Mini Cherry Cheesecakes and Pecan Tassies

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes and Pecan Tassies

November 27, 2015

Mini Desserts

    Mini Cherry Cheesecakes and Pecan Tassies are two of my favorite mini desserts!  They make such a striking display together, don’t they?


   Usually, for Christmas, homemade fudge and small vanilla bean sugar cookies with white chocolate icing are included on the tray.   They look so festive and gorgeous in rows on this Wilton Armetale Acanthus large oval tray.  (I love Armetale metal serving pieces!)


  The recipe for the cupcake-sized cheesecakes is from Paula Deen’s cookbook but I found that the regular size was a little awkward to eat.  Taking her recipe and using mini cupcake liners, these make perfect miniature cheesecakes.  These are one or two bites of delicious.  


   All the flavors come together at once, like a party in your mouth!    No, you can’t eat just one…  The other good part is that you won’t have red cherry sauce or cheesecake dripping down your chin!  For that reason, they are also very good for small children.


   Depending on the liners, regular sized vanilla wafers or the mini vanilla wafers are used for the crust.  Don’t know if you have noticed, but some of the mini cupcake liners have a smaller diameter at the base.  The mini wafers fit much better in these.  


   My personal favorite liner is made by Reynolds and is silver – Reynolds® StayBrite® Baking Cups.  They look particularly shiny and pretty on display.  (Did you know they have generous coupons on their website? ►Reynolds Coupons 


   Did I tell you how easy these are to make?  They seriously take very little time to stir up and bake!  When the little cheesecakes bake, they rise and then fall just a bit right in the center, making a little indentation just the right size for a cherry or two and some sauce.  After cooling, they can be stored in a plastic container or a glass casserole dish covered with plastic or tin wrap in the fridge.

    I usually make the cheesecake part the day or night before an event, leave them in the fridge overnight, and then add the cherries the next morning.  Sometimes, one of the kids helps out with spooning the fruit into the little indentations on top of the mini cheesecakes.


   The boys always request these at gatherings all year long!  They look so festive in the fall and winter, for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter but they also look great for the Fourth of July events with the bright red cherries. A blueberry filling can be substituted for the cherry filling.  It would be easy to make a red, white, and blue display with both cherry and the blueberry fillings.


   The recipe for the pecan tassies is from a Southern Living book from several years ago.  The unique part of this recipe is that the dough has cream cheese in it.  The dough is much lighter and tastier than any other recipe, which I have found or tasted up to this point.    In fact, I’ve had some that were downright clunky and the ratio of dough to filling was not good.  If there is more dough than filling, the delicious filling is overpowered by the crust.

    A mini tart shaper, which you can see in the picture above, works perfectly for pushing the dough down in the mini muffin cups.  The mini tart shaper can be purchased from Pampered Chef for under ten bucks.  As you can see, it works perfectly for cheesecake crusts, too.

   You can find the Norpro mini cheesecake pan ◄ here at Amazon.  (If you buy from this link, we will receive a small percentage of your purchase, which will not affect your price.)

  For the recipes, click her for the   mini cheesecake and pecan tassies.

    Once you make these tasty little morsels, you and your family won’t be able to resist these mini cherry cheesecakes and pecan tassies.


   Click here ► to pin this post!


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Last Minute Thanksgiving Decorations

Last Minute Thanksgiving Decorations

November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Decorations

    This year we will be having around twenty family members at our annual Thanksgiving dinner and I have been trying to finish those last minute Thanksgiving decorations.   The sideboard has a display of silver and faux pumpkins and a gourd. The silver pieces are pieces I already had, but the pumpkins and gourd were found at Hobby Lobby for eighty percent off the regular price!


   A table runner of burlap spans the length of the kitchen table and another runner is centered on the dining room table.  The added texture of the burlap adds interest.  The silver pumpkin on the kitchen table was a steal at Target at the end of the season last year and a candle is nestled inside of it.   Of course, the little velvet pumpkins were made this year.  The pattern for them can be found here ► pumpkin pattern #pumpkin stem pattern.


   Two clear glass vases have been used to display a candle wrapped in gold surrounded by hazelnuts.  A few fall leaves were gathered from the backyard. I love this earthy, yet elegant look!  How simple is this?Last Minute Thanksgiving Decorations on

    In the kitchen, we have a bay window and French door combination.  When we built the house, we had an extra four feet added to the width of the family room, which butts up to the wall where the chalkboard is.  Since those four extra feet are on the other side of this opening, it is just a mock window.  At one time, I had a curtain over it so it appeared to be a window.  

