Love ‘N Knishes Cheesecake with Blueberry Swirl Sauce

I love cheesecakes. It is one of my favorite desserts. There are so many variations to the cheesecake theme that I don’t have to worry about running out of ideas for blog posts. My cheesecake recipe this week makes a delightful little dessert which is incredibly easy to mix up. Plus, it is rather unique — as there is no sugar in the bottom layer. At first I thought I was reading a misprint of the ingredients. But, I followed the instructions exactly and everybody loved the resulting cheesecake. Sometimes “sweet” isn’t always the best thing. I added a blueberry swirl topping and sauce made with fresh blueberries from this year’s crop. I hope you will try making this recipe, too, and I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

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“Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Custard Sauce”

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m making “Irish Bread Pudding.” You may ask, what is so Irish about bread pudding? I am making my favorite New Orleans-style bread pudding recipe and I am adding Irish Cream to the custard. Irish Cream is a liqueur containing whiskey, cream and various flavors such as coffee and vanilla extracts, sometimes chocolate. To be labeled legally as “Irish Cream Liqueur,” the whiskey must be produced in Ireland. Bailey’s Irish Cream is the quintessential Irish brand of this liqueur. When the Irish Cream Liqueur is added to this extra-rich bread pudding, the dessert really has some kick. And as some interesting trivia, New Orleans actually has a significant Irish population. The first Irish immigrated to this city in the late 1700’s, attracted because of Catholic traditions. More Irish settled in the city during the potato famines. The first Patrick’s Day celebration was held in 1809  So, let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a festive manner with this “Irish-inspired” dessert.

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Tipsy French Quarter Praline Pecan Cheese Spread

Decadent, audacious and over-the-top sums up Mardi Gras festivities and the carnival season, in my opinion. The parades and Mardi Gras balls have a party-like atmosphere with lots of revelry, good times and costumes –some elegant, others more brazen and some just plain silly. This over-the-top appetizer, “Tipsy French Quarter Praline Pecan Cheese Spread,” fits right in. It is so, so rich. Like Mardi Gras, this appetizer is decadent, delicious and addictive. It is full of sugar and calories — but we’re indulging during these festivities. And Lent is coming soon. The cream cheese base has savory seasonings while the praline topping (brown sugar, butter, nuts and bourbon) is very sweet. Oddly enough, the sweet and savory flavors complement each other.

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Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with Burnt Caramel Glaze

“Crème Brûlée” is a very popular and trendy dessert frequently served in restaurants in New Orleans. It is a creamy, smooth baked custard with a crispy burnt sugar glaze. In the past, I’ve posted recipes for a healthy crème brûlée version using yogurt and fruit and for a recipe for a custard-type “Pumpkin Flan.” Now, with Valentine’s day approaching, I’m making the real deal. This recipe is full of eggs, rich cream and scraped vanilla bean. It will stand up to any crème brûlée recipe served in a restaurant.

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A Small Orange Streusel Coffee Cake

Here is coffee cake recipe which is just right for the holidays, “Orange Streusel Coffee Cake.” For a Louisiana twist, I am using satsumas growing on the tree in my backyard in the recipe. Coffee cakes are easy to make, they are tasty and the citrus flavor in this recipe gives a holiday flavor. As the cookbook author stated, “you can’t fail.” That’s my kind of cake. With a streusel topping, you don’t need an icing. This coffee cake makes for a simple “hurry-up” breakfast during the holiday season, a pastry for an afternoon break or a dessert for supper. Just add a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped topping.

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DIY Christmas Gift Project: Cookie, Muffin and Bar in a Jar Mixes

What unique gift can you give the family who likes to cook? This year, I am making each family member an individualized “Cookie Mix, Muffin or Bar in a Jar Mix.” The basic premise is to include the dry ingredients for the dessert in the jar. The “chef” provides the eggs, butter, vanilla extract etc; which are added to the mix and baked. Of course, you must include the instructions on how to prepare the baked desserts. Sort of like a boxed cake or brownie mix but much more creative (and homemade). The sky is the limit on what recipes can be adapted for this DIY Project and what ingredients can be added. Hey, you can’t find a store -purchased box mix for Matcha Muffins. Here is a batch of my “Macha Muffins with Cranberries” made from my “Jar Mix.” Not only is this a creative gift, but the muffins are extremely tasty, too.

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Black Walnut Cluster Kisses for the Holidays

The holiday season is a great time to bake cookies. Do you know of anyone who can object to receiving a plate of homemade cookies? I love to bake during the holiday’s, but don’t need to eat many of the rich cookies and desserts. So, let’s bake cookies and give them away (well, most of them)! This season I am making a tried and true cookie recipe, “Black Walnut Clusters,” and I am adding a Hershey’s Kiss in the center of each cookie for an extra “pop” of chocolate and a festive appearance. This cookie recipe is a favorite with the flavors of chocolate and black walnuts in a rich vanilla cookie. It is simple and quick to mix up.

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Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Flan

I’ve always wanted to make a “Flan” and was excited when I stumbled across a recipe for “Pumpkin Flan” in a vintage cookbook. It is another prefect recipe for Thanksgiving and the holidays. A custard-type dessert with caramel topping is by far my husband’s favorite dessert. In Louisiana, custard flans and a similar dish, crème brûlée, are standards on most traditional restaurant menus. I can always guess what dessert we will order when we go out to eat. This recipe for “Pumpkin Flan” is a baked custard using whole eggs, spices, cream and pumpkin puree. It includes a hard caramel glaze. This recipe, or at least the caramel glaze, is tricky to make. I included fresh pumpkin pulp from my “sugar pumpkins” in the custard which gives this flan a definite Thanksgiving “pumpkin pie” taste. The “Pumpkin Flan” turned out great including my caramel glaze. Creamy and smooth. Delicious.

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Persimmon Rum Pound Cake

This week I’m making a delicious “Persimmon Rum Pound Cake” using some of the Hachiya persimmons growing on my backyard persimmon tree. This type of persimmon tree grows very well in Louisiana, mine was loaded with fruit this fall — I counted over 100 persimmons! While the persimmons grow during the summer, they are firm and astringent — almost impossible to eat. When they ripen in autumn, the fruit becomes very soft and translucent. The persimmons become sweet, gelatinous and lose their pungency.

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Let’s Make Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Floats

What is this? These are an old-fashioned ice cream floats which I have named, “Green Swamp Floats.” We are getting to the end of summer — Labor Day is coming up. Let’s celebrate by making “Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Floats.” Sipping an ice cream float in the afternoon used to be a summertime treat when I was growing up. It satisfied one’s sweet tooth and quenched the thirst on those hot summer days. And an ice cream float was so, so easy to make — really just two ingredients — coke and ice cream. When company came for an extended visit, these were sure to be on the agenda. So let’s make a traditional ice cream float using Barq’s Root Beer and also some surprises.

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