Baked Apple Pie Cheesecake

Years ago when I lived in Corpus Christ, TX, one of my favorite dessert memories was from Luby’s Cafeteria. Sometimes, when we would go, they would have a cinnamon apple topped cheesecake. It was delicious and so different from other cheesecakes. Very creamy and the flavor combination of apple, cinnamon with the cream cheese was just awesome. On the back cover of Nov 2016 Taste of Home I found a recipe that resembled that wonderful memory.

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 teas cinnamon, divided
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup old fashioned oats or quick cooking oats
2 tables butter, melted
4 packages (8 oz ea so total 32 oz) softened cream cheese
1 teas vanilla
4 eggs

Cook apples with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teas cinnamon in saucepan until apple slices are tender. cool
Heat oven to 325. Combine graham cracker crumbs, oats, butter, remaining cinnamon and 2 tables of the sugar, press onto bottom of a 9″ springform pan.
Beat cream cheese, vanilla and remaining sugar in medium bowl with mixer until blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each, just until blended.
Spread half the apples over bottom crumb crust to within 1/2″ of edge. Cover the slices with the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate remaining apples until ready to serve.
Bake cheesecake 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 min, or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Place in fridge for 4 hours.
Drain remaining apples that you had placed in the refrigerator, just before serving. Arrange apples on top of cake as shown in photo.

Thank you Taste of Home for another trip down memory lane and a great recipe.

Chocolate Pumpkin Magic Cake

Last year when I posted this, it was after eating it at a gathering at church. It came across my FaceBook memory yesterday and am so glad it did. It is now in the oven and will be devoured within 24 hours. The kids are coming to dinner tomorrow evening so we will have to “test” it tonight just to be sure it is still as good as we remember. Would not want to serve them something that is not top notch. If you didn’t make this last year, do yourself a favor and make it this year. You will be so thankful you did. It is so so good. The combination of pumpkin and chocolate with French Vanilla pudding frosting is scrumptious.

Mix a Duncan Hines Devils Food chocolate cake mix according to directions and pour into a 9×13″ baking dish. Do not bake until pumpkin layer is on it.

Pumpking Layer
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 heaping teas pumpkin pie spice
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Mix and whisk until well combined. Pour slowly over chocolate cake mix. Bake in preheated 350 oven for about 50-55 min or until no longer jiggly in the middle and toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely at room temperature.

Frosting

1 (4 oz) size box French Vanilla Instant pudding mix
1 cup cold milk
8 oz container Cool Whip
4-5 gingersnap cookies, crushed for sprinkling on top (opt)

Mix the milk and the pudding until thick. With mixer on low speed, mix in thawed Cool Whip. When thoroughly mixed, spread over top of the cooled cake and place, covered in fridge until ready to serve. Sprinkle the gingersnaps over the top, if desired.

