Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

These caramel apple cheesecake bars are perfect for the Fall. I have been waiting to make these for Thanksgiving and they turned out really yummy! It's not rich at all like it sounds. You really taste the apple and there's not a lot of cheesecake to it. It's more like a tasty bar with tons of delicious crumble topping. But the best part of this dessert is the homemade caramel sauce I drizzled over the crumble topping. So good!!

Now I know what you're thinking when you hear "homemade caramel" - too difficult. I understand. Making your own caramel is intimidating. Matt and I have burnt a couple before. You'll probably burn your first-ever caramel too, but just get over it and try again. And once you get used to it, you'll be rewarded with a delicious caramel that will knock those store-bought ones out of the ballpark.

I was even nervous about making my own caramel sauce for this dessert (since I was taking it to our family), that I even bought some caramel candy as backup. But I was able to nail down on the secret of perfect caramel-making. It's the timing. If you follow my instructions precisely below, you will nail it too. And man was it worth it.

Ingredients:Adapted from My Fiance Likes It

Crust:1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly chilled and cubed


16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly chilled and cubed
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

To make the crust, combine flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Cut the butter into the mixture with your fingers or a fork until the mixture is crumbly.

Press the dough into a 9x13 inch pan in an even and flat layer.  Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Set aside.

Make the filling by beating cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated.  Stir in vanilla until just combined.

In a small bowl, combine the apples with the cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of sugar.  Let sit for about 1-2 minutes, then gently fold into cream cheese mixture.

Pour the batter over top of the warm crust.

Make the topping by combining the oats, flour, and brown sugar.  Cut the butter into the mixture until it is chunky and crumbly.

Top the cream cheese mixture with an even layer of the topping.  There's a lot of it. Don't be afraid, you'll want it all on there, trust me.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cream cheese mixture is set and topping is a nice golden brown.

Make your caramel sauce by simmering the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan but not stirring, until dark amber, exactly 12 mins. Take off the heat, and then whisk in the cream and vanilla. (It will bubble and sputter when you add the cream. Don't worry just whisk.) Let it cool. (The caramel sauce will look like the consistency of hot chocolate at first, but as you set it aside to cool it will thicken, darken in color, and become more like the caramel sauce pictured above.)

Drizzle caramel sauce over cheesecake and enjoy!

I wish I could take better food pictures, but I probably need to stop using my phone then and invest in a good camera. Oh well, as long as I deliver food that is tasty, right? :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lamb Sandwich with a Creamy Dill Sauce

Matt absolutely looooved this dish. I started to wonder if it's because he loves lamb so much, or he just really liked the sandwich altogether. Either way I was happy!

When I was at Sam's Club with my mom, I stumbled upon these beautiful ciabatta rolls. I have had a hard time trying to find individual-sized ciabatta rolls. At Kroger, they just have these huge ciabatta breads - so you have to cut them up into serving sizes. But Sam's Club had it baked in perfect sizes. 8 rolls for only $3...I was excited, not gonna lie.  

So to make the sandwich, first start with some lamb. We had a ton of different kind of lamb (lamb arm chops/sirloin chops, etc.). Any of those will work - just cut out the bone. Then pound out the lamb meat with a meat mallet. I pounded it out to about a quarter of an inch thin. Salt and pepper both sides. Then in a skillet over medium-high heat, add some olive oil. Cook the lamb for about 1-2 mins on each side. For the  ciabata roll, slice it in half and season the inside with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toast the ciabatta roll in the skillet.

For the sauce, I was going for a tzatziki-like sauce. In a bowl, I combined sour cream with some chopped dill, salt, and pepper. And then I thinly sliced a cucumber. On a toasted ciabatta roll, just add a piece of your lamb, some slices of cucumber, and some of that creamy dill sauce. I also added some slices of truffle cheese that I discovered at Sam's Club as well. 

The earthy flavor from the truffle cheese actually paired nicely with the lamb. And the fresh cucumber and dill sauce helped tie everything together. For such a quick and simple sandwich, it was sure packed with tons of flavor.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tex-Mex Salad

If you feel like having Mexican but don't want the heavy burrito, try this salad instead.

After our beach trip and all that delicious fried seafood, we felt like having a lighter meal. But I wanted Mexican too since it had been a while. So to accompany the dip I made below, I paired it with this salad. I tossed some green leaf lettuce, corn, black beans, tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese together. For the dressing I mixed 1 c mayo, 2 tbsp whole-grain mustard, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp cumin, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Loved the smoky flavor the cumin bought to the dressing. It paired nicely with the sweet corn too. What's great about this dish, besides it not being so heavy, is that it's very filling. I was so full from a serving of the salad and dip. I guess it was all those beans!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

3-layer Nacho Dip

It's been a little while since I've last posted about a dish. For that I'm sorry. We've just been so busy traveling lately, and then I had a busy week at work. But I will make it up to you with this great dip...

At my friend's baby shower, there was this dip there that I couldn't help but go back to. There was a layer of refried beans, avocado, and something else...

It was creamy, so I knew it had to be sour cream. But there was something else to it that I couldn't put my finger on. Turns out the secret was...taco seasoning! Such a great idea in adding flavor to a normal dip. I knew I had to go home and make it. It turned out perfectly like the one at the shower. You'll want to make this dip for your next gathering, trust me.

3-layer Nacho Dip

1 can refried beans
2 avocados
1 packet guacamole seasoning
1 c. mayo
1 c. sour cream
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tomato, seeded and diced
handful of cilantro, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips

In a casserole dish, spread the refried beans out evenly. In a bowl, mash the avocado meat and guacamole seasoning together. Spread the guacamole evenly over the refried beans. In another bowl, mix the mayo, sour cream, and taco seasoning together until well blended. Add the creamy mixture over the guacamole. Top the 3-layer dip with shredded cheese, the tomato, and cilantro. Best served chilled. Enjoy with some tortilla chips.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Calypso Joe's Caribbean Grille

Orange Beach Marina
27075 Marina Road
Orange Beach, AL 36561
Call: 251- 981-1415 Fax: 251-981-1421
I just want to take a few minutes to blog about one of our favorite restaurants in Orange Beach, AL. Whenever we go to the beach there, we have a list of places we have to eat at. Calypso Joe's is one of them. Their food is delicious and their service amazing. We've been there for lunch and enjoyed their crawfish po boys and fries. Just recently visited them for dinner, and loved it even more! I had the Mahi Mahi over smoked gouda cheese grits topped with this creamy, decadent mushroom sauce. I enjoyed all of it and the braised greens and plaintains it came with. Their conch fritters were also very good! Everything there is great, that's why I'm surprised this place isn't more crowded. Maybe because it's still new, or set off in this quiet fishing pier. I would hate to see this amazing restaurant go under. So if you're ever in the area visit Calypso Joe's. I've always been guaranteed with delicious food and great service - it won't disappoint!

Another yummy dive to check out: Mikee's