Tag Archives: cream cheese

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

It seems like there are at least two ways to make Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers. I got interested in doing the bacon wrapped version this summer when I was trying to cut down on carbs; the crusted versions of Jalapeno Poppers that I worked on two years ago are good, but a friend said they liked bacon wrapped better, so I decided to investigate that direction both for the lower carbs and for the “liked better” bit.

On the internet, the method for making bacon wrapped poppers gives half peppers; my friend Bill showed me the method for making whole peppers. I will try to show you both ways in this article. A quick summary is shown in this set of images.

To make the half pepper version, we start by cutting the pepper’s stem down the middle such that each half pepper will have a stem. Then we cut the rest of the pepper in half and clean it of seeds and membranes. The filling is as made for the crusted poppers and made ahead of time. A little is put into each half of the pepper, and then the pepper is wrapped with a half slice of bacon.

In making the full pepper version, we start by slicing the pepper in half as close to the stem as possible. Keep the two halves together so they can fit back to make the pepper whole again. Now the filling is cream cheese in one half of the pepper and a hard cheese like cheddar in the other half. You will need to trim the cheese so it doesn’t hang over the edges of the pepper and keep it from closing. I found that the hard cheese would push into the soft cream cheese and absorb much of the difference in size.

While I prefer Cheddar as the hard cheese, I have made these with Pepper Jack, and Monterey Jack; They are all good.

To close the whole pepper, it is wrapped in a strip of bacon; ideally, it would be about 3/4 of a strip but I have no reason to save bacon bits, so mostly use a whole piece. (The half piece in the photos is a little short). A tooth pick holds everything together.

The bacon wrapped poppers can be cooked on a grill like Bill does, but I decided to bake them in my oven. I lined a pan with parchment paper, set a rack in the pan, and the peppers on the rack. For the half pepper version, keep the open side up. For the whole pepper version, I tried to keep the hard cheese on the top. I baked the poppers at 350 degrees for over 30 minutes- until the bacon looked brown; it takes quite a while for the bacon to render all its fat and crisp up.

Individual Cheesecakes

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Allison wanted her birthday cake to be cheesecake. And as always, I had to do something special. Since different folks like different tastes, I decided to make individual cheesecakes with a smorgasbord of sauces. Each cheesecake is about the size of a cupcake, and is complete in itself. And then there are the toppings with which each person can choose and complement their cheesecake. All the recipes are in this article, even if some have appeared earlier in other articles.

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For toppings, I made a ganache, a caramel, a praline sauce, lemon curd, strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. The latter is because this year we celebrate Alli’s birthday on Halloween, and Halloween goes well with pumpkin cheesecake.

I obviously made way too many, and too much toppings. I was surprised to find that the lemon curd and the strawberries were probably the favorites, with the caramel running third. The ganache was not a favorite; as daughter Mindy told me later- who wants chocolate with cheesecake? Cheesecake is almost the anti-chocolate food.- She also said that she felt pumpkin mousse was not a topping for cheesecake, but if you want a pumpkin cheesecake, you should put the pumpkin in the cheese layer.

Individual Cheesecakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 pkg (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 cups Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

The above Ingredient list is broken into 3 parts- bottom crust, middle filling, and topping.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put cupcake papers into the bottom of 18 muffin cups
  3. For the crust, mix the graham crumbs, 2 Tablespoons sugar and butter until well blended, and press into the bottoms of the cupcake papers.
  4. For the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over the crusts.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centers are almost set.
  6. For the topping, combine the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over the surface of the warm cupcakes. Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.
  7. Remove the cupcake papers and arrange the individual cheesecakes for serving.


Since I made the seven toppings, I will give you recipes for each of them although you should probably only focus on a couple or three for your serving.

Ganache is a mixture of heavy cream and chocolate. I have used several of these in the past and am providing you with a pointer to some of those recipes as well as giving you a recipe herein. Perhaps the best previous recipe was with the home-made Ding Dongs. In that case, We wanted the ganache to set since it was an outside coating, and we wanted it to be shiny. So the amount of chocolate was more than the amount of cream, and we added fat (butter) for the gloss. Likewise, for holding cake pops together, we use a ganache. The recipe in the cake pop article is not strong enough compared to the recipe for white chocolate ganache in the Icings, Frostings and Glazes article; you really need a 4 to 1 ratio of chocolate to cream for cake pops. Here, we want a fairly liquid ganache, and use a 1 to 1 ratio.

