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Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake Batter:

1 (8-ounce) block of 1/3-less-fat cream cheese

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


Brownie Batter

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large egg whites

1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350F. To prepare cheesecake batter, place cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add granulated sugar and peppermint extract; beat well.  Add 1 egg and 1 egg white; beat well. Add 1 tablespoon flour; beat mixture just until blended.


To prepare brownie batter, weigh or lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 cup of flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, 2 egg whites and 1 egg in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.


Reserve ½ cup of brownie batter. Pour remaining batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Carefully pour cheesecake batter over top; spread evenly to edges. Dot cheesecake batter with reserved brownie batter. Swirl top two layers of batters together using the tip of a knife. Be sure not to disturb the bottom brownie layer. Bake at 350F for 26 minutes or until top is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Candied Zest


2 Medium-sized lemons, limes OR oranges OR 1 grapefruit

½ cup sugar, divided

2 tablespoons of water


Use a sharp vegetable peeler to removed zest from citrus (reserve fruit for another use).  Scrape bitter white pith from the back of the peel with a small paring knife; discard pith. Cut peel into ¼-inch-thick strips 3 inches in length. This yields about 40 strips per fruit. 


Combine ¼ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan to make a simple syrup.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.  Add peel, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely.


Strain through a sieve, shaking off excess moisture to prevent clumping; discard liquid. Separate pieces of rind and allow to air-dry on a sheet of wax paper. Place remaining ¼ cup of sugar and citrus strips in a bowl; toss well to coat.


Cookie Ingredients:

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup honey

¼ cup butter

¼ cup dark molasses

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

1 large egg

¾ cup finely ground almonds

½ cup chopped candies orange peel

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon round cardamom

½ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt


Glaze Ingredients:

¾ cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons water


To prepare cookies, combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly (do not boil). Pour sugar mixture into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add coffee and egg to sugar mixture, stirring with a whisk. Stir in almonds and orange peel.


Weigh or lightly spoon flower into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) into a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, stirring to form a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; kneed 1 minutes or until well combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 24 hours.


Preheat oven to 325F. Cover two large baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide dough into an 8x6-inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle into 16 3x1-inch bars; place bars 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 325F for 20 minutes or until firm. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.


To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredient in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm cookies.

Anise Tea Crescents


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cornstarch

½ teaspoons salt

1 ¼ cups powdered sugar, divided

5 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon aniseed, crushed


Preheat oven to 350F. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Beat ¾ cups sugar, butter, and oil with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture and aniseed; beat at low speed until blended. Chill 30 minutes.


Shape dough into 32 (2-inch) logs; bend logs to form a crescent shape. Arrange 16 crescents 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake cookies at 350F for 14 minutes or until edges are golden. Remove from oven; cool on pan for 3 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining 16 crescents.


Sift remaining ½ cup sugar into a medium bowl; toss warm cookies in sugar to coat. Cool completely on a wire rack.

It's Christmas Time!

It’s finally Christmas! My other favorite time of year! With lots of eating, which means lots of cooking! I plan on doing a lot of baking and making sweets over the holidays. So look forwards to lots of  cake, cookie and candy recipes!

Sweet Potato Casserole

A dish I didn’t know we were making until after the fact.  No marshmallows in this one! Just the way I like it. The topping was buttery and sweet and the potatoes come out smooth and delectable. The recipe calls for vanilla extract, but my mom was all out, and we ended up using maple extract.  I personally think it was better.


Potato Ingredients:

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup evaporated low-fat milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Cooking Spray


Topping Ingredients

1/3 cup of all-purpose flower

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350F. To prepare potatoes, place potatoes in a Dutch oven or large pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes to until tender; drain. Cool 5 minutes.  Place potatoes in a large bowl; add granulated sugar, evaporated milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter ½ teaspoon salt, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs; beat well. Pour potato mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.


To prepare topping, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; stir with a whisk. Stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over potato mixture; arrange pecans evenly over top. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or just until golden.  Remove casserole from oven and preheat broiler.  Broil casserole 45 seconds or until topping is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

This was fantastic!  I’ve never been a fan of the traditional green bean casserole. Instead of mushy casserole, everything was light and crisp and delicious ^_^



1 cup sliced shallots

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

Cooking spray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon sugar

3 (1-ounce) slices French bread baguette

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind


Preheat oven to 425 F.  Place shallots and beans in a small roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with w tablespoon oil and toss. Sprinkle mixture evenly with salt and sugar and toss to combine. Bake at 425 F for 20 minutes or until beans are crisp and tender.  Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.


Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times for until coarse crumbs measure 1 ½ cups. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs to pan; cook 5 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat; stir in the cheese, walnuts, and lemon rind.  Add breadcrumb mixture to beans, and toss.

Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste. Brands can have differing spice intensities; taste before deciding how much to add.  For a variation, replace th Harissa with a couple of teaspoons of minces canned chipotle chilies in adobo and about one teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the can.



2 medium acorn squash, each cut into 3 wedges and seeded

Cooking spray

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon water

1 ½ teaspoons Harissa paste

4 teaspoons sesame seeds


Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange squash, cut sides up, on a parchment-lines baking sheet. Coat squash lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with salt.  Combine syrup, butter, 1 tablespoon water, and Harissa in a bowl, stirring well, and drizzle evenly into each cavity. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes. Sprinkle squash evenly with sesame seeds; bake 20 minutes or until seeds are toasted and squash is tender.

I’ve never liked Brussels sprouts, but these were fantastic.  The pine nuts added a wonderful toasty taste and texture to the firm sprouts and the chewy currents.


1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup finely chopped shallots

2 tablespoons dried currants

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth


Separate sprouts into leaves, leaving just the center intact, and set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pine nuts to pan; cook for 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring constantly.  Remove nuts from pan and coarsely chop.


Melt butter in pan over medium-high head. Add shallots to pan, sauté 1 minute or until golden, stirring frequently.  Stir in Brussels sprouts centers and leaves, currents, thyme, salt, and pepper; toss to combine.  Add broth, cover, reduce heat, and cook for 7 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Uncover, cook 4 minutes or until liquid evaporates and sprout centers are tender, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with nuts.

Classic “Prime” Rib

I have a huge family, thus a huge dinner. This is just one of the meats we’ll be having, next to fired turkey and Honey Baked Ham.



1 (6 ½ pound) rib-eye roast, French-cut and trimmed

1 tablespoon of kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Rub roast on all sides with salt and pepper.  Place the roast, bone-side down, in a roasting pan. Loop and twine each of the bones (to help the roast hold its shape as it cooks). Bake at 325 F for 2 hours or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the roast registers 130 F or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove from oven.  Place roast on a cutting board. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.