Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving! Anyone have any good desserts? I've always wanted to make a Pumpkin Cheesecake, so this Thanksgiving I made it! I looked through several recipes and combined them to come up with an easy and yummy recipe. The crust is made with ginger snap cookies to balance the flavors with the pumpkin. It was delicious, not too sweet so that you can add whipped cream as a topping.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
2 cups ginger snap cookies, finely crushed
6 tablespoons of melted butter

3 packages of cream cheese, room temperature
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 cup whipped cream
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Mix crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of springform pan.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3. Beat in low speed cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Mix in pumpkin puree, vanilla and spices. Add one egg at a time. Pour into crust.
4. Bake for 1 hour, turn off oven and keep pan in oven for an additional hour. Remove pan from oven and let it cool. Place in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.
5. Enjoy!!!
Tips: Place pan in a water bath for better results. Cover bottom of pan with aluminum foil. Put the pan in a larger pan filled with water. The water should reach about half way up the springform pan.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wine Delicious as a Cupcake

Last weekend I took a trip to Costco, which is known for price discounts on bulk products. Well, wine at Costco comes in a single bottle and with a discount! The Cupcake Vineyards Chardonnay and Red Velvet are available at our Costco for under $7.00. I have seen them at other stores for about $10 regular price and about $8 on sale.

The Cupcake Vineyards caught my attention the first time I saw their name. Cupcake...cupcakes are delicious! And then wine...great combination! Their slogan is something I like to follow, "Live Deliciously." They carry a variety of wines including 5 whites, 7 reds and 2 sparkling wines. My goal, to try them all!

The wine with the most cupcake-like name is the Red Velvet. What a great idea to name wine Red Velvet! The wine is a red, in case you didn't assume by the name, a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. I tasted cherry, chocolate and dark fruit flavors. It had a subtle sweetness, so subtle that I wouldn't classify it as a sweet wine.

I had red velvet cake at my house. So I thought, I've got Red Velvet wine and red velvet cake; why not have them together? Oh my, the wine just got better! The flavors of the two collided in my mouth and tasted AWESOME! I highly recommend this wine next time you're having a piece of red velvet cake.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Jelly time...

November is not only Pomegranate month; it is also Peanut Butter Lover's Month. It's Peanut Butter Jelly time...

All of the Peanut Butter Lovers out there, read on because you'll want to try this Peanut Butter Jelly Pie.

Graham Pie Crust
1 (8oz) cream cheese package
1 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of powder sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Cool Whip container
Peanuts (optional)
Mix peanut butter and cream cheese until fully incorporated. Add powder sugar and mix. Add vanilla, then cool whip. Once mixed well, pour half of the contents into the crust. Smooth the top. Spread the jam of your choice. I used strawberry preserves but you may also use raspberry jam, blackberry jam, whatever you like in you peanut butter jelly sandwich. Carefully spread the rest of the peanut butter mixture to not blend the jelly into the pie. Finish by topping the pie with peanuts. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight until firm. When the wait is over, cut a piece and enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sweet Madonna Inn

This weekend I attended an event at the historic Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. This place has so much to see. Even the men's restroom is popular with its waterfall like area. (I wont get into specifics, but you can imagine.) Many of its decorations are pink, Mrs. Madonna's favorite color. Madonna Inn has 110 rooms each decorated to a unique theme. During your stay you can shower under a waterfall in your room. If you are driving by San Luis Obispo, I'd highly recommend to stop by to look around, have dinner or have a piece of their famous cakes!

At the event this weekend, we had the Pink Champagne cake. It is white cake filled with Bavarian cream, covered with whipped cream and topped with lots of pink chocolate curls. The filling goes so well with the cake. It melts and blends in your mouth as you take every bite. It is no surprise why this cake is their most popular cake.

The Madonna Inn Bakery sells a variety of cookies, cream and fruit pies, cakes, cupcakes and chocolates. Cakes are what they sell most, so many as 50 cakes per day!
Check their website for prices and their variety of sweet goods available.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Celebrating the Pomegranate in the Central Valley

November is Pomegranate month!

To celebrate the pomegranate, the Madera Chamber of Commerce held its first annual Pomegranate Festival and Celebration. It was a weeklong of events to celebrate the pomegranate in the valley, including a kick off run, evening dinners and a festival.

To take part in the celebration, I attended the Pomegranate Festival last Saturday at Appellation California. Over 1,000 people attended the festival to enjoy pomegranate infused meals, juice drinks, honey, and of course, wine! Families, don't be discouraged to attend next year, this was also a family event. Children could enjoy coloring, dancing, games, and a large sling shot to throw pomegranates at a target. What kid doesn't like playing with a sling shot?

The infused food I enjoyed the most was You Sweet Thing Pomegranate Wine Jelly with Twin Pomegranate Wine. It was sweet and delicious like Twin Pomegranate Sweetie wine. Unlike other infused foods, there was no searching for pomegranate flavor. As soon as you took your first bite of the cracker with the jelly, full pomegranate flavor and full wine flavor. Yummy!

Twin Pomegranates Wine was also present at the festival with the Sweetie and Sparkling Wine available for tasting. The Sweetie wine is their recent released wine. It is not as sweet as other dessert wines but "semi-sweet" and "slightly tart" like a pomegranate. Forget picking at a pomegranate for its seeds, drink a glass of Sweetie wine and you've got the pomegranate taste you are looking the good feeling you get from wine. :)

A new pomegranate wine to taste at Appellation California is the Pomegranate Sangria. It is so new; they are still making it right now. They are yet unsure where they will carry it other than at Appellation California. The sangria is fruity; it is like pomegranate seeds juice plus some sugar to avoid the tart flavor. This would be great to go along with thanksgiving desserts.

Great job to the Madera Chamber of Commerce and all sponsors in executing a fantastic 1st annual Pomegranate Festival and Celebration!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Candy Overload Cookies

Did you have less trick or treaters than expected? Did your children come back with too much candy? Or did you get overly excited with the Halloween candy at the store's clearance racks?

I've got a solution to this candy overload. Make cookies!

You've seen M&M cookies, so why not Kit-Kat cookies? Reese's cookies? Whopper cookies? Maybe Kit-Kat, Reese's, M&Ms and Whoppers in one cookie!

Just follow this recipe then add any candy of your choice.

Cookie recipe modified from Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
candy of your choice

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put butter, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Paddle at medium speed until ingredients come together.
  3. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour and mix until thoroughly integrated.
  4. Chop the candy that will be used for the cookies and mix into batter.
  5. Spoon batter into baking trays covered with parchment paper.
  6. Bake 12 to 15 minutes.

I used Whoppers, Reese’s, chocolate M&Ms and peanut butter M&Ms. I also placed some batter in a separate bowl before adding all the candy to make different cookies.

Whopper cookies, Whopper and M&M’s cookies, Reese’s cookies, Reese’s and peanut butter M&Ms cookies.

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?