Tag Archives: Vegetarian Dishes

A Continuation Of My First Cheesecake

Remember that first Cheesecake that I’d ever made; that made WAY too much batter?  Well… I saved that extra batter and made ANOTHER, YES, that’s two Cheesecakes under my belt now, YAY!  I thought that I’d take this one next door for the NYE party at our neighbors home.

I broke up this gorgeous bar of Dark Chocolate into a bowl and pored in some Heavy Cream that I heated in the microwave; stirred it gently for create a Ganache, MMM!

I spread it out evenly with an offset spatula and stashed it in the `fridge to set up.

Turtle Cheesecake

I melted some Caramels, spread that over the top and sprinkled it with a copious amount of chopped toasted Pecans; back in the chill box.  It’s a Turtle Cheesecake!

Can I blow my own horn here?  That was outrageously over the top, crazy delish, good stuff!  The buzz went around the room at the party that there was this really fabulous Cheesecake over on the buffet table.  This gal comes up to me with her plate in hand and fork in her mouth, “Did you try the Cheesecake yet?  You really need to taste this, it’s fantastic, the best I’ve ever had.”


I Made My Very First Cheesecake

For some reason, I’ve never made a Cheesecake before; that’s probably because I’ve never owned a Springform pan before.  I bought one last year at a discount kitchen store, I don’t remember why or what I made with it, but obviously it wasn’t a memorable dish.  I saw it sitting there, all lonely like out in my garage with the other “oddly shaped-hard to store” kitchen toys that I have.  And it hit me, I should try it!

NOW!  DH is not a fan of anything sour, tangy as he says, such as sour cream or cream cheese … you get the idea.  Cheesecake is a dessert that he does not order, but likes to take bites from mine when we go out to eat.  So I searched the Internet and wasn’t sure which recipe to follow; then I was watching a Martha Stewart TV program and what did she make, but New York Style Cheesecake.  I trust Martha, so here goes nothing.

First off, that’s WAY too much batter Martha!  Even though her recipe calls for a 10 inch pan and mine is 9 inches… HMMM

My Cheesecake CRACKED!

Secondly, Martha said that if I bake my Cheesecake in a Bain Marie or a Water Bath, it won’t crack.


Can you see that it cracked almost the entire way around the top?!  GEEZ!  Oh well, I’ll bet it tastes good.

I have enough filling for another Cheesecake

And about that filling recipe calling for 7, yes I said SEVEN eight ounce packages of Cream Cheese, WOW!  I have enough batter to make another cake.

But come on man!  Look at that wouldja!?  I mean, COME ON!  That is CRAZY good Cheesecake.  I think that IF  I ever make another Cheesecake, I’ll use Martha’s recipe; I’ll only make half…


Apple Crostata (Pie) For Thanksgiving

My husband goes absolutely CUKOO for Apple Pie, I honestly don’t like making pie.  That whole crust thing, you know, rolling it out and then trying to get it into the pie plate without destroying the entire thing.

Fresh Apple Crostata

Well, I was watching one of my favoriteTV Chef’s on PBS and she made a Crostata, how easy was that?!

I simply rolled out a single crust, following Martha Stewart’s Pâte Brisée recipe; filled it, using Betty Crocker’s Cinnamon Apple Crostata (minus the nuts) and folded over about two inches or so of the dough over the filling.  The last step is to moisten the crust on the top and sprinkle liberally with sugar.  Bake for about a half hour, cool and eat!

look at those fresh apples

Look at that will ya?! MMM!

Thanksgiving Apple Pie

And I don’t like Apple Pie, but this is delish!

This was the trial run pie …

Fresh Apple Crostata with chopped Pecans

This is the pie we had at Thanksgiving.  I used Brown Sugar in place of the granulated Sugar and also added chopped Pecans.  I’m calling this one my Caramel Apple Crostata.  My husband has changed his favorite dessert from my homemade Rum Cake with this pie.  It is good!


