Southern-Style Strawberry Cake

1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)*
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello
1 Tablespoon self rising flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition  Add the water and strawberries and mix well.  Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks.  Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
pink food coloring
4 sliced strawberries

To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter.  Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain.  Add one box of the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the second box of sugar and mix until incorporated.  If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk.  If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die.  Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately.  Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries.

* I could only find cake mix with pudding in it, and it turned out fine.

Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/4 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans

How to make it

HEAT oven to 350°F.

BEAT cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, oil, eggs and 1 tsp. spice in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round pans.

BAKE 28 to 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.

BEAT cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar, remaining pumpkin and spice; mix well. Gently stir in COOL WHIP. Cut each cake layer horizontally in half with serrated knife; stack on serving plate, spreading cream cheese filling between layers. (Do not frost top layer.) Drizzle with caramel topping just before serving; top with nuts. Refrigerate leftovers.

Four Layer Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake with Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder*
1/2 tsp fine sea salt 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar 
3 large eggs, room temperature 
1 (15-ounce can) pure pumpkin
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
2 1/2 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tbs finely grated orange peel 
1/4 cup orange juice 
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted 
Chopped walnuts or walnut halves, toasted 

For cake: 

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with 1 1/2" sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment; spray parchment. 

Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until smooth. Beat in brown sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating to blend between additions. Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment. Using tart pan bottom as aid, turn cakes over onto racks, top sides up, and cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap cakes in plastic and store at room temperature. 

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add cream cheese and orange peel; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until smooth. 

Trim rounded tops from cakes. Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on large platter. Spoon 2/3 cup frosting atop cake in dollops; spread to edges. Repeat 2 more times with cake and frosting; top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake (layer will be thin).

DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Decorate cake with walnuts and serve.

Servings: 16



2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce*
1 15-oz can pumpkin
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 tbsp powdered sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces (not softened)


Center rack in oven and preheat to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9? round cake pans. Line the bottoms of each cake pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cocoa.  Set aside.
Fit mixer with paddle attachment. In large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil and applesauce on low speed to combine. Add vanilla and pumpkin. Increase speed to medium and beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture, mix until just combined. Turn off mixer and use a rubber spatula to scape sides and bottom of bowl, combine any dry ingredient traces.
Pour batter into the two prepared pans. I use a large Pyrex measuring cup to see how much batter I have, then I separate according to the measurement to get equal layers. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly over the top of each layer. Use a metal spatula (or your fingers) to gently swirl the chocolate into the batter without sinking it.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until center of cake springs back to a gentle touch. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen sides of cake from the pan using a metal icing spatula. Invert cake and remove parchment paper, then cool completely, facing up on wire rack.
Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Beat together, on medium-low speed, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla just to combine. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until creamy. Remove 2/3 of the mixture and set aside. Add 3 tablespoons of cocoa to remaining mixture and beat until completely combined and creamy. Set aside.
Using the whisk attachment, beat heavy cream on medium high until it forms stiff peaks.
Fold 2/3 of the whipped cream into the white cream cheese mixture. Fold the remaining 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate cream cheese mixture.
Cut each cake layer in half horizontally, using a gentle sawing motion with a large serrated knife. You may refrigerate the layers before doing this to make it even easier to cut.
Line a cake plate with a piece of parchment paper. Place one of the layers, cut side up, onto the parchment paper. Spread half of the white cream cheese mixture onto the cake layer, spreading it out evenly and to about 1/4? from the edge. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped semisweet chocolate over the cream cheese filling and gently press it down with your fingers. Add second cake layer, cut side up, on top of first layer. Spread the chocolate cream cheese mixture onto that layer and sprinkle with another third of the chopped semisweet chocolate, pressing down gently. Add third cake layer (save a top layer for the top of the cake), cut side up, and spread with the remaining white cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with remaining chopped semisweet chocolate and press gently. Position last cake layer on top.
Position a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, bowl should not touch the water. Melt bittersweet chocolate in the bowl, stirring often, cook only until just melted. Remove from heat and add in powdered sugar and butter pieces. Whisk gently until smooth. Pour glaze onto the top of the cake. Using a metal icing spatula to spread the glaze to the sides, allowing it to drip down the sides. Use icing spatula to spread glaze evenly across the top and on the sides of the cake.
Allow glaze to set. Can be kept at room temperature, but if you will have it longer than a day, should be stored, preferably covered, in the refrigerator. Will last a few days, should be brought to room temperature before serving for best flavor.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

