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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Plum Crunch

(please excuse the horrid picture!)

On Friday afternoon, while I was working VERY VERY hard, like I always do on Friday afternoons :), I came across this recipe for Plum Crunch in my Google Reader from Sing for your Supper. I immediately knew I had to make this. ASAP. As in, that night. I emailed Matt to see if he had time to pick up the ingredients I was missing, and thank goodness he works as hard as I do on Friday afternoons. I put this together while Matt made us dinner, and the smells that were coming out of the oven while this was baking were out of this world! I was a little worried because my plums weren't super ripe, but the baking pulled all of the flavor into those little suckers. These will definitly go into the dessert rotation. Perfect in ramekins for little personal crocks of yummy goodness. I didn't make any changes, so here you go:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back on the Wagon...

(please excuse the bowl- this was from our first set of "china"- thanks Aunt Christine and Uncle George!)

Summer's coming to an end (moment of silence...), and it is time for us to get back on the wagon. We have been having a blast this summer, spending a ton of time with family and friends at the beaches of the East Coast. And of course, being completely indulgent in our eating habits- crab balls, lobster rolls, ice cream sundaes, the list goes on. Matt actually had a two day FOOD hangover this past week! So on the way back from our final trip to the beach this summer, I stopped and picked up the latest Cooking Light magazine. I planned out our week's meals using some ideas from the mag and some recipes I have saved from the past.

For the first night of our healthier eating, I chose an Ellie Krieger recipe, Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie, that I had stashed in my recipe book. I love Ellie and how she rounds out all of her recipes with yummy nutritious ingredients. This recipe is creamy and comforting, but the fresh veggies keep it light with a crunch. I would recommend making this on a weekend (this is a perfect Sunday dinner), as it is a bit time consuming for a work night. I did not make any changes, so I will link you directly to the original recipe:

Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Perfect Loaf of Meat

Having just returned from an amazing week at the beach, I wanted to make a nice comforting homemade meal for Matt and I before we have to face the reality of work tomorrow....and the return to eating healthy foods after the past days of glutteny. To top off our vacation, Matt suggested I make one of his favorites, Paula Deen's Barbecue Meatloaf. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of meat loaf overall. But this recipe that I discovered a couple of years ago on is fabulous! Hearty with a touch of sweetness, super juicy, and delicious. Paired with some fluffy mashed potatoes and roasted tomatoes and broccoli, it was the perfect end to an awesome week.

1.5 pounds ground beef (1.7o pounds)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (Italian bread crumbs)
1 onion, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water, to thin, if necessary (I did not use)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together the beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Form this mixture into a loaf and place it in a shallow pan. Stir together the remaining tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and water (if too thick). Pour this sauce over the meat loaf. Bake for one hour, basting every 15 minutes with the pan juices.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My sister, the hostess :)

For the past four years that Matt and I have been together, we have taken advantage of the long weekend that Memorial Day brings, and gone out of town for the weekend, to either Maine or Cape Cod. Since we had such a big event in the city this Memorial Day weekend, that wasn't possible. Which meant that we could attend my sister's big Memorial Day party for the first time in years! Her town has a parade that goes right by her house in the morning. Friends and family park their lawn chairs on the curb, and head to the backyard afterwards for water fights and a TON of food.

I wanted to bring something festive, and chose Red Velvet cupcakes. I have never made them before, but have read some rave reviews on my friend Courtney's blog, The Preppy Chef, for Paula Deen's version, and have wanted to try this recipe out for a while.

Matt's mom said that they were the best cupcakes that she has ever eaten in her life! Can't really get much better than that review. And I listened to my sister Danielle refuse a bite of hers to my sister Michelle, telling her that it was worth it to get her own, no matter how full she already was!

I thnk the best part of this particular recipe is the copious amount of icing that the recipe yields, as the icing is my favorite part of any cupcake, and the more that I can plop on top, the happier I am :) I did not make any changes to the original recipe, besides using about half of the amount of food coloring called for, because I ran out, so I will link you directly to Courtney's site:

from Paula Deen via The Preppy Chef

Monday, May 31, 2010

dinner with the Vances

We set our table with our new china for the first time!

