White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Have you ever found yourself staring at the dessert menu in a restaurant, unable to decide on just one item?  It’s a true crisis at times, especially when you want to order everything you see, but clearly your waistline doesn’t agree.  Your best option is to go out to eat with several people who have a weak spot for desserts so you can all share one, or everyone get something different to sample each one.  Numerous times I’ve been out with people who claim they don’t want dessert, but as soon as it hits the table, they’ve eaten more than I have.  How does that happen?


I was caught in this exact situation while looking over the dessert menu at a small restaurant in St. Petersburg that brings their desserts in from a bakery.  We ended up each getting our own dessert, rotating them around the table like it was a professional taste-testing event, nodding and making noises with each bite.  I couldn’t believe the amazing flavor of white chocolate with swirled raspberry filling throughout this cheesecake and an Oreo cookie crust.  We even took chunks out of my friend’s husband’s carrot cake that was so nicely packed in a to-go box.  Acting as damage control, we were preventing him from feeling guilty over eating such a large piece of cake.  Now that’s heartfelt consideration.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake (modified from allrecipes.com)

20 Oreo cookies

3 tablespoons butter, melted

10 oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

2 cups white chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

frozen whipped topping, thawed (optional for serving)

In a food chopper or food processor, chop cookies into fine crumbs.  In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  In a small saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, heat cream just until boiling, pour over chocolate chips in a small bowl, stirring together until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Let cool.  In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar  with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate.

Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce and whipped topping.  Store in refrigerator.

Black Bottom Pumpkin Pies

While reading through a Fall Recipes magazine, I came across a recipe for a black bottom pumpkin pie.  I tried out the recipe, but wasn’t all that impressed with how it turned out.  The pumpkin layer was literally like pudding, and when I think of pie, I think of actually being able to cut a slice, rather than having to use a spoon to scoop it out due to the texture.  Well, back to the drawing board.  I decided to give it another shot, but change a lot of things around.

black bottom pumpkin pies

This time, an Oreo crust was prepared, but in a two 12 cup muffin pans.  How about make these little guys individual portions instead of a whole pie?  Sure!  The waiting process of letting them set in the fridge seemed like it took forever, because I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into them.  Well worth the wait.  Wow.

For the Crust:

20 Oreo cookies

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Process cookies into crumbs using small food chopper or food processor.  Mix together the melted butter with crumbs.  Using a medium size cookie scoop, distribute evenly between 24 lined cups between two muffin pans.  Bake for 5 minutes, cool completely on cooling racks.

For the Chocolate Bottom:

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

In 30 second intervals, melt chocolate chips in heavy cream in microwave.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixed with cream.  Drop 1 teaspoon of chocolate on top of each Oreo crust in muffin pans.  Put in refrigerator to set, about 15-20 minutes.

For the Pumpkin Layer:

2 (8 0z.) blocks cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed with electric mixer until blended.  Using a standard ice cream scoop, distribute evenly between all muffin cups on top of chocolate.  Use a spoon to spread evenly.  Set in refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.  Top with Maple Whipped topping.

For the Maple Whipped Topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup maple syrup

Using electric mixer, beat at medium speed until mixture is thickened and forms soft peaks.  Generously spoon or pipe on top of pies.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Here we go with some more Fall Recipes…and my family is a big fan of pecans. My grandmother makes a pecan pie every Thanksgiving, so here is a slight twist on this incredible pie, but as individual bars…and with chocolate. You can’t go wrong with nuts and chocolate, in my honest opinion.

chocolate pecan pie bars

Just make sure your food processor works…  Because when I hooked everything up to pulse the crumb mixture, it decided to stop working.  As I was fiddling with it and felt my level of frustration (and blood pressure) rise, I texted my husband, fussing about how our food processor sucks, and I was ready to REALLY break it.  Sigh.  The idea of using the blender came across my mind, but when it’s literally in the dishwasher and it’s running along, the options were diminishing.  Oh well.  So, the hand held Pampered Chef food processor came out of the cabinet, and I tried to improvise.  Moral of the story?  Have a better backup plan for these delicious yummies…because even out of all this frustration, they were delicious.  Maybe Santa can bring me a new food processor.  😉

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars Recipe:

For the Crust:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over sides.  Lightly grease foil.  Pulse all ingredients in food processor 5 to 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Press mixture on bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of prepared pan.  Bake crust for 15 minutes.   Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes) before topping with remaining ingredients.

