Double Chocolate Rum Cake

A few years ago hubby and I took a trip to Puerto Rico and it was wonderful. We often talk about revisiting the island to hit all of the spots we missed. It broke our hearts when the island was devastated by a terrible hurricane. Slowly but surely, things are starting to show signs of recovery and more tourist.

One of the things we enjoyed the most in Puerto Rico was the food. Back then I could eat shrimp and managed to recreate a shrimp appetizer that was absolutely delicious and I put in on the blog. Check it out Prawns and Avocado. Another favorite was a Double Chocolate Rum Cake which was right up my alley since I love dark chocolate. This cake is so easy to make and comes out moist and chocolaty. I have said for a long time that I am not a true baker but I can make a few desserts that family and friends really enjoy. I finally decided to try out the Double Chocolate Rum Cake recipe I saved from a postcard we found in Puerto Rico. I imagined it was the same or similar to the dessert we had one night at dinner so I kept it tucked away in my recipe journal.

I must say the cake I was pretty close to the cake I had in Puerto Rico. Hubby was my initial taste tester for the cake since I figured he would remember the wonder dessert we shared. After a few seconds of smacking his lips he said “It’s moist and I’ll keep you”’ Whenever he says I’ll keep you.” I know I have a winner for the blog.

For those folks that want to bake a tasty easy dessert, try this cake. If I can make it, anyone can make it.

Double Chocolate Rum Cake

Ingredients:

4 large eggs beaten

1 box Dark Chocolate Cake mix

1 3 oz box instant chocolate pudding mix

¾ cup milk

¾ cup semisweet chocolate bites

½ cup dark rum

½ cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp almond extract

pinch of cinnamon

Glaze

½ stick of butter

½ cup sugar

¼ cup rum

¼ cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” tube pan or Bundt cake pan. Set aside. In a large bowl mix together the cake mix, chocolate pudding, cinnamon, milk, oil, eggs and almond extract. Do not over beat! Fold in chocolate chips. Evenly pour batter into the cake pan. Lightly beat the bottom of the cake pan with your open palm to help release air bubbles. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes depending upon your oven. To test whether the cake is done insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes then flip onto a wire rack (flip so the top of the cake is showing) and let cool for 10 – 15 more minutes.

While the cake is cooling prepare the glaze by melting the butter and water over low heat. Stir in the sugar, rum and vanilla. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat. Once the cake is cooled poke holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick or fork. Drizzle the glaze over the cake. You can use all or ½ of the glaze depending on how moist you want the cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

P.S. You can use your favorite cake icing or cherry pie filling instead of powdered sugar to top your cake.

Drunken Chicken and Rice

Anytime someone uses the word “drunken” in a recipe you know it involves alcohol. Fortunately, the alcohol usually burns off and you are left with the wonderful flavor alcohol brings to the recipe. My Drunken Chicken and Rice recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw on “Pati’s Mexican Table”.

I was watching her show while trying to come up with an idea for dinner and noticed she was making a dish with chicken thighs which I happen to have had on hand in the refrigerator. I planned to make curried chicken the next day so I had picked up the boneless chicken thighs at the grocers that morning. But, after watching Pati I figured why not try her recipe instead since I had most of the same ingredients and could substitute a few of my own.

The end result was a pan full of deliciousness. My son T looked at me after taking one bite and said, “Your putting this on your blog – right?” while hubby was digging in for his second bowl. Of course both of them added a little more heat to their portions but there was just enough heat for my tender taste buds. As a side dish, I made Poblano peppers stuffed with a blend of Mexican cheeses. I actually chopped up my Poblano pepper and stirred it into my bowl of Drunken Chicken and Rice. Absolutely Wonderful! The Poblano was an excellent accompaniment to the chicken and rice.

I would definitely recommend this recipe for a quick one pan meal. The less fuss and clean up the better in my book.

Drunken Chicken and Rice

Ingredients:

6 – 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs cubed

2 garlic cloves chopped

1 small can of green chiles

½ white onion diced

½ yellow pepper diced

½ red pepper diced

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups white long grain rice

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup beer (your choice)

½ cup diced fresh tomatoes

4 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp Kosher salt

½ tbsp seasoned salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

½ tsp Chile lime seasoning (optional)

Rinse rice in cold water and set aside.

