Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

I don’t feel about craisins (dried cranberries) like I do about raisins:

otter-raisins

 

This meme totally cracks me up!!! Everytime I see it I have to snicker. I have a brother who makes this kind of face when he’s describing facebook, bagpipes and okra.

It’s not that I really hate raisins, they’re just not chocolate chips, right? Anyhow, this recipe is about craisins but could also be about chocolate chips. In a different version, that is.

cranberry-cheesecake-bars

Would you believe it, the first “group” photo I took I realized I forgot the cream cheese so I took another. Then after I was halfway through mixing this up and realized I forgot the craisins.

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It’s really a simple recipe. I started with a butter cake mix, added 1 egg, 1/3 cup oil and mixed in mixer until kinda crumby. Add pecans if you’d like. I didn’t but wished later that I had.

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Press into a 9×13 pan either by hand or a roller thingy like this.

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Put into a 350° heated oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Throw a bar of cream cheese, or Neufchâtel, or cream cheese Greek yogurt into the mixer and beat until smooth. I actually used Neufchâtel in this. Add 1 egg, 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/3 cup sugar and beat again until smooth.

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Pour over the crust that you have pulled out of the oven (you have pulled it out, right???) 🙂

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Sprinkle a cup of white chocolate chips over the cream cheese layer. Then add 1/2 cup (or more to taste) craisins. Put back into the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

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The cream cheese layer should be set. Let cool completely and chill before cutting into bars. It’s plenty rich so it’s perfect for a finger food plate. 🙂

 

Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

1 butter recipe cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1 – 8 oz. cream cheese, Neufchâtel or cream cheese with Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)

Combine cake mix, 1 egg, oil and pecans (optional) and mix in mixer or food processor until crumbly. Press into a 9×13 baking pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Mix cream cheese until smooth. Add evaporated milk, 1 egg and sugar and mix until smooth. Pour over cake mix layer that has cooled slightly. Sprinkle chocolate chips and craisins over top. Bake at 350° for another 15 minutes. Chill before cutting into bars.

 

Some variations on the recipe include:

Chocolate cake mix
milk chocolate chips

Lemon cake mix
White chocolate chips and/or lemon chips (bulk food stores often carry them)

You can also save some of the cake mix crumbles from the crust mix to sprinkle on top of the chips/cream cheese before baking.

I make this recipe for every bake sale that I help with and there are never any left. I wish there was at least 1 left for me to taste! 🙂

Summertime Foods

It is summertime here and boy it is hot! We’ve had hotter weather the last week or so than I remember having the past couple of years. Maybe I just didn’t notice??

hot, humid

 

June 25 1
Taken in the shaded carport around 3:30 PM, June 25.

 

June 25 2
Taken in the sun around 3:40 PM, June 25.

So along with summer heat comes the desire to come up with other options than cooking in the kitchen and heating up house. Around here, the old cabin-style houses (called dog trot houses) had breezeways between the kitchen and the sleeping quarters. I totally get it.

Corn is one of my favorite summertime foods! I personally like white corn better than yellow but I’ll eat any of them. We grew up eating tomato sandwiches and chocolate milk with our corn-on-the-cob meals. That’s still one of my favorite summer meals!

fall 2012

 

Something else we use to eat in the summer was a cold strawberry soup. You chill milk and add a little sugar. Just before serving, tear bread into little chunks and add to milk. Add chopped fresh strawberries. Some folks like bananas too but me … not so much. We’d often having fried/baked chicken or something like that to eat with it.

 

Another fun thing to do is make an all-grilled supper. These pictures are from a few years back but are good inspiration for me.

steak supper 5 b

Dice potatoes and toss with seasonings and make a foil pack. Takes about 10-15 min. on a hot grill.

steak supper 1 b

steak supper 3 b

steak supper 2 b

Olive oil, seasonings and veggies! Yum!

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Add your favorite marinated and grilled meat and you’ll have a complete meal.

