Friday, December 2, 2016

Cherry Cheese Cake Dessert With Pretzel Crust

I make this dessert a lot around the holidays, one it's easy and two everyone requests it.  During the holidays we have enough running around to do and admittedly, I am no different.  I start  making Cookies, Quick Breads, Candy and other food gifts the first week of December.  The week after Thanksgiving, I start taking out all of my decorations and then go on the hunt with my family for the perfect tree at our local Christmas Tree Farms.  I have several artificial trees that I use as well, I am a big kid at heart and Christmas is my favorite holiday, my house is decorated top to bottom inside and out and every room is festive, yes... I did say every, including both bathrooms.  My kids tease me and say they go blind with all of the Christmas lights that are on.  My oldest daughter Nicole comes to visit wearing sun glasses, she's too funny.  The Christmas Music is also playing, especially when I am baking and or cooking. Off come the shoes, on goes the music and the fireplaces are lit. I love having the kids bake with me, although I am saddened that they are all grown now and we don't bake as much as we use to.  I set aside weekends so my two grand children can come here and bake with me. My two adorable grand babies Annalise 13-years old and Caleb 4-yrs old helping me in the kitchen last year.  Caleb's favorite thing is licking the spatula, so I have to keep several clean ones on hand.

What You Will Need:
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoon
Stand or Hand Mixer, or Whisk
Baking Dish 8"x11"
Medium Bowl
Rolling Pin
Large Plastic Zip Lock Bag (1-Gallon Size)

Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Filling:
2  8-Ounce Packages Cream Cheese
3/4-Cup Sugar
2-Large Eggs
1-Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
21-Ounce Cherry Pie Filling *I used my home made filling, but store bought is fine*

Pretzel Crust:
*If you don't like Pretzels you can substitute them with your choice of crushed cookies or graham crackers.*  I find the Pretzels give it a nice salty and sweet taste.
1- Large Bag of Pretzels any shape is fine.  *You need at least enough for 2 1/2-Cups.*
1-Cup Butter Softened
4-Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar. *If you use dark it gives it a deeper molasses flavor, light gives you less.*

Pretzel Crust Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-Degrees Fahrenheit.
Put half of the Pretzels in the Zip Lock Bag, securely close the bag.  Lay the bag on a flat surface and crush with a rolling pin until they look like grains of sand.  Some small pieces are fine.  Now transfer Pretzel Crumbs into the Medium Bowl.  Repeat this process with the remainder of the Pretzels. Add the Melted Butter and Brown Sugar into the Pretzel Crumbs. Mix well with a Spatula until all are combined.  Turn the mixture out into the Baking Dish, spread the mixture with the Spatula making sure to completely cover the bottom of the dish.  Now press the mixture evenly with your hands.  Put baking dish in the oven for 10-minutes.  Put on your Oven Mitts and take the dish out, placing it onto a heat resistant flat surface.

**Change the temperature of the oven to 375-Degrees Fahrenheit**

Cream Cheese Filling Directions:
Wash, rinse and dry the bowl that you used for the Pretzel crumbs.  Add in all of the ingredients for the Cream Cheese Filling.  Beat together until silky and smooth.  Put the entire mixture over top of the Pretzel crust, smooth out evenly with Spatula until completely covered.  Top the Cream Cheese Filling with the Cherry Pie Filling, using the Spatula to completely cover.

Place into the oven and bake for 15-minutes.  Remove from the oven wearing Oven Mitts, place on a flat heat-resistant surface.  Let dessert cool for at least an hour and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, cut into equal size squares. Enjoy!

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Welcome To Your New Home Saoirse

As most of you know my family and I have suffered some heart breaking losses back in October. First our old Dog Koda became ill and had to be put to sleep and then a short-time after our other dog Gabby unexpectedly became ill and was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure which we knew nothing about, especially because she recently had a major surgery and follow-up at our vet's office. Sadly we had to make the heart breaking decision to have her put to sleep because the Emergency Vet on call couldn't save her.

When Gabby passed away, our other little dog Capone, a Miniature Long-Haired Dachshund was beside himself with grief.  Last March Capone suffered from a Calcified Disc in his back that had ruptured rendering him paralyzed from the waist down.   The Vet said he wasn't in any pain and could function and live a happy life with the aid of a Doggy Cart, aka: Doggy Wheel Chair. She informed me that he couldn't urinate or defecate on his own and that I would not only have to stimulate him to move his bowels, but I would also have to Catheterize him several times a day, and that he may or may not get use of his legs again. I was in tears and told her I would do whatever I had to, I wasn't putting him down, which was a suggestion she had given me. I told her that I would do physical therapy and deep tissue massage on him and go from there.  She commended me because most would have made the decision to euthanize their pets if found in a similar situation.  I was shown how to properly catheterize him and sent home with a handful of different medications.  I was scared to death at the thought of having to do all of this for my beautiful little boy.

