food photography

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

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Welcome to my favorite dessert! Yes, cheesecake and I have a long history of baking satisfaction. But, I must keep it real and tell you that this is the first pumpkin flavored cheesecake I have ever made. Shocker right?! Because we all know I love pumpkin:) That being said, its super easy to do and you will be having self control conflict about eating the entire thing. I gave away several slices, shared some with my boyfriend, and after realizing I was using a spoon to grab bites off the plate, while standing in the open fridge door at odd hours of the day and night....(so true)..I froze the rest to save myself. At least now, it will have to thaw for me to eat!

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pumpkin cheesecake-3B

Reasons why you need this cheesecake in your life:

  • Fun and easy to make!
  • You get to smash gingerbread cookies with a rolling pin:)
  • Even if you get a crack it still tastes amazing
  • Your friends and family will be impressed with your swirl skills
  • Perfect dessert for holiday get togethers

Ok..here is how you create this Pumpkin and Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake with a Gingerbread Cookie Crust!!!

Ingredients

Crust:

2 sleeves of Lars Swedish Ginger Snaps (about 25 cookies)

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

Filling:

4 (8oz) packages cream cheese

1 cup organic sugar

4 eggs

1 can of pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp pumpkin spice

pinch of ground cloves

Make

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line bottom of spring form pan with parchment paper. I cut a circle smaller than rim of pan.

Place gingerbread cookies into a ziplock bag, removing all execs air. Smash cookies with rolling pin until transformed into crumbs. Add crumbs to bowl and stir in melted butter. Spoon mixture onto bottom of pan and evenly press into corners with fingers.

Beat together cream cheese, 3/4 cup of sugar, vanilla and eggs. Once evenly blended, remove 1 1/2 cups of batter and place in separate bowl.

Next add remaining sugar, pumpkin and the spices to mixer bowl. Blend thoroughly.

Now you should have a bowl of pumpkin batter and one with vanilla batter.

Pour half of the pumpkin batter into pan onto crust. Then add half of the vanilla batter in spoonfuls across the top. Gently make lines with knife to create a swirl of colors.

Repeat this step with remaining batter.

Bake cheesecake for 55min. or until there is only a slight jiggle in the very center. It will finish setting while on the cooling rack. Cool completely on rack and then chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.

Top with crumbled ginger bread cookies, slice, and serve!

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pumkin cheesecake-6BLOGO

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Yes, yes, yes..its pumpkin flavored everything time! I am ready for pumpkin coffee, pancakes, pies, muffins, ice cream, oh and cheese cake, basically all the pumpkin goodies. Fall is the kickoff to baking season and I have been waiting patiently for the markets to start stocking their shelves. This muffin recipe is simple, flavorful, and immediately screams holiday season. I will admit that one muffin went missing prior to taking photos. Its so hard to wait when they smell so good:)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup natural maple syrup or honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • pumpkin seeds and oats for topping
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muffins-4CLOGO

Make

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, line muffin tin with paper liners.

Mix all ingredients together, folding oats in last.

With an ice cream scoop measure out 1scoop per liner for a smaller 12 muffin tin and 2 scoops per liner for a 6 muffin tin.

Sprinkle pumpkin seeds and oats on top of each.

Bake for 25min, cool and then eat!!

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muffin-1CLOGO

Rustic Rosemary Bread

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rosemary bread-5LOGO 1

I must prepare you for the pure feeling of satisfaction that baking fresh bread brings. The smell of warm bread has always lured me to a bakery.  I could have eaten my weight daily with warm croissants, scones, and baguettes during my visit to Italy. Now that I have successfully nurtured a ball of dough into a deliciously risen loaf, I feel like I can take on anything.

Kneading dough is so therapeutic, I may need to incorporate it as a weekly routine.  This week I enjoyed a double dose of bread destress. Experimenting with one garlic & rosemary loaf and one rosemary loaf.  I'm partial to only using rosemary. I've also learned that placing your dough in a sunlit window is perfect for proving. I checked it constantly like a kid at Christmas, waiting for the slightest rise. Once in the oven, I peeked through the glass just to be sure it wasn't over done. I rarely go by exact baking times. I use more of a look, poke, and check the center method.

Fresh from the oven, nice and hot  is the best way to eat this rosemary loaf!

