Tartar Sauce Recipe


Connie’s Coronavirus Cooking Chronicles – Recipe 6 – Tartar Sauce

It took a bit of experimenting to get this tartar sauce recipe the way I like it, but I finally came up with a recipe that I love! It is sweet due to the sweet relish but also tangy due to the lemon juice.  Feel free to add some salt too if you would like. This tartar sauce recipe is perfect for homemade crab cakes, fish and chips, and other seafood dishes. The recipe for crab cakes is here.

Tartar Sauce


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 6 tbsp sweet relish
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 tbsp minced shallot (use 2 tbsp for a stronger onion flavor) (red onions will also work, try 1 tbsp first and increase if desired)
  • salt, to taste (optional)


  1. Mix all ingredients together. You have tartar sauce!

Crab Cakes Recipe


Connie’s Coronavirus Cooking Chronicles – Recipe 5 – Crab Cakes

Crab cakes are usually pretty expensive at restaurants. However, did you know that they are actually very easy to make and cost just a fraction of the price if you make them at home?

For my husband’s birthday, I made him a crab cake birthday cake (pictured above) since he isn’t a fan of regular cake. Instead of frosting, we had homemade tartar sauce with it. My recipe for crab cakes is below and the tartar sauce recipe is here.

Crab Cakes


  • 1 lb crab meat
  • 2 eggs
  • 2.5 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup celery, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped (or 1.5 tbsp dried parsley, with 1 tsp water stirred into the mixture before adding panko)
  • 1/2 cup panko (gluten free panko also works, if you need it to be gluten free)
  • olive oil


  1. Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
  2. Add the mayo, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Old bay, salt, and pepper and mix well.
  3. Add the celery and parsley and mix.
  4. Add the panko and gently mix until compbined.
  5. Add the crab meat and gently fold until combined.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  7. Shape into 2.5″ patties (or larger, if you want).
  8. Heat a skillet with a drizzle of oil on medium heat and fry the patties on both sides until cooked through.
  9. Serve with homemade tartar sauce! Recipe is here.

Corn Chowder Recipe


Connie’s Coronavirus Cooking Chronicles – Recipe 4 – Corn Chowder 

Who doesn’t love a good corn chowder? I like that this healthy soup can be made thick and creamy without having to add any heavy cream, although you can add some heavy cream (or milk or cashew cream) at the end if you want.

This recipe is kind of inspired by the corn chowder from Panera although I wouldn’t call it a copycat recipe exactly. It’s perfect for any season – in the winter you can use frozen corn and in the summer you can use fresh corn! I usually make this soup without cheese but you can add some cheese at the end if you want a cheesy soup.

Corn Chowder


  • 8 jalopenos, seeds removed, diced (~2.5 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 24 oz bag of mini golden potatoes, diced (or 24 oz of diced yellow potatoes – make sure you use potatoes that will hold their shape in soup, like yellow or gold potatoes)
  • 1 lb tomatoes, diced (about 3 tomatoes)
  • 2 lb corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt (or more or less, to taste)
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 pack of bacon (12 oz) or approx. 1 lb of pork loin, sliced thin (which meat you choose depends on how healthy you want to me 😉 )
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional Ingredients:

  • heavy cream and/or milk and/or cashew cream
  • shredded cheese
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves (if you use, don’t forget to remove them before blending the soup)


  1. In a large pot, saute the onion in a little bit of olive oil until softened.
  2. Add the jalopenos, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, paprika, and pepper and saute for about a minute.
  3. Add the chicken broth, diced potatoes, diced tomatoes, corn, half the salt, and the bay leaves if using.
  4. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes).
  5. While the soup is simmering, cook the sliced pork loin in some oil (or cook the bacon). Use scissors or a knife to cut the cooked pork into tiny squares (or crumble the bacon with your hands).
  6. Remove the bay leaves (if using). Turn off the heat. Use an immersion blender to blend some of the soup, until you like the thickness. OR you can transfer 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup to a blender and blend it, then pour the blended soup back into the pot.
  7. Scoop about 2 tbsp of soup into a small bowl. Add the arrowroot powder into this bowl and stir until a slurry is formed. Pour slurry into the soup and stir well.
  8. Put the cut up cooked pork loin or crumbled bacon into the soup.
  9. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer (or 160 degrees).
  10. Add however much milk or heavy cream or cashew cream you want to make the soup creamier or thinner (optional). Add however much cheese you want and stir to melt it into the soup (optional).
  11. Bring the soup back to 160 degrees while stirring. Taste and add more salt, to taste.

