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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Blueberry & Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Yes, it's been a while. I could list all the reasons why I haven't been blogging lately, but instead I'll keep it short and just say I'm glad to be back! It feels good to flex my culinary/photo muscles again. and what better way to get back into the swing of things, then with my favorite fruit ever...blueberries!

These Blueberry & Lemon Cheesecake Bars taste like summer. If summer were made with creamy, decadent cheesecake. The first step is to make the graham cracker crust. It's super easy, all you need are graham cracker crumbs and butter.

Then, it's time to cook blueberries along with sugar to create a sweet, syrupy blueberry jam of sorts. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries, but while it's summer, I recommend using fresh.  
Lemon juice and lemon zest are added for a bit of freshness. In my opinion, lemons and blueberries were basically made for each other.

 Speaking of blueberries and lemon, if you love this flavor combination as much as I do, check out my Blueberry Lemon Bars.  They are crazy delicious!

Blueberry & Lemon Cheesecake Bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (About 12-15 full graham cracker sheets)
8 tbs. Melted butter

24 oz. Cream cheese, softened
2 large Eggs
1 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1.5 Tbs. Lemon zest
Juice from 1 lemon

Blueberry Swirl
1.5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1.5 cups granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. Use a blender or food processor to grind graham crackers into a fine crumb. Add to a large mixing bowl, and stir in melted butter. Mix until thoroughly combined. The texture should be similar to wet sand, and hold shape when squeezed. If it does not, add another tablespoon melted butter.
3. Press mixture into the bottom of the lined pan, making it as even as possible. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
4. Time to make the blueberry swirl! In a small saucepan on medium heat,  add the fresh or frozen blueberries and granulated sugar. Stir to coat the blueberries in the sugar. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, and begin to crush the blueberries with your mixing utensil as you stir. Allow the mixture to boil for about 10-15 minutes. Soon it will begin to reduce and become a sticky, juicy, and slightly thick texture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. The mixture will cool as it thickens.
5. As the blueberries cool, add the softened cream cheese and eggs to a stand mixer. Turn on to medium low, and allow the two ingredients to fully combine. Add sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice and continue to blend until all ingredients are smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.
6. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the crust. Drop spoon fulls of the blueberry mixture on top. Use a chopstick or knife to swirl the blueberries across the cream cheese filling.

7. Place in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The sides of the bars will become puffy, and golden brown. As the bars cool, they will begin to sink. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 1 hour, then transfer them to the fridge to cool for about 2-3 hours. Remove foil and bars from the pan, and cut into squares. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Salted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Browned butter. Toasted coconut. Coarse sea salt. Gooey bittersweet chocolate. Are you in?

Created for the 4th Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, these cookies are a toasted, browned and salty twist on the basicl chocolate chip cookie. If you haven't heard of the Food Blogger Cookie Swap before, it's an annual event hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen in which bloggers make and send each other cookies. Partnered with the Cookies for Kids Cancer Organization, it's a fun event that also raises funds. Win, win.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Skillet Pumpkin Bread with Pecans and Chocolate Chips

Have you ever made a skillet cookie before? Instead of rolling out individual cookies, you simply spread the dough into the skillet and bake. Totally easy, and then you have one, huge awesome cookie. I took inspiration from skillet cookies to make this pumpkin skillet bread.

I love this bread because it's dense, rich, and can be enjoyed as a dessert, or as a decadent breakfast. I recommend eating warm with a big ol' scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Because, well....duh.

Skillet Pumpkin Bread with Pecans and Chocolate
2 sticks butter (plus a little extra to butter the skillet)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbs. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
2. In a stand mixer, blend together butter and sugars until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, and thoroughly mix. Add egg one at a time, blending in between each addition. Add vanilla extract, and blend until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. 
3. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, one cup at a time. Don't over mix. Add pecans and chocolate chips. 
4. Lightly grease your skillet, and spread the dough evenly into the skillet. If you'd like, add a little extra pecans and chocolate chips to the top.
5. Place in the oven, and let bake for 35-45 minutes. The bread should be golden, and a knife should come out clean when a knife is inserted.
6. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly. 
7. Serve warm from the oven with chocolate sauce and ice cream on top, or enjoy the next day for breakfast. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Curry & Chickpea Soup

Around this time of year, I'm ready to move on from summer. The warm weather and long days are great, but I'm ready for sweaters, scarves, leaves on the ground and pumpkin everything. This week, I decided to ignore the sun and make some hot, comforting chickpea soup. Take that summer!

