Love Pumpkin Pie? This Pumpkin Cheesecake Will Blow Your Mind!

Love Pumpkin Pie? This Pumpkin Cheesecake Will Blow Your Mind!

Love Pumpkin Pie? This Pumpkin Cheesecake Will Blow Your Mind!

November 25, 2016

    Do you Love Pumpkin Pie?  If you do, This Pumpkin Cheesecake Will Blow Your Mind!  Serve it with homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream for a dessert that will be impossible to resist!


  Cheesecake is probably my favorite dessert to make.   It has to be one of the most loved desserts of all time.  Surprisingly, my mother and grandmothers did not attempt these delicious perfect endings to a meal.

   In, or around, 1975, I came across a cheesecake recipe in a magazine, bought a springform pan, and began making cheesecakes.  They are surprisingly easy to make.  Personally, I believe they are easier than cakes!  Who would think that?  There is a misconception that they are difficult!

     When I worked at the local bank, we all brought food in for birthdays, holidays, etc.  Most of the time, my offering was cheesecake because no one else made them!  You can find tips and some of my favorites here ►Cheesecakes.

    Without a doubt, I prefer this pumpkin cheesecake over pumpkin pie any day! While this cheesecake is unbelievably flavorful, the homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream take this dessert over the top!

Pumpkin Cheesecake


 Preheat oven to 325°

2 cups Gingersnap Cookie crumbs (about 8-ounces)
1/2 cup finely chopped Pecans
4 Tblsp. melted unsalted Butter
2 Tblsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. ground Cinnamon


3 Tblsp. all-purpose Flour
1-1/2 tsp. ground Ginger
1 tsp. ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Salt
4 (8-ounce) pkg. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1-1/2 cups Sugar
1 (15-ounce) can Pumpkin Puree
3 Tblsp. Bourbon
2 Tblsp. Vanilla Extract
4 large Eggs (room temperature)

**For Serving, You’ll Also Want:

   Whipped Cream

   Caramel Sauce (I made Ree Drummond’s Caramel Sauce.  It takes about 10 minutes to make this sauce.  Quick, easy, and the BEST Tasting Caramel Sauce I have ever had!)    You’ll need brown sugar, half-and-half, butter, salt, and vanilla extract.


Crust – 

Process gingersnaps in the bowl of food processor until finely ground.  Add the pecans, the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Process until combined and the mixture holds together.

Transfer mixture to a 10″ springform pan. *With a heavy-bottomed glass, press mixture onto the bottom and about 1″ up the sides of the 10″ springform pan.  (Amazon is an affiliate. If you purchase from this link, we will make a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you.  Thanks for supporting this blog.)

*You don’t have to, but I use parchment paper on the bottom so there is no possibility of the crust sticking to the pan.  After the cheesecake has been baked and cooled, slide the cheesecake off of the removable bottom onto your palm, peel off the parchment and set on serving plate.

   Bake the crust until lightly set, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Filling –

Mix the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Best Pumpkin Cheesecake on

Love Pumpkin Pie? This Pumpkin Cheesecake Will Blow Your Mind! on


 Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl for a couple of minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.


Love Pumpkin Pie? This Pumpkin Cheesecake Will Blow Your Mind! on


 Add pumpkin, bourbon, vanilla, and the flour – spice mixture to the batter and mix well.


   Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.


   Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan, set in a bain-marie, or hot water bath,

and bake at 325° for 1 hour and 20 minutes.


  Prop the oven door open slightly and allow to cool for an hour.  Remove from the oven and the hot water bath, cover and refrigerate overnight.

   Remove from the refrigerator and transfer to a serving plate.  Serve with caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.  Yum!

    Seriously Love Pumpkin Pie? This Pumpkin Cheesecake Will Blow Your Mind!


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Plan For A Stress-Free Thanksgiving Like An Expert

Plan For A Stress-Free Thanksgiving Like An Expert

November 19, 2016

   After preparing Thanksgiving meals for over forty years, how to Plan For A Stress-Free Thanksgiving Like An Expert has evolved!   Of course, you can buy prepared dishes, but if you want to have homemade food, one of the keys is preparing side dishes that can be assembled a day or two before, to be baked, and or, served Thanksgiving Day.

                                   Thanksgiving Meal Plan Breakdown

►Three days before Thanksgiving

Place the turkey in the refrigerator to thaw, if you’re using a frozen bird.

►Two days before Thanksgiving

Prepare a Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Prepare the Mini Cheese Balls, (love these), or the Pumpkin-shaped Cheese Ball. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  (This year, I have found another way of shaping the cheese ball and it looks even better!  You wrap the ball in plastic wrap and use rubber bands to wrap around the ball to create the pumpkin-like indentations and refrigerate overnight. Genius!)