Easy Taco Recipe (with Frozen Barbacoa Hack)


Connie’s Coronavirus Cooking Chronicles – Recipe 3 – Tacos 

I am a huge fan of simple, easy, healthy and delicious recipes. This taco recipe definitely falls into all of those categories. I always thought tacos would be a little time-consuming to make because of how many ingredients can go into them but you can actually simplify the ingredients and even pre-cook and freeze some of them ahead of time so that when you crave tacos you can whip them up in no time.

Here are a few taco hacks to save yourself time:

  • Use whole avocados instead of buying or making guacamole
  • Use jarred salsa instead of making salsa from scratch
  • Use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, like onions and eggs
  • Pre-cook barbacoa or carnitas ahead of time and freeze it in appropriate portions in zip-loc bags so that you can just reheat the meat in a microwave or skillet instead of having to cook it from scratch. If freezing, I like to add some of the cooking liquid to the bag of meat or freeze the liquid in a separate container and defrost with the meat to prevent the meat from getting dry when reheating, especially in a skillet.
  • Pre-cook some mango “salsa” ahead of time and freeze to defrost later if you want to include it on your tacos. My “salsa” is just diced and cooked mangos. Period. Nothing added. It tastes great on tacos!

The above flavor combination tastes amazing on its own without added cheese, lettuce or sour cream (with or without mango) and is also healthier without all the added fat. However, you can always add these optional ingredients or any other ingredients you may want, especially if you happen to have them on hand when craving tacos. I guess these could be considered breakfast tacos, since they contain eggs. I think they taste great any time of day though!

Easy Tacos


  • tortillas, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 jar salsa (or homemade)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • cooked seasoned meat like ground beef, ground pork, barbacoa, carnitas, etc. (see note 1)
  • Optional Ingredients:

  • mango “salsa” (see note 2)
  • corn
  • beans
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream


  1. Open the jar of salsa and set it at your taco station.
  2. Cut and scoop out the inside of the avocado into a bowl. Set at taco station.
  3. Cut onion into slivers and saute with some olive oil until slightly caramelized. Put into a bowl and set at taco station.
  4. Pull cooked meat from the freezer and reheat in a skillet on medium-low heat until heated through (steaming hot). While meat is heating up, scramble the eggs in a bowl. Put cooked meat into a bowl and set at taco station.
  5. Add a little oil into the skillet, heat, and cook the scrambled eggs. Put eggs into a bowl and set at taco station.
  6. Put any other ingredients you may want at the taco station.
  7. Cook the tortillas in the skillet per packaging or recipe instructions.
  8. Assemble your tacos and eat!
  1. Pre-cook seasoned barbacoa or carnitas ahead of time and freeze it in appropriate portions in zip-loc bags so that you can just reheat the meat in a microwave or skillet instead of having to cook it from scratch. If freezing, I like to add some of the cooking liquid to the bag of meat or freeze the liquid in a separate container and defrost with the meat to prevent the meat from getting dry when reheating, especially in a skillet. I will upload my barbacoa recipe some other time and include a link here when I do.
  2. Pre-cook some mango “salsa” ahead of time and freeze to defrost later if you want to include it on your tacos. My “salsa” is just diced and cooked mangos, nothing added.

