Cheesecake Party Planning (As Promised!)

First of all….Happy 100th post everyone!!!  Can you believe that?!  This little blog has grown so much since November! I am so proud of it, and so thankful to all of you, my faithful followers all the way down to my first time visitors!  What better way to celebrate…than a giant cheesecake party post?!  Are you ready?!  I’m ready!  Let’s DO THIS!

Wow your next party with a spread of mouthwatering sauces that they can smear on top of a slice of cheesecake!  The best part; they all came together much faster than I expected.  Also, I made them all the day before, stuck them in the fridge, then just warmed them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds for the few that had thickened.  It was peeeerfect!  Especially since I worked the day of the party!

So a little disclaimer…this beautiful idea came together for one of my new bestie’s birthday parties, which was glorious…and also happened in the midst of a long streak of MADNESS that is currently my life.  Training at two jobs…its wonderful, I’m thankful…it’s madness.  Because of that fact, I went semi-homemade with this celebration.  I know that making cheesecake can be a delicate process, and also that I wouldn’t have time for mess ups on my first cheesecake adventure.  So I bought my cheesecake this time!  Now I know that may be against the “inner code” of some of you foodies (honestly it was against mine too), but some days you just can’t be Martha Stewart.  But I tell you what.  Spend a much shorter amount of time making these fantastic sauces I will show you, and people will think you ARE Martha Stewart!!  But if you have the time to do it all, I read some crazy good reviews on Ina Garten’s cheesecake recipe on foodnetwork.com!  Check it out!!

 

Sauce #1 Stupid Easy Caramel Sauce

Cheesecake 6

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

Yes.  It is that easy.

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Yes.  That’s it.  Can you believe it?!  Here’s how you do it!!

  1. Fill a medium or large pot with water.
  2. Drop your can, still sealed, into the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours.  Drain water and let cool for a while so you don’t burn your fingers.  If you don’t boil it long enough, it will be more solid than you want.  You can heat it up to thin it, but be careful!
  4. Open your can, and you will have caramel sauce!!  Don’t believe me?!  Google it!  You’ll be amazed!!

 

Sauce #2  Classy Chocolate Sauce adapted from southernfood.com

Cheesecake 5

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

Note:  This makes a large batch, so what you are going to want to do is use half for the next sauce, Orange Chocolate Sauce.  Unless you just want a butt load of chocolate.  Sometimes you just need chocolate.

So, here’s what you need:

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1  tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Mix the sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, adding just enough whipping cream to make a paste so everything gets incorporated and dissolved.
  2. Add the rest of the whipping cream and stir in.
  3. Bring to a boil, stir,  and immediately reduce to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in vanilla, pour half of the sauce into a serving container or Tupperware.  Put pot back on burner to make the Orange Chocolate Sauce (my favorite!!).

 

Sauce #3 Rich Orange Chocolate Sauce adapted from Southernfood.com

Cheesecake 3

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

I’ll say it again.  This was MY FAVORITE!  I even drizzled it on brownies…and died a little from the happiness.  Orange and chocolate runs in my veins.  I think it’s part of being a Kirkwood (that’s my maiden name) 😉  My sweet grams, before she died, would always have those chocolate oranges that you can smack on the table, unwrap, and you have perfect little slices!!!  We got them for her whenever we came across them.  🙂  Okay.  On to the sauce!!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 Recipe of Classy Chocolate Sauce
  • 1 Orange, zest and juice

And here’s how you do it:

  1. With your chocolate sauce over low heat, zest the orange and whisk it in.  Squeeze most of the orange juice and whisk in again!  Now taste and adjust.  I kept adding juice until it was pretty well used up!

 

Sauce #4  Creamy Peanut Butter Sauce adapted from Chow.com

Cheesecake 7

 

Believe it or not, this was my husband’s favorite sauce, and he doesn’t usually care for peanut butter desserts.  That’s a good sign, right?!  It was super good, not gonna lie!!  Supposedly this is a Friendly’s copy cat recipe!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 C + Sugar (The original called for Karo Syrup and sugar.  I nixed the Karo and made my 1/4 C Sugar a HEAPING 1/4 C…then sprinkled a little here and there as I went.  This one you can do to taste, depending on how much you want your Peanut Butter Flavor to shine!)
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 C Creamy Peanut Butter

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Toss everything but the peanut butter in a pan over medium heat.  Stir until well combined.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until creamy and consistent.  See how easy these sauces are?!

 

Sauce #5  Fresh Mixed Berry Sauce adapted from Foodnetwork.com (Ina Garten!)

