Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Blueberry Cheesecake Bar 1Phew! All the prepping and cooking for Thanksgiving is over. Don’t get me wrong. I love cooking for the family holiday dinners. But this year, I was off my game a bit. I didn’t have to host or cook for Thanksgiving last year. Maybe the year off made me rusty? I was so frazzled and disappointed with myself that I totally forgot about blogging the desserts I made. Thank goodness, my sister-in-law reminded me before it was too late for at least one of them. Sorry I don’t have all the step by step pictures that I like to take. But at least I got one of the final product before it was all eaten up! The good news is this is a no bake recipe. So that precious oven time and space during the holiday dinners won’t be needed.

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 graham cracker sheets
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each package) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

BLUEBERRY SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

To make the crust:

  1. Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they are crumbs.
  2. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until well combined.
  3. Press into the bottom of an 8 X 8 inch pan.

To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric hand mixer, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.
  2. Add heavy whipping cream, vanilla and almond extract, and lemon juice. Mix on high for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Pour filling over crust.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. I made mine the night before, so it was refrigerated for 12 hours.

To make the sauce:

  1. Combine the blueberries, sugar, butter, cornstarch, vanilla extract and lemon juice into a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium high heat for about five minutes.  Stir frequently until the blueberries breakdown and the sauce thickens.
  3. Let cool down and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the cheesecake.

Are you ready to serve? Let’s go:

  1. Cut cheesecake into squares and gently remove from the pan.
  2. Arrange on a platter and spoon the blueberry sauce over the top of each square.
  3. Garnish with whip cream or mint sprigs. (Optional)

Blueberry Cheesecake Bar 2

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Meatloaf and Cheesy Mashed Potatoes Casserole (Or Cowboy Meatloaf version 3.0)

Cowboy Meatloaf With Cheesy Mashed PotatoesSo I was reading What’s For Dinner Moms? blog recently. And she had created a version of Cowboy Meatloaf from the Ore-Ida recipe. And suddenly a mishmash of both recipes plus a little change-up came to my mind. Thus, Cowboy Meatloaf Version 3.0 came about.  In my version, I added spicy Italian sausage to the ground beef and like What’s For Dinner Moms?  I made my own mashed potatoes. Here is a link to What’s For Dinner Mom’s? recipe: Cowboy Meatloaf With Cheesy Mashed Potato Casserole. And here is the Ore-Ida recipe: Cowboy Meatloaf and Potato Casserole. Both are great recipes. Be sure to check them out.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Original Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 cups potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup cooked bacon bits
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, coat a 13 X 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine: ground beef, Italian sausage, diced onions, Panko bread crumbs, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, eggs and chili powder until well mixed.
  3. Gently press meat mixture to the bottom of the baking dish. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the hot, boiled and mashed potatoes with butter, milk, garlic powder, bacon bits and 1/2 cup of Mexican blend cheese.
  5. When meatloaf is finished cooking, drain any excess grease from baking dish.
  6. Spread the mashed potatoes mixture over the meatloaf evenly. Add the remaining 1 cup of Mexican blend cheese over the potatoes.
  7. Place baking dish back in oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.  I like my cheese just melted, but if you want your cheese browned, you can turn up the oven to broil and place the casserole under burners for 2-3 minutes instead.
  8. Remove the casserole from oven and let sit 3-5 minutes before serving.

Easy Chicken Soup

Loaded Chicken SoupNothing beats a piping hot bowl of homemade chicken soup on a dark and gloomy day. While the chicken is the base of this soup, it is really the vegetables that are the stars. I like my soup to be a main dish, rather than a side. So I loaded this chicken soup up with as many fresh vegetables as I had on hand. Feel free to add, delete or substitute any vegetables you like. But stick to the mirepoix. (carrot, celery and onion) You can also add some cooked pasta to the soup to make this a chicken noodle soup. Or add some left over rice and make this a chicken and rice soup. This recipe makes 6-8 hearty servings.

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cartons chicken stock (32 ounce each)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add the onion,celery, carrot, potatoes, mushrooms, poultry seasoning and garlic powder to a large pot.
  2. Next add the chicken stock. Stir to mix well.
  3. Add chicken breasts.
  4. Turn heat to high.
  5. Once stock begins to boil, lower the heat to medium low.
  6. Stir the chicken and soup once again. Cover pot and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. After 45 minutes, take chicken breasts out of the soup and shred or dice on a cutting board.
  8. Add chicken back to soup and stir. (At this time if you wish to add pasta or rice, do so now.)
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Garnish with flat leaf Italian parsley and serve.

Now wasn’t that easy? 🙂

One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Spinach and Mushrooms

One Pot Pasta PlatedA one pot meal done in 30 minutes? Challenge accepted. All those years of watching Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals must have rubbed off on me in more ways than I like to admit. For one, EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) is my oil of choice. Always. And if there is a way to make a complicated dish easier (and in less than 30 minutes) I’m all over it. I’m no Rachael Ray, but I think even she would approve of this recipe.  This recipe makes 4 generous to 6 small servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage (or mild your choice)
  • 2 cups Cellentani (corkscrew) pasta or small pasta shape of your choice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 package (6 ounces) baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In your skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. When oil ripples, add onions and mushrooms. Saute for 3-5 minutes. One Pot Pasta 1

Once onions are translucent and the mushroom have browned, add Italian sausage to skillet. Mince the sausage and brown until sausage is cooked through. About 5 minutes. One Pot Pasta 2

Add pasta to skillet. Yes, uncooked pasta. We are going to let the chicken stock cook the pasta. One Pot Pasta 3

Add the chicken stock to skillet and stir to mix ingredients. The stock will cook the pasta and all the flavors from the onions, mushrooms and sausage will infuse with the pasta. Stir occasionally until pasta is al dente. ( Add 1 extra minute to pasta package instructions.) One Pot Pasta 4

When pasta is cooked to your preference, add spinach and incorporate into pasta mixture. Don’t worry, all that spinach will magically fit into your skillet.One Pot Pasta 5

Once the spinach has wilted, your pasta is ready to serve. Salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese. One Pot Pasta 6