Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy 2nd Blogiversary to me! Let's celebrate with some cheesecake!

WOW! I can't believe that it has been 2 years since I started this blog! I originally started blogging per the request of a friend and to give me something to do while Nathan was deployed. I can't say that I ever saw myself stopping, but I never imagined that 2 years and 540+ posts later that I would still be doing this.

My blog has gone through highs in posting and lows in posting. I think that is true of most blogs. I try to maintain a steady stream of posts, but real life comes before blogging, so that doesn't always happen. Commenting has really fallen by the wayside lately and for that I apologize. I have been able to keep up with posting new recipes here for the most part but have had very limited time for commenting on other blogs. I do check out the posts in my reader and try to comment when I can, but that doesn't happen as much as I would like. So for those who take the time to comment here, please know I appreciate it! I know how time consuming it can become and I love reading whatever you have to say!

Thank you so much to all who have read, commented, and supported my blog over the last two years. I am so grateful for all of you and I hope you will continue to stop by!

To celebrate my blogiversary, I thought I would post my cheesecake recipe. I can't believe that after 2 years I have not posted this. It is probably one of my most requested desserts and I must say that it is fantastic. So rich, so creamy, so delicious!

Ultimate Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 TBSP butter, melted

5 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 TBSP flour
1 TBSP vanilla
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
5 eggs

Preheat oven to 525.

Mix crust ingredients; press into 9" springform pan. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar through salt; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour filling over crust and bake at 525 for 7 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 and bake 40 minutes longer or until almost set. Remove from oven and cool to room temp.

Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bacon-Feta Chicken Rolls

I usually post so many baked goods and desserts on this blog (baking is my passion) that some of you may wonder if I ever make real food. The problem comes from having a lot of favorite dinners and not really seeing a ton of new ones that I want to try. I have over one hundred dinner recipes posted here, so while rotating between those, we usually don't try many new main dish recipes. I do make a point to try at least one or two new dinners a month, but it doesn't always work out that way.

This recipe, however, was one that I knew I had to make as soon as I saw it. I love anything with feta or bacon... throw the two together and I am in heaven. The added bonus in this chicken is roasted red bell peppers. We all LOVED this meal and it will definately be made again.


Bacon-Feta Chicken Rolls
Taste of Home

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
8 bacon strips, cooked and drained
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
4 roasted sweet red pepper halves, drained and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Flatten to 1/4-in. thickness. Top each with two strips bacon, 1/4 cup feta cheese and a red pepper half; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll up starting with short side, bringing the ends to meet. Tie at 1-1/2-in. intervals with kitchen string or secure with toothpicks.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in oil on all sides. Transfer to an ungreased 8-in. square baking dish. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove string/toothpicks.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's the Scoop? - White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

Sorry I missed "What's the Scoop?" last week. Between having company here in Texas and then visiting family in Arizona, ice cream and blogging was the last thing on my mind. But, I am a back and have a great flavor to share with you!

I LOVE raspberries and white chocolate together. In fact, these scones are one of my favorites. I thought the two flavors together would make a great ice cream, so I present to you white chocolate ice cream with a raspberry coulis swirl. So pretty and so delicious!


White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream
Ice Cream recipe from Williams-Sonoma
Raspberry Coulis recipe from Dorie Greenspan

Ice Cream:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz white chocolate, chopped
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Combine milk and 1/2 cup cream in saucepan; heat until bubbles form around edges. Pour over chopped chocolate and let stand until melted then whisk until smooth.

In a seperate bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, and remaining cream. Whisk until smooth.

Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of warmed milk mixture into egg mixture. Pour remaining egg mixture back into saucepan and stir in remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the custard, and chill.

Once cold, freeze according to ice cream machine directions. Once frozen, swirl in raspberry coulis (recipe below).

