaches desired consistency.  You can dump the sauce into a food processor or blender as well, but listen. LISTEN to me.  Do not fill more than 1/2 way at a time with hot apples, or it will blow boiling hot apples all over you when you push the button.  Trust me.  This is why i use the immersion blender.
  4. You can cook the apples down a little longer if you find there’s more juice than you want.

Serve hot or cold in 1/2 cup serving sizes.

For Instant Pot:

  1. Mix all ingredients (except lemon juice) together in instant pot.
  2. Use the manual setting to cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
  3. Once cooking is complete, use the pressure dial to release the steam (QR).
  4. Once steam is released, open lid and stir apples until they have broken up and sort of melded together.  Sauce will be chunky.
  5. Use an immersion blender to break up chunks until sauce reaches desired consistency.  You can dump the sauce into a food processor or blender as well, but listen. LISTEN to me.  Do not fill more than 1/2 way at a time with hot apples, or it will blow boiling hot apples all over you when you push the button.  Trust me.  This is why i use the immersion blender.
  6. You can cook the apples down a little longer on the saute or keep warm setting if you find there’s more juice than you want.  If you plan to serve cold, sauce will thicken in some in the fridge.

Serve hot or cold in 1/2 cup serving sizes.

Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings= 150 Calories per serving


Editors Note: This sauce is sweet, and I love it that way. If you wanted to make this unsweetened by omitting the brown sugar, your 8 servings would come out to 124 calories each.

Editors Note: I actually left the peels on half of my apples, but the peels stayed in tact when i blended them all together, which i don’t mind at all… but you know… kids.  So  next time I’ll probably peel them all.  If you’re using the blender or food processor, i wouldn’t even bother peeling them.

Mississippi Pot Roast

16 Jan

This recipe is crazy popular on the internet.  I have seen variations of it all over the web, and nearly everyone gives it 5 stars, so while i thought the combinations of flavors were unique, and I wasn’t sure how it would meld together, I decided to give it a try anyway.  I can’t take credit for the idea of mixing these ingredients together. However, i will take credit for putting a slight spin on it, in that i’m going to make it in the Instant Pot I recently purchased, I’m using pepper rings instead of whole peppercinis (i think they’ll be easier to eat) and I’m going to use light butter and bulk up the recipe with some veggies to make it a little more calorie friendly.  I will give slow cooker (crock pot) instructions below as well, since I know many of you may not have a pressure cooker available.

Editors Note: On second thought…Make the Gravy. This is literally the best brown gravy i’ve ever made in my life.  It is very rich and flavorful!

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lb roast (I used lean, top round)
  • 1 envelope of Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 envelope of dry au jus mix
  • half a 16 oz jar of banana pepper rings + 1/2 cup of the juice
  • 2 TBSP oil of your choice
  • 4 TBSP of light butter (50 cal per tbsp)
  • 1 can of beef broth (only if you’re using an Instant Pot. not needed for crock pot)
  • 1 onion, quartered, Baby Carrots and 12 little potatoes (optional, not included in calorie count below. please track calories for veggies separately based on what veggies you use)

Editors Note: Note, I am using whole small potatoes with the skin on.  There is not much liquid starting out in this recipe if you’re using the crock pot, so i’d be afraid to use cut up potatoes with the inside exposed, as they might oxidize and turn black during cooking. If using the Instant pot, cut up potatoes or even turnips or radishes would work.

Instructions:

If using a Crock pot:

  1. Use paper towels to dry the meat well.  Salt and pepper meat to taste.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet and brown the meat on all sides to seal in the flavor once it begins to cook.
  3. If you’re using the veggies, toss them into the bottom of the crockpot here.
  4. Place meat in crockpot, and pour envelops of au jus and ranch directly on top of the meat.  Rub spices into the top and sides of the meat the best you can. Place peppers (but not juice yet) on top of the meat along with the butter.
  5. Pour the pepper juice around the sides of the meat.
  6. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
  7. Shred or slice the beef.  Remove the veggies for serving. Serve with or without peppers.  You can use corn starch to thicken the remaining juices into a gravy if you like (calories for corn starch not included here).  If this is something you want to do, remove your meat and veggies, pour the juice from the crockpot into a small pan. Disolve the cornstarch into about 1/2 cup of water. Pour cornstarch slurry into your pan drippings and whisk until thickened.

