Monday, May 10, 2010

Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie

A while back, I noticed a recipe on the side of a carton of Breyers Natural Vanilla ice cream. I cut it out of the carton and saved it for a special occasion. The recipe is originally called Breyers Cherry Cheesecake, but I took the liberty to rename it something I think is more fitting. I made this for Mother's Day and it was a big hit. We loved it. It has the perfect ratio of cheesecake to ice cream. You'll have to try it out.

Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
3 Tbsp Sugar

1.5 qt. natural vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream (I think you could experiment with other flavors here, but would highly recommend trying it first with the vanilla bean or natural vanilla)

2 packages (8 oz each) Cream Cheese
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar

1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling (Or fresh berries. I used fresh strawberries with a little sugar added to bring out the juices. I think any combination of fresh berries would be delicious.)

Combine crumbs, butter and 3 tablespoons sugar; press into 9-inch springform pan.

With electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Spoon ice cream into pan on top of graham cracker crust, pressing to form an even layer. Spread on cream cheese mixture. Cover; freeze at least 5 hours.

Top cheesecake with pie filling or fresh berries and serve.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring Cupcakes and Buttercream Frosting

I made cupcakes last week for a church training event. For simplicity, I just used a lemon cake mix for the cupcakes themselves. To decorate the cupcakes, I used Dots for the center, and then cut large marshmallows into 4 pieces each with scissors. If you do this, it helps to spray your scissors with a cooking spray like Pam. You will have to wash your scissors every once in a while to get the bits of marshmallow off them. Otherwise, they stick, making cutting difficult. If you want to get fancy, you can dip the sticky side of the marshmallow in colored sugar for a fun look. While the decorating isn't really a recipe, it is a fun idea to use for spring.

The recipe I wanted to share is for the buttercream frosting. In the past, I have always just made buttercream frosting by guessing how much butter, powdered sugar and milk to use. It would always turn out fine. This time, I found a recipe that has changed my opinion of buttercream frosting. This will now be my go-to recipe. I found it online and someone said it is the frosting recipe that is used at the cupcake shop called Sprinkles. I can't confirm that, but will give credit where credit is supposedly due.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 Cup Butter
3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. milk

Combine butter (at room temperature), powdered sugar and salt and mix until blended. You will think the mixture won't come together without liquid, but I promise it does. Keep mixing. Then add the vanilla and milk. Mix for 4-5 more minutes until smooth and creamy. I think this is the key to making the frosting so yummy. In the past I have made frosting with my hand mixer and stopped mixing when everything was combined. This time I put it all in my Bosch mixer and let it mix for the full 5 minutes. It was so easy to work with and tasted delicious.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Favorite Spring Salad

OK, this is a recipe my friend Kat concocted. I LOVE it and have served it often. My kids and husband even love it. It is light and delicous and perfect for spring.

Honey Lime Vinaigrette
1/2 cup oil
2 TBS vinegar
Juice of 2-3 limes
1 clove garlic peeled
1/8 cup honey
1 handful of cilantro (I just twist off a handful of the bunch they sell at the store)
1/2 tsp salt (maybe more)
1/4 tsp pepper (maybe more)

I throw all of these ingredients in a blender (or you could use a food processor) until it's smooth and green. Then I taste it to make sure I love it, which I always do. After drizzling a little bit over my salad I put the rest in an enclosed container and it stays well in the fridge for a few days. Its flavor is really bold so you don't need a ton.

The rest of the salad is pretty standard. Pan seared chicken breast pounded thin and seasoned with some s&p and garlic powder. Spring mix greens and a little extra spinach for good measure. Sliced strawberries, feta and some chopped pecans. Ta da! SO easy. Really I promise. And if you don't feel like cooking chicken and that whole mess the salad is just as outrageous on it's own. (One more side note here. If I go to the trouble of cooking chicken I always pound out and cook two breasts at a time. That way I only use a half of a breast on my salad and have 1 1/2 for leftovers of any kind.) Go for it! Try it! You'll like it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ganache pie

i'm a concept cooker. tell me what your fovorite flavors are and i will concoct something in that blessed kitchen of mine. i did the desserts for a bridal shower last week. the bride loves chocolate, thus, ganache pie was born. at this shower i attended no one knew what ganache was. (insert a gasp) ganache, said ganosh, was one of my first frosting encounters as a beginning cook. i made these fabulous little chocolate cupcakes from ina garten, then turned them into marshmallow filled cupcakes topped with ganache and i never, ever looked back. the concept of a ganache is to break down the chocolate with cream just enough to achieve a high gloss and when it cools, it will firm up. it is a beautiful addition to any cake or pie in this case.

