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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Perfect New York Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

There's nothing like a real New York Cheesecake, lovingly prepared, baked, and patiently cooled. So dense. So delicious. In my church young men and women ages 18 and 19 often choose to go on a mission, leaving their families for up to two years to go off and proselyte and serve people. One of those young missionaries was coming over to our house for dinner on his 20th birthday. He requested a raspberry cheesecake for his birthday cake and I happily delivered. I knew that his mother was somewhere hoping that someone else would take care of him on his birthday. And so I share with you my recipe for the perfect New York Cheesecake topped with a fresh and easy Raspberry Coulis which is pretty much just a fancy word for sauce. Enjoy!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cool Time: 6 hours
Yield: 8 large slices


15 graham crackers
3 TB butter, melted
2 lbs (4-8oz packages) cream cheese
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 (6-inch) vanilla bean OR 1 TB vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
6 oz raspberries
2 TB sugar
1 tsp lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little butter or shortening.

2. Crush the graham crackers in a food processor or blender. Stir in melted butter and press into the bottom of the springform pan to form a crust.

3. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to whip together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy.

4. Add in the eggs and sour cream, and beat on low until incorporated. 

5. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the mixture, or add in vanilla extract. Stir in flour until incorporated. Pour mixture into the springform pan.

6. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 1 hour. Do not open the door. At the end of the hour, turn off the oven, keeping the door closed. Let the cheesecake slowly cool in the oven for 5 to 6 hours to prevent cracking. Remove and refrigerate until ready to serve.

7. Before serving, make the raspberry couli by combining raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Press through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds and pour it over the cheesecake. 

8. Remove the springform pan ring before serving. Keep cold. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bacon Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Cheese Dip + Video Recipe

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine. 
Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand. Thank you to the sponsors who make this blog possible. Check them out on Pinterest and Twitter or look at their website for more information on their fabulously tasty and high quality products. Seriously, have you tried organic milk? Way tastier! 

Well, the first day of school was yesterday. Life is back to schedules and homework. My kids love cooking with me in the kitchen. It is a special time for us where I can teach them important life skills, but also a place where we can casually talk about our days. Lots of important discussions happen in our kitchen and around our dinner table. We connect. It is an important part of our regular routine. My kids have recently discovered a love of bacon so I knew they'd be excited to make bacon pretzel bites. You can turn these into regular pretzels, of course, but for the age of my children, bites are easier for them and a better serving size. Plus, we made dip and bites just dip better than an entire pretzel. However you decide to roll, let the kids get into the kitchen to help. They love to help and there's lots that they can help with in this recipe. Get them in there! Teach them about cooking, and connect with them. You won't regret it!

Time to Make It: 45 to 60 minutes
Yield: about 3 dozen bites


Pretzel Dough
4 slices bacon
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 1/4 cups water, lukewarm
1 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup warm water
2 TB baking soda

Cheese Sauce
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1 tsp ground mustard
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz cream cheese


1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet. Lay the bacon strips in the cold pan and then put it over the burner over medium heat. Cook until crispy, flipping once, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and crumble.

2. Make your dough by dissolving the yeast and brown sugar in the water. 

3. Add in the bacon drippings, crumbled bacon, cheddar and flour and mix until combined. No need to knead. Let the dough rise in a warm place until almost doubled (about 20 minutes). 

4. While the dough is rising, make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Whisk in flour and ground mustard to form a paste. Pour in milk while whisking and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and stir in cheddar and cream cheese until melted and smooth. 

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. 

6. Divide the dough into 8 golf ball sized lumps. Roll each ball into a snake or rope. Cut them with a butter knife into bite sized pieces. 

7. In a large glass, mix together warm water and baking soda. Dip the pretzel dough bites into the water and lay out on the baking sheet. 

8. Bake at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes, until golden brown. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick Grilled Lemon Chicken Tenders

This is a recipe I've used for over 10 years now. I forget how good it is. Chicken tenders are awesome because they cook so quickly, especially on a grill. It's one of the easiest dinners I have up my sleeve. Technically you don't even have to marinade the chicken if you are in a rush. Serve it up with some sort of veggies and call it good. Through it in a pita with some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and a little dressing and you've got yourself a sandwich. Toss it on some lettuce and you have a salad. Versatile and easy. You can even toss it in pasta. This recipe is pretty much the reason I keep lemon pepper in my spice rack. About as easy as it gets!

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Marinade Time: 30 minutes to 8 hours
Cook Time: 5 to 9 minutes


2 lbs chicken tenders
2 lemons, juiced
2 TB olive oil
2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt


1. Place chicken tenders in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag (like a ziploc). Pour in lemon juice, olive oil, lemon pepper, basil, oregano, and salt. Shake it a bit so all the chicken tenders get covered.