Last Minute Thanksgiving Decorations on


   One day I decided to frame the mock window and using chalkboard paint, created a blackboard!  I love it!  It is big.  The grandchildren write on it all the time.  It is great for making lists and notes to remind me of things.  Sometimes it sports a calendar with specific dates marked.  It does come in handy when trying to keep track of daily duties.

    The dining room table is set with chargers and a tablescape with more of the clear vases,  candles wrapped in gold, and a variety of nuts.  The velvet pumpkins I made earlier this year,  with the real dried pumpkin stems from last year, are placed down the center of another burlap runner.  The same velvet pumpkin pattern was used for these, but a real dried stem was hot glued on the top.  I held this in place for a couple of minutes to be sure the glue was set and holding the stem securely.

    The painted pumpkins from last year sit atop the crystal candle holders.  Sophia actually put two of these on the candle holders because I had not placed the candles in them yet.  I liked her idea and so they stayed where she placed them.

The directions for painting the faux pumpkins are in an earlier post from last year. The directions are here ►Painted pumpkins!


 The fireplace mantel remains the same except for the omission of the black crows from Halloween.  I really love this look, the combination of the blue, the rusts, and the oranges.  The wooden pumpkin on the fireplace hearth is the backside of the Halloween “Trick or Treat” pumpkin.  Usually, one of the grandkids turns it around to the “Trick or Treat” side when they come over.    I just turn it back after they leave.


   Today I begin cooking and baking for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  Hope you enjoyed and perhaps are inspired by our last minute Thanksgiving decorations!Last Minute Thanksgiving Decorations on


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Jungle Jim’s International Market

November 22, 2015

Jungle Jim’s International Market Eastgate


   Aidan, my grandson, wanted a coconut and I suggested we take a little trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market.  This market is over 200,000 square feet of goods from around the world.  Aidan, Sophia, Will, and I made the half-hour trip, heading east on the I-275 loop around Cincinnati to Eastgate and took the Batavia exit.


   The kids were excited the whole time and Aidan kept saying how big Jungle Jim’s  was and he was convinced it was much better than our local grocery!  


      The kids were amazed at the big stacks of huge bags of rice in the Far East section of the store.  This is a store that is so enjoyable if you are an adult and are just looking for something unusual.  It is way more enjoyable to watch and listen to kids exploring it for the first time.  They were amazed at all of the drinks in each section of the store.  (They kept putting unusual drinks in the cart.)  They found the candy and cookies in the section from Holland.  

    They found bacon flavored lip balm in the aisle where the fire truck was perched above their heads.  There is a huge selection of hot sauces just behind this truck.  I never knew there were so many hot sauces, but the shelves in this room are lined with hundreds of bottles of hot sauce!

    Yes, that is a ship!  We found the aisle with food from the Carribean, South Africa, and Jamaica.

    Of course, they had to test the seats from an old plane.  They noticed the ashtrays in the arm rests.   They buckled themselves in and imagined they would be flying someday.

    We found the live lobsters and the live fish.  We also found an interesting sign that said, “Fish Heads and Thangs”.

    Will and Aidan checked out the exotic meats, but they were not quite adventurous enough to choose any to take home for dinner.

    Aidan’s search for coconuts was successful!  They each chose a coconut and after thoroughly inspecting their coconuts, they placed them in the shopping cart.

    Did anyone say ‘honey’?  Honey, from around the world, lines all sides of this display.

    The Jelly Belly car greeted us at the entrance to the candy section.  There was a vast array of candy in that section!  The kids did not know where to look next.  Aidan was amazed at the biggest gummi snake in the world.   It was a mere eight-foot long.   You can have one of your own, but it has to be special ordered.


    This huge gingerbread house was on display as we neared the cash registers.  Sophie asked if it was real.  Trying to figure that out for myself, I noticed the sign which indicated it was indeed real and the cookies used in the gingerbread house were displayed beneath it!

    By this time everyone was a little hungry.  A few doors down from Jungle Jim’s is Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries.  What a great place!  We all loved the retro look and the food was very good and reasonable.  The kid’s meals are served in a ‘car’!

    If you ever find yourself on the east side of Cincinnati, you should stop in and enjoy Jungle Jim’s International Market and Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries!

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Annual Christmas Dessert Contest

November 17, 2015

   Five years ago, our family began having an ‘Annual Christmas Dessert Contest’. We always have our family get together on Christmas Eve.  Early afternoon, family members begin arriving.  The house is decked out with Christmas decorations and the dining room table is prepared and waiting for the dessert entries.  


