Sunday, February 27, 2011

Individual Cheesecakes with Blueberry Sauce

I was looking for a dessert that I could make in advance when I ran across this one.  Individual Cheesecakes with Blueberry Sauce sounded wonderful.  Actually, it was the blueberry sauce that appealed to me.  I am not a true fan of cheesecake but this combination sounded great.

I must be honest and say that they didn't rock my boat.  The blueberry sauce was great.  The cheesecakes themselves just didn't taste like cheesecake nor did they have that cheesecake texture.  They weren't sweet enough.  The sweetness came from the blueberries and their sweetness was subtle.

So, if you are looking for a dessert that is a little on the plain side, this is it.  If you want something more sweet, you will need to adjust the recipe according to your taste.  Those of you who are cheesecake fans will know what to do....please share with me!!

Individual Cheesecakes with Blueberry Sauce
adapted from Pacific Fresh

Serves 6

16 squares graham crackers, finely crushed
2-3 Tbsp finely chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

To make crust:  In a skillet over high hear, toast crumbs and nuts, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.  remove from hear and add butter, sugar and cinnamon and mix well.  Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Divide crumb mixture evenly among 6 serving dishes/cups.  Press firmly with back of spoon onto the bottom and part way up the sides.  Transfer to a cookie sheet and refrigerate the cups.  Chill well, about 3 hours.

To make filling:  In food processor combine all ingredients.  Process until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Beat again with a spoon and then spoon some onto the crusts in cups, being careful not to disturb the crust.

Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or over night.  Serve with Blueberry Sauce and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Blueberry Sauce
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp blueberry schnapps (optional)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries

In a saucepan combine all ingredients except the blueberries.  Whisk until blended, then add blueberries.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil until juice is clear and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Cool, then transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  Sauce can be served cold or at room temperature.


I do love making individual desserts!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pork Loin Chili

What to cook when there is a cold, cold week-end looming?  Yes, I know, cold to me is not cold to my east coast family and friends...just the same, if there is snow predicted for San Francisco, there just might be a chance that it could come my way...we haven't had snow since January 1999.  If we get any snowflakes, they will melt when they hit the ground...guess that is a good thing...but I am from the east coast and I do miss looking out and seeing a beautiful blanket of white covering everything.  Hmmmm...there may not be snow, but it will be, I need something comforting...

About five years ago I was watching Party Line with the Hearty Boys on the Food Network.  They were preparing a pork loin chili that sounded fantastic.  I had always used beef when I made chili but being a pork lover, this recipe was music to my ears.

It has a sweet and tangy flavor and I usually over do it when it is in the house.  For how many meals can one eat chili and still go back for more?  I don't know what it is about this recipe that makes music with my taste buds as well as my ears but this one does...  Maybe it is the wonderful, savory, tender chunks of pork...or the addition of honey...honey in chili?  Yep, and it is mighty good!  Whichever it is, it works for me!

The original recipe serves 16 but I cut it back...the family does not want chili for a month!

Pork Loin Chili
Adapted from Party Line with the Hearty Boys

Serves 8

4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 onion, cut into 1 inch dice
1 clove garlic
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
1 1/2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup prepared black coffee
1/4 cup bourbon
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup sour cream, for serving
1 small can sliced or chopped jalapenos, for serving
1 cup shredded cheddar, for serving

Pour 2 Tbsp oil into a large, heavy bottomed stockpot.  Heat on high for 2-3 minutes.  Season the pork with a dash of salt and pepper and brown it in batches, 3 to 5 minutes per batch.  Set aside the browned pork.

Pour the remaining oil into the pot and add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and jalapenos.  Season the veggies with the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, slat, pepper and cilantro.  Sweat the vegetable mixture over medium hear for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Add the pork back to the pot along with the tomatoes, honey, coffee, and bourbon.  Add the beans and stir well.  Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat to the lowest setting.  Let the chili simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until the pork is juicy and buttery soft!  Serve with side bowls of sour cream, sliced jalapenos, and shredded cheddar.


This is a yummy chili the flavor varies from the norm.  It is worth a try.  It will warm your tummy on a cold, cold day...or anytime!

Today is Foodie Friday!

I am happy to send this over to our gracious hostess, Michael, at Designs by Gollum.  If you have time do stop by and take a look at what is being shared today!

And Fat Camp Friday at Mangoes and Chutney!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan

Spring brings asparagus to the market!  How exciting is that!!  I learned that I really love asparagus when I started preparing it myself.  My mom and I approach cooking vegetables in two totally different ways.  I prefer to steam or roast them as opposed to boiling them to death.  That said, my mom is really an excellent cook...just not when it comes to preparing vegetables!

I really like Ina's simple directions for roasting asparagus.  It is a standby here.  Clean vegetables and place them on a baking sheet.  Drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper, then pop them in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  I was supposed to remove the vegetables from the oven when they were tender and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and then return them to the oven for a few minutes.  They are served with lemon slices.