If using the Instant Pot (IP) electric pressure cooker

  1. Use paper towels to dry the meat well.  Salt and pepper meat to taste.
  2. Turn your IP on saute and wait for it to become hot. Heat oil in the IP and brown the meat on all sides to seal in the flavor once it begins to cook.
  3. Remove meat from IP and pour in pepper juice and broth. Deglaze the pan by scraping off all the bits of meat that stuck to it during browning.
  4. Place meat inside the IP, and pour envelops of au jus and ranch directly on top of the meat.  Rub spices into meat the best you can. Place peppers on top of the meat along with the butter. Don’t put your veggies in at this point or they will turn to mush.Leave them out. We will get to those later 🙂
  5. Using the Manual setting on your IP, set the timer to 60 minutes at high pressure.  Make sure your steam vent is in the closed position.
  6. Once your 60 minutes is up, allow the IP to depressurize naturally (NPR) for 10 minutes before Quick releasing (QR) the remaining pressure.
  7. At this time, open the IP up and check your meat for doneness.  If the meat is tender, and at 180 degrees in center, you’re good to go.  If not you might try bringing it back to pressure in 10 min intervals using QR until it reaches the texture you like.
  8. Once meat is a good texture, add veggies into the pot around the meat.
  9. Use the manual setting again, with the pressure valve closed, and set the IP for 6 minutes.
  10. Cook for 6 min and then Quick Release.
  11. Cut or shred your meat, and remove veggies.  Serve with or without the peppers. You can mix about 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch with some water, and add into the broth if you wish to make gravy.  Just use the saute feature on the IP and wisk the mixture together until it thickens.  Note that corn starch* and veggies are not counted in the calories shown below.

Makes 6 Servings.  Calories reflect meat only. Calculate Veggies separately based on what veggies you choose to use.

6 Servings= 343 Calories per serving

*If you use 3 TBS of cornstarch to thicken the gravy, and still have 6 servings, calories are slightly increased to 358.

Low Calorie Homemade Pizza

10 Jan

 

So, this recipe is officially for pizza, but some folks don’t wan to go through the trouble of making sauce or they already have store bought sauce on hand.  Also, everyone likes different things on their pizza.  So I’m going to give you 2 things here.  I’ll give you the recipe for just crust, along with calorie count, and then I’ll give you my recipe for a cheese pizza.  That way if you make your own pizza, all you have to add are the calories associated with whatever toppings you choose to use.  This turned out much better than I expected.  In fact, the family loved it and it’ll definitely be making a return visit to my dinner table.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 single serve containers of plain greek low fat yogurt
  • 3 cups of self rising flower
  • 2 tablespoons of water

That’s it.  Yeah, I know. This sounds crazy, but it’s good I promise. Mix it together, knead with your hands for about 5 minutes, and voila!  Spray a large baking pan with sides down with nonstick spray.  Roll your dough out evenly to the edges of the pan, pressing any extra little dough up against the sides.  Use a fork to poke some holes throughout the crust and top your pizza with everything you want on it before baking. (13 min at 475).  Continue on if you wish to use my sauce recipe.

Pizza Sauce:

  • 2 6 oz cans of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 tablespoon of granulated garlic (garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp of oregano
  • 1/4 tsp of basil
  • just a dash of onion powder if you like it.

Instructions:

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and spread evenly over crust.

To make Cheese pizza:  add 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake at 475 for 13 minutes.

