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Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Anyone else tired of everything pumpkin yet?

Yea, me neither.

I’m a HUGE fan of cheesecake, but when I was a kid I thought the idea was kind of gross. Cheese + cake? Ewww.... but then I actually tried some and I fell in love.

This particular recipe I’ve been tinkering with for several years. The first time I made it was the same Thanksgiving I made the Smoked Gouda and Sausage stuffed Mushrooms. I’m pretty sure I’ve made it every holiday season since then, and each time I’ve adjusted it a little bit to get the balance just right.

After six years, I’m pretty sure I've gotten it just where I want it. The cheesecake is smooth and silky, and the flavor hits all the pumpkin pie notes you’d expect and could possible want. It makes me happy just thinking about it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
*Serves 6-8


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Goat Cheese and Basil Tomato Sauce

My 21st birthday was some time ago. More years than I’d really like to admit, if I’m being honest. While there are many things I remember about this specific birthday, one was an appetizer we had at dinner. The dish was simple enough, consisting of goat cheese baked in marinara sauce and served with toasted baguette. Our server suggested mixing the cheese and sauce together – which we did – and I don’t think any of us could stop eating it. It was slightly tangy and luscious.

At the time when I whipped the sauce up for dinner, I wasn’t really thinking about recreating the appetizer in any way. I was just simply getting a bit creative with random items in the fridge and pantry. Now I think of this sauce as a nod to that appetizer…even though I’m making it about a million years later.

I’ve included a recipe for the dish I made that night and a separate recipe for just the Goat Cheese and Basil Tomato sauce. If shrimp, mushrooms, leeks, and spinach aren’t your thing, the GCBT Sauce would go great with grilled chicken or be fine all on its own.

Shrimp Pasta with Goat Cheese and Basil Tomato Sauce 
*Serves 4

-          2-3 garlic cloves
-          ½ medium onion
-          16oz plain tomato sauce
-          3 tbl EVOO, divided
-          2 leeks, slice ¾ inch thick and clean*
-          2 cups mushrooms, sliced
-          3-4 cups fresh baby spinach
-          2 tbls butter
-          1 pound 26/30 shrimp
-          2 tbls goat cheese
-          2 tbls minced fresh basil
-          ¾ pound thin spaghetti
-          1-2 tbls tomato paste
-          Salt and pepper

*Clean leeks by placing them in a large pot of water and swishing them around to release any dirt trapped between their layers. Use a slotted spoon to scoop leeks out of bowl once they are clean.

1- Cook pasta according to package directions

Friday, October 12, 2012

Salty and Sweet: Savory Pear and Bacon Tart

Fall has finally arrived in Tampa. The humidity has subsided and the past few days have had clear blue skies. While the temperatures are still hovering around 90 degrees during the day, the change is certainly noticeable. It’s time for apples, pumpkins, and boots and scarves.

Ok, well not the boots or scarves… I won’t be breaking those out until December.

This recipe is based off of a flatbread Brent and I enjoyed once at a local grill and bar, The Darlin Marlin. At first, I was a bit skeptical about ordering a bacon and pear flatbread, but we were assured it was probably the best one on the menu.

We both ended up really liking it and since then it has been on my “recreate at home” list. While the puff pastry is significantly different that a traditional flatbread, it really worked well as the "crust" of this dish. Light and flaky, but still held up to a good amount of toppings. And the bacon and pears come together in that perfect sweet and salty combo. 

This makes a great starter or pair it with a small salad for a light lunch or dinner. 

Bacon and Pear Savory Tart
*Serves 6 – 8 as an appetizer

-          1 sheet frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
-          2-3 tbls flour
-          1 tbl olive oil
-          1/3 cup fontina cheese, shredded
-          1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
-          1/3 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
-          1/3 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
-          ¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
-          1 medium pear, preferably Bartlett
-          5-6 sliced of thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped
-          1 tbl butter
-          1.5 tbls roasted garlic butter

*Parchment paper is helpful


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