May – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolate and peanut butter are my favorite flavors, separate or together.   The first time I posted this recipe was May 2014.  That was the last time I baked this delicious combination for a cheesecake.  Brought this into work today for our Spa Day.  We all enjoyed this and hope you will too!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
(compliments Food Network)

Ingredients

Be sure all your ingredients are room temperature before you start.  The ingredients will blend together much better that way.  Also, if you have a food processor it will mix together to a wonderful, creamy mixture – no lumps!

Base:

1/2 (14-ounce) box graham crackers (2 cups crumbs)
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter

Filling:

2 (8-ounce) bars cream cheese
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Topping:

1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Process the crackers, peanuts, bittersweet chocolate chips, and butter in a food processor. Once it comes together, turn it into a 9 inch springform pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to make the crunchy crust.
  3. Put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  4. Add all the filling ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it becomes a smooth mixture.
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 1 hour. The top, only, should feel set and dry.
  6. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and set aside while you make the topping.
  7. Warm the sour cream and milk chocolate with the brown sugar in a small saucepan over a low heat. Gently whisk to blend in the chocolate as it melts, then take the pan off the heat.  This takes 5-10 minutes.
  8. Spoon and spread the topping very gently over the top of the cheesecake.  Put it back in the oven for a final 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool.
  9. Slice and serve.  (I think it tastes better after being refrigerated at least 4-6 hours, overnight preferably.)

Enjoy!!

Veggie Dish – Simple and Delicious

One of the things my mother always said to me before I left Syracuse was “take care of YOURSELF!”  Now that she is gone I won’t have her to remind me.  I decided to take her advice.  I joined Weight Watchers (again) and am back to walking and yoga daily.  I will keep that promise to myself and to her.  I have to be around the next 30 years to give my kids random advice too!  Here is a dish I made this evening.  Simple, delicious, fast AND healthy.

Veggie Dish

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Ingredients

2 pieces bacon
1 teaspoon bacon grease
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, cut in 1/4 inch slices
1 yellow squash, cut in 1/4 inch slices
5 asparagus stalks, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (I use coarse grind, you may want to use 1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Penzey’s Turkish Seasoning (or 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder OR whatever seasoning you desire)

Directions

  1.  Fry bacon until crisp in non-stick skillet (remove bacon from skillet and place on paper towel.  Drain grease in small bowl.  Wipe out frying pan.)
  2. Add 1 teaspoon bacon grease and 1 teaspoon olive oil in skillet. (You can use just bacon grease or olive oil.)
  3. Add onions and peppers, saute until onions opaque.
  4. Add rest of veggies, saute until done.  5-8 minutes.
  5. Add crumbled bacon, mix together and serve.

You can use any combination of vegetables you would like. Would love to hear your veggie combinations!  This was really delicious.  Could that be any simpler? IMG_5476 (2)

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

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I recently visited my mom in Syracuse.  She had fallen and broken her neck at the facility where she was staying.  She was there to begin with due to recent surgery on her leg.  I had 5 days in a row to visit with her and spend time with her.  My last day there she was in quite a bit of pain (my mom can take a lot of pain). She had a collar on her neck and was sitting in a straight back, upholstered chair.  I kept telling her through the week she should sit in the bed with it reclined.  She did NOT want to sit in that bed.  Finally, I was able to get her comfortable by sitting in her bed. We angled the bed so she could watch TV.  It took me 2 days to get my stubborn mom to accept the fact that lying in the bed, with it reclined, was much better for her.  Her last words to me that day as I was leaving were “Thank you, I feel much better”.  She even smiled.  I reminded her I would be back in June for her 90th birthday celebration and off I went!

When I got home from Syracuse I got a Mother’s Day card for her.  Finally mailed it out in a timely manner.  She would actually receive it before Mother’s Day.  However, when I was getting ready to mail the card I realized the verse would be too small for her to read.  I thought the verse in the card was perfect for how I feel about her.  I wanted her to be able to read it.  I ended up typing the verse on a separate piece of paper in large font and inserted that in the card.    Here it is:

‘Do you know what it means to be your daughter?
It means I always feel loved.
It means I have a true friend I can count on.
It means someone wise and wonderful believes in me and encourages my dreams.
It means I know how lucky I am because you are everything special a mom can be.’

This was definitely the perfect card.  Every single one of those statements are true.  I am a very lucky daughter.

Mom did not get to read my card.  She passed away in her sleep Thursday morning.

One thing for sure , she was my mother, sister, and best friend all in one.  I could tell her anything.  Anything and everything.  That one person in my life that never judged me – well, most of the time 😉   She definitely had her criticisms.  I mean, she is my mom!

She used to say to me “Honey, I love you more than you will ever know.”  Mom, I will miss you and will love you more than YOU will ever know.  Always and Forever.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

Lemon Pistachio Macaroons

Found this “Simple and Delicious” recipe in April’s Food Network Magazine. They went fast!