Raspberry Coulis:

2 cups raspberries
3 TBSP sugar (more or less to taste)

Put berries and sugar in blender and process until pureed. Taste and mix in more sugar if needed. Press the coulis through a strainer to eliminate seeds.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

I was so excited when I saw the July Daring Baker Challenge. I have been making so much ice cream this summer and was happy to have another use for it! The challenge was to make a swiss roll cake, two different ice creams, and hot fudge sauce. The cake slices are arranged in a bowl and then filled with the ice cream and fudge.When I saw the challenge, I immediately decided I would make a chocolate and peanut butter version. I used chocolate sponge cake and filled it with a peanut butter whipped cream frosting. I made a peanut butter ice cream and a vanilla ice cream.

I had two problems with this dessert....

#1- I wanted to eat it so badly that I didn't let it freeze long enough after the final layer was added. This is why it looks melted in the pictures (although it was also almost 100 the day I made it, so that may have contributed a bit!).

#2- It was so darn good that we ate it all in one sitting! Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it!) I cut the recipe in half, so we had a smaller cake.

The recipe was time consuming but 100% worth it and I will definately make this again and again. The flavor combinations are endless! My husband has already requested that I make it with my pumpkin roll this fall! Mmmmmm!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.-

Peanut Butter Cream Frosting

2 cups whipping cream - divided use
1 (10-ounce) package peanut butter chips

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup whipping cream and peanut butter chips and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips melt and mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream until stiff. Stir 1/3 of whipped cream into peanut butter mixture and then gently fold in remaining whipped cream.
Store frosted cake or cupcakes, covered, in the refrigerator.

Frosts and fills an 8 or 9-inch layer cake or 1 (13 x 9-inch) cake.

TWD: Chewy Chunky Blondies

I love a good blondie and thought these were great. I didn't add in everything that Dorie suggests (I omitted coconut and walnuts) and kept it simple with chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. I don't know if these will replace my usual butterscotch blondie recipe, but they were mighty good and I definately wouldn't turn one down!

Thanks to Nicole of Cookies on Friday for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Banana Honey Nut Loaf

A great twist on the classic banana bread!

Banana Honey Nut Loaf
Family Circle May 2010

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 TBSP honey
Pinch of Salt

Banana Loaf:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pan.

For topping, mix flour and butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts, honey, and salt. Set aside.

For loaf, in large bowl, whisk together flour through nutmeg. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs through vanilla. Mix wet into dry just until combined. Stir in nuts and transfer to loaf pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

SMS: Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

I made these lemon bars before with Cookie Carnival and was excited when they were chosen for this week's SMS. I love the sweet almond crust and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE anything lemon. These are definately a great lemon bar and I will continue making them!

Thanks to Rebecca of Indecisive Baker for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TWD: Lots of Ways Banana Cake

I will never turn down an opportunity to try a new recipe that uses up brown bananas! It doesn't matter if I buy a hundred bunches or only one bunch, I always have a few that turn too brown to eat. The good news is that it always gives me an excuse to make banana bread (which I LOVE) or, in this case, a great banana cake.

What is so awesome about this cake is that there are a so many different ways to make it and serve it. It calls for buttermilk, but you could substitute sour cream or yogurt. It also has the addition of coconut, but you can leave that out if you choose. It can be served as a single layer cake with powdered sugar or a double layer cake with frosting. Or, you can serve it the best way... As an ice cream sundae! What can I say? We have a lot of homemade ice cream that needs to be eaten! :)

Thanks to Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SMS: Chocolate Walnut Brownies... Minus the Walnuts and in Sundae Form

While this isn't going to become my go-to brownie recipe, it is a good one and was extremely good as a brownie sundae!

Thanks to Tiffany of A Spoonful and A Heap for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.
(On a side note, I am visiting family in Phoenix right now, so there won't be many posts until I get home later this week.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

MSCC: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

Okay, so here goes another super short post. My best friend and her two kids are staying here this week and we have been having too much fun for me to write much!

This month's MSCC cupcake was flourless chocolate cupcakes. It is kind of like a sunken in brownie cupcake and it was great with a nice big scoop of homemade peanut butter ice cream.

Thanks to Lauryn of Bella Baker for hosting this month. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's the Scoop? - Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Chocolate and Peanut Butter. Seriously... need I say more? This peanut butter ice cream was so rich and delicious and was perfect with homemade hot fudge sauce. Mmmmm, mmmmm GOOD!


Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Recipe from Kitchen Chick

1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 - 1/3 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the peanut butter and sugar until smooth. Add the milk. Blend on low speed until smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and the vanilla.

Place in your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TWD: Brrrr-ownies

I love peppermint patties and was excited to try a brownie that included them. I made mini brownies in my mini muffin tin and thought they were fabulous. The only problem is that the patties became quite sticky once heated and it was hard to get them out of the tin. Nothing a little extra cooking spray can't handle next time! :)

Thanks to Karen of Welcome to our Crazy Blessed Life for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lemon Scones

So fluffy. So lemony. So delicious! Next time I will be trying these with a blueberry curd. Mmmm... can't wait! Enjoy!

Lemon Scones
Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Power
8 regular scones or 16 small scones

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon extract
1 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the lemon zest and toss flour mixture with your hands. Rub in butter with your fingertips, until mixture resembles small crumbs. In the center of the flour mixture, make a well and pour in the whipping cream, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Blend liquids with a fork. Mix all the ingredients with a spoon, just until blended and moistened. On a flour-dusted surface, knead dough several times and separate to form 2 small balls. Flatten them to about ¾ inch thick, and cut each circle into 8 wedges. Transfer all 16 scones on a baking sheet, separating them by at least ¼ inch. Brush tops with remaining cream. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While baking, combine the ingredients to make glaze. After scones have cooled slightly, drizzle each with glaze.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SMS: Sour Cherry and Almond Biscotti

It's been a while since I have made biscotti so I was very excited to see it pop up in the SMS rotation. Nathan and I really enjoyed this one. It is filled with dried cherries, almonds, and lemon zest. Yum, yum, and yum!

Thanks to Tracey of Made by Tray Tray for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cooking with Anya: Watermelon Cake

Before I go any further, may I just say how talented I think my 5 year old is??? Look at that cake. We are talking about a 5 year old decorating that. AMAZING if you ask me. That kid is going places!!!

Anya saw this cake on the cover of my Women's Day magazine and immediately asked if we could make it for the 4th of July. She also then asked if I could show America the cake we made for its birthday, so posting on the blog seemed fitting! :) This would be the perfect cake for a summer BBQ!

You can find the directions for this cake HERE. It calls for boxed mix and canned frosting, but I made my own buttercream for it and I used THIS yellow cake from Smitten Kitchen. I fell in love with this cake. I'm telling you... this is now my go-to yellow cake recipe. I can't wait to try it with chocolate frosting (the way a yellow cake should be eaten, in my opinion!).

Time to pass this on to Anya, since she is the reason for this post! Enjoy!


It was a beautiful watermelon cake and it was very pretty so I loved it. And you have to bake the cake. It was very, very a lot of fun. It was so amazing. It is beautiful and delicious. It is shaped like a watermelon and it is a wonderful dessert. It is good to make. For the seeds, you'll need chocolate covered raisins that will look like the seeds. This is the end.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grilled Chicken Pita Salad

Delicious and quick summer salad. YUM!

Grilled Chicken Pita Salad

2 TBSP lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 TBSP oregano
1/2 tsp pepper

Grilled Chicken Breasts
Grilled Asparagus
Feta Cheese
Grape Tomatoes
Grilled Pita Bread, cut into chunks
Salad Greens

Mix together dressing ingredients. Assemble salad and drizzle with dressing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What's the Scoop? - Chocolate Covered Pretzel Ice Cream

This ice cream gives the butter pecan a run for number one flavor in this house. I came up with this a few years back (although I'm sure someone else has created it, too!) and have been making it ever since. Can you go wrong with sweet cream ice cream, chocolate covered pretzel bits, and a delicious caramel swirl?

I will admit that one thing has changed recently, though, and that is the caramel sauce. Yes, I admit that I used to use storebought caramel for this. But, as you know, caramel used to be my kitchen nemesis. USED TO BE. Now I rock at caramel. I can say that since it took me so darn long to get it right.... I deserve to pat myself on the back a little. heehee

I don't give quantities for the amount of pretzels or caramel going in because you may want more or less.

