[Instant Pot] Pumpkin Salted Caramel Flan

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

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

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Pistachio Fro-Yo Pops

Calling all pistachio lovers! These perky pops are my new favorite summer treat. This simple recipe features none of the artificial flavors or colors that too often taint that old-school neon-green ice cream at the supermarket – just lightly sweetened whole-milk yogurt and plenty of roasted, salted pistachios.

Nuts and seeds are designed to fuel a baby plant through germination until they can develop enough roots and leaves to fend for themselves, which makes them very nutrient-dense foods. An ounce of roasted pistachios has about 6 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, and 8 grams of carbohydrates (including 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of natural sugars). Their biochemical profile supports antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and clinical studies have demonstrated favorable effects on blood lipids, glycemic control and vascular function associated with pistachio consumption.

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[Instant Pot] Maple Espresso Creme Brulee

Here comes the fanciest dessert ever to step out of my Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have a special talent for foods that need to cook in a hot, wet place – including the finicky oven/hot-water-bath setup required by cheesecakes and, yes, creme brulee!

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Eggnog Wedding Cookies

Yes, this holiday cookie recipe is a bit late to the party – but I’m sharing it today as my silly food-bloggy way of commemorating some new-life-news: believe it or not, I’m a married lady now! After 11 years together, Grant and I finally made it official over new year’s weekend and held a tiny elopement ceremony overlooking Seattle’s waterfront in a gondola aboard the Great Wheel. Love is magic – feels good, man!

The New Year is my favorite holiday, but there’s one sad thing about January: no more eggnog! If you’re a nog-lover like me, these cookies make a good antidote for the withdrawals.

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My First Wild Blackberry Pie

Did you know blackberries run wild in Seattle? Like, really run wild. Rubus armeniacus, the “Himalayan” blackberry, is an invasive species that has a special talent for sprawling its thorny brambles into every green nook and cranny of the urban landscape. This has earned it a reputation as a “problem child” of the local ecosystem, but I have to confess a soft spot for these wildlings. Who can stay mad at something so delicious? And how can anyone stare down a loaded thicket like this without their latent hunter-gatherer instincts kicking into overdrive?

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California Date Shake Frozen Yogurt

Over the past week, Seattle has found itself in the middle of both a record-setting heat wave and a thick haze of smoke. Naturally, these conditions make me nostalgic for my days in southern California. (zing!)

In all seriousness though, I really have been doing some California Dreaming. With summertime in full swing, I’m craving sunshine and avocados, and generally feeling inspired by left coast vibes (the Cowabunga Lifestyle, you know?)

Given this set and setting, I got into the kitchen and combined two beloved regional socal desserts:

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Mary’s Famous Vegan Banana Pudding

As I scramble through my last month living in San Diego, I was lucky enough to take part in one last Healthy Dining Office Potluck. When you work with a team of Culinary Dietitians and other foodie health professionals, potluck celebrations are serious business. Looking back on the 2.5 years that I’ve worked with this team, I’m pleasantly surprised that I had a chance to document several of my contributions online here: there have been polenta-crusted quiches, gluten-free peach cobbler scones, worksgiving goat cheese mashed potatoes, and platters of avocado toast slathered with chimichurri sauce. But to date, my crowning achievement was at a banana-themed bash we held last October, so this week I had go out with a bang and recreate my biggest hit.

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Avocado Fudge Brigadeiros {Brazilian-style dark chocolate truffles, for your Olympic viewing pleasure}

This may be the most festive snack you can enjoy while watching the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. Not only is the brigadeiro the hosting country’s most beloved dessert… there’s also something delightfully ironic about admiring world-class athletic prowess, while eating bonbons on the couch.

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[Instant Pot] Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

This was a big week for my favorite pressure-cooking kitchen companion: can you believe that among all the super-sales on Prime Day, Instant Pot was the #1 top-selling non-Amazon-device item in the US? That means the cult following surrounding this multi-talented multi-cooker just grew by 215,000, and there are flocks of new fans that are just getting to know its time-saving/energy-efficient/flavor-boosting abilities. Welcome aboard, amigos! Let’s share recipes and celebrate with cheesecake.

In Instant Pot’s dessert repertoire, cheesecake is the unexpected star. What makes the pressure cooker such a good tool for this job? The high-pressure steam in the sealed vessel cooks the dense filling evenly, while the moist environment helps prevent the surface from drying and cracking. It’s the perfect storm for cheesecake perfection!

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Easiest Seasonal Treat: The Apple Turnover Ice Cream Sandwich

Seasonal cooking gets tricky when the calendar says it’s Fall, but the weather does not. This is a treat that can ease the pain of being stuck in that awkward limbo between seasons – when you’re dreaming of warm spices and baked goods fresh from the oven, but what you really need is something out of the freezer. If you’re drawn to the autumnal charms of apple pie, and you agree that it’s at its best when a la mode, you’re way overdue for an inside-out twist!

Join me in lazy-cooking bliss by buying a box of apple turnovers from your local bakery. Freeze them, slice them in half, and admire the airy void between the pastry and the filling. Soften a tub of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt and use it to fill the pocket, gently pressing a spoonful at a time to create an even layer. Pop your stuffed triangles back into the freezer to firm up, and look forward to blowing your mind.

Each stuffed triangle is a perfect hand-held package, but it’s a rich dessert, so keep portion size under control by choosing smaller pastries. I’m on the hunt for mini-sized turnovers, because this would just be such a killer finish for a dinner party!

Apple Turnover Ice Cream Sandwich

Need another easy way to indulge your cravings for Fall flavors? Check out last year’s suggestion: The Easiest Seasonal Pumpkin Treat (Dark Chocolate Edition)