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7.30.2012

The Ultimate Cheesecake


   A few weekends ago, I was craving cheesecake. Big time. I was tempted to drive down to the nearest grocery store to buy one, but every time we do that I regret it. They never taste as good as they look. I  decided it was time I attempted a homemade cheesecake.

   I did some searching on the net, and found this one from cutie, Tyler Florence on The Food Network. The recipe had 5 stars and over 400 positive reviews. It sounded like a winner to me! I also figured anything with the word Ultimate in the title, must be good, so I gave it a shot.

   The Verdict? It was AMAZING! One of the best cheesecakes I've ever tasted. Period. I topped ours with a simple homemade Strawberry Topping, that took it to the next level!


The Ultimate Cheesecake
Crust:
2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
2 (8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
dash of vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon lemon zest

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine crust ingredients together with a fork until evenly moistened. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.

Pour crumbs into the pan, and using the bottom of a measuring cup or smooth bottom of a glass cup, press crumbs into the bottom and 1-inch up along sides. Refrigerate crust while you prepare the filling.

For filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed for one minute, or until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat slowly just until combined. Do not overmix! Gradually, add in sugar and beat until creamy. (About 1 minute)

Add sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Periodically, scrape down sides of bowl and beaters. The batter should be well-mixed, but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-filled pan and smooth top with a spatula.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. (Be careful not to over bake!) The center will still be slightly jiggly. (It will firm up while it chills) Let cool for 30 minutes, and then loosely cover with saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for atleast 4 hours. Carefully loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan with a thin spatula or knife, and then carefully remove sides of pan.

Serve with Strawberry Topping, if desired.

Strawberry Topping:
1 (10 ounce) bag of frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
or 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
3-4 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pour sliced strawberries and vanilla in a medium bowl. Sprinkle sugar over the top. Mix together and slightly smash the strawberries with a fork. Cover and store in refrigerator for atleast 1-2 hours. Serve over cheesecake!



Linked up at: Totally Tasty Tuesdays
Trick or Treat Tuesdays

7.27.2012

Weekend Potluck #28

   Welcome back to Weekend Potluck! Thanks for bringing so many awesome oven free recipes last week. There were so many good ones! I picked a ton I want to try :)



 Now, let's take a quick peek back at last week...


                       The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Cheeseburger Macaroni
                                          Cheeseburger Macaroni by Everyday Mom’s Meals


                         Recipes that caught our attention ~

Nanaimo Bars
                                                      Nanaimo Bars by Ginger Bakes



Deep Dish Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sundae
                            Deep Dish Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sundae by Crazy for Crust

Your hostesses ~

Remember that when you link up, it shows on all SIX blogs. Plus…

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Linky Guidelines: If you wish to be a featured recipe or for us to promote your recipe either on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you MUST follow these instructions.
  1. Please link up to your exact post and not the main page to your blog.
  2. LINK BACK HERE from your post so that others can find the fun. (Need help linking back? Read this or watch this great instructional video.) You can use the button below or a direct link within your post.
When you are kind enough to follow our guidelines, we work hard to get you as much exposure as possible so that your time here is well invested. We want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone!



7.24.2012

Banana Split Ice Cream Sandwich Cake


   When my sister and I lived in Arizona, we would come up to Utah and visit our family, atleast once a month. Mom would go all out and make an amazing family dinner for us. I always looked forward to it.

   One of the things I loved the most, was her desserts. She used to make these delicious ice cream sandwich cakes. Everyone loved them! I called her last week when I was grocery shopping and asked her how she made it. It had been so long, she could'nt really remember and that's how this little beauty was born.

   As I was chattin' with Mom, we came up with this Banana Split version. It has two layers of ice cream sandwiches, with fresh strawberries, bananas and pineapple packed in between. I let it freeze overnight to ensure it would be nice and frozen. When it was time to dig in, I served it with drizzles of chocolate sauce and caramel and finished it with some cool whip and a cherry on top!