2. Let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.

3. Heat an outdoor gas grill over high heat. Sear the chick for 2 minutes on each side and continue cooking until cooked through. This should take about 5 minutes or less. Chicken tenders cook quickly on the grill. Alternately, heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Sear the chicken tenders on each side for 2 minutes and continue cooking, covered for another 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Actual cooking time is dependent upon the thickness of the chicken.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Slow Cooker Blueberry-Nectarine Cobbler

I kind of love slow cooker desserts. Not only can you make some really delicious stuff, but it is so convenient to have a hot dessert ready to go after dinner without any additional work. And yes, slow cooker desserts can be really delicious. Think dutch ovens, but without the coals and campfire hassles. My husband is all about fruit desserts. Personally I think they are more like side dishes or delicious breakfasts, but he loves a good fruit dessert. Blueberries and nectarines are in season and on sale right now so I put this in the crock a couple hours before dinner and it was ready to go just as we were finishing up our meal. I ate the leftovers for breakfast which, to me, tasted even better. Killer breakfast, right? No matter how you eat it, as a dessert or a breakfast, this slow cooked recipe is sure to please. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Slow Cooker Time: 3 to 4 hours, high
Yield: Serves 6 to 8


10 oz blueberries
6 nectarines
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sugar

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 TB baking powder
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup half and half


1.  In the bowl of a slow cooker, toss together blueberries, nectarines, lemon zest and juice, cornstarch, vanilla, and white sugar. 

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cuter to cut in butter until it resembles a course meal. Pour in half and half and stir to form a thick batter.

3. Scoop the batter in large spoonfuls on top of the blueberry nectarine mixture. 

4. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.

***Tip: Place a large paper towel across the bowl of the slow cooker and put the lid on to secure. This will absorb some of the extra moisture in the slow cooker. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kale-Avocado-Banana Green Smoothie

Several years ago I tried making my first green smoothie. We couldn't handle the chunks of kale in our smoothie. It was disgusting. Fast forward to the present and now we have a Blendtec which can handle kale with no problem. I'm impressed by any machine that can make kale disappear. One thing I really love about this smoothie is that it has a beautiful color. Sometimes "green smoothies" end up a weird brown color. My kids are skeptical of those. But this beautiful green smoothie truly is bright green. The banana and avocado makes it nice and creamy and the orange juice gives a zesty boost.  

Time to Make It: <5 minutes
Yield: Serves 2


2 cups orange juice
2 cups kale
1 avocado, pitted and skinned
2 large frozen bananas


1. Pour the orange juice into a high power blender. Add in the kale and blend until smooth.

2. Add in the avocado and frozen bananas. Blend until smooth.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Superfood Protein Energy Bars

My husband is an avid cyclist who rides his bike up to 30 miles in the morning before he heads to work. The man gets super hungry burning all those calories. Several months ago (wow, maybe even more like a year) he asked me to develop a homemade protein bar for him. I finally came up with a bar he loves. I decided to pack in as many superfoods as I could. Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, maca powder, blueberries, and cocoa nibs....that's, what, 7? Add in some dates and some protein powder and boom, you've got yourself a pretty tasty protein bar. Seriously, this is way better than any store-bought protein bar I've ever eaten. This is perfect for his cycling and even my half-hearted gym time. 

Time to Make It: 5 to 10 minutes
Yield: 8 bars


1/4 cup raw unsalted almonds
1/4 cup unsalted walnuts
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3 TB chia seeds 
2 cups cups medjool dates, pitted
1/3 cup protein powder 
2 TB maca powder (optional)
1/2 cup dried blueberries
3 TB cocoa nibs


1. Put almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, and chia seeds into a food processor or high power blender. Pulse for 15-30 seconds until nuts and seeds are crumbly. 

2. Add in medjool dates, protein powder, blueberries, and cocoa nibs. Process or blend until a dough ball forms.

3. Lay out a 2 foot length of plastic wrap. Dump the dough onto the plastic wrap and flatten into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard.

4. Cut into 8 bars. Wrap each bar individually and store in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Snacks + Video Recipe

We've been having a lot of fun with our new Blendtec. School starts in less than a week for us! Yikes! We decided to spend one of our last summer afternoons in the kitchen making a lunchbox treat for the kids. These fruit and vegetable snacks are right up our alley. Now, they are much more like really thick jello pieces than your run-of-the-mill boxed fruit snack, but then again, these things are actually made out of real fruit and vegetables so of course they'll be a bit different. My kids love them and they are so much fun.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Refrigerate Time: 2+ hours
Yield: (1) 13x18-inch baker's half sheet pan = lots and lots of fruit snacks


1/2 cup juice (orange or other kind of citrus)
4 cups spinach leaves
3 cups berries
1/4 to 1/2 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 packets unflavored gelatin


1. Pour juice into blender. Add in spinach leaves. Blend until smooth.

2. Add in berries. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour berry mixture into a saucepan. Pour in agave, vanilla, and gelatin packets.

4. Heat over a medium-high flame until gelatin is completely dissolved (3 to 5 minutes).

5. Line a baker's half sheet pan with parchment paper. Pour fruit mixture onto pan.

6. Let cool and refrigerate 2 hours until set. Cut and serve.

7. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

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