I hope you give this flavor a try. We love it and I hope you will, too! Enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Ice Cream
Sweet Cream Base: Ben & Jerry's
Caramel Sauce: Dorie Greenspan

Ice Cream Base:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
1 cup milk

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
3 TBSP water
1 TBSP light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP unsalted butter

Pretzel Rods
Chocolate for dipping

For the ice cream: Whisk eggs for 1 to 2 minutes, until fluffy and light. Gradually whisk in sugar, then continue until fully blended, about a minute more. Mix in cream and milk and whisk to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For caramel sauce: Put sugar, water, and corn syrup in pan and stir just to combine. Put over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until caramel turns deep amber (5-10 min). Lower heat, stand back from pan (will spatter), and add cream and butter. When the spatters calm down, stir until smooth. Cool until ready to use.

For pretzels: Break pretzels into bite sized pieces. Melt chocolate with a bit of shortening and coat pretzel pieces. Place pretzels on waxed paper to allow chocolate to set.

Freeze according to ice cream maker directions. Mix in pretzels once almost complete. Layer ice cream and caramel sauce in bowl; swirl to combine.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD: Tarte Noire

Here is a fantastically easy and equally fantastic tasting dessert! Simply mix together Dorie's sweet tart dough (LOVE this dough!) and bake. After the crust has cooled, it is filled with a bittersweet chocolate ganache. Easy peasy and oh so good!

Thanks to DharmaGirl of Bliss: Towards a Delicious Life for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Banana Macadamia Nut Muffins

Whenever I see a new banana recipe, I seem to always bookmark it. It never fails that I have brown bananas in my fruit bowl or bananas that have been transferred to the freezer.

Another one of my favorite things is a crumb topping. Add that to a muffin and I am in heaven. These muffins are fantastic! A great banana muffin with a delicious macadamia crumb topping.


Banana Macadamia Nut Muffins
Family Circle Dec 2009
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 TBSP cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
2 cups flour
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
Preheat oven to 375.
For topping, mix flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts.
For muffins, whisk together flour through salt in bowl. In another bowl, whisk together bananas through egg. Make a well in center of wet ingredients and pour in dry. Stir just until moistened.
Spoon muffin mixture into muffin tins and top with crumb topping. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, July 2, 2010

White Chocolate & Craisin Cinnamon Rolls

White chocolate and craisins has to be one of my favorite flavor combinations. I love any opportunity to combine the two because they are truly a match made in heaven.

These rolls come together quickly with the help of frozen white dough. You could always make your own dough, but I would suggest not using a sweet dough as you would for regular cinnamon rolls. I think the plain white dough worked perfectly because the white chocolate is sweet enough on its own.


White Chocolate & Craisin Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe from Nestle

2 loaves (1 lb each) frozen white dough, thawed
2 TBSP butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup craisins
1 cup powdered sugar
3 TBSP milk

Grease two 9" round pans.

Roll 1 bread loaf into 16x10 inch rectangle. Spread 1 TBSP butter on dough. Combine cinnamon and sugar in small bowl; sprinkle 2 TBSP on dough leaving 1/2" border on sides. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup craisins, firmly pressing into dough.

Roll up dough tightly starting at short end. Seal edges with water. Cut into 6 slices; place cut side up into pan. Repeat with other loaf.

Cover and let rolls rise until they almost fill pans, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes in pans on wire racks.

Melt remaining 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Stir in powdered sugar and milk to make a stiff glaze. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs and Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

Where to start with this meal? Oh my word... so delicious! The chicken was awesome by itself but paired with the homemade tzatziki sauce... AMAZING! I will definately be making this over and over again!

Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs
Recipe from Annie Eats

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ¾-inch pieces

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Prepare a medium fire in a grill. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes before use.

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and discard the excess marinade. Lightly oil the grill grates. Place the kabobs on the grill, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 8-12 minutes, turning once or twice during cooking. Transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately.

Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
Recipe from Kayln's Kitchen

3 cups Greek Yogurt
Juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
about 1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh dill (can substitute mint leaves for a slightly different version)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.

In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)

This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.

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