Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake

I know I’ve been a little AWOL lately. The holidays wore me out, and I found myself in a bit of a recipe rut afterwards. But over the weekend I got into the kitchen and made this insanely delicious cheesecake,  and I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you guys!

Rich, decadent, and chocolaty – pretty much all the points I expect to be touched by a good cheesecake. It baked beautifully, not splitting or cracking. It had a nice height too, which I love…there’s nothing more pitiful than a severely squat cheesecake.

The addition of espresso and Kahlua added a real depth of flavor to the chocolate, which isn’t that much of a shock. Whenever I bake a chocolate dessert in the kitchen, the recipe almost always includes coffee, in one form or another…

I served with a Kahlua whipped cream and garnished with crushed up chocolate covered espresso beans. The little bites of crunchiness against the smooth creaminess of the cheesecake was divine!

Definitely a keeper.

Souce: adapted from Allrecipes

Hot Pepper Shooters

If I had to choose a favorite new food item of 2014, Pepper Shooters would be it. I first had them when I was in the hospital after having Nathan, from a sandwich chain called Primo’s

Their sandwiches are pretty much life-changing, as are these little bites of Heaven that they sell known as Pepper Shooters. From first bite I was hooked. So I thought it was only appropriate that I share this for my last recipe of the year!

Hot pickled cherry peppers that are hollowed out, then stuffed with chunks of sharp provolone cheese and proscuitto. You could also use other Italian deli meats – like capicola or thinly sliced salami. Whatever floats your boat! A little drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of dried oregano and you’re good to go!

They’re the perfect party appetizer. Either served alone, or with other cured meats, olives, and cheeses for to make a lovely antipasto platter. And, the best part is they only take a few minutes to throw together – which always makes for a winner in my book!

Homemade Peanut Brittle

Candy making, of any kind, was always something I was terrified of in the kitchen. I eased myself into it with Salted Caramel Sauce, then pushed myself a little further when I made Vanilla Bean Caramels for the first time. After those two things, I wasn’t scared of it anymore. The next thing I wanted to conquer was peanut brittle, which is one of the husband’s favorite thing on the planet.

My mom used to make cashew brittle all the time at Christmas, as a homemade treat for gift-giving, and it was delicious. But, I’d say my standard for peanut brittle was set when I first had See’s. Buttery, chock-full of peanuts, and tender to the bite – it was everything that a peanut brittle should be. After trying several recipes, I’ve narrowed it down to this one as coming the closest to what I’ve been searching for.

I like to use Spanish peanuts (still in their skins) for my peanut brittle. I usually find them around the bulk nut section of the produce department this time of year. But, I’ve also made it with regular old cocktail peanuts.

I usually make a couple batches to give as gifts, as it can be made well in advance. And folks are usually happy to receive something other than cookies. You can also swap out the peanuts for cashews, or even mix. Just keep a very close eye on it once you’ve added the nuts, as the temperature rises very quickly towards the end of cooking time!

Source: adapted from Food.com

Cranberry Margaritas

Happy Friday, guys! With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, I figured a festive cocktail was in order. I’ve made margaritas with almost every fruit under the sun now, but this cranberry version has always stood out as one of my favorites.

A cranberry syrup is made from fresh cranberries and sugar, then pushed through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and pulp. Then the usual suspects are added for margarita mixing…tequila, triple sec, and margarita mix. Which, if you’re not doing so already – save yourself several bucks and make your own! It’s so much better than the store-bought stuff. You (and your cocktails!) will thank me.

I like to serve them with a sugar rim that’s had a bit of orange zest mixed into it, but a standard salt rim is also wonderful. Garnished with a few cranberries and a wedge or two of citrus, it doesn’t get any more festive than this!

Their gorgeous red hue lends perfectly to Christmas parties, especially since a large batch can be made up in advance and refrigerated until party time. I hope everyone has a great weekend!