Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears

Cheesecake is one of those desserts that people either love or hate - there is just no in between. I know many lovers so its a popular choice for me to bring to dinner parties. This holiday season I have seen quite a few new variations of this old classic including one of my favorite twists... cheesecake filled strawberries! My version was taken from a Martha Stewart collection of fall desserts. When I was invited to the Thanksgiving dinner, I was automatically thinking of something pumpkin flavored but the host's dislike of any and all orange colored foods made me rethink that decision. I was browsing though the list on Martha's site when I found this Maple version that was just perfect.

This is the first time I made a no-bake cheesecake. Usually I have a recipe that includes a few eggs and gets some time in the oven to make it more cake-like. This recipe was so easy and a great choice if you have been avoiding cheesecakes because of the water baths that they usually require for even cooking.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shells with Bacon and White Beans

I am one of those people who eats soup year round. I honestly have a bowl almost every lunch time thanks to a few amazing NJ diner's who have 5 or 6 choices year round. Soup is one of the best meals out there. You can make it with just about anything - just throw some meat, vegetables, noodles, beans in a pot with some water or broth and you have a delicious meal that can be reheated over and over. I am trying to break my habit of going out to lunch every afternoon and so I have started to make a big batch on the weekend that I can then store in individual containers that I grab on my way out the door.

This soup was a little more thought out than usual...  I even made sure to have the bacon on hand and defrosted so no running the package under water for 10 minutes before I can start cooking. I saw the inspiration for this recipe earlier in the week on the kitchn and decided that I just had to make it. I went a bit more traditional for the pasta fagioli by including some diced tomatoes but you don't have to....and that is the beauty of soup!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pudding Brulee

There is no shortage of seasonal inspiration in the fall. It almost seems that before the summer sun even fades bloggers are starting up their seasonal love. I admit I start marking recipes almost before its was cool enough to bake in the house. This year I finally found fuel for a cooking torch that I received as a gift a while back (thanks again Amy!). I was really excited and may have gone a bit overboard (as noted by the semi-charred crust on top) but I did start to get the hang of it - sometimes getting things picture perfect can be a bit difficult.

I am sorry to admit that I am not sure what recipe I used for this so I can't share it but there are so many on line to get your pumpkin fix.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Clams in Red sauce with Bacon

There is really nothing easier than a clams in a broth. You can use almost any liquid with herbs to give it more flavor. I love garlic and bacon and couldn't resist clams steamed in this delightful duo. So rich and fragrant - I am not sure if there is a more tempting aroma to great you from the bottom of the staircase as you are entering the kitchen.You could also use a white wine in this dish with some additional caramelized onion to make a whole new combo. I love easy, versatile cooking. Its fun to follow recipes sometimes but whats even better is being able to adjust and work with what you have on hand.

One of the most important parts of this dish happens long before the sauce come together - completely cleaning and removing sand before steaming the clams. The last thing you want is to have a gritty, sandy broth. Take a few extra minutes to make sure that you completely scrub each shell with a small brush.