Ganache

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Chocolate Pieces (any flavor or type, including white)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl
  2. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until small bubbles start to appear around the edges (just to a boil but not boiling!)
  3. Remove from the heat, and pour over the chocolate.
  4. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth

An alternative approach is to place the ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water and cook, stirring until it is smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Since the chocolate is in a heat proof bowl, and the sauce pan is out, this should be an easy change from heating the cream separately and waiting for the chocolate to melt.

Caramel is a mixture of heavy cream and sugar. Most of the caramel I have used I have made from salted caramel chips, and used a ganache recipe; it works. However, if you want a straight caramel without salt, then the recipe I have in the Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes article does a nice job.

Caramel

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it in a covered container. Reheat over low heat until smooth and spreadable.

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cream. Stir with a whisk until the sauce bubbles and gets sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

If ganache is Chocolate and Cream, and Caramel is Sugar and Cream, then I would say that Praline is Sugar and Sugar; it is a very sweet sauce, and this recipe adds chopped pecans to give it more of that Southern flavor.

Praline Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespooons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a small heavy sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla.
  4. Cool slightly, and serve.


I tried many recipes for a lemon sauce, and found I didn’t like any of them. Then I found this recipe for Lemon Curd, and the way the people at the party liked it, I think it is a real winner. As one person said, “I can’t wait to have my toast with lemon curd in the morning”.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks in addition
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating each into the mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look lumpy but will smooth out in the next step as it is cooked.
  2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the mixture over low heat until it smooths out. The lumpy appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. The thickened mixture should leave a path on the back of a spoon, and will read 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture go beyond 170 degrees, or boil.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools.

The curd will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, and can be frozen for a couple months.

For the strawberries, I made the Strawberry Sauce recipe that is macerated strawberries. Again, I had tried several different recipes to get a good strawberry sauce, and finally settle on this one; it is juicy and sweet.

Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Taste the resulting sauce, and if not sweet enough, add more sugar. Some recipes go to 1/2 cup of sugar, while others start with only 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

I started with the idea that I would macerate the blueberries, but then, who would want smashed blueberries. They really would not be very appetizing. So I left the blueberries whole; maceration seems to need the fruit to be cut, or opened such that its juices can flow.

Blueberries

For this “sauce” I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and some lemon zest to the blueberries, but next time, nothing but the berries. I think the zest turned people off; blueberry lovers want the simple pure fruit!

So finally, here is the pumpkin mousse that Mindy said was not proper for a cheesecake; she said the pumpkin should be cooked into the cheese layer of the cheesecake and not painted on top. However, this mousse would make an excellent filling for a simple pie- say graham cracker crust. And it would require no cooking- ready in a jiffy!

Pumpkin mousse

Ingredients

  • 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (sugar free is okay)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 -15 oz. can pure pumpkin/pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp clove

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix, milk, pumpkin and spices.
  2. Whisk until smooth


That is all there is too making the mousse. Use it as you like.

No-Bake Cheesecake

Easter 008

The picture is probably familiar if you read my Easter 2015 article. Indeed, this is the cheesecake I made for Easter, but I made it into individual servings. In that case, I had to do a small amount of baking to do the crust.

The recipe is for a truly no-bake cheesecake; that is because you buy the crust ready-made. I will give you the way to convert it into the individual cheesecakes in cupcake papers at the bottom of the article, so if you are interested, look for the way to do the crusts down there. For the cupcake paper version, you will need a small amount of baking for the crust.

The reason this cheesecake requires no baking is because the eggs are cooked when the curd is made; thus there are no additional eggs to be cooked with the cheesecake.

In the recipe, I use the general designation of Curd where I mean either lemon or lime curd; you will find my recipe for the curd here.

No-Bake Citrus Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. Curd– either lemon or lime
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 cups Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed
  • 1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • optional fresh berries for garnish

Directions

  • Beat the Cream Cheese until it is smooth.
  • Add the Curd.

At this point, I chose to optionally press the mix through a sieve. I found that mixing the curd with cream cheese does not smooth out as much as I would like it to smooth out, and there seem to be small lumps of cream cheese in the mix.

  • Fold in the whipped topping
  • Pour into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate 2-3 hours
  • Garnish if desired with the fresh berries

For the optional garnish, you could use raspberries, or blue berries, or even slices of lemon or lime to denote the flavor of the cheesecake

To make the individual cheesecakes, you will need 18 cupcake papers and muffin cups. Then, you must make the cheesecake crust.

Cheesecake Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs.
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Mix all the ingredients together
  • Press about 2 tsp of the mix into the bottom of each paper lined muffin cup.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes
  • Cool completely before filling with the cheesecake mixture

I found that a quarter cup (4 Tbsp) ice cream scoop was the easiest way to measure the cheesecake mixture into the individual cupcake papers while they are still in the muffin cups.

Curd-based Mousse

Once I learned to make a good curd, and was thinking about what I could do for the green of St Patrick’s day, I decided to make a lime version of the curd, and then convert it into a mousse. The curd recipe says that all you need to do is substitute lime for lemon.

lime mousse 002

Lime curd is not really green- it is still a yellow color, so I added a few drops of food color to the curd to get a definite green color for my lime curd.

This recipe will also work with the lemon curd if you want. And it is also easy to expand the recipe from 6 servings to more. I increased the amounts of the ingredients by 50% and could have easily gotten 10 servings- I only needed 8 servings so the rest went into the refrigerator for me. The increase of 50% means the 10 ounces of curd becomes 15 ounces. And when I finished making the curd, I had about 20 ounces so the recipe could be doubled with a single recipe of curd.

Curd-based Mousse

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces curd of your choice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh berries as garnish

Directions

  1. Whip the cream to the soft peak stage
  2. In a second bowl, mix the curd and cream cheese until smooth
  3. Stir the curd mixture into the whipped cream until well blended
  4. Divide into 6 glasses
  5. Divide the fresh berries among the 6 glasses
  6. Refrigerate until serving

Since I was making this as a St. Patrick’s day dessert, I had also made Two-Tone Brownies and added green food color to what is normally the white cream cheese frosting layer. That is why the brownies also appear in the photo.

I hope this gives you some ideas for dessert, and how to tie the desserts to the holiday if necessary by using a little food coloring.

Deviled Ham Cheese Logs

Not only is a cheese log tasty, but it is also attractive. If you have a simple party coming up, this is a real treat that you can serve with crackers of almost any kind. It takes only a few minutes to make, and you can make it ahead of the guests arriving. I think the up-coming Super Bowl would be a great time to have these Logs and some crackers ready. And it is still good if your party size is only two.

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I have to admit that daughter Mindy does a much nicer rolling of the logs in the chopped nuts. I may need to take another lesson from her.

Deviled Ham Cheese Logs

  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheeese, shredded
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 1/2 oz. can deviled ham
  • 1/2 cup pitted chopped ripe olives
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Have cheddar cheese at room temperature. In a small
mixer bowl, beat cheeses together until well blended.
Beat in deviled ham; stir in olives and chill.
Shape into two 8″ logs. Wrap in cling wrap and chill
until ready to serve. Then unwrap and roll in pecans.
Serve with crackers or small breads

Paté

Here is a very simple recipe that makes a great spread for crackers. It is easy to make, and is great for the small party you might be planning like for Super Bowl Sunday. Even if you small party size is just two, this will make an excellent snack.

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Paté

  • 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. pkg. braunswager or liver sausage, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • dash of salt and pepper

Combine softened cream cheese and sausage, mixing until
well blended. Add rest of ingredients and mix well.
Place mixture on wax paper and shape into a tree or
whatever you wish or pat firmly into a mold that has
been lined with cling wrap. Chill.

Unmold onto serving plate and decorate.

We made our paté for Christmas, and so I shaped it into a tree and decorated it with chopped parsley and pimento pieces. Really, it doesn’t need to be decorated at all; just put it near the crackers and your guests will be scooping it up with the crackers. Maybe the right shape would be a football for Super Bowl Sunday.