48 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses*
1/2 c. shortening
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt 
Small bowl of granulated sugar

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Remove wrappers from the chocolates. In a large bowl beat the shortening and peanut butter until blended. Add sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla and beat well. Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat it into the peanut butter mixture until combined. 
Shape the dough into 1 in. balls. Roll in the bowl of granulated sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 in. apart. Bake for 8-10 min. or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. 
Immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie; the cookie will crack around the edges. Once you have pressed all the kisses in, let them sit for a min. and then come back and gently smoosh the kisses into the cookie once more. This prevents them from falling off while eating. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a wire wrack. 

*Note: I did not make 48 cookies, I got about 30 or so with this recipe. Hey, you can eat the extras! I also found out that Hershey's Hugs (white chocolate) are really good too! And I suppose that dark chocolate might be good as well....
These cookies are ALWAYS made during the holidays at my family's house. My dad loves them! Great classic that will never get old!



1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened
¼ cup corn or vegetable oil
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
⅓ cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate mini morsels

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, oil, brown sugar and sugar until fluffy and well blended. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until evenly incorporated. Beat or stir in the flour mixture, then the chocolate morsels, until evenly incorporated.
Spoon half the dough onto a sheet of waxed paper, forming a rough log about 7 inches long.
TIP: Cut through an entire empty cardboard tube from a paper towel roll. Wrap tube around dough covered in wax paper to help form your log shape.
Repeat with the second dough portion. Smooth the wax paper around the dough to help form the logs. Refrigerate the dough for 30 to 40 minutes, or until firmed up and easier to handle. Reshape the logs, smoothing them further. Roll the logs up in sheets of plastic wrap, twisting the ends to keep the wrap from unrolling. Freeze the logs until completely frozen, at least 3 hours. Bake immediately, or transfer to an airtight plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Carefully peel the plastic wrap from a dough log. Using a large, sharp knife, cut crosswise into generous ¼” thick slices; due to the morsels, the dough won’t cut neatly, so it may be necessary to pat and smooth the slices back into shape. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the slices to the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. If desired, repeat with the second log, or save it to bake another time.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden all over and just slightly golden around the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze up to 2 months.

Tip:  These cookies are soft, but more on the shortbread style.  If you like nuts, you can easily add 3/4 cup into the batter with the chocolate chips.


1 jar (16 oz) alfredo sauce
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups cooked broccoli, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar (or mozzaerlla) cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan
21 jumbo pasta shells, cooked
1½ - 2 cups spaghetti sauce (optional, but I love the combination of alfredo with tomato sauce!)
Salt/Pepper to season (if needed)

Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 35 mins
Total time 55 mins
Serves: 4-6


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix alfredo, chicken, broccoli, and cheeses.
Spoon mixture into pasta shells.
Grease 13 x 9 baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
Evenly spread spaghetti sauce on bottom of baking dish.
Arrange shells in baking pan.
Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until heated thru.
Remember that the noodles need to be cooked prior to stuffing. I usually like cooking them 1-2 minutes under what the package says, that way they will fully cook when baking in the oven!

This recipe can easily be altered to your liking. One easy filling addition -- chopped cooked bacon!

Tip #1:  You can prep all items in advance, right up to the point of baking.  Keep covered in refrigerator until you are ready to bake. 
Tip #2:  Own a cookie scoop?  Use your cookie scoop to easily stuff your shells! 
Tip #3:  You can freeze this!  Just pre-assemble all the noodles with the filling.  Freeze stuffed noodles without the red sauce.  Then, thaw when ready to bake!

Fried Apple Pies

1 pot of cooked apples
sugar to your taste
spices ( cinnamon, cloves, apple pie spice) to your taste
peanut oil for frying.

