Creamy Almond Cheesecake with Amaretto Caramel Sauce

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Back in the dark ages, before instagram and the internet, there were cheesecakes. Darn good ones…Sweet and savory. Baked and unbaked.  New York style and Philly style cheesecakes. My internal Pinterest board (my memory) carries an image of a particular pumpkin cheesecake from a palm-sized, 1974, photo book called “15 Cheesecakes.”  That cake was a stunner and started my continuing love of and fascination with all things cheesecake.

I am sharing with you one of my favorite cheesecake recipes. This Creamy Almond Cheesecake isn’t difficult to make. Follow the instructions and you will be gifted with a velvety, no crack, beauty of a cake. The almond flavor is rich, yet subtle. The graham cracker crust is nutty, sweet, and salty. Serve the cheesecake naked with coffee. Laden it with all manner of fruity toppings, or drape with chocolate sauce, or serve it with Amaretto Caramel Sauce. Yum. It is so good!

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Caramel Sauce

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Yes, you can buy your caramel sauce at the store, but why deny yourself the magical experience of transforming white granulated sugar into a beautiful rich brown caramel. This recipe uses the dry caramelization method, which involves heating granulated sugar until it melts and then caramelizes. To make the sauce, use a large, light colored, heavy-bottomed skillet or saucepan. If this is your first time making caramelized sugar, low and slow is the way to go. Remember that if you do not have immediate success, all you are out is a little bit of sugar. Try again, the results are worth it.

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B&B Mango Bellini

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I count myself lucky to have a gal pal like Mrs. S. She is a visual artist, a vintage jewelry maven and a Bellini over Martini kind of lady. We can’t always get together (“Real Life” can be ill-mannered and cut in line), but, when we do, the conversation picks right back up where we last left it.
B&B liqueur combines the herbal liqueur Benedictine and French Brandy. As a cocktail, mixing Benedictine and Brandy  became popular when Hemingway mentioned the beverage in one of his short stories. Soon thereafter, B&B became widely available to satisfy consumer demand for the cocktail.
A pitcher of B&B Mango Bellinis promises to soften the stalwart and brighten an already stellar day. There is something haunting and warm and fresh and complex about this cocktail. Perfect for a gab fest with your vintage friends or a marathon conversation with the keeper of your secrets.
For Mrs. S, B&B Mango Bellinis.  Cin cin!

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Blonde Macaroni and Cheese

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Charlotte has been damn cold this January.

I am weary of thinking that mixing cherry ChapStick and Chanel lip colour is an innovation in winter makeup. My go-to Southern quickie car window defrost (warm water) only froze the windshield this morning. I know, I should have used my plastic kitchen spatula as a scraper! I am horrified to realize that after an hour stroll in my black yoga pants (aka the uniform), my fanny does not thaw for another 2 hours after I return inside. Yes, I am weary. Weary of Winter.

I need something cozy and comforting and decidedly grown-up. Enter my knight in winter white, Blonde Macaroni and Cheese. This Mac-n-Cheese has an attention grabbing blend of four cheeses (White Cheddar, Mascarpone, Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano). The cream sauce is infused with bay leaf, garlic and a footnote of fine cognac. Topped with the buttery crunch of panko crumbs, Blonde Macaroni and cheese satisfies and seduces. I am feeling better already.

 

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders

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The slider is the perfect dish for your Super Bowl menu. It’s small enough to classify as an appetizer, but with several on a plate, they make the perfect entree. Most importantly, you can easily eat a slider with one hand while standing up. Looking for a slider that will easily feed your Super Bowl crowd and not leave you in the kitchen all game? Try this slow cooker pulled pork slider topped with Blood Orange Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and Weekend Slaw with bacon.

Blood Orange Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

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After last week’s Blood Orange White Sangria, Sally had a few leftover blood oranges she needed to use. The result is this Blood Orange Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. Its vibrant orange color will grab your guests’ attention as you serve it over pork, chicken, or roasted potatoes. When mixed with a little ranch dressing, it makes the perfect salad dressing for your winter salads.
Hey Denver Bronco fans! This bright orange sauce would look great on your orange-themed Super Bowl Tailgating menu!

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Fried Oysters

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Oysters are one of those foods that you will have an opinion on. You will either love them or hate them. Sally loves them. I on the other hand used to not care for them. I say used to, because this recipe makes the statement, “I hate Oysters” no longer true. While I may not ever have the stomach to eat an oyster straight from the shell, after trying this recipe I can now say I do like fried oysters. Want to know how to start the oyster loving conversion process? Here is what you need to know.