For the Pie Layer:

1 bag mini semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter, melted

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 1/2 cups pecan halves and pieces

Sprinkle chocolate chips on crust.  Whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and eggs until smooth.   Stir in pecans, and pour mixture on top of crust and chocolate chips.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and set.  Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Chill for another hour in refrigerator.  Lift baked bars from pan, using foil sides as handles.  Transfer to cutting board, cut into bars.

Pumpkin Cookies

I’ll never forget the first time I had pumpkin cupcakes.  It was around Christmas several years ago, and my sister-in-law made them.  When she told me what kind of cupcakes she made, I grimaced.  Pumpkin?  That can’t be good.  I thought to myself.  Boy, I was SO wrong.  I couldn’t stop eating them, and have made them MANY times since then.

pumpkin cookies

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with pumpkin recipes.  And I’ll be honest, when I open that can of pumpkin puree that will be going into the recipe, it doesn’t look or smell all that appetizing…but literally every recipe that is thrown together with pumpkin turns out to be absolutely delicious.  Since it’s the fall, the perfect opportunities present themselves to experiment with more and more pumpkin recipes.  With these cookies, I was really impressed.  They were thick, soft, and addictive.  The icing on top is just an added sweetness to their yumminess.  I gave some to my sister-in-law to try out since she likes pumpkin recipes, and asked her how she liked them.  She responded, “Yeah, a little too much.  I want the recipe.”  I think she liked them.  😉

For the Cookies:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar, beat with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy.  Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, continue mixing until smooth.  In a separate smaller bowl, add all dry ingredients.  Gradually add dry ingredients to mixture, and continue beating until well combined.  Using a cookie scoop, place on cookie sheet or baking stone.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a very light golden brown on top.  Cool cookies on cooling rack.

For the Cookie Icing:

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3-1/2 cup milk (based on desired consistency)

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

combine all ingredients in small mixing bowl, and stir together until your desired consistency.  You’ll want it to be thick, but runny.  Dip completely cooled cookies one by one into icing.  place back on cookie sheet for icing to set.  Store in airtight container.

*Add some extra zing to these cookies by throwing in a bag of cinnamon chips or mini chocolate chips!

Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake

A while ago, I gave it a shot to make a Pineapple Upside Down Cake…and was very impressed and happy with how it turned out.  So, naturally, when I was looking for more Fall Recipes, I came across this one…and stopped.  And since I made Bananas Foster several months ago and will never forget about how delicious that was, this recipe was added to the “to do” list.  Immediately.

bananas foster upside down cake

With the original recipe I was looking at, the cake was made from scratch.  Although it was good, I still felt like it was lacking in a couple of areas, and decided to keep it simple by using a doctored cake mix recipe that I’ve used many times, but changing around the ingredients to include banana, vanilla, and cinnamon flavors throughout the cake.  This way, when the banana, pecan, and caramel rum topping is literally the icing on top of the cake for this one.  This cake is moist, delicious…and I’ll definitely be making this one again.

For the Topping:

3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 cup butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 ripe bananas

Melt butter in small saucepan.  Remove from heat, stir in brown sugar and rum.  Continue stirring until smooth.  Spoon into an even layer in a 10 inch round cake pan.  Slice bananas diagonally, place over the sauce in pan.  Sprinkle pecans on top.  Cover with cake batter, bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cake is a light golden brown and cake pulls away from sides of pan.

