I am very thankful that I married someone who has family in the south. There are certain things I would have no idea about, such as boiled peanuts, sweet tea, Alabama white sauce, and Chess Squares. Good gracious, Chess Squares. Quite possibly one of the easiest and most decadent recipes I’ve ever made. Continue reading
I’ve never been a huge cheesecake person. I’ve never been a huge red velvet person either. Then why on earth would I ever want to make this dessert? They both just sounded so much better together instead of on their own…Plus it was Valentine’s Day! I couldn’t resist this show-stopper. As it turned out, it was perfect for a romantic night in – no dinner reservation required.
It’s super easy to make, as long as you make sure to do everything at least a day in advance! This was great since I didn’t have to do any work on Valentine’s Day. The original recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting, but I think that’s way too rich. The cheesecake itself already has a lot going on, and finishing it with light and fluffy whipped cream is a lot better than a heavy cream cheese frosting.
Red Velvet Cheesecake
Adapted from Southern Living
Makes 1 (9 inch) Cheesecake, serves 8 – 10
For the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (1 sleeve of graham crackers)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
For the Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Beat 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute. Add eggs, cocoa, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring; mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.
Bake at 325° for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300°, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until center is firm. Run knife along outer edge of cheesecake. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven; cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Cover and chill 8 hours.
Serve with fresh whipped cream if desired.
In terms of recipes, we have a lot of options these days. I think it’s safe to say we probably have too many recipes available to us…it can be very daunting. Regardless of reviews, you really never know how something is going to turn out until you make it and taste it for yourself.
Here we go, a typical “pregnant lady” craving…Pickles. No, not with ice cream or anything bizarre, but transferred into a creamy dip to go with some salty chips. We’ve made this a few times and it’s always a winner, pregnant or not. For me, this rules over any onion dip I have ever tasted. And no one ever trash talks pickle breath, at least from my experience…
Adapted from Smells Like Home
Makes about 2 cups
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup chopped dill pickles (any pickles you like will work, and in a pinch you can use relish)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp hot sauce (such as tabasco or sriracha, optional)
- Pickle juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp (or more) fresh dill, chopped
- chips, crackers, or veggies, for serving
In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, sour cream, pickles, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce together. Add a couple tablespoons of pickle juice if the dip is too thick and continue to add a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add some fresh dill. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with chips, crackers, veggies, whatever you like!
The only thing about smoked salmon is you can never have enough. Have you ever been to party where there is just extra smoked salmon laying around? No. It’s always the first thing to go because it’s so. damn. good. When I saw Shutterbean’s post on this smoked salmon spread, I pretty much wanted to cry because I too have been late to the smoked salmon plate before. And then it was just…obvious…Smoked Salmon spread is so easy to make, and it solves the problem of all the salmon disappearing before the bagels and crackers do! And it’s super adaptable and easy, you can easily adjust to your taste!
Smoked Salmon Spread
adapted from Shutterbean
makes about 1 1/2 cups, serves 6-8
- 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, at room temperature
- about 4 oz smoked salmon, roughly chopped and divided
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tsp of capers (a little bit of juice from the jar is fine, I opted to do this instead of adding milk or greek yogurt to thin it out slightly).
- dash of hot pepper sauce (such as tabasco or sriracha)
- 1 tbsp. fresh or dried dill (you may want to scale it back to 1 tsp, we really like dill over here)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
PRO TIP: Instead of cream cheese, try Neufchâtel cheese! It’s always right by the cream cheese at the store and often contains less fat and calories than regular cream cheese. And whoa – tastes almost the same.
- fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish, or you can mix a little in!
- 1 tbsp milk or greek yogurt – if your cream cheese is too thick you may want to thin it out with another dairy product.
- a few tbsp. red onion, mix it in or serve it on the side for the onion-o-phobes
- want some kick? Add a dash of horseradish
- Lemon slices always make a pretty garnish…
Combine the cream cheese, at least 2 oz of the salmon, lemon juice, capers, hot sauce, pepper, and dill to a small food processor and process until smooth. Want more salmon in there? Then add the rest. It’s a nice touch to keep a little bit of salmon set aside to garnish the dip, but you don’t need much.
Serve with crackers for a nice pre-dinner appetizer, or serve at brunch (who are we kidding, eat this whenever you want), with bagels, tomatoes, red onion and fresh slices of lemon.
Make Ahead: Dip can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Having in-laws that live in Alaska is awesome for many reasons, one of them being is they send you smoked salmon around the holidays! One can only eat so many smoked salmon bagel sandwiches for breakfast, and I wanted to get creative with our salmon, and these epic smoked salmon BLT’s were born.