Avgolemono Soup Recipe


Connie’s Coronavirus Cooking Chronicles – Recipe 2 – Avgolemono Soup (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)

Avgolemono is one of my all-time favorite soups. It’s fairly simple to make and consists of minimal, healthy ingredients but packs a TON of creamy lemon-chicken flavor. Eggs are used to thicken the soup and make it ultra-creamy without adding cream (although you can add cream too, if you’d like).  The first time I had it was at a local Mediterranean restaurant and almost every subsequent time I went there I would order the Avgolemono soup. However, at $5 a cup, I wanted to learn to make it at home so that I could have it anytime I wanted without the steep price tag. Luckily, it isn’t hard to make at all; however, there are three important tips to follow if you want your soup to taste amazing, which are as follows:

  1. DO NOT SKIP THE LEMON ZEST. Lemon zest is the key ingredient that makes the soup taste deliciously lemony. If you just use lemon juice, you will only get a tiny bit of lemon flavor and the more juice you add, the more sour the soup will be without much of an increase in lemon flavor.
  2. Use a BLENDER when mixing the soup with the eggs. You don’t HAVE to do use a blender but I’ve found it to be the easiest method of tempering eggs without accidentally curdling them (to temper eggs means to slowly heat and mix them into another liquid without changing their texture). I’ve tried tempering by hand and found it very hard to produce a result that is as creamy as tempering by blender. And yes, you HAVE TO temper the eggs. If you just mix them into hot soup without tempering them you will just get egg drop soup. Who wants bits of scrambled eggs in Avgolemono soup? No one.
  3. Use a KITCHEN THERMOMETER to measure the temperature of your soup after adding the blended egg-soup mixture as it continues to cook. Once the temperature reaches 160 or slightly higher, turn off the heat. The eggs are fully cooked at 160 degrees F and will curdle around 170 or 180 degrees F so don’t let the temperature get that high. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, you can try to eyeball it (once you see steam coming from the soup, continue to stir and cook for another minute or so and then turn off the heat), but I can’t guarantee that the soup won’t be undercooked (with bacteria still alive) or overcooked (curdled).

The local Mediterranean restaurant that I like adds some heavy cream to their soup, but I’ve found it to be unnecessary since the eggs and rice already make the soup creamy. However, if you want your soup even creamier, thicker, and silkier (not to mention fattier), feel free to add a bit of heavy cream to the soup after adding the egg mixture. Some people prefer using only egg yolks for the soup but I like to use the whole egg. Also, feel free to use white rice or brown rice. White rice is more traditional but brown rice had more fiber. I have some very specific opinions about brown rice, which you can read in the recipe notes below. Lastly, I recommend using homemade chicken broth because it tastes more “chicken-y” and less seasoned than broth from a box, which has other additives like celery and onions. I prefer the clean taste of plain chicken broth for this soup, but if you want to make avgolemono with a seasoned broth, you’re welcome to try.

Avgolemono Soup


  • 8 cups of chicken broth (see note 1)
  • 4 eggs
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons (or more lemons, to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 cup white or brown rice, dry (see note 2)
  • the cooked and shredded meat of half a whole chicken (or a pound or two of chicken breast meat, depending on how much chicken you want in the soup) (see note 3)
  • 1-2 tbsp heavy cream, optional