For the Cake:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 small box instant banana pudding mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in medium size mixing bowl, beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes.  Spoon batter over banana, pecan, and caramel rum topping.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cake is a light golden brown and cake pulls away from sides of pan.  Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, turn out to cool completely.

Pecan Pancakes with Caramel Apple Sauce

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a magazine at the grocery store that was packed full of Fall Recipes…so I grabbed it.  As I’m flipping through the different items, I wanted to make almost everything in there, all at once.  It was a bit distracting, and of course having to pick and choose what to make now, along with what to make later.  Well, since we recently went to an orchard and loaded up on apples, I decided to use this on my in-laws when we were all vacationing together at the beach.  They love my fluffy pancakes, so I decided to make these.  The pancake recipe is pretty much the same, except with a slight substitution of a small amount of light brown sugar and some added cinnamon.

pecan pancakes 2

The caramel apple sauce though…oh wow.  When I dressed my plate up to get some pictures and then sat down to eat, it was incredible.  I had to stop myself from eating every last bit of these three pancakes covered in bliss.  “Forget syrup, I’m making this for pancakes from now on!” I told my husband.  These were incredibly delicious, and I look forward to making them for my family next time!

For The Pancakes:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pecans

Heat skillet at medium heat.  Combine dry ingredients in medium size bowl.  Add wet ingredients, stir together using a whisk.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.  Measure batter 1/4 cup at a time, pour onto hot skillet.  Sprinkle a small amount of pecans on top of batter.  When you start to see bubbles on top of batter, flip pancakes over using spatula.  Cook until lightly browned on both sides, serve warm with caramel apple topping.

*If you’re not a fan of pecans (or nuts, in general), this recipe is very easy to omit adding nuts to each pancake.

For the Caramel Apple Sauce:

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter in small sauce pan at medium heat.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon, stir until dissolved.  Add apple slices, and cook in pan until apples are soft.  Serve warm over pancakes.

Pumpkin Bars

Well, it’s October…which can only mean one thing.  Fall Recipes!  So, for the rest of this month and up until Turkey Day, I’ll be diving into as many Fall Recipes as possible.  To me, Fall Recipes are when we start moving towards the warm comfort foods, but mostly dealing with apples, pecans, cranberries, cinnamon, caramel, gingerbread, and the big one…pumpkin.  So, we’re starting out with some Pumpkin Bars this time around.

pumpkin bars

As the fragrant flavors were swarming through the kitchen when these guys were baking in my oven, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them.  Luckily, I had some cream cheese icing left over from a hummingbird cake I made over the weekend to smother all over the top of them, which is exactly what I did.  I cut two pieces for myself and my husband (he shared his with our daughter, since he literally just wolfed down two s’mores cookies), and the two of them polished their piece off…which our daughter started asking for more.  As I was getting  her ready for bed, my taste buds were screaming at me to get another piece.  So, I got into a mental argument with myself over this.  That stuff was so awesome, you know you want another piece.  Don’t do it, you’re already full and you don’t need it!  So, I made the courageous decision to get that stuff OUT of the kitchen this morning.  Taking up space in the fridge is my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.  But holy cow, these will DEFINITELY be made again.  Amazing!

For the Pumpkin Bars:

4 eggs

1 cup white sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.  In a medium mixing bowl, add all ingredients and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until mixture is smooth.  Pour batter into pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool completely before topping with cream cheese icing.  Store in refrigerator.

For the Icing:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, and continue mixing until smooth.  Spread over top of cooled Pumpkin Bars.

Apple Dumplings

One day while my cousin and I were chatting on the phone, we were talking about different desserts.  Somehow we got on the subject of apple desserts, and she gasped, “Oh, I just LOVE apple desserts.  Especially apple dumplings, they’re delicious!”  I laughed and said, “What?  Apple dumplings?”  She explained to me what they were, and since we’re both big fans of allrecipes.com, I looked up the recipe that she was talking about on there.  Her husband’s family has been making them for years, and she always looks forward to them.  After looking it up and seeing how easy they were to make (especially using crescent roll dough), I made them a few days later.  I called her immediately after my husband and I gobbled ours down, exclaiming, “Oh wow.  Those were,  um,  yeah.  They were awesome.  Definitely making these again.”