Cheesecake 4

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

 

The picture doesn’t even come close to doing this sauce justice.  It.  Was.  Gorgeous.  And so easy.  And so flippin delicious.  So delicious in fact that by the time I went to put some on a piece of cheesecake and take a picture for you all…it was done, haha!  Good sign, eh?  I was so intrigued by the idea of this sauce.  I assumed you probably just made sauce like you would pie fillings that I have done before…fresh fruit, sugar, not much else.  So when I came across this recipe and saw Ina’s idea…I simply had to try.  Honestly, I think it was even easier!!  Are you curious?!  Read on!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 Cup Strawberry Jelly (Not Jam)
  • 2 C Sliced Strawberries
  • 1 Small Package Raspberries
  • 1 Small Package Blackberries

That’s it!!!  And it’s so good!!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Put the jelly in a pan over low heat and stir until heated through and melted.
  2. Dump in your berries, stir so everything is well coated, and let cook just for a couple of minutes or so, letting the flavors fuse.  Annnnnd you’re done!!!

 

Cheesecake 2

Whew!!  How was that?!  Much simpler than you thought?!  Another fun tip for party situations like this…make little cards with labels for your sauces so you don’t have to babysit the table and explain to people what each is!  And as far as presentation goes, people love it!  I get comments on it every time!!  I hope you try all of these sauces, and they change your world!  Or at least your next celebration!! 😀

Cheesecake 9

 

Here is my slice!  It’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake!!  Are you drooling?!

 

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Coming Soon (Cheat Treat!)

I’m throwing a cheesecake birthday party in just a couple of hours, with 5 different, decadent sauces!! Pictures and recipes coming soon!!!!

Paula Deen’s Three Cheese Artichoke Dip (Cheat Treat!)

This.  Recipe.  Is.  So.  Good.  Consider this more of a review from a satisfied customer than an original post, because I deserve no credit.  I just have to share.  Cause it made me so happy.  Three cheeses.  Artichokes.  Fresh  french bread.  Warm.  Salty.  Creamy.  The definition of goodness.

Arichoke Dip

 

Look at that beautiful color!  And it was so warm, creamy, and delicious on the inside!

Now let me just insert a little something in here.  I am not going to say much about it, but I want you all to know, I am by no means supporting or condoning what Paula Deen has said or done in her past…in fact I don’t want to get tied up in that conversation at all.  I just found a recipe that I love, and am sharing it with you because this is a food blog and that is what I am committed to doing.  Sharing recipes I find.  That being said…if I got treated like she has for every stupid thing I have said in my past…if I got disciplined for everything the younger Tabitha said or did that was off….I would have no life or freedom.  Because we are all human and mess up.  What she did was not okay.  But God forgave me for moments when I hurt other people, and gave me opportunity for new life instead of condemning me for my mistakes, and I believe that should be extended between people as well.  Now.  Enough of that.  WHO’S READY FOR SOME FAN FREAKING TASTIC ARTICHOKE DIP?!  Cheesy melty goodness is coming your way!!

Visit foodnetwork.com for the original!!

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 8 oz Softened Cream Cheese
  • 2 C Mayonnaise
  • 14 oz Artichoke Hearts (I think I ended up with more of than that…I kept adding just a few more, haha…)
  • 2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 C Shredded Parmesan (I was also generous with this…I guess you could say I did adapt it after all…just by tossing in extra of what I like when nobody is looking :P)
  • 1 C Mozzarella, Shredded
  • Dash Hot Sauce
  • Dash Worcestershire (This is what caught my attention to this recipe!)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh french bread, crackers, etc…

 

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Heat up that oven to 350 degrees!
  2. Beat the softened cream cheese until it is creamy and smooth.  If you have a stand up mixer like I do, you can plop it in the bowl, set it on a medium-low setting and let it go while you grate cheese, measure mayo, slice green onions, etc.  It gets it nice and creamy.  We like creamy!
  3. Add everything else and stir till combined.  (If you want to…you can sneak a little more parm on top…sneaky sneaky…)
  4. Pour into a baking dish and bake 30 to 40 minutes until nice and browned on the top.  I used a pie plate and it worked, but some grease did bubble over in the oven so either handle very carefully or use something deeper!
  5. Put out and party!  This dish was perfect for a bachelorette party I was throwing!  We had TONS of food, and yet this still had barely any left overs!!  Everyone loved it, and you will too!!