Long story short, and me coming from an Irish family, this isn't easy for me to do .  (Wink)  Capone regained full use of his legs and can now wag his tail, walk and run with a little bit of an awkward gate at times, he still can't urinate or defecate on his own, but I am hoping in time that will come back to normal as well.   I am so happy that all of my efforts paid off and he has made a full recovery.  It's amazing what love, patience, persistence and prayer can over come. 

Capone had been so depressed since Gabby had passed away, he would walk room-to-room whining, barking and looking for her every day.  I was in tears and dealing with my own grief, but to see this made it even harder to cope with.  The other dogs didn't seem to take it as hard as he had, he was raised with Gabby since he was 8-weeks old and slept with her every day, they were inseparable. When he had his paralyzes, she would lay next to him and watch over him, even groom him.  Not to say the others didn't know she was missing, they just didn't understand and seemed to get on with their lives. Capone wouldn't eat, didn't want to play and laid in Gabby's bed  for hours and whine and let out a sigh, it was pitiful.  I thought maybe I should get him a new buddy, maybe a kitten this time that he could bond with. After all, I already had 4-other dogs and didn't need another.  The other dogs play with Pony, that's his nickname that we call him, but they aren't attached at the hip like he and Gabby were, they are more independent and do their own things.

   Gabby keeping Capone company right after he became paralyzed. 

As a rescuer, foster, educator, Networker and rehab person for wild and domestic animals, I put the feelers out there for kittens that might be needing a home.  Can you believe I couldn't find one, how could this be? Normally I am getting calls constantly about kittens needing a home.  A month went by and I was told of an older cat, possibly 2-yrs old that was abandoned and needed a home.  She was taken to another Veterinarian that I know and was spayed and given all of her shots.  I was told she is skittish and they weren't sure of her background or if she had been around dogs or not, or even if she had ever been indoors.  I said I would think about it and get back to them.  Time passed and no kittens were coming up for adoption.  I made an appointment to see this cat, she was so scared, hissed and growled at me when I first held her, I got her to calm down and said I would give her a chance.  I had the option to bring her back if things didn't work out at home with her, Capone and the others. The Vet Tech told me she wasn't 2-yrs old but just 6-months old.  She's a black beauty with big emerald green eyes.  I was blessed that they also waived the adoption fee because they knew she would be going to a good home.  Again, long story short... she was a little bit pissy once home, swatting and growling not only at the dogs but towards me as well.  I do rehabilitation on animals, so I knew what to expect, not knowing her background, I just took it slow and on her terms letting her know I wasn't going to harm her.  Right now she has come a long way from the first day I brought her home on 11/02/16.  She purrs and will tolerate the dogs, but will give them a pop on their noses with her front paw if need be, she gives a fair warning without claws out.  Once in a while she will hiss or growl at me and then in a blink, stop and purr. I think she may be Bipolar, hahaha.   She's not overly affectionate but I think in time she will come around, after all she is so much farther along now than she was on day one.  

I named her Saoirse, which is an Irish girls name meaning Freedom.  Freedom because she was rescued by others and then placed in my care.  It's pronounced Seer-Sha if you are from Northern Ireland and Sair-Sha if you are from the Southern.  I say "Sair-Sha.  It was so cute having my 5-year
old Grandson Caleb keep asking me her name and how to pronounce it, he seems to have it down pat now.  Here she is sleeping, which she is a champion at doing.

Capone and Saoirse sleeping on the bed, not quite best friends yet, but getting there. Since she won't snuggle up to him, he figured the next best thing is his favorite toy.

My other fur babies. Gabby before she passed away, she's the Sheltie.  The two little white fur balls are sisters, Fiona and Jewel, AKA: Swiffer.  Capone is the Dachshund and Brody is the English Bulldog.

American Bulldog siblings. Koda on the left, he recently passed away and his sister Lily. She is still here and doing well for a 16-yr old girl.

Nicholas our 20-yr old Cockatiel, he loves riding on his bike, even though he can't peddle.  Gus' on the right, he's our 23-yr year old Black Masked Love Bird.  

Ham Steaks With Maple Mustard Glaze

This is a simple Mustard Glaze that I use for Full-Size Hams, Ham Steaks and even a dipping sauce for some appetizers.

