Blueberry + Lemon + Cheesecake = ♥

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. Add lemon to that, AND blueberries? Heavenly. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
(adapted from this food network recipe)  makes one 9x13inch cheesecake

3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
13 graham crackers
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

3 (8oz box) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2-3 Tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Streusel topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
8 Tbsp cold butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place parchment paper on bottom of 9x13 inch pan.
For the crust, crush up graham crackers until a fine, breadcrumb-consistency. Mix in sugar and cinnamon, then add melted butter and stir together. Press mixture down onto bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.
For the filling, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Add one egg at a time, blending after each egