Easy Peasy Cheesecake

When your significant other wants cheesecake, well, then you make them cheesecake. Or you do what I did and complain it’s too much work, it won’t taste right, blah blah blah and then you make it, anyway. As much as I love to bake, I had not made cheesecake in close to ten years but I’m glad I did. I used this recipe as a guide and it came out delicious! The one foolproof tip for great cheesecake? Use room temperature ingredients (yes, even your eggs need to be sitting out for at least 30 minutes prior to prep). 

  • Ingredients for Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons butter, melted


  • Ingredients for Cheesecake Filling
  • 32 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cups sour cream
  • 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temp., slightly beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Prepare crust by combining graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and brown sugar, stirring well. Add melted butter and use a fork to to combine ingredients.
  3. Pour crumbs into a 9″ springform pan and press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides, set aside.
  4. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, add cream cheese and stir until smooth and creamy.
  5. Add sugar and stir again until creamy (do NOT over mix!)
  6. Add sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Mix until well-combined.
  7. With mixer on low speed, gradually add in eggs (one at a time), mixing just until each egg is incorporated. Once all eggs have been added, use a rubber spatula to to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure all ingredients are well-combined.
  8. Pour cheesecake batter into prepared springform pan. Place pan on top of a foil-lined baking sheet in case of leaks.
  9. Transfer to oven and bake for about 75 minutes.
  10. At 75 minutes the top and edges of the cake should be slightly puffed and jiggle like Jello if you shake the pan. If you press the top with a finger, it should spring back to the touch. Don’t over bake!
  11. Allow cheesecake to cool on the stove for at least 2 hours (or until it reaches room temperature). The stove is the warmest part besides the oven so the cake will cool off as the oven does the same, preventing cracks.
  12. Transfer to the fridge and let the cake chill overnight. Remove the sides of the springform pan prior to serving.

Fresh out of the oven


After chilling in the fridge overnight. One small crack but nothing major.

Super easy to make. No water bath required.

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Taco Casserole

Thanks to a delivery from Walden Local Meat, I had a pound of ground beef to use and was on the hunt for an easy enough recipe during a busy work week. Does anyone else feel like they’re working MORE while being forced to work from home or is it just me? Anyway, I found the following recipe here but decided to make a few small changes. Below is my take on this recipe.

  • Ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (adjust based on how much heat you like)
  • Ground cumin, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 15 ounces tomato salsa (use whatever heat you like)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (sharp or mild)
  • Lettuce and tomato (optional for garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9×13 inch baking dish with oil, set aside.
  2. Heat small amount of oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and cook, breaking up the meat until browned and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a plate then drain any fat from the skillet.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add more oil, and heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until softened. Return the beef to the skillet and stir in the beans. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for about two minutes.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the salsa and 1 cup of the cheese. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese.
  5. Bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through, about 20-25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Optional: top with lettuce and tomato.

Fresh out of the oven


Garnished with lettuce and tomato, served over a fried tortilla

This was a good dish for when you need something you can prep during lunchtime and bake right before dinnertime.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

What’s a better thing to make than something hearty while we’re all quarantined and working from home? Also you’ve got to love a slow cooker during this time. Set it and forget it! Hop back on your Skype/Zoom calls while you wish smell-o-vision existed.

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. chicken thighs, cubed (halal stores have these pre-cubed)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 (.7 oz.) package dried Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 1 (8 0z.) package cream cheese
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of potato soup
  • McCormick rotisserie seasoning, to taste
  • 1 bag medium-size egg noodles
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper, place in slow cooker with butter and dressing mix. Mix together.
  2. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  3. Add to slow cooker cream cheese, soup, and rotisserie seasoning. Mix together.
  4. Cook on high for 30 minutes.
  5. Cook egg noodles according to instructions on bag.
  6. Serve stroganoff over egg noodles.

So good and so filling!

This was incredibly easy to make. Perfect on a chilly rainy day or when you’re just craving something that hits the spot. Now can we please get out of quarantine?


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Raspberry-Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Who else is stuck working from home due to the Coronavirus? Most of us? Great! Yes, it becomes rather boring and if you’re like me you constantly need to be doing something – anything! Luckily my job allows me to work from home, however, when I’m in the office I’m typically running around. At home? Not so much. I decided to whip up the below recipe that I originally discovered in this month’s issue of Food Network Magazine. I have to say, it did the trick when it came to keeping me sane.

