May 17, 2017

Red, White & Blue Cheesecake Salad

Living where we do in central South Carolina we can get to many great mountain destinations within a few hours but I always love to go the northeast Georgia mountains because one of my very best friends and favorite people on the planet lives there. My college roomy was from the Clayton, Georgia area so I spent a ton of time with her there over the years when we were in school. I fell in love with the area 20+ years ago so it’s my go-to spot for a mountain getaway.

The last time we were up for a trip, I got to spend time with Shelly (my old roomy) and her family. Amid all the reminiscing, visiting, site-seeing and long talks, one little pearl stayed with me. Somebody said something about a “cheesecake salad” which was, evidently, a favorite among the family. I learned this was some sort of dessert with a cheesecake filling, strawberries and mini marshmallows. I tucked that away in my gourd for the future because it sounded gooooooood ta meh!

With Memorial Day right around the corner (and 4th of July not too far off) I’ve been thinking of patriotic desserts and decided it was time to figure this whole “cheesecake salad” thing out. Add some blueberries and boom, you’ve got the perfect red, white and blue dessert!

I found a couple recipes for “cheesecake salad” out there but didn’t really love some of the ingredients so I just made it the way that sounded good to me. I whipped up a no-bake cheesecake base then added the berries and marshmallows. I can’t say that I would have thought to use the marshmallows (and was a little on the fence about them) but I knew the recipe my mountain buddies loved so much had them so I used them too. I’m so glad I did because those fluffy little nuggets were the perfect contrast to the rich cheesecake filling and the twang from the berries.

When I’m preparing food for cookouts and picnics, I always always ALWAYS reach for my GladWare®. I don’t have to worry about it getting broken or losing a lid and I know everything will stay fresh because they seal up nice and tight! I kind of think of these containers as disposable in that, if I leave it somewhere, I haven’t lost a huge investment but the truth is, I wash and reuse these things over and over and over again. My glass dishes just don’t keep things fresh like the GladWare® does.

Red, White & Blue Cheesecake Salad! This berry cheesecake dessert is perfect for Memorial Day and 4th of July with strawberries, blueberries and cream cheese filling.

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May 2, 2017

Lemon Crumb Bars

You know how sometimes you just want something that’s not chocolate?


Ha! 😆 But apparently this is a thing because my friend Dawn doesn’t like chocolate and is always game for sweet treats that aren’t chocolate.

I think of her every time I make these. I think I’ll just wrap these up in a cute box and drive them over to Dawn! And then I remember I’m knee-deep in laundry and still have to go to the grocery store then get back in time to cook supper before baseball practice.

Fortunately she loves me anyway. Even though SHE has brought ME several treats over the years. She even brought over a whole pot roast dinner that Christmas my appendix tried to kill me. And gave me a homemade calendar one year made entirely of pictures of my family and it was so perfect it made me cry. And once she ordered me a vintage pyrex dish and filled it with her amazing cookies. All I’ve ever managed to do for her was sign a few cookbooks and lend my plumber husband to her (sexy crack included though!)

So, here’s to Dawn and the Lemon Crumb Bars I AM going to make just for her one day. I love you, D!

Lemon Crumb Bars - Just the right amount of sweetness with the tart lemons and a beautiful contrast in texture with the crumbly topping and creamy filling. So good!

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April 10, 2017

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

I love me some pinto beans. Throw some fatback or ham hocks in the pot, cook them low and slow then eat them up with some skillet cornbread and diced onion and I’m in heaven! I’ve eaten many a good pot of beans growing up here in South Carolina but I’ve got to tell ya… the best pinto beans I’ve had have come from Texas.

And the places in Texas I’ve had them (usually within a hundred miles of the Dallas area) are pretty serious about their pinto beans. I’ve always enjoyed some fresh diced onion with my pintos but I never expect them in a restaurant. That is, until I had them in Texas. Most places will serve them with a little bowl of diced onion. And a few places will give you some chowchow or other pickle relish to eat with them too. Man, DANG! That's alllll riggghhht.

I knew I wanted to make pinto beans this weekend so I thought I’d ask on the Facebook page for any tips my Texan friends might be able to give me on how to get those perfectly creamy, saucy, tender beans. All of the major concepts were in line with how I already cook pintos (or any dried bean) so I played close attention to the little details people were giving me and decided to try those out.

When I was done, I’m proud to say, I’d cooked the best batch of pinto beans I’d ever made! One thing I had working in my favor was my bag of Hurst’s dried pinto beans because they come with a little miracle packet of smoky seasoning that just takes the flavor over the top. I also managed to score some of the most beautiful ham hocks I’ve seen in forever so my beans had plenty of ham bits and layers of flavor too!

I didn’t (and rarely do) soak my beans overnight. I just threw everything in the crock pot and waited until they were mostly cooked before I seasoned them to keep the beans from getting tough (salt can make certain types of dried beans tough if you add it too soon). I also ladled out a few cups of beans and broth which I smashed into a silky smooth gravy with the back of a fork then added it back to the beans to make sure the sauce was thick and creamy.

If you can’t find Hurst’s Pinto Beans with Ham Flavor in your local grocery store, ask for them! My grocery store now carries all sorts of products they didn’t have before simply because I asked for them. Just ask the cashier who to talk to to request a product and s/he will point you in the right direction. My store has a list at the Customer Service desk where they notate products their customers' request.
Slow Cooker Pinto Beans. These beans cook up creamy and tender with a smoky, silky  sauce that's perfect with cornbread. Recipe for crock pot and stove top preparation.

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