   An abundance of appetizers is spread out on the kitchen island early in the afternoon for people to start munching on as they arrive.    Hot appetizers are served throughout the day.  We always have a large vegetable tray with ranch dip. Aidan is a cream cheese and  Wheat Thins cracker kind of boy!  We have to have those!  


   The red pepper-ham roll-ups are always requested and there will be plenty of those.    Shrimp spread is one of my favorites and will surely be served.  The recipe was given to me by a very sweet lady from my hometown, back in the seventies.  The  Ham and Cheese Stuffed Baby Potato appetizers will be baked in the oven and served hot and ready.  We usually have baked ham for mini-sandwiches.


   At five o’clock we have the dessert contest.  By that time, the dining room table is full of desserts.  We put a number by each entry, which coordinates with a number on the scoring sheet.   As our family expands, we are beginning to have more desserts.  Even the grandchildren are submitting their desserts as entries!  Sophia, who is seven now, won last year!

   Everyone gets a scoring card and is a judge.  The younger kids have a lot of fun with this.  It is interesting that some of them are very serious about the scoring, really study the desserts,  follow the rules, and score the desserts from one to ten.

   Others give scores of one hundred and more to their favorites.  It is all in fun and they laugh and giggle over it.   I enjoy their silliness and laughter.


   Jon-Michael tallies the scores and a winner is chosen.  There are prizes for the first, second, and third place.   The prizes are always mini dessert glasses, cake pans, cookie cutters, decorating supplies, or something used for making desserts. Anytime I am shopping and see a good prize for the contest winners, it is purchased and tucked away for this event.  One year I forgot where I hid one of the prizes!  It was found later and tucked away for the next year.


   Alex, Will’s girlfriend who is an amazing baker,  has already told me she has chosen her dessert for this year!  Right around Thanksgiving, we start planning and plotting!  At the end of the dessert contest, we choose the theme for the next year. Last year we decided that ‘gingerbread’ would be our theme for this year.  It’s always fun to see what everyone comes up with to represent the theme.  


   Maybe you will like the idea of this tradition we have at our humble home and will add it to your own holiday traditions.  We all enjoy the ‘Annual Christmas Dessert Contest’, whether we are sharing our entries or just judging this annual event!



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Trick Photography – It’s Surprisingly Easy!

November 13, 2015


     With the holidays coming up, I thought it might be fun to share how to do some trick photography.  Awhile back, I came across some tutorials on trick photography and how to add yourself, or someone else,  to a photo as many times as you want. I had seen this done many times but did not know how!  I was intrigued. Imagining how much fun this would be with the grandkids, the research began!


   This can be done with Photoshop, but if you don’t have Photoshop, Picmonkey is free and was used to create the photo above.   Picmonkey has Royale features, which require an upgrade with a nominal fee, but most of the features are free!  For less than five bucks a month you can use all of their features!


   The first thing you do is take pictures of your subject, or subjects, in different areas with the same background.  You will need a tripod for this so that the pictures all match.  If you don’t have a tripod, did you know that the standard lamp harp screw fits the camera just like a tripod?  It works perfectly!  Just remove the finial and the shade.  Screw your camera on the top and set it up for your shots.


   Start taking pictures of your subjects.  For this picture,  I took eight shots in total. Then go to Picmonkey.   Click on Edit and Computer.  Your files will come up and you can choose your first picture.


   Next, click on the butterfly icon on the left.  Overlays will come up and you will click on Your Own at the top.  Choose another one of your photos.  It will come up as an overlay.  Stretch the corners to fit over the top of the first picture.



 Completely cover the first picture.

  Next, click on the butterfly icon on the left.  Overlays will come up and you will click on Your Own at the top.  Select another one of your photos; it will come up as an overlay.  Stretch the corners to completely cover the first picture.

    When everything you want is revealed, click on the icon above the picture, as indicated by the red arrow on the top right, to combine all of the elements.   


   Go back to Overlays again and choose another of your pictures from your computer files and repeat the process until all of your pictures are combined.


   When Sophia and Aidan came over the day we did this, I told them they were in for a surprise.  They got a big kick out of all the different poses, but they really enjoyed watching the whole thing come together on the computer.  Heck, I enjoyed the whole experience!


   Wouldn’t it be fun to add Santa by your tree or by the fireplace?  I’m thinking it might be fun to just set the camera on the tripod and take pictures throughout our Christmas Eve party and meld them together.  Doesn’t this open up endless possibilities?


   Well, I hope you enjoy this little bit of ‘Trick Photography’ as much as my family has!  If this inspires you, I would love for you to send one of your masterpieces using trick photography!


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