What You Will Need:
Large Baking Pan
Medium Size Bowl
Whisk or Fork
Oven Mitts

Ingredients For The Glaze:
5-Tablespoons Brown Spicy Mustard
1/3-Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/2-Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1-Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar

2 10-Ounce Pre-Cooked Ham Steaks.
1 16-Ounce [re-Cooked Ham Steak
You can use less Ham, I was serving this for a Sunday Family Dinner.

Pre-Heat oven to 400-Degrees Fahrenheit.
Add all of the Glaze ingredients into the medium bowl.  Using a whisk or fork mix all of the ingredients until it is smooth with no lumps from brown sugar.  Set aside.

Place the Ham Steaks into the baking pan, add about a half inch of water just covering the bottom of the baking pan.  Pour the Glaze all over the top of the ham, spreading evenly with the Tablespoon.  Place the Ham into the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes. You just want to warm them through.  Put on your Oven Mitts and remove and place on a heat-resistant surface.  Serve with what ever vegetables or sides that you like.

Any left over Glaze can be stored in a sealed container and placed in the refrigerator for a week.  This tastes great on left over ham for sandwiches.

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Sweet Pepper Jelly Tarter Sauce

This came about because I didn't have any Sweet Pickles available in the house to make my home made tarter sauce.  I had seen a jar of my Sweet Pepper Jelly sitting on the shelf in my down stairs pantry and a light went off in my head.  I thought...."Well why not use this instead, the worst that can happen is it tastes awful and my family will let me know about it."  To all of our amazement and mine as well, it really is delicious and tastes great on fish or any other Sea Foods that you would use Tarter Sauce on, actually my family prefers this one over the traditional version.  Tad-ah! I had a winner on my hands.  I first used this on my Fried Cod Fish which you can find the recipe on here if you'd like to try that as well.

What You Will Need:
Medium Size Bowl
Table Spoon

1/2-Cup Sweet Pepper Jelly *Store bought is fine, just make sure it has All-Natural Ingredients.
1/2-Cup of All Natural Mayonnaise.

Mix the Sweet Pepper Jelly and Mayonnaise well in a medium size bowl. Serve over the fish.

Let me know how you like it.

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Pumpkin Crisp

If you want a fairly easy dessert for the holidays this is it.  You don't have to worry about making a crust and it can be cut into squares.  I used my home made Pumpkin Puree which is listed here on my blog, if you didn't make the home made version, canned or jarred is fine.  Make sure it says "Pure Pumpkin" on the label and not "Pumpkin Pie Filling."

What you will need:
Stand Mixer or Whisk
2-Medium Size Bowl  (Only one if you use a Stand Mixer)
Glass Baking Dish 8"x 11"
Paper Towel
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoons
Oven Mitts
Wooden Tooth Pick

Ingredients For Pumpkin Filling:
3/4 Cups Brown Sugar
2-Tablespoons Sugar (I use organic unbleached)
4-Cups Pumpkin Puree (32-Ounces)
3/4-Cups Evaporated Milk
3-Large Eggs Beaten
1/2-Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2-Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2-Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/2-Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2-Teaspoon Ground Allspice
1-Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Vegetable Oil for greasing your baking dish. *Crisco*

Crisp Topping:
6-Tablespoons Butter, Melted
1/2-Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1-Cups Quick-Oats
3/4-Cup Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
3/4-Cups Walnuts Shelled and Chopped *Optional*
2-Tablespoons All-Purpose Unbleached Flour

*Whipped Cream and Pure Maple Syrup for topping, optional.* I do have a home made Whipped Cream recipe listed here on my blog if you would like to use that, if not, you can use store bought.

Preheat your oven to 375-Degrees Fahrenheit.
With your paper towel, dip it into the Crisco Shortening and lightly grease your baking dish, set aside.

In your Stand Mixer Bowl, add all of the Pumpkin Filling ingredients, blend on low until all are well combined, it should appear smooth. Set aside.

In your other Medium Size Bowl, add all of the Crisp Topping ingredients.  Stir well until all are combined using a Spatula or Stand Mixer. Set aside.

Pour your Pumpkin Filling into the greased baking dish.  Bake for 60-minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly-loose and a nice golden brown. You can poke the middle with a tooth pick, if it comes out clear with no filling on the pick, then it is done. If it's not clear, bake for about another 5-minutes or so.

Take the Baking Dish out of the oven wearing your Oven Mitts.  Place Baking Dish on a heat-resistant surface and sprinkle all over with the Crisp Topping.  Place back into the oven for 10-15 minutes  until the topping is a golden brown.  Take the Backing Dish back out of the oven using your Oven Mitts.  Place on a heat-resistant surface and let cool for at least an hour.

Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream and drizzle maple syrup over top.

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