Pumpkin Pie For Thanksgiving

I love Pumpkin Pie but my husband does not.  So for years now, I have not made my own, but instead bought small, single serve Pumpkin Pies in the market, ACK!  Not that good, sorry guys.

This Thanksgiving we spent with Mr. & Mrs. DF’s in Northern Arizona, who were gracious enough to host the entire dinner!  I asked Missus, what can I contribute?  “How about the pies and some wine?” DONE!

Apple (we’ll talk more about that on the next episode) and Pumpkin, both Thanksgiving favorites.  Oh my, I haven’t made Pumpkin Pie in forever!  So I searched the Internet and polled fellow foodies, which recipe to go with.  I settled on Libby’s® Famous Pumpkin Pie and Martha Stewart’s Pâte Brisée for the crust.


my pumpkin pie cracked!

While the pie was cooling though, IT CRACKED! ARGH!  My chefy friends told me that I baked it a little too long, oh well, I’m sure that it’ll taste wonderful.

Both the filling and the crust came out perfect.  The combination of warm spices were NOTHING you would get from a store bought pie.  And that crust, OH MY GRAVY ALL OVER MY TWO SCOOPS RICE (that’s OMG! in my world)!!

my husband's piece of pie

I even got my husband, who CLAIMS  to dislike Pumpkin Pie (“It’s creamy, I don’t like that” … please insert whinny 10 year old boy’s voice here) to try just a small piece, “we’ll put some whipped cream on it too”, he actually LIKED IT!

Hawaiian Sea Salted Caramel Brownies

Hawaiian Sea Salted Caramel Brownies

Oh my gravy all over my two scoops rice (that’s OMG! In my world) !!!

I was flipping through a “TV Chef’s” cookbook recently and saw something similar to this idea and thought, HMMM, I can do better.

Trader Joe's Caramel Spread

I was at Trader Joe’s the other day and this caught my eye, Dulce de leche, that’ll work.

So here’s how it went.

Make up your favorite Brownie recipe, this is mine:


I use the above recipe exclusively.

Pipe on some Caramel Spread anyway you like

Once that pan of gorgeousness is completely cooled, cut them into whatever size you prefer.  Now take a baggie and spoon in some of the Caramel Spread; snip a small hole at one corner and start to pipe on the Caramel in a decorative pattern.

I brought back FIVE bags of Sea Salt on our last trip back home

I brought back FIVE bags of Sea Salt on our last trip back home

Next, sprinkle on a small pinch of Hawaiian Sea Salt (or any Sea Salt that you can get, but the stuff from Hawaii is DA BOMB-DIGGITY!).

Close-up Hawaiian Sea Salted Caramel Brownie

And there you have Hawaiian Sea Salted Caramel Brownies.


Homemade Marinara

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about making your own Red Sauce before.  As a young bride from Hawaii, I made Tomato Sauce the way that everyone did, except my husband’s family.  So I had to learn how to make American-Italian dishes by trial and error; it took a while, but I got it.


Auntie Doni’s Marinara

(2) 28 oz. cans Whole Italian Plum Tomatoes (I use San Marzano tomatoes)

1 C. Onion, minced

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Tomato paste

2 Tbsp. dried Oregano

1 Tbsp. dried Basil

¼ C. fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

½ Tbsp. Garlic, minced

¼ C. grated Parmesan Cheese

S & P to taste

Hand crush the tomatoes in a large bowl (or use a stick blender).  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions until they are light golden; add the garlic for sauté until fragrant.  Add the tomato paste and stir vigorously for about 30 seconds; add the dried herbs and also stir vigorously for another 30 seconds.  Carefully pour in the crushed tomatoes and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot.  The parsley and cheese go in the pot next, stir and cover partially to simmer slowly for about an hour.  Give it a taste, is there a slight sour note?  Stir in a pinch of sugar, that will fix that.

*Tip: if you have all of your ingredients measured out on to paper plates or any other dish that you prefer, things will move along much more smoothly.  The French call this Mise En Place, “putting in place”.