Banana Split Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
Recipe by: Holly Lofthouse

19 Vanilla Ice cream sandwiches
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip
1/4 cup Chocolate syrup
1 pint fresh Strawberries, sliced
1-2 bananas, sliced
1 small can crushed Pineapple, drained

Toppings:
Cool whip, or whip cream
chocolate syrup
caramel sauce
cherries


Directions:  Mix together the cool whip and the 1/4 cup chocolate syrup. Set aside.

Line 9 1/2 ice cream sandwiches in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Spread half of the cool whip mixture over the top. Spread half of the strawberries and sliced banana over the cool whip layer, spreading out evenly. Drop tiny spoonfuls of crushed pineapple over the top.

Line another layer of 9 1/2 ice cream sandwiches over the top of the fruit layer. Pressing down gently to pack in. Spread the remaining cool whip mixture over those sandwiches and then repeat another fruit layer. Tightly cover dish with saran wrap and freeze for atleast 6-8 hours or overnight.

Serve with drizzles of chocolate sauce, caramel, cool whip and cherries! Enjoy :)

















7.23.2012

Menu Plan Monday #18

   I was surprised to receive a few emails, asking what happened to Menu Plan Monday. I truly thought no one noticed I wasn't posting it anymore. Apparently, there's a few of you out there that look forward to the weekly menus, and I think that's awesome. I'll definitely start posting more of them :)

  I love to menu plan, and always will. It's one of those weird, OCD things about me. Sitting down to write out a list about what yummy meals I get to cook all week, makes me happy. Also, it saves us so much money, and prevents us from eating out too much.

  Here's what I'm cooking up this week...



 Monday
Calzones*
green salad


Tuesday


Wednesday
Leftovers


Thursday
Crockpot Italian Chicken*
green salad
broccoli


Friday
~Kitchen's Closed~


Saturday
garlic bread


Sunday
Beef Stroganoff*
corn


7.20.2012

Weekend Potluck #27

   First of all, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all you amazing food bloggers who have been linking up recipes. We always look forward to all the wonderful stuff you bring to Weekend Potluck!

   Since it's the middle of Summer, and most of us are melting everyday..  we thought it would be neat to encourage ovenless recipes this week. So bring on the crockpot.. sandwiches and cold dishes!





                                         Now, let's take a quick peek back at last week...




                      The recipe with the most views was ~

Rockstar Crescent Rolls
                                        Rockstar Crescent Rolls by Kelli’s Retro Kitchen Arts



                      Recipes that caught our attention ~

Tomato Pie
                                                Tomato Pie by Recipes for Divine Living



Lemon Delight Cake
                                             Lemon Delight Cake by Mandy’s Recipe Box




                                 Remember that when you link up, it shows on all SIX blogs. Plus…

We TWEET. We PIN. We LIKE.

Linky Guidelines: If you wish to be a featured recipe or for us to promote your recipe either on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you MUST follow these instructions.
  1. Please link up to your exact post and not the main page to your blog.
  2. LINK BACK HERE from your post so that others can find the fun. (Need help linking back? Read this or watch this great instructional video.) You can use the button below or a direct link within your post.
When you are kind enough to follow our guidelines, we work hard to get you as much exposure as possible so that your time here is well invested. We want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone!

Your Hostesses ~






7.19.2012

Fiesta Chicken Pasta Salad {Kraft Contest & Virtual BBQ}


   I was thrilled to be asked to participate in a recipe contest hosted by Kraft, using their Philadelphia Cooking Creme! I love their cooking cremes, and have used them in casseroles, baked pastas and side dishes as well. The recipe challenge was to create a delicious BBQ or potluck dish that is served cold. Instantly, my mind went to a pasta salad. Everyone loves pasta salad, right? :)

   Pasta salads are so perfect for Summertime BBQ's! I thought creating one with some Mexican flair would be delish! I chose to use the Original Philadelphia Cooking Creme. I mixed it with a packet of taco seasoning, ranch dressing and added in some cooked chicken, corn, and black beans. I let it chill in the fridge for about 4 hours and then served it at our 4th of July party. It was a big hit! I was hoping to bring home the leftovers, but there wasn't any left!