First, you’ll need your apples.  Peel, core, and cut up into 8 slices.  If they’re a little too long for the crescent roll dough, just take a little bit off each side.  Roll them up in the crescent roll dough, tucking the sides in to make sure it’s all sealed up together.


Next, pack them all in to a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Melt your butter, mix with sugar and cinnamon, and pour over dumplings.  Next, pour in the Mountain Dew (yes, you read that right).


Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until a golden brown.


The combination of soft apples with the buttery texture of crescent rolls, mixed with cinnamon, sugar, and the citrus soda will give your taste buds a run for their money.  Devour.  Happily.

Apple Dumplings Recipe:

2 regular size cans of crescent rolls

2 granny smith apples

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter

12 oz. Mountain Dew

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking dish.  Cut each apple into 8 wedges and set aside.  Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles.  Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough, starting at the smallest end.  Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish.  Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon.  Stir well, then pour over the apple dumplings.  Pour the Mountain Dew over the dumplings.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.


Chicken Pot Awesome

In the evening when my husband and I are relaxing after our little pumpkin goes to bed, we usually unwind by sitting on the couch and watching a little bit of TV.  Whether it’s a movie, one of our favorite shows (that we pre-record to fast forward through the commercials), or something on one of our favorite stations, HGTV or DIY Network.  One night, we were watching House Hunters.  This particular episode was about five guys in their twenties who were looking to buy a house with a bunch of bedrooms so they could all still be roomies together.  Amazingly, what interested me the most in this show was when they were talking about the food they ate.  One of their favorite meals was called, “Chicken Pot Awesome.”  We laughed, and said, “What in the world is that?”  Well, when they explained that it was simply chicken pot pie with a bunch of bacon added in, we both gaped at the TV and said, “Wow!  That sounds AWESOME!”  Hence, the chicken pot awesome name.

chicken pot awesome

I decided right then that I had to make this for the hubster…shoot, and for myself too, because it sounded amazing.  Normally, he doesn’t get all that excited about food…but after a weekend of helping his brother move to Texas, I wanted to make something special for him when he got back.  I’d kept it a secret all weekend, but when he called to chat on his lunch break the day of his special dinner, I spilled the beans.  And honestly, I can’t remember a time I’ve heard him get that excited about a meal, because I told him we were also having Bananas Foster for dessert.  And trust me, it was worth it.  We’re sitting there at the table in silence, gobbling down all of the awesomeness.  This is something I will definitely be making again in the future.  And again…and again…you get the point.

Chicken Pot Awesome Recipe:

1 pound chicken, cut up into cubes
1 pound bacon
1 bag “steam in a bag” mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn and green beans)
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut up bacon into smaller pieces, cook in skillet until crispy, remove from pan.  Add chicken and cook in bacon grease until lightly browned and cooked all the way through.  Cook vegetables in microwave, according to package directions.  In a saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir until mixture becomes thick.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside. Place the chicken and bacon in bottom of pie pan. Pour hot liquid mixture over meat.  Cover top with crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Bread

A year and a half ago around the holidays, someone asked me if I had ever made a pumpkin loaf before.  I told her no, but that I wanted to try it out…and completely forgot.  Well, my best friend’s sister came in town to visit, and she was hoping to get some sort of goodies from me, since apparently I “tease” her with all of the food that’s posted on here.  😉  She’s actually a big fan of pumpkin, and it was her daughter’s birthday party that I made the pumpkin cupcakes for a while back, so I knew that this would be a safe flavor to make…so that’s what determined the pumpkin bread decision.  So, she has become another guinea pig, but gets free yummies in the process.  Double whammy.

