Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Banana Cream Cheesecake

Kevin and I both love cheesecake and bananas, so I was really excited to try this recipe. It's actually a copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory's banana cream cheesecake, but I've never tried it from there so I don't know if they actually taste the same. I can tell you that this is a really good recipe! The original recipe can be found here. The only changes that I made from the original recipe was adding a little extra banana and a little extra vanilla.


For the crust -
20 vanilla cream-filled sandwich style cookies (I used golden oreos)
1/4 cup melted butter

For the filling -
24 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs
3/4 cup mashed banana (I used 3 very ripe bananas)
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 1 tablespoon)
whipped cream for garnish


1. Use a food processor to finely chop the cookies. Add butter and blend until they are well combined.

2. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10" springform pan and smooth it out. Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.

3. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy.

4. Beat in sugar and cornstarch followed by the eggs (one at a time).

5. Beat in bananas, whipping cream, and vanilla.

6. Pour mixture into crust.

7. Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

8. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake an additional 75 minutes, or until center is almost set.

9. Allow cheesecake to cool completely before removing rim of pan -- Before removing the pan, run warm water over a knife and slide a knife around the edge of the cake to separate the cake from the pan cleanly.

10. Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, at least 6 hours.

Here's a picture of what my finished cheesecake looked like:

The good news is that it turned out sooooo good! It tasted great and didn't even crack at all. The bad news.......is that after Kevin and I each had a piece, I went to put the leftovers in the refrigerator and had a little accident :( I was trying to put the whole springform pan in the fridge and the bottom fell out and most of the cheesecake went all over the refrigerator! Maybe it was a good thing because we probably would have eaten all of the leftovers in a couple days, but I was really sad about this.....but the recipe was great so I will definitely have to make again sometime!

Chicken Fettuccine a la Fuente

The reason why I originally decided to try this recipe is because my husband and I used to always eat a flavor of Pasta-Roni called chicken quesadilla as a side dish to some of our meals. We liked the mix of pasta with a mexican flavor, but for some reason our grocery store stopped carrying this flavor so we haven't had it in awhile. I found this pasta recipe on http://www.pillsbury.com/ and decided to give it a try since it had the mexican flavorings but also had chicken so I could make it into a full meal. The original recipe can be found here. It turned out really good and a nice alternative to regular chicken fettucini alfredo.


1 (12-oz.) pkg. uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil (and I also added a tablespoon or two of butter with the olive oil)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb.), cut into 1-inch pieces (after I cut up, I seasoned generously with salt and pepper)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
(1-oz.) pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (I omitted it just because I didn't have any but it would have given the dish some nice color)
1 oz. (1/4 cup) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I used a little extra)
Chopped fresh parsley, if desired
Grated fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired


1. Cook fettuccine as directed on package; drain.

2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat until hot. Add seasoned chicken; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken turns white. Stir in garlic and taco seasoning mix. Cook 1 minute. Stir in cream. Reduce heat to low; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated (at this time I did add a little cornstarch mixed with cold water to thicken the sauce up a bit - I maybe used 1 tablespoon of cornstarch).

3. Stir in 1/3 cup parsley and 1/4 cup cheese. Add cooked fettuccine; toss to coat. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until fettuccine is thoroughly heated. Transfer mixture to large serving platter. Garnish with additional parsley and cheese.

Turned out good and I will definitely make again when we're craving mexican flavored pasta :)

Sausage & Cheese Platter

So this isn't a recipe, but I just love making cheese and sausage platters! They're so easy to put together and are always a hit at parties or at home. I mean, who doesn't like sausage and cheese? For lunch on Sunday, I pulled some homemade summer sausage that my dad made out of the freezer and paired that with some crackers and aged cheddar cheese. We're thinking about getting a smoker next summer, and if we do I will definitely have to get the recipe for this summer sausage from my dad because it's sooooo good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


For dinner last night, we wanted something quick and light so I decided to make bruschetta. We love to make this in the summer since tomatoes are so flavorful then, but it's still good with tomatoes in the fall with a little extra salt and balsamic. What really makes this meal for us is the splash of balsamic. You'll want to use really good quality balsamic in this recipe. We use balsamic vinegar that has been aged for 18 years. We bought it from this great little shop in Chicago called Old Town Oils. I actually bought some olive oil and balsamic vinegar from this place for my mom and mother-in-law last Christmas. If you live in Chicago or go there for a visit, you should definitely check it out! It's a little pricey, but definitely worth it :) The only problem is once you know what really good balsamic tastes like, you'll never want the cheap stuff again!


