Friday, April 25, 2008

Best. Cheesecake. Ever. The End.

Simply put, this is by far the best cheesecake I've ever had or had the pleasure of making! It was so simple to make and baked up perfectly!!! I brought it to my future in-law's last night for dessert and it was a huge hit... delicious!

I eyeballed the cookie dough though... I used 1/2 of the small tube of Nestles chocolate chip cookie dough. I mixed 1/4 of that in and then the remaining 1/4 of that all around the top. It looked pretty that way too!

I may try this next time around with an Oreo cookie crust instead of the graham to give it more of a chocolate punch!!

Enjoy this one... yum-yum!

PS: I am going to make a conscious effort from here on out to actually note where I am getting the recipes from! So if any of the ones on this blog are yours and I haven't credited you, let me know and I'll do it ASAP! :)

Cookie Dough Cheesecake

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2 pkg (8oz each) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup prepared or refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, divided
1 Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended. Remove 1/2 cup of the dough; drop by teaspoonfuls into batter. Stir gently until well blended.
Pour into crust. Top with level teaspoonfuls of the remaining 1/4 cup cookie dough.
Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Who says that buffalo sauce is just for wings?

Mr. Tana-Licious & my father went absolutely crazy over this dish! It's chicken... stuffed with everything that makes buffalo wings so fabulous!

The only adaptations I made to the recipe are that I spooned the leftover cheese mixture over the pieces of chicken and drizzled the remaining buffalo sauce on top of that. Gave it a little extra kick!

Stuffed Buffalo Chicken

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2 Pound(s) chicken breast halves
4 Tablespoon(s) plus 5 T softened, divided butter
1 Clove(s) minced garlic
4 Ounce(s) bottle hot sauce
8 Ounce(s) room temperature cream cheese
1 Cup(s) ranch dressing
3/4 Cup(s) chopped celery
1/2 Pound(s) crumbled blue cheese
olive oil for frying

Mix together cream cheese, Ranch dressing, celery, 5 T butter and blue cheese. Form into 3" oval patties. Melt 4 T butter. Add hot sauce and garlic. Flatten chicken until 1/4" thick. Arrange cheese mixture on chicken & roll up, tucking in sides to enclose filling. Secure the ends with wooden picks. Dust chicken rolls in flour. Dip in the butter/Red Hot/garlic mixture. Roll in bread crumbs. Spoon remaining cheese mixture over top of chicken. Drizzle remaining hot sauce mixture over top of the cheese. Brown chicken rolls on all sides in olive oil. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.

Balsamic vinegar is love.

I swear I could drink it straight. I love it on and in everything so when I found this recipe on Robin's blog, Made with love..., I knew I was going to have a winner on my hands! I'm actually eating the leftovers of this yummy Balsamic Chicken
& Sausage Pasta as I blog!

I adapted the original recipe a bit... changing the chorizo to hot Italian sausage and upping the amount of liquid to make more of a sauce. I also added the ladle of pasta water for the sauce effect.

The result was a hearty meal that everyone (including the super picky Mr. Tana-Licious) enjoyed!

Balsamic Chicken & Sausage Pasta

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2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 links of hot Italian sausage, cut into chunks
1/3 cup tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Medium onion, grated
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup white wine
1 pound pasta, cooked with 1 ladle of pasta water reserved

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente.

Toss chicken chunks in salt, pepper, and paprika Place 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and toss until almost cooked. Add sausage, onion, and minced garlic. Add balsamic vinegar. Cook until chicken chunks are cooked through and garlic and onions are browned.

While still on medium heat, add the cup of white wine to chicken/sausage mixture to deglaze pan. Make sure to get all of the brown bits on the side of the pan. Add pasta to skillet and toss in meat mixture and resulting "sauce" until well coated and pasta is heated through. Add in the reserved pasta water. Add an extra tablespoon or two or olive oil if you feel you need more of a coating on your pasta.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Comfort Food!

My favorite meal as a child (and even sometimes now!) was fish sticks, Kraft mac & cheese, beets, and stewed tomatoes. Weird combo? Slightly! So when I decided I wanted fish & mac & cheese, I decided to class it up slightly and put a modern twist on it all!

I pulled up a recipe called Busy Day Baked Fish on this fabulous recipe site run by one of the ladies on the RI Nest board. And, I had a mac & cheese recipe sitting here that I was dying to try! Put it together with some steamed asparagus and what do you get? A modern day version of my favorite comfort food (and I'm pretty sure it's a bit healthier too!

Quick Fish, Mac & Cheese, & Steamed Asparagus

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Quick Fish
8 Ounce(s) sour cream
2 Tablespoon(s) onion soup mix
1 1/2 Cup(s) seasoned bread crumbs
2 1/2 Pound(s) fresh or frozen, thawed fish fillets
1/4 Cup(s) melted butter
1/3 Cup(s) Parmesan cheese

In a shallow bowl, combine sour cream and soup mix. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Cut fish into serving size pieces; coat with the sour cream mixture then roll in the crumbs. Place in greased 13x9 baking dish. Drizzle with butter. Bake, uncovered, at 425 for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan; bake 2-6 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Mac & Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni
1/8 teaspoon of onion powder
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/8 t pepper
2.5 cups milk
1.5 cups (6 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1.5 cups (6 oz) shredded American cheese

Cook macaroni; set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour, pepper.=, garlic powder, and onion powder. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add cheeses, stirring until melted. Stir in cooked macaroni. Transfer mixture to 2-quart casserole. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Love me the Food Network challenges!

I was watching the FN one lazy Sunday and the "Challenge" show was on and it was featuring cakes. Luckily for me, I was in search of a good recipe for dessert to bring to Easter at the Future Mr. Tana-Licious' Mom's house (that's a mouth full... could have just said future mother in law, or FMIL (if you're a Knottie!!)).

The tropical pound cake called out to me. I kid you not. Ok, well maybe a little. Nevertheless, it was a fairly simple recipe to follow and everyone devoured it. I do plan to whip it up again in the future... it is a good go-to pound cake recipe too! My plan is to switch up the extracts next time around... maybe go with a lemon & lime flavor! The possibilities with this cake are near endless!

Only thing I will add to this... I found it to take an additional 25 minutes of cook time. Each stove is different I suppose!

Tropical Pound Cake

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Floured cooking spray
3 stick butter
8 ounces cream cheese
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour (recommended: White Lily)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
4 ounces cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 box confectioners' sugar (more or less depending on desired frosting consistency)
1 small can coconut

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Spray a 10-cup tube pan with floured cooking spray and set aside (make sure the pan is coated well).
Cream together the butter and cream cheese on low speed until mixed well. Slowly add the sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy at medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed. (Mix from 15 to 30 seconds.) Slowly add flour. Once the flour is mixed in add the extracts. Beat the mixture on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides, beat another 30 seconds. TIP: do not overbeat, cake will be dry.
Pour batter into the tube pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Test for doneness. Remove from over and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes turn the cake out on a serving dish. Put the dish on a wire rack to complete cooling. One cake is cool, frost.
Icing: Take the strained crushed pineapple, put in a small bowl, and with the back of a large spoon, press out as much juice as possible. Set aside.
Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the crushed pineapple and extracts. Beat about a minute. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, until you reach the desired spreading consistency. You will most likely use the entire box. Beat until light and fluffy. Frost the pound cake on all sides, top and middle. Carefully press the coconut on the sides, and sprinkle on the top. Hint, put the cake dish on waxed paper so that the coconut that falls off can be easily collected.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I have just one word for this cookie... heavenly.

I stumbled upon coconut cream filled Hersheys kisses the day before Easter in my local grocery store and on the back of the package was this recipe for macaroons with a chocolaty center... Not just a chocolaty center, a coconut cream chocolate center! after you bake off the macaroons, you push one of the kisses into the macaroon and it oozes into the cookie and makes this pool of chocolate & coconut cream goodness!

You could easily do this cookie w/ just a regular Hershey's kiss but really, why not go for that extra kick of coconut! These cookies were gone within 10 minutes of them being put on the table! Yum!

Macaroon Kiss Cookies

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1/3 c. butter, softened
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. orange juice
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
5 c. (14 oz.) flaked coconut
54 Hershey Kisses (9 oz. pkg.), unwrapped

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar in a large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, almond
extract, and orange juice; beat well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in 3 cups of the coconut. Cover tightly and chill 1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in remaining coconut. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; immediately press unwrapped kiss in top of each cookie.

Serious Shrimp

So I've been totally slacking with my food blogging! Whoops! With Spring Break, Easter, and traveling don to MD for a big family gathering, I'm beat! However, I did make this fabulous Giada recipe before we left! Anything with Shrimp & Pasta & Lemons is a good choice in my book! I had made it before I started blogging and did not have any arugula on hand, so I used fresh basil... and it was fabulous! This last time I actually used the arugula as called for and frankly, we didn't enjoy it nearly as much!

So here's my adapted recipe for Linguini with Shrimp & Lemon Oil.... Enjoy!

Linguini with Shrimp & Lemon Oil

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For the lemon oil:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested

For the pasta:
1 pound linguine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces frozen shrimp
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces basil (about 3 packed cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the lemon oil: Combine the olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl and reserve.

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked linguine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn off the heat and add the basil. Using a mesh sieve, strain the lemon zest out of the reserved lemon olive oil and add the oil to the pasta. The zest can be discarded. Add the chopped parsley to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately.