Friday, July 31, 2015

Recipe #91: Decadent Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake Squares

First, please forgive the pictures.  They were taken on my old phone, and I forgot to transfer them over to my new album.  At least I still had pictures to show you of this recipe, as it is absolutely to die for.  Yes, I have made many cheesecakes in my time, and at one point, I owned an 8, 9 and 10" springform pan.   That said, there were times that I wanted to make a cheesecake and either wanted something more casual than a round shape, or cheesecake that fed more people.  That's not to say that one made in a 10" pan wouldn't feed less than 16 people, but trying to but cut pieces that were uniform, looked nice and kept their point at the end of the piece was another thing.  This recipe cuts easily into 24 squares, although the original recipe called for 48.  In a perfect world, one would eat a 1x1" piece, but really, who would do that?  This recipe is made in a 9x13 pan, and I line it with a piece of tin foil, so cleanup is a snap!  And, the espresso adds depth, without bitterness.  Now, let's bake...

1 1/2 cups flour                                                           1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted                                                 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened                 2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp espresso powder mixed with                 2 eggs
    with 2 tbsp warm water                                        1/2 cup evaporated milk

For crust, combine flour, brown sugar and butter in a medium bowl with a fork.  Line a 9x13 pan with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.  Press flour mixture onto the bottom of the pan.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.   Melt chocolate chips either in microwave according to directions, or in a medium saucepan on low heat.    Beat cream cheese and sugar together with a mixer until smooth.  Beat in eggs.  Gradually add evaporated milk, then espresso mixture, then melted chocolate chips.   Pour over crust and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until center moves just a little.  Cool to room temperature, then chill until firm.  This time around I mixed some espresso powder with powdered sugar and sifted over the top of the some of the squares.  Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Recipe #90: Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita...Happy Birthday, Les!

I found this recipe from Michael Symon, and I have already made two batches in the past week.  Not that a batch makes a lot, mind you, but these things are addictive.  I am not a lover of overly spicy food, that said, I do like some kick.  You need to taste these an hour after you make them, and then another few hours after that so you can gauge your heat level.  The cucumbers will actually pickle after awhile, and if you "are" a lover of spicy food, the pickles will fill the bill.  I would love for you to try these at least once.  I think you will be very pleased.  Now, let's cook...

1/2 cup fresh lime juice                                             8 slices cucumber
1/2 cup tequila, white or gold                                   1 jalapeno, halved lengthwise, and I also deseeded
1/4 cup grand marnier or triple sec                               but you don't have to
1/4 cup simple syrup, or more to your liking            salt for glass rim, optional


1/2 cup sugar                                                             1/4 cup water

In small saucepan, boil the water.  Turn off heat and add the sugar, whisking until sugar is dissolved.  Let cool.  I put the pan in a bowl of ice water and whisk until cool so I can use immediately.

Mix together the lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur and simple syrup in a pitcher.  Taste for sweetness.  Add the cucumbers and jalapeno, stir.  Refrigerate for an hour, taste.  Bon appetit!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Today is July 22...My Mother's Anniversary...

Thirteen years ago today, I was at the exact same place I am today...sitting at my kitchen table at almost exactly the same time.  That day was a Monday.  The Friday before, I had talked to the oncologist, who told me my mom had perhaps 6 months to live, and that living with multiple myeloma was living with one of the most painful cancers.  After talking to my mom on the phone that weekend, and hearing her anguish, I sat on my front steps Sunday evening, and through tears, I talked to my mom out loud, and told her because she had been through so much, it was okay if she died.  So here I was, the next day, sitting at my kitchen table at this very time.  I was supposed to fly to Chicago in a few hours to see her, but just didn't want to get up.  It was then I got the mother had just died.  I just sat there and cried.  Her favorite flower in her later years was the gerbera daisy, and when I got back to Chicago, my sister read me a note my mother had left stating a flower she wanted at her wake.  Pam couldn't discern what the flower was because of my mom's writing, but I looked at the words and immediately knew it was gerbera.  I drove to every grocery store in the area and bought all the gerbera daisies I could find.  These simple daisies were more beautiful than any other floral arrangement, because they were mom's favorite, and I was so happy I was able to accommodate one of her last wishes on that list.  I love you, mom, but more so, I miss

In honor of my mother, please go to recipe #1..the very first recipe on this blog...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

To All of My Readers Around the World...

