Friday, September 30, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

It's recipe swap time!  Twice a month, the swappers on my favorite cooking board come up with a new theme, submit a recipe and swap. We each make a recipe and blog it, then everyone's recipes are shared on a roundup post on A Taste of Home Cooking blog. This is my first time joining the group, and the theme is Apples/Pumpkin - a great theme to start, right?!

I made Ellie's recipe swap, from The Wanna Be Cook.  This Paula Deen recipe is a winner that is sure to please all apple lovers.  I took the advice of several reviewers and made extra filling (as listed below in measurements). Next time, I will go with the original recipe, only because my 9x13 pan was filled to the very brim with the extra filling and then the streusel on top of that. Maybe I need a deeper dish? I ended up baking the crust an extra 5-10 minutes until it turned a golden brown, and baked the cheesecake for 30 min, but could have gone just a bit longer because the filling was still very soft. Overall a nice change from my favorite pumpkin recipes.

View the full round-up at A Taste of Home Cooking

Source: Paula Deen

 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel topping, recipe follows

1/2 cup caramel topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping. Bake 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping.

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.

Yield: approximately 3 cups

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Warm Spinach Salad with Sausage & Potatoes

Here is a salad you're sure to love. Made with roasted vegetables, chicken sausage and topped with a light balsamic dressing, it will definitely fill you up. I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy salad and this is my new favorite. I made a few changes to use what we had on hand. I left out the asparagus and used purple potatoes because they looked fun. This makes a delicious, quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Source: For the Love of Cooking

4 garlic and herb chicken sausages
8-10 vine ripe tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, sliced into chunks
1 cup of baby potatoes
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
8-10 spears of asparagus, ends removed
4-5 cloves of garlic (leave skins on)
Olive oil, to taste
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
12 oz fresh spinach
Feta cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Chop the tomatoes in half, quarter the mushrooms and chop the onion. Place the tomatoes, onion chunks, mushrooms and baby potatoes on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Place in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the asparagus and continue to roast for 10 minutes or until the asparagus and potatoes are fork tender.

While the veggies are roasting, cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes or until done.

Balsamic and Mustard Dressing:

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 clove of garlic
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, water, garlic then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste, until well combined.

Once the veggies are out of the oven, carefully remove the skin from the garlic and then slice. Toss the warm veggies and sliced sausages with the spinach and dressing until evenly coated. Serve immediately and enjoy.
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