Prep:20 Min
 Cook:10 Min

How to make it :

You can use dried fruit or fresh apples. You use your own judgement on how many apples to cook, to how many pies you want to make.
I peel,core,& slice my apples. Put them in a sauce pan with very little water & cook slowly. The apples will make some juice their self. If you get too much liquid you can add a little cornstarch to the sugar to thicken. DON"T ADD The sugar until the apples has cooked.
Take off the heat and let it get cooled off. You don't want it to be warm, it will mess the dough up.
Sometimes I make my on crust, but most of the time I just use can biscuits. I get the store brand, they work best. DON"T get the buttermilk biscuits, get the home style. The name brand usually has kosher salt, it will make little holes in the crust when you fry them. So the store works best.
Flour you pastry sheet, put a biscuit on it and roll out as if you're make a crust.Dampen the edge of the dough so it will seal off better. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the middle. It really depends on how much you roll the crust. You don't want it thick or too thin to tear when you're frying them. Dampen edge with water using your finger tip.
Fold over the crust, take a fork and press around the edge, turn over and repeat the edge again.
I use an electric skillet with peanut oil. Lay your pie in the skillet when you think the oil is hot enough. When you lay the pie in, it should start to sizzle around the edges. Fry it until golden brown, turn & fry on the other side.
I usually have my skillet temp. around 300 degrees, but the temp can vary on different skillet, just keep a close eye, & don't burn them.
Lay on paper towels to drain. I sprinkle with a sugar & cinnamon mixture in a salt shaker. Then enjoy!! Every time I take these pies for a get together, whether home or church, these pies disappear fast.

Beer Cheese Dip

4-8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat and it was still delicious)
2/3 cup beer (I used Yuengling)
2 envelopes Hidden Valley Original Ranch packets
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

To Dip:


In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, beer, and ranch packets until smooth and creamy in appearance.

After that, stir in the cheese.  I turned the hand held mixer to a lower speed and combined it that way.

You could serve the dip right away, but its best if you cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours.  That way the flavors have time to combine.  You could also make this dip a day or so ahead of time.

Slow Cooked Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin


2 lb. pork tenderloin
1 tsp. rosemary
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup water
½ cup light brown sugar (could use splenda brown sugar)
1 TBSP. cornstarch
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup water
2 TBSP. reduced sodium soy sauce


In a small dish, mix together the seasonings to form a rub; rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic.

Prepare the slow cooker by placing in the liner, or spraying the sides with a non-stick cooking spray.  Add in ½ cup of water.

Rub the spices over the pork tenderloin, and place it in the slow cooker with the ½ cup of water.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-5. (I cooked mine for a little over 4 hours and it was perfect)

About an hour before the tenderloin is done cooking, prepare the glaze.

In a small sauce pan set over a medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water, and soy sauce.  Let heat up until the ingredients are well combined and the sauce begins to thicken.  DO NOT let it boil; reduce the heat if needed.

Once the sauce thickens, brush it over the tenderloin 2-3 times during the last hour of cooking.

When the tenderloin is done, place it on a baking sheet, spread on a little more glaze and place it in the oven, set to broil.  This will help give the glaze that caramelized texture.  Keep an eye on the tenderloin during this process; it may take 3-5 minutes.  When it’s done, place the pork on a serving tray and pour over the remainder of the glaze.

Pecan Pie Cheesecake Fudge


Saltine crackers (enough to cover the bottom of an 8x8” baking dish)
½ cup butter
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
Cheesecake Fudge:
3 cups white chocolate chips
1 ½ TBSP butter
Dash of salt
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ cups marshmallow cream
1 – 3.4 oz. instant cheesecake pudding mix
1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line an 8x8” square baking dish with aluminum foil.  Spray the foil with a non-stick cooking spray.

Place the saltine crackers in an even layer across the bottom of the prepared baking dish (You may have to break a few crackers in half to fill in the edge of the pan).  Now, in a medium size saucepan, over a medium-high heat, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil.  Make sure to stir the ingredients around and continue to boil for around another 5 minutes or so.  Cook until the mixture turns a nice caramel color.  It’s important to not under cook it, otherwise it won’t caramelize the way it should, be patient.

Once ready, remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the condensed milk.  Pour the sauce over the crackers and bake for 10 minutes.  When done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Cheesecake Fudge:
In a medium saucepan, set over a medium heat, combine the white chocolate chips, butter, salt, and condensed milk.  While this is cooking, make sure to stir the ingredients around until they are completely melted and smooth.  Next, add in the instant pudding mix, and stir around until it’s dissolved.  After that, add the marshmallow, and once again stir the mixture around until it’s completely dissolved.