Blood Orange White Sangria

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Is there ever a bad time for Sangria?  I think the answer is no. It might be the middle of winter, but there is plenty of fresh citrus that you don’t have to wait until Spring to take advantage of. Whether you need a beverage for the Super Bowl, a drink for your Oscars Party, or something for a weekend brunch, every occasion is the right time to enjoy this beautiful and refreshing Blood Orange White Sangria.

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Split Pea and Bacon Soup

split pea and bacon soup There is soup and then there is comfort soup. Comfort soup is the kind that you crave on a cold winter day. Everyone has a different idea of what their comfort soup is. If a warm bowl of split pea soup is what you hunger for when the weather drops below freezing, then we have a soup for you. Its smoky flavor and silky texture will make the perfect meal on a cold winter day.
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Bacon Date and Almond Cheese Log

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Cheeseballs and cheese logs are great entertaining appetizers that can be made ahead and easily served at any sized gathering. This cheese log is a nod to the flavors of the classic almond-stuffed date appetizer that you have probably had at a dinner party. It can be made a few days a head of time and frozen. On the day of the party, let it thaw in the fridge. Serve while still chilled with an assortment of crackers.

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A Menu For Carolina Panthers Tailgating

College football season has unfortunately passed us by, but for the first time in 5 seasons, I have another football season to cheer for. The NFL playoffs are in full swing and THE CAROLINA PANTHERS ARE IN THE PLAYOFF MIX! Living in Charlotte, Sally and I have become huge Carolina Panthers fans. The franchise has had its ups and downs, but this year’s team is a contender. After a 12-4 NFC South Championship regular season, the Panthers earned a 1st round bye and are only 2 wins away from the Super Bowl! On Sunday, the Panthers will host the San Francisco 49ers. For this big game, The Charlotte Observer asked Sally and me to come up with a 3 recipes for a playoff inspired menu.

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Turkey Pot Pie Soup

Its cold outside. With the majority of the country experiencing record breaking lows, this is the perfect time of year for a warm comforting bowl of soup. How about a soup that takes a spin on your traditional pot pie?

This Turkey Pot Pie Soup has all the flavors of a traditional pot pie, but in a soup form! If your favorite part of the pies is the crust, you will love the crispy crusts that top this soup. A bowl will satisfy your hunger without leaving you with that too full feeling.

Turkey Pot Pie Soup

by Sally James Mathis
Serves 8

Ingredients:

For crispy crusts:
2 1/4 cups flour
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
4-5 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg (mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
fresh thyme
kosher salt
black pepper

For turkey soup:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic
1 1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 1/4 cup carrot, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage leaves
2 (32-ounce) boxes turkey stock
5 cups cooked turkey, chopped
1 pound baby potatoes, washed, cut into quarters( yellow or red)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 pint heavy whipping cream

Directions:

To make crispy crust dough, place flour, salt and baking powder into work bowl of food processor. Pulse to blend. Cut cold butter into bite-sized pieces. Add butter to flour mixture. Pulse until flour and butter mixture is blended and butter chunks are size of small peas. Add vinegar and 3 tablespoons water. Pulse to blend. Add more water as needed, pulsing until dough just comes together. Remove dough from food processor. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. While dough is chilling, begin soup.

In large heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add garlic, celery and carrots. Increase heat to medium high and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, paprika, pepper, thyme and sage. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Add half of turkey stock and stir until mixed together. Add remainder of the turkey stock, turkey and potatoes. Stir. Bring soup to simmer and cover. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Add Worcestershire, vinegar and heavy cream. Stir. Keep soup warm over low heat and reserve.

Finish crispy crusts. Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove chilled dough from plastic wrap and place on floured surface. With rolling pin, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut dough into strips or desired shapes with a cookie cutter. Place dough on a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet. Brush dough pieces with the egg wash (the egg and water mixed together). Sprinkle dough pieces with salt, pepper and fresh thyme if desired. Bake for about 12 minutes. Remove crispy crusts from oven. Place on rack to cool. To serve, garnish each bowl of soup with pie crusts and serve the remainder on side for dipping.

Sally and I were hired to create this recipe and image for REAL Butter’s Go Bold With Butter blog. For more great recipes using REAL Butter check out Go Bold With Butter!