Ingredients

1½ tsp active dry yeast 1 cup warm water, 110-115F 2 tsp organic white sugar 2 tsp fine salt 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2½ cups bread flour 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary 1 head of roasted garlic (or substitute for 1 Tbsp dried rosemary)

Make

  • In large bowl, add yeast to 1 cup warm water with the sugar and salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. (will start to bubble)
  • Next add olive oil and flour. Gently knead by hand for 10 minutes. Add rosemary and garlic. Knead for another 5 minutes.
  • Oil another large bowl and gently place dough ball in center, rolling a few times to coat with oil.  Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap. ( I tie a string under the lip of my bowl for added security. Shower caps also work swell!)
  • Place dough in warm location until dough has doubled in size. I tend to use a warm sunlit window. If your area is cooler, it may take 2 hrs to rise.
  • Once dough has doubled, push down into a rounded loaf shape. Take a sharp knife and cut a criss cross pattern on the top.
  • Place rounded loaf on baking tray with covered with parchment paper. (I try to avoid greasy sprays at all costs). Place a large mixing bowl upside down on the loaf. Let it rise for about 1hr.
  • Know that dough has doubled gain, gently brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and more rosemary.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30min, or until crust is golden brown.
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rosemary bread-10

Gingerbread Loaf with Poached Pears

Hello Fall Baking Season! Woo hoo!! My windows are open and my kitchen smells like warm cinnamon:) When I was in college living in a tiny apartment, my roommate and I would light spice candles. There's just something about those aromas that makes me want to snuggle under a blanket. Now, I actually take the time to bake! I mean, you can't eat candles and gingerbread must be tasted. I'm definitely a newbie when it comes to cooking and baking anything over simple recipes. However, as a photographer I am challenging myself to create more personal dishes to style. My inspiration stems from binge watching "The Great British Baking Show". The breads, cakes, and desserts are mind blowing, not to mention the fabulous subtle British humor:)

Baking a gingerbread loaf with poached pears was a personal first and it turned out pretty darn good. I found it "absolutely scrummy" without a "soggy bottom". Watch the show, seriously its a "spot on" "top bake"!

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gingerbread-4clogo

Ingredients

Poached Pears

~3 bartlett pears

~1 bottle red wine (I used a red table wine)

~1/2 cup organic cane sugar

~1 cup water

~3 cinnamon sticks

~1 vanilla bean

Gingerbread Loaf

~1/2 cup low sugar maple syrup (can substitute molasses)

~2 large eggs

~2/3 cup brown sugar

~1/2 cup vegetable oil

~1 tsp baking powder

~1 tsp baking soda

~1 1/2 Tbsp grated ginger

~1 tsp ground cinnamon

~1 tsp ground nutmeg

~1/4 tsp salt

~2 cups all purpose flour

~2/3 cups vanilla almond milk

Make Pears

Combine all ingredients into medium pot and bring to boil. Then let simmer 15-20 min until pears softened.  Remove pears and set aside.

Make Loaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line loaf pan with parchment paper.

Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl.

Place whole pears into loaf pan and spoon batter around them. Bake for 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Then place loaf on cooling rack for another 15 minutes.

Dust loaf with powdered sugar to serve. (optional)

*make sure pears are not too large or they will fall through loaf. Option to slice pears into halves and only use 3 half for better firmness of gingerbread.

Happy Fall Baking Friends!!

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gingerbread-1BLOGO

Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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I don't know about you, but when I'm brainstorming and channeling creative vibes, I want cookies:) Raining here today, so my windows are open filling the house with a lovely breeze. Fall is slowly teasing me with its cool mornings. Soon I will be making pumpkin flavored everything. But, today its chocolate peanut butter yummies topped with walnuts! These cookies are:

  • simple to make
  • moist and soft
  • delish
  • bake fast for the hungry sweet tooth!!

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup organic light brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened natural dark cocoa powder

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup chopped walnuts

MAKE 

Mix all ingredients except walnuts with mixer, using paddle attachment until smooth

Line baking sheet with parchment paper

Spoon one inch balls onto cookie sheet ( I roll them in my hands first)

Mash with fingers into flattened cookie shape

Gently press walnut pieces on top

Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 min.