*Recipe taken from Pinterest Wash You Dry

Heart Control vs Gun Control

This past week has been one of which America has watched 13 people die from being shot in a place where they never imagined anything but going and having fun. This hit close to us as we have friends whose daughter goes to that same place on college night for line dancing. Another one of our friends knew the guard who was shot and killed during that tragedy. Last night, as we watched the news, a lady whose son was one of the victims who died that night was shouting, “do not send me prayers, give me gun control…I do not want to know you are praying for me, just pass more gun control.” My heart went out to her as you could feel her anger, her frustration and hurt and as a mom of 3 son’s, I can’t imagine loosing any of them, especially through no fault of their own.
We are living in a day that is continually bringing to light more and more scenes just like the one mentioned above. Will more gun control eliminate the violence? Will more rules eradicate the problems which seem to be overtaking our world?
We have continually pushed God out of our lives. We have decided that we do not need Him in our homes, schools, work places and government. We have replaced the worship of the Creator with worshiping ourselves. We now live in a world which seems to think that everything has to be about “what makes me happy” without regard for others. Our kids are being raised to think that everything has to be about their rights and are entitled to what is “rightfully” theirs. We, (and I am so guilty of this) as parents have allowed our kids to take priority in our lives, even over God. We didn’t do it on purpose, we just wanted them to be happy and to give them things that we didn’t have. But in that process, we have taken away their ability to discern what life should really be….we were created in God’s image and were created for His glory, not our own.
In the past, when families were family and kids were taught right from wrong, we had the same laws regarding guns, but why the difference in then and now? We have more rules now, but more shootings and anger.
Are our hearts different now? We keep shouting for more gun control, but what if we were out there shouting for more heart control? What if we, as Christians were out there showing God’s love and power over evil. That maybe if our lives showed the kind of love that we are suppose to be living out to others, maybe that would draw others to God and what His love could do to our hearts. As a Christian, I sit there in worship service every week and listen to how we should be living lives that would make others want what I have. That I need to be living in a way that would show the world that being a Christian is indeed a blessing to have God in my life that helps me bear my burdens and can change my heart. A heart that loves others in spite of our differences. A heart that cares enough about others that I can go out of my way to help, when needed.
We have allowed children to sit for hours and play video games which kill others. I’m not saying that every child who plays these games will grow up to kill someone. But maybe some are losing discernment between reality and fantasy?

The scripture that comes to mind is: “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Are we living our lives in such a way that it is hard to “think on things that are pure or noble or lovely”? Are we teaching our kids to not only respect themselves, but others as well?

Whether Democrat, Republican, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Muslin, Catholic, Baptist; what are we teaching the next generation? We lash out in hatred to others who do not believe as we do. We insist on our rights, at the cost of others. We try to handle all our own anger, burdens or issues ourselves when we have a God who understands our needs. Why not trust Him to handle our lives, and in so doing, surrender to the One who gave His all for us.

Maybe we should allow Him to have more heart control over our lives, and in so doing, maybe gun control would never be an issue……

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Cake

It was so much fun to make up a recipe today for our friends coming over tonight from church. I have always wanted to try this and I figured before my first heart attack or before all the butter and cream cheese went to my head and caused dementia, I needed to do this. Just finished putting the final touches on it and I can’t wait until we cut it tonight. Randy and I have set a new world record this week for us. Do not ask me why, but we have not had dessert in 4 nights. I do not count the Hershey with Almonds bar I ate last night as dessert. and..he doesn’t count scraping out the last of the Blue Bell Pumpkin Spice Ice cream out of the container as dessert. Those are just things that we eat to clean up the freezer and cabinets.
So tonight, we have real dessert. If we like it as much as i think we will, it will certainly go on our dessert buffet table for Christmas. Hum…after I just wrote that last sentence I started to remember all the desserts I have said that about over the years. It might be time to buy a larger buffet table. But here is the recipe for the cake which we will unveil tonight to our study group of 12…if there is any left over, Randy and I will finish it off tomorrow night until we make a real dessert….remember, leftovers do not count as real dessert….yes, I live in an fantasy world!

Duncan Hines Devils Food Chocolate cake mix, made according to directions on box for 2- 9″ round cake layers. (I added 1 teas almond extract to batter)
Bake as directed and cool.

For the cream cheese layer:
1 (9′) round cake pan sprayed with Pam

1 8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teas vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Pour cream cheese mixture into the prepared 9″ pan and bake at 350 until cheesecake is done…about 20-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean in the middle. Cool and then remove from pan onto a piece of waxed paper.

Frosting:

2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teas vanilla
enough whipping cream or milk to make mixture spreadable (about 1/3 cup, but add by tablespoons until it is of right consistency after doing the 1/3 cup)
5 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter with cocoa. Stir to combine and add powdered sugar and beat until smooth with the milk or whipping cream. Add the vanilla and mix until all is smooth and fluffy.

Place one layer of the chocolate cake on serving platter. Using 2/3 cup of the frosting, frost the top of this layer. Place cream cheese layer on top and frost it with another 1/3 of the frosting. Place 2ned layer of the chocolate cake on top of cheesecake layer. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.