Lemon Pistachio Macaroons

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Ingredients

1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (I did use salted)
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used lemon extract)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 14 ounce package sweetened shredded coconut (about 3 packed cups)

Ingredients

  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until finely ground but not powdery.  (you could finely chop if you do not have a food processor)
  3. Whisk the egg whites with the sugar, lemon zest, extract and salt in a large bowl until frothy.  Stir in the ground pistachios, then stir in the coconut until completely combined.
  4. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the coconut mixture onto the prepared baking pans.
  5. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the macaroons are golden, 25-30 minutes.
  6. Let cool 10 minutes on the pans, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

All’Amatriciana – DELISH!

I had this dish at a restaurant recently.  I enjoyed it so much I wanted to try making it at home.  Didn’t take long to find a recipe online.  Simple and Delicious!

Bucatini All’Amatriciana

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Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or chopped unsmoked bacon (I used pancetta)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion (red or yellow)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
Kosher salt
12 ounces dried bucatini or spaghetti (I like rotini so that is what I used.  Not a fan of longer noodles.  I blame that on my mom. She did not like spaghetti.)  🙂
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino (I used Pecorina Romano.  You could use Parmesan.  Please don’t use the green can.  Buy a chunk of the real thing.  It really makes a difference. You will thank me.)

Directions

  1.  Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. (Be sure to constantly move around to avoid burning. Pancetta cooks fast.)
  2. Add pepper flakes and black pepper, stir for 10 seconds.
  3. Add onion and garlic, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes (remember to crush with your hands), reduce heat to low, stir occasionally, until sauce thickens.  15-20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and make pasta per the directions. (Don’t overcook.  Cook to al dente instructions.)  Be sure to add salt. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain in colander.
  6. Add pasta to sauce in skillet and toss. Add 1/2 cup pasta water and mix thoroughly until sauce coats pasta.  Add more pasta water if seems dry.  (1/2 cup was enough for me).
  7. Serve and ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lasagna – A Family Favorite

Lasagna has been a family favorite for years.  I have been making this lasagna recipe for 40 years. Yup, since I was 18 years old.  I think I got this one covered.  Guess it is time to share this recipe so my kids can make their own at their home.  For Eric’s birthday this year we had lasagna, meatballs with sauce (these meatballs were delicious.  Been making those a few years, too),  rosemary focaccia bread and Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Lasagna

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You start with:

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 – 15oz can diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce.  Depends on my mood.)
1# sausage, removed from casing
1 small-medium red onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (if you don’t have fresh, use 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt (cheese is salty so taste, taste, taste!)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions

1.  Remove sausage from casing and add to frying pan.  Cook until no longer pink.  Remove from pan and put on paper towel lined plate for grease to drain. Set aside.
2.  Clean out fry pan with paper towels.  Add olive oil to sauce pan on medium heat.
3.  Add diced onions.  Cook onion on low to medium heat until opaque, about 4-5 minutes.  Add cloves of garlic and let cook 30 seconds.
4.  Add cans of tomatoes and let cook about 5 minutes until warm.
5.  Add rest of ingredients, including sausage and let simmer 30-60 minutes.  If you want you can simmer longer but it is not necessary.  Sauce does not have to take a long time.  Taste it, if you like it, then it is done.  I like it to cook down a bit so I usually go 45-60 minutes for a tomato sauce.

Next, prepare lasagna;

Ingredients

Lasagna Noodles (16 noodles work for me)
1 – 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

  1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Lightly spray 13×9 inch baking dish.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles according to directions.  I use 16 noodles.
  3. Combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, eggs, mix well.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of baking dish, top with 4 lasagna noodles, spread ricotta cheese mixture, 1 cup sauce, 1/4 cup parmesan.  Repeat layering. Last layer of noodles, top with sauce and 1 cup mozzarella.
  5. Cover, bake 45-50 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Uncover, and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown mozzarella.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Cut and serve.

Makes awesome leftovers!

Cabbage Salad

This is a very easy and quick salad.

Cabbage Salad

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Ingredients

8 ounces cabbage, sliced thin
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sunflower oil (or whatever oil you like)
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions

  1.  Place sliced cabbage in medium bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and mix well.  Let set for 15-20 minutes until cabbage wilts.
  2. Add oil and vinegar.  Mix well.  Enjoy!

Sometimes the basics is all you need.  If you want to add some onion and green pepper that is a nice addition. Enjoy with a buttered roll.  Simple and Delicious!!

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

Martin requested a Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake for tomorrow.   I thought that was a great idea!!