  *For the contest, I have the chance to win $500 dollars and a year supply of cooking creme if my recipe gets the most comments. If you could take the time to leave me a comment, I would appreciate it so much!


Fiesta Chicken Pasta Salad
Recipe by: Holly Lofthouse

1 pound box Bowtie or Farfalle noodles
1 (1 oz) packet Taco Seasoning
2 (10 oz) containers Original Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1 1/2 cups prepared Ranch dressing
2 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 (15 oz) can Black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 oz) can Corn, drained
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped

Directions:  In a large pot of water, boil noodles according to package directions. Drain water, and then place noodles in a large bowl. To the hot noodles, add the two containers of cooking creme, taco seasoning and ranch dressing. Mix well to combine.

Pour in the black beans, corn, bell pepper and cilantro. Stir gently to combine and then cover tightly with saran wrap. Place in refrigerator and chill for atleast 4-5 hours before serving. Enjoy!






Here are the other contestants and the yummy stuff they made...

Southwest Potato Salad  by Southern Bite
Creamy BLT Cups by Everyday Moms Meals
Creamy Pasta Salad by Basilmomma
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice cream by Getting Freedom
Cheddar Garlic Pretzel Dip by Moms Tool Box
Chocolate Creme Trifle Jars by Chocolate and Carrots
Tomato Basil Pasta Salad by Blessings Overflowing
Chocolate Creme Cheese Raspberry Brownies by Lynns Kitchen Adventures

7.17.2012

Chicken Caesar Sandwiches



   Sometimes I go through food phases. Right now I'm in a 'sandwich phase'. Since it's 100 degrees or more where I live, sandwiches are the way to go. I still have been using my oven, but try not to as much during this crazy summer heat. So sandwiches and crock pot recipes are on the top of my list, fo sho.

   This Chicken Caesar Sandwich is very simple, and SOOO good. I recommend using fresh bread from a bakery, or grocery store. I think it makes all the difference. Also, if you're not a fan of Caesar dressing, you could always replace it with Ranch dressing!


Chicken Caesar Sandwiches
Makes 4 sandwiches

3/4 - 1 pound thinly sliced deli Chicken breast
4 Ciabatta rolls or Hoagie rolls
1/2 cup prepared Caesar dressing
4 slices Colby-Jack cheese
8 slices Tomato
Fresh Romaine lettuce
Thinly sliced Red Onion


Directions: Slice each roll in half, lengthwise. Drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons of Caesar dressing on both inner sides of bread. Top bottom half of bread with desired amount of thinly sliced Chicken breast, one slice cheese, 2 slices tomato, lettuce and onion. Top sandwich with top half of bread. Serve with fruit or chips, and Enjoy!

















7.13.2012

Weekend Potluck #26


  It's Weekend Potluck time again! I was so sad that I missed last Fridays. I was having issues with blogger..  : /     But I'm happy to be back on this week, and looking forward to see what yummy recipes get linked up! Bring on the grub!!




Now let’s take a quick peek at last week!




The recipe with the most views was ~
Pina Colada Poke Cake
Pina Colada Poke Cake by Kelli’s Retro Kitchen Arts




Recipes that caught our attention ~

Southwestern Avocado Salsa
Southwestern Avocado Salsa by Flavors by Four





Classic Oreo Icebox Dessert
Classic Oreo Icebox Dessert by The Kitchen is My Playground


Your hostesses ~ Life As a Lofthouse ~ Holly
4 Little Fergusons~ Tonya
The Country Cook~ Brandie
Meet Penny ~ Tabitha
The Better Baker ~ Marsha
Sunflower Supper Club ~ Kim & Julie

Remember that when you link up, it shows on all SIX blogs. Plus…

We TWEET. We PIN. We LIKE.

Linky Guidelines: If you wish to be a featured recipe or for us to promote your recipe either on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, you MUST follow these instructions.
  1. Please link up to your exact post and not the main page to your blog.
  2. LINK BACK HERE from your post so that others can find the fun. (Need help linking back? Read this or watch this great instructional video.) You can use the button below or a direct link within your post.
When you are kind enough to follow our guidelines, we work hard to get you as much exposure as possible so that your time here is well invested. We want this to be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone!