Place chicken in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, onion powder, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat chicken with seasonings. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat Add chicken to the hot skillet and spread it out. Brown chicken on both sides then remove from the skillet and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the skillet then add the rice. Stir the rice to coat it with the oil and let cook for about 1 – 2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Move the rice to the edges of the skillet to create a well in the center of the skillet. Add onions, peppers, tomatoes, green chiles, garlic, cumin and Chile lime seasoning. Stir the veggies and cook about 2 – 3 minutes until they begin to soften. Mix veggies and rice together then add beer. Stir then let simmer for 1 – 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, cooked chicken and peas to the skillet. Stir to mix well then cover and cook about 15 – 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt or other seasonings if necessary.

Side Dish Ideas:

  • Poblano Peppers stuffed with a blend of Mexican cheeses
  • Wilted Buttered Spinach

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Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes

I took it as an omen that I should try to make a pasta dish with feta cheese and tomatoes when I saw two different clips on YouTube about baked feta and tomatoes in a sauce. My version of the recipe includes spicy sausage. What can I say. My family enjoys meat. Of course this recipe can be made meatless for the enjoyment of my vegetarian friends. Either way my Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes came out a winner.

Until hubby came into my life I was never big on feta cheese. It was not a cheese I would automatically pick up at the grocery store having grown up using cheddar, Swiss, Gueryre and mozzarella cheeses. Feta just looked really bland to me so it was easy to bypass for other cheeses. I cannot say I didn’t like the taste of feta cheese because it sometimes was a topping for salads when we dined out. However, with all of the other flavors in the salad my palate must not have been sophisticated enough to distinguish its tangy taste way back when. Hubby introduced me to the delicious flavor of feta while eating at various Italian restaurants while we were dating. Now, I incorporate feta into a variety of recipes to add a level of tang and creaminess to the dish.

I think this Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes dish is quite tasty and oh so simple to make. The hardest part of prepping the recipe is browning the sausage and cooking the pasta. The feta cheese and cherry tomatoes bake together in a casserole dish with a few herbs. Once baked the tomatoes and feta are turned into a delicious creamy sauce which is tossed with the sausage and pasta. Talk about quick and easy. I can make this dish within an hour and have it on the table for my hungry crew to gobble down.

If you have pasta lovers in your house, try this recipe. They will love it!

Sausage and Pasta with Feta and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

3 spicy fresh sausages with casing removed

2 pints of cherry tomatoes

1 block of Feta cheese

1 box pasta. [Prepare according to cooking instructions]

1 bag baby leaf spinach

¼ cup olive oil + 1 tbsp

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

1 tsp Sea Salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cherry tomatoes in a casserole dish and drizzle with ¼ cup of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Toss until coated with olive oil. Make a well in the middle of the casserole dish and add the block of feta cheese. Place sprigs of thyme and rosemary around the tomatoes. Drizzle a little olive oil over the cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until cheese is slightly golden brown and the tomatoes are roasted.

While the feta cheese and tomatoes are baking prepare pasta according to the package. Brown the sausage and drain on a paper towel then add to a bowl along with the spinach. Toss the two together and the heat from the sausage will wilt the spinach.

Once the feta cheese and tomatoes are finished baking remove from the oven (leave the oven on) and remove the sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Mash the cheese and tomatoes with a fork then mix the two together. Add sausage and pasta to the casserole dish then gently toss everything together until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Top with a little mozzarella cheese and stick in the oven a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve with a nice salad.

Squash Casserole

Yellow squash is one of those vegetables I have loved since I was a kid. My mom would saute the squash with plenty of onions and bacon fat to make a simple side dish. I still like making yellow squash this way although I have cut down on the bacon fat and salt pork my mom used.

The other day I saw someone making a squash casserole on a cooking show which involved crackers, mayonnaise and sour cream. I liked the idea of a casserole but using such rich and high calorie ingredients was too much for me. Instead, I decided on ingredients that were a bit lower in fat content yet tasty and surprised even me.

The real surprised was my taste tester son who said “This is good mom”. I wasn’t sure he would like the squash since he was giving me the side eye while I was slicing it up. When he asked what was for dinner and I said Squash Casserole T did not have an excited look on his face. The only response was humph.

I am going to categorize this as a quick an easy dish. The hardest part of the recipe is waiting for the casserole to finish cooking in the oven. Before and after that piece of the process is easy peasy. With summer upon us and the bounty of squash at the local grocers and farmer’s markets, Squash Casserole is a repeat dish in our house!

Squash Casserole

Ingredients:

2 yellow squash sliced

2 zucchini squash sliced

2 eggs beaten

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

½ small red onion diced

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp grape seed oil or olive oil

1 tbsp Kosher salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

½ tbsp dried oregano

½ tbsp dried basil

½ tsp onion powder

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter and grape seed oil in a large no-stick frying over medium heat. Add red onion and saute for approximately 1 minute. Add squash and season with salt, ground black pepper and onion powder. Stir and saute until squash slightly softens. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together eggs, oregano, basil and cheeses (reserve some cheese to sprinkle on top of casserole). Add squash and onions then stir until well mixed. Pour into a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the center is set and topping has turned light golden brown.

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Double Dip Fried Chicken

Okay, who besides my vegan friends does not like good ol’ home cooked fried chicken? I don’t see any hands so I am guessing just about everyone likes fried chicken. Of course, fried chicken is not something you should have often and if you want to make it seem a little healthy it is better to oven fry the chicken. Less grease. Less hassle. But, when you have a taste for some good extra crispy fried chicken you should try my Double Dip Fried Chicken. Yes, I said double dip. You will be surprised just how crispy, flavorful and tender the chicken will be.

This recipe is a twist on a recipe I saw on a restaurant cooking show. I would never have thought to double dip my chicken before frying to make it real crispy. I always wondered how some chefs were able to make their chicken crispy enough to make a crunching sound without the chicken being dry. Now, I know.

The key to tenderness is marinating the chicken in seasoned buttermilk for a few hours. Usually, after the chicken had marinated I would toss the buttermilk. Oh no, not any more. That buttermilk is golden. Once the chicken is coated with a flour mixture I dip it back into the buttermilk then coat it again with more of the flour mixture. The buttermilk helps to keep the chicken tender and the extra coating creates a wonderful crispiness to the chicken.

Next time you get a taste for some good ol’ extra crispy fried chicken grab some buttermilk, seasoned flour and try out my Double Dip Fried Chicken. I think you will like it.

Double Dip Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

4 – 8 cleaned chicken thighs

4 cups vegetable oil

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp smoked paprika

½ tbsp Chile lime seasoning (Trader Joe’s optional)

½ tbsp onion powder

½ tbsp Adobo (optional)

½ tbsp seasoned salt

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Season the chicken on both sides with salt, ½ tbsp ground black pepper, Chile lime seasoning and smoked paprika. Place chicken in an air tight container then pour buttermilk over the chicken to cover it. Place container in the refrigerator for 2 – 4 hours or overnight.

When it is frying time, heat vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Temperature should register at 360 degrees. To test the oil the old fashion way, put a small drop of water in the oil and stand back. If it starts popping the oil is ready.

While oil is heating up take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Add flour, ½ tsp ground black pepper, seasoned salt, onion powder and Adobo to a large bowl and combine until well mixed.

Shake off excess buttermilk from a chicken thigh then place it in the flour mixture and coat both sides. Shake off excess flour and dip the floured chicken back into the buttermilk marinate. Again, shake off the excess buttermilk then place it back into the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and place on a wire rack. Repeat steps with each piece of chicken.

Add 4 – 5 pieces of chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a layer of paper towels. Repeat steps until all of the pieces are cooked. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Rice and Spinach Casserole

Some days are harder than others to come up with side dish ideas. Potatoes, pasta and rice in various forms usually come to mind but can become boring or routine.

The other day I was trying to figure out what to do with the leftover rice in the fridge because I had made too much. Chicken and rice soup was one idea but we were still eating the Lentil and Carrot Ginger Soup I had made two days before. So, soup was out. Then I thought about making a casserole and maybe making it similar to my Macaroni and Cheese recipe. The idea morphed into a Rice and Spinach Casserole.

This recipe was so simple and quick to make because the rice was already cooked which meant it did not take long to pull the recipe together. I must say the Rice and Spinach Casserole did not come out exactly like my macaroni and cheese but it was doggone tasty. I think because rice and pasta have two different consistencies the rice did not come out as creamy as macaroni and cheese. Still the rice dish had a certain level of creaminess. It’s kind of hard to explain so I will just say you will have to try the recipe to see what I mean.

As always, I use my family as a guide to whether or not a recipe is blog worthy. Both my youngest son and hubby enjoyed my “new” side dish and happily had seconds of the Rice and Spinach Casserole. I will say a side dish tastes even better when the entire meal is good so that folks want to get just a little bit more of everything.

Rice and Spinach Casserole

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked rice (leftover rice works well)

1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese

½ cup half and half milk

1 can 2% evaporated milk

2 tbsp butter

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a medium sized casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside ¼ cup cheddar cheese.

Place cooked rice into the casserole dish. Pour evaporated milk and half and half over the rice. Add spinach, cheese and butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well then top with remaining ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid is evaporated and a knife comes out clean when placed in the middle of the casserole.

Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dish.

Roasted Pork Loin

Although last year was a tough year dealing with the new corona virus Covid-19, we had a very Merry Christmas. Instead of making another traditional holiday meal with turkey and ham I decided to make a nice Roasted Pork Loin and indeed it was nice.

