Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes

I like to keep desserts in my freezer for busy times and unexpected guests.

I am picky about desserts.  If I am going to indulge in the calories I want them to not only taste delicious but also look pretty.  For buffets, I prefer assorted individual mini-desserts.  Making mini-desserts makes guests feel like they can sample everything.  Large desserts that need cutting or spooning don't look too appealing once they are half gone.  If you are having an open house, it allows guests who arrive later to enjoy options that look fresh.

Making several different mini desserts and freezing them enables me to serve a sampling of treats at a moment's notice.  They thaw in about 15 minutes.

The recipe below has been around for awhile but instead of making it in a standard cupcake pan, I use the mini-pan.  I also add a cream cheese topping with mini-chocolate chips as an option to cherry pie filling.

Toll House Mini-Cheesecakes with Cream Cheese Topping:

1 package of Toll House Cookie dough

1 8 oz package of softened cream cheese
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Place a small ball (about the size of a cherry) of the cookie dough in paper cups in a mini-cupcake pan.  Bake at 325 for 10 minutes.   Remove from the oven and flatten the cookie.  I use a small melon baller. The cookie will cover the bottom and extend partially up the side of the paper cup.

Mix the other ingredients until smooth. Add enough cream cheese mix to fill the paper cups about 2/3's full.  Bake an additional 12-15 minutes.  They will puff up and have a dry appearance but not brown.  Lightly touch the top to make sure they spring and not sink.  Allow to cool.


1 lb of confectioners sugar
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 tsp of vanilla

Mix until creamy.   Add a dollop on each cheesecake and top with mini-chocolate chips.

As a stand alone dessert, use a standard size cupcake pan.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fall Potato Corn Chowder

Potato Corn Chowder is a perfect Fall meal.

I came up with this recipe after experimenting with what I had in my pantry.  It makes a hearty soup and serves a crowd.  It can be made the day before if you have a busy schedule.


5 pounds of potatoes  (I use Russet but use red skin potatoes if you want a smoother texture.)
5 cups of chicken stock (I use Swanson's)
2 large stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 cans of creamed corn
1 1/2 pound Smithfield Ham Steak, trimmed and cubed in bite-sized pieces
2 cups half and half (don't use milk)
4 teaspoons of salt
4 teaspoons of pepper
Olive oil

Peel, cube and boil potatoes until tender.  Drain and mash, leaving some small chunks.
Saute' celery and onion in about 2 Tbls of olive oil until tender.  Add chicken stock,and all ingredients except half and half to the potatoes. Heat and stir frequently over low heat in a HEAVY pan to avoid scorching.  After heating, add half and half and salt and pepper.  Add more seasoning if desired.  Cook on low for about 30 minutes so flavors blend and the chowder has thickened to desired consistency.

Note: if a thinner consistency is desired, add more half and half.  Serves 12-16.

Serve with grated cheese and cornbread or crusty rolls.

Option: cook and crumble bacon to use in place of the ham.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Patriotic Pretzel Dessert for the 4th of July

Pretzel Dessert

I realize that this make ahead recipe has been around for a long time, but think outside of the box and get creative with it.

Make it the day before giving the pretzels time to soften.  It will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator.

This is made in a 9" by 13" pan. Because recipes made in a pan don't look "pretty" after a serving or two are removed, I like to put it on individual serving dishes.  For a potluck or barbecue, use clear plastic cups as seen in the second photo.  It makes a pretty presentation and there isn't a dirty pan to clean up.  (I also like to do the same with banana pudding.)  

Variations can easily be made by substituting a different flavor of jello and other fruits.  Try orange or lime jello with pineapple and bananas. I add blueberries for the Memorial Day and the 4th of July.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Better than Potato Skins Recipe

Potato skins are one of my favorite foods.  Anything with potatoes works for me.
Making potato skins is another thing,  I had to decide what to do with the part I scooped out.
Potato soup, mashed potatoes or potato cakes were a couple of ideas, but that just made more work.
I came up with this recipe when I was asked to cater a wedding rehearsal dinner.  It is so quick and easy to make ahead of time. 

Potato Skins Plus

6 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed well

6 slices of center cut bacon  cooked and crumbled**

1 1/2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream

Chopped chives (optional)

Bake potatoes in the microwave for about 12 minutes until they are tender to the touch.  Do not overcook.
Let cool.  Cut into cubes. Put in a baking dish (9x11) spray with a non-stick coating.  Put potatoes into the dish and spray with non-stick spray.  Salt and pepper well.  Place in the oven at 375 for 10-15 minutes until slightly brown.  Remove and sprinkle with cheese.  Add crumbled bacon.  Return to the oven for 10 minutes.  Serve with sour cream and chives.

Note:  You can double this recipe.  Just add an addition potato and strip of bacon per person and enough cheese to cover the top.
This can be prepared the day before serving.  Because the potatoes are cooked, they do not discolor.  Place potatoes in the prepared dish and cover with plastic wrap.  Put the crumbled bacon and cheese in a baggie until ready to use.

