Sunday, April 16, 2017

10th Annual Easter Cheesecake

This is year #10 that I’ve baked a cheesecake for Easter and it was one of my favorites! I try to make a different flavor each year (minus the first two years…)

We went blueberry picking last weekend at Starkey Farms in New Port Richey and came home with over 2 pounds of berries. So this year, I did a white chocolate blueberry cheesecake. 

The recipe I followed used a pre-made pie crust, but I did a homemade crust instead which turned out great.  My only complaint about this cake was that I wish there was more. It was pretty thin, so if I make it again I’d double the filling for a thicker cheesecake.

Lance and I hosted Easter at our house. We had 16 people and it was amazing! We did it potluck style so we ended up with lots of food.  The cheesecake was devoured. 

Lance’s mom always makes bunny-shaped pears for Easter.  She also made a family recipe of candied bacon and a corn casserole. We also had fruit, mac & cheese, two different egg casseroles, and pineapple bread pudding.

Lance made crockpot maple sugar ham and it was so easy (recipe here).  The ham was so big we had to split it between two crock pots though. All you do is rub the outside in brown sugar, put it cut side down, and cover it in pineapple juice and maple syrup. Cook it 4 hours and every hour baste it with the juices. 

We did a DIY mimosa bar with cranberry, orange mango, and grapefruit juice along with raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. I found cute tags for the juices from the Target dollar section.

We used the chevron runners and vases from our wedding and bought tulips & daisies from Trader Joe’s (love their flowers).

We had a really great Easter. Hope you all spent the day with people you love!

White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake (adapted from Cooking Classy)

Crust Ingredients:
·        10 full sheets of cinnamon graham crackers
·        6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
·        1/3 cup granulated sugar

Filling Ingredients:
·        1 Tbsp granulated sugar
·        1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
·        1/2 cup cold water
·        1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
·        2 tsp lemon juice
·        12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1 1/2 pkg.)
·        1/3 cup granulated sugar
·        1 egg
·        1 egg white
·        1 tsp vanilla extract
·        1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
·        1 cup white chocolate chips (vanilla chips)
·        1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
·        About 1/2 cup more blueberries for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 300.

2. Grind graham crackers in a food processer, Mix with the melted butter and 1/3 cup sugar. Spray the bottom of your cheesecake pan with cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray) and press the graham cracker mixture firmly to the bottom with some going up the sides of the pan.

3. Bake the crust for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool.

4. Increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

6. In a small saucepan, whisk together 1 Tbsp sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Stir in cold water, blueberries and 2 tsp lemon juice. Cook over medium heat whisking often until mixture begins to boil lightly. Boil 30 seconds whisking constantly.

7. Remove from heat and force mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl (to remove blueberry skins), set mixture aside.

8. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in egg and egg white. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Set mixture aside.

9. Combine white chocolate chips and cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave mixture on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add melted chocolate mixture to cream cheese mixture and blend until smooth.

10. Pour 2/3 cup cheesecake mixture into the graham cracker crust and spread evenly over bottom. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp blueberry sauce. Slowly ladle remaining cheesecake mixture over the drizzled blueberry sauce, covering all of the blueberry sauce. Carefully giggle the pan to even out the top.

11. Drizzle 1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp blueberry sauce over top (reserve remaining blueberry sauce in refrigerator). Take a knife and swirl it through the cheesecake to marble blueberry sauce.

12. Bake cheesecake in center of the oven for 40 minutes, then turn oven off and leave cheesecake in the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Add blueberries to the top for garnish, then refrigerate cheesecake for 6 hours, until set. Serve slices with remaining blueberry sauce (we actually forgot to serve ours with the sauce).

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus

I made this recipe twice last weekend – once for a Beauty and the Beast girls’ night (photos here) and then for my Grandma’s birthday dinner. This is now one of my go-to easy appetizers. It looks super fancy but it’s actually very quick and easy to make.

Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus (adapted from Dash of Savory)

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cleaned
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds, for garnish

1.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, set aside.
2.    Season the trimmed asparagus with salt and pepper. Slice the puff pastry into 16 even strands, about ½ inch wide.
3.    Begin wrapping the asparagus with the puff pastry with one side to the other. Line the sheet pan evenly with the wrapped asparagus.
4.    Brush the egg wash onto the puff pastry and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden. Remove and serve immediately. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day Garlic Shrimp Alfredo Dinner for Two

I love Buzzfeed Tasty’s video recipes.  They always make the meal look so simple. Luckily, this one was actually as easy as it looked.

When we were trying to decide what to cook for Valentine’s Day, I stumbled upon this menu for two with bruschetta, garlic shrimp alfredo pasta, and chocolate mousse for dessert. 

While it says “for two,” it really should have said “for two for a week” because we could have fed ten.  Which was fine because the meal was delicious and we wanted leftovers. 

We didn’t follow the mousse recipe from Buzzfeed.  I actually had found a recipe that used coconut cream instead of whipping cream, but it didn’t work at all. No matter how long I whipped the coconut cream, it just wouldn’t fluff up.  We ended up adding normal cream and saving the dessert (I would still include the coconut cream because I liked the slight coconut taste it added). 

We enjoyed the meal with wine from one of our new favorite restaurants, Cooper’s Hawk.  Their Barbera is an amazing deep red wine that we received with our Cooper’s Hawk “Wine of the Month” club. We aren’t connoisseurs of wine by any means (we are happy with our “Two Buck Chuck” Shiraz from Trader Joe’s), but this wine is really fantastic.  My friend James gave us a wine aerator that attaches to the bottle so there's no need for a separate decanter to enhance the wine's flavor.  