This weekend one of my best friends (and my sister-in-law!) Erin, married her love, Joey, at a phenominal penthouse in the city. The weekend was amazing, filled with a TON of laughs and some sweet dance moves. The weekend started off with Matt and I hosting a dinner party for all of Matt's aunts that had traveled to town for the festivities. And naturally, I forgot to take ANY pictures of the food. I got a couple of good ones of the family and toasts being made though!

The beautiful Vance ladies (and Maya and I)

dinner party turned dance party!

toasting the bride and groom!

Vance Dinner Menu

Assorted cheeses and crackers
Cold spinach dip from (The only change I make is to use two packages of frozen spinach instead of one) with carrots
Brie and Carmelized Mushroom Mini Tarts from "For the Love of Cooking" (I made the musrooms the night before, then heated through and assembled for serving)
Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives from Cooking This and That (I assembled everything the night before, just basted with the wine while cooking)
green salad
Roasted Vegetable Napoleons from (I omitted the potatoes and assembled the night before)
Everything was delicious. This was the perfect spring menu for entertaining on a work night. Everything was able to be prepared beforehand. The day of, I just had to throw it all in the oven! I wish I had some pics, because everything was really great, but I just had to share these recipes!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lady Date Night (with Matt)

I treated myself to these beautiful mums for our date night!

One of my great friends Megan (above, author of the super fun blog Failed Attempts at being Fabulous) and I have periodic "Lady Date Nights". They are always fantastic. We have dinner, the wine is plentiful, and we catch up on life. I hosted the last date night, and we let Matt stay and play for a little while (though he could not keep up and headed off to snooze while we continued to gab). We wanted to have Megan over this time, as Matt and I have planted our first "urban oasis" (Matt's name for our new container garden). Megan is a phenominal landscape architect, and had given us tons of tips for picking out the types of plants to get. We were very proud of how we did and wanted to get Megan's approval!
Our pup Maya chillin with her toy next to our herbs!

lovely, eh?

I know Megan loves Salmon Caesar Salad, so I decided to try a Williams Sonoma recipe for the Ceasar Salad. I have made the Blackened Salmon with a Parmesean Potato Pancake from Two Peas and their Pod before (a phenominal recipe by the way), and love the way the salmon turns out cooked this way. I hit the nail on the head with this combo, and it was very simple to put together the meal on a Friday night. Matt had gotten home early from work, and made the dressing and croutons, and I prepped the salmon coating and dessert the night before.

Caesar Salad
(I did not make any changes to the original recipe, so I will send you straight there!)
from Williams Sonoma

Blackened Salmon

2 cups Italian bread crumbs (I used 1 cup)
2 tablespoons Italian herb mix (1 Tbsp)
1 tablespoon garlic chopped in olive oil (I used 1 clove fresh garlic chopped)
1/4 tablespoon paprika (I omitted because we were out)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (I used 1/2 tablespoon dried)
2 tablespoons blackened red fish mix (1 Tbsp)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesean cheese
fresh salmon fillets (I used 4 pieces)

Coat salmon fillets with mixture. Saute on each side 3 to 4 minutes over high flame. Place in preheated 400 degree oven 6 to 12 minutes or to your liking (we kept them in the full 12).

Pound Cake
(no changes made, so here's the link!)

Cinnamon Ice Cream
It was SO SO SO SO SO good. But I don't know where I got the recipe. I think I threw it out. UGH. But I promise you that I will find it, make it again, and post it. It is my new mission. Stay tuned, as it was deluxe.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Salmon Pesto Pasta

Check out the beautiful bowl my parents just brought me back from their trip to Ireland!

Lent. A time of preparation for the holiest day of the Christian calendar. And a time to try all sorts of new seafood dishes :) Matt picked this out for a Friday night that we are spending alone together. Since I love his input (and most importantly, because I am AWFUL at making decisions), on nights like this, I email him a list of recipes I am considering, and ask him to choose. This time, I knew what he would pick. Pesto is Matt's favorite sauce. This was a fairly simple recipe, came together nicely, and could easily be prepped beforehand (perfect for entertaining). According to Matt, even the leftovers were wonderful!

Salmon Pesto Pasta
from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

8 oz pasta (I used the full pound)
12 oz salmon (again, I used a pound)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I used about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I forgot this- oops, too much vino...)
5 oz evaporated milk
1/2 cup pesto (recipe follows)
grated parmesean

Bring large pot of water, add some salt and the pasta; stir to separate. Cook the pasta to al dente, drain. Pour evaporated milk into empty pot and simmer over medium high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Add cooked pasta to pot and stir to combine.

Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil (we were out that night, so I skipped this :). Season skinless side of salmon liberally with salt and pepper, sprinkle with zest, then rub with olive oil. Broil until salmon is no longer translucent and is firm when pressed, about 10 minutes. Remove from broiler and sprinkle with lemon juice (forgot). Use fork to flake into bite size pieces.

Add salmon to pasta mixture and stir over medium heat until hot. Remove from heat and stir in basil. I would add a little reserved pasta water to this as well to moisten it a tad. Top with Parmesean.


1/4 cup pine nuts
5 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed thoroughly (I didnt measure, just used all of the leaves on a grocery store plant)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, Italian (optional- I opted out)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch table salt
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesean cheese

Toast nuts in a small heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.
Add the unpeeled garlic to empty skillet and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and the color of the cloves deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let the garlic cool, then peel and add to the food processor bowl.

Place basil and parsley in heavy duty, quart size, zip lock baggie. Pound with flat side of meat pounder until all leaves are bruised.

Process nuts and garlic until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients except cheese; process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down bowl with flexible spatula.

Transfer mixture to small bowl, stir in cheese, and adjust salt. (can be covered with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly over the surface or filmed with oil and refrigerated up to 5 days)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

I have quite the love affair with my crock-pot. My husband has also grown to have a deep affection for this magical appliance. You can chop up a bunch of random things, throw them in together, let it cook all day while you are at work, and VOILA, the results are always incredible! There is nothing better than coming up the stairs in our apartment building and following the fantastic smells to our own door. All with such little effort!

This recipe is another fantastic one from My Kitchen Cafe. FOUR ingredients, that is all it took, all of which we had in our cabinets already. Add some taco extras, and you get a super weeknight meal.
Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Tacos

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1/2)

Coat the inside of your crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Place all ingredients in the crockpot. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours (I cooked on high for 10 hours), or until chicken shreds easily with a fork. (chicken will absorb liquid after it is shredded) Serve in tacos (I served with shredded cheese, fresh tomatoes, and lettuce, all wrapped up in a tortilla- delish!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

SNOW DAY! Snow days don't get any less exciting when you are a grown up than when you were a kid. Well, working from home is not as fun as spending the day sledding and building snowmen, but snow days are still pretty phenominal. And after a beautiful walk in the snow, a baked pasta was the perfect end to the day. I made sure to plan ahead when I heard the forecast, and sent Matt to the store for the ingredients for Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage yesterday just in case. This recipe did NOT disappoint our craving for something warm, hardy, and delicious. And it makes so much, that you can definitely freeze half for another time, which is so useful for pretty much everyone out there who can't find enough time in the days. This pasta is fairly simple to make, comforting, and delicious. The smoked sausage in the pasta adds such a yummy, interesting flavor. Matt has been in the kitchen since finishing his plate, pretending to clean the dishes, but really cleaning the leftover pastas :)

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
from My Kitchen Cafe, adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound rigatoni (I used whole wheat)
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained well, or 8 oz fresh baby spinach (I used fresh)
12 oz precooked smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used turkey)
8 oz mozzarella cheese, half diced and half shredded
1/4 cup shredded Parmesean cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, heat until translucent, about 3 minutes (about 8 minutes). Stir in garlic, heat another minute.

Stir in tomates, oregano, and basil; simmer 8-10 minutes. Add cream, cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. (if using fresh spinach, add it to the pot of boiling water right at the end and cook until wilted) Drain, and then return contents to the pot.

Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9x13 inch pan (or split between two 8x8 pans). Top with grated mozzarella and Parmesean. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, about 20-30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Caramel Apple Crumb Cake

Have you seen "The Cake Boss" yet? It is about a bakery named Carlo's in Hoboken, NJ, about 5 minutes from our home. And they make the most AMAZING crumb cake. It is about 7/8 crumb, and 1/8 cake, the perfect proportion iun my opinion. You have to get to the bakery first thing in the morning to have a shot of even getting some. But I may not even try to brave those lines anymore after discovering this recipe! This crumb cake was so delicious, the perfect proportion of crumb and cake, with caramel apples separating the two. I did not make any changes to the original recipe, so I will link you right to Dinners for a Year and Beyond:
Preparation pictures and some randoms from our brunch:
My husband helping in the kitchen :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mongolian Beef

