Pina Colada Cheesecake

Years ago I bought several Southern Living recipe collection cookbooks, and while I’ve found numerous recipes in them that I absolutely love, I think this cheesecake recipe is my family’s favorite. It’s creamy, easy to make, and it tastes like a trip to the tropics. My family requested this cheesecake for Thanksgiving this year instead of the usual pumpkin one I usually make, and it was a huge hit.

While this recipe is not Paleo, I did make it gluten-free as I used gluten-free graham-style cracker crumbs in the crust. You can’t tell the difference.

The key to making a good cheesecake is having ingredients at room temperature. The cream cheese and the eggs whip up easily at room temperature so you can get more air into your cheesecake batter. The one exception is the sour cream, but that is mixed in during the later stages, so I just pull that from the refrigerator when needed.

The original recipe calls for pecans in the crust, and it’s good that way, but I sometimes change it up and use macadamia nuts instead. I think it gives the cheesecake an even more tropical taste. Whichever nut you use, it will be delicious. 🙂







Pina Colada Cheesecake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1-3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used gluten-free)

3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (can use pecans)

1 tablespoon sugar

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup cream of coconut

1 cup sour cream

1/3 cup light rum

4 teaspoons coconut extract (I usually use good vanilla extract)

Glaze (Ingredients and instructions below)

Garnishes: Whipped cream and toasted coconut


Stir together the first 4 ingredients, and press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a lightly greased 10-inch springform pan. Set pan aside.

Beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar at medium speed in a large mixing bowl for 3 minutes, or until the cream cheese is fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the crushed pineapple and the next 4 ingredients, beating until well blended. Pour the batter into the crust.

Bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 75 minutes, or until the center is almost set. It will jiggle in the middle but firms up as it cools. Cool on a wire rack. Spread the glaze over top of the cooled cheesecake. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. Garnish as desired.



1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple (plus the juice)

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice


Stir together the cornstarch and water until smooth. In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch mixture, crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat, and cool completely before glazing the cheesecake.


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Irish Dinner: Corned Beef & Cabbage and Bailey’s Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

We held our annual St. Patrick’s day dinner a few days late this year, but my family will eat corned beef and cabbage anytime I have the urge to make it. We have brined our own brisket to make corned beef, but tonight I used a corned beef I bought at the grocery store. It amazes me how many people have told me they’ve never cooked corned beef before. I think it’s the simplest dinner in the world to make—all you need is a Crock-Pot. Open package of corned beef, dump all contents into the slow cooker, and turn the dial to either low (6 to 8 hours) or high (4 to 5 hours) depending how soon you want dinner. That’s it. Easy peasy.

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For the cabbage, my folks traditionally did the boiled cabbage bit. It was okay, but it really is bland. I’ve since done my St. Patrick’s Day cabbage by frying it. Add a stick of butter to the skillet, cut up your cabbage however you like it (diced, sliced, etc.). Add it to the skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste, and let it cook until the cabbage is softened but not mush. Another easy peasy side dish, which is how I like them 🙂


corned beef and cabbage 2


For dessert, it had to be something Irish-influenced as well, and what’s more Irish than booze? Today I decided to make a Bailey’s chocolate chip cheesecake in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It really was a toss-up between this and a Guinness dark chocolate cheesecake, but Bailey’s won out. This time anyway!

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I’ve made this cheesecake before. Be forewarned, though, the flavor of the Irish cream really comes through in the final product. A lot of recipes call for 3/4 cup of Bailey’s, which I used the first time I made this. If you love Bailey’s, you’ll probably be fine with it, but if you’re so-so or you only want a hint of the Irish cream flavor, you can definitely use less. I typically use about 1/4 cup of Bailey’s because I want to taste the rest of the ingredients, not just Bailey’s. This doesn’t have a ganache on top, but feel free to add one if you’d like — the more chocolate the merrier I say 🙂

The cheesecake pictures aren’t the best – still trying to find the best lighting in this new apartment, and the cheesecake itself decided to split after about 2 hours of cooking (of course!)  — but it tasted devine 🙂


bailey's cheesecake whole


bailey's cheesecake half pie

bailey's cheesecake slice


Bailey’s Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 to 12 crackers)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon sugar

32 ounces (4 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish cream liqueur (or other brand is fine)

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon good vanilla

1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the sides of a 9-inch springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar and the melted butter. Press mixture onto the bottom of the springform pan. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the cream cheese and the 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth. Add the Bailey’s, and stir to combine. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat until thoroughly mixed. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla, mixing until just smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour cheesecake batter into the springform pan. Place the springform pan in a larger pan, and add water to that pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the oven, and leave cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Top with chocolate ganache or whipped cream as desired.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

Everyone knows it’s not Thanksgiving dinner without dessert. In my house, my sons and husband love pumpkin pie, but I’m not the biggest fan. Maybe I ate too much of it as a kid. I do, however, love cheesecake, so when I’m asked to make a pumpkin dessert, I generally make pumpkin cheesecake. You still get the pumpkin flavor – but I get the cheesecake part I love.

pumpkin cheesecake 2


Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 cups crushed graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons butter, melted

3 packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 carton ricotta cheese
1 pint sour cream
1 can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon good vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Cover the bottom and sides of the springform pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese with the sugar. Mix on high until well combined and fluffy in appearance. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the ricotta cheese, sour cream, pumpkin puree and the vanilla. Turn the mixer on low speed at first, gradually increasing the speed to high as you incorporate all the ingredients together. Mix until everything is well combined and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Place the springform pan inside a larger pan (I use a roasting pan). Add hot water to the larger pan until the water level is about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake cheesecake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. After an hour, turn off the heat, but let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an additional hour.

Remove from the oven, and cool before refrigerating. For best results, let the cheesecake cool in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight before serving.

Dark Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake

Years ago I sold cheesecakes for holidays and special occasions, and I even catered a couple of weddings where the bride didn’t want a traditional wedding cake. I’ve tried many different cheesecake recipes, and I have lots of favorites. I haven’t made cheesecake for a while, and my sons were complaining about that fact, so for my birthday I decided it was time to try my hand at baking another cheesecake.

I usually opt for a traditional New York-style cheesecake, but I was hungry for chocolate, so I used my basic cheesecake recipe and tweaked it a bit to incorporate both dark chocolate and Kahlua. I used a basic graham cracker crust, but you could make this a decadent chocolate cheesecake by using chocolate cookie wafers in place of the graham crackers. As cheesecake isn’t a low-calorie dessert, and it’s a treat I don’t make all the time anyway, I don’t worry about using low-cal this or that for my ingredients. I use full-fat cream cheese, real butter, good Mexican vanilla and the best chocolate I can find. I used Ghirardelli intense dark chocolate (86% cacao) for this recipe.

The overall texture of this cheesecake is light and fluffy, not heavy as some cheesecakes can be. Neither the chocolate nor the coffee flavors are overpowering but balance nicely with each other. The boys said this recipe was a definite keeper.

chocolate kahlua cheesecake 2

Dark Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake

For the Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

For the Filling:
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 ounces good dark chocolate, melted
1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur, or other coffee-flavored liqueur
1 pint sour cream

Prepare a 9- or 10-inch springform pan by wrapping the bottom and sides of the pan with foil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix until well combined. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the prepared springform pan. Set aside.

cheesecake crust (1)

For the filling, whip the room-temperature cream cheese until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the 1 1/2 cups sugar, and mix until well combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the vanilla, melted 1/2 cup butter, melted chocolate and Kahlua. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then mix well on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. Add the sour cream to the batter, and mix until well combined, about another 2 minutes. The batter should be creamy and fluffy.

Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust in the springform pan. Place the springform pan inside a larger roasting pan or cake pan (I use my large lasagna pan). Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it is halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

cheesecake in water bath (1)

Bake the cheesecake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn off the oven, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. This helps keep the top from cracking.

Allow the cheesecake to cool completely in the refrigerator before serving (at least 8 hours or overnight). Top with your choice of fruit toppings (raspberry is awesome) or freshly whipped cream if desired.

Days of Casseroles: Day 2…Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole…Plus Easy Cherry Cheesecake

Kevin got in some garden today, as he planted kohlrabi, radishes, peas and some lettuce. He also got the rhubarb transplanted, so while I might be out a rhubarb crisp this year, next year I should have plenty of tasty stalks to pick 🙂

The chickens were moved to the coop this past week too. We lost another chick before that, so we’re down to 52 little peepers. The rest are looking great, so in a few weeks, we’ll be up to our necks butchering.

Today’s casserole is a great way to use up that leftover Easter ham, and it works well as a brunch or dinner main dish.



Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole

1 2-pound package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups chopped, cooked ham
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 8-ounce container sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups crushed cornflakes
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine hash browns, 1/2 cup melted butter, cream of chicken soup, ham, sour cream, chopped onion, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well. Place mixture in a greased 3-quart casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup melted butter and crushed cornflakes until the cornflakes are coated. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole.

Bake covered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes.

What’s an Easter dinner without dessert? While I generally make traditional cheesecakes, I was running short on time (as in the kids wanted to eat cheesecake today instead of letting it set overnight!). This is a good recipe when you’re in a hurry.




Easy Cherry Cheesecake

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling (or use your favorite flavor)

Beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add sweetened condensed milk, and blend thoroughly. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into pie crust.

Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm. Top with chilled pie filling before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Rainy Days Are Baking Days

Today was a dreary, rainy day, so what better thing to do but do some baking! I’ve been working with sourdough for about a month now, and instead of using my bread machine today, which I almost always do because I never have the time to do otherwise, I decided to break out my baking stone for a round loaf of sourdough bread.

I have a ton of recipes for different types of bread but not too many for sourdough, so I did an Internet search and found a terrific recipe at


easy sourdough artisan bread

Here’s the recipe:

Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread


3 cups flour (white whole wheat, whole wheat, unbleached, or a combo)

1 1/4 cup water (may need less if your starter is “wetter”- mine is a 100% hydration starter, fed an equal ratio of flour to water)

3/4 cup active sourdough starter

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer just until combined and then let sit for 15 minutes.

Using a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes.

Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic and let rise for 3 hours, turning and folding the dough once or twice.

Remove dough, turn and fold again, and place it back in the bowl, seam-side up. Let rise for another 2 hours.

After the second rise, place a square of parchment on a cookie sheet and gently shape the dough into a ball or oval (using lots of flour, as the dough is moist) and set on the parchment. Make sure there’s a good coating of flour on the top, as this will make slicing the top later easier.

Set an enameled, cast iron dutch oven into a cold oven and turn heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (alternately, use a baking stone), and set the timer for 40 minutes.

When the timer goes off, slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife (in 2 to 3 places), and transfer it to the hot pot by holding the edges of the parchment (or stone).

Replace the hot lid and bake for 12 to 13 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 13 to 14 minutes, until golden brown (if using a stone, Gina at Homejoys uses an old roaster lid to cover her loaves to get a similar result!).

Remove to a wire rack to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Makes 1 loaf

After I got the bread going, I was looking for something else to bake, so I decided to pull out my trusty, go-to New York-Style Cheesecake recipe. I first made this cheesecake recipe when Kevin and I first were married over 20 years ago. I had borrowed a bunch of cookbooks from the local library, and I came across this recipe. While I’ve since made hundreds of cheesecakes in lots of different flavors, this one is still one of my most favorites.
ricotta cheesecake
Ricotta Cheesecake

2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened

1 (16-ounce) container ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups white sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter (not margarine), melted and cooled

1 pint sour cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

Mix the cream cheese and ricotta cheese together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Stir in the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, cornstarch, and butter. Add the sour cream last and stir. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan.

Place springform pan in larger cake pan (I use my extra-large lasagna pan). Fill pan with boiling water so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake in the preheated for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and leave in the over for 1 hour more. (This helps prevent the top from cracking.) Allow cheesecake to cool completely in the refrigerator before serving. Top with your choice of fruit toppings, or enjoy as is!

Serves 8.