This past weekend I made tin-foil meals on the grill. Butter tin foil or use a pie pan (or 2). Add a leaf or 2 of cabbage. Slice potatoes, carrots, onions and place over cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Top with raw, seasoned hamburger, or marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, add some sausage for good flavor. Seal with foil and grill on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Add a little shredded cheese when you remove the foil.

I also get tired of water but am trying to stay away from soda and other sweetened drinks. One alternative that I like is buying club soda or sparkling water and add fruit concentrate. Pineapple is one of my favorites!

Summer Foods-2

Summer Foods-5

Summer Foods-10

It’s a carbonated drink but with a (bit of a) healthier twist

 

If I do drink actual soda, my favorite is this brand:
Sarasota-98

 

What are your favorite light meals, or keep-the-kitchen-cool meals?

Sugar Free Lemon Berry Pavlova

Posting a recipe when so many big and heavy things are going on in our world but one must eat despite big and heavy things happening. Maybe this meringue dessert can lighten things up a little. Pun intended. 🙂

I first had pavlova when one of my nieces made it. They “learned it” from their family in Australia. It is so yummy and light! I wanted to make pavlova for a church carry-in and decided to make a sugar free version for those who choose/need to eat that way. There are many different ways you can make pavlova but the base is always a meringue base. I’m not sure if pavlova is the complete dessert or the meringue base. Maybe someone can help me out. 🙂

Pavlova-5

You can also make little individual pavlovas. If space wasn’t a constraint, I would go that route because slicing this baby doesn’t leave it looking the prettiest.

Preheat the oven to 250°.

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Choose whatever sugar alternative floats your boat. I had a store brand of sugar replacement baking blend. Beat with egg whites on high speed until it is stiff and shiny.

Add the lemon juice, vanilla and cornstarch. Mix just until blended.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. If you want, you can draw a circle with a pen on the parchment paper if you want to stay within a specific size. As you can tell, I didn’t! 🙂

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I spread this one into approx. 10″ across. That made it about 2 inches deep in the center. Create a bit of a well in the center to hold the toppings better.

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It doesn’t have to be spread all smooth. In fact, it is prettier if it is a little peaked.

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Baking basically dries it out good and proper. I was shocked at how light it was. I don’t know why. I’ve had meringue on pies before. It just felt funny to pull it out of the oven when it was cooled and it weighed a couple of ounces.

Make sure to let it cool down in the oven before removing it to avoid cracks.

Pavlova

If you discover, like me, that your local grocery store doesn’t have much sugar-free pudding options, you can do like me and choose a SF cheesecake pudding and add lemon flavoring. Yum!

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If you have access to real whipping cream, by all means go that route. I went for ease this round, I’ll admit. Real cream tastes better and I’m guessing is the better option.

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The fruit is what makes it really pretty. Go bonkers with it!

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Slice and serve immediately or shortly thereafter. 🙂

 

ALTERNATIVE SERVING SIZE:

You can make six 3-inch round meringues if you’d rather. This serves up beautifully. Decrease baking time to 45 minutes.

 

 

Pavlova Recipe

These Are A Few of My Favorite Pinteresting Things (Recipes)

I love reading about other people’s Pinterest ideas or recipes. I’m afraid I don’t use a cookbook as much anymore. Well, given that there are only 2 of us in the house and we don’t eat many meals together, and that most of what I do make is “no recipe needed” stuff and that most cookbooks don’t have pretty pictures, we just don’t use recipes as often as others probably do. If I had many mouths waiting for meals, I’d be looking for inspiration at all corners. 🙂

The recipes I’m sharing I’ve made either exactly like the recipe or fairly similar. Not like … “I finally learned to enjoy chicken rice casserole… I substituted beef for chicken, oh, and I used noodles instead of rice, and cheese, I don’t care for cheese [can you EVEN imagine me say THAT??] so I used pizza sauce. And it was delicious! I think I’ll try this recipe again.” That may be a bit of an exageration but once you do enough substitution, you are no longer really using the recipe. You’re using inspiration from the recipe.