I must have hit the supermarket at the right time because I found a couple of beautiful pork loins on sale. One for Christmas and one for a later date. I have to admit I wasn’t sure my hubby would like pork loin since he is not a big pork fan except for bacon. Because of that I also made my Baked Chicken with a Mango Chutney Glaze in case he didn’t like the pork loin.

The first sign that the pork loin might go over well with hubby was the wonderful smell roaming through the house as it cooked. The next was when I pulled the pork loin out of the oven and let it rest before slicing and I saw several eyeballs checking out the pork loin. I even thought I heard the smacking of lips. While I was slicing up the meat hubby came over and said that looks really good and I’m hungry. I asked if he wanted to try a piece and he happily took it and gobbled it up. His first response was “Wow, that is tender. I like it”. Then he took another small piece of meat to tide him over until dinner.

After that hubby was hooked and at dinner he praised the roast pork loin. He even went back for seconds which is rare unless it is for salad. Looks like I have a new menu item to choose from for future holidays.

Roasted Pork Loin

Ingredients:

1 pork loin

½ small onion sliced

½ cup chicken stock or white wine

1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place Cajun seasoning, rosemary, oregano and olive oil in a small bowl and mix until seasonings are wet. Set side.

Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Rinse the pork loin and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper on all sides. Place in hot skillet and brown on all sides.

Place sliced onions on the bottom of a large casserole dish or Dutch oven and top with the browned pork loin. Top the pork loin with the wet seasoning mix and rub into the meat on all sides. Add the chicken stock to the casserole dish.

Place the pork loin into the oven (uncovered) and roast for approximately 45 minutes. Baste the pork loin then cover with foil and cook for another hour and 15 minutes. Baste the pork loin approximately every 20 minutes. Remove the pork loin from the oven (keep covered) and place on a platter to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before slicing..

Thai Curry Salmon Bowl

On the days I want to prepare a light simple meal I will usually turn to fish or specifically salmon. Salmon is my favorite fish and is very versatile and easy to make.

Today, I did not want to make Blackened Salmon Salad or Teriyaki Salmon. Instead, I wanted to test whether or not salmon would hold up in a Thai curry sauce. I have created curried fish recipes in the past but with slightly different flavors and seasonings. For my Thai Curry Salmon Bowl I used red Thai curry paste I found at the grocery store rather than adding curry powder to the dish. In my humble opinion, the red Thai curry paste had less of a bite than curry seasonings but still had intense flavor. An added bonus was that the house did not smell like curry the next day. I love curry but the seasoning when cooked lingers in the air for quite a while.

“Bowls” are very popular right now and I think eating from a bowl helps to limit portion sizes. Whatever you can fit into a bowl is all you need to eat unless you are starving or the meal is do delicious you just have to go for seconds.

My Thai Curry Salmon Bowl was ultra delicious per both hubby and me. If it had not been so filling on the first round, I would have gone for seconds. Yum!

Thai Curry Salmon Bowl

Ingredients:

1 – 2 salmon fillets cut into thick chunks

3-4 Shishito peppers diced

1 can lite coconut milk

1 can diced tomatoes

1 small jar red Thai Curry Paste

2 tbsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp grape seed oil

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tbsp ginger paste or diced fresh ginger

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp chili lime seasoning (optional)

Place salmon chunks on wax paper and season with lemon juice, 1 tbsp Kosher salt and 1 tbsp ground black pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add grape seed oil. Let oil heat for about 1 minute then add Thai Curry Paste, ginger paste and garlic. Stir to blend and continue to stir for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, Shishito peppers and lemon zest. Stir to mix. Sprinkle mixture with remaining salt, pepper, onion powder and chili lime seasoning and stir to blend. Slowly pour in coconut milk while constantly stirring. Turn hit down to medium low. Place salmon in the sauce and spoon some sauce over the salmon. Cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until salmon is cooked all the way through. While simmering spoon sauce over salmon periodically. Serve over a bowl of rice.

Optional Additions:

Sea Scallops

Steamed Cabbage

Roasted Asparagus

Sauteed Mixed Peppers

 

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Chicken, Yellow Beets and Pasta

Yellow Beets. Until I decided to create a new chicken and pasta dish I had not seen nor had I tasted yellow beets. During one of my treks to Trader Joe’s I spotted the yellow beets after I saw another customer pick up a package in the vegetable aisle and it looked different from other vegetables. Of course, it could also have been the posted sign saying “New Try Me” that caught my eye.

