April 2017



A brilliant idea crossed this kat’s path recently–cheesecake batter baked between a layer of CCC (that’s chocolate chip cookie) dough with more dough dropped over the top. Two great tastes that taste great together–all in one easy pan! And the crumbled cookie dough on top adds a delightful layer of crunch in contrast to the creamy cheesecake. As an added bonus, letting cookie dough drop through your fingers kinda feels like making a sandcastle. A showstopping, scrumptious sandcastle you can eat!

Oh, did you notice the sunny yellow hue of the cheesecake layer? That sunshine comes straight from New Hampshire where my friend Michele’s hens lay the most phenomenal eggs on the planet. They take these straight to eleven on a scale of 1 to 1o. So, turn it up and let’s get things started!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE CHEESECAKE BARS

CCC layer
1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup dark chocolate, chopped (I love my Valrhona Guanaja feves)

Cheesecake batter
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter and line an 8 x 8″ pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the CCC layer
Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks.

Separate dough into roughly two halves–a little more dough for the bottom works nicely so you can cover a lined/buttered 8 x 8″ pan with ease. Pat down evenly. Put the pan in the fridge while you work on the cheesecake layer.

For the cheesecake layer
In your mixer, combine cream cheese (I used Neufchatel, lower-fat), sour cream, teaspoon of vanilla, egg and 3 tablespoons sugar. Spread cheesecake batter evenly over CCC dough.

With the remaining CCC dough you set aside, drop it in small pieces through your fingers. Got that sandcastle feeling going? If so, you’re doing it right.

Time to bake now–into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. In my oven, it was 37 minutes on the money. Look for pieces of the dough starting to turn golden brown and the center of the cheesecake part should be set (not jiggling). When it’s finished, it should look like this.

Cut, cool, store in the fridge. These are WOW at first bite. I know because it was the first word out of my mouth after my first nibble. Funny enough, hours later, didn’t my mom take a bite and say the exact same thing? 🙂 Enjoy, amici!

Something about marshmallow treats brings me directly back to being a kid–piano recitals, playing hide ‘n seek and marshmallow treats. Low energy days call for an update to classic comfort. Brown butter, more marshmallows, and a combination of Rice Krispies and crushed Golden Grahams make these treats extra special EXCELLENT. Not only do they come together quickly, but they just might make you want to break into a happy dance, like our old friend Snoopy.

BROWN BUTTER MARSHMALLOW TREATS WITH GOLDEN GRAHAMS

4 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups Golden Grahams cereal, lightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick salted butter, browned
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 10-oz. bag mini marshmallows
2 cups (additional) mini marshmallows–keep these separate

Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish.

Gently crush (in a Ziploc bag, roll with a rolling pin or bottle) the Golden Grahams cereal so it becomes roughly the same size as the Rice Krispies. Combine with Rice Krispies and salt. Set aside.

Brown the stick of butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter melts, stir and watch carefully to be sure it gets just a bit brown and nutty–like so.

Stir in the 10-oz. bag of mini-marshmallows and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla till it’s nice and melted. Now, remove from the burner and stir in the cereal. Once the cereal is combined and evenly coated, add the final 2 cups of mini marshmallows (these won’t melt all the way–that’s our goal) and press into the buttered baking dish.

Cool, cut, happy dance! It’s that easy!

Have you heard about chicken crust? It’s a carb-free way to make a pizza. Now, as a woman of Italian-Irish heritage, carbohydrates and I go waaaay back–particularly with pizza! So, while I have no intention of abandoning a traditional crust, I wanted to play with this idea.

First, let’s take this in a proper Italian direction and use hot sausage instead of ground chicken as our base. Next, instead of ordinary red sauce and toppings, let’s roast some vegetables and let those be our sauce. Ah, brillante! Let’s make the magic happen, amici!

SAUSAGE CRUST PIZZA WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

For the crust
1 pound hot Italian sausage (I used Lamberti’s)
1/4 cup grated cheese (I used a Parmesan-Pecorino blend)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

For the roasted vegetable topping
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 a sweet onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
4 mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a knife
olive oil to coat everything
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

To top it all off
2 medium sized balls of fresh mozzarella
fresh basil chiffonade (roll it, slice it)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Let’s work on the veggies first–everything into a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a teaspoon of Kosher salt. Into the oven for 15 minutes, shake everything around, then send it back for 20 minutes more. At this point, you should have some decent color on the onions and shrooms, and you’ll be able to put a gentle squeeze on the tomatoes to flatten them (let them cool a bit before you do).


Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and combine crust ingredients in a bowl. Form the crust in a circle and pat it out evenly. I covered mine with plastic wrap and rolled a bottle over it to thin it out and keep it even.

Into the oven this goes for 20 minutes. Your cooked crust should look something like this.

Now it’s time to load it up with the goods. Evenly distribute the roasted vegetables over the top of the crust, then top with slices of fresh mozzarella, basil chiffonade and freshly ground black pepper.

Return to the oven for about 10 more minutes, till the mozzarella gets nice and melted. Carefully drain fat from pan. Now your pizza is ready to cut and serve.

I’m sending this recipe out with thanks to my new buddy Mike Jericho Cross across the pond in Manchester, who kept me entertained with music tonight while I wrote. Good food, like good music, is meant to be shared all over the world. CHEERS!