Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

IMG_2261 This is one of my favorite summer time desserts to make. It’s not too heavy and it’s refreshing. It’s also super easy to make. I’m all about baking from scratch, but where I can make it a little easier on myself I do. So here I use a pre-made graham cracker pie crust because I find it’s just as good if not better, than one I’d make. But please feel free to make your own.

 

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups blueberries
  • 1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust (or make your own)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to a bowl and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency.
  3. Pour into the graham cracker pie crust.
  4. Cover the filling with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed.
  5. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until center only slightly jiggles.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes: Sometimes if I feel the cream cheese isn’t fully incorporated I will use my stick blender to get it creamy and smooth.

IMG_2268 You can also turn these into bars by using a 9×9 square baking pan and pressing the graham cracker mixture into just the bottom of the pan and following the rest of the recipe. Bake at 325º for 35 minutes. 

White Chocolate Muddy Buddies

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As I sit here typing it is an outrageous 99ºF outside! I mean c’mon! I’m basically in Portland, ya know, where it rains all the time. Wrong!!! I’m thanking God, and my local hvac guy (dude who installed my new furnace last November) for my wonderfully efficient central a/c! So, I’m pretty much holed up in my cool house and craving something sweet. But I don’t want to turn on the oven to bake something or work up a sweat over the stove top cooking fudge or that Panna Cotta recipe I want to try (I so can’t wait to try my hand at that).

So, I thought it’d be a perfect day to whip up a batch of some yummy Muddy Buddy Chex Mix, (aka Puppy Chow I’ve recently learned). I’ve only made it a time or two with the typical semi-sweet chocolate chips called for in the original recipe. But I only had white chocolate chips on hand. So, I swapped the semi-sweet chips for the white and followed the rest of the basic recipe. Let me tell you, this is so easy and quick to make I don’t know why I don’t make it more often. Probably because I usually don’t have a whole box of Chex cereal on hand, as you almost use the entire box. The best part is you don’t heat up your kitchen to make it and it makes alot! But that’s a good thing, because it’ll be gone before you know it.

Apparently, there are many different versions on the web you can use to tweak the original recipe, such as: lemon, cupcake batter, cookies n cream, fluffer nutter, cookie dough, samoa (you know those addicting Girl Scout cookies?), cotton candy, peppermint bark, strawberry shortcake, red velvet cake, Butterfinger (omg!) … *takes a deep breath* … and so on. Also, for all you gluten sensitive people out there, these are gluten free (unless a variation of it uses gluten of course)!


White Chocolate Muddy Buddies

  • 9 cups Chex Mix (I used Rice Chex, but you can use corn or whatever variation of Chex they have)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (can be swapped out for semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 – 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl measure out Chex mix and set aside.
  2. In a glass or microwavable bowl measure chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter into the bowl and heat on High uncovered in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time until evenly melted and smooth. (Be careful not too over heat as chocolate can easily scorch). Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour melted mixture over cereal, tossing carefully until evenly coated. (Don’t worry if every piece is not coated).
  4. At this point you have 2 options: 1 – pour this mixture into a large ziploc bag, sprinkle the powdered sugar inside, seal bag and shake until well coated. Or 2 – Leave mixture in bowl and sprinkle the powdered sugar a cup at a time and toss gently until all pieces are coated. Some prefer a little less sugar and use just 2 cups and others like more. (I used about 3 cups, it gave a nice coating over all of it without making it too ‘dry’).
  5. Cover the bowl so it’s airtight or seal the bag and store in the refrigerator.

Tips: If you love peanut butter like I do, use another quarter cup for a more peanut buttery taste. You can also use peanut butter chips instead and really get that peanut butter punch!


White Chocolate Muddy Buddy Pictorial

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Gather your ingredients

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Melt chips, peanut butter and butter in bowl

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Stir until evenly melted and smooth

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Pour over 9 cups of Chex Mix in a large bowl

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Toss until fairly well incorporated, but as you can see, not every piece is completely coated

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Add the powdered sugar and gently toss until the pieces are well coated

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Place in the fridge for as long as you can stand it.

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And enjoy! Store (or hide) in the fridge for best results.

Beer Bread

imageedit_8_5532211638 Beer Bread, yes, beer bread. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve never heard of this delicious bread before a few months ago. The name in and of itself sounds strange and well, I wasn’t too sure I’d like it, as I’m not a big fan of beer. But luckily I got to try it at one of my work potlucks. One of my co-workers baked some and brought it to work along with a stick of butter to slather on this wonderful creation. At first glance the thick slices looked dense and like it might be on the dry side. It almost reminded me of soda bread in appearance from the foggy recesses of my mind way back in my grade school days when a teacher would bake some for St. Patrick’s Day. So I didn’t have high hopes for it. But I dutifully tried a little bit of everything everyone brought in and grabbed a half slice of the beer bread with a little bit of butter spread on top. My first bite into the crunchy, buttery crust and dense, not dry at all, inside (almost biscuit like) I was very pleasantly surprised and instantly in love.

Fast forward the following weekend. I googled this wonderful bread recipe and found that many recipes pop up, most following the same basic recipe. So I grabbed the one that was most straight forward/easy and went to work. I was surprised at how few ingredients there were, which made me a little doubtful of my results. Maybe my co-worker used a different version of this recipe? So, I forge ahead, mixing all the ingredients together, pouring a stick of melted butter over the top of the dough, which again, made me raise my eyebrow and baked it as directed.

