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There are ways to make a rich dessert healthier, and this one is my family’s favorite. It is not as sweet, and if people need to sweeten it a bit, each serving can be individually drizzled with real maple syrup as a finish. Here’s a tip: lightly grease your springform pan and base with coconut oil. It adds flavor, and will help the cheesecake easily pull away from the sides of the pan.

• 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs or gingersnap cookie crumbs (gluten free works, too)
• 1/4 cup butter, melted
• 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
• 1/4 cup or more of real maple syrup
• 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 eggs, lightly beaten
• 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
• 1/3 cup maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl, combine the cracker/cookie crumbs and butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth. Beat in the pumpkin, syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined.
3. Pour into crust. Place pan on middle rack. Bake at 325° for 70-75 minutes, or until center is almost set. Combine the topping ingredients; spread over cheesecake. Bake 5 minutes longer.
4. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife or silicon spatula around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-14 servings.

You can do a number of things to customize this cheesecake. Mark pieces with pecans around the edge. Or, you can chop up a ½ cup of pecans, sprinkle on top, and drizzle maple syrup back and forth. If you choose to do that, Publix carries a 12.5 oz bottle of real maple syrup that is reasonably priced. Sweeten to taste.

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10-7-2016-12-16-37-pm 10-7-2016-12-15-32-pm

This chicken dish has been known to make mouths water and folks ask for seconds. It is easy, suitable for a special meal, delicious hot or cold, and can be nicely paired with potatoes, quinoa or rice. Prep time is about 10 minutes if you use potatoes, which can be baked in the same dish as the chicken. You can use thighs, (which I prefer), or breasts. It takes about an hour’s baking time to get everything tender, and it helps to baste the spuds as well as the chicken mid way through. You will want to quickly baste and check again at the last 15-minute mark to see if you need to cover with foil, as sometimes maple sugar can cause the sauce to get too brown. It is a good idea to reduce your temp to 375F for the last 15 minutes, and once you take it out of the oven, let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

10-7-2016-12-15-17-pmWhat you will need:

8 chicken thighs, figuring on two per person
8 red potatoes, or any other small potato that can fit between the chicken pieces and soak up the juice
¼ cup REAL maple syrup
¼ cup stone ground or Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon of minced garlic
¼ teaspoon Organic Seasoning from Costco, or your favorite poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oven to 400F. Place thighs and potatoes in a glass 9x 13 Pyrex baking dish. It is not necessary to grease the pan, but a light coating of coconut oil subtly layers in extra flavor. Mix together the mustard, syrup, garlic, and seasoning in a small dish and spoon it over the chicken. Use any leftover mixture on the potatoes if you wish. I think it blends the flavors together, but this is optional. If you are using breasts, depending upon the size of the meat, or larger potatoes, you can increase your syrup and mustard amounts to ½ cup each, and use two pans to insure that everything gets fully cooked. Serve with a harvest salad and your favorite fall beverage.

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Frittatas: The Cook’s Friend

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A frittata is a baked Italian omelette, and a source of endless creativity for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. It is great for using up leftovers, including salad, vegetables, meat, and though it’s not strictly Italian, potatoes. Total time from prep to serving is 30 minutes. Figure on using 2 eggs per person, and a 10 inch cast iron skillet.

8 eggs, just beaten
½ cup milk (optional)
3 cups of veggies, chicken, potatoes, or fill the skillet about ½ full. If you use onions, or potatoes, make sure they are pre-cooked.
Salt, pepper, or a spicy blend such as Mrs. Dash, Tony’s, or Johnny’s, to taste, and make sure the spices are well blended into the egg mixture
¾ cup shredded cheese- Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, or a blend
3 T of coconut oil
Preheat oven to 375F
Place coconut oil in pan, make sure the bottom and sides are covered, and place pan in oven on middle shelf to preheat for at least 5 minutes.
Assemble ingredients on the counter near the oven. Open oven, pour in veggie/meat mixture, followed by egg mixture, and top with cheese. Bake for 16-18 minutes, let stand for 2 minutes, and then serve immediately. Enjoy piping hot, at room temp, or the next day straight out of the fridge.

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8-5-2016 11-43-05 AM

A friend’s husband made this recently for a family dinner, and more than once he has been told that it is some of the best salsa ever. The secret is to make it from fresh ingredients, and in this case, almost all of them came from his own garden. You can make it spicy or mild, depending on your taste, and remember, it’s best if you can let it blend in the fridge overnight. It is even better with whole grain chips, because there are more “layers” of flavor. Enjoy!

