Now that the cooler weather is here, I’m looking for some quick and easy ideas to serve with soups or as an appetizer. These Cheddar and Onion Biscuit Bites with Avocado are full of flavor, perfect for dunking into a cup of soup or serving with a big bowl of hot chili. Kerrygold Skellig cheddar cheese is the secret ingredient that makes all the difference in these bite size biscuits stuffed with a small wedge of fresh buttery avocado. Continue reading
It’s summertime in Vermont, and that means blueberries! There are several blueberry bushes in my mother’s yard, but we have never seen many berries on them. I was so surprised when I arrived for my summertime visit and walked around the yard. Those bushes are loaded with plump, juicy berries this year! With all the rain this summer, farmers have had trouble planting corn, but the blueberry growers are thrilled! Our local TVl news station even did a story about blueberries: how the rain has been great for them and how a flock of birds will fly in and devour an entire crop of berries in a few hours.
Have you ever read the children’s classic Blueberries for Sal? My mother read us that book, and to this day I can’t pick blueberries without thinking about that story.
With blueberries ripening it’s the perfect time to bring out the recipe for blueberry tart that we have enjoyed for many years. Continue reading
Is it worth heating up the kitchen on a hot summer afternoon to have homemade cookies for an evening picnic? I think so! Especially we’re making these Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies!
I’m not kidding. Everyone loved these Chocolate Peppermint Cheese Cake Squares! They’re so rich that one serving is only about 1 inch square. Each morsel is full of rich chocolate flavor…and the mint makes it extra special! No one feels bad about the calories because each piece is tiny…and after a big meal, who needs more than that?
I must give credit where credit is due. Sometime during December I saw a Facebook post that caught my eye, and resolved to make the recipe. Before you read any further, run right over to Liv Life and read her post about Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bars. It was her photo and recipe that caused me to become obsessed with the idea of these tiny bites of fudgy perfection.
Of course, I never make a recipe exactly the way it’s written. Sigh. There’s usually some reason. Either I don’t have the ingredients exactly as called for in the recipe, or I decide to just try something different. In this case, I used different cookies for the crust and decided not to add the glaze. Otherwise, the recipes are very much the same. So here’s the recipe for the Chocolate Peppermint Cheese Cake Squares that I made, inspired by Kim at Liv Life and adapted from her recipe.
- 1 package of 30 Oreo cookies with green mint-flavored filling
- 5 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
- 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 16 oz. softened cream cheese (okay to use lower fat)
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup sour cream (okay to use low fat)
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- Whipped cream (I used the kind in a can)
- crushed candy canes (I use the mini’s)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the cookies in a food processor and process until they are crumbs. The creme filling may cause the crumbs to clump together. While the processor is still running, drizzle the melted butter into the crumbs and process until they are combined. Press the mixture evenly into a foil-lined 9″ x 13″ pan.
- Melt the chopped chocolate together in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until all the pieces are melted and smooth. When it’s completely smooth, remove the bowl from the heat and let the chocolate cool at room temperature.
- Place the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the sour cream to the mixture, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time and stir into the mixture. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix until the batter is smooth.
- Pour the batter over the crust to cover evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate the cake for at least 8 hours.
- To serve, cut a long strip of the cheese cake, remove from pan and then slice into 1 inch squares. Top with a little whipped cream and add some crushed candy cane bits to the top.
- This cheesecake will last for a week or two in the refrigerator if you wrap it well.
These decadent squares of fudgy deliciousness would have disappeared in a hurry if I hadn’t added the dreaded “Do Not Eat” note to the pan!
Thankfully I was able to serve them for Christmas Day, again a few days later when we had guests for dinner, and they even lasted until New Year’s! This one batch kept nicely in the refrigerator…and I think the flavor became even richer!
I will definitely add this recipe to my annual “Best Holiday Desserts” list! Thanks again to Kim at Liv Life for this fabulous idea!
After the summer harvest, The Farmer and I took a long-anticipated trip with friends to Maine, Canada and New York. One of the highlights for me was the day we were in Gaspe, Quebec when I had an opportunity to do something I had never done before. We had not purchased a bus tour to see the sites of the Forillon National Park or the famous Perce Rock, one of the world’s largest natural arches. Instead we decided to have a quiet day. The Farmer would stay on the ship and I would visit the town by myself.
When I reached the shore, I found an opportunity to take a helicopter tour of the area…something I had not expected! Should I go? The townspeople who were there to welcome guests from the ship encouraged me to do it…the weather was perfect and there was one seat available on a flight leaving in 10 minutes!
I had never been up in a helicopter before…but it was on my bucket list and I decided not to miss this chance to go!
Flying over the Gaspe Peninsula and the Gulf of St. Lawrence was a beautiful experience, especially with the trees changing color for the fall. Even though I grew up in Vermont, I had never been this far north to see the vast expanses of forest and ocean. Our pilot took us over the trees and then out over the water to look for whales.
The Perce Rock was named by Samuel de Champlain because of the hole he noticed in the huge rock formation, causing it to appear “pierced”. We also flew over nearby Bonaventure Island where a large colony of gannets are protected in the migratory bird sanctuary.
As we flew back over the colorful patchwork Canadian landscape, we could see large swamplands, logging areas, and a few hunting camps. Miles and miles of undeveloped natural territory. So good for the soul!
When I returned to the ship I was so excited to tell The Farmer where I had been! I found him playing a dice game called Farkle with friends from our travel group. No one had seen the helicopter as we flew over the ship, but that didn’t bother me…I was floating on air for the rest of that day!
The beautiful fall colors of New England and Canada made me hungry for apples! A few days after we returned from our trip I found some gorgeous extra large Granny Smith apples at Trader Joe’s and couldn’t resist buying some.
I chopped up the apples and added maple syrup and cinnamon to the bowl.
After mixing the apples, maple syrup and cinnamon, I put them into a buttered baking dish. Then I mixed up the “crisp” to put on top, with oatmeal, all purpose unbleached flour, almond meal, sliced almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and melted butter.
I made a huge pan of the apple crisp, thinking it would last several days. Apparently several of the people in the household enjoyed it for dessert and again for breakfast…it’s already all gone!
- 8 cups cubed tart apples (I use Granny Smith)
- 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup all purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/8 cup butter in cut in thin slices
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine apples with maple syrup and cinnamon.
- Stir until the apples are coated.
- Place mixture into large shallow baking dish.
- Make the topping by combining the oats, flour, almond meal, almonds, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
- Add the melted butter and stir until crumbly.
- Spoon the topping over the apples until the whole dish is covered.
- Top with thin slices of butter.
- Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 50 minutes, when apples are bubbly and topping is brown.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.