You have to try this dish soon. It came from Confections of a Foodie Bride, under the category "Take out Fake out". And when you are craving some yummy takeout, but want a healthier homemade take on it, this is the perfect dish to make. The beef ends up in a gooey sweet sauce; it tastes so indulgent, but isn't really too bad for you, and very easy to make. I served this with some sauteed red peppers and broccoli and brown rice to kick up the healthy factor :)

Mongolian Beef

1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar (measured, not packed)
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large green onion, sliced thinly

Pat steak slices dry and add to a bowl with corn starch. Toss to ensure all pieces are just coated. Shake off excess corn starch using a strainer.

Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in a large wok or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stir until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

Turn the heat to high and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Pour the sauce back into the wok and cook until the sauce reaches desired consistency. (this took about 30 minutes to get nice and gooey for me)

Add the green onions (a pinch reserved for garnish), stir, and remove from heat. Plate, top with remaining onions, and serve.
Yields: 2 servings
beef being tossed in cornstarch

the finished product!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

Christmas weekend was topped off with the last NY Giants game of the season. Even though it was sad that they stunk and that it was the last game of the year, we had a blast. We didn't get home until late the night before the game, and needed a quick tailgating dessert to bring with us. I found this recipe on Colleen's blog and it was a HUGE hit. They kind of reminded me of my favorite candy bar, an 100 grand, but instead of caramel, with peanut butter. YUM! So. good. And really easy, took me maybe a total of 30 minutes to make? I will link you straight to Cooking This and That, because I did not make any changes to Colleen's directions.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Holiday Morning Buns

As I was poking around at My Kitchen Cafe after I had found the Pomegranate Cheesecake recipe from the site, I discovered the perfect Christmas morning breakfast, Holiday Morning Buns. It is genius- you can make the buns as far ahead of time as you want and then stick them in the freezer. You don't even have to thaw them before you bake, they just go from the freezer to the oven, and after a little over an hour of baking, you have some awesome buns.
Matt was very skeptical, as he saw that there was no sticky glaze on top, and thought that without a sticky glaze, there was no way the buns could be that good. But they were. They weren't too sweet, which sometimes in the morning makes me sick. And plus, who wants something so super sweet and heavy Christmas morning, when you know all of the Christmas dinner delishessness is yet to come!? And I was very skeptical, as I realized while I was making these, that I had no extra cream at all (which the recipe suggests to use if the dough isn't cohesive); I could have probably used the extra cream, but the buns still turned out fantastically. The recipe was easily doubled, so I had enough for us for Christmas morning, and enough to take to CT with us for Christmas with Matt's family the morning after.

Assembly line of batter, melted butter, and cinnamon sugar love:

Balls of goodness ready to be stuck in the feezer.

The finished product- I forgot to take a snapshot before we dug in!

These will definitely become a Holiday tradition for our new family :)

No changes were made from the original, so I will just send you directly to the recipe:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

You know you have a winner of a recipe when your sister randomly exclaims on January 16th how awesome the cupcakes you made on Christmas were. She was right, you really can't compare boxed cupcakes to homemade ones. If you have the time, these are so worth it! I made these for the kids for Christmas, but they were definitely a hit with the adults as well. The recipe comes from a cookbook, Martha Stewart Cupcakes, that my sister and niece gave me at my cupcake themed bridal shower:

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes
3 cups cake flour (not self rising)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I use regular salt for everything)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature (I messed up when I was separating the egg whites and yolks of the egss that I had brought to room temp, so I had to use yolks straight from the fridge and it was fine)
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combines after each. Beat in vanilla.
Divide batter evenly among lines cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cucakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool, 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to two months, in airtight containers.

To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to three days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and, if desired, decorate with sprinkles before serving.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablesppons sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer. Set over a pan of simmering water. Whish constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed in between fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (testy by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
With mixer on medium low speed, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla, switch to the paddle attachment (I forgot this step and continued with the whisk attachment- didn't seem to matter!), and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to three days or freeze up to one month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with a paddle attachment on low speed until sxmooth again, about 5 minutes.

Optional- to tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use the paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is acheived. Avoid using too much food color too soon, as the hue with intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing some reserved, untinted buttercream.

