Friday, July 5, 2013




Happy 4th of July!  America's Independence Day! No not the day Will Smith beat the begeezers out of the aliens. It's the day recognized as the start of the United States - the original 13 Colonies, the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.
For many of us, it is a day to celebrate family and friends with barbecues and fireworks.  Everywhere you look you see American flags, red and white stripes, blue patches with white stars and images of all things American. I really enjoy this holiday. Growing up, we had block parties and LOTS of fireworks. Now that fireworks are banned most everywhere, we are forced to watch spine-tingling displays from professional "designers". While they are usually really beautiful, I miss holding a Sparkler; jumping out of my skin everytime a big Roman Candle went off and running away screaming while trying to avoid the spinning things on the ground!  I feel sad for kids in my neighborhood these days - they don't get those experiences.
In honor of my childhood and of the day as it is recognized all over the country, I wanted to make a cheesecake that is very American - with California Soul.
Happy Birthday United States and to all of my friends, celebrate safely.
Happy Eating.
1-3/4 C 'Nilla Wafer crumbs (finely pulsed)
6 T Butter - softened
1/3 C Sugar
24 oz Cream Cheese (I use 1/3 fat variety "neufchatel")
1/4 C Sour Cream (I use "light" sour cream)
3 Eggs + 1 Yolk
1-1/2 C Sugar
2 T Flour
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 C Fresh Strawberries (pureed)
1T Red Food Coloring
1 C Blueberry glaze
2 C Fresh Blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Crust: Mix wafers, butter and sugar in a food processor until the consistency of wet sand. Put into 9" springform pan, pressing crumbs along bottom and sides. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and let cool on counter.
Filling: Mix cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar on medium for 2 minutes. Add eggs and yolk one at a time and combine completely. Add flour and vanilla. Pour 2 cups of mixture into another bowl and add strawberry puree and food coloring. Mix on low 30 seconds until the mixture is red in color.
Pour 1/2 of red mix into springform pan. Slowly pour about 1/2 of white mix into center. Slowly add remaining red mix. Top off (again slowly) with white mix. Carefully place in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. When hour passes, turn off heat and let cake remain in oven for 15 minutes (DO NOT OPEN OVEN). After 15 minutes, remove cake from oven. Let rest until room temperature.
While still in springform pan, top with an even layer of blueberry topping and cover evenly with fresh blueberries. Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours to set.
Remove springform ring before cutting and serving.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


IT'S CINCO de MAYO. . . again!

It's that time of year again. The "holiday" that reminds me of how much I love sangria.  Many (ok, most) of you love to do the margarita thing. I get it.  I really do. Me, I love sangria. In fact, I think the main reason I turned to sangria (besides my love of wine) was because I am allergic to Tequila.  Even the good stuff. As soon as I have a drink of Tequila (margarita, on the rocks, Patron straight, et al) I get sick - violently, stomach clenching, running to pray to the Porcelain Gods sick.  I can't even enjoy the effects of Tequila because one sip makes me feel like I never want to have another sip again. That being said, I had to find the perfect party drink for me to enjoy on Cinco de Mayo. Enter Sangria!

Every year at this time I make an original recipe for my family (and whoever else stops by the house!). This year is no different. Well, maybe a little different.  This year I made TWO original recipes!  I guess taking some time off to do the "Mommy" thing has built up a lot of creative juices in me!  I don't have the opportunity to make sangria as much as I did before the Love of my life came to me. Ok, let's face it. Opportunity isn't what I'm lacking - it's energy! This year I made "tweaks" to a couple of previous recipes that received a great deal of response - Basic Sangria (August 13, 2010) and Peach (September 10, 2010). I hope you get a chance to try and enjoy them with your family and friends.

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all!

Basic Strawberry Sangria

1 lb Fresh Strawberries sliced into halves or quarters
1 medium Orange sliced into rings (with the peel)
1 small Lemon sliced into rings (with the peel)
1 cup Brandy
3/4 cup Simple Syrup
1.5 L Red Wine (Find something fruity. I used a blend from my favorite local winery Pietra Santa)

Mix sliced fruit with brandy in a pitcher. Stir well and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes (trust me, you'll be glad you did when you eat the fruit!). Add simple syrup and wine. Stir well and serve.  You can put it into the refrigerator or serve immediately over ice. For a bit of fiesta fizz, add a sparkling water.

Peach Apricot Sangria

1 lb Fresh Peaches (White or Yellow - whatever is freshest)
1 lb Fresh Apricots
1 cup Peach Liquor
1 cup Simple Syrup
1.5 L White Wine (Find something crisp and refreshing. I used a Savignon Blanc)

Peel peaches and apricots. Slice fruit into quarters. Combine fruit and liquor then let sit for at least 30 minutes (again, you'll be glad you did). Add simple syrup and wine. Stir well and serve. 

For an amazing alternative to the wine, use a Prosecco. The crisp bubbly goodness makes this sangria even more amazing! 

Monday, February 4, 2013