4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced, (optional), and for this time around, he chose not to include garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
1 tomatillo, diced (optional)
1 pepper of your choice—you can use poblano for a smokey flavor, chipotle, jalapeño, or, if you like it hot, habanero.
Combine all ingredients and store well-covered in a glass or ceramic bowl, preferably overnight.
By: Tammy Wilkinson, owner of Arabella’s Cakes and Catering

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7-1-2016 2-51-41 PMIt’s HOT out there! This week, I used my new Vitamix to make a refreshing, cool treat that is actually good for you and keeps you hydrated in the heat. I found this recipe in the cook book that came with the Vitamix, and I was glad that I tried it, and hope you will be too.

Summer Blush Popsicles

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½ cup (120ml) water
3 cups (400g) grapes, red or green
2 Tablespoons (30ml) agave nectar or honey (optional)
2 cups (300g) frozen unsweetened peach slices (I used fresh peaches)
1 cup (150g) frozen unsweetened raspberries (I used fresh raspberries)

1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Smoothies program.
3. Press start
4. Allow machine to complete programmed cycle, using the tamper to press ingredients into the blades.
5. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Program: Smoothies
Yield: 4 ¼ cups (1L)

Note: You can still make this even if you don’t have a Vitamix. If using a different blender, simply add ingredients and blend until smooth.
By: Tammy Wilkinson, owner of Arabella’s Cakes and Catering

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5-6-2016 10-26-28 AM 5-6-2016 10-26-37 AM

This is the perfect option for busy people to get 3 servings of fruit quickly and easily, and it tastes great too. Even kids love it.

5-6-2016 10-26-18 AM1 cup frozen dark cherries (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 cup frozen applesauce with cinnamon (sweetened or unsweetened)
4-6oz orange juice

In a blender or smoothie maker (I use my Hamilton Beach take and go smoothie maker), add dark cherries, frozen applesauce and orange juice.
Blend until smooth.

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3-5-2016 9-47-20 AMMy mom and grandmother raised me to not waste food, and sometimes it’s challenging to figure out how to do something new with leftovers. I had some meatballs in my fridge, and decided to be inventive. I loved the result, and hope you do, too! You can let me know how yours turned out by emailing me at nolatw81@gmail.com.

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What You Will Need:

2 Stonefire Naan flatbreads (found in bakery section)
(Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Mix works well, too, if you are watching your gluten intake)
8-10 Meatballs with sauce, chopped up
4oz can sliced mushrooms, drained and rinsed
3oz can sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ cup each Colby & Monterey Jack cheese, grated
¼ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
(Total of ½ cup cheese)
3 tri-color baby bell peppers, sliced
Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms, black olives, Italian seasoning, meatballs and sauce for 3-5 minutes.
Cool and spoon over Naan flatbread.
Add tri-color bell peppers.
Top with Mozzarella and Colby & Monterey Jack cheeses.
Bake 15-20 minutes

Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and/or Red Pepper Flakes.
By: Tammy Wilkinson, owner of Arabella’s Cakes and Catering

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2-5-2016 4-41-43 PM

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serves 8-10

2-5-2016 4-41-34 PMIngredients:
1 pound salmon, fresh or frozen, cut into chunks
1/3 cup cooking oil
2-3 tablespoons chipotle pepper marinade
1 can white whole kernel corn
1 can yellow whole kernel corn
1 can white creamstyle corn
1 can yellow creamstyle corn
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup cooking oil
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3-4 cups whole milk
½ stick of butter
black pepper to taste

Note: you may substitute frozen corn for canned corn
Marinate salmon in plastic freezer bag with 1/3 cup cooking oil and 2-3 tablespoons chipotle pepper marinade for 10 minutes. Place salmon on foil lined baking sheet, and broil for 5-8 minutes.
Drain and save liquid from 2 cans of whole kernel corn. In a mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and black pepper. Whisk until smooth.
Heat cooking oil in 6-quart stock pot. Add onion and celery, and cook 3-5 minutes.
Add liquid flour mixture. Stir until combined, 3-5 minutes. Add in onion powder, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Add 2 cans whole-kernel corn. Add 3-4 cps milk, 2 cans creamstyle corn, and ½ stick butter.
Cook over low-medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Season to taste.
Add salmon, and cook for additional 5-10 minutes.
Enjoy. Remember, everything tastes better the next day.
By: Tammy Wilkinson, owner of Arabella’s Cakes and Catering

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