This recipe is great for brunch, a side for dinner or a potluck.  Left overs are good reheated.

** If cooking only 6 strips of bacon, cook it in the microwave between paper towels on a microwave safe plate.  It usually takes about 4-5 minutes until crisp.  If you are cooking the whole package, use a broiler pan.  Line it with aluminum foil, spray the grate with non-stick spray on both sides.  Place bacon on the grate.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until crisp.

I hope this becomes one of your favorites, too.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pumkin Cookies Perfect for Fall

These cookies remind me of a muffin top in their texture.  The flavor improves overnight.

I double the recipe and freeze half to pull out to give as a gift or when the kitchen cookie jar is empty.

Cookie ingredients:

1 cup of butter or margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup of canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt


3 Tblsp. butter or margarine
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup of milk
2 cups of powdered sugar                            

Cookie:  In a large bowl, mix butter and sugars, add pumpkin and egg.  Blend well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Drop a walnut sized scoop of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. 
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until slightly brown at the edges.  Cool on a wire rack.

Glaze: In a heavy gauge sauce pan, heat butter and brown sugar over medium heat until rolling boil.  Cook, stirring constantly for one additional minute.  Add milk and whisk until mixed.  Add powdered sugar, mixing well and immediately spoon over the cooled cookies. 

I added a pecan on top of some as a garnish.  You can also add chopped pecans to the batter.  Because we have a family member with nut allergies, I don't add them to the batter.

I hope this recipe helps get you in the mood for the Fall season! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chocolate Butterscotch "Can't Eat Just One" Cookies


This is the easiest no-bake cookie recipe ever.  It is a variation of the Haystack Cookie which uses Chinese noodles.  I substitute Rice Crispy cereal because the noodles are quite hard once the chocolate sets up

My kids love them and now the grand kids are enjoying them, too.  Warning:  It is hard to stop at one or two.

Chocolate Butterscotch No Bake Cookies

1 12 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12 ounce package of butterscotch chips
6 cups of rice crispy cereal
4 cups of miniature marshmallows

Melt the chips together in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir and continue melting in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Do not overcook or the chips will start to harden from too much heat and you can't re-melt them.

Once all the chips are  melted into a smooth consistency, add cereal and marshmallows.  Stir until completely coated.  Drop by spoons full onto waxed paper.  Let set up at room temperature.

Variations:  Add a cup of chopped nuts, use a large can of Chinese noodles or Chex Rice cereal in lieu of the Rice Crispy cereal.

For Easter, they can be shaped into a nest.  Place a jelly bean or small egg in each one.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Easy Does It

I like these totally unrelated ideas that make my life a little easier and wanted to pass them along.

I love this scanner in the pictures below.  The picture to the right is the downloaded scanned picture.  Scan recipes from magazines or decorating ideas or rooms you like and download them to a computer file.  This allows you to keep only what you want and discard the magazine.  You can use your cell phone if you are away from home and email it to yourself.  Then download the email to the appropriate file.

Use white tooth paste to polish silver jewelry.  Just rub a little on and use a damp cloth to gently rub.  Rinse with water and dry.

White dishwasher powder is a great stain remover for things that can't be bleached.  I have used it to remove stains from baby clothes, vintage lace and even for a stain the dry cleaner couldn't get out of my wedding dress.

Shot spot carpet cleaner is great at removing stains on clothing that regular laundry spot removers won't.  (Check inside the garment on the seam salvage for fade resistance.)  I use it on colored clothing, including my husbands slacks.

Keep an multi-purpose glass cleaner, Ajax or Comet, microfiber clothes, paper towels and a toilet brush in each bathroom.  It makes for quick clean ups on a daily basis. 

Paper towels can get expensive.  I use rags and micro fiber clothes for cleaning.  I keep my paper towels under my sink for things that are greasy.

Put bed pillows and stuffed toys in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 24 hours to kill dust mites.

Throw pillows and stuffed animals in the dryer on the air setting to rid them of dust.

Tape CPR instructions and a sheet with baking and cooking equivalents on the inside of a kitchen cupboard.  I also have a list in a cabinet by my kitchen desk that includes repairmen we use and utility phone numbers.

Use a colorless shoe polish on leather purses to refresh the look of the leather.  Test it in a small inconspicuous spot.

Keep wood stain pens to touch up nicks on furniture. (Available at home improvement stores.)

Use a toothbrush to clean around small areas of the stove and faucets and other small areas around the house.

Rub a small amount of hand cream on your hands until almost absorbed and then run your fingers through your hair to help with static electricity in the winter.

Copy and paste ideas that you like into a computer folder under categories like "entertaining/ hospitality," "holiday ideas," "helpful hints," "fun for kids," "things to do in your city," etc.

Think outside the box and see what ideas you can come up with to simplify your life.