pumpkin bread

My cinnamon honey butter goes wonderfully on this bread.  In fact, maybe it’s a little too wonderful on here.  I would say it kinda feels wrong to be eating something with such a wonderful holiday flavor…but nothing can feel wrong about eating pumpkin bread.  I guess the technical season that pumpkin flavored foods really starts getting in the swing of things is when October hits…but the good thing is that it continues through Christmas.  I will definitely be making this for the holidays and wrapping them up to be put into gift baskets!  🙂

Pumpkin Bread Recipe:

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups white sugar

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans, or two 9×5 inch loaf pans.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.  Bake for about 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for about 15 minutes, turn out onto cooling racks and cool completely.

Thanksgiving Meal

Well, the big Turkey Day has passed…and what a busy weekend!  First, we hosted Thanksgiving at our house and had about 15 family members over to eat.  That afternoon, we got on the road and headed to Myrtle Beach for a big family reunion and a weekend packed with activities and an insane amount of laughter.  But, before we got on the road, I stuffed myself silly.  All you have to do is look at the picture below to see what my tummy endured that day, along with dessert.  When we set up the table full of food for dinner and got all of the plates ready, I made my daughter a plate…then hopped out of the line of fire so everyone else could dive in before I packed my plate full.  I took this opportunity to lay on the couch with my feet propped up, watching my family like a pile of vultures swarming a carcass.  After the smoke cleared, I headed into the kitchen to make a plate for myself.

And here’s the line-up…  turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, crock pot mac ‘n cheese (recipe below), sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, broccoli casserole (recipe below), roasted zucchini with squash and onions, country peas, dinner rolls with cinnamon honey butter.  Whew.  After everyone ate, the kids and adults headed outside to play in the back yard, since it was such a nice day.  A few of us ladies stayed behind and started cleaning everything up to clear the table for the grand finale…a buffet of desserts.  I honestly didn’t realize how many sweet treats we had to choose from until everything showed up on the table.  Holy cow!  I asked my sister-in-law to poke her head out the door and announce that dessert was ready.  In all honesty, they moved FASTER than when the lunch announcement was made.  Again, here came the pack of vultures, attacked the dessert buffet.  But, I can’t blame them.  We had lemon meringue pie, gingerbread cookies, rice krispie treats, better than sex cake, pumpkin cheesecake, and brownies.  What baffled me was that even though all of these desserts were up for grabs, my dad and brother gave me a hard time about hiding the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes that I made for the family reunion that was the next day.  Good grief.

Crock Pot Mac ‘n Cheese Recipe:

16 oz. uncooked pasta, elbow or small shells

2 (10 oz) cans evaporated milk

3 cups milk

4 eggs

2 sticks butter, melted

2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese

4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cook noodles according to package, drain.  Combine all ingredients in crock pot, reserving 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top.  Cook on low for 3 hours, covered.  Do not stir until done!  Move switch to warm after 3 hours have passed.

Broccoli Casserole Recipe:

2 (10 oz.) packages chopped frozen broccoli, thawed

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

12 buttery round crackers, crushed fine

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 2 quart casserole dish, mix together onion, broccoli, soup, cheese, mayonnaise, eggs, garlic salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and lemon juice. Sprinkle crushed crackers over top and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter.  Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until heated through and browned on top.

Pumpkin Pie Dip with Gingerbread Cookies

More pumpkin!  Well, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I figured one last pumpkin recipe wouldn’t be bad…and this is something that could be served as an appetizer or dessert.  Double whammy.

The first batch of cookies, I made them the standard size with a regular size cookie scoop.  After they came out, I realized that using the mini scoop would be better for making smaller cookies to serve with this dip, so the remaining cookies were smaller…and the perfect size.  This dip was very easy to make, along with the cookies.  Cut up some apple slices and throw in some pretzels along with the cookies with this dip, and you’ll have your guests coming back for more!