Let cool for 10 minutes to keep from breaking

 

 

 

 

Eating My Way Through Seattle (part 2)

Bright and early Wednesday morning I hustled back to the Pike Place Market for fresh fruit and coffee. Snacking on blackberries while sipping on a mocha latte from the Crumpet Shop began my exploration day. By this, I mean walking around shopping and eating of course:) market-1BLOGO

I must say there are a TON of restaurants and stores in the downtown Seattle area! Counting at least 10 Starbucks, I did make it by the original, but the line was too long. Flip flopping my way into several boutiques and purchasing a super cute dress at All Saints, I quickly worked up an appetite. Yes, I said flip flops! (new sneakers for travel on my to do list)

Where to go for lunch? A friendly recommendation led me to Lecosho. This stylish eatery was nestled in the corner of the Harbor Steps. My camera and I sat down at a lovely outdoor patio perfect for relaxing. Everything on the menu was enticing, but I settled on the tuna melt with a side salad. I am not exaggerating when I say 'best tuna melt' I've ever had! Flavor slap in the face!

Tuna Melt~ house-poached albacore tuna, mama lil's mustard pickle relish & gruyere on toasted potato bread

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Eating My Way Through Seattle (part 1)

Well the title of this blog pretty much sums it up! Last week I took a four day trip to Seattle with my boyfriend. This being my first visit to the Emerald City and I was super excited to visit the market and taste all the goodies. I love to explore any downtown on foot, so upon arrival off we trekked for a happy hour cocktail/appetizer. After a long flight, all I want to do is eat..don't you?! Now even though I shlepped my camera pack with me everywhere on this trip and have the back muscles to prove it...I didn't get pics of every dish. Mainly due to eating most of it before my camera left the bag..whoops! But, I will share with you all of my yummy adventures. (On my next trip I will be sure to pack flash for indoor shots.)

First stop..the Yard House, hello Happy Hour beer flight and fried calamari! New state with lots of breweries means sipping multiple flavors:) The chosen four were: House Honey Blonde (um honey duh had to!!), Beaver PB, Pauline Hefe-Weizen, and the Alaskan White.  Loved the calamari, big pieces and roasted jalapeño tartar..whoa! Not a drop or a crumb was left.

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With full bellies and restless legs we headed to the Pike Place Market to explore.(Check out more Seattle Hot Spots). Everyone has told me to visit the Pike Fish Market to watch them throw the fish while singing sea shanties. If my hotel had a stove or grille, you can bet your butt I would have stocked up on crab legs, rock fish, and shrimp! The good news is that they ship nationwide, score!!

Pike Fish definitely blew me away with their fresh supply and outgoing personalities. These guys know how to charm the crowd:) Its obvious they love their jobs. Next time, I want to catch a fish!!

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Snacks and glass of wine!

I love to snack!! Especially on fruit, crackers, and cheese. The hardest part is knowing when to stop:) snacks-2C

Friday night was a perfect low key, chill at home and eat goodies while watching tv kinda night. Being a huge Game of Thrones fan I needed to catch up on last week's episode. Made a quick run to Trader Joe's for essentials, grabbing pears, goat cheese, crackers, and trail mix. If your gonna sit on the couch and stuff your face, its good to try the healthy route.

With two dogs and my awesome boyfriend, we ate, we snuggled, we watched dragons lol

Snack Tray:

Bite size everything crackers

Garlic and Herb goat cheese

Fresh Pear slices

Cranberry, walnut, and pumpkin seed trail mix

Two glasses of Shiraz:)

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Simple Garden Fresh Salsa

salsa fresh-5BLOGO Tomato season used to mean sliced tomato sandwiches on white bread, with mayonnaise and a little pepper.  Thankfully I've become a little more daring with my summer veggie creations. After visiting my parents over the weekend, I came home with a bag of vine ripened beauties. There is never a shortage of mexican spices and ingredients in my house. If we run out of tortilla chips, its an emergency!

Grabing some fresh cilantro and a few limes, it's salsa making time baby:)

Ingredients:

3 cups chopped garden tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1 cup chopped white onion

1/4 chopped green chiles or jalepeno

juice of one lime

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together, can add a little tomato sauce for thickness if your heart desires. I dip with black bean chips and wash it down with an ice cold Corona Light.