Decorate with Chocolate Covered Cherries and chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

Today was the last Wednesday that some precious lady’s met in our home for Bible Study. The study was a 6 week study and since it was Fall, I tried to bake something pumpkin each Wednesday. Today I knew that these pumpkin scones would make the perfect treat for our last study. Served with butter and apricot jam, they were a hit. My sweet Shannon, who had sent me packets of flavored sugar a few weeks back, had sent multiple flavors of sugar. So today, before baking I sprinkled on the Salted Caramel and that added to the already delicious flavor.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tables baking powder
1 heaping teas ground cinnamon
1 teas pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teas salt
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup whipping cream

Stir together the dry ingredients. Then, using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles pea size crumbs.

In a small mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup canned pumpkin and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Whisk until combined and then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir just until flour mixture and pumpkin mixture are just combined. Turn out onto a floured piece of waxed paper or counter. Using rolling pin, roll out to about 1″ thickness. Remember the less you handle the dough, the more flaky it will be. The more you handle it, the tougher it will be. Using a biscuit cutter, (I used a juice glass because it gave me the size I wanted) cut dough into equal portions and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake in preheated 375 oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until they test done.

Table Time

We sold our dining table & chairs yesterday. We have tried several times to sell it, thinking we wanted a round table instead of the rectangle one which came with our house we bought back in 2001 when Randy’s job took us to California. So 17 years, family and friends have gathered around that table. So much food has been served and so many memories of different groups have sat around that sweet table. Isn’t it so strange that for some reason, I always thought I would be so glad when it sold, but as we sat there looking at the empty space last night in the dining room, so many memories came flooding back to me.
When we bought our home in California back in 2001, God was so gracious to us to provide so much furniture that had been left in the new house. Jodi and Jaden were coming to live with us and since it was a model home, they had left the nursery furniture, the dining room furniture and so much more. In fact, the builder left so much of the furniture, we had to sell some of ours as there wasn’t room for all of our things. We have told the story so many times of God’s blessings to us as we moved from Texas to CA and how He went before us and provided for all our needs, even a nursery.

When we moved back to Texas in 2003, of course that beautiful table went with us. A dear friend, Debbie, our Women’s Minister called one day with a question. Would I consider having teacher training in our home and cook for them to have lunch. Would I….wow, that was such an answer to prayer that I could have ladies in our home and cook for them. One of my favorite things to do. After a couple of years, she had another great idea. (Yep, thats Debbie, lots of great ideas that involve food). HA.She suggested that we have the minister wives meet together for a luncheon once a month, at our house. We lived right across the street from the church (which that is another story of how God closed the door to one house and opened the door for one right across the street from our church) This would allow them to get to know the other minister wives and just be loved on, as we would cook and serve them each month. We realized that sometimes minister’s wives have so much ask of them: lots of time away from their husbands always being called up to serve in different capacities, not many chances to get to know other ladies who have the same responsibility of always being on call and having to sometimes “be on” and feeling like they had to be perfect. So once again, it was a privilege and blessing to just cook and serve these precious ladies who have been such an influence in my life over the years.

The times of meals being cooked and served to family gathered around the table when their lives were so hectic and hurried, and yet, when they sat down to eat maybe a roast with mashed potatoes or turkey & dressing, ham at Easter, beans and tamales at Christmas….there was always a calm that presided over our time together. It was always such a treat when one of our kids and their spouses would call and ask if they could come over for dinner. Always gave me an excuse to bake and cook a lot of food. So much more fun to cook for more than two. One of my prayers for our kids and their families is that they relish their time around the table and realize that it isn’t the food being served that is important, but the laughter, and the time spent in conversations about what is going on in their lives at the time.
When I think about all the blessing that have been spoken, some unspoken, around that table the last 17 years, it brings tears to my eyes to think about all the ways God has truly blessed our families and the ones who have gathered around. There have been prayers which have been answered. Relationships mended,kids sharing stories of setbacks or awards. These are such gifts which we treasure to this day.

