Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blueberry Cheesecake

Nick requested this cheesecake- one that we enjoyed when he turned 26 and again when he turned 27. It is something great to make a day/night ahead.

  I found myself doing 'two-a-days' with this cheesecake. Not the 'two-a-days' from cross country in high school where we ran in the morning and the afternoon. No, no, this is way better- having a slice of cheesecake after lunch and another later in the evening. I much prefer twice the cheesecake to twice the running.

Blueberry Cheesecake
cheesecake from All Recipes
blueberry sauce from All Recipes

15 graham crackers, crushed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar

4 (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup flour

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cold water
2-3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a water bath by placing a large baking dish with 1" of water in the oven. To make cheesecake, grease bottom and sides of a 9" spring form pan. Wrap outside of pan with two layers of foil.

2. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, spices, and sugar. Press onto bottom of the pan.

3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar just until smooth. Be careful not to over beat. Switch to a wooden spoon and blend in milk and eggs (one at a time), mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla, and flour til smooth. Pour over the crust.

4. Place pan in 1" water bath. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Turn oven off- allow cheesecake to cool in the oven for 2-6 hours with the door closed. Remove from oven and chill in fridge until serving.

5. To prepare sauce, in a saucepan over medium-high heat combine blueberries, water, orange juice, and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. In a small cup or bowl, mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Gently stir cornstarch mix into blueberries. Simmer gently until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon (3-4 min). Remove from heat and stir extract & cinnamon. Thin with water, if needed.

Serve cheesecake with blueberry topping. And eat twice a day.

{if you're not into blueberries, this cheesecake is completely lovely naked}

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lemon Chicken Breasts

    Sometimes I just can't bring myself to delay or interrupt dinner to sneak in a picture. Truth be told, I take most pictures of food the next day when I'm enjoying left overs for lunch. We enjoyed this super easy dinner quickly after returning home from church. We paired it with brown rice and steamed broccoli... but as you see pictured, I enjoyed the left overs with a little pasta the following day.

Lemon Chicken Breasts
from  Food Network


1/4 cup good olive oil
3 Tbsp. minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves (can use dried as well)
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish.

3.Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce (I used skinless). Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Monday, August 8, 2011


There was a good period of time where Sunday afternoons my brother Anthony, my sister Brittany and I would make snickerdoodles and then watch a Disney movie. A lot of recipes call for shortening, but really you can make it work well with butter.
  I recently got some Saigon cinnamon and wanted to try it out. It is more concentrated than normal cinnamon (more like the red-hot candy flavor), so I did a blend of the two.


1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour  (last time I used 1/2 cup wheat flour and 2 1/14 cups all-purpose)
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat slowly til combined. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and blend. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.

2. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes (I bake right at 8 minutes). Remove immediately from baking sheets and transfer to wire rack to cool. {Better to almost underbake than over bake as they get hard pretty quick. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kabobs with Mint Quinoa

 Really the main thing I changed with this meal is halving the dipping sauce that goes along the side- it made way more than we used. I prepared the chicken earlier in the day and let it marinate bit longer. I kept it in the refrigerator and pulled it out 20 minutes before putting it on the grill. Once everything was skewered it was pretty quick from there.

Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kabobs with Mint Quinoa
adapted from Simply Healthy Family


10-12 metal or wooden skewers
1 1/2 cups plain fat free yogurt, divided
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. curry powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup crumbled low-fat feta
1-2 Tbsp. minced red onion
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp. chopped mint leaves, divided
1 cup quinoa, uncooked


1. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, garam masala, curry and garlic in a zip lock bag. Add chicken, seal bag, and shake to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine remaining yogurt, feta, onion, lemon zest, and 1 Tbsp. of chopped mint leaves. Set aside.

3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a sieve. Bring quinoa to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid, cook for about another 5 minutes. Cover when done and remove from heat.

4. Preheat grill to medium-high (spray before heating). Thread chicken, onion, and bell peppers onto skewers. Discard left over marinade. Grill kabobs, turning only once (pick them up with a large tong in the middle, instead of by the stick). Cook til juices run clear, 10-15 minutes.
 Serve kabobs with quinoa sprinkled with mint and a bit of the dipping sauce on the side.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Swiss Miss Veggie-filled Pasta Sauce

Okay, probably not the Swiss you're thinking. It's going to be a cool 112 today and this is certainly not about hot chocolate. Swiss as in Swiss chard. We tried out an awesome grocery store the other day that had amazing deals on produce. Like bananas for $0.10, key limes for $0.04 (we made key lime pie), peaches for $0.18, plums for $0.07, cumbers for $0.25, and on and on. I wanted to frame my receipt. We also picked up some beautiful Swiss chard. We've pureed it in a food processor and added it to omelets as well as made a veggie-filled pasta sauce. Looks like a winner. Pretty much anywhere you would use spinach you can try Swiss chard.

Veggie-filled Pasta Sauce

Ingredients (estimations-everything was eyeballed)

drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1-2 large carrots, shredded or finely chopped
2-3 large Swiss chard leaves, shredded or finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, diced
8-12 oz tomato sauce
oregano, to taste
basil, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté yellow onion and carrots. When soft, add Swiss chard and garlic til just cooked.  Add tomato sauce and season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Let simmer, the longer the better. Serve with favorite pasta and freshly grated Parmesan, to taste.

Other options: bell peppers

Southwest Rolls

slightly adapted from A Hint of Honey 

My friend, Jessie made these for my baby shower 2 years ago and I've also enjoyed them at a church activity where I was in charge of serving/replacing food trays = shoving these in my mouth behind the scenes. They are so delicious and worth making a lot at atime. We ate some the same evening and froze the rest, super easy to reheat-great as an appetizer or paired with something as a main dish.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and diced
2/3 cup green onion, sliced
2 large red bell peppers, minced
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (I used fresh corn cooked, then cut off the cob)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained- I used fresh spinach, closer to 3/4 cup or 1 cup
1/4 cup diced jalapeno peppers, seeded and rinsed (1 medium sized)
3 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic powder (or 5 cloves fresh minced garlic)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack or Cheddar cheese
20-30 (6-8 inch) whole wheat flour tortillas (or your favorite tortilla- like the ones you cook yourself)

Avocado Dipping Sauce
1 fresh avocado, smashed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. buttermilk-- didn't have on hand, used a little fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. dried parsley
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 dash dried dill weed
1 dash pepper

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add green onions and bell pepper and saute 5 minutes until tender.

2. Add diced cooked chicken, corn, spinach, black beans, jalapeno, parsley, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cilantro, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes until well blended and tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese so it melts.

3. Place tortillas between two moist paper towels and microwave 30 seconds-1 minute until hot and pliable. {I was using the tortillas you cook yourself, so this was bit different}

4. Spoon even amounts of mixture onto each tortilla. Fold in ends of tortilla, then roll tightly around mixture. Arrange in a medium dish, cover, and store in the freezer or refrigerator. Chilling them for several hours before baking helps hold them together, but is not absolutely necessary. They keep well frozen, and can be placed directly in the oven.

5. Lightly butter a baking sheet and place rolls evenly on the pan.

6. Bake rolls at 375 F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and the edges begin to crisp, rotating them every 10 minutes.

7. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for several minutes before slicing in half. Serve with Avocado Dipping Sauce and garnish with chopped onion and tomato.

8. To prepare sauce combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whip until creamy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.