Once ready, pour the cheesecake fudge mixture over the prepared crust.  Smooth around with a spatula.  Now, sprinkle on the chopped pecan pieces and press down with your hands.  Place the prepared fudge in refrigerator and allow to set, this will take 3-4 hours or more.  Don’t rush it.

After the fudge has had time to cool completely, and harden, remove the pan from the fridge.  Take off the tin foil and cut the fudge into small cubes.  Enjoy!

Apple Pie Filling

6 lbs apples (tart work best)
4 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 drops yellow food coloring

How to make it

Steralize 6 quart jars if canning by washing them with soap and water and putting them in the oven at 215 degrees for a minimun of 15 minutes. They can stay in the oven until you are ready to take them out.
Peel, core and slice apples. (Leave slices about 1/2 inch thick).
Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch and salt in large pot.
Add water and cook on high heat, stirring frequently at first and then constantly until it boils. Let it boil for about a minute, at this point it should be nice and thick.
Stir in lemon juice and food coloring.
Pack apples in hot jars and fill jars with sauce just to the bottom rung of the mouth of the jar. I use a wooden spoon to push the apples down. DO NOT FILL THEM ANY HIGHER! THEY WILL EXPLODE!
Yes, it happened to me! :(.
Process jars in hot water bath for 20 minutes or freeze however you want to.

Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake


2 (8-ounce) pakages refrigerated crescent rolls
8 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling
½ cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk


Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Unroll crescent dough and arrange 12 of the triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the outside edge of the Large Round Stone - the points will not meet in the center. Lightly flour and roll out the seams making a 14" circle with a 3" hole in the center. 

Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg & vanilla and spread over dough. Top with pie filling. 

Cut each of the 4 remaining triangles into thirds (starting at the wide end opposite the point and cutting lengthwise to the point). Arrange over filling evenly in spoke-like pattern. Press ends to seal at center and outer edges. 

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. 

Mix powdered sugar and milk until glaze consistency and drizzle over coffee cake.

Melted milk chocolate or dark chocolate


3 cups coconut flakes
1 cup condensed milk


Mix the shredded coconut with condensed milk,mold into oblong shape, add them to freezer for 20 minutes and then dip them in melted chocolate. 
Stick Almonds in them and have Almond Joys Be creative!!!!

Quinoa Chili

2 cups cooked quinoa (from 2/3 cup dry)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion , diced (1 3/4 cup)
4 cloves garlic , minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can vegetable broth
1 (7 oz) can diced green chiles
2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper , more or less to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used one dark red, one light red)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
For serving (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese , diced avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips


Heat olive oil in a large enameled cast iron pot over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot add onion and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cooked quinoa, vegetable broth, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, paprika, sugar, coriander, cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot and allow to simmer 30 minutes.
Add in all kidney beans, black beans, corn, cilantro and lime and cook until heated through. Serve warm with optional toppings and sides (cheddar, sour cream, diced avocados and tortilla chips).

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars

1 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping tbsp lemon zest
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

2 cups fresh blueberries
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice

2 - 250g blocks cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp vanilla 
2 eggs

How to make it

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment.

Combine 1 tbsp lemon zest with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers to infuse the sugar with lemon.  Beat butter with the granulated sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl on medium speed until creamy.  Beat in flour and salt until combined.  Press dough into bottom of prepared pan and bake until edges are golden, 25 - 30 minutes.

Combine blueberries with brown sugar, 2 tbsp lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries are just soft, 5 - 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Combine 1 tbsp lemon zest with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers to infuse the sugar with lemon.  Strain the sugar to remove the zest.  Beat cream cheese with the lemon infused sugar and vanilla in a large bowl on medium speed until smooth.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. 

Scrape cream cheese mixture onto warm crust and smooth top.  Dollop blueberry mixture randomly over top of cream cheese layer.  Gently pull a knife tip through the top to create swirls.

Bake in centre of oven until filling is set, about 40 min.  Cool.  Enjoy.

Authentic Pagliacci's New York Style Cheesecake

1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs (it's also good with vanilla wafer crumbs) 
¼ cup sugar 
¼ cup butter , softened 

40 ounces cream cheese (5 pkg), room temperature 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 ¾ cups sugar 
3 tablespoons flour 
¼ teaspoon salt 
5 eggs, room temperature 
2 egg yolks 
¼ cup whipping cream 


Mix crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter and press into a 10" spring form pan. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Preheat oven to 500ºF. 