*Tip #2: Maybe you can see that I have my Tomato Paste in a small zip top bag.  Rather than spend alot of money on paste-in-a-tub, I buy those small cans and portion them out into baggies and freeze them.

sear some boneless country pork ribs

If you’d like to add any meats to your sauce to make what some folks call Sunday Gravy, after the parsley and cheese are mixed into the pot, add, oh I don’t know, how about these nicely seared Boneless Country Pork Ribs, MMM!  This will take your Marinara up a notch.

Homemade Meatballs in mass

Meatballs are an excellent choice too.  Maybe spice it up with some Red Pepper Flakes.  Anything that your household likes.  Marinara is a stepping stone to many, many other Italian dishes.  Recipes are someone else’s idea, take them and make them your own.


Let’s Start With Dessert: A Birthday Celebration In Food

Food IS a celebration and should be partaken with abandon, so why not start with dessert?

My handsome, hunky, fantastic husband claims to NOT  be a foodie.  He’s says he leaves that to me and he’ll just enjoy whatever I create.  It was his birthday this past weekend I planned an entire day of awesome dishes; I asked him what he would like Mother’s Cake or Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie?


Scratch made Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

Your wish is my command.

Auntie’s Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

1 recipe of Auntie’s Meyer Lemon Pie Filling (it’s just Lemon Curd)

1/2 recipe of Pâte Brisée (I’ve always used Martha’s)

1 recipe Meringue:

4 Egg Whites

½ C. granulates Sugar

¼ tsp. Cream of Tartar

Pinch of Salt

Make the pie dough first; roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap, it’s easier that way, into approximately a 13 inch disc, an 1/8th inch thick.  Place gently in a 9 inch pie plate.  Trim away all but 1 inch of excess and crimp.  I chose to trim the crust right to the edge of the plate, less fuss.  Prick the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork several times; cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400⁰F

Place a piece of parchment paper carefully over the pie shell and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice.  Bake for 10 minutes and then remove the paper and rice; bake for another 12 minutes until golden brown.  Cool completely on a rack.

Once the shell is cooled spoon in the filling and spread it out evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill until the filling is firm.

In a stand mixer, add the eggs, salt, cream of tartar and whisk on low speed until it starts to foam.  Increase in speed to Medium-High and beat to soft peaks.  Slow the machine down a little and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream; increase the speed again to High until you have stiff peaks.

Preheat the oven now to 350⁰F

Remove the plastic from the filled pie shell and add about half of the meringue, spreading it out to the edge of the crust, covering the filling completely.  Now mound the rest of the meringue, making lots of peaks that will brown and look pretty.

I used a large open star tip, Wilton® 1M, and a pastry bag filled with the remaining meringue to decorate the top.  Hold the bag at a 90 degree angle to the surface of the pie, squeeze and pull up to create those beautiful peaks.

Bake until the meringue is GBD (golden brown and delicious), about 15 minutes.

Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie cooled completely on a rack

Allow to cool completely on a rack

All Homemade Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie

… then serve.

TO BE CONTINUED (we still didn’t have dinner)

HEY! What About Dessert?

After a nice Italian-style meal, you NEED dessert, don’t you think?

I had the meanest ONOS (hunkerin’) for some sort of baked good.  HMMM.  Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars, yeah, that’s the ticket.  I had about a half cup of dried Blueberries in the cupboard that I hadn’t used up yet, I thought that might be a good substitution for Raisins.  I pulled down my box of Quaker® Old Fashion Oats, removed the top and there’s that “new” recipe again.  Well, let’s try it as a half batch and see how it goes.

Vanishing Oatmeal Cookie Bars with Dried Blueberries

They look good, they taste out of this world, but I don’t know.  This new recipe calls for less butter, as well as less brown sugar, making them a bit crunchier; I kinda like the chewier bite myself.


