When I was little, there was nothing that brought my family together quite like cooking. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and that was always true for us.
Growing up in a military family, life could be a little tricky around the holidays. For most of my childhood, we were never in one place for more than a year or two. So, when we came home for the holidays, the first place we’d gather was the kitchen. Cooking was a way for us to connect after months, and sometimes years, of being away.
No matter where my family was for Thanksgiving, those moments around the kitchen counter together during the holidays are some of my most favorite.
With each year that passes, the number of faces at the table has dwindled. Change is hard, especially around the holiday season. It’s a time when that loss is so pronounced. There’s something a little sad about time passing, but also something incredibly beautiful.
I still cling to those memories. Knowing how much of an impact they had makes me excited about making new memories. Passing those recipes down through the generations keeps them alive. Even today, the aromas trigger memories of a time that’s gone. It’s a tether to the past and a tradition that will continue well into the future.
It’s amazing how cooking can bring people together.
There’s something very nostalgic to me about baking. Even now, as an adult, every time I crack open that oven and whip on that apron, I’m transported back to being that little girl around the kitchen counter. I hope that one day, my children find as much joy in those moments as I did when I was little. One of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes is my dad’s pistachio cheesecake, which he proudly named the “Dad’stachio Cheesecake”.
So, this Thanksgiving, spend some time around that kitchen counter. Eat some cheesecake. Make some memories. Cherish the time that God gives us with the ones we love. These are the moments that last a lifetime.
- 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- Cinnamon sugar mixture – combine 1 tbsp. of cinnamon with 2 tbsp. of sugar
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
*DAD TIP: Use real butter, preferably Irish butter
- 4 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp. of vanilla
- ½ tsp. peppermint extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of ground pistachios
- ½ cup ground, salted pistachios
- 12 oz. package of dark chocolate chips, melted
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon sugar mixture, and butter.
- Press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan.
- In a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and peppermint extract until fully blended. Add eggs one at a time (very important).
- Gently mix in the ground pistachios with a spatula or spoon.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture into the crust in the spring form pan.
*DAD TIP: A little flour at the end of the mixture helps to prevent splitting at the top of the cake after baking
- Bake for 55 min or until the center is almost set. Let the pan cool before removing the rim.
- Refrigerate cheesecake for at least 4 hours.
- In a double broiler or in a microwave, melt dark chocolate chips.
- Add crushed pistachios to top of cheese cake and, using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over top of cheesecake.
- Refrigerate for at least one more hour
- Ready to serve!