I’ve already told you about the Gold Dust seasoning blend. Here’s another use for it. Recently I bought rotisserie chicken, deboned it, sauteed it with fresh, diced tomatoes, slivered Vidalia onions, green peppers from my garden (yay) and sprinkled it generously with salt and Gold Dust seasoning. I made a quesadilla out of it and ooh, la la! Quick and easy! Chicken Fajita Quesadilla.

 

 

Skinny Tomato Basil Soup

One of my recent finds was Skinny Tomato Basil Soup from The 36th Avenue. This is quite tasty!! The second time around I added tortellini to it (cooked separately) and topped with homemade croutons and Parmesan cheese. It’s probably no longer considered “skinny” after that. 🙂 Fresh herbs totally make this soup. Tonight I used fresh basil, thyme and oregano from little herb-garden-in-a-pot.

Tomato Basil Soup

 

 

 

10-Minute Refrigerator Dill Pickles

I love dill pickles, especially the garlicy, vinegary homemade dill ones. I found a recipe for 10 Minute Refrigerator Dill Pickles from Flower Patch Farm Girl that nearly make me swoon. I know, it’s embarrassing! I made 2 quarts in time for our church Memorial Day Cookout. I kept some out for myself because I was afraid there wouldn’t be any left! And there weren’t many left. My note on Pinterest is the brine is so good I want to drink it. Tip: You can use the brine a second time but I found I had to add more salt and vinegar or the 2nd batch wasn’t as good.

Dill Pickles

 

 

 

Quinoa Burger

Okay, this next recipe I did a major substitution, quinoa for rice. The Quinoa Burger from Eating Well Living Thin I make with rice and then eat as a side dish. We didn’t have quinoa, had actually never bought any until recently so I used cooked rice. It is delicious so i have no reason to think that it wouldn’t be delicious with the quinoa, and healthier too. I’m sorry I don’t have a pictures. Feel free to go to her site and see! 🙂

 

 

Authentic British Fish and Chips

I eat Fish and Chips any chance I get. It is definitely not southern fare and southern fish are not as good as cold water fish like cod and whiting. We buy cod fillets at Sam’s Club and love them. I made a substitution for this one too since I didn’t have any beer on hand (yeah, shocking, I know!) I used ginger ale instead. And I didn’t make the chips. I roasted potatoes in the oven instead. So this is about the fish only. Authentic British Fish and Chips is delicious but mine didn’t look as pretty as hers. Maybe the beer makes the difference? It’s also a phone picture it doesn’t look as good here as it did in person.

Fish and Chips

 

 

 

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Roll-Ups

I’ve found a number of recipes from Jamie Cooks It Up that are amazing!  Bacon Wrapped Chicken Roll-Ups are delicious as well and fairly simple for as pretty and flavorful. I didn’t use quite as much bacon and added some salt and sriracha sauce to the cream cheese mixture. Tip: You want to make sure the chicken is pounded very thin. This breaks up the fibers and keeps it soft. It may look raggedy before it bakes but after it’s finished, the pulverized chicken looks fine. Definitely a keeper. Sorry, no picture. Make sure to visit Jamie’s site. She has a lot of amazing but simple ingredient recipes as well as weekly and monthly menus for inspiration.

 

 

Bourbon Chicken

Bourbon Chicken (without the bourbon) comes from Jamie Cooks It Up too. I used it as a contribution to a cooking show with our church ladies. I should have a picture of it over rice like Jamie does but I almost forgot to take any food pictures, much less pictures after we started eating. Tip: Doubling the sauce recipe will stretch your meat. The sauce is worth it!

Cooking Show-48 b

 

 

 

Maryland Crab Cakes with Horseradish-Sriracha Remoulade

When we were in Hilton Head last year, my friend ordered the crab cake entree at Skull Creek Boat House. Their crab cakes are rolled in salt and vinegar chips before they’re fried. Some crab cakes have lots of bread or cracker filler. Theirs did not. It was filled with crabby goodness. Since then I have I’ve been dreaming making the perfect crab cake. Restaurants charge enough that you don’t want to pay a lot for 2 crab cakes and then not like them. Lump crab meat can cost up to $14/lb. here so it’s not the cheapest meat to make. But I went in pursuit of a recipe online. Maryland Crab Cakes with Horseradish-Sriracha Remoulade totally fit the bill! I didn’t take a pictures but mine looked a little gray instead of a white and golden color like hers but it was delicious! I did roll some of them in salt and vinegar chips. My sister said she couldn’t tell a difference. I thought the addition of the chips added the perfect bit of flavor. The sauce packs a punch! I’m guessing it should with horseradish AND sriracha!

