Oreo Cheesecake BitesI think my boys are the biggest Oreo fans in the world. And, I think I just happen to be one of the biggest fans of cheesecake in the world. So when I came across these perfect little bites of deliciousness on Mel’s site, I knew they had to happen. Like, immediately. And happen they did.

A breeze to throw together – an Oreo crust, reserving a few cookies to chop up and add to the cheesecake mixture that I quickly whipped together while I toasted the crust for a few minutes in the oven. The hardest part is of course waiting for them to cool. Then they’re cut into squares and drizzled with dark and white chocolate. So not only are they easy, they’re impressive too. Perfect for the football get-togethers everyone is sure to start having!

The original recipe was for a 9X13, but I halved it to fit in an 8X8 – so you could certainly double this version. We all enjoyed a few last night, and I’m packing up the remainder to take to our late night rocket launch party tonight. Our relatively small NASA base here on the Eastern Shore is launching a rocket bound for the moon’s orbit this evening.

The payload it’s carrying is LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer), and it’s kind of a huge deal for us. If you’re in the area of the Eastern seaboard (north or south), go outside and look to the skies. Then come back here and tell me if you saw it! For those of you who aren’t in the viewing area, the launch will be broadcast live on NASA TV. I can’t wait to see Twitter light up with folks thinking it’s a UFO. We really are so excited, I couldn’t be prouder of all the folks at Wallops Flight Facility. Good luck lighting the candle on this bad boy, guys. Praying for fair skies, and no fishing boats in the hazard area!

DIY Canned Tomatoes

Are you guys canners and preservers too? From a young age I remember my mom peeling tomatoes and packing them into hot jars for processing. Then we used those tomatoes for soups and other dishes all winter long. One of my very favorite things is when she’d mix in a jar of canned tomatoes with a batch of baked macaroni & cheese. Talk about a simple one-dish meal that will knock your socks off…

So, I guess it was only natural that I began to “put things up”, as the old-heads like to call it. I started several years ago with tomatoes, probably because they are one of the most straighforward and easy. I remember thinking the first time I did it – that it was such a mess, that it was going to take forever, what a pain in my ass, etc. But the second time I canned, things went much smoother. You just have to find your routine and rhythm in the kitchen, and it gets easier! Now I love making different kinds of pickles, and being creative with fun flavor combinations for jams. It’s easy to get yourself hooked, so here’s fair warning!

And, the results are undoubtedly worth it. These quart jars that I packed full of local, ripe summer tomatoes are equivalent to a little more than a 28 oz can of store-bought tomatoes. As with all other DIY things we tackle, you know exactly what is going into them – which is always a win in my book. And, they’re so pretty sitting on your pantry shelf all winter long. A taste of summer at your fingertips, all year long!

Roasted Greek Lemon Chicken & Potatoes
Andrew, our oldest, just marched off to his first day of kindergarten today. Tears were shed by me, but he couldn’t have been more happy or excited to be going back to school. It’s just hard for me to swallow the pill that he’s not mine to take care of all day anymore. I’m not sure who’s going to miss him more – myself, or his little brother William.

Back to school also means busier evenings with after school activities, homework, and sports all going on simultaneously. So, a one dish dinner – in which everything is thrown together and roasted, is always a great trick to have up your sleeve for a weeknight meal. Ina’s original recipe calls for all bone-in chicken breasts, but my little ones love their chicken drumsticks, so I just use a whole cut-up chicken instead. The white wine and lemon juice, combined with the drippings from the chicken create and awesome pan sauce. And the potatoes and Brussels sprouts just soak up all that delicious flavor while they cook.

And if there does happen to be any leftover chicken, it makes the most awesome chicken salad sandwiches to go into a lunchbox the next day. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes

How adorable are these? And, being a cheesecake – they’re as delicious as they are adorable. They are a relatively quick and easy dessert to put together, and are super impressive. Everyone loves things served in cute individual portions!

I’ve been making these little guys for a couple years now. While the raspberry swirl is my favorite, I’ve also successfully made them with blueberry and strawberry as well. A perfect sweet treat to wrap up these summer days. Can you guys believe summer is almost over? It seems the older I get, the quicker time flies. Slow down with some cheesecake, ya’ll. Have a  great weekend!