SWEET LIME & HATCH CHILE CHEESECAKE

While this recipe is my traditional “COOKIES & CREAM” recipe, you can make any flavor you want – just change out the sandwich cookie flavors.

I have these awesome Sweet Lime Hatch Chile cookies that I’ve only ever found in Texas at HEB. A friend sent me several boxes this year as a wonderful gift so I decided to make this wonderful no bake cheesecake with some of them.

SWEET LIME & HATCH CHILE CHEESECAKE serves 6-8
36 chocolate sandwich cookies
5 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cups cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon PURE vanilla extract
1 cup milk, warm
1 tablespoon gelatin

  • Separate the cream from the cookies into 2 different bowls.
  • Place the cookies into a plastic bag and crush them into fine crumbs with a rolling pin. Set aside ½ cup of the crumbs for later.
  • Pour the cookie crumbs into a bowl and combine with the melted butter, mixing until the texture is like slightly wet sand.
  • Press the cookie crumbs in an even layer into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Set aside.
  • In a medium pot over low heat, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, the cream from the cookies, and vanilla extract, stirring until there are no lumps.
  • In a measuring cup, mix the milk with the gelatin until dissolved.
  • Pour the milk into the cream cheese mixture, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to bubble slightly. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the mixture over the cookie crust in the springform pan. Using a spatula or a spoon, smooth the top.
  • Sift the saved cookie crumbs on top of the cheesecake in an even layer, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Unclasp the ring of the spring form pan, slice, then serve!
  • Enjoy!

CRANBERRY VODKA

Some of the best recipes of the Christmas season are those that double as gifts, like this homemade cranberry infused vodka.

CRANBERRY VODKA

1 cup FRESH cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 large strip of orange peel
2 cups QUALITY vodka (Absolut is best)

  • Place the cranberries, sugar and pineapple juice in a medium saucepan over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved, the cranberries pop and the pineapple juice is absorbed. 
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 
  • Transfer the mixture into a large mason jar.
  • Place the orange peel in the mason jar, and pour the vodka over top.
  • Screw the lid on tightly and set the jar on a counter at room temperature for at least 3 days, and up to a month.
  • Shake once a day.
  • Strain into a decorative bottle, tie with festive ribbon and gift with a cocktail recipe in which to use it.

BISTRO TURKEY SAMMIES

BISTRO TURKEY SAMMIES
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 LARGE Granny Smith apple, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup homemade cranberry sauce
1 pound sliced turkey
4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half OR FRESH baked sourdough, sliced thick
4-8 sliced thinly sliced baby Swiss cheese
leaf lettuce or arugula, optional

  • Preheat broiler.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add apple, sugar and cinnamon sauteing 3-4 minutes until crisp tender. Remove from pan.
  • Add remaining butter. When melted add onion and saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add apple slices to pan, stirring to mix apples and onions.
  • Spread cranberry sauce on one side of roll or bread.
  • Layer turkey, apple mixture and cheese.
  • Add sandwiches to baking sheet open face with tops along side.
  • Broil 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.
  • Add lettuce or arugula and close sandwiches.
  • Serve immediately.

BLESSMOSAS aka BLESS YOUR HEARTS

Worth waking up early for on Thanksgiving or ANY day for that matter. We have some wonderful friends coming to dinner tonight and I wanted to make a special, signature drink for the occasion.

BLESSMOSAS aka BLESS YOUR HEARTS when you run out of the Prosecco and switch to Absolut Pear Vodka 😀

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 (32-oz) chilled Ocean Spray pineapple cranberry juice
1 (32-oz) chilled QUALITY apple cider
1 bottle prosecco or Absolut Pear Vodka
1 apple or red pear, 1/2 diced and 1/2 sliced into half moons, for garnish
Whole cranberries and/or orange slices for garnish

  • Combine sugar and cinnamon on a shallow plate.
  • Dip the rim of each glass in water, then dip into the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture, coating the edge of each glass. Let it dry if you have time.
  • Place a spoonful of homemade cranberry sauce in the glass.
  • Add a few pieces of diced apple or pear.
  • Fill each glass 1/4 of the way up with pineapple cranberry juice.
  • Add apple cider to the halfway mark.
  • Top with Prosecco to the top.
  • Garnish with an apple or orange slice.

TUSCAN CHICKEN PASTA

TUSCAN CHICKEN PASTA serves 4

2 cups rotisserie chicken breast pieces
8 ounces spiral pasta (I didn’t have enough so I used half rotini and half penne)
3/4 + 1/2 cups chicken bone broth
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup WHOLE milk
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH basil
3-4 slices bacon, diced – browned, drained of ALL fat and crisp
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Add sun-dried tomatoes to 3/4 cup homemade chicken bone broth to re-hydrate for 1 hour. This can also be done 24-48 hours ahead of time.
  • Prepare pasta per package instructions.
  • While pasta is boiling, melt butter in skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add onions, sauteing 1 minutes or so.
  • Add the milk, cream cheese, remaining 1/2 cup chicken bone broth and garlic powder, cooking and stirring 3-5 minutes until cream cheese is melted and mixture is a smooth consistency.
  • Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, spinach, salt and pepper cooking and stirring until spinach is wilted.
  • Serve immediately with garlic bread.
  • Garnish with additional basil, bacon bits and remaining FRESH grated Parmesan cheese.

NOTE: Leftovers can be placed in a casserole dish, topped with Mozzarella cheese. Bake 25 minutes until casserole is cooked though, cheese is melted and browned and serve as a new meal.

SNICKERS BROWNIES

SNICKERS BAR BROWNIES

A YUMMY and SUPER DELICIOUS fudgy brownie base with a layer of caramel, nougat and peanuts throughout that tastes exactly like a Classic Snickers Bar.

1 Box Supreme Triple Chunk Brownie Mix, or flavor of choice
1 – 11 ounce bag Kraft caramel balls
2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
1-1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cashews, chopped
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 – 7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
1/4 cup c
reamy Peanut Butter
1 – 16 ounce package milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 classic Snickers bars, chopped into small chunks

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Prepare the brownie mix as per the package instructions.
  • Bake the brownies 20 minutes, then remove to COMPLETELY cool.
  • Add caramels and 2 tablespoons of the evaporated milk to a small bowl.
  • Microwave on medium heat, stirring every 20 seconds until the caramels have completely melted.
  • Pour this mixture over the top of the cooked brownies and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle nuts evenly over the caramel layer then put into the freezer while you move onto the next part.
  • Add the sugar, remaining evaporated milk and 1/3 cup butter to a small pan over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble around the outer edge. You want to reach a “soft crack stage”. Turn off the heat as soon as you see a rolling boil.
  • Stir in the peanut butter and the marshmallow creme until smooth.
  • Pour this nougat mixture over the top of the caramel peanut layer and place back in the freezer.
  • Sprinkle the chopped Snickers chunks on top of the caramel peanut layer.
  • In a medium mixing bowl add the chocolate chips, remaining butter and heavy cream. Microwave on medium setting for 20 second intervals until totally melted.
  • Pour over the nougat/snicker bits layer.
  • Add back to the freezer for another 10 minutes, just enough to set the chocolate layer.
  • Cut into squares and serve.

MONKEY MEAT SANDWICH SPREAD

I found the original recipe on face book, but it’s a new favorite of hubbies (despite the yellow color). Monkey Meat… it’s not what you think! I love how she begins this recipe, “Before you run away, let me clarify – no monkeys were harmed in making this Monkey Meat. There are also no bananas… let me explain…” I had no idea where the name REALLY came from, but I adored it so I read on. The mixture itself reminds me of the UNDERWOOD deviled ham from when I was a kid.

She said it was an old family recipe, a sandwich spread made by her grandma when she was trying to feed 4 hungry kids on a tight budget. She would grind up bologna with her homemade pickles to save a bit of money and stretch her food budget. Her grandfather, a quirky science teacher was the one that coined the name, Monkey Meat. And while an odd name, the recipe is so worth a try! Her recipe used only mayo, but hubby can’t eat bologna without mustard so I adapted it to suit him, though the color is a bit off putting 😀

MONKEY MEAT SANDWICH SPREAD adapted from I WASH YOU DRY

1 pound piece of bologna, cut into cubes
5 to 6 QUALITY baby dill pickles, drained
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup mustard

  • In a food processor pulse the bologna several times until it becomes very finely chopped, place in a large bowl.
  • Wipe out the food processor and add the dill pickles, pulse a few times until very finely chopped.
  • Toss the dill pickles with the bologna.
  • Stir in the may and mustard mixture.
  • Keep chilled.
  • Spread on crackers or your bread for a delicious sandwich!

MEXICAN QUICHE

MEXICAN QUICHE

1 10 inch flour tortilla burrito size
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken pieces
1/3 cup FINELY chopped FRESH cilantro leaves
4 ounce can chopped green chiles, drained well
1/2 cup salsa

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
FRESH ground salt and pepper
2 LARGE eggs
1 cup WHOLE milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

GARNISHES
Sour cream
Salsa
Guacamole
Chopped green onions

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Grease 9-inch spring form pan.
  • Press tortilla into prepared pie plate and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Toss chicken, salsa, cilantro, green chiles, 1 cup of the cheese, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper in large bowl until combined.
  • Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, and FRESH ground sea  salt and black pepper in bowl until smooth.
  • Slowly pour egg mixture over chicken mixture and fold to combine.
  • Spread filling evenly into tortilla.
  • Bake until surface is golden brown, 25-30 minutes or until set when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese on top and bake for about 3-5 minutes more until cheese is melted.
  • Let cool 5 minutes.
  • Cut into wedges and serve.
  • Serve with your favorite garnishes.