  1. Add the chicken broth and rice into a saucepan or pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to bring the broth to a simmer.
  3. Cook the rice until it is done (20-45 mintues).
  4. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt to the soup and stir. Turn off the stove.
  5. In a blender, add the eggs and blend for a few seconds, until well-scrambled.
  6. Scoop about 2 cups of the soup and rice mixture into a pourable container (like a glass measuring cup) and SLOWLY pour into the blender with eggs WHILE THE BLENDER IS RUNNING. Your eggs are tempered now. Turn off the blender.
  7. Pour the blended mixture into your pot of soup. I like to pour it slowly while gently stirring the soup with a spoon in my other hand to make sure the eggs don’t curdle as they are added, but it usually doesn’t curdle even if I just dump the soup in without stirring.
  8. Add the chicken meat into the soup. If using heavy cream, add it now.
  9. Turn the stove back on to low and cook, stirring constantly so that the eggs closest to the heat source don’t curdle.
  10. Use a kitchen thermometer to check the temperature of the soup every so often. When the temperature reaches 160 F (or slightly higher), turn off the heat. Your soup is ready!
  1. If you want to make homemade chicken broth, put a large raw chicken (or two chickens!) in a large pot and cover with cold water (not too much water – covering by an inch or so is good). Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer with the lid on until the chicken is cooked through (about 90-120 minutes). Take the chicken out and shred it (after letting it cool enough to handle). I like to put the skin and bones in a pile separate from the meat and reuse for making chicken bone broth. For the broth, I use a deep ladle to gently skim the fat from the top of the broth and pour into a glass mason jar. Once the oil in the jar separates from the broth beneath, I use a spoon to scoop out the oil and add the broth back into the main batch. You can use the oil to saute other food or toss it. Remember to measure out the broth needed for this recipe! Feel free to double the soup recipe if you want.
  2. Rice is known to have a considerable arsenic in it, especially brown rice. The arsenic is not naturally-occurring in rice but is a result of environmental contamination that is pretty much present in most rice farms due to the way rice is grown (underwater). Arsenic from the water seeps into the rice while it is being grown. However, the arsenic in rice is water-soluble so you can get rid of some of it by soaking the rice for several hours in cold water and then tossing the water. I like to soak and change the water multiple times over 2 or 3 days to get rid of even more arsenic in my brown rice. This causes the rice to sprout during this period of time, which is supposed to make rice a little healthier by activating enzymes, increasing vitamins, and reducing phytic acid. It’s a nice side benefit, but I mostly do this to reduce the arsenic level. If you want to reduce arsenic even more, you can then cook the rice in a large pot with way too much water, get rid of the water half way through cooking and replace with new water, and then when the rice is done, strain it and toss the cooking water. I then add this cooked rice (about 1.5 cups) to the avgolemono soup towards the end, when adding the chicken. Rice cooked and added this way dilutes the flavor of the soup a tiny bit, but I don’t mind that.
  3. If using raw chicken breast, you can cook the chicken in the broth (before or during the rice-cooking stage) and shred it after it is cooked through.

Deconstructed Spanokopita Casserole Recipe


Connie’s Coronavirus Cooking Chronicles – Recipe 1 – Deconstructed Spanokopita Casserole

The COVID-19 lockdown in California has been going on for about a month and a half now and although many people are going stir-crazy, I’ve found this time to be quite productive. Creativity often thrives under limitation and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be stuck at home and able to focus on many of the projects I had placed on the backburner for far too long. One of these is working on my blog and uploading more recipes.

So without further ado, I bring you the Connie’s Coronavirus Cooking Chronicles series. This series will consist of the recipes that I make (or have made) during the coronavirus “shelter in place” mandate. Most of these recipes are my own (I will state otherwise if they were created by someone else) and are often inspired by foods I have had elsewhere. For any recipe I make, I like to find the sweet spot between maximum deliciousness (to motivate you to eat), ease of cooking (to motivate you to cook), and healthiness (to make you feel good about both cooking and eating it).

The first recipe I’d like to share is one of my favorites. I love a good crunchy spanokopita (a Greek spinach and feta pie often wrapped with phyllo into a triangular shape and baked) and have had spanokopita at various restaurants in Greece and also at numerous Greek/Mediterranean restaurants here in the United States. Every restaurant has its own recipe so they all taste slightly different. Here’s a picture of a spanokopita I had in Santorini:

santorini spanokopita 2_1600

Spanokopita is one of my favorite dishes so of course I had to make it at home. Although I greatly enjoy the crunchy triangular-shaped pies, I don’t have the time or patience to brush each sheet of phyllo dough with olive oil and then wrap each pie into a pretty little triangle, especially given how quickly my husband and I demolish them. Instead, I came up with a deconstructed version (inspired by my Greek mother-in-law, who bakes her Spanokopita in a casserole pan, as many Greek families do).