Pumpkin Pie Dip Recipe:

1 (15 oz.) can pureed pumpkin

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine sugar and cream cheese in bowl and beat at medium speed with electric mixture until smooth.  Add pumpkin and cinnamon, continue mixing until smooth.  Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies Recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

Okay, I’ll be honest here, I get excited easily.  A lot.  Especially when it comes to making a new recipe that sounds totally awesome…and that was the case with this particular dessert.  I’m a huge fan of cheesecake, and this delightful recipe that would be so perfect for Thanksgiving got me all riled up, so I had to test it out before the big Turkey Day to make sure it actually is as wonderful as it sounds.  It most definitely is.

I started doing some research and found several different pumpkin cheesecake recipes.  I came across three different recipes that I liked, but did some tweaking of my own to create this masterpiece.  Okay fine, so maybe it’s not a masterpiece, but it’s pretty freakin’ awesome if you ask me.  While the cheesecake was baking, the thought of caramel sauce crossed my mind as well, so I found a recipe for that.  Considering I was making a trial cheesecake before Thanksgiving and then another one several days later, having a good amount of homemade caramel sauce in the fridge sounded like a fantastic idea…so I made some…and VERY glad we used this instead of the storebought kind.  Top this off with some whipped topping?  Holy cow.  My husband even went back for a second piece, and that rarely happens.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe:

For the crust:

2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 stick melted salted butter


3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1 (15 oz.) can pureed pumpkin

3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, combine crumbs and sugar, add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.  Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.  Pour into crust. Wrap pan with two sheets of aluminum foil that are perpendicular, to keep water from seeping into pan during the baking process.  Place springform pan inside a larger pan, then fill the space in between the two pans with about 1 inch of water (this helps create moisture in the oven during the baking process to prevent cheesecake from cracking).  Spread out evenly and place in oven for 75-90 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Caramel Sauce Recipe:

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine butter, brown sugar, water, and salt in a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Bring to boil for 3 to 5 minutes depending upon thickness desired.  Remove from heat and stir in evaporated milk and vanilla.  Store in refrigerator.

Pumpkin Pancakes

When it comes to breakfast, pancakes are the first thing that pop into my head.  My family loves getting together for a big breakfast with all kinds of delicious goodies, but usually a pancake breakfast is on its own…well, with bacon, of course.  Oh yeah, and homemade syrup as well.

With that being said, what better way to celebrate the fall and holidays with some pumpkin pancakes?  My thoughts exactly.  And here they are…thick, fluffy and absolutely delicious!  If you have leftovers, wrap separately and store in freezer.  Reheat in microwave 45 seconds for one pancake, 60 seconds for two.  This batch makes about 15 pancakes!

Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe:

1 3/4 cups milk

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 cups all purpose flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Puree the milk, pumpkin, egg, butter, and vinegar to a smooth consistency (you can use a blender or food processor).  In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Whisk together.  Add pumpkin mixture and whisk just until combined.  Spoon 1/4 cup mixture over hot griddle, brown on both sides and serve hot with maple syrup.

Pumpkin Blondies

Since Thanksgiving is approaching, the pumpkin fever has definitely hit.  Last week, I made some pumpkin cupcakes that were absolutely delicious.  My husband got excited when I told him that I made some, and asked me to save him one.  I love the blondies that I’ve made before, and this is a pumpkin twist on the same kind of recipe…and they’re delicious!

The pecans in this recipe are optional, and I’ll be honest…nuts in desserts are absolutely wonderful in my eyes…but it seems like nuts in desserts is a hit or miss situation.  Most people that I’ve talked to about nuts in desserts either love it or hate it, but the pecans certainly go well with this time of year, and of course, the pumpkin.  Next batch will have half and half with the pecans.  Compromise.  😉

Pumpkin Blondies Recipe:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter (two sticks), melted and cooled

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients (except for chips and pecans) and beat at medium speed with electric mixer until blended well.  Fold in chips and pecans, spoon into greased 9×13 inch pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until knife in center comes out clean.  Cool completely, then cut into squares.   Great with ice  cream and caramel sauce!