Savory Zucchini Bites

These were fun!  I liked them, and my husband REALLY liked them.  Seriously.  They were done before the rest of the meal and I had to keep swatting his hand to keep him from devouring them all before we sat down for dinner, haha.  Something about the saltiness of the parmesan, the sweet nature of the Zucchini, and the crunch of the sunflower seeds kept him chattering about these guys all night long.  The original recipe, which has been much adapted, called these little bites of deliciousness “Zucchini Tots.”  I decided to change the name because when I read “Zucchini Tots” I started thinking “Tater Tots” and that was what I had on my brain when I bit into them….what I found was more of a fun little mini quiche sort of effect.  Very delish.  But I didn’t want you to be surprised, expecting a tater tot like I was….so here you have it, let’s make some Savory Zucchini Bites!

Adapted from http://www.emilybites.com.

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 2 C Zucchini, Shredded
  • 1/2 Red Onion, minced
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 C Oatmeal
  • 1/4 C Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/3 C Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
  • Salt and Pepper

 

And here’s how you do it!

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drain as much moisture as possible from the shredded zucchini.  Place on top of a paper towel and squish it with another paper towel to get more of the moisture out.  You’ll be amazed at how much just keeps coming!
  3. Mix together all the ingredients!
  4. Spoon into a greased MINI muffin pan.
  5. Bake until beautifully golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove from the pan using a butter knife or some such tool…and enjoy!!  Fun!!!

 

 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Zucchini Bites 1Drain as much moisture as possible from the shredded zucchini.  Place on top of a paper towel and squish it with another paper towel to get more of the moisture out.  You’ll be amazed at how much just keeps coming!

Zucchini Bites 2

 

 

Put all the ingredients in a bowl…

Zucchini Bites 3

 

And mix!Zucchini Bites 4Spoon into a greased MINI muffin pan.

Zucchini Bites 5

 

And bake until beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.Zucchini Bites 7

Carefully remove from the pan.  I used a butter knife to loosen around the outside and it worked well.

Zucchini Bites 8

 

Now serve along side a yummy protein!  Though really…these have plenty of protein too, since there are two eggs in here!!

Zucchini Bites 11

 

Here they are along side our Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Burgers!  It was the perfect side 🙂

Zucchini Bites 9

Colorful Drumstick Veggie Skillet

This is one of those meals that starts out as a recipe you got online…but as you go along and the inspiration grows…you add a little of this and a little of that…and before you know it you have a gorgeous plate that is nothing like the original recipe.  Unrecognizable.  But wonderful.  So I guess I should say this meal is inspired by the Skillet Rosemary Chicken over at http://passthesushi.com.  Lovely recipe.  But it used potatoes, which Mr. Rodgers and I no longer eat often, if at all.  So as I searched my fridge for veggies to substitute, this monster was born.  This big, healthy, gorgeous monster.  I think you’re going to like it…and you can play with it to make it your own, or just use whatever is in your fridge!  And the flavors are so pure and natural…flavored by the vegetables themselves.  Ah!!  It’s just great.  Let me show you….

So, here’s what you need…

  • A BIG cast iron skillet
  • 4-6 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Small Head Broccoli, chopped
  • 2 Large Carrots, Sliced
  • 1/2 Head Red Cabbage, Sliced
  • 1 Onion, SLiced
  • 7 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper
  • 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil or melted butter, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary Leaves, plus two sprigs
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Lemons

 

And here’s how you do it!

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Gather your beautiful, colorful ingredients.  Prep them…slicey choppy mincey….reserve one clove of garlic…
  3. On your cutting board (or in a mortar) pile the rosemary leaves, 2 teaspoons of salt, the red pepper flakes, and one garlic clove.  Using a knife with a large flat blade, first mince everything together, then using the flat side of the blade smoosh it back and forth to get it as paste-like as possible.  (Or this would be where the whole mortar and pestle thing would be handy!)
  4. Transfer the paste to a flat bowl and mix the olive oil and juice of 1 lemon into it.  Reserve the lemon halves.
  5. Melt coconut oil in your skillet over Medium high heat.  Take your drumsticks and roll them around in the lemon, oil, garlic mix.  When the oil is hot, add your coated chicken.  You aren’t supposed to cook the chicken through, just get a nice crispy sear.
  6. Put all your veggies in a large bowl, dump the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil them and toss.  Salt and pepper generously and toss again.  We are going to roast these bad boys while we cook the chicken.
  7. Dump your veggies on top of the chicken (why yes, yes mine did start to overflow…)
  8. Squeeze the remaining lemon’s juice over the whole thing, and put all the lemon halves on top.  Add the two extra rosemary sprigs.  Slide it into the oven and cooooooook it.  Keep an eye on it, it will probably take at least 25 minutes cause you have a large volume of goodies in here.  Your veggies should be getting browned, but most of all you need to MAKE SURE THE CHICKEN IS COOKED!  When the veggies have shrunk down a little, you can take tongs and stir things around, and bring the drumsticks to the top so everything cooks evenly.
  9. Now eat, and enjoy!!!!!

 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 1

 

Gather your beautiful, colorful ingredients.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 2

 

Prep them…slicey choppy mincey….reserve one clove of garlic…

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 3

 

On your cutting board (or in a mortar) pile the rosemary leaves, 2 teaspoons of salt, the red pepper flakes, and one garlic clove.  Using a knife with a large flat blade, first mince everything together, then using the flat side of the blade smoosh it back and forth to get it as paste-like as possible.  (Or this would be where the whole mortar and pestle thing would be handy!)

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 4

 

This is as close as I got it!

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 5

 

Transfer the paste to a flat bowl and mix the olive oil and juice of 1 lemon into it.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 6

 

Melt coconut oil in your skillet over Medium high heat.  Take your drumsticks and roll them around in the lemon, oil, garlic mix.  When the oil is hot, add your coated chicken.  You aren’t supposed to cook the chicken through, just get a nice crispy sear.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 7

 

See?  🙂

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 8

 

Put all your veggies in a large bowl, dump the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil them and toss.  Salt and pepper generously and toss again.  We are going to roast these bad boys while we cook the chicken.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 9

 

Dump your veggies on top of the chicken (why yes, yes mine did start to overflow…)

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 10

 

Squeeze the remaining lemon’s juice over the whole thing, and put all the lemon halves on top.  Add the two extra rosemary sprigs.  Slide it into the oven and cooooooook it.  Keep an eye on it, it will probably take at least 25 minutes cause you have a large volume of goodies in here.  Your veggies should be getting browned, but most of all you need to make sure your chicken is cooked!  When the veggies have shrunk down a little, you can take tongs and stir things around, and bring the drumsticks to the top so everything cooks evenly.

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 11

 

Holy pretty skillet batman.  That makes me happy!

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 12

 

Don’t you want to make this?!

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 13Scoop some on a plate…

Drumstick Veggie Skillet 14

 

And enjoy!!!!  La la laaaaa!!

 

Roasted Asparagus with a Hint of the Mediterranean

I love asparagus. Really I do. It makes me so happy…in fact I want some right now!!! But instead of getting off the couch and going grocery shopping….I’m tired…I will just tell you how to make it so one of us can enjoy it. 😉

That being said…this is actually a very simple, easy recipe! Sometimes there is beauty in simplicity, right? But what I think is even more beautiful is when a veggie recipe shines with flavor and creativity…when it seems fancy simply because no one thinks to do that with a veggie…but it is still very simple. And easy. That is the essence of this recipe! 😉 Tasty, creative, healthy, light and refreshing, and oh so easy!!! Read on my friends!

Adapted from http://www.onceuponachef.com

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 Bunch Asparagus
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 C Feta

 

Are you excited about these flavors yet?  I was.  Heck.  I still am.

 

Here’s how you do it!

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash and trim your asparagus by bending the stalk until it pops off…or you can just trim the bottom inch or so, but if you let it pop off where it breaks naturally you have more of a guarantee of being free from tough bites.
  3. Toss your asparagus with about a Tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Dump the asparagus on a foil lined baking sheet and put in your oven to roast, until starting to get tender.  This is going to depend on how thick the asparagus spears are, but I would start with about 8 minutes.
  5. Take the asparagus out and let it cool until you can handle it.
  6. Stir together the lemon juice, lemon zest, and remaining Tablespoon of olive oil.
  7. Cut asparagus into bite sized pieces.  Place in a bowl and top with feta cheese, and drizzle with the “dressing.”  You can give it a toss if you want.  🙂
  8. Admire it’s prettyness, then eat!!

 

I hope you enjoy this fresh, healthy, wonderful vegetable side dish!  The lemon makes it so refreshing, and yet it is paired so well with the salty, tangy, WONDERFUL feta.  I love feta cheese.  😉  Sidenote…I LOVE asparagus with fish.  Fish is so light and flakey, and asparagus, while also fresh and healthy…is something satisfying to bite into.  It’s decently hearty I’d say!!  So hop on over to my last post, Simple Grilled Garlic Dijon Salmon for a fun pairing!

Try this recipe grilled or sauteed too!!

 

Asparagus Feta Salad 1