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer in large bowl until very smooth. Blend in lemon juice and vanilla. Sift sugar, flour and salt together and gradually beat into cheese. Beat until creamy, smooth and light, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time. Blend in cream. Pour into crust. 

Bake 12 minutes. 

Reduce oven temperature to 200ºF. Continue baking until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. The original recipe said for 45 minutes but I find that it takes longer. 

Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan. Cool cake completely and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

6 tablespoons butter
2 C chocolate wafer cookies, crushed (one 9oz package “Famous Chocolate Wafers”)
2 3/4 blocks (8oz each…total of 22 ounces) cream cheese – softened
1 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 C heavy cream, whipped until soft peaks form
1 teaspoon vanilla
13 mini peanut butter cups (about 4 ounces) chopped fine
To garnish
12-15 peanut butter cups, chopped coarse.

How to make it

1. Melt the butter and add the crushed chocolate cookies. Mix
well until the cookies have absorbed all the butter.
2. Press into the bottom and up the sides (about an inch) of an 8-inch springform tin. Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for one hour.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. First whip the cream until soft peaks form. Set aside.  Then whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Fold in the whipped cream and chopped peanut butter cups. When smooth, spoon evenly onto the prepared crust.
4. Refrigerate and allow to set for a further two hours to overnight. Once set, remove and top with additional peanut butter cups, chopped coarse. Serve.

Dinner Rolls

4 3/4 cups (21.5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 ounces) salt
1/4 cup (1.33 ounces) powdered milk
3 1/4 tablespoons (1.66 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons (.22 ounces) instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
3 1/4 tablespoons (1.66 ounces) butter, margarine, or shortening, melted or at room temp
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon to 1 3/4 cups (13 to 14 ounces) water, buttermilk, or milk, at room temperature
1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water until frothy, for egg wash (optional)
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish (optional)

How to make it

Mix together the flour, salt, powdered milk, sugar, and yeast in a 4 quart bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer. 
Pour in the egg, butter, and 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water and mix with a large spoon or on low speed of electric mixer with paddle attatchment until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball.  If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more water until the dough is soft and supple.
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading or mix on medium speed with the dough hook, adding more flour if necessary to create a dough that is soft, supple and tacky, but not sticky.  Continue kneading or mixing for 6 to 8 minutes.  (In the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever so slightly to the bottom.) The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 80 F. 
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl in plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temp for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temp).
Remove the fermented dough from the bowl and divide it in half for sandwich loaves, into eighteen 2 ounce pieces for dinner rolls, or twelve 3 ounce pieces for burger or hot dog buns.  Shape the pieces into boules for loaves, or tight rounds for dinner rolls or buns.  Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
For loaves, lightly oil two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans.  For rolls and buns, line 2 sheet pans with parchment.  rolls require no further shaping.  For hamburger buns, gently press down on the rolls to form the desired shape.  Transfer to sheet pans.
Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel.  Proof the dough at room temp for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size.
Preheat the oven to 350F for loaves or 400F for rolls and buns.  Brush the rolls or buns with the egg wash and garnish with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. 
Bake the rolls or buns for approx 15 minutes or until they are golden brown and register just above 180F in the center.  Bake loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking.  Internal temp of loaves should be close to 190F and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
When loaves are finished baking, remove them from pans and cool on a wire rack.  Rolls should cool for 15 minutes on a rack before serving.


Walnut Baklava:

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
4 cups chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed in refrigerator

3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick 
2 whole cloves

How to make it

Preheat oven to 375F
In a food processor, pulse walnuts with the cinnamon and sugar, set aside
Place stack of thawed phyllo sheets on a work surface
Brush the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch lasagna pan with butter
Lay one sheet of phyllo dough in the pan and brush it with butter. 
Repeat until you have 4 layers on the bottom of the pan, brushing each with butter as you layer
Sprinkle phyllo stack with 1/3 cup walnut filling
Lay another sheet of phyllo on top and brush with butter.  Repeat until the filling is used up, reserving 5 sheets of phyllo for the top layer.
With a sharp knife, trim the edges
Using a sharp knife, cut unbaked baklava into squares, or triangles, or diamond shapes
Bake until puffed and golden 30 to 35 minutes.
*While it is baking, make syrup by bringing all of the syrup ingredients to a boil and letting it simmer until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is syrupy (approx 10 minutes)
Transfer the baklava out of the oven onto a wire rack and let it cool slightly
Pour hot syrup over the baklava and let it stand at room temperature until syrup is absorbed, at least 3 hours. 
To store, keep at room temp for up to 3 days.