This spanokopita bake can be made with or without phyllo dough. I usually make it without the phyllo, because like I said, it is quite time-consuming to brush all that phyllo with olive oil and both my husband and I think it tastes just as good without the phyllo and it is SO MUCH FASTER (and cheaper) to make it this way. Really, this is one of my favorite ways to get my husband to eat his vegetables. He usually asks for seconds and thirds and I have to stop him from eating it all to prevent him from ODing on greens. Here is what the casserole looks like without phyllo:


However, if you want to make it with phyllo (which is more traditional but more time-consuming), you have two options:

Option 1 is brushing each sheet (or every other sheet) of phyllo with olive oil and layering the sheets on the bottom of the casserole pan and also on the very top after you’ve put the other ingredients in before baking. I never do it this way (even though it’s quite traditional) because the phyllo on the bottom gets soggy and I also like to make enough for a few days, so the phyllo on the top gets soft and squishy in the fridge. At that point, it is irrelevant to me if the phyllo is there or not, since I only like phyllo for the crunch that it provides.

That brings me to Option 2, which is to bake the phyllo separately. I always make it this way when I use phyllo, because it guarantees that every bite of of phyllo is supremely crunchy. I brush each sheet of phyllo with olive oil (sometimes I brush every other sheet) and lay them on top of each other. When the stack is about 6+ sheets thick, I cut them into small rectangles. Then I put most of these stacked rectangles into ziploc bags, press the air out, and stick them in the freezer. Anytime I want some crunchy phyllo to put on top of my spanokopita, I pull out some of these rectangular stacks from the freezer and bake them in the oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes, or until they start to turn golden-brown. Maximal crunch achieved.

As for the baked casserole itself, the recipe I came up with after several trial experiments is below. Some recipes call for a mixture of different cheeses (including feta), but I think it tastes best with feta only. Also, some spanokopita recipes are more “savory” and some are more “sweet.” The sweeter ones tend to use dill and no garlic, but I strongly prefer the savory flavor, so this one is on the savory side. Most spanokopita recipes use only spinach but I actually prefer the taste and health benefits of including a mixture of greens, so I recommend Costco’s Organic Power Greens, which is a mix of baby kale, chard, and spinach. But if you only have spinach or want more of a traditional flavor, spinach only is just fine. Lastly, chickpeas are usually not in spanokopitas but my favorite Mediterranean restaurant serves spanokopitas with chickpeas inside and I think they add great texture and flavor to a dish that would otherwise be just soft, especially without the phyllo. The almonds also add some nice texture as well. Here’s the recipe!

Deconstructed Spanokopita Casserole


  • 2.5-3 cups of feta cheese (I use 2 slabs of Dodoni Feta Cheese from Costco, chopped/crumbled)
  • 1.5 lbs of prewashed organic spinach or mixed greens (I prefer the Organic Power Greens from Costco, which is a mix of baby kale, chard, and spinach – I actually prefer the flavor of this over all spinach)
  • 1 onion (I prefer yellow)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (no need to add salt b/c feta cheese is salty)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 to 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or ~0.5 cups dried) (see Notes 2 & 3 below on how to cook)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of slivered almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 pack phyllo dough & extra olive oil for brushing (optional, see Note 1)
  • 1 to 2 tsp olive oil for sauteing


  1. See notes below on how to prepare the chickpeas.
  2. If adding slivered almonds, toast them for a few minutes in a frying pan on medium-low, stirring frequently until golden. Set aside.
  3. Dice garlic.
  4. Dice onions.
  5. Sautee the onions in some olive oil until cooked through.
  6. Add garlic to the onions and sautee another minute. Let this cool a bit so you don’t accidentally cook the eggs when mixed in.
  7. Whisk eggs into a very large bowl.
  8. Chop the feta cheese and put the feta into the large bowl with the eggs. Add pepper. Mix.
  9. Pour onion/garlic mixture into the bowl too. Mix.
  10. Add the cooked and drained chickpeas and mix. If including slivered almonds, put the toasted almonds into the bowl at this time as well and mix.
  11. Chop the pre-washed greens by grabbing a bunch at a time and chopping into 1/2 inch slivers. Chopping in one direction is fine, no need to chop in both directions. As you chop, put the chopped greens into the big bowl with the other ingredients.
  12. Use two spatulas to mix everything in the bowl until the greens are evenly coated with the mixture.
  13. Pour everything into a casserole pan (I use 10″ x 13″) and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or so, or until the center reaches 170 to 190 degrees. I usually don’t preheat my oven because I use a small countertop oven that doesn’t take very long to heat up.
  14. Cut finished casserole into rectangles and serve. Dig in!