i started with these cute mini graham cracker pie shells. at my local wal mart they are in the cooking isle by the pre made pie shells. Keebler makes 6 for $1.42, you can't beat it.

to make your ganache, remember 2 to 1. two parts chocolate to one part cream, heavy cream. for example, 1 cup chocolate chips to 1/2 c heavy whipping cream. it depends on how many pies you are making, so use your judgement here. i know, i know, people hate when i concept cook and concept recipe give. i'm sorry, i can't get these things to a science. i am a tasting dessert cooker. sorry. on the stove over low heat, put your chocolate and cream together. i usually add these ingredients to the pan before the heat is on. one burned chocolate morsel and the whole thing goes down the drain. over low heat, whisk these 2 ingredients together until you get a beautiful glossy chocolate sauce. immediately take it off the heat once that is achieved. i got a little spoon and coated the bottom of these pie shells with the chocolate sauce and then set them in the fridge to set up for about 10 minutes.
in my kitchen aid i took a brick of cream cheese that had been left to room temperature (or you can put it in the microwave for 8 second intervals, turning after each, 2 times is great for me) and put that in the mixer with the whisk attachment. i slowly added powdered sugar until i achieved the sweetness i was looking for. slowly add some ganache to the cream cheese mixture. it is all how chocolaty you want it. you can see below, my cream cheese mixture is a medium brown. set aside chocolate cream cheese mixture and beat some heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. sweeten your cream as you go. gently fold the whipped cream (about half and half) into the chocolate cream cheese mixture. fill your sweet chocolate pie crusts with the chocolate mixture and top it with whipped cream cheese. i fanned some strawberries on these ones below. for the shower i topped some with raspberries, and others with a cashew, coconut, chocolate sprinkle mixture. the picture below is a birthday present i did for my bestie brooke for her birthday, the plate being the gift.
sorry for non recipe haters. i just don't do well with cooking inventions. if i ever do a cook book it would be called the book of concepts, hence a failed cook book!:)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chocolate Caramel-Almond Tart

This, my friends, is a dessert to remember. It is definitely a labor of love, but so so worth it. The bittersweet chocolate went so well with the whipped cream and sweeeeet caramel. Perfect! A big thanks to Fine Cooking magazine for the recipe. Also, chocolate and nuts are perfect for a late winter dessert, so hurry up and make it before spring! There are a few steps in the recipe that may be a bit difficult for beginning baking, but why not try it and practice some skills? Enjoy!
Cooking tip: Don't be afraid of anything when cooking and baking! Just dive right in. If it's a complete failure, chalk it up as learning something and know that you will be better next time. Also, don't EVER apologize for your cooking and baking - it makes people feel uncomfortable.
Now go to and have fun while doing.

For the Crust:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
3 Tbs granulated sugar
pinch of table salt
6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

For the caramel-almond layer:
3/4 cup blanched whole almonds
1cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp table salt

For the chocolate layer:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Make the crust: Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal with some pea-sized butter pieces. Sprinkle 2 Tbs ice-cold water over the flour mixture and process until the dough just begins to come together in small, marble-sized clumps. Don't overprocess; the dough should not form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a thick 4-inch-diameter disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm enough to roll, about 1-2 hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11 inch circle, lifting and rotating often, while lightly dusting the work surface as needed. Transfer to a 9 1/2 inch fluted tart pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350
Line the dough with foil and pie weights or beans. Put on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Lift the weights and foil out and bake the crust until golden brown, 13-17 minutes. Cool completely. Raise oven temp to 375

Make the caramel almond layer: Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. Let cool briefly and then chop coarsely. Make caramel by stiring the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of cool water together in a heavy-duty saucepan. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to wash away any sugar crystals (keep doing this throughout the whole process). Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture starts to color around the edges, 5-8 minutes. Gently swirl the pan once to even out the color and prevent the sugar from from burning. Continue to cook until the sugar turns med amber, about 30 seconds more. (Or use a candy therm. like i did!)
Immediately remove from heat and swirl in the cream. Add butter. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and almonds and coat the nuts completely. Pour the hot mixture into the cooled pie crust. Let cool 30 minutes and then refrigerate for about one hour.
Make the chocolate layer: Put choc and cream in saucepan over low heat and stir until choc is melted. Add the butter and stir until melted. Stir in the vanilla. Pour over the caramel layer and tilt the pan as needed to smooth the chocolate into an even layer that covers the caramel. Refrigerate until choc is set, at least one hour and up to one day. Serve with whipped cream (I piped some on and made a pretty design). Now go and eat this lovely dessert!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

s'more sandwich cookie

taste of home is what i learned to cook on. i love that magazine and you can bet the pictures of the cooks match the recipes. this was a cookie contest winner. the contests are my favorite part of taste of home, they test a bazillion recipes to come up with a winner. when ever i take these cookies to someone i always get the "husband loved them" comment. so they automatically qualify as dude food, which ranks high.

