Happy Thursday, everybody. I hope you’re having a good day. It’s dreary and rainy in Michigan, so I’ve been doing a lot of indoor chores, mostly laundry. It’s one of the few chores that I don’t mind doing. I love folding a basket of soft, clean, warm laundry. The smell can’t be beat. Especially when I use my Two Cent Fabric Softener.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover/April weekend! This year was our first hosted holiday as married couple so it was very exciting. I did a ton of cooking and baking and everything was well received by family.
Sometimes I have a hard time deciding between cake and cookies when I am in the kitchen. But luckily, for those times when I am stuck, I have the perfect middle ground dessert – cake batter cookies.
Juicy Fruit is known for their traditional fruity gum in the bright yellow box. But they’ve recently expanded their horizons and introduced a line of gums inspired by Starburst Candies. I was recently given two packages of their Cherry and Strawberry Starburst gums to review.
My husband made a joke once that my bread cookbooks were just like porn for me. It was a silly joke, and I rolled my eyes at him, but he’s right; there are few things in this world I love more than bread. Store bought bread, bakery loaves, homemade loaves – if you can slice it and put butter on it, I’m a fan.
We got a bread machine and a lovely bread stone and loaf pan for our wedding, so I’ve really enjoyed expanding my repertoire of bread recipes. A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at french bread with our new bread stone. I get so frustrated with myself when a recipe doesn’t turn out exactly the way I want it to the first time, so I made sure to pick an easy one. Thankfully, I found an amazing one from Julie at My Mundane and Miraculous Life. Her Easy Peasy French Bread has a mere four ingredients and is miraculously ;) good.
It’s a time for celebration!
For those of you who don’t know, I just recently sat for the Michigan bar examination. It’s been a long and stressful road, but I hope I get the word in a few months that I passed and can go on to practicing law, which has been my dream since I was 14.
I thought it was only fitting that my first post after the exam would be a recipe for a good celebratory drink. I don’t drink often, but I have fallen in love with the local wines since I moved here from Pennsylvania. Michigan has wonderful orchards and I am especially fond of the cherries they produce. My favorite local brand, Grand Traverse Wines, makes a wonderful sweet red with cherries that makes a great base for a wine spritzer.
This was a sparkling, sweet, and wonderfully fruity drink, and the perfect end to a long week of exam taking.
- Lemon-lime soda
- Cherry cocktail syrup
- Maraschino cherries
- Sweet red wine such as Merlot
- Take a wine glass and put a splash of cherry syrup in the bottom, followed by 2-3 maraschino cherries.
- Pour red wine into the glass until it is about halfway full. Stir gently to mix the syrup and wine
- Pour chilled lemon lime soda over the wine until the glass is full.
I’m so glad to be back to more enjoyable activities, like working on this blog!
I’ve been on a homemade cooking kick for the past two weeks. It’s been great. I tend to cook more when I’m stressed and it really helps me relax.
The star of our last meal (according to my husband) was this cheesecake. We’re huge cheesecake fans, and I was craving a piece. Whenever we go to Chicago we make sure to stop at The Cheesecake Factory. My perennial favorite there is the Vanilla Cheesecake. It’s simple but amazing.
This cheesecake has a vanilla bean base with a layer of fluffy white chocolate mousse and a topping of real whipped cream. Instead of a graham cracker crust, I used sugar cookies. It was accidental – I looked in the pantry and realized we didn’t have enough graham crackers. I was going to go to the store when my dear husband pointed to the cookie jar and suggested the leftover sugar cookies we had. It was a great decision – it adds an extra vanilla kick and has a sweet and crunchy finish.
I adapted this recipe from Amy in the Kitchen. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
- 5-6 Large Sugar Cookies, Finely Crushed (or about 1.5 cups)
- 3 sticks butter
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup white sugar
- 20 ounces of cream cheese (2.5 packs)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- 4 ounces of white chocolate
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
This recipe is done in stages since both the cheesecake and the toppings need to be made separately.
- For the cheesecake filling – Soften 16 ounces of cream cheese and two sticks of butter, add the sugar and beat on high until smooth and fluffy. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean, and cornstarch. Beat on high until smooth and fully incorporated. I found it best to add the cornstarch in via a sifter so there would be no lumps. Set the filling aside.
- For the sugar cookie crust – melt one stick of butter and add to the crushed cookies along with the egg and brown sugar. Press the cookie mixture into a springform pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the crust for 12 minutes at 320 degrees. Set it aside and let it cool.
- After the crust has cooled, add the cheesecake filling and smooth the top. Bake for one hour at 320 degrees, Don’t worry – the center may still be a little soft. It’ll firm up in the fridge. After it is cooked, place it in the fridge overnight. Your patience will be rewarded!
- For the white chocolate mousse layer – melt 4 ounces of white chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Set it aside. Beat one cup of heavy cream until stiff – like the texture of Cool Whip. Add in the powdered sugar, and 4 ounces of softened cream cheese. Add the melted white chocolate and beat on high until smooth and fluffy. Place in the fridge overnight.
- For the whipped cream layer (my favorite!) – simply beat one cup of heavy cream until stiff. Add a touch of granulated sugar if you like, but I love it as is – the rich cream adds a wonderful contrast to the sugary vanilla. Place in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, first layer the cheesecake base with the white chocolate mousse. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so, then add the whipped cream layer. I stuck it back in the fridge at this point so the layers would firm up, but if you can’t wait, dig in!
Since I moved to Michigan, my soup making skills have gotten so much better. Probably because it is so cold here thanks to the lake effect, and a pot of hot soup simmering in the kitchen makes me forget how cold it is outside.
I like soups that are chock full of meats and vegetables and spices, so I was really glad to find a recipe for Hangover Soup. It has a really funny name, but it is absolutely delicious and filling. I found this recipe on Food Network and adapted it for my family’s tastes.
It has a rich, creamy broth redolent of pork and bacon, and full of hearty vegetables. Best of all, you can make it in the crockpot and go about your day.
Adapted from Food Network
Makes 8 Servings
- 8 cups of chicken broth
- 5 pieces of center cut bacon
- 2 cups pork loin, chopped
- 2 links of sweet Italian sausage, chopped
- 2 cups of cubed potatoes
- 2 cups of chopped carrots
- 1 cup of chopped celery
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- One teaspoon each of Paprika and Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper
- Prepare the crockpot by drizzling a little olive oil in the pot
- Cook the chopped bacon over medium high heat. Remove the bacon but leave the drippings in the pan. Place the bacon into the crockpot.
- Fry the diced garlic, pork loin, and sausage in the bacon drippings until cooked. Drain off the fat and add the cooked meat to the crockpot.
- Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions to the crockpot. Add the seasonings and stir.
- Pour the chicken broth in, and put the temperature on low. Cook for 4-6 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can cook for 2 on high.
- Before serving, stir in the cream.
- Serve with bread and enjoy!