►The day before Thanksgiving

Prepare the Creole Green Beans. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Prepare the Sour Cream Potatoes.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare the Cranberry Sauce.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 Prepare the vegetables for the vegetable tray and store in Ziploc bags and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare the Ranch Dip, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Thanksgiving Day

At least 3 – 3-1/2 hours before the meal for a 12-16 lb. turkey.  Depending on the size of the turkey, you may have to adjust the time.  

(Check here for cooking times and instructions using Reynolds Oven Bags.)

   Bake the turkey.  We don’t stuff the bird.  We also use the Reynolds turkey oven bags, which make a moist turkey.  It takes less time to bake it without the stuffing.


   Place the giblets from the turkey, (not the liver), into a saucepan with water.  Add a teaspoon of salt, 8 – 10 peppercorns, a bay leaf, a quartered onion, celery tops, and parsley.  Heat to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and simmer until cooked through.  Use the liquid and chopped giblets to make your favorite dressing.

   The bread maker is usually started at this time and in two hours, dough is ready to make into buns and proof for a half hour before baking for 8-minutes in the oven.  To make it easy on yourself, you can make rolls the day before or simply buy them from the bakery.

One hour before the meal.

   Place the prepared Sour Cream Potatoes in the 350° oven.  

   Prepare the Kentucky Spoon Bread.  Place in the 350° oven after the potatoes have baked for 15 minutes.

   Place the Stuffing and the Creole Green Beans in the 350° oven after the spoon bread has baked for 5-10 minutes.

      While the potatoes, green beans, and spoon bread bake, assemble the cheese ball appetizer and the vegetable tray.  


      Remove the Sour Cream Potatoes, Creole Green Beans, the stuffing, and the Kentucky Spoon Bread from the oven.  If you stagger the times you put each into the oven correctly, all should be done at the same time.


   You can use these recipes or your own, but try to find side dishes that can be prepared the day ahead, refrigerated, and baked at the same temperature on Thanksgiving Day.

Need To Enlarge The Kitchen Or Dining Room Table?

 Dixie Carter, who played Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women, had so much class.  A magazine, I don’t remember which one, published an article on her and her home.  She revealed that underneath her beautiful tablecloth and all the beautiful dishes and decor was a sheet of plywood!

   She needed her table to be larger, so she placed the plywood on top of the table and no one was the wiser!

   That is where I got the idea to do that very thing.  As our family expands, we need more space at the table. A few years ago, my oldest son helped me buy a 4′  X  8′ sheet of plywood and bring it home in his pickup truck.  (It clearly would not fit in my Mustang.) 

   Wanting the corners rounded, I placed a bowl upside down in each of the corners and drew around the bowl from where it met one edge to the other.  Then, a jigsaw was used to cut the rounded corners. 

   Before placing the plywood on the table, four silicone pot holders are placed on each corner.  This helps protect the table and it also helps keep it from sliding.  Don’t you love the silicone pot holders?

   Now, cover the board with a big beautiful tablecloth or tablecloths and no one will be the wiser.  I have three banquet tablecloths.  Two are used to overlap slightly covering the board, and also drape down the ends and sides of the table.  The third is centered on the table over top of the first two.

   If possible, add your centerpiece to the tables and set the tables the night before.  Serving dishes are not added to the tables.  To make it easier for our big gathering, the food is served on the kitchen island.

   Using the easy to make cardboard lifts and levels, the island is covered with a pretty tablecloth or two.  Use a variety of heights and sizes to display platters of food.  It adds interest and sometimes it makes serving more convenient!

    Pulling out the platters that the food will be displayed on and placing a little note with what each platter will hold help remind you of what needs to be served!  Have you ever forgotten something?  Yes, I have only to remember halfway through the meal!

   Maybe you don’t want to use the recipes my family has come to love and expect at Thanksgiving, but using this same idea, you can Plan For A Stress-Free Thanksgiving Like An Expert!


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Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath

Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath

November 15, 2016

   Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath – Part 2.

 For The Snowman-Part 1,◄ Click here.  The idea for this wreath, of course, was found on Pinterest and sold on Etsy.  The wreath was so adorable, loaded with Christmas ball ornaments, but maybe just a bit ostentatious for my taste.  This is a more humble version including the tips and directions to make one of your own and put your own spin on it, which I would love to see if you do!


    The search for a wreath form that would accommodate the snowman head, hat, and be a good base for the extras to be added took a little bit.  Most of the craft stores had decorated wreaths, which were half-price for 40 bucks!  I settled on a ‘teardrop’ wreath found at the  ‘At Home’ store in Florence, Ky.  It was $12.99.

    Right out of the store, it needed to be fluffed, the pine cones removed, the pine branches unbent, and straightened.  In the, ‘after‘, you can actually see the teardrop shape.  It’s such a simple thing, but it’s amazing how much better your artificial wreaths, swags, and garlands look after this process.

    After fluffing the wreath, the snowman was placed on top of it for positioning.  Then, the branches of the wreath were flattened, where his head would be secured to the wreath, by forcing down the greenery with my hand.  

   Two of these berries – pine cone – greenery bushes were disassembled, cutting each where they connected to the main stem.  The red berry branches were then positioned around the wreath in a pleasing way.


   Floral paddle wire was used to attach greenery picks to the base wreath.  A branch of the greenery was added to the bottom of the wreath to extend it a few inches.

   A few of the pine cone greenery branches were added to the sides and one was also added to the top.

    I found that it was easier to first, lay about 1/2 – 3/4 ” of the wire along the end of the pick stem and holding it with my left hand, wrap the wire around it with my right hand to secure the wire.   Then, place it on the branch where it was to be placed and wrapping to secure, creating an extension to the branch.  At the end, I wrapped the wire 3 times and bent the end and pushed into the branch.

   Before securing the snowman head to the wreath, the plaid bow was attached.  Trying to be sure it would stay securely in place, the wire used to pull the bow up tight and securely twisted was threaded through the Styrofoam, back up and around the wooden skewer.  Then, it was secured to the skewer.


   At this point, I noticed the skewers inserted into the head, which would be used to secure the wreath, were really noticeable.  Painting them a pine green color with acrylic craft paint made them almost invisible.  

    After letting them dry, the skewers above the head and below were both securely wired to the main branch of the wreath.

   Then three white flocked stems, which had each been cut from a large bunch, were wired together at the base and securely wired just above the head at the base of the stems.  Two more of these were placed on either side of the head and another under the snowman head facing the bottom of the wreath

   When the wreath was hung, several times during this process, and I stood back to look at it, I realized the pine cones were not showing very much.  Using a small paint brush and white acrylic craft paint, the edges were just tipped with white.  You can see the difference in the picture above.  The pine cones on the left side were not painted yet.  What a difference that made!

     Next, was positioning the hat.  The hat I made, was half of a hat.  The back was flat and the brim stopped on both sides.  A floral pin was stitched to the brim with black thread and needle on both sides of the hat, close to where the brim and crown meet.  These were then inserted into the top of the foam head.  It worked perfectly.

   Inside the crown of the hat I made,  some quilt batting leftover from another project was added.  I thought it would help keep the hat from collapsing.

    Using the needle and thread in the center of the hat on the backside, stitches were made and wrapped around the main branch of the wreath, too.

     Five plastic snowflakes from the dollar store were added for a little more sparkle.  The snowflakes seemed appropriate.  I may tweak it a little before hanging it after Thanksgiving, but don’t you think it turned out pretty well?

    December Update:  This little bird was found at Target and was begging to sit atop the snowman’s hat.  Isn’t it perfect?

   Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath, I hope this inspires you to create a whimsical wreath of your own!



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Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath

Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath

November 13, 2016

   Alas, this was supposed to be done earlier this week, but dealing with painters and an extremely mobile toddler waylaid much progress.  Anyway, here are Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath for your own front door!

    The ‘snowman head’ began with this block of Styrofoam.  The dimensions are  1-15/16 inch X 11-7/8 inch X 17- 7/8 inch.  (This type of foam would work better than the kind with the little compressed balls.)

   There were some round and half-round foam balls at the craft store, which was tempting,  but I did not want a perfectly shaped round head.   

   It is relatively easy to shave this with a sharp knife.  This type of foam also has some shine to it, which will ultimately glisten like snow.


   The plan was to make a wreath about 36-inches long.  With that in mind, the head needed to be about 9-inches long.  

    So, the first step was to cut the foam in half, creating a piece about 9″ X 12″.

A marker was used to mark a cutting line right on the plastic.  The knife was used to cut through and across the marked line.  This is one of those times when you need to be patient, letting the knife do the work and not forcing it.  Repeatedly, pull the knife a little at a time across where the first cut was made until you have cut entirely through the foam.PATIENCE.  You don’t want to break off a big chunk!

    Draw a rounded shape for the snowman head right on the plastic covering the Styrofoam.

 (I didn’t want to have to worry about removing marker from the actual foam.  The plastic made a pretty good template.)

     The last corner I cut was one where the plastic still covered intersecting sides.   By supporting the plastic on the top with my left hand, it held perfectly.

   Using your knife at an angle, shave down and outward from the marked circle, a little at a time.  

    After the left and right sides are rounded, slightly round the top edge and the bottom edge.  Both of these edges will be covered by the hat and ribbons.