Super patient Matt helped me by making these adorable penguins for the tops of the cupcakes. He used Jordan almonds, and dipped them in melted chocolate. He used a ornage sprinkle for their noses and Swedish fish cut up for their feet- how freakin cute?! I bought special sugar at a baking shop in the city for the snow effect on the frosting, and candy canes for the North Pole signs.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pomegranate Cheesecake

Another awesome recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. I have made many cheesecakes, as it is the easiest dessert to make gluten free for my mom. This one was delicious, had a unique lemony flavor to the cake, and the glaze make it look so Christmasy! I omitted the pomegranate seeds because, frankly, I don't get them. Are you supposed to eat them? I have tried eating them and they aren't good? Are you supposed to spit them out? Cause that would be a big pain. So since I don't understand their function, I ditched them!
Pomegranate Cheesecake (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
*Plan Ahead: the cheesecake needs to be chilled for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour (I used gluten free flour)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (I omitted)

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pomegranate Glaze:
1-16-ounce bottle pomegranate juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (I omitted)

For the crust: preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl beat butter on medium high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar. Beat until combined. Add egg; beat well. Beat in flour until combined. Divide dough in half. Cover one portion and set it aside. Remove the sides from a 10-inch springform pan and set aside. Spread first portion of dough on just the bottom of ungreased springform pan base, spreading dough to edges. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely. When cool, attach sides of pan. Press chilled dough onto the sides of the sprinform pan to a height of 1-3/4 inches, using a thin metal spatula, like an offset spatula, to spread dough.

For the filling: reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In an extra-large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the flour on low speed until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla all at once, beating on low speed just until combined. Mix in sour cream and lemon peel. Then, using a wooden spoon or a spatula, gently fold in pomegranate seeds (if you use the electric mixer for this part, the seeds will burst and stain the filling with the juice - and it won't look as pretty). Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 65 minutes or until edges are puffed and center jiggles slightly when gently shaken. Remove from oven. (It doesn't matter if the cheesecake cracks on top since it will have a sour cream topping.) For the topping: stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Spread sour cream mixture over top of baked cheesecake, spreading gently to the edges. Return to oven; bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen crust from sides of pan. Cool for 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan; cool completely. Cover; chill 4 hours or overnight.

For pomegranate glaze: in a medium saucepan bring pomegranate juice to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup (12 to 15 minutes). In a separate bowl, stir together brown sugar and cornstarch. Add to juice. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Transfer to a medium bowl; cover surface with clear plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature. Store, covered, in refrigerator until serving time.

When ready to serve, remove cheesecake and pomegranate glaze from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Spoon some sauce over top of cheesecake; pile remaining pomegranate seeds in center of cheesecake. To serve, slice cheesecake. Pass remaining sauce. Makes 16 servings.
Bottom crust baked, ready for filling

and ready for the oven!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I have made many different spinach artichoke dips. It is one of my favorite appetizers. I like to switch it up, experiment with different recipes. This one from My Kitchen Cafe was a top contender. Super creamy, and the bottle of alfredo sauce definitely offered a bit of a different flavor in this dip compared to others; you could really taste it. Overall, this was a great, easy appetizer. Again, made ahead of time- perfect for entertaining! I will just post the link to My Kitchen Cafe, as I did not change a thing from the original recipe.

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Blue Cheese

These were A-MAZ-ING! So delicious. Perfect little nuggets. I seem to have the hardest time thinking of appetizers when my family comes over because my mom has a gluten allergy and my sisters' have seafood allergies. I feel like that eliminates a lot of my app ideas. But these worked perfectly. My sister Danielle, who loves spinach-artichoke dip and said the one that I had made was great, said she just couldn't stop eating the dates long enough to get to the dip!

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Blue Cheese (
1 pound bacon, cut in half
1 pound dates (I ended up only needing .5 pound)
4 oz blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice dates in half, and open them up. Pinch off pieces of blue cheese, and place them into the center of the dates. Close the halves of the dates, and wrap a half-slice of bacon around the outside. Secure each one with a toothpick. Arrange in a baking dish or on a baking sheet with sides to catch any grease. (I prepared, or should I say that Matt prepared, these the night before and stuck them in the oven right before everyone arrived)

all lined up and ready for the oven!

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bacon is crisp. Turn dates over after the first 20 minutes for even cooking.