Are you ready for fall, or are you holding on tight to the last weeks of summer? If the thought of fall is a bummer, this soup might change your mind. Slightly spicy, the carrots and zucchini bring the crunch while chickpeas fill you up. This soup would be great with chicken as well!

Curry & Chickpea Soup

1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups carrots, chopped (about 5 carrots)
3 cups zucchini, chopped (about 2 medium zucchini)
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
45 oz. chickpeas, drained and rinsed (3 cans)
5 cups chicken broth, low sodium
14 oz. low-fat coconut milk
4 tbs. curry powder
2 tbs. coriander
2 tsp. fish sauce
lime juice from 1/2 lime
1 tbs. sriracha sauce
1/2 tbs honey
3 tbs. cornstarch
fresh cilantro

1. In a large stock pot, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and turn to medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.
2, Add carrots, garlic, curry powder and coriander. Stir to thoroughly combine. Add chicken broth and coconut milk and turn heat to high.
3. Once soup reaches a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Add chickpeas, fish sauce, green onion, lime juice, sriracha sauce and honey.
4. Cover, and let cook for 15-20 minutes. Uncover, and add zucchini. Cover and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes.
5. Uncover, and add salt, pepper and more sriracha sauce to taste. Turn heat off.
6. Spoon about 1 cup broth from soap, and place in a small container. Whisk in cornstarch quickly, to avoid any clumps. Pour cornstarch mixture back into soap and stir to thoroughly combine. You can skip this step if you prefer a thinner soup.
Pour soup into bowls, and garnish with plenty of cilantro. This soup is also great stale bread or tortilla chips, and fresh chunks of avocado.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Meet Benjen!

Oh hey there blogosphere! 

I didn't intend on taking such a long blogging break, but hey, it happens. I think I have a pretty good excuse though. I have been too busy looking at this cute face!

This is Benjen (name comes from Game of Thrones), my new Corgi/Australian Shepherd puppy, aka: the cutest thing in the entire world. He is currently 15 weeks, and is the sweetest little nugget of a dog. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kale Salad with Roasted Yams and Raspberry Dressing

It's officially summer. I'm sure many of you have been feeling it for weeks, but here in the PNW, summer takes a little longer to kick in. Today was actually the hottest day of the year so far, 85 degrees!

Don't get me wrong, I love the sun. But anything over 75 degrees I start realizing I have no summer clothes, I'm sweating and probably burnt. But I'll stop complaining, because with summer comes BERRY SEASON. YESSS.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sweet Potato, Bacon, Arugula and Pesto Pizza

The real name of this post should be, "Sweet Potato, Bacon, Chicken, Onion, Walnut, Pesto and Arugula Pizza." But, for some reason it just didn't have the same ring. Instead, I chose to focus on the stars of this pizza: sweet potato, bacon, arugula and pesto.

On Sunday, Tommy and I almost ate the entire was that good. The sweet potato + bacon + pesto combination is crazy delicious; it's slightly sweet, salty, and creamy. Then throw in some crunchy walnuts, onions, and spicy arugula? Yep, eating the whole pizza. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lemon, Honey and Ricotta Ice Cream

It's ice cream season! Not that ice cream goes out of season. But, there is something incredibly satisfying about eating an ice cream cone on a sunny day.

Speaking of eating ice cream cones, let's get our technique straight. This is important. Do not bite into your ice cream cone, because that's barbaric. Tilt your head slightly, and lick while rotating the cone.

Concentrate on the bottom to catch the drips, but don't let the top get too top-heavy. Keeping the scoop of ice cream even is important. Why? Well, because I'm OCD when it comes to eating ice cream cones...obviously :).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Honeydew and Coconut Popsicles

There was a time when my dad went through a major Otter-Pops phase. On dreary weekends, I remember him eating them like popcorn during movies. Of course I joined in occasionally, reaching mostly for the purple or red flavors. The best part was when the pop had melted a bit, and you got to suck the sugary-goodness out of the plastic tube. Ah, simple pleasures.