  1. If you want to add phyllo, read the blog post above the recipe for Option 1 or Option 2 on how to prepare and bake the phyllo.
  2. If using canned chickpeas, boil them with water until they are as soft as you would like. Drain and set chickpeas aside to cool a bit so you don’t cook the eggs when mixed in.
  3. If using dry chickpeas, soak 1/2 cup (or more) chickpeas overnight in water in a container that allows the chickpeas to more than double in volume during the soak, then drain the next day and cover with fresh water in a pot (the water should cover the chickpeas by about 3 inches). Boil without a lid for about 60-90 minutes until they are to your desired softness (they will not soften more during the bake). Drain and set chickpeas aside to cool a bit so you don’t cook the eggs when mixed in.

Instant Pot Apple Pork Tenderloin Recipe

This is one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes and it’s perfect for fall (or any season, really). We I recently had some friends over for dinner and we served this along with roasted vegetables, green beans, and butternut squash soup. The meal was a hit! I’m complying with requests for this recipe by posting it here :).

Our dinner – pork tenderloin with apple gravy, green beans, roasted vegetables, and butternut squash apple soup
I served this gravy with the pork, which is made by pureeing the ingredients in the Instant Pot after taking the meat out and removing the bay leaf & rosemary stem, and then adding the roux. The glass “gravy boat” is actually a teapot that I bought from Teavana when they were liquidating. The inner glass steeper and lid are removed 🙂


  • 3 lb pork tenderloin (the weight is approximate, I use 2 long pieces of pork, which is half of the pork tenderloin pack from Costco)
  • 1 tsp oil of your choice (I use duck fat) for the pork
  • 1 large onion, yellow or white
  • 1 tsp oil of your choice (I use duck fat) for the onion
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I use 1 cup of water with 1 tsp of Better Than Bullion)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 large apples or 3 small apples (Use a good cooking apple that is also quite sweet like fuji. Honeycrips apples are too sour for this recipe.)
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (about 5 inches)
  • 5 large fresh sage leaves (or 10 small leaves)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • More salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Slice the onion (thicker slices are better) and the apples.
  2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook the onions a bit, stirring occasionally so that some of them caramelize without overcooking the onions (about 10 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, put 1 tsp of oil into the instant pot and turn it to saute mode. When the oil is hot, put the two pork tenderloins in and sear the top and bottom until they are brown (a few minutes each side, flip using tongs).
  4. Add the browned onions to the instant pot, as well as the chicken broth, apple juice, salt, pepper, apples, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Poke the herbs and some of the apples down so that they are sitting in the liquid.
  5. Close the instant pot, set the knob to sealing, and select manual pressure. Set the time to 25 minutes. It will take time to come to pressure before the 25 minutes start, so plan to do something else during this time.
  6. When the 25 minutes of cooking are over, manually release the pressure by turning the knob to venting.
  7. Use tongs to remove the pork tenderloin from the Instant Pot and onto a plate. Slice the pork.
  8. Remove the bay leaf and the stem of the rosemary (the rosemary leaves should have mostly fallen off, but if not, pick the leaves off and put them back into the Instant Pot).
  9. Use an immersion blender to blend everything in the Instant Pot until smooth.
  10. Make the roux by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then stirring in the flour. Keep cooking and stirring it until it becomes a light to medium brown color.
  11. Pour the roux into the Instant Pot and turn it to saute mode. Stir the mixture until you see bubbles. Stir for another minute. Your gravy is done!
  12. Turn off the Instant Pot and taste the gravy. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Stir and ladle the gravy into a serving container. Serve the gravy with the pork.