To be specific, the package contained roasted yellow beets. Immediately, I started thinking about what kind of dish I could possibly make with roasted yellow beets. Since I planned to make chicken and pasta with the lemon chicken I had already thrown into the cart, I figured why not add the roasted yellow beets for more flavor and a pop of color. To add even more color I picked up a package of snap peas to liven up the dish.

I knew from the beginning it was going to be a little tricky to get my youngest son to eat beets. He professes not to like them but it could be because when I made beet salad and the dish turned pink. I thought the dish looked pretty but he thought it looked unappealing at least to his eyes. Even when I just served seasoned plain beets, T would scrunch up his face and gently remove them from his plate. Like I sometimes say, we often eat with our eyes.

Mixing up the yellow beets with the chicken and snap peas was distracting enough that T didn’t really mention the yellow looking thing in the dish. By the time I told him what it was he couldn’t make a face because he had eaten half the food on his plate. I guess blending in the yellow beets is like when my girlfriend added prunes to a cake and didn’t tell me until I had gobbled it up and said how moist and delicious it tasted. I don’t care for prunes but since the cake was good what can I say.

The next time you want to jazz up one of your chicken dishes try adding roasted yellow beets. It can be our little secret.

Chicken, Yellow Beets and Pasta

Ingredients:

1 box vermicelli pasta

1 pkg roasted yellow beets cut into ½ inch pieces

1 pkg fresh snap peas

1 pkg cooked lemon or grilled chicken

2 – 3 plum tomatoes cubed

2 scallions sliced

½ cup half and half milk

½ cup chicken broth

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp Adobo

1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp olive oil

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried parsley

½ tsp dried cilantro

Prepare per package instructions and reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large skillet along with olive oil over medium high heat. Add snap peas, salt and black pepper then stir to mix. Saute for 1 – 2 minutes then remove from skillet and place in a small bowl and set aside.

Place skillet back on the stove. Add 1 tbsp of butter to the skillet and let it melt. Add flour to the skillet and stir until smooth. Pour in milk and broth then whisk until the sauce is smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and remaining seasonings. Stir to combine. Add chicken, yellow beets, snap peas and scallions (reserve 1 tbsp of scallions). Gently stir to mix all ingredients. Add pasta water to thin out the sauce if necessary. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes. Serve over pasta.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

I missed the boat on making these Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars for our Thanksgiving dessert. My mom usually makes apple pie and sweet potato pie but since I knew she wasn’t going to make sweet potato pies I planned to make the cheesecake bars. I had also promised my friend Eb that I would bring him some the next time I came to get my hair done. Being a woman of my word, I was forced to make the Pumpkin Cheesecake Bares the day after Thanksgiving since I was going to see Eb on Saturday. The thought did cross my mind to see if I could push off making the bars until the following week but I would have felt bad not keeping my promise.

To be honest, I am so glad I followed through and made the Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars. This was my first attempt at making them and it was easier than I thought it would be to pull together. The warm flavors and spices along with the creaminess of the cheesecake made this dessert a winner. Plus, I added chopped walnuts to the graham cracker crust for a slight hint of nuttiness. Pecans would also work in the crust but the day I want shopping for ingredients the walnuts were on sale. Maybe next time I will try the pecans.

If something you cook smells good, it will often taste good too. I knew the Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars were probably going to be good when my son T asked how soon he could eat them when I pulled them out of the oven. Unfortunately for him, the bars had to cool down then chill for a minimum of two hours. Since it was kinda of late when I finished cooking it meant he had to wait until the next day. Hence the disappointed face I saw walk up the stairs.

In the end I was happy with the recipe and how the Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars looked and tasted. I was ever happier when Eb told me “You got something here!” after the first bite. He also said this was the kind of dessert I could sell in a cafe with a nice cup of coffee. Hmmm…. That might be a good idea.

Ingredients: 3 Layers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crust:

3 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 stick + 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter

5 tbsp granulated sugar

Combine ingredients in a large bowl until crumbs are slightly moist. Press into a 9 x11 baking dish. Push some of the crumbs up along the sides of the dish. Set aside.

Pumpkin Layer:

2 large eggs

1 15oz can of pure pumpkin. (Do Not use canned pumpkin pie mix)

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp cinnamon

Whip all ingredients together until well blended and smooth. Pour over graham cracker crust and smooth into an even layer.

Cheesecake Layer:

1 brick softened cream cheese

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

½ cup granulated sugar

2 oz mascarpone cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Spoon mixture over pumpkin layer and smooth out. Take a butter knife and gently swirl the cheesecake into the pumpkin.

Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the center is set. Remove from the oven and let the bars cool for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but overnight is better. Slice into bars and enjoy!

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