Jalapeno Poppers

This year I planted a couple jalapeno pepper plants, and unlike other years, they are really producing. Not many of my local contacts cook with jalapenos, so I was left with needing a way to use the jalapenos. I discovered that I could make jalapeno poppers and a lot of people like them.

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I have made over 100 poppers to date, and that means I have some proofs of what works, and can comment on my experiences. I want to take you through the whole exercise of making these tasty treat. You don’t need to grow your own pepper, you can buy the peppers and make the poppers as a contribution to a pot luck dinner, or for your own entertainment; they are sure to be liked by a majority of the people to whom you offer them.

There are many recipes on the web for Jalapeno peppers; this recipe hides the filling inside the pepper and then breads and deep fries the pepper. I have seen recipes that slice a side off the pepper, and others that do not deep fry the pepper. I have also heard of wrapping the pepper in bacon after it is stuffed, and BBQing the stuffed pepper. I decided I liked this basic recipe and have put my energy into making minor changes rather than trying totally different methods.

The first step is to open the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. This is the part of the process where the most capsicum is present, and all the warning about not touching your eyes and such hold. In addition, I recommend using latex gloves; one day I did 50 peppers without using gloves, and several hours later I noticed my left hand feeling strange. (I hold the knife and spoon in the right hand and the pepper on which I am working in the left hand). I will go even further and warn you not to have your face over the sink if you are running the seeds and membranes down the garbage disposal; the fumes will really get to your eyes and throat.

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Most of the websites I read say to cut a T shaped slit across the stem end of the pepper and down the side. I tried that, and I couldn’t get the sides of the pepper open far enough to do a good job of cleaning out the seeds and membranes. I discovered that I did a better cleaning job if I cut through both sides of the pepper from the stem to the end. Now the pepper “wings” can be opened far enough to see in and get the insides out. I use a grapefruit spoon- it has a serrated tip- to scrape the insides out.

Occasionally, a wing will break off the pepper; don’t let it bother you with this recipe. I have found that of the 10% of the peppers where a wing has broken off, I have never had a pepper fall apart in the deep fat fryer. The filling and the breading seems to be a good glue and holds the pepper together when you want it to stay. Even though the wing falls off while cleaning the pepper out, it sometimes falls off again up to the point that it gets breaded. So do not fear that you have lost one of your poppers; it will come out okay.

(An interesting side note is that peppers range in the heat they have, and we never know just how hot the pepper will be other than a general range based on type of pepper; a jalapeno is suppose to be one of the mildest of hot peppers, but even they are inconsistent. One blogger I was reading said that he feels that the heat of the pepper is related to the white striation on the skin of the pepper. Thus, in this photo, the near pepper would be hotter than the other pepper.)

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Now that the pepper is open and cleaned, it is ready to fill. This is a simple filling but good; I have had no complaints about it. It consists of a mixture of 1/2 pound each of three ingredients- cheddar cheese, cream cheese and bacon. I use a dessert spoon and scrape the filling into the pepper cavity. Remember, I said that the filling acts somewhat like a glue to hold the wings together, so I start by being generous with the amount I put into the cavity, press the wings together and scrape the excess that pushes out off.

poppers 006

After filling the peppers, I refrigerate them overnight. I find it is a general rule that you want things cold when you go to cook them. The original recipe said to refrigerate for 15 minutes, so I would assume that is the minimum time, but as I said, I split the process into two days, and refrigerate overnight. In fact, when I start breading and frying the peppers, I only take about 6 out of the refrigerator at a time; this is the number that seem to fit nicely in my fryer, and as I monitor the temperature of the cooking oil, I found that it needs several minutes to come back to the cooking temperature after doing a batch from the refrigerator.

One of the steps of the process that I changed is the breading of the peppers. The process starts like most processes by putting flour on the pepper, dredging the pepper in egg, and then rolling it in the flavored crumbs. I discovered that at this point, a lot of the area of the pepper didn’t seem to have a crumb coating, and I had read somewhere that the coating was better if repeated. So I put the peppers back into the egg and then back into the flavored crumbs. This really does make a big difference in the looks of the final popper.