New York Cheesecake

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter for the pan
8 whole graham crackers (4ounces) broken into rough pieces and processed in a food processor to fine, even crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
*I also added a pinch of salt, but it is not in the recipe

2 1/2 pounds (five 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1 inch chunks, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks, plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

How to make it

For the crust:
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the pan bottom.  Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

For the filling:
Increase the oven temp to 500 degrees.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium -low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute.  Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl: add the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and beat at low speed until combined. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat and med-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs, two at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.
Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter,  Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if the pan leaks).  Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes; without opening the the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake registers about 150 degrees on and instant read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours. 
Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm. 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Run a paring knife between the cake and the pan sides.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. (The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
To unmold the cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan,  Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate,  Let the cheesecake stand at room temp about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve with fresh strawberry topping if desired.

New York Cheesecake

Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake

Serving Size: 12-16


Graham Cracker Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (4 ounces, 8 whole crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed in food processor until uniformly fine)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus additional 1 tablespoon melted butter for greasing pan
Cheesecake Filling:
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese , cut into rough 1-inch chunks and left to stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup sour cream (2 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
6 large eggs


For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar in medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons melted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened. Brush bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan with most of remaining melted butter, making sure to leave enough to brush pan in step 3. Empty crumbs into springform pan and press evenly into pan bottom. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
For the cheesecake filling: Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula; add salt and about half of sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; beat in remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add whole eggs two at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, and scraping bowl between additions.
Brush sides of springform pan with remaining melted butter. Set springform pan on rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if springform pan leaks). Pour filling into cooled crust and bake 10 minutes; without opening oven door, reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of cheesecake registers about 150 degrees, about 11/2 hours. Transfer cake to wire rack and cool 5 minutes; run paring knife between cake and side of springform pan. Cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. (Cake can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)
To unmold cheesecake, remove sides of pan. Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving plate. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.


-The flavour and texture of the cheesecake is best if the cake is allowed to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. When cutting the cake, have a pitcher of hot tap water nearby; dipping the blade of the knife into the water and wiping it clean with a kitchen towel after each cut helps make neat slices.

Dilly Cucumber Bites

4 large English cucumbers
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or quartered…depending on size)
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, at room temperature
1 small (5.3 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
3 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 tbsp powdered Ranch dressing mix (such as Hidden Valley)


Slice cucumbers into rounds, about ½-inch thick. You can leave the skin on, peel them, or partially peel them for a striped look. Slice grape tomatoes in half (or quarters, if large) and set aside.
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, Greek yogurt, dill and Ranch dressing powder. Mix thoroughly. You can use an electric mixer, but you can also do this by hand.
Transfer the cheese mixture to a piping bag (if you don’t have one, you can use a large Ziplock bag with a corner snipped off).
Pipe the cheese mixture onto the cucumber rounds, then top with a tomato half!

New York Cheesecake

8 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled. Plus 1 extra tablespoon butter for brushing on pan
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into chunks and softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
6 large eggs

How to make it

For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325°. Process the graham cracker pieces in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the melted butter and sugar over the crumbs and pulse to incorporate. Sprinkle the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Press the crumbs firmly into an even layer using the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let the crust cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
For the filling: Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 500°. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth, 1-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters as necessary.
Beat in half the sugar and salt until incorporated, 1-3 minutes. Beat in the remaining sugar until incorporated, 1-3 minutes. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla until incorporated, 1-3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks and eggs, two at a time until combined, 1-3 minutes.
Being careful not to disturb the baked crust, brush the inside of the prepared springform pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pour the filling into the pan. Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes.
Without opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 200° and continue to bake the cheesecake until the center of the cake registers 150° (about 1 1/2 hours).
Transfer the cake to a wire rack and run a knife around the edge of the cake. Let the cheesecake stand until just barely warm, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Chill until ready to eat. Serve as is or with Strawberry Topping.