Monk Fruit Butterbeer Recipe (Reduced Sugar!)

If you love butterbeer, you’re sure to love this butterscotch soda recipe! My husband and I call it butterbeer but I wouldn’t call it an exact replica (perhaps it’s even better!). Authentic butterbeer is more of a cream soda with thick butterscotch-flavored foam put on top. There are a bunch of recipes on the internet with instructions on how to make the foam using whipped cream, but no recipe seems to be able to exactly replicate the thick, light, foamy butterscotch goodness of the bubbly white butterbeer topping:

Butterbeer Main2
The butterbeer we had at Leavesdon Studios, England

However, this butterscotch soda recipe gives you a rich, deep butterscotch flavor in both the soda and the foam, and you don’t even need to make whipped cream to put on top. The foam is made by mixing butterscotch syrup with freshly opened (not flat) bubbly water. My husband and I LOVE this drink because I use my homemade butterscotch syrup in it and it doesn’t have too much sugar, since monk fruit replaces most of the sugar in the recipe.

The recipe for my homemade, reduced-sugar butterscotch syrup is here. The photos below illustrate the basic steps for making butterscotch soda:

Butterscotch Soda Syrup2
First, scoop some butterscotch syrup into your cup
Butterscotch Soda R22
Second, add a little bit of seltzer water (about twice as much as the syrup) and stir it around for ~10 seconds until the butterscotch has melted into the water and a nice foam is created. If your seltzer water is freshly opened, you can actually make a lot of foam. Add more seltzer water and stir if you want more foam.
Butterscotch Soda 3
Third, add more bubbly water and your butterscotch soda is ready to drink!

You can vary the proportions of the butterscotch syrup and seltzer water according to your taste. I like adding a lot of butterscotch syrup because then the taste is extra rich! Here is the basic recipe:


  • 1 cup of sparkling water, refrigerated (I’ve found that bottled seltzer water creates more foam than canned club soda)
  • 2 tbsp of homemade, reduced sugar butterscotch syrup, recipe here


You can modify the proportions however you would like, for however much soda you want, so the below is just a guideline – feel free to experiment!

  1. Scoop 2 tbsp of butterscotch syrup into into a small drinking glass
  2. Pour ~4 tbsp of sparkling water into the glass
  3. Stir it with a spoon for ~10 seconds, until the butterscotch is melted into the water and a nice foam forms. You can add a little more sparkling water and stir again if you want more foam.
  4. Add the rest of the sparkling water and you’re done!

Monk Fruit Butterscotch Syrup Recipe (Reduced sugar!)

Butterscotch Main2

This butterscotch syrup recipe tastes amazing, is easy to make and only has a quarter of the sugar as regular butterscotch! Monk fruit powder is used as a sugar substitute because it has zero calories and is a natural sweetener.

If you want to make it completely sugar-free (except for the small amount of sugar that comes from the molasses), I’ve included that recipe below as well. Just know that there will be some separation if you use the sugar-free version, so you’ll have to mix the jar before scooping. That’s why I’ve included a little bit of sugar in my main recipe, to thicken the syrup.

Typically, butterscotch syrup is made with brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream, but I decided to substitute most of the sugar with monk fruit powder to see if I could get the same amazing taste as regular butterscotch but with way less sugar, because who needs more sugar in their life? No one. The experiment was a success!

Butterscotch Simmering2
Here’s the butterscotch simmering in the saucepan

If you didn’t already know, brown sugar is just regular sugar with molasses mixed in. So to get that lovely butterscotch flavor in this recipe, don’t skip the molasses!

I started experimenting with butterscotch because my husband and I had butterbeer for the first time in England a month ago and were blown away by the taste. So of course I had to try making it at home. If you want to make amazing butterscotch soda (aka butterbeer) with this syrup, see my recipe here.