 

 

Pork Neck Bone Stew

Okay, I’m not so much posting Pork Neck Bone Stew because it is my favorite recipe but because a) I only tried it because I accidentally got unsmoked neck bones [I wanted the smoked for stuff like black-eyed-peas, etc. The unsmoked does not add great flavor to beans!] and b) It’s been re-pinned more than any other recipe I’ve pinned. I don’t know if that’s because a) people accidentally got the wrong meat like me or b) because there aren’t many recipes out there for pork neck bones. I don’t remember what I paid for the meat, but the flavor was quite good (from the bones) and it’s a way of stretching a little meat. It’s been pinned from my board 38 times! It’s by far not the most delicious sounding recipe out there. Tip: I found it to be very spicy (hot) so added a little sugar and cream to tone down the flavor. If I was making it to include kids, I’d back off the cayenne pepper and jalapenos. Tip 2: My bones had very little meat so any picture I’d have taken would’ve not looked as meaty as hers. Mine was literally little tid-bits of meat in a rich gravy.

 

 

Crack Bread

Crack Bread was a big hit at our weekly office meetings! I usually tried to find artisan bread that was marked down at Walmart. An electric knife is quite important to get clean cuts, unless you’re better at cutting bread with a serrated knife than I am. Serve with pizza sauce and/or ranch dressing. This pictures was taken before I baked it into a delicious, gooey goodness!

Crack Bread

 

 

A few more quick ones:

Edamame Hummus Delicious and healthy dip (I added soy sauce and ginger since I thought it needed a little more Asian flavor)

Cilantro-Pecan Pesto Mediterranean Layered Dip Delicious, pretty and healthy

Sweet & Salty Party Mix Far from healthy but delicious combo of sweet and salty. I made some to give away at Christmas.

 

Have you tried any of these recipes?

 

Click HERE to see my boards and see what else I have pinned.

 

Blackened Salmon (or anything else)

Last December I was desperately looking for a gift for my co-workers, mostly men. It’s hard shopping for men who aren’t your husband/boyfriend/dad/brother. I found a recipe on Pinterest for a steak rub and decided to pair that with some grilling tools and just hope they didn’t already have everything they needed for grilling.

Magic Dust Seasoning Mix found on the Simply Shellie blog was just the ticket. I don’t know if the men have enjoyed it but I know I have! I had enough left over for me to keep some. I was hoping it was good because I gave it without having used it myself first. 🙂

I discovered I like it very much as a blackening seasoning. We’ve upped our fish consumption, salmon or cod being our favorites. To blacken, I simply rub the fish with olive oil, then rub in a generous amount of Magic Dust. It doesn’t have a high salt content so you may want to sprinkle on a little more salt when frying.

Heat the pan and add a little olive oil. The thinner the fish, the higher heat I use. The salmon tends to be thick so I don’t fry it as hot. I don’t want the outside to burn before the center is done. Raw salmon is gross. Because I said so.

Blackened Salmon b
Blackened Salmon, Roasted Onions & Potatoes, Zucchini “Noodles” with Pesto & Parmesan Cheese

 

I fry the skin side first, if it still has skin, and then flip to finish. Serve with tartar, if desired, or Sriracha Mayo. I haven’t told you about Sriracha Mayo??? I will sometime soon.

 

 

Magic Rub Seasoning Mix (from Simply Shellie)

Makes about 2 cups

  • Ingredients:
  • ½ cup Paprika
  • ¼ cup Kosher Salt
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Cumin
  • ¼ cup Granulated Garlic
  • ¼ cup Chili Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Mustard Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Cayenne Pepper

She has a printable tag that is quite nice.