    So, I pondered what to use for the snowman eyes and mouth.  I knew I wanted his mouth to be black and an imperfect curved line.  We probably all have some of these vase fillers, or vase gems, in our craft stash.  The ones I had were a blue color.   Not a problem, black spray paint took care of that!  

    Searching for some craft items, I came across this tape-covered wire and with the same black paint, it became the mouth Frosty needed!

    Then there was the carrot nose.  The thought of carving his nose from a stick was entertained, but couldn’t find the right stick.  

    At the craft store, this Sculpey clay was half-priced.  Sold!!  It has been awhile since I have used clay but this was a breeze! (Amazon is an affiliate.  If you purchase from this link, we will receive a small percentage, which supports this website at no cost to you.) 


    Half of the block was used to shape this carrot.  The end is 1-inch thick and the whole carrot ended up being 3-3/4 inches long.  It was bent slightly to give it more character.  Some lines were added to look a little more realistic. 

   In order to attach the carrot to the foam, a hole about 3/4″ deep was made with a wooden skewer in the thicker end of the carrot.  The skewer was cut and forced into the hole after baking. 

   The directions said to bake the clay at 275° for 15-minutes per each quarter-inch.  Since the thickest part was 1-inch, the clay was baked for one hour.

    After it cooled down, some watered down antiquing medium was used to accent the lines and deepen the color a little here and there.

    Next, the foam head was bedazzled with glitter.  Three different crystal glitters, fine cut, Jumbo cut, and a regular cut were used to cover the front and sides of his head.  Mod Podge exterior glue was applied, a section at a time and the glitter was sprinkled over the glue.


   Another skewer was inserted through the top for attaching to the wreath.  Not sure how others attach the styrofoam to a wreath, but after puzzling over this, it made sense to me.  Lol!

    The taped painted wire was shaped into a big grin.  Then ends were bent back and used to attach the smile to the foam.  Both ends were simply forced into the foam.  Three straight pins were pushed through the tape covering the wire and forced through the foam securing the rest of the mouth to the foam.

   The carrot was inserted into the foam and the black painted vase gems were glued to the foam to finish Frosty’s face.   I made the felt hat, but you could easily buy one and use it.

    Oh, my gosh!  Isn’t this the cutest thing?  Just imagine the flood lights hitting the glitter on his smiling face this winter!


   Part 2 will be adding this ‘Frosty’ to an evergreen wreath for the front door.

    Have these Tips and How To Create A Magical Snowman Wreath inspired you to create something special for your front door?



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You’ll Love This Easy To Make Delicious Beef Stew!

You’ll Love This Easy To Make Delicious Beef Stew!

November 5, 2016

    You’ll Love This Easy To Make Delicious Beef Stew!   When I was in high school, a long time ago, my mother worked and I usually started dinner before she returned home.  Since I was doing a lot of the cooking, I was always on the look out for recipes my family might like.

     I found this recipe in a teen magazine.  Isn’t that funny?  It was such a hit at home, my brothers and sister have copied the recipe and use it for their families.   Dave has had me make copies of it to share with his friends, too.  The original recipe was actually for lamb, but I substitute beef or venison.

    The recipe has been changed a little over the years.  The bigger chunks of celery were replaced with thin slices of celery.  My kids did not like the bigger pieces, so by slicing them thin, they still get the vegetable and the flavor with no complaints.  (Yes, they were tricked into eating them!  They used to leave the celery chunks in their bowls.)

    Olive oil is used when the meat, dusted with flour, is browned.  The original recipe called for vegetable oil.  Peeled potatoes were in the original recipe, but I love the Yukon Gold potatoes with the skins left on them.  The potato skins are full of vitamins and they give the beef stew a nice ‘rustic look’, too. 

   It is hard to believe that the only seasoning in the stew is salt and pepper. The flavor of this broth is simply delicious.  After browning the meat, chopped onions are cooked until transparent.  Then a can of diced tomatoes and a little water is added to the browned meat and the cooked onions.   The meat, tomatoes, onions, salt, and pepper are brought to a boil and simmered for 35 minutes.

    In the summer time when we have good fresh tomatoes, those will be used instead of the canned tomatoes.  The rest of the year, canned tomatoes taste better than the tasteless tomatoes at the local grocery.  You know the ones I mean, not much more than flavorless mush.

    Carrots, celery, and potatoes are then added to the pot.  The beef stew is brought back to a boil and simmered for another 25 minutes.  How easy is that?


   In not much more than an hour, this delicious hearty beef stew, which the whole family loves, is done, hot, and ready to be served.

    This is one of those hearty dishes my family most often requests.  We have it year round.  Click here for the recipe Beef Stew.

    Homemade rolls are usually made and served with this stew but on occasion, we just buy a loaf of French bread to have with the stew.

   You’ll Love This Easy To Make Delicious Beef Stew!  


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