3/4 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 TB milk
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 c flour
1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs (about 20 squares)
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground cinnamon
2 c semisweet chocolate chips
24-28 lg. marshmallows

in a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. beat in egg, milk and vanilla. combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to creamed mixture. stir in chocolate chips.

drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in apart onto a greased baking sheet. bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. remove to wire racks to cool.

place four cookies bottom side up on a microwave-safe plate; top each with a marshmallow. microwave, uncovered, on high for 16-20 seconds or until marshmallows begin to puff (don't overcook). top each with another cookie. repeat.

i love these for camping with a nice camp fire marshmallow in the middle!

outstanding easy fettucine alfredo

my neighborhood did a little cook book and i was quite taken with the contents. i wouldn't say my area thrives on cooking, most of my neighbor friends hate cooking. so i was quite pleased with some gem recipes i have gotten from it. i did switch things up a bit, but i fell head over heels for this recipe. the flavor must be so awesome because of the constant cooking you do to the cheese, anyway. i combined a recipe from my bestie brooke, and that is where the italian dressing addition comes in. i serve this with addie's non bakers bread (superb) and call it a night. i have also found you can double this, store what you don't use of the sauce in a container in the fridge or freezer for a good 10 days. i make this in large batches and love having it on hand.

fettuccine alfredo

1 pt. heavy cream
1 stick butter
2 TBSP cream cheese
3/4 c. kraft parmesan cheese ( i tried to save .20 one time and bought an off brand, not worth it, tasted like plastic, must use kraft!)
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 TBSP prepared italian salad dressing or 1 tsp. dry italian dressing mix, i used good seasons.

1 pkg fettuccine noodles

cook fettuccine in a large pot of boiling water. if you add a tsp of olive oil it will prevent sticking and boiling over.

in a sauce pan combine butter, heavy cream, and cream cheese. simmer until all is melted and mixed well. add the parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Simmer for 10 -15 minutes stirring constantly.

you can also make this with chicken, cooking the chicken in italian dressing makes for a delicious dinner.

spoon sauce over noodles or put into containers to store in fridge or freezer. to reheat i just warmed over the stove on medium heat.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

crazy good hot shrimp peanut salad

this qualifies as a quick meal that is out of this world good. i love thai food and this seems to compensate for the fact that i have found only one thai restaurant in my area. :(

butter lettuce
1 lb shrimp (i used cooked tail on)
rice sticks

peanut sauce

1 TB fresh chopped ginger
1 c. water
1/2 c. hoisin sauce (your asian isle should have this, even my podunk town had it)
3 TB. creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 TB sugar

Over medium heat combine all ingredients until thick. it took about 6-7 minutes for me.

cook your rice sticks. i used peanut oil for mine. get it to 400 degrees and it will only take 5 seconds for them to puff up. turn them over so the other side can get puffy as well. remove immediately and place on a paper towel to drain.

lay a bed of lettuce, combine the shrimp with the peanut sauce and make sure it is warm. drizzle that generously over the lettuce, using the sauce as dressing and top with rice sticks and sesame seeds.

this was as my husband said, ridiculous good. it does possibly require a thai food love.

Friday, February 19, 2010

gyoza dipping sauce

gyoza dipping sauce

1/3 c soy sauce
3 t. sesame oil
2 t sugar
2 t rice wine vinegar
1 t fresh chopped ginger

mix together and store in fridge until ready to dip.


if you can't tell, i have been craving asian food of all types as of late. i mean, really, really needing asian food. my grocery list this week was all entirely made of asian food ingredients. i have perused recipes and combined and changed and well, here you go.


gyoza wrappers
sesame oil
2 c. chopped cabbage
1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1 TB. fresh finely chopped ginger root
1/2 lb. ground pork ( i used jimmy dean sausage)
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 egg
salt and pepper

combine the above ingredients in a bowl. i used my hands to incorporate this. over a medium heat skillet cook above mixture until meat is no longer pink.

let cool before you place them in gyoza wrappers.

i used the round wrappers. wet the edges of the wrapper with water and place a teaspoon of the mixture in the wrapper. seal the edges pinching the seam until you have a pretty half moon shape. we used an entire package of wrappers and still had some left over meat mixture.