Today, both Randy and I paused and prayed for the family that will now be sitting around that table. May they feel the prayers that have been said. May the Lord shine His face upon them that they would sense His presence and come to know Him personally, if they do not already.

Yes, it didn’t bring me the joy that I had anticipated I would have selling it, but…may God grant us in His time, in His place where He takes us to begin a new season of once again, gathering around a table, whether it be round, square or rectangle, which will bring honor to His name.

Mushroom Chicken With Asparagus

This evening I was wanting to make something that I had never made before. We ended up with this really great Italian dinner. Even Peter Pumpkin sat there saying, “this is really good and I even like the asparagus”. Will wonders never cease. He is not a huge fan of mushrooms or asparagus and so for him to ask for seconds made me so proud. It was so easy and actually a great dish for serving company during the holidays. Plus…it was pretty. A dear friend of mine, Reny gave me this dish years ago and it is still one of my favorites to serve Italian food.

Ingredients:
2 tables unsalted butter
1 tables olive oil
2 chicken breast, chopped into 1″ pieces
1/2 chopped sweet white onion, diced
8 oz fresh mushrooms
1 bunch of fresh asparagus (about 10-12), trimming and using just the tips.
2 cloves garlic or 1 teas garlic powder
1-2 cups bottled Alfredo Sauce (I used Classico Extra Creamy Alfredo)
1 cup pasta water
salt and pepper to taste.

3 cups cooked spaghetti (I used angel hair pasta)
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
Fresh chopped parsley (opt)

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add chopped onion and raw chicken pieces and fry until chicken is almost done. Add the cleaned mushrooms to skillet along with the asparagus tips. Add garlic and salt and pepper to mixture. Stir, cooking over medium heat until chicken is well cooked and mushrooms, onions and asparagus is beginning to get tender. Add the Alfredo sauce. Turn down heat to low and continue to cook while you cook the pasta. When pasta is done, and before draining, add 1 cup of the pasta water to the chicken mixture. Lightly grease a a baking dish with oil or butter. Place the cooked pasta in the baking dish and pour the chicken Alfredo mixture over the pasta. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the mixture and bake in preheated 350 oven for about 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is beginning to bubble. Serve with garlic bread and salad.

Easy Peasy Popcorn Balls

FFor years, my mom used to come over on Halloween to bring popcorn balls and caramel apples for our kids before they left to go Trick or Treating. Of course, I usually had half of them eaten by the time they kids got home. This year, I decided to make popcorn balls. I remember thinking that when my kids are grown and have kids of their own, I will have all the time in the world to continue the tradition of making caramel apples and popcorn balls. Well, I have to admit it has taken me….well, lets put it this way, our oldest grandchild is 17 today and this is the first year I have made popcorn balls. The sad thing is, Jaden will already be gone with his friends to head to downtown Phoenix to go to a Haunted House. Well, I hope when he gets down there with his friends, he will think to himself, “oh man, what am I doing here, I could be home having a popcorn ball that my Nana made me?” That will show the little whipper snapper. Who knows, it might be another 17 years before I attempt making them again. Maybe Jaden’s kids will enjoy them. Surely I will have more time then to make Halloween treats. Before I post the recipe, I have a concern that I need to share. A concern and a question. If any of you out there are missing a teaspoon, would you please private message me. Don’t embarrass me by commenting on here that you wondered what happened to that 8th spoon that goes with your dinnerware. It happened yesterday at church, of all places.
There I was sitting at a table with 8 other ladies at Bible Study when I reached in my purse for a pen to write down things that would be worth remembering when I looked at something shiny laying across my wallet in the middle of my purse. I pulled it out and lo and behold, it was a teaspoon. Of course, the ladies all laughed and said “my goodness, do you have a liquid med in there that you have to take at a certain time?” I laughed and said yes. I didn’t want them to know that maybe I was either getting alzheimer’s or I was becoming a kleptomaniac and then had alzheimer’s and didn’t remember stealing it from someone’s home,department store or restaurant. I have never seen this spoon in my life. The only thing I could think of was the possibility that maybe when we went to a top notch restaurant with friends who visited us last week from California, maybe a spoon fell off the table and into my purse? Or maybe, I stole it from Dillards when I walked through the home department. Honestly, I don’t have a clue. If an alarm goes off the next time I walk into the department store I’m going to assume the later.
So, before I forget the recipe or feel an urge to go “shopping” for dinnerware that matches the spoon in my purse, here is the recipe for the Popcorn Balls….