7.11.2012

French Onion Burger


 Yes, I am still alive! Sorry for being MIA in the recipe posting department. We moved this past week and are so excited to be in our new house! I'm extra happy that we are done with the move. It was no fun... at all. Moving in 100+ degree weather is something I hope I never have to do again.

  I decided to kick-off this week with an awesome recipe, perfect for Summer grilling! This is a French Onion Burger, and it is the most delicious thing in the world. This burger has the works!! It is stuffed full of creamy carmelized onions, barbecue sauce, potato chips and pickles. TO.DIE.FOR!  *drool*




French Onion Burgers
Recipe adapted from: Jamie Cooks It Up!
(Makes 4 burgers)


For the Carmelized Onions:
1 large Yellow Onion
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon beef bullion granules
1/4 cup sour cream


For the Burger:
1 pound ground beef
1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
1 egg
salt and pepper


Toppings:
Hamburger buns
4 cheese slices (Cheddar or Swiss)
Barbecue sauce
Potato chips (regular or Ruffled)
Dill pickles


Directions: Start by making the carmelized onions. Thinly slice the onion. Melt butter in a large saute pan, over medium high heat. Add the onions, and stir so melted butter coats onions. Cover the pan, and tilt the lid slightly so the steam can escape. Stir onions every few minutes. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until onions are a golden color.

While onions are cooking, start making your burgers. Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Sprinkle the onion soup mix over the hamburger and then crack the egg over the top. Using clean hands, mix all together thoroughly. Form 4 patties, and then fire up the grill! Cook burgers to your liking. Add the cheese on top when burgers are almost done. Let the cheese melt slightly, and place burgers on a platter. Cover to keep warm.

While the burgers are grilling, finish making the carmelized onions. Mix together the water, and beef bullion granules. Pour over the golden onions. Turn the heat to high and let the onions simmer until most of the water evaporates. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the sour cream. Mix until combined.

To build the burgers...  Take one cheeseburger and place on top of botom bun, then add the barbecue sauce, carmelized onions, potato chips, pickles and top with other bun!
Devour that bad boy!  :)









7.03.2012

Monterey Chicken


   I've been a slacker on posting new recipes. Sorry about that. Our lives have been pretty busy lately. In a good way, though. Today we signed for our new home! We are moving in this weekend, so life is about to get even more crazier :)

   I wanted to share this chicken recipe, before the holiday and moving chaos begins. This Monterey Chicken is so yummy, and it reminds me of my BFF, Teri. She used to order this whenever we'd eat at Chili's restaurant, back in high school. She lives in Idaho now, and I miss her everyday. I've known her since the 4th grade, and I know we'll be friends until were 90 :)  Love you Ter! ♥

  Okay, back to the recipe. This delicious chicken is topped with barbecue sauce, colby-jack cheese, bacon, tomatoes and green onion. It is heaven on earth. Make it as soon as you can. It is super duper divine!


Monterey Chicken
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup colby-jack cheese, shredded
1 (14 ounce) can diced Rotel
1/4 cup chopped, cooked bacon
sliced green onions
pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pound chicken to flatten. Season with pepper. Grill chicken in a skillet or grill pan, until no longer pink. (about 10-12 minutes) Then place cooked chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Top each piece of chicken with 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup Rotel tomatoes, green onion and chopped bacon.

Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted (about 5-7 minutes) Serve and enjoy!





Recipe source: Kim McCrary

7.02.2012

4th of July Food!


    If you're still in need of some 4th of July party food ideas, you came to the right place! I have put together a list of some yummy barbecue/party food, that would be perfect for the big celebration.

   I love the 4th of July for many reasons, but especially for the celebration of our country's freedom! 
Also, my husband and I have our wedding anniversary on July 1st, so this week we do a lot of celebrating :)

   I hope you all have a great Independence Day! Be safe.. eat lot's of food.. and have tons of fun!!