I can't believe that I have posted 89 recipes, but there it is as of last Thursday.  As I approach my 100th recipe, I would love for you to tell me what recipe has struck you as your favorite, whether you have actually made it or not.  I will re-post this recipe as #100, and you have up through recipe #99 to let me know.  Please write me at, which is my email address.  I would so enjoy hearing from you, whether it be for this, a recipe you would like to see on my blog, comments or suggestions.  Have a great, let's get in the kitchen...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Recipe #89: Macrina Bakery Orzo Salad

I have been making this orzo salad for the past 15 years, thanks to Leslie Mackie, owner of Macrina Bakery in Seattle.  This recipe is outstanding, and has such a freshness...all you need to complete a summer dinner with this is some wine, bread and perhaps a light dessert.  I was going suggest a lemon dessert, but this salad has lemon in it.  That said, I will anyway and suggest a nice lemon sour cream mousse.  Once you have your prep work done, this all comes together in minutes.  It not only looks beautiful, it keeps for 2-3 days and the taste of all these ingredients is fantastic.  Now, let's cook.

1 cup chopped walnuts                                     1 cucumber, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cut into                  1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
   1/2" square pieces                                         1/2 cup diced scallions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil                             1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf)
1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese                      1/3 cup lemon vinaigrette
1 1/2 cups dry orzo pasta                                 1 tbsp olive oil


1 tbsp Dijon mustard                                       2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice             1 tsp honey
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest                      1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp kosher salt                                               1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a medium bowl.  Mix well with a whisk.  Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking as you pour.  Continue whisking until the dressing has emulsified, then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Fill a large saucepan with water.  Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Drop in the pasta and cook according to directions on box.  Remove pan from heat and drain the pasta in a sieve (it will go through a colander, so don't do that).  Run under cold water until cool and shake to remove excess water.  Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine.  Add the vinaigrette and stir again.  Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Recipe #88: One Bowl, One Pan Caramel Pecan Coffeecake!

This recipe is truly a keeper, and how could it get doesn't even take an egg!  Do you want something special for breakfast or brunch that doesn't require any rises (as in a yeast dough) and bakes up in only 25 minutes?  Then this is for you.  There is only one problem's "too" easy to make and I find I could be in real trouble with this recipe.  Please try it sometime...and let me know what you think.  Now, let's cook...


1 3/4 cups flour                                                            2 envelopes rapid rise yeast
1 tbsp sugar                                                                   1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup hot water (120-130 degrees so                   2 tbsp butter, melted
     the yeast can do its thing while
     baking...use a instaread or other
     thermometer to be sure)


1/3 cup sugar                                                                1 1/2 tsp cinnamon


1/2 cup light corn syrup                                              1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp butter, melted                                                   1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt

Spray a 9 1/2" deep dish pie pan with cooking spray.  I usually use glass.  In a small bowl, stir together the corn syrup, brown sugar, butter and salt.  Add pecans and mix well.  Stir together the sugar and cinnamon in another small bowl.  Mix batter ingredients in a medium bowl and with greased fingers, spread evenly over the bottom of the pie plate.  Top batter evenly with the cinnamon sugar.  Spoon the caramel pecan topping evenly over the sugar...mixture will be thick but dollop on with spoon and fingers.  Bake in a COLD oven set to 350 for about 25 minutes, or until brown on top and knife through center doesn't have much give.  You can't really tell the other because you have the pecan syrup to go through.  Bon appetit!

put the dough in the pie plate, and with greased fingers, push evenly over whole bottom...              
should look like this...                                                                                                                           

add the sugar mixture...

 spoon the pecan mixture over the whole thing...

there you have it...delicious!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Recipe #87: Cucumbers in Sour Cream & Dill

I could literally eat these cucumbers till the cows come home.  I have been making this recipe for the last 30 years, and usually would serve with my rouladen and hot and sour red cabbage that I have already posted on this blog.  But, that said, it's an excellent summer dish, and as the cucumbers sit in the refrigerator, they actually get crisper.  You would think they would become soggy but just the opposite.  This is a one-bowl recipe, and is ready in a few hours.  You will love it!!  Okay, let's cook...

3 medium cucumbers or 2 large, cut length-              1 tsp salt
    wise, seeded and sliced razor                                     1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar                                                         2 green onions, including tops, sliced thin
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper                                3-5 tbsp dried dill, depending how much you
1 cup sour cream (do not use light)                                like dill..I use all 5

Mix all ingredients, except for cucumbers, in a large bowl.  Add the cucumbers and stir until thoroughly combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2-3 hours.  Use a slotted spoon to serve.  They will hold another day, but you probably won't have any left.  Bon appetit!

get all the seeds out of the cucumbers...I use a spoon and scrape them out...

razor thin...

they should look like this...