In case I am arrested for stealing a beautiful spoon, maybe one of you might bring me one of the delicious popcorn balls next Halloween, and maybe a curling iron and diet dr pepper!

3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
2 teas water
2 5/8 cup powdered sugar
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 teas vanilla
5 its plain popped popcorn
1 cup plain M&M’s

*I added orange gel coloring to the mixture before pouring it over the popcorn

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, butter, cold water, powdered sugar and marshmallows. Heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the food coloring and vanilla at this time and stir until mixture is the color you have added.
Grease hands with oil, butter or shortening and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before it cools. Wrap with cellophane or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Butterfinger Lush

Last night we were invited to some friends who live across the street from us to play cards. Patti had just returned from Texas and while there she ate this amazing dessert at their kids house. She made it for us last night and oh my gosh, it was some of the best dessert I have ever had. You need to believe me when I say that this layered dessert is a winner. Thanks Patti for sharing it with us last night and then sharing the recipe today. Wasn’t even mad that you beat me at cards after having some of this great dish.

Ingredients:
32 Oreo cookies (finely crushed)
5 tables butter, melted
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 bag mini Butterfingers
1 (16 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed and divided
1 (5.9 oz) box instant chocolate pudding mix
2 cups cold milk

1. In a medium bowl, stir together crushed Oreo cookies and butter. Press firmly all along the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Place in fridge.
2. Using electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Beat in peanut butter. Fold in 1 cup of the Cool Whip. Crush 6 Mini Butterfingers and fold them into the peanut butter mixture.
3. Spread peanut butter mixture evenly over the Oreo crust.
4. In medium bowl, whisk the pudding mix and cold milk together until thickened. Let sit to thicken for a minute or two and then pour over peanut butter mixture.
5.Spread remaining Cool Whip on top. Crusty remaining Butterfingers and sprinkle over top. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

Cast Iron Chicken Piccata

Isn’t this time of year so awesome when we sit and go through old magazines because well, its just one of those things that Fall gets us in the mood to do. Look through recipes to see what we want to make for friends/family. This is one of those foods that I tend to order quite a lot when we are out eating Italian. When I saw this it showed me how easy it is to make and now I don’t need to wait until I am at Vito’s or Maggianos to have chicken piccata.

Taken from Southern Living magazine April 2016 (yes, I tend to hoard my SL magazines and don’t throw them away until Mr. We Don’t Have Room For ALL These Magazines, makes me get rid of them)

4 (5-6 oz) chicken cutlets
1/2 cup (2 oz) flour
1 1/2 teas kosher salt
1/4 teas black pepper
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
6 tables salted butter, divided
2 tables olive oil, divided
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tables brined capers, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Hot cooked pasta

Place each chicken cutlet between two sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4″ thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet. Stir together flour, salt and pepper. Dip each cutlet in egg white and dredge in flour mixture.
Melt 2 tables butter with 1 tables olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 cutlets, and cook until golden brown, 2-3 min on each side. Transfer to a plate. Wipe skillet clean and repeat process with 2 tables butter and 1 tables olive oil and remaining 2 cutlets. Discard drippings; but do not wipe skillet clean.
Add broth, lemon juice and capers to skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring and scraping bottom of skillet to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally for 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and parsley. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve over pasta.