Very simple and tasty!  Watch the roasting time...young tender asparagus roasts quickly.  I forgot to check to see if I had Parmesan cheese in the refrigerator...sadly, I did not.  We really didn't miss the cheese, the vegetables were great on their own!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Titus Canyon, Death Valley

Last week I shared how amazed I was at the topography of Death Valley.  One of our day excursions included a drive through Titus Canyon.  It was filled with spectacular land formations.  I took so many pictures that it was difficult for me to narrow down what I wanted to share.  I finally categorized the pictures and decided that I would share plants, ghost towns, mining towns and additional petroglyphs in the future.

I hope you enjoy taking this brief tour of Titus Canyon.

I was drawn to this picture to show you the multi-colored beds or layers, colors and curves Red Pass.

The angle of the layers that formed this mountain fascinated me.

More layers and angles...I think I really liked this one for the plant, the mountains and the contrasting sky.

Can you believe the colors?

This is Red Pass and its "Hoodoos".  Hoodoos are spires of soft rock capped with harder rock.

If you ever have the opportunity to go to Death Valley, don't miss taking a drive through Titus Canyon.

Today is Outdoor Wednesday and I am happy to be able to send this over to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.  Be sure to take time to visit her and the wonderful winter outdoor excursions being shared.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spring Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

I know that spring is just around the corner when the mobile strawberry stands start to appear!  I always have a big smile when I drive down the road and see the beautiful strawberries on display.  It is very difficult to drive by and not stop to buy a flat.  The first strawberries are equivalent to spring in my book.  I wish I had had my camera with me so that you could see them...I guess that will be the next time I stop by!

I was actually headed to the store because I was going to make a salad with the kiwis that I had gotten in our produce box this week.  My thought was spinach, kiwi and avocado...why not add strawberries!
The salad is really quite simple to make and oh so flavorful!  The Raspberry Vinaigrette is really must try it sometime.  I plated the salads so I only used what we needed...there isn't really a recipe except for the vinaigrette.

Spring Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Baby Spinach
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
2 kiwi, peeled, sliced
About 2 strawberries per plate, cleaned and sliced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the ingredients in a salad bowl or plate the salad arranging each item on top of the spinach.  Sprinkle the walnuts on top.  Drizzle with dressing.

Raspberry Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp  raspberry jam
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Mix together the three ingredients in a small container.


Bring some spring into your kitchen with this flavor-packed salad!

I am linking at some new "parties" today:  Tuesday's at the Table and Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Death Valley Petroglyphs

We went on an adventure last week.  We took a trip to Death Valley.  I had been there about 40 years ago...I must admit that I am not a fan of the desert.  I was being a good sport...times change....views change.  I learned that not all rocks are created equal!

I had no idea that I was going to get to see such fantastic geology!  I loved my college geology class and living in an area where there are earthquakes, there are numerous faults, uplifts, and beautiful striations (layers) to observe just out my back door.  In Death Valley I saw dramatic examples of uplifts and!

My previous trip to Death Valley did not include any of these fantastic geological canyons.  We saw sea level, we saw the lowest point in the western hemisphere...we much for Death Valley.  How sad that I visited such a rich area and didn't really see any of it.  I am so glad that we went...I am happy that we went with my SIL and BIL.  They love the area and took us to fantastic areas.  I will definitely go back.

The road on the way to the Valley was the "road less traveled"....but, we found some wonderful secrets held by the hills...petroglyphs!  The Kitchen Gnome loves the desert and on our way he recalled some petroglyphs he had visited.

Can you see them?  They are chipped into the side of the rock.

The interpretations vary based upon the Indian tribe.  Looking closely you can see a mountain goat, a river or snake, to the right of the mountain goat you can see a line with cross lines...

and last, the mountain goats.

The trip to Death Valley was exciting.  The next few days proved to me even more fun!

Today is Outdoor Wednesday.  I am sending this to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer!  Thank you for hosting.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Oven Roasted Ribs

I am very fortunate.  I am married to a man who enjoys our culinary adventures and he also likes to cook.  He reads through the blogs regularly and it is not uncommon for him to find a recipe that he must try.  That is what happened a few weeks ago when he read Kate's blog, Serendipity.  The Kitchen Gnome loves ribs.  He loves being challenged to cook "the best ribs."

He gathered his list of ingredients and headed for the store.

Oven Roasted Ribs

Adapted from The Kitchen Diaries
Serves 4 

6 Tablespoons thick honey
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
4 whole star anise
3 pounds meaty pork ribs

  • Mix the honey, sauces, chili flakes and star anise in a bowl and pour over the ribs.
  • Marinate them in this sauce for at least an hour and preferably overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F
  • Cook ribs, turning them about every 15 minutes for 60-75 minutes. They should be tender but won’t be falling off the bone.
  • Try not to growl when eating them.
Kate was right about these ribs.  They are so tender.  I love ribs that are done in the oven!  I made German Potato Salad to go with them.  It was a great combination!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Sign of Spring

There is hope!  
Last week I saw the first flower on our evergreen pear and it looks as though there are more to come!

Today I went outside and found more blossoms bursting forth!  I love it.

The groundhog had better not ruin everything!

I am sending this over to Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.  It is Outdoor Wednesday!