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 cups raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon each zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  1. Preheat over to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line 13×9 inch pan with foil, with foil extending over sides
  3. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and butter. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes
  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of raspberries and 1 teaspoon lemon zest for later use
  5. Beat cream cheese, lemon juice, remaining zest, and remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Gently fold in remaining raspberries and pour over crust
  6. Bake 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set (not completely). Cool completely
  7. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Top with reserved raspberries and lemon zest
  8. Slice and serve!

Not the prettiest and they did crack while cooling in the fridge but still delicious!


I had to show off my newest potholder which was a birthday gift.

These came out so good! Messy but good! I honestly don’t taste much of the lemon so if you’re looking for more of a citrus flavor,  I would use two lemons. These definitely have more of a raspberry taste to them.

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Air Fryer Shrimp Empanadas

Anyone who follows my blog knows I love Skinnytaste’s recipes. Recently I pre-ordered, and received, her latest cookbook: The Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook. I also really love my air fryer so these two things went hand-in-hand. I had been meaning to fry up some empanadas so when I saw this recipe for ones made in the air fryer, I was sold. These are simple to make, on the healthy side, and are a great snack or small meal. I slightly modified this recipe’s ingredients. Below is my take.

  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound frozen cooked shrimp, chopped with tails removed
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 10 frozen La Fe empanada discs (Goya works, too)
  • Olive oil spray
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, red onion, garlic, bell pepper, lime juice, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 teaspoon water until smooth.
  3. Place an empanada disc on a work surface and put two tablespoons of the shrimp mixture in the center. Brush the outer edges of the disc with the egg wash. Fold the disc over and gently press the edges to seal. Use a fork to firmly press around the edges to crimp and completely seal. Repeat steps with all ten discs. Brush tops of all empanadas with egg wash.
  4. Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees F. for three minutes.
  5. Spray the bottom of the air fryer basket with olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Working in batches (mine fits two at a time), arrange a single layer of the empanadas in the basket and cook for 8 minutes, flipping halfway (4 minutes on each side), until golden brown and crispy. Use silicone tongs to flip since they’re air fryer safe and gentler on the empandas.
  6. Serve hot.

Before they hit the air fryer.


All done!

These came out delicious! Light and crispy while nice and fluffy. No grease whatsoever (ah, the beauty of an air fryer), I can’t wait to make these again, next time maybe with a chicken filling. These also can afford a tad more shrimp in the filling if you want a fuller empanada.

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Chocolate Peanut Cookies

Leave it to me to have a new oven for a few months and take all of those months to bother baking a batch of cookies. I’ve used the stove a bunch of times, the oven itself for cooking, but I did not use it for baking cookies until today! Since the weather is becoming cooler I am in a baking mood and what better way to kick-off baking season than with a batch of chocolate peanut cookies? I originally obtained this recipe from the Taste of Home Most Requested Cookies cookbook but I changed a few ingredients to make it my own (and also because my local supermarket didn’t have any mini peanut butter cups for sale!).

  • Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (two of the Jif to-go cups works for this if you don’t keep PB on hand, like myself)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg (not a whole egg!)
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup honey-roasted peanuts, slightly crushed
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter chips
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. I tried out my new KitchenAid sifter & scale stand mixer attachment today and it made measuring just the right amount of dry ingredients seamless.
  3. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, fixed with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Gradually add the flour, baking soda, and salt mixture to the creamed mixture and mix well. This is where the sifter attachment came in handy.
  5. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the peanuts, chocolate chips, and peanut chips.
  6. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto two ungreased baking sheets (this recipe makes about two dozen cookies so you will most likely need more than one baking sheet). Place both sheets in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes (start to keep an eye on them around the 10 minute mark, depending on your oven).
  7. When finished baking, remove sheets from oven and wait one minute before transferring cookies to wire cooling racks. Store in an airtight container.

Not the best photo but definitely gets the point across.

These were delicious and nice and gooey inside (while still warm) with the perfect mix of chocolate and peanut butter. Definitely an easier cookie recipe since they are drop cookies and only take a few minutes to bake in the oven.