It came out beautifully! It was delicious! Buttery and crispy on the outside; a nice thick, crunchy and slightly chewy crust. And a nice moist, fluffy, light flavor bread inside with the slightest hint of the beer when I use the darker beers. I have now made this bread several times, using a variety of beers: Sessions Dark Ale, Pipeline’s Coffee Beer (the hub loves this beer, me not so much, but it makes a yummy beer bread!), Foster’s Lager or whatever I had in the fridge. For instance, today’s beer bread was made with some left over beer from a party: Pabst Blue Ribbon, again it came out yummy! I have found the darker the beer, the more flavor, which makes sense. So, even if you’re not a beer drinker, or don’t like a particular beer, it’ll make a scrumptious beer bread. My next beer bread I make I want to try a fruity beer, maybe raspberry or an apple ale. The only problem with this bread is… you eat way too much!  🙂

Happy baking!


 

Beer Bread Recipe

  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 – 12oz can or bottle of beer
  • ½ stick of butter, melted (¼ cup)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375ºF. Measure all the dry ingredients in a bowl and sift together with a wire whisk. Pour the beer of your choice into dry ingredients and mix together. Spread into buttered loaf pan. Pour melted butter over the raw dough and bake in the oven for 60 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy.

Notes: I sometimes find that either the beer is only 11oz or there just isn’t enough moisture to incorporate all the ingredients well. So, I take the empty can or bottle and put some water in it, swish it around and add a little more to the dough mixture. Also, the original recipe calls for the whole stick of butter (1/2 cup), but I found it makes the crust too hard and crunchy. So, if you think you’d enjoy that, try it. Sometimes I use about a 1/3 cup of butter. You can play with the amount and see what works best for you.


Step by step pictorial:

imageedit_23_8183112978Gather your ingredients.

imageedit_6_9848098810Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl

imageedit_8_3823044039Whisk to sift all dry ingredients together

imageedit_10_9527576316Pour beer into dry ingredients

imageedit_12_4580766979Mix it all together

imageedit_14_9416582018It should look like this when all mixed together

imageedit_16_3210437048Spread evenly into bread pan

imageedit_18_9481683518Pour melted butter over raw dough

imageedit_20_6723221350It doesn’t look too pretty at this point, but have faith

60 minutes later….

imageedit_3_2280681539Yummy!

 

My $2 Homemade Rustic Pie

Today I went to a new store in my neck of the woods because they sent me a coupon for a free bottle of Vitamin D and a free book, so you know I was all over that. While there I looked around and found they had produce that was either bruised or just starting to get that not so fresh look in bags for $2 each. There was mostly bags filled with various veggies: leafy green lettuce, avocados, onions, leaks, celery etc. Then I found the one bag filled with organic fruit! So I snagged it up quickly, paid my $2, got my free bottle of vitamin D and the book and went on my merry way home.

I got home and opened my bargain bag of fruit and discovered some nice looking peaches, including a white peach, nectarines, a plum and a banana. The peaches had a small blemish, the white peach wasn’t that great, so it got tossed sadly, nectarines had a small bruise and the plum was in pretty good shape. The banana was just barely starting to turn from bright yellow to the darker yellow with a few tiny dark spots, it’ll make a perfect smoothie for later.

As I start to cut into a peach to enjoy I realize, these are all pretty ripe and should be consumed quickly. So I started cutting them all up into nice slices (after washing them of course) and throwing them into a bowl.

Looking at my bowl of various stone organic fruits sliced up all nicely just waiting to become something, I remembered I had a left over already made pie crust rolled up and waiting in the fridge to also become something.

Eureka! I’ll make a rustic peach, nectarine, plum pie! I was excited now.

So I added to the bowl some lime juice (as that is what I had on hand, no lemons), a sprinkling of white sugar, a good tablespoon of cornstarch, a few shakes of cinnamon and nutmeg and a pinch of salt. I tossed it all together carefully and let it macerate in the fridge while I dealt with the pie crust.

I didn’t want to do a traditional pie, too much work and I didn’t have enough pie dough anyway. I also kept thinking back about 20 years ago (dating myself here) of a rustic apple pie I threw together that turned out delish! So, I find an old pie tin, unroll the dough, fix the few tears that happened (pie dough is so forgiving, thankfully) and poured the seasoned fruit into the middle of the dough. I roughly folded over the dough edges over the top of the fruit and brushed the dough with a beaten egg. I then sprinkled white sugar over the glistening dough and popped it into a 350º F oven.

Rustic Peach, Nectarine, Plum Pie before it was baked

Rustic Peach, Nectarine, Plum Pie before it was baked

 

 

35 minutes later… perfection! For $2! Organic perfection at that! It makes my bargain hunter heart and taste buds happy. Rustic Pie transparent corner

One of the best things about this rustic pie is you don’t need a pie plate to make it. You can do it free form on the middle of a cookie sheet or heck, even a pizza pan. Whatever you have available.

Happy baking!


 

Rustic Peach Nectarine Plum Pie Recipe

  • 5 – 8 peaches, nectarines, plums – pitted & sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (to taste, if the fruit is on the tart side, you might want to add more sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • optional – a sprinkling of cinnamon and/or nutmeg and a dash of salt
  • optional – zest from half a lemon/lime
  • optional – 1 egg to brush on the crust plus 1 – 2 tsps sugar to sprinkle over top
  • 1 premade or homemade pie crust of your choice

Directions: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Clean, pit and slice the fruit into a large bowl. Add in the sugar, corn starch, lemon/lime juice, spices and salt and gently toss together. Put bowl in the refrigerator while you prepare your dough on the pie plate or cookie sheet of your choice. Pour the fruit mixture into the middle of the dough and carefully fold over the dough edges towards the center. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Beat the egg in a bowl and brush it over the dough and sprinkle it with a teaspoon or two of sugar. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, depending on how big your pie is. The dough should be a nice golden brown when done. Let cool and enjoy!