I think that I’ll stick with the old recipe.

ATK’s Almond Biscotti

I may have made mention from time to time that I watch just about ALL of the cooking television shows that I can find.  I really like America’s Test Kitchen and I also subscribe to their magazine, Cook’s Illustrated.  I was watching an episode “From an Italian Bakery”, were Julia makes Biscotti, we love those!

So, I’ve done a copy&paste of the recipe to share with you all.


Almond Biscotti

Makes 30 cookies

*The almonds will continue to toast while the biscotti bake, so toast the nuts only until they are just fragrant.

1 1/4 C. (6 1/4 ounces) whole almonds, lightly toasted

1 3/4 C.  (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 large eggs, plus 1 large white beaten with pinch salt

1 C. (7 ounces) sugar

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Vegetable oil spray


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Using ruler and pencil, draw two 8 by 3-inch rectangles, spaced 4 inches apart, on piece of parchment paper. Grease baking sheet and place parchment on it, ink side down.
  2. Pulse 1 cup almonds in food processor until coarsely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses; transfer to bowl and set aside. Process remaining 1/4 cup almonds in food processor until finely ground, about 45 seconds. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; process to combine, about 15 seconds. Transfer flour mixture to second bowl. Process 2 eggs in now empty food processor until lightened in color and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. With processor running, slowly add sugar until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Add melted butter, almond extract, and vanilla and process until combined, about 10 seconds. Transfer egg mixture to medium bowl. Sprinkle half of flour mixture over egg mixture and, using spatula, gently fold until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and chopped almonds and gently fold until just combined.
  3. Divide batter in half. Using floured hands, form each half into 8 by 3-inch rectangle, using lines on parchment as guide. Spray each loaf lightly with oil spray. Using rubber spatula lightly coated with oil spray, smooth tops and sides of rectangles. Gently brush tops of loaves with egg white wash. Bake until loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
  4. Let loaves cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes. Transfer loaves to cutting board. Using serrated knife, slice each loaf on slight bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay slices, cut side down, about 1/4 inch apart on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 35 minutes, flipping slices halfway through baking. Let cool completely before serving. Biscotti can be stored in airtight container for up to 1 month.

I followed this recipe to the tee, so why did my cookies come out so flat?  I just don’t know.  Neither do I know why they came out tasting, well, just blah, nothing.  I even tried to improve the flavor by drizzling some Vanilla flavored Candy Melts® over the tops, NOPE!  Sorry Christopher Kimball, this one was a dud.

Homemade Chunky Applesauce

Growing up, I spent a lot of my summers with my maternal Great Grandmother in a tiny town in Central California.  ‘Ma’ was the local school’s Head Cook or Lunch Lady if you will, and she made the best stuff.  The thing that I liked was her Chunky Applesauce, MMM.  I carry on her recipe and make it for my Mother, who likes to mix it with the Stewed Rhubarb that I also can for her.

this is all you need to make chunky apple sauce

Here’s what you need.

Use the varietal of Apple that your family likes best, we like Fuji Apples.  Wash them well; peel and core them, then slice them up chunky.  Have a big bowl of acidulated water to land those apples into so that they don’t turn brown on you.  Figure on about three pounds of fruit for each quart of Chunky Apple Sauce.

WOW! That's alot of Apple peels

… and the remains


Now, drain the fruit and place them into a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft, but not mushy, we do want chunky after all.  If the apples aren’t releasing much water, add just about a cup or so of water to help things along. With an immersion blender, break up just some of the apples. Taste.  Does it need any sweetener?  Probably not, but how about some ground Cinnamon.

Homemade Chunky Apple Sauce

Spoon immediately into canning jars and process using your favorite method.

Now, why should you buy pureed apples, full of who knows what, when you can make your own yumminess.

These jars will keep a dark cupboard for up to a year once canned.  It’s wonderful spooned in to plain yogurt, or in Oatmeal and even as a side dish to Chicken, Turkey or Pork.