Chocolate Peppermint Bundt Cake

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Ingredients

Cake Release (This is awesome.  Cake comes out perfect!)
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 Tablespoon cocoa

Cake
3/4 cup natural cocoa (2 1/4 ounces)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional – of course I add)
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar (14 ounces)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
5 large eggs, room temperature

Directions
1. FOR PREPARING THE BUNDT PAN: Stir together butter and cocoa in small bowl until paste forms; using a pastry brush, coat all interior surfaces of standard 12-cup Bundt pan, see illustration below. (If mixture becomes too thick to brush on, microwave it for 10 to 20 seconds, or until warm and softened.) Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Combine cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder (if using) in medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature; then whisk in sour cream. Set aside. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in second bowl and set aside.
3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla/peppermint extracts on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions.
4. Reduce to medium-low speed (batter may appear separated); add about one third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture; add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being careful not to pour batter on sides of pan.
5. Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto parchment-lined wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.
6. Top with peppermint flavored chocolate ganache and crushed peppermint candies.

Chocolate Peppermint Ganache

5 ounces semisweet chocolate (You can use chocolate chips. I like using bittersweet or milk chocolate too.)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

1.  Put chopped chocolate in small mixing bowl.
2.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil and remove from heat. (Or you can put in microwave for 30 second intervals.  It takes 60 to 90 seconds to get hot enough)
3.  Pour cream over chocolate, add extract and whisk until smooth.

Simple and Delicious. Enjoy!

 

Taco Meatloaf (or burgers)

I got my new Meatloaf cookbook this week.  I was going to make burgers tonight.  Then I thought about the Taco Meatloaf recipe I saw in my cookbook yesterday.  When I got home from work I checked to see if I had the ingredients to make it and I sure enough I did!  I decided to make both burgers and a meatloaf.  I made the recipe, took one pound for the burgers and formed a one pound meatloaf.  Two dinners in one.  Gotta love those leftovers!

Taco Meatloaf
(Compliments from “A Meatloaf in Every Oven”)

I have to get a little more creative with my meatloaf pics.  It tastes tons better that it looks.  🙂

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
2 pounds ground chuck (not too lean, you fat for flavor)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar/Monterey Jack or combo of both (I used cheddar)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup hot salsa (I used mild, that’s all I had.  You can also make fresh.  Not happening during the week in this kitchen!)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin (I always add a little extra of cumin)
2 teaspoons salt (I used kosher.  If using table salt I would use 1 teaspoon.)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika, not smoked (All I had was Hungarian sweet paprika, worked for us)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 slices cheddar cheese (I ended up not using the slices of cheese)

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees.  I used a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  I put the hamburgers and meatloaf on a wire rack.  The recipe recommended using a glass or metal baking pan lines with foil or an iron skillet.  I have all of those but when I bake meatloaf I like elevating it with a wire rack.
  2. Place the meat in a bowl, add all ingredients except the slices of cheese, mix with your hands.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan of your choice.  Shape into a loaf, taking care to keep the width consistent except for tapering at the ends.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees for medium rare.  Slide the pan out of the oven just long enough to drape the cheese over the top of the loaf so that they cover its length and overlap slightly.  Bake another 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted but isn’t sliding off the loaf. (Next time I will do the cheese slices.)
  4. Remove the loaf from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes, uncovered, before slicing.
  5. Have any sour cream and salsa left over?  Use as condiments for your meatloaf (or hamburgers).  Add a wedge of avocado or go one step further and make some guacamole.

This really was simple and delicious.  I can’t wait to try the Cheesy Chorizo Loaf. Guess what’s for dinner this Sunday?!

Enjoy!

My Mom’s Goulash

I was talking with my mom over the weekend.  I mentioned how I make hamburger and beans quite often. Kent and Eric enjoy it.  She was so surprised. She did tell me that she did not call it hamburger and beans.  She called it Goulash!  So I am updating this recipe per my phone conversation with my mom.  I am correcting the recipe name from Hamburger and Beans to:

My Mom’s Goulash

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Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped or sliced very thin – that is up to you (she used green bell pepper)
1 medium onion, chopped or sliced very thin – that is up to you too!
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
2-15 oz cans Bush’s Original Baked Beans (You can use whatever beans you like, kidney, cannellini, baked, whatever is in your cupboard.  My mom used Campbell’s Pork and Beans)
2 Tablespoons fresh basil (if you don’t have fresh basil you don’t have to add any.  I know my mom didn’t add basil. I love basil.)
Salt and Pepper (of course)

Directions

1.  Using a 12 inch skillet, add 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, add peppers and onions, saute for 2-3 minutes, add garlic.  Stir together.
2.  Add the ground beef to the peppers and onions, cook until no longer pink.  Drain any excess fat.
3.  Open up those cans of beans and add to the hamburger/peppers/onions.  Stir together and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4.  Add basil (or not) and stir together.  ALL DONE!

I never thought that anyone in my family would like this super quick meal.  Kent, myself and Eric really enjoy it.  It is super simple and very delicious.  Give it a try!  😉