3 medium sized tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1/4 of a small red onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped basil
Splash of EVOO
Splash of good balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 french baguette, sliced and toasted


Just mix all ingredients together and season to taste. Let sit about an hour to let all of the flavors mix together. Serve on top of toasted baguette. We used pillsbury french loaf bread and sliced and brushed with a little melted butter. We toasted the bread under the broiler for a few minutes.

This is super fast and tastes great! Just adjust the ingredient amounts to fit your taste!

Weeknight Dinners From Last Week

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to keep track of my meals so that I could look back on them while I'm doing my meal planning. Here are a couple meals that I made last week that don't really have actual recipes.

One night we had mini cheeseburgers which were pretty good. I just seasoned up some ground beef and made some small patties to fit on the dinner rolls that I bought. I cooked them on the stovetop, added some cheese and ketchup, and had a really quick weeknight meal:

I had some twice baked potatoes in the freezer that I made awhile back so another night we decided to pair those with some filets (that my husband seasoned up and cooked on the grill) and some cheesy texas toast. We were lucky enough to already have these filets in the freezer because every year my parents buy meat from a local farmer, and they are nice enough to share a lot of that meat with us :)

I had a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the freezer so one night for dinner I defrosted those and pounded the meat out thin. I cooked by first seasoning with salt and pepper, dredging in seasoned flour, dipping in an egg mixture, and finally dipping in seasoned italian bread crumbs. I then fried those up and served the breaded chicken with mac & cheese and leftover dinner rolls from the mini cheeseburgers.

Last but not least, we made some bratwurst which was sooooo delicious! My parents live in Kansas City (where I am originally from) and there is some place close to where my dad goes fishing that sells really good flavored bratwurst. He got us these apple flavored bratwursts so my husband grilled these up and we served on toasted sausage rolls with a little bit of honey mustard and some red onions that we sauteed and softened on the stove. The picture doesn't do it justice, but they were REALLY good! We've also had pineapple bratwurst and cheddar jalepeno bratwurst, and we are looking forward to trying more flavors.

Chicken, Noodles & Dumplings

I'm a little late on this post, but about a week and a half ago my husband requested one of his favorite comfort meals that I make - Chicken, Noodles & Dumplings. I grew up on this meal, and my mom would make it often when it was cold outside. It's almost like chicken noodle soup but with a little less broth and it has dumplings on top. It's sooo good and really easy to make. I've changed it just a little bit from the way my mom makes it.


1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed from the bones and chopped up into bite size chunks
1 package of frozen egg noodles (I use the 12 oz. Reames brand noodles - if you can't find these you can also use dry egg noodles and adjust the cooking time, but I really like the texture and thickness of the frozen ones)
6 cups chicken broth
3-4 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 can refrigerated biscuits (any variety you like - I usually use Pillsbury homestyle biscuits)
Seasonings to taste (I use salt, pepper, vegetable supreme, and garlic pepper)
Optional - cornstarch and a splash of heavy cream or half and half


1. In a large stockpot, heat butter and EVOO over medium to medium high heat.
2. Add onions, celery, carrots, and minced garlic and saute until softened (about 5-8 minutes)
3. Add in chicken and chicken broth, and bring to a boil.
4. Season with salt, pepper, etc. to taste.
5. After this has boiled for about 10 minutes and you are happy with the seasonings, add in egg noodles and boil for about 10 minutes.
6. At this time, if you would like to thicken the broth a bit you can add a splash of cream and/or a little bit of cornstarch disolved in water. Lower heat to low so that it is just simmering.

Here's what mine looked like at this point:

7. Place biscuits on top (I then add some fresh cracked pepper on top of the biscuits) and cover with a lid. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through.
Here's a picture of what the biscuits should look like (make sure you leave the lid on while cooking so that biscuits can steam and cook through):

8. Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Thanks mom for this great recipe :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Sometimes when I don't want to make a big meal for dinner, we end up just snacking on one of our favorite appetizers. That's what we decided to do last night while we watched The Bucket List (pretty good movie!).

I've made this recipe several times, and I love how easy it is and how great it tastes (I think it's better than restaurant spinach and artichoke dip!). It's not the healthiest of recipes with all of the cheese, but everything in moderation :) I prefer the cheese based spinach artichoke dips instead of the ones with a mayonnaise so here's a good recipe if that is what you like too.

I found the original recipe on http://www.allrecipes.com/, but I changed it up just a tiny bit. I just noticed that half of the recipes I've posted so far have been from allrecipes, but I just love that site! When I want to try something new, it's my go to site because I love reading through all the reviews, and I only made recipes that are rated 4 1/2 or 5 stars and have pictures. Anyways, here's the recipe. I usually add extra salt and pepper to most recipes, but I don't add any salt at all to this recipe because the alfredo sauce is already very salty.


4 teaspoons garlic
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (I added a little less than this)
1 (10 ounce) container Alfredo-style pasta sauce (I used the alfredo found in the refridgerated section)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Stir together all ingredients and spread in an 8x8 baking dish.
3. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and bubbly. Serve warm. (I made mine ahead of time and put in the refridgerator until dinner time so I baked the dip covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered and baked for another 15 minutes.)


Friday, October 9, 2009

Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Beef

I'll admit that last night was the first night I have ever used my slow cooker to make dinner. I've used it before to keep cheese dip warm, but for some reason I haven't found a lot of slow cooker recipes that I have wanted to try.

I recently started a masters program, and I'm at night class 3 nights a week so I was trying to find some recipes that I could make ahead of time that my husband could eat when he gets home from work and then I could eat once I got home from class. Kevin (my husband) has a lot of great qualities, but he doesn't have a lot of experience cooking for himself unless it involves putting a frozen pizza in the oven. I decided slow cooker recipes would suit our needs so I'm going to try to make 1 slow cooker recipe per week or a casserole recipe that he can just stick in the oven when he gets home.

Here is the first slow cooker recipe I decided to try. I was really happy with how incredibly easy it was and how good it turned out. It was definitely a hit! I found the original recipe here on http://www.allrecipes.com/, but I made just a couple small adjustments.


1 (3 pound) beef chuck roast
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (16 ounce) jar pepperoncini
1 onion, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
hoagie / sub rolls
sliced provolone cheese


1. Season the roast with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Place roast in the slow cooker, and pour the entire contents of the jar of pepperoncini, including liquid, over meat. Add in the minced garlic and sliced onion.
3. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours (I cooked on low for about 7 hours and then set my slow cooker to warm until we were ready to eat).
4. To serve, put sub rolls with provolone cheese under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese and toast the bread. Add as much of the meat mixture as you want and enjoy :)

Here's what the meat looked like in the slow cooker:

It was a very easy weeknight meal!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Baked Goat Cheese

When I was growing up, I was pretty picky and didn't like to try new things so goat cheese wasn't on my list of food that I liked (well I never actually tried it but I convinced myself that it wouldn't be something I would like). Everything changed when I moved to Chicago 5 years ago! I would say that now I love to try new things and there isn't a lot that I don't like :)

Anyways, I first tried baked goat cheese at a tapas restaurant here in Chicago called Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. I loved it and still get it every time I go there, and it's such a simple (and delicious) dish that I started making it at home about a year ago. Here's how I make it:


Goat Cheese (I use a little 5 oz package for my husband and I but you can adjust the amount)
Marinara Sauce (I used about a cup of this recipe from Giada, but I have also made it with store bought sauce and it still turned out great)
2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
Drizzle of EVOO
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
1 package pillsbury refridgerated french loaf (or you could use any french baguette)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Divide goat cheese into 4 balls (or more depending on how much goat cheese you have)
3. Put goat cheese in a small shallow baking dish and pour in your marinara sauce. Use enough marinara to surround the goat cheese, but make sure you don't cover the top of it. I used about a cup in my dish but you may need more or less depending on the size of your baking dish.
4. Add the minced garlic around the goat cheese, drizzle with a little EVOO, and add a little fresh cracked pepper on top.
5. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, and bake the french loaf bread at the same time.
6. Once I take it out of the oven, I let it sit for about 5 minutes while I slice the bread. I also brush a little melted butter on the bread and stick under the broiler for a couple minutes, then you're ready to eat!

Just spread some of the goat cheese and marinara on your bread slices and you have a delicious dish! This is great as an appetizer, or I use this for an easy weeknight meal for my husband and I.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Favorite Blogs

Coming Soon...

About Me

Hi!  Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I'm Kellie, and I'm a soon-to-be teacher living in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago with my husband, Kevin, and our dog, Windy.

I've always loved cooking, and I've come a long way since my childhood days of trying out new recipes from my Micky Mouse Cookbook.  Moving to Chicago five years ago has really made love food and has made me a lot more willing to try new things.  I love cooking everything from the easiest of weeknights meals to difficult recipes that I'm trying for the first time.  I grew up in Kansas City, but now I definitely consider myself a Chicago girl.