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Brunch at Pinewood Social Nashville

breakfast-1BLOGO I've been super busy over the last week, but don't worry I was still eating! One of my favorite cities to visit and dine is Nashville, TN. I'm pretty confident I could gain twenty pounds in one weekend. Nashville is overflowing with amazing restaurants, its a must stop for any foodie!

Brunch on Sunday with friends is something to never miss. Especially when you are going to Pinewood Social. Coffee to cocktails, delicious meals, bowling and a trendy atmosphere...HELLO..what is there not to love:)

Mocha Lattes are completely irresistible, so I never turn them down. Paired with a salmon toast, including goat cheese and tomatoes, brunch is served. I waited all morning on an empty stomach, just so I had room for everything. Seriously, you must plan these things!

 

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Ok, so I may have shared a bite or two of toast with my boyfriend. Mostly because then I could try his Reuben Benedict..score! Corned beef, hollandaise, and a poached egg with potato wedges. He is such a sucker for Benedict and potatoes.

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The problem with all this delicious food is that I want everything on the menu. So, next visit it will be chicken & biscuits with gravy and a little bowling:)

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Bread

When I get into a baking mood, I want to make all the things! Maybe its because a friend turned me on to the Great British Baking Show and I feel inspired. After enjoying the lemon zucchini bread and giving a banana walnut loaf to my dog sitter, the logical next flavor is chocolate. Chocolate with peanut butter is a perfect marriage that no one can dispute. Some dark cacao powder mixed with fresh creamy peanut spread is hard to mess up. Breakfast, dessert, mid day snack, or late night indulgence dipped in a glass of milk. Maybe just dig into the pan with a fork fresh out of the oven:) Whatever floats your boat!

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Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2/3-3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1/4 cup honey

8 Tbspvanilla  melted butter

3 eggs

3 Tbsp hot water

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 1/2 Tbsp dar cacao powder

1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup fresh peanut butter

(can substitute honey for 4 more Tbsp of butter)

Make:

Mix all ingredients (except peanut butter)

Pour into greased bread pan

Level top of batter

Gently spoon small amounts peanut butter on top of batter

Take knife and gently swirl peanut butter, do not go deep into the batter

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min or until center is fully cooked

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Lemon Zucchini Bread

So..I have awesome neighbors with an adorable box garden:) Living next to like minded foodies is a major plus. Why?..because we share! Anytime I make sweets or a hefty serving too big for two...I mail it to my neighbors. I know you are thinking I'm crazy, but... We all have wild schedules, so in the evening I will leave a tupperware in their mailbox.  Keeps me from pigging out number one, but I also find cooking to be more satisfying when you give it to your friends. Yesterday I received a huge beautiful zucchini ready for culinary creations. With fresh lemons already in the kitchen, their fate was sealed. Lemon Zucchini bread for the win!

**Warning- this is super moist and addictive- do not bake on an empty stomach or you will eat the entire loaf**

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 egg

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup shredded zuchini

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp lemon zest

Make:

Mix all ingredients in large bowl, folding shredded zucchini in batter last

Bake at 325 for 50 min or until cooked in center

Add a glaze drizzle of lemon juice and powdered sugar with a sprinkle of lemon zest

*Eat a couple of slices and then pass it around to your friends*

lemon bread-4CLOGO

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Pancakes-5BLOGO Today I woke up feeling adventurous! No boring cereal or toast for this girl:)

It's a banana and chocolate chip pancake kinda day. I justify my decision based on eating lots of vegetables for dinner last night. Plus making your meal from scratch is always rewarding.

~Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbsp organic sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla

1/2-2/3 cup mashed bananas

1 egg

dark chocolate chips

~Make

Mix all ingredients together except chocolate chips

Set frying pan to medium heat ( add a little coconut oil to lightly grease pan)

3 normal spoonfuls of batter onto middle of pan, making about the size of a coaster

once batter is bubbling sprinkle chocolate chips on top

let them sink then flip pancake

lightly press until pancake is cooked

~EAT

stack desired number of pancakes onto plate

add sliced bananas and chocolate chips

pour on syrup and dig in!!!!

*no need for butter, BUT a little peanut butter spread is pretty darn tasty:)!!!

Pancakes-2BLOGO

 

 

Summer Time Watermelon

watermelon-1BLOGO I look forward to cold watermelon all year!

My mother used to slice a small melon into quarters. She would place one for each of us on a tray (either a pizza pan or cookie dish). We would sit on the floor in the kitchen or on the back porch with a big spoon and devour them.

I've never mastered the art of melon balls or perfectly symmetrical slices. Basically I just cut until I can break the rind with my hands. I purchase the seedless variety so I can eat without interruption.

My neighbor growing up always sprinkled his with salt! Which of course I thought was disgusting and a waste of perfectly good watermelon. Sorry if thats your preference, but to me it tastes like pool water.

Corking watermelons for a fruity cocktail is definitely a must do! Also, if you have a Cook Out drive thru close by, the watermelon milkshake during July is heavenly:)

Chocolate Dipped Pineapple

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 I have never traveled to Hawaii but I can go their in my kitchen! Pineapple is my favorite fruit and who doesn't like chocolate? Need a fun afternoon snack..here yah go:)
I hope no one is judging my writing or punctuation skills...just stare at the food please.
Make:
Cut fresh pineapple into rings, remove core
I dap off some of the juice for easy dipping
Melt chocolate chips on stovetop
Dip or drizzle warm chocolate onto pineapple
Sprinkle coconut and almonds
Place in fridge to chill
YUM!! Fruity, chocolatey, almond crunch and coconut goodness just slaps you in the face:)

Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread

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"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore" "Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli, that's amore"....
Quite often I feel the need to dance around the house and sing to the dogs as I cook:) So after several verses of 'That's Amore', I am ready to eat pizza!
Simple, flavorful, and delicious!
Ingredients:
1 batch pizza dough (soon I will make one from scratch..promise!)..
1/3 cup fig preserves
2 oz. prosciutto torn into pieces
9 oz mozzarella cheese
1 tsp Rosemary
Crushed red pepper
Make:
Roll out pizza dough onto lightly floured surface
Place onto baking sheet
Evenly spread thin layer of fig preserves across dough leaving a 3/4 in border for crust
Next, cover fig preserves with mozzarella
Then add pieces of prosciutto
Sprinkle rosemary and red pepper as top layer
Bake at 475 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges of flatbread are crispy!
Grab a slice and dance around your kitchen:)
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Lunch at Burger Batch

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When a burger craving hits, I start dreaming of melted cheese and juicy beef! There are few menu items  as satisfying as a good burger..just saying. I could really eat any version, no pickiness here:) My recent topping requests are pimento cheese, onions, and bbq sauce. The Burger Batch in downtown Winston Salem has burger and shake enthusiasts lining up out the door. Let's just say this beauty left no crumb behind and I licked my fingers in public!
Did I mention the sweet potato tots?! If you are looking for a place to cheat on your salad with a list of fabulous burgers, tacos, sides, and a cold beer....meet me at Burger Batch!
Next time I will try the Smore Shake!! Stay tuned...:)

 

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Flourless Banana Oatmeal Cookies

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Today's reward for running a couple miles shall be cookies!! Yes, halfway through my run I decided chocolate and bananas were waiting for me at home:) In an effort to eat healthy, I no longer purchase packaged cookies from the grocery store. Oh Oreos..I miss you so much it hurts! Ok..back on track, my first attempt at flourless cookies turned out amazing..(patting self on the back) Quick to make and guilt free eating, you must try these.
Ingredients:
3 over ripe bananas (the older the sweeter)
1 1/2 cups dry oatmeal
sprinkle in some cacao nibs and dark chocolate chips (I just eyeball a good amount)
chop and mix in walnuts (ditto^)
Mix together..Boom! That's it!
Spoon onto cooking sheet..mash into shape (they won't spread like regular cookies)
Bake 15 min at 350
Cool on cookie tray and enjoy your reward for working out:)!!

Banana Walnut Bread

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There is something about baking bread that leaves the house feeling warm and inviting. Walking into a room filled with the aroma of banana bread instantly brings back memories of my mother's kitchen. I love how smells trigger flashbacks of people and places. Being quite the nostalgic, I fondly recall my childhood and savoring a warm slice with a glass of milk:)
Here is my favorite Banana Walnut Bread!
Ingredients:
3 over ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup light packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Mix all ingredients in mixer or large bowl "except walnuts"
Once combined, fold in nuts
pour into non stick dish
bake for 45min at 350 degrees