Saturday, July 24, 2010

Paula Dean's Cherry Cream Cheese Tarts

What can I say other than, who doesn't love mini cheesecakes?! This recipe is the perfect finger food for parties and pitch-ins and the dessert is just as yummy as it is attractive.

The only suggestions I have for this recipe are:
1. Make a day ahead and allow them to refridgerate for atleast 12 or so hours - the longer these sit in the fridge, the creamier and denser they get, mm!
2. Try doing these with a graham cracker crust instead of the vanilla wafers. I like it either way, but the homemade graham cracker crust puts this over the top and the extra ten minutes really pays off =)

Paula Dean's Cherry Cream Cheese Tarts


  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 vanilla wafers
  • 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling or other pie filling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of muffin pan. Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, 1at a time, beating well after each addition. Lay a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow tarts to cool completely. Serve with cherry filling on top, or pie filling of your choice.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Leftover Fajita Nachos

If you're like me, you always make too much... I hate to even admit there is such a thing... and whenever I make fajitas, I love them so much, I always make enough for the next day. Well this last time I made fajitas, I was staring at our leftovers and decided to try something new - Fajita Nachos! It was SUPER easy, and dinner only took 15 minutes to throw together. With just a few extra minutes - you have an equally delicious meal, but in a fourth of the time. Not only is this the perfect meal, but it also makes for a great snack or party appetizer. Next time you make fajitas, you've gotta try these!


6 soft flour tortillas (fajita size)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
Left over marinated and grilled fajita beef or chicken (I used beef)
Pico de gallo (mixture of chopped tomato, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro & lime juice)
Sauteed green bell pepper & onions
Freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream


Light and Crispy Tortilla Chips:
In a small round saute pan, bring oil up to temperature over medium-low heat. You'll know the oil is ready if it sizzles when you flick a few drops of water on the surface of the oil. While the oil is heating, cut flour tortillas in half and then cut each half into thirds - each tortilla should yield 6 chips. Carefully place tortilla chips into the pan (I usually do 6 at a time) and watch them closely. These chips will brown very quickly. Allow them to cook for about 30 seconds - 1 minute and then flip them over in the hot oil once the underside is golden brown. Repeat for the other side and then place the hot chips onto a paper lined cookie sheet. Spread them out and sprinkle with salt. Continue this process until all your chips are cooked.

Assembling the Nachos:
Once all your ingredients are ready to go you can begin to assemble your nachos! (Because I pulled everything straight from the fridge, on a cookie sheet, I placed my left over fajita beef on one side and my peppers and onions on the other. I put them under the broiler for only about a minute and then pulled them out once they were warmed through.)

(Just before topping with pico and sour cream..... can you say, "yum?!")

On a clean cookie sheet, lay out tortilla chips and spread them out in a single even layer (this ensures each bite gets a little bit of goodness!) Next, layer warm beef evenly over chips. Repeat this same step with peppers and onions being sure to get a little on each chip. Top with a generous helping of shredded Jack cheese and place under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and bubbly! Remove the nachos from the oven and sprinkle with fresh pico and then dollop generously with sour cream. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

*TIP: I prefer as few dishes as possible, so whenever I use a cookie sheet, I line it with foil. This way you can re-use the same sheet for your chips, beef/pepper/onions & nachos - just replace with new foil in between each step ;)

Ina Garten's Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

I recently made these cupcakes for a cookout and the ganache put these cupcakes over the top! The cupcakes themselves are good, but just be aware, they're not like a typical box mix cupcake. This recipe makes for a more dense cupcake and it almost reminded me of a Texas sheet cake. If you like chocolate, you'll like these!


  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 11 fluid ounces Hershey's chocolate syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and coffee granules and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat, or the cupcakes will be tough.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the muffin pan.

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the ganache. Do not refrigerate.

Makes about 18 cupcakes