in a pan over medium-high heat coat the bottom of your pan with the sesame oil. now, you can use a vegetable oil, but the sesame infuses it with a rich flavor. once it is hot, place the gyoza in to to brown on the bottoms. once the bottoms have browned turn them over so the browned side is looking at you. add enough water to give these a shallow bath to steam in. cover the pan and allow the gyoza to steam and cook the wrapper, maybe 2 minutes. the water will be evaporated when they are done. if you put too much water in that is okay too. take them out after about 2-3 minutes of steaming.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

orange chicken

i was slobbering over at tastespotting today. i typed in asian and some really beautiful things came up. for dinner tonight i settled on the orange chicken. it was absolutely divine. so much better than a restaurant, even panda express. the best part was that it was super fast. the original recipe called for battering your own chicken. i opted out of this to stick with a quick and easy night. i used the chicken fingers you can get at costco. they started carrying these at my costco about a year ago. they are made by simmons. the best part is that they are the kind they use in restaurants, not the greasy gal bladder attack balls. at only 7 grams of fat a serving, they are great to have on hand for wraps, pasta and now, orange chicken. i am also a label checker, a very serious label checker. so that will tell you that the ingredient list for these tenders is not a mile long, it is really simple with no horrible preservatives you can't pronounce. in fact, i knew everything on the list.

orange chicken (with my own revisions)

1 1/2 c. water
1 TB orange juice concentrate
1 TB fresh squeezed orange juice (you can omit both of these for 2 TB reg. orange juice)
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/3 c. rice vinegar
2 1/2 TB. soy sauce
1 TB orange zest
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. fresh ginger
1/2 t. fresh garlic
2 TB green onion
3 TB corn starch
2 TB water

Combine the water, orange and lemon juice, rice vinegar and soy sauce over medium heat. Once combined add zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and green onion. ( you can add some hot pepper flakes at this point if you want some heat. 1 tsp.)

Bring all of these ingredients to a boil.

In a separate bowl combine the cornstarch and water and pour in to the sauce over the stove.
Boil constantly whisking until it turns thick or coats the back of a spoon.

Add the cooked chicken strips cut into 1 inch chunks to the sauce. Serve this hot, the sauce gets super sticky the second it cools just a little. Serve over rice.

I know these aren't everyday ingredients, but it is worth putting on your menu and getting the ingredients, so YUMMY! and yes, better than PANDA!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It's that time again for making citrus desserts! Winter is a great time to buy citrus fruits, not only because they are in season and affordable, but also because they brighten up the dreary winter days. I just made some lovely lemon bars and their bright flavor made me happy (I need all the brightness I can get during these winter days)!
I found this recipe on The bars are really simple to make and I was very pleased with the taste - not overly sweet or tart, but just right. I hope you enjoy!

1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
powdered sugar

For the crust: cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just comes together. Press into the bottom of your greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling: beat the sugar and eggs until nice and smooth. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Stir in the flour. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling is set. Place on wire rack to cool. Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar. Makes about 16 small squares.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

non-bakers bread

OK, so I am not a great baker. I love all the yummy confections bakers make but I have never had a mixer and I often skip dessert. I do love home made bread and as soon as my budget will afford I would love to have a great standing mixer on my counter. My friend Lili, who gives me a lot of great recipes, just passed on one of my new faves. This bread is so easy!!! Even my mixer less kitchen can do it. I love it too because it takes less time from start to finish than my staple, Sunday Rhodes rolls. It is also very delicious. It is so good I promise you will think it is straight from the Macaroni Grill.

Mix together with a spoon
2 Cups warm water
1 Tbs. yeast
1 Tbs sugar

4 cup flour
2 tsp salt

Let rise in bowl with a rag over it for 40 min. to 1 hour until doubles in size. Pinch dough in half roll into two little balls (about the size of a soft ball). Grease cookie sheet and spread corn meal over grease. Set your two dough balls on the cookie sheet. Let rise another 45 min. covered. Melt about 1 Tbs. of butter and brush on tops of dough.

bake at 425 degrees F. for 10 min. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.

We like to slice it in wedges and eat it with salads or dinner. I think it would also be good with balsamic and EVOO for dipping.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Where's the Love?

...all those yummy recipes we used to post have become way too few and far between - what do you say we all make a goal to post at least one recipe per month?
Love, Cortney

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feels like Summer Chicken Pitas

I got this recipe from Graham's cousin Kelly. It is so yummy. I love the taste of the curry in this dish and it really does remind me of Summer! Enjoy!

Chicken Pitas
2 c. cooked chicken, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 c. white onion, finely chopped (I didn't use quite this much, more like 1/4 c.)
1/2 c. cashew halves
1/2 c. chopped apple (we used Gala)
1/2 c. chopped red pepper

1/2 c. mayo
6 T. sour cream or plain yogurt
1 T. honey
2 tsp. curry
dash of salt

In a medium bowl, mix the first six ingredients and stir to combine. Mix the dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl and then gently stir over the chicken mixture. We served this in pitas with basil tucked inside. Don't forget the garden chair and a sky full of sunshine!