Sunday, October 30, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Fall delicioiusness on a plate is what this is.
An original Paula Dean recipe, it's worth the effort.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Streusel topping, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup caramel topping

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with foil.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.
Bake 15 minutes until crust is lightly browned.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 c. sugar in an electric mixer.
Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Pour over the warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping.

Bake 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping.

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.
Yield: approximately 3 cups

My favorite caramel recipe:
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 1/2 c. cream
4 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until it boils. Continue cooking until it reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Store in a canning jar in the refrigerator and re-heat to soften.

A Kid Favorite: Ravioli Lasagna

I came up with this dish on a whim and my kids are crazy about it. It's SO easy! I made a couple of pans and froze them. I stock up on aluminum tins at the Dollar Store and use them for freezing my extra meals.

1 jar tomato sauce.
A quick tip: Liven up jarred sauce by sauteing some olive oil and garlic in a saucepan. Add oregano and basil to the pan until fragrant, then add the sauce and simmer. Ummmm... hello garlic! Can you tell I love it??
Cook the ravioli as directed. Place a cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, then arrange a single layer of ravioli over it. Top with a layer of shredded cheese. Repeat the layers of tomato sauce, ravioli, and cheddar cheese. I like to use a couple of different kinds of ravioli.
For the top layer, spread a layer of pesto sauce and top with parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.. Remove the foil and let the cheese brown on top. Serve and watch it disappear!
1-2 jars tomato sauce - -depending on how saucy your family likes it
2 packages ravioli
1/2 block cheddar cheese (or around 3 cups)
1 jar pesto
3/4 c. parmesan cheese

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Freeze Fruit -- then Can it or Jam it...Later!

We love buying or picking in-season fruit, then jamming (our term for making jam) or canning. The problem is, sometimes we pick or buy, but don't have the time to process it. Here is our solution: the freezer. Freeze the fruit in a box or on a tray. After it is solid, transfer to a ziplock bag, label, and pull out when there is time!

I also love this because most of the canning season is in the summer, when it is hot and when I don't want to be in the kitchen all day. Come fall, I am ready and excited. I grab my bags and off I go. Obviously this doesn't work with all fruit, but it can work with most, especially if it is jam or fruit butters that you are making.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quick & Easy Summer Herb Marinade

In the summer this is my go-to marinade. Essential ingredients in any good marinade are an acid (like lemon juice), a fat (oil), salt, and flavorings.
I am herb-crazy-woman in the summer since I only get to use them from my garden for 3 months. Every day I make something with herbs in it, or I at least put mint sprigs in my water.
For this easy chicken recipe, whip out the food processor and throw in:
Garlic -- go for it and live a little -- toss a handful!
Olive oil - around 1 cup, though I vary how much I use depending on how many pieces I'm using.
White Wine or Lemon Juice - 1/4 -1/2 cup or so
Kosher Salt - a couple of teaspoons
Lots of Herbs - I mix basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary and parsley usually.

Process until smooth and pour most of the marinade into a ziplock with the chicken breasts. Marinate for at least 4 hours. Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the marinade for grilling.

Grill the chicken over indirect heat - which means the upper rack until the center is no longer pink. Baste the chicken with the reserved marinade and cook 3 more minutes.
I love this recipe in summer salads!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Parfaits

This deliciousness is the easiest way to use that extra rubarb in your garden. It takes no time at all, and it is Y-U-M-M-Y!

4 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 lbs. strawberries
1/4 cup water

Boil together the rhubarb, sugar, water, and strawberries until the rhubarb breaks down (about 10 min.) Let cool until thickened (at least 1 1/2 hours)

To make the parfaits:
Layer the sauce, whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream. Be sure to leave enough room on top to add sauce as the last layer.
I also like this rhubarb sauce for pancakes & waffles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Renegade Rolls (Scrumptious Cinnamon Buns)

On my daughter's first day of summer, we celebrated by making homemade cinnamon rolls (her choice). We made fun pineapple drinks, like the ones we had in Costa Rica, and sipped on those while cooking.
My nieces joined us after a while to help us with the process.
I originally got this recipe from a Lancaster County Amish cookbook and I've adapted it over the years. The smell of these alone will send the family running wild-eyed to the kitchen.
When our last child was born, I told my husband and family by baking dozens of these babies, and at the bottom of the plate I hid a laminated little sign that said, "Here's to one last bun in the oven!"

2 pkgs. yeast
1 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
7 c. flour

Pour yeast into a container with the lukewarm water. Add the tsp. of sugar and let stand 5 min. Scald the milk and let cool to lukewarm.
Cream together butter and the 3/4 c. sugar and salt. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time. Add the yeast mixture and milk. Gradually add the flour.
Let rise until double the size. Roll out the dough and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll the dough, starting with the furthest edge out, toward you. Keep the roll as tight as possible. Cut the pieces and place in a pan. Let rise again.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 min. If not done, check every 5 min. more.

2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 c. + 1 tbsp. milk
3/4 stick butter, warm and softened
1/4-1/2 c. brewed coffee (depending on how strong you like the coffee flavor)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
sprinkle of sea or kosher salt

Wisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until smooth.

Pour onto the rolls while still warm, saving a little. After the rolls have absorbed some of the icing, pour on the rest (or I like to do this to each on the individual plates).

Friday, June 10, 2011


There is something right about the world when sitting outside on a warm summer night eating a juicy burger hot off the grill. This recipe is one of my all time favorites! My son Dawson literally bear hugs me before and after dinner when this pops up on the menu. I think food is his love language ;)

1 1/2 lb. 85% lean ground beef
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (optional)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 slices bacon, chopped fine
4 tsp. yellow mustard
2 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Hamburger buns

Mix beef with all ingredients. Distribute evenly. Shape into patties (I like to use a hamburger patty mold so that they are uniform in size). Grill burgers on the hot side for roughly 4 min. per side. Take a bow and thank me later. Your family is going to LOVE these!