The wine of the month club costs $18.99 to sign up, and they give you and your significant other $15 gift cards the month of your birthday. Since Lance and I both have January birthdays, we received a bottle of wine plus a $30 Cooper’s Hawk gift card for only $18.99 (you can cancel the card anytime…)  

Below is the full dinner recipe if you’d like to recreate this dinner!

Tomato Basil Bruschetta  (adapted from Buzzfeed Tasty)

·        1 6-inch baguette
·        ¼ cup olive oil
·        3 medium tomatoes, diced
·        1 clove garlic, minced
·        1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
·        1 tablespoon basil, chopped
·        ½ teaspoon salt
·        ½ teaspoon pepper
·        1 clove garlic, whole


1. Preheat oven to 450°F
2. Slice the baguette into ½-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet.
3. Brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil.
4. Bake for 6 minutes until slightly crispy.
5. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper.

6. Rub the garlic into one side of the baguette slices, then spoon the tomato mixture evenly across the slices.

Garlic Bacon Shrimp Alfredo  (adapted from Buzzfeed Tasty)

·        6 slices bacon, chopped
·        1 pound shrimp, deveined and peeled
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        ½ teaspoon black pepper
·        ½ onion, diced
·        1 medium tomato, diced
·        3 cloves garlic, minced
·        2 cups heavy cream
·        1 pound fettuccine, cooked
·        1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
·        ½ parsley, chopped

1. Cook the bacon in a large pot until crispy.
2. Add the shrimp, salt, and pepper, cooking until the shrimp is pink throughout.
3. Remove the shrimp and bacon.
4. Add the onions, tomatoes, and garlic, cooking until the garlic is slightly starting to brown.

5. Add the cream and bring to a boil.
6. Toss in the fettuccine with the shrimp, bacon, parmesan cheese, and parsley, stirring until the cheese has completely melted and the sauce coats the shrimp and pasta nicely.

Chocolate Coconut Mousse  (adapted from Cafe Delites)

·        1 can full fat coconut cream
·        1 cup heavy whipping cream (not shown below, but the coconut cream did not fluff as expected...) 
·        2 T confectioners’ sugar
·        3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
·        2 squares dark chocolate, shaved
·        Strawberries, raspberries and/or mint to garnish

1. Place sealed can of coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight.  Without shaking the can, open and scoop out the thick cream sitting on top of the water.  Discard the liquid.
2. Add the heavy whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar, then beat on high with either a hand mixer or stand mixer (I used my KitchenAid).  When thick and creamy, reserve 4 T of the plain whipped cream to the side to use as a topping.
3. Fold in the cocoa powder and beat until smooth. 

4. Serve the chocolate mousse in a glass topped with the plain whipped cream.  Garnish with the fruit, mint, and shaved dark chocolate.  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christmas Family Recipes - Red Hot Popcorn & Great-Grandma Kelly's Gingersnaps

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since Christmas!  You may have seen some photos on Facebook or Instagram of a mother/daughter baking day I had with my mom over the holidays.  We baked several treats that are family recipes I wanted to share.

We made red hot popcorn, which is the most addicting popcorn you’ll ever eat.  This is one of my favorite family recipes.  Coated in melted butter, Karo syrup & red hots, it is like a cinnamon version of kettle corn. If you’re not careful, you can easily finish off a bag in one sitting.  The recipe looks like it makes a lot, but trust me, you’ll want more. 

Then we made gingersnap cookies that are my Great-Grandma Kelly’s recipe (my mom’s mom’s mom…) They are one of my favorite cookies ever with lots of molasses and dusted with a coat of sugar.  They aren’t really ginger “snaps” because they are actually soft gooey cookies.  The red hots obviously aren’t part of the original recipe, but my mom has adds them in the center for decoration in her version. Again, the recipe makes a lot, but you’ll want them all! I have a copy in a cookbook from elementary school – all the parents submitted their favorite family recipes and compiled them into one book. 

We also made WAY too many cutout cookies, which were from a Pinterest recipe.  My mom made the dough from the blog Babes in Disneyland.  We couldn’t find her rolling pin, so at first we were rolling them out with a wine bottle (didn’t work as well as we hoped).  Luckily, we were able to borrow one from a neighbor for the rest. 

We started out with super intricate designs, but quickly realized that it would take days to decorate them all at that pace, so towards the end they just got dunked in icing and coated in sprinkles. 

Lance and I have been in our house since March and had still only met a couple of our neighbors, so we wrapped the cutout cookies up and brought them to all our neighbors on our block.  It was such a nice way to meet everyone, plus it saved us the calories of eating them all ourselves. 

Hope you enjoy these family recipes. If you have any family favorites, send them my way – I’d love to try them!

Red Hot Popcorn

  • 5 bags kettle corn
  • 4 boxes Red Hots
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup clear Karo Syrup

1. Pop popcorn & empty into a large pan.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan & add Red Hots & Karo syrup. Stir constantly on medium so they don't burn until Red Hots are dissolved.

3. Pour Red Hot mixture carefully onto popcorn small amounts at a time. Mix popcorn until all of it is coated and mixture is gone.

4. Bake in 250 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours, turning every 30 mins. Put on wax paper to cool.

Great-Grandma Kelly’s Gingersnaps

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 sticks butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 7 cups flour
  • 3 t. baking soda
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 4 t. vinegar
  • 4 t. ginger
  • Dash of cinnamon and cloves
  • Red hot candies (optional)


1. Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, molasses, vinegar, and remaining dry ingredients, sifted together. 

2. Form into balls.  Slightly flatten down, add a red hot candy to the center, and top with granulated sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes.