Cheddar and Onion Biscuit Bites with Avocado

biscuitbitesandcheeseNow 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

Susie’s Blueberry Tart: A Summertime Treat!

blueberry tart and ice creamIt’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.

Vermont blueberriesHave 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

The Best Dessert Ever for the Holidays: Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Squares

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Squares

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.

Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Squares

Recipe Type: dessert
Author: Mimi Holtz, adapted from Kim Kelly of Liv Life
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 20 +
These ultra-rich chocolate morsels are a perfect dessert or a heavenly treat with coffee…small but satisfying.
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 1 package of 30 Oreo cookies with green mint-flavored filling
  • 5 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
  • Cheesecake:
  • 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
  • Topping:
  • Whipped cream (I used the kind in a can)
  • crushed candy canes (I use the mini’s)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Chocolate Cheese Cake

This delicious cheese cake would have disappeared in a hurry if I hadn’t put a “Do Not Eat” post-it on!

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!

Chocolate cheese cake squares

These cheesecake squares taste like peppermint fudge!

I will definitely add this recipe to my annual “Best Holiday Desserts” list!  Thanks again to Kim at Liv Life for this fabulous idea!

Mimi Avocado Takes Her First Helicopter Ride and a Recipe for Maple Almond Apple Crisp

Gaspe Quebec

View from our cabin on the Celebrity Summit, taken in Gaspe, Quebec on the Gulf of St. Lawrence

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.

helicopter tour

I met this helicopter pilot in the welcome area of Gaspe, Quebec. He was offering tours of the area! What a fun surprise!

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!

first helicopter ride

I expected to have some motion sickness, but the ride was very smooth! Not scary at all!

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!

Gaspe Peninsula

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.

Perce RockThe 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.

Bonaventure IslandAs 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!

Gaspe Quebec autumnReturning  to Gaspe,  our pilot circled the ship so we could take photographs.  I wondered if The Farmer would look up and see the helicopter … not knowing that his wife was up there!

Celebrity SummitWhen  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.

Granny Smith apples

I chopped up the apples and added maple syrup and cinnamon to the bowl.

apples with maple syrup and cinnamon

I always use Vermont maple syrup, but after our trip to Canada, the maple leaf will also remind me of that beautiful country and the friendly people we met in Quebec!

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.

baked apple crisp

The almonds added a yummy crunch and flavor to the apple crisp!

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!

Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Serve Apple Crisp warm with vanilla ice cream. Don’t you love this cute cow bowl?

Maple Almond Apple Crisp

Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Mimi Holtz
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Maple syrup and sliced almonds make this apple crisp extra special!
Ingredients
  • Apples:
  • 8 cups cubed tart apples (I use Granny Smith)
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Crisp:
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine apples with maple syrup and cinnamon.
  3. Stir until the apples are coated.
  4. Place mixture into large shallow baking dish.
  5. Make the topping by combining the oats, flour, almond meal, almonds, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
  6. Add the melted butter and stir until crumbly.
  7. Spoon the topping over the apples until the whole dish is covered.
  8. Top with thin slices of butter.
  9. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 50 minutes, when apples are bubbly and topping is brown.
  10. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

maple almond apple crisp

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