Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Cheesecakes are one of those sweets that I don’t mess with very often, and not just because I run the risk of eating the entire thing myself. They’re kind of time consuming with the whole chilling process, and results can be a mixed bag – raise your hand if you’ve had a cheesecake with a giant sunken hole in the middle? *raises hand* And again, the risk of the I’ll eat the entire thing factor…

On the other hand, they’re relatively easy to make using just a few ingredients. And, well – when it’s done right, it’s hard for any other dessert to touch it in my book. When I found this basic cheesecake recipe years ago (word to Ina), I stuck with it. It’s never let me down, and it’s easy to tweak the flavor profile and turn it into something completely different. All my boys are huge fans of peanut butter, so I thought that would be a welcome twist…

Turns out I was right! Rich, thick, and silky – this cheesecake packs a wallop of peanut butter flavor. I topped it with a simple chocolate drizzle, and crushed up Butterfinger bars. But, chopped up peanut butter cups would be an awesome choice as well…I mean honestly, when is it not?

I haven’t been in the kitchen much these past couple of month – with so much going on with boating and beaching (half the time we were cooking dinner on the beach itself!), and just summertime livin’ in general. I’m sure many of you can relate, in one way or another. But this is the time of year where I really love getting back in the kitchen, and spending more time on recipes and cooking in general. Now that chillier temperatures have arrived, I’m looking forward to doing just that. And, this cheesecake was a great place to start!

Raspberry Mascarpone Tart

Is it just me, or have the berries this year been especially good? From the berries that I’ve picked myself, as well as my standards I pick up every week in the grocery store – they’ve all been exceptional. This simple tart really gives them an opportunity to shine as well!

I just used my standard pie crust for the tart base, and it turned out fine. I found that if I chilled the dough really well in the tart pan before blind baking – it reduced the shrinkage factor. I think those mini Phyllo shells would also work wonderfully,  and single serve would be great for get-togethers.

The filling is super simple – sweet and rich from the mascarpone, with a little tang from the addition of cream cheese. Then to top it off, a pile of gorgeous red ripe glazed raspberries. A drizzle of chocolate ganache would be a another nice addition, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. I wanted to really let the berries shine, and shine they did…

Fresh Raspberry Mascarpone Tart

1 pastry crust, rolled out
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the topping:
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup apple or strawberry jelly (not jam or preserves!)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roll-out dough on well-floured work surface, to about a 13 to 14 inch circle or big enough to fit an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Ease dough gently into pan, pressing against the bottom and sides, folding remaining dough over the edge. Roll over with a rolling pin to cut off excess dough. Line with foil. Fill with raw beans or pie weights and bake 10-12 minutes. Remove beans and foil and return to the oven. Continue baking for another 5 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

For the filling, add cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute until creamy, reduce mixer to low and add the confectioner sugar and cream, as well as vanilla. Add in the mascarpone last, beating until just combined. Carefully add the mascarpone mixture to the cooled tart shell. Place into refrigerator to chill while you prepare topping.

Add the jelly to a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s completely melted. Let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully pour the syrup over the berries and toss gently to coat.

Gently pile berries on the top of the tart, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Driscoll’s Berries. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Coconut Macadamia Muffins

We had alot of snow days this year. So many in fact, that to make up the days (and ensure that our kids weren’t in school until the 4th of July!), they’ve extended the school day by 45 minutes until the end of the year. They’re going in 15 minutes early, and getting out 30 minutes later. So, our morning routine has been squeezed a little tighter lately.

Enter a good, homemade muffin. I ended up with a half a can of coconut milk the other day, so I thought a coconut muffin would be a good use for it. I also added plenty of toasted shredded coconut, and some macadamia nuts for a little decadence and crunch. They turned out so wonderful, and we enjoyed them for breakfast all week long! The tropical flavors really taste like spring.

Speaking of spring, have you guys seen the new spring prints from Hen House Linens? They’re absolutely gorgeous. I can never say enough wonderful things about their linens, they wash and wear wonderfully.  I use them everyday in my home, just not for the staged photos that I share here…but at my table – morning, noon, and night. The lovely ladies over in the hen house have graciously offered up a set of 4 dinner napkins for giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment telling us what is your favorite thing about spring! Contest will run today to April 9, at 11:59 PM. (Congrats to winning entry #22 – Lisa!)


I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, fun-filled with egg hunts and lots of chocolate. We’re looking forward to dying our eggs and having a small egg hunt in our new backyard for the first time, and of course attending the Annual Easter Decoy & Art Festival here on the island. This is the weekend that everything really starts to open-up again here on our little island – spring is definitely in the air!

Source: adapted from A Taste of Thai

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Spring is definitely in the air here on Chincoteague Island, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The marshes are starting to return back to their vibrant green color, we have a family of bunnies that live in a thicket right next to the house, and we’ve been treated to a handful of almost 70 degree days.

But, in places like sunny Florida – it’s springlike temperatures pretty much all year. I had the opportunity to work with a couple of different wonderful Florida based companies this week in my kitchen, and it was the perfect way to kick-start spring around here! First off, Natalie’s Juice Company. Their sales rep, Brandy, was at the Ocean City Food Show that we attended weekend before last. She is so sweet, and sent me home with a wonderful sampling of their juices to take home. They are wonderfully fresh and flavorful. The least pasteurization that’s allowed, so it really is like drinking juice directly from the fruit. They’re wonderful!

In additional to that wonderfulness, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association generously overnighted me a huge box of glorious, juicy, ripe, red strawberries. The possibilities are endless, right? Look for another great strawberry recipe next week. I can’t thank you enough, Sue!

So naturally, I couldn’t help doing something together with the two of them! These strawberry lemonade cupcakes immediately came to mind. I took my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, and added in a bit of lemon zest and good lemonade. Then I roasted the strawberries to release some of the moisture, and intensify the flavor (a trick I learned from my buddy, Annie). Added 3/4 of them to the cupcake batter, then pureed the remaining amount to add to the buttercream frosting, along with a little more lemon zest and lemonade.

All I can say is “wowza!”. They are absolutely perfect. Light, tender, and moist – bursting with the fresh flavor of strawberries and lemons. I garnished with a slice of strawberry and lemon, which I thought was so simple and pretty. So, if you’re feeling like a taste of spring…definitely make these soon!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Natalie’s and the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. I was provided with complimentary products to review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.