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Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Allow me to kick this off by saying that an Air Fryer is the best thing your kitchen is missing. With that said, yes you should buy one. Why? 1) it’s healthier and 2) everything you ever made in a deep fryer comes out just as delicious (if not MORE delicious) in an Air Fryer and finally 3) clean-up is way easier due to a lack of oil. I’ve been playing with recipes a lot lately when it comes to fried chicken. After my annual trip to New Orleans, I decided to put the spices I purchased in the French Market to work. Since I am a nice person, I am also going to provide links to both spices I bought in NOLA and used in the recipe(s) below. Note: there are two recipes here but with only one ingredient change. One will use the Lemon Pepper Seasoning and the other will use the Hot & Spicy Sea Salt. Decide which one you prefer, or make two batches. I made 4 chicken thighs with the first spice and 4 more chicken thighs with the second spice. DO NOT MIX THESE SPICES…Unless you want to burn your tongue forever. The rule is this – if you’re using the lemon pepper you do not need more pepper so just add plain ol’ sea salt. If you’re using hot & spicy sea salt you do not need more salt so just add plain ol’ ground black pepper.

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in, fat trimmed off (8 thighs total if making two batches)
  • 1/2 cup AP flour (1 cup total if making two batches)
  • 1 egg, beaten (2 eggs total if making two batches)
  • Pepper Lemon Seasoning OR N’awlins Hot & Spicy Sea Salt 
  • if using the pepper lemon seasoning, include plain sea salt
  • if using the hot & spicy sea salt, include ground black pepper
  • olive oil spray
  1. Pre-heat Air Fryer to 390 degrees F (I typically pre-heat mine for 3-5 minutes). You do NOT need to pre-heat before each batch, only before the initial one. The fryer will stay hot once you start using it.
  2. Whisk together the flour, lemon pepper OR hot & spicy sea salt, plain sea salt (if using lemon pepper) OR ground black pepper (if using hot & spicy sea salt). Beat the egg in a separate bowl.
  3. Dredge the chicken through the flour mixture, then into the egg, then back into the flour mixture again.
  4. Spray the basket of the Air Fryer with olive oil spray.
  5. Place two thighs into the basket of the Air Fryer and spray the tops of the chicken with olive oil spray, cook at 390 degrees F for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark (most Air Fryers will not allow you to set for greater than 30 minutes at a time), use silicone tongs to flip the thighs and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from Air Fryer and serve or store for later consumption. Continue this process until you have cooked all thighs. Do NOT overcrowd the fryer or it will not cook evenly and you may have some pieces of raw chicken. 

The batch made using the pepper lemon seasoning and plain sea salt


The batch made using the hot & spicy sea salt and plain ground black pepper

Both of these came out delicious! If I didn’t tell you these were made using an Air Fryer, you would have thought they were made using the original deep fryer method. The skin is nice and crispy and the inside is moist and juicy. The trick to getting crispy skin is spraying each piece of chicken with olive oil spray. Matter of fact, if and when you do purchase an Air Fryer, just go out and buy olive oil spray. You will definitely need it for most, if not all, recipes you make using this fantastic device.

Before anyone asks, this is the Air Fryer I have. I know there are other ones out there that fit more food in them in one shot but I’m pleased with the one I have. It also comes with a bunch of presets but I have yet to use any of those since the manual controls are so incredibly easy. Another tip is to buy silicone tongs. Most Air Fryer baskets are made using non-stick material therefore a metal tong could potentially scratch the surface, thus making the non-stick material useless.


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Crock Pot Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is one of my go-to recipes when I do not want to go overboard, but I still want to make something flavorful and delicious. If you search through this blog, you will find some of my other pulled pork recipes that are similar to the one below. With this particular recipe, I used Dr. Pepper instead of Coca-Cola and incorporated a different liquid smoke flavor. Those flavors combined created a great dish that was a bit on the smoky side.