This butterscotch syrup maintains a thick but easily scoopable, viscous consistency when stored in the fridge, so you can spoon it onto ice cream, crepes, or mix it into butterbeer anytime you want! The color of the syrup is a bit darker than regular butterscotch syrup due to the molasses and the lack of sugar but it tastes fantastic.

Here is the monk fruit powder that I use: Pure Monk. Although this one looks like it would be a good option too, since it’s a little cheaper. I haven’t used the latter one before though, so my recipe is based on the first one. Whichever monk fruit powder you get, just remember to get powder that is 100% monk fruit with no additives. Monk fruit is sweeter than sugar, so if you get the kind that allow a 1:1 substitute with sugar, that won’t work with this recipe because it contains additives.



  1. Melt the butter in a small or medium saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add the molasses, monk fruit, salt, and heavy cream and stir until everything is blended together. Be careful when pouring the molasses, and don’t add too much!
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, scraping the mixture down off the sides as needed
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the vanilla extract,
  5. Stir and pour the butterscotch into a glass container to cool. It will thicken as it cools.
  6. Store in the refrigerator. It should keep for about 8 days.


  • You can add more sugar to thicken the sauce if you’d like, just remember to reduce the monk fruit. 1 tsp of monk fruit = 1 cup of sugar, so you can use that ratio to calculate your reduction and additions.


Here are the ingredients for almost sugar-free butterscotch syrup, if you want to skip the sugar completely (remember, adding sugar will thicken the sauce and help prevent it from separating), the directions are the same:

Mexican Corn (Elote) Recipe


I remember the first time I tried Elote. One of my favorite local restaurant serves “Mexican Corn Wheels” and when I tried them, it was love at first bite. Later I learned that their recipe was based on a Mexican dish called Elote.

I’ve tried Elote at various places (including numerous restaurants, Disneyland, and even a food stand in Ensenada, Mexico – see photo below) but none have compared with the deliciously creamy and tangy corn wheels at this restaurant.

Mexico Elote
Here’s the Elote I tried in Ensenada, Mexico

When I obtained their ingredients list, I immediately set to work on re-creating the dish. My final recipe is below. You can either slather the sauce onto some corn on the cob or mix it in with cooked cut corn – whatever suits your fancy!


  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (see note below)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (or parsley, if you don’t like cilantro)
  • Red pepper flakes (or paprika)
  • 4 corn on the cob OR 2 bags of frozen corn (1 lb per bag)

Note: You can replace the feta cheese with 1/4 cup of cotija cheese, if you want the dish to be even more authentically Mexican. The restaurant I like uses a blend of feta and Romano, although I think it tastes great with just feta.


For the sauce:

  1. Wash the cilantro by swirling the cilantro bunch in a bowl full of water. Dump the water out and repeat the process until there is no more dirt in the water.
  2. Chop off and chop up the cilantro leaves that you need (the stems are edible, just chop them small if you’re using them)
  3. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, feta and Romano cheeses, and cilantro into a bowl.
  4. Then juice the lime and pour it into the bowl too.
  5. Mix the ingredients together and voila, you have the sauce!

For the corn, if using corn on the cob:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil (don’t fill it to the top – make room for the corn)
  2. Peel the husks and silky threads off the corn and drop the corn into the boiling water
  3. Bring the water back to a boil and cover, boiling for an additional 5 minutes
  4. Remove the corn with tongs and let them cool on a plate for a minute or so!
  5. Slather the sauce onto the corn and sprinkle with red pepper flakes or paprika.

For the corn, if using frozen cut corn:

  1. Pour the frozen corn into a skillet and saute on medium for about 7-10 minutes, until the corn is hot and you see steam rising
  2. Strain the corn and discard the water
  3. Pour the corn into a bowl and add the sauce.
  4. Stir and sprinkle with red pepper flakes or paprika. You’re done! If you want more tang, add more lime juice and mix it again.