A Wingin’ It Recipe
Smoked Salmon BLTs
Makes 2 Sandwiches
- 8 slices thick cut bacon
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 – 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves
- 4 slices multigrain bread
- 6 – 8 ounces smoked salmon
- 1 cup arugula, divided
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- about 1/2 – 1/4 of a red onion, either sliced thin or diced small
- 1 ripe avocado
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cream cheese lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh dill, and capers. Stir together to form a spread. A note of the amounts – you can use as much cream cheese and mayo as you like, doesn’t have to be 1/4 cup of each. Spread the mixture over 1 side of each slice of bread. Arrange the smoked salmon on 4 slices of the bread. Break the bacon in half and put on top of the smoked salmon. Top the bacon with tomatoes and arugula. Add sliced avocado and onion slices (if using). Cover with remaining slices of bread, spread side down.
Arrange the sandwiches on a platter and serve.
A couple of weeks ago, we had some friends in town and decided to hold a wine tasting to try to decide on what wines to have at our Wedding. I had a feeling we were going to be a little foggy the next morning, so I wanted something make-ahead and easy for breakfast the next day. Continue reading
Sooo…I wouldn’t say I’m proud of these bars…They aren’t really homemade. I know many people out there would refuse to make a recipe like this, but I just had to go for it.
And they pretty much ended up tasting like crack. AKA delicious.
My only problem was I couldn’t find the toffee bits ANYWHERE. I think I went to 3 different stores and got totally frustrated before I just said screw it and bought the Heath baking bits. The chocolate on the outside of the toffee didn’t really hurt anything, but be warned.
While making these you might be shocked at the amount of eggs and cream cheese…Just don’t tell anyone at the party you are going to what’s in them. Act like you made them from scratch…but don’t pretend like these babies are healthy.
Creme Brulee Bars
Adapted From Betty Crocker
Makes 36 bars
- 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
- 1 box (4-serving size) French vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
- 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup toffee bits, finely crushed
- Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, pudding mix, brown sugar, melted butter, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and 1 whole egg until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan.
- In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add remaining whole egg, 3 egg yolks and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over crust in pan.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until set in center. Immediately sprinkle top with crushed toffee bits. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until chilled. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.
My first time making anything with ‘gingerbread’ in it. I think this was a good place to start. The Pomegranate seeds at totally necessary and awesome. Not only do they make it look pretty, but they add the perfect texture and flavor.
This is also my first time making Cream Cheese Frosting. I was skeptical at first, since my mom’s frosting is the tops…but this frosting definitely makes sense on this cake and tastes delicious.
Orange Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting
From the Joy the Baker Cookbook
makes 9 generous pieces in an 8×8-inch square pan
For the Cake:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup unsulphered molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 3/4 cup warm water
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese frosting, softened
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- big pinch of salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- pomegranate seeds for garnish
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch square (or 9-inch round) baking pan. Line with parchment paper and grease and flour the parchment paper. The parchment paper isn’t entirely necessary, it just makes the cake easier to remove from the pan. Set pan aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs until thick and pale. Stir in molasses, honey, and orange zest.
Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the wet ingredients. Stir together until entirely incorporated. Add the warm water and gently stir until entirely incorporated and the mixture is silky smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. If you find that the mixture fills the pan more than three-quarters of the way full, you might consider using a larger pan (a 9 or 10-inch pan may serve your better).
Bake cake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake bakes, make the cream cheese frosting.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese on medium speed. The cream cheese should be as soft and smooth as possible. Stop the mixer. Add the softened butter. Scraped down the sides of the bowl and beat the two together over medium speed until smooth and incorporated. Add one cup of powdered sugar. Blend until incorporated. Add vanilla extract and remaining cup of powdered sugar. Beat on medium high speed until frosting is smooth and silky.
Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting the cake. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds before serving.
This cake can be stored, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
This stroke of genius came from my mom after we made homemade crab rangoons. They were so good – we knew we could figure out something just as tasty with our extra wonton wrappers.
We had some leftover cooked salmon in the fridge, and these babies were born:
Seriously? So good. An amazing play off the classic breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, lox, capers and red onion. We agonized over what the perfect dip would be for these, and then finally realized sweet chili sauce is the classic winner for almost ANY type of savory wonton.
I wouldn’t recommend making these for breakfast. They are too perfect with wine and a movie. Although, if these are all things you want to do in the AM, go for it! I won’t tell.
The whole recipe is pretty easy – wingin’ it is definitely ok here.
Ultimate Salmon Wontons
- 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh dill
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup capers
- 14 won ton wrappers
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 4-6 oz (wing it) of fresh cooked salmon
- 3-5 oz (wing it) of softened cream cheese
In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, salmon, onion, capers, dill, salt & pepper until smooth.
Place 2 teaspoonfuls in the center of each wonton wrapper.
Moisten edges with water; bring corners to center over filling and press edges together to seal.
Place on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
Lightly spray wontons with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 425 °F (210 °C) for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with sweet chili dipping sauce.
Makes about 14 wontons.