NOTES: The chicken can be easily traded out for browned ground beef or a pulled pork.

OATMEAL MUFFINS

OATMEAL MUFFINS adapted from GET POCKET

Yield: Makes 12 muffin cups

2 LARGE eggs
1 1/2 cups WHOLE milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or other fruit purée like mashed banana or even canned pumpkin
1/4 cup nut butter or 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup PURE maple syrup or QUALITY honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract (see notes)
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, or chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup golden raisins or chopped dried fruit of choice or both 😀 (optional)

  • Preheat oven 350°.
  • Coat the wells of a standard 12-well muffin tin very well with cooking spray or line with papers.
  • 
Add the eggs, milk, applesauce, nut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. 

  • Add the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and fold with a rubber spatula until combined. 

  • Fold in fruits, nuts and coconut.
  • Divide the oatmeal mixture evenly among the muffin wells, filling each one up to the top. 

  • Bake 25-30 minutes until slightly risen, dry on top, and golden-brown. 

  • Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.
  • Run a knife around each muffin and remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. 


NOTES:

  • I make my own vanilla and usually have flavored on hand that adds a cit of flavor. I use Coconut Vanilla or Pineapple Vanilla regularly.
  • I also use Red Ape Cinnamon which is a high quality and extremely flavorful cinnamon.
  • The nuts, seeds and/or fruit are optional, but HIGHLY recommended. I usually add both nuts or seeds AND coconut.
  • I also recommend muffin papers to make clean up easier.
  • Muffins can be kept an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY BROWNIE BOMBS

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY BROWNIE BOMBS yields 24

1 box of brownie mix and the ingredients it takes to make them or a batch of homemade
3/4 cup chocolate frosting
15 ounces almond bark
1 jar maraschino cherries (see note)

  • Bake the brownies as directed and let cool completely. Do not overcook the brownies, crunchy brownie bits don’t make for good bombs.
  • Crumble the made brownies and mix in about 3/4 a cup of chocolate frosting – you want a similar consistency to cake pops. You may need to add a little more, but you want to start out on the low side and add more as needed. You want a consistency that stays together easily, but isn’t too sticky to roll into balls.
  • Use about 1 1/2 of brownie frosting mixture and roll it into a ball, but then make a hole in the middle.
  • Add one cherry into the center and fold the brownie ball in over the cherry making sure to seal the cherry in.
 Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Once you have all your bombs made, pop them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  • Melt your almond bark. You may need a little more or a little less depending on how heavily you coat the bombs.

  • Remove the bombs from the freezer but keep them in the refrigerator.
  • Working with one bomb at a time, drop it into the melted almond bark, pull it back out, and tap off the excess chocolate.

  • Place it on wax paper and wait for it to dry completely.
  • If you want to add sprinkles do so IMMEDIATELY as the almond bark will dry quickly.

BLACK BEAN CHICKEN

BLACK BEAN CHICKEN

1 can seasoned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Green Giant Mexican corn niblets, drained
1 cup chunky salsa
2 tablespoons butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon KINDERS taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Coat chicken breasts all over with the taco seasoning.
  • Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add chicken breasts, searing for one minute per side.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Add beans, corn and salsa.
  • Simmer 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
  • Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Cut chicken into slices and serve over rice or fritos.

CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD

CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD
Cranberry orange bread is a go to fall favorite for us with its FRESH cranberries and sweet orange glaze. It also makes a wonderful neighbor gift during holiday times.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
Zest of 2 LARGE oranges
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup neutral oil
4 LARGE eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons FRESH orange juice
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract (see notes)
2 cups FRESH cranberries, halved
½ cup chopped walnuts (Optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray two 9×5 loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl add sugar and orange zest, stirring well to combine.
  • Add flour, salt, and baking powder, stirring to combine.  Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
  • Fold in the halved cranberries and walnuts if using.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans.

 

  • For regular sized loaf pans, bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
  • For mini loaves, bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife.
  • For muffins, bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.

GLAZE
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons FRESH orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
Powdered sugar, for dusting (Optional)

  • In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest.
  • Whisk until smooth.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the bread.
  • Dust with the powdered sugar if desired.

NOTES:

  • If your loaf starts to get too brown during cooking, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top to finish baking. 
  • I make my own vanilla so often have great complimentary flavors. This batch was made with a coconut pineapple vanilla.

STORING – Wrap in plastic wrap and store 2-3 days at room temperature.

FREEZING – This cranberry bread freezes beautifully.  Cool completely, Wrap well in plastic and ziploc bag.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw at room temperature.