Cheesecake (Cheesecake Factory Copycat)

When I eat out I seldom order a dessert - unless I'm at The Cheesecake Factory, then the temptation to indulge is pretty strong. Since there are no Cheesecake Factory restaurants near where I live, I only occasionally get to enjoy their cheesecake, so I decided to try one of the copycat recipes that is floating around. The one I used is adapted from the Food site and is for a basic cheesecake that can be garnished to your liking. This cheesecake has a wonderful crust made with vanilla wafers and three kinds of nuts, and the recipe can be doubled if you like a thicker, more substantial crust. This cheesecake is delicious and satisfied my yearning for a wonderful dessert until I can get back to The Cheesecake Factory again.

Cheesecake (Cheesecake Factory copycat)

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup (about 22 cookies) finely chopped vanilla wafers
2 tablespoons melted butter
Combine pecans, almonds, walnuts, and vanilla wafers in a medium bowl, add melted butter and mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch buttered springform pan. Set aside.

(All ingredients should be at room temperature before you begin.)
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
16 ounces sour cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Keeping the mixer on a low speed, add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat after each egg. After eggs are mixed in, add flour, vanilla, and lemon juice; mix well. Add sour cream and beat well. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Place on the top rack in the middle of preheated oven, bake for one hour and 15 minutes. When baking time is up, turn off heat, prop oven door open, and leave cheesecake in oven for one additional hour. After one hour remove from oven and allow to cool, then refrigerate for 24 hours so the cheesecake can season. The wait allows the flavor to become enriched.
May be served with whipped topping or other garnishment of choice.

I used my food processor to finely chop the pecans, almonds, and walnuts for the crust.

I also chopped the vanilla wafers in the food processor.

Press the mixture of nuts and vanilla wafers in a buttered springform pan.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

After the baking time has elapsed, open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

Serve with whipped topping or as desired.


Mission Organization: Week 17 - The Dryer: Round 2

Last week I brushed and cleaned the lint out of my dryer vent and was quite pleased with the results. I felt that the long time build up of lint inside the vent could have caused a house fire, even though I had always cleaned the lint filter out every time I put clothes in the dryer. After my mission was posted last week, I got a call from my friend Tammy. She told me that she recently had the same experience with her dryer vent, but that she had cleaned hers out with a product called a Lint Lizard that she had seen on TV, then bought at a Bed Bath and Beyond store. After she described to me how well it worked for her, I knew I would have to have one of those Lint Lizards for myself, so I bought one this week, and I couldn't wait to try it out.

It is a long hose attachment that fits on a vacuum cleaner. Even though I just cleaned out my dryer vent, I wanted to test it to see how it worked and to see if I had left any lint behind when I cleaned last week with the long brush.

I started with an empty vacuum cleaner and attached the Lint Lizard. I followed the directions and vacuumed both from the front of the dryer and from the outside of the vent.

This much more lint came out. My brush is just not as good as the lizard. For your viewing pleasure I emptied the lint out of my vacuum onto this bag.

I am so disgusted with this, but I'm also happy to have it cleaned out. Last week I thought I had done a great job, but I found that I didn't have the right tool to do the job the best way. I'm thankful that Tammy clued me in to this product; maybe I should watch more TV. At least when I bought the Lint Lizard, I remembered to use the Bed Bath and Beyond coupon I had in my purse.

The opinions stated in this blog post are my own, and I have not been compensated in any way. I just like to clean things up.


Apricot Breakfast Crescents

My refrigerator is usually stocked with at least a couple of cans of crescent rolls. I use them for a number of different recipes, and I'm always on the lookout for a new way to dress up a crescent roll. My husband likes to have bacon/eggs or sausage/eggs for breakfast, but one morning this week he was away, and I don't like to cook that much breakfast for only myself. I didn't have any muffins baked, and was staring in the refrigerator trying to decide what to make when the crescent rolls stood up and waved. That's when this recipe came to be.

Apricot Breakfast Crescents
1 (8 ounce) can crescent rolls
About 24 dried apricots, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper. Unroll and separate the crescent dough into triangles. Place the chopped apricots on each triangle, then roll the dough up to form the crescent. Place on the prepared pan and bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown.

All you need for this yummy breakfast is a can of crescent rolls and some dried apricots.

Chop the apricots.

Spread the chopped apricots on the triangles of crescent dough.

Roll them up and place on a parchment paper lined pan.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

These Apricot Crescents made a tasty breakfast. They could be fancied up with a glaze if you like, or any kind of dried fruit could be substituted for the apricots. Just one more way to use those handy crescent rolls.


Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple at our house, and there is no end to the ways they can be prepared. Here's a simple recipe for roasting them that is tasty, easy, and sure to please the family. This recipe is one that I have adapted from McCormick.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons Rosemary leaves, finely crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, cut in halves or thirds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with aluminum foil and spraying with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, paprika, Rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add potatoes; toss well to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are cooked tender, stirring potatoes occasionally during the cooking time.

Wash and drain the small red potatoes, then cut into halves or thirds to make the pieces a uniform size.

 Serve them up in their golden brown goodness.


The Bathroom Chair Update

My daughter Susan has recently moved into a new house and with her move has come some decisions about which new items she would buy and which old items she would keep. One item she wanted to keep was a vanity chair that she liked to use in her bathroom, but it was in need of an update.

This was the chair as it was when the update project began. The color of the metal did not match the hardware on the cabinets in the new bathroom, and the fabric on the seat was spotted and showing the signs of age.

For repainting the metal I chose spray paint in this Hammered Copper color. I visited the fabric store and bought 2/3 yard of  upholstery fabric to recover the seat.

With the removal of four small screws, the seat could be taken off and the chair was ready to paint. To cut the cover for the seat, I just laid the seat cushion on the fabric and cut around it, allowing enough extra to tuck under on the back.

I secured the new fabric to the seat with a staple gun, then after the paint was dry, I replaced the four screws that held the seat in place.

After a little paint and fabric, Susan's old chair is like new.

This was a quick project to complete. I gave the metal several coats of paint, so some drying time was allowed between coats, but the whole project was completed in a day.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Filled Crescent Rolls

Too bad I'm not a shareholder in the Pillsbury Corporation with all the crescent rolls I use. They are so versatile and make a good basis for many yummy recipes. This recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Filled Crescent Rolls is a new one to me, but I somehow knew when I saw it at For the Love of Cooking that it would be wonderful, and it is so easy to make.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Filled Crescent Rolls
1 (8 ounce) package crescent rolls
Peanut butter (I like crunchy)
Semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper. Unroll and separate the crescent roll dough. Spread a layer of peanut butter on each dough triangle. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of peanut butter. Roll from the bottom of the triangle to the point. Place on the prepared pan and bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Only three ingredients are needed for this recipe - crescent rolls, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. This would have been a perfect recipe for one of the grandkids to help make, but unfortunately none of them were here today.

Spread each triangle with peanut butter.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the peanut butter.

Roll up the triangles and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

For a dessert that takes practically no effort to make, these little crescents sure did smell good while they were baking. There's just something about the blend of warm peanut butter and chocolate that just belongs together.

For some other crescent roll recipes check these out:
Apple Dumplings
Cream Cheese Jalapeno Sausage Pinwheels
Crescent Dogs


Mission Organization: Week 16 - The Dryer

The dryer did not start out as my mission this week, I had something else in mind altogether. I only decided to post this as my mission after I realized how much of a fire hazard a dryer can be right under our noses. I was appalled at how much lint I found when I cleaned mine, and I know if this could happen to me it could possibly happen to someone else.

My dryer has one of these lint filters in the front when you open the door. I clean it out every time I put in a load of clothes. There are few other things that I am this on the ball about, but I do keep the lint filter cleaned out. When I cleaned it out one day this week, I noticed that underneath the filter I could see a lot of lint down in the dryer wall.

So I got my handy, dandy long brush tool and started brushing it out. That's when I realized there was really a lot of lint in there.

I pulled the dryer out from the wall and checked inside the vent hose at the back. It was almost completely full of lint. I brushed and vacuumed and cleaned it out, and was totally disgusted with the whole mess.

THIS is what I sucked out of my dryer. Unbelievable. How bad does it have to get to start a fire? I always thought that if I was keeping my lint filter clean, then everything was fine with the dryer. I hope no one else has a lint build-up like mine, but please check just to be on the safe side. A house fire would be a very bad thing.


An Evening With Ann B. Ross

Recently my two friends, Tammy and Judy, and I traveled to a nearby town for a dinner and book signing with Ann B. Ross, author of the Miss Julia series. Her 13th book in the series, Miss Julia to the Rescue, had just been released. The event was held at That Bookstore in Blytheville.

We were treated to a barbecue chicken dinner complete with baked beans and coleslaw. This was served up with lemonade to drink and with red velvet cake for dessert. After our meal we were entertained by the lovely Ann B. Ross.

She talked about writing and how she came up with ideas for her books. I was intrigued by what she told us. She said that some of her best ideas came from the beauty shop or from visiting with people at formal functions like teas. She said ideas can come from the news or even from overheard conversations, so if you habitually speak loudly enough in public for others around you to hear your conversations, beware, an author could be lurking nearby. She said a particular part of one of her books was spun off the overheard conversation of a group of ladies in a restaurant in New Orleans.

Some of the attendees had questions about her characters. Miss Ross said that all her characters are fictional and were "seen" in her imagination. She said with a wink that one thing a writer can do is to create a "man" to be anything you want him to be.

Her writing is done on a laptop at her dining table, and she writes every day, except when she is traveling. She doesn't fly, so her travel is always by road trip. She said for the trips of great distance from her Hendersonville, North Carolina, home her publisher would provide her with a car and driver.

Miss Ross has previously turned down offers for movie rights to her book series. She was not comfortable giving up control of the material for others to change the content of her story and characters.

She currently is under contract to complete two more books in the Miss Julia series, and she did not rule out additional books after those two.

So here we three are with the gracious Ann B. Ross. I considered editing myself out of this picture because of my prednisone face, but then decided to post it anyway, since this is the only face I have. My vanity couldn't overshadow the wonderful evening I had with my good friends and the opportunity to meet an entertaining author. If you haven't read the Miss Julia series, be sure to start it from the beginning; this is a series that progresses and needs to be read in order.


Queso Blanco Dip

This is by far the best white cheese dip that I have ever made. I came across a post about it at Pennies on a Platter, and apparently the recipe may have had its origins in a Mexican restaurant. I think the basic recipe is just about perfect, and I have only slightly adjusted the measurements for the green chiles and jalapeƱos to suit my own taste.

Queso Blanco Dip
1 1/4 pound block White American Cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (Land O'Lakes brand preferred)
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno juice
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Place cubed cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Add chiles, jalapenos, jalapeno juice, milk, water, and cumin. Microwave on HIGH for 4 - 5 minutes, stopping to stir well after each minute. Part of the melting process is completed with the stirring. 
Serve immediately with tortilla chips or can be used as a sauce for Mexican dishes. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds until creamy and hot.

I found the Land O'Lakes white American cheese at my grocery store deli.

Cut the cheese into cubes before mixing with the other ingredients.

This cheese dip is the perfect consistency and is great with chips, a keeper of a recipe for sure.


Coleslaw (KFC copycat)

This Coleslaw is a new recipe to me that I tried out on the family over the weekend. My daughter Angela and her children Ginger and Charlie were visiting us from out of town, and my daughter Susan and her son Landon were here to visit with them, so I had plenty of expert taste testers. They gave this copycat recipe a thumbs up, so I am sharing it. My recipe is adapted  from one posted on the Food site.

Coleslaw (KFC  Copycat)
1 (16 ounce) bag tri-color shredded coleslaw OR, if you shred your own cabbage for the recipe you will need 8 cups of cabbage and 1/4 cup shredded carrots.
2 tablespoons minced onion (I used red onion)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pour the shredded coleslaw into a large bowl. Stir in the minced onion. In a separate bowl (you may want to use a food processor) combine sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and lemon juice. Mix until ingredients are well blended. Pour over cabbage mixture and mix thoroughly. Cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

Mix the sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and lemon juice together as a dressing for the coleslaw.

Refrigerate the coleslaw for several hours before serving. I used the shredded bagged cabbage for convenience in my recipe, and that was the one difference in my coleslaw and the "real" coleslaw I was trying to copy. Real KFC coleslaw is cut much finer than the pre-cut bagged type. So, if you really want to make an "identical" version of the KFC coleslaw, I think you would have to cut the cabbage with a fine disc on a food processor. I, however, was really happy with the version that I made, and will take the convenience of the pre-cut cabbage over shredding it myself because the taste of the coleslaw was still wonderful, and I like the coarser cut cabbage.


Chocolate Glazed Turtle Pie

The directions for this luscious chocolate pie should just say, "some assembly required." There's really not much cooking skill required to make this pie; the main thing is to put the ingredients together. The recipe comes from the Kraft Foods site.

Chocolate Glazed Turtle Pie
1 prepared graham cracker pie crust (6 ounce)
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup pecan halves, divided
2 packages (3.9 ounce each) chocolate instant pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
2 cups thawed whipped topping (like Cool Whip), divided
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate

Spread caramel topping in the bottom of the prepared pie crust. Reserve 10 whole pecans for garnish (I used 12 pecans). Coarsely chop remaining pecans; sprinkle over caramel topping in pie shell.
Beat the pudding mixes with milk and whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip; pour into crust. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
Microwave chocolate squares and remaining Cool Whip in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 minute; stir until melted and blended. Spread over pie. Top with reserved nuts. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pour caramel topping in the bottom of the pie crust, then top with chopped with pecans.

Beat pudding mixes with milk, then stir in Cool Whip. Pour into crust over nuts and caramel; chill until firm.

Melt chocolate squares and remaining Cool Whip in microwave for 1 minute, stir until melted and blended. Spread over pie. Top with reserved pecans.

This is an extra-easy pie to make, but the taste is over the top.