Makes 5 average servings  or 4 pretty large servings. Cut into 15 slices (5 smaller servings, 3 slices each) or 8 large slices (4 servings, 2 slices each)

 

4 servings: Crust only= 345 calories             4 servings: Cheese Pizza = 580 Calories

5 servings: Crust only = 275 calories           5 servings: Cheese Pizza= 464 Calories

 

I used turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, and fresh mushrooms on my pizza pictured here. Well.. parts of it. The lower bottom right quarter is just cheese for my picky kid:

pizza-2             pizza-1

 

 

 

Italian Meatball Sliders

26 Oct

This is a recipe that I originally tried through a home delivery service.  I ordered it, made it, liked it, but I saw a lot of opportunity to alter it and make it more calorie friendly, so that’s exactly what I did.  This is one we’ve eaten about 3 time in my house now, and the kids love the little surprise of melted cheese in the middle.  The husband loves that he can have a “meatball sub” basically for much lower calorie count. Either way, this one is a winner, and I hope you guys enjoy it too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of lean beef (i used 92%)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (shreds, not powder)
  • 2 low calorie mozzarella string cheese sticks*
  • 1 cup of prepared pizza sauce
  • 8 mini slider buns*

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with foil.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together: Ground beef, garlic powder, egg, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly using a spoon or clean, bare hands.
  3. Place the mozzarella sticks on a cutting board and cut them each into 4 even segments.
  4. Form 8 meatballs from the ground beef mixture you’ve made and spread them evenly over the foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Use your thumb to press a deep well in the center of each meatball, large enough to insert one of the pieces of mozzarella.
  6. Shape the top of the meatball to cover the mozzarella, sealing the cheese in tightly so it reduces the amount of overflow that occurs during cooking/melting.
  7. Bake the meatballs for 25-30 minutes in the oven.
  8. Once meatballs are done, remove meatballs and foil from the pan and place the buns on the baking sheet, tops and bottoms separated from one another so the center of the bun is facing up.
  9. Place the buns into the oven and broil breifly until they are lightly browned.  Don’t take your eye off of them… it doesnt take long to go from lightly brown to “somebody call the fire department!”
  10. In a small skillet, heat the pizza sauce to warm, and place meatballs, cheese side up into the sauce.  Use tongs to move meatballs around just enough to pick up some sauce on the outsides.
  11. Remove buns from oven, and place 1 meatball on each bottom bun.  Spoon a little sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with extra parm if you’ve got it, and place the top bun over the meatball.  Enjoy.

*Editors note:  I used premade slider buns that were 80 calories each. My cheese sticks were 50 calories each.  You can freeze the cheese sticks ahead of time if you feel yours melted too much during cooking.

Serving size= 2 Sliders   446 calories

Serving 1 slider= 223 calories

**NOTE: I am no longer following weight watchers and am no longer comfortable calculating weight watchers points values with any accuracy.  Please feel free to use your ww recipe builder to calculate points if necessary.

meatball

 

Avacado Salad

3 Apr

My need to try this salad started with one of those 30 second video recipes on facebook.  I don’t know which site it was that posted it, but it sent me on a google search for something similar.  So, I won’t take credit for this recipe.  It’s one I borrowed from a blog called Natasha’s Kitchen.  The only alterations I made were using less lemon, and less oil.  This was yummy.  I’ll make it again in the summer.  Sort of like turning Guacamole into salad…how can you go wrong? 🙂

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Haas Avacados, ripe
  • 3 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 of a red tomato diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 a large lemon
  • Fresh Ground Pepper (to taste)
  • Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions: 

  1. Chop your avacado, and tomatoes to about the same size.
  2. Slice your cucumber down the center long ways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Dice the cucumber a little smaller than the tomatoes and avacado.
  3. Mix all your veggies together, stir in the Oil and Lemon Juice, as well as cilantro.
  4. Salt, Pepper, Stir, and enjoy 🙂

Makes 6 Servings= 131 calories per serving 

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