Jalapeno Poppers

Ingredients

  • Jalapeno Peppers (24-40: the original recipe said 24 but I’ve had enough filling for 40)
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz cooked bacon, crumbled
  • about 2 cups cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3-5 eggs, beaten
  • 40-60 RITZ cracker, finely crushed.

The looseness in the specification of the eggs and crackers is because of the looseness in the specification of the number of peppers. The original recipe was for 24 peppers, 2 eggs and 40 crackers, but only egged and crumbed the peppers once; when I started doing the egging and crumbing twice, I needed more ingredients, and of course, you need more egg and cracker crumb as you do more than 24 peppers, too. I would suggest starting with 3 eggs and 40 crackers, but be ready to add more egg and more crackers.

Cut the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes.
Combine the cheeses and the bacon for the filling.
Spoon the filling into the pepper cavity and press the sides of the pepper together.
Refrigerate the filled peppers for at least 15 minutes.

Heat a couple inches of cooking oil in a medium saucepan or a deep fat fryer to 375 degrees F.

Coat the peppers with flour, knocking off the excess.
Coat the floured peppers with egg.
Roll the egged pepper in the cracker crumbs.
Again, coat the pepper with egg, and roll it in the cracker crumbs a second time.

When the temperature is close to the 375 degrees, add a batch (6) of coated peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve. Let the temperature of the cooking oil recover before adding more peppers.

Rugelach

While searching the internet for versions of the Hamanteschen, I ran across a second Jewish cookie that looked interesting; in fact, I first thought of it as a miniature cinnamon roll, and I do love a good cinnamon roll. I asked my neighbor Esther about it, and she gave me a recipe from one of her friends that has received rave reviews and has in the past been requested for many of those tables of 2-bite goodies.

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Back in December of 2009, the Oregonian newspaper in the FoodDay section, did a search for the best Rugelach in town. I think they state it best when they say “…we were pretty proud of our results — until we spent an afternoon making rugelach with Margaret Hasson.”

It is Margaret’s recipe that Esther gave to me, and after I made the recipe and took some to Esther to critique, it appeared that I didn’t need to change anything. So here is Margaret’s recipe.

Rugelach

Margaret Hasson

The Filling

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Directions

Stir together in a bowl; refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

The Dough

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Directions

Blend butter, cream cheese and flour, either by hand or in a stand mixer. Divide dough into 3 balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours or until firm enough to roll.

Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • Extra granulated sugar
Directions

Combine the cinnamon and sugar.

Putting It All Together

On a lightly floured surgace or silicon mat, roll one ball of dough into a 12-inch circle. Cut the circle into 16 wedges with a sharp knife dipped in flour. Place 1 teaspoon of filling across the wide end of each wedge. Starting at the wide end, roll toward the point.

Place cookies, point side down, on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush top of cookie with the Topping butter, sprinkle with the Topping sugar and cinnamon mixtuer.

Bake 22 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

Cool enouth to handle, remove from cookie sheet, dip bottoms of cookies in the Topping extra granulated sugar and place on wax paper to cool completely.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

rugelach 005

When I rolled my dough, it was difficult to get it all the way out to a 12-inch circle, but I did get it there. The edges at that point were starting to get feathered because they were so thin. This doesn’t really matter as they get rolled into the center of the cookie.

I have read versions of this cookie that roll the dough to only 9-inch circle, and versions that cut only 12 wedges. Each of these has a result in the size of the cookie, making it either thicker or wider. I like Margaret’s 12-inch, 16 wedge size as a nice 2-bite size.

The filling is very sticky; try to get it in the center of the wide end of the wedge so that it doesn’t come out the sides as you roll the cookie.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Marlys loved the Halloween season; she was a kid and loved to go out into the fields to find her own pumpkins. And so it is no surprise that when she found this recipe, it became a standard part of the Fall season. It was often the dessert for Halloween night.

pumpkin cheesecake 009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Combine above together in medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 2 inch up sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Cheesecake Filling
  • 3 pkgs (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup (16 oz. can) solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup undiluted evaporated mil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Beat cream cheese and sugars in large mixer bowl until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, milk. Add cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg; beat well. Pour onto crust. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until edge is set.

Topping
  • 2 cups sour cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine above in small bowl. Spread over surface of warm cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Remove side of pan and chill several hours or overnight.

You want to pull the sides of the graham cracker crust up the sides of the spring-form pan all of the two inches suggested in the recipe; otherwise, you will have cheesecake filling left over. The finished cheesecake filling should be a couple inches deep.

The second time I made this recipe, I decided to pour all of the filling into the crust, and it fit, but was domed in the middle. I baked it off this way. As it baked, it leveled itself, and rose about an inch above the top of the spring-form pan; the filling was way above the top of the crust. After taking the cheesecake from the oven and starting to top it with the sour cream mixture, I noticed that the filling was starting to collapse on itself. In the end, the filling was just about at the top edge of the spring-form pan when the cheesecake had been cooled in the refrigerator. So, my hint is to not be afraid that the filling is too much and it does NOT need to stay in the crust; it can overflow the crust by several inches.

Since this is a spring-form pan, and the crust has plenty of butter in it, remember to place the pan on a sheet pan to catch the drips; you don’t want to be cleaning the bottom of the oven, or having dripped butter burning.

When I was making the filling, it seemed as if the mixer wasn’t cleaning the bottom and sides of the mixer bowl adequately; there were areas of white showing through where the cream cheese hadn’t been mixed with the pumpkin. So when you are scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl, go deep to the bottom and lift up any ingredients that are not joining the mix.

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Since this was suppose to be a Halloween dessert, I decided to make a pumpkin face on the top of my cheesecake just for fun. I used food coloring to make the topping orange. It took quite a few drops of both the red and yellow to get a deep enough orange. Then, before spreading the topping, I saved out about 1/3 cup, and added food coloring to make a deep brown color. After adding the blue, I needed to add still more red to get the right shade. I filled a piping bag and drew the features free-hand on the spread, orange topping. Have fun with your food!

Wiener Casserole

This dish is much like the Frankfurter Bake; they are both pasta and wiener dishes.  When I took this casserole out of the oven, the first aroma that met my nose was the cooked bell pepper.  I like that smell, and love stuffed peppers. I think this dish is milder than the frankfurter dish; it is probably due to the mustard and brown sugar used in the frankfurter dish. In my mind, either dish is a simple, easy-to-make casserole that you will enjoy. And because they have both your meat and pasta, they are a good base for your meal.

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Wiener Casserole

  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb. wieners
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon dried, minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook macaroni as package directs. Cut wieners into 1″ chunks. Chop bell pepper into 1/2″ dice. Mix together well the cream cheese, sour cream, milk, onion, and mustard; Mix in the macaroni, wieners, and bell pepper. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake 30 minutes.

If I have any hints for this casserole, it would do with the mixing of the sauce. The cream cheese is difficult to break up, and I was getting a sore arm using the whisk, so I took out the hand-held mixer and used electricity to do the mixing in just a few minutes.

The other place I would watch is if your cooking of the macaroni gets ahead of your other preparations. I noticed on the macaroni package that it suggests tossing the drained macaroni with a small amount of oil if it isn’t to be used immediately. I should have done that. Mine sat in the colander while I was working on the sauce, and it stuck together; it broke up easy enough when I incorporated it with the rest of the ingredients, so it isn’t really a problem, just an alert.

The recipe is remiss in that it doesn’t state a baking dish size; I chose my 9 x 13 inch dish, and it seems to be correct. I also sprayed the cooking dish with cooking spray; I don’t know if that is really necessary but I chose to use some of the information from the Frankfurter Bake casserole dish as hints for this dish.

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When I served this casserole, it did not stick together tightly as the frankfurter dish did, and so required spooning out a serving rather than cutting and lifting the serving. I suspect part of that is the macaroni is smaller than the noodles in the frankfurter dish, and the noodles then stick together better. But of course, the gluten in the flour and the butter would tend to make a tighter dish also. However, later as I was preparing the left-overs for the freezer/refrigerator, the pasta had stuck together and I was able to cut the casserole and lift the servings into my storage pieces.