  • Ingredients:
  • 4-5 lbs. pork ribs, bone-in or boneless (either way works)
  • 1 medium size onion, sliced
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 16 oz. Dr. Pepper (do not use Diet)
  • 1-2 tbsp. mesquite liquid smoke
  • 1 28 oz. bottle BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s sweet & spicy sauce)
  1. The night before you cook everything inside the Crock Pot, rub the salt, pepper, and garlic powder over the ribs. Cover and place ribs in the fridge overnight.
  2. The day you’re cooking, place the onion in the bottom of the Crock Pot.
  3. Place pre-seasoned ribs inside the Crock Pot, lying over the onion, and pour Dr. Pepper over the pork. Cook on LOW for for 7-8 hours (if you’re using bone-in ribs, I suggest going with the full 8 so they fall right off the bone).
  4. At the 7 or 8 hour mark (whichever you prefer) drain the excess juice and remove the bones (if you used bone-in) then shred. If you went with boneless ribs, still drain the excess juice but simply shred the ribs using 2 forks.
  5. Add full bottle of BBQ sauce and stir. Cook for 1 additional hour.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

This is what the ribs should look like when you remove them from the fridge after sitting with the s&p and garlic powder on them overnight.


This is the finished product, kept in a restaurant-style holder for easy transport (if you’re not eating these at home).

I really like how the flavor came out on these. The Dr. Pepper definitely shows up as an aftertaste. There are 2 types of liquid smoke I use when making pork, one is hickory the other is mesquite. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the mesquite worked much better with the Dr. Pepper and helped to balance out the rest of the flavors.

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Crock Pot Ropa Vieja

Ropa vieja can be a daunting task for just about any cook. It takes a long time to make since the cut of meat that is used tends to be pretty tough until it’s cooked long enough that it’s nice and tender. For dishes like those, I typically prefer to use my Crock Pot (or any slow cooker, for that matter). Who really has the time or energy to stare at their oven all day long? Below is an easy slow cooker ropa vieja recipe that you can set and forget, go about your day, and come home to a flavorful meal.

  • Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs. beef flank or skirt steak (you can also do half flank, half skirt)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  1. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker. Stir.
  2. Add the steak and flip it around in the sauce so it’s completely coated. Add both bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Mix those items together to combine on top of the meat.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW, without opening the lid, for 9 hours.
  4. Shred the meat using 2 forks right in the slow cooker.
  5. Service with rice (or any side you prefer) and enjoy!


This came out super flavorful and incredibly tender! The beef pretty much shredded itself with barely any assistance from the two forks I used. The sauce is also great to be scooped up with any bread you may have laying around. I love this recipe because it’s one of those things you can either set to cook overnight while you sleep or while you’re awake and out running errands. Either way you’ll come back to a delicious meal you didn’t have to pay much attention to while it cooked.

This recipe is based off the following link found here

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Baked Mango Chicken

Hi strangers! Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. Truth be told, I haven’t been cooking or baking much recently. I do, however, have a ton of recipes ready to be typed and uploaded, it’s just a matter of finding the time to do so. I decided to kick off my “return”, of sorts, with a recipe I just threw together because I had chicken thighs hanging out in the freezer and fresh honey mangoes (smaller, riper mangoes) that I was recently given. Since I always enjoy sharing my tips and tricks, I wanted to share my latest kitchen investment. This defrosting board ($30 on Amazon) is AMAZING! My chicken thighs were frozen solid and this board cut the defrosting time in half. Worth the money if you’re someone who prefers to not pop meat into the microwave to defrost and doesn’t have all day to spend waiting for meat to defrost on a countertop.

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • black pepper
  • salt (I only use salt that comes with a grinder since I like to break it up myself)
  • minced garlic
  • 2 honey mangoes, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and spray a small amount of olive oil onto the bottom of an oven-safe dish.
  2. Trim any extra skin off each chicken thigh, but be sure to leave most of the skin on.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together a healthy amount (eyeball it) of black pepper and salt.
  4. Rub the pepper & salt mixture onto both sides of each thigh.
  5. Using a knife, create a bunch of small “stab wounds” in each thigh and shove minced garlic in each opening.
  6. Place slices of mango on top of each thigh (I used 3 slices per thigh).
  7. Place chicken in prepared dish and cover with aluminum foil. Put in oven and set timer for 45 minutes.
  8. Once the 45 minutes is up, remove the foil, up the temperature to 400 degrees F. and cook the chicken for 15 more minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and serve! Be sure to pour the extra sauce over the top of the chicken.

All done!

These thighs came out incredibly juicy and the extra sauce the chicken and mangoes produced was delicious! Cooking times may vary based on what kind of oven you use (I used my convection oven since my regular oven makes my kitchen way too hot in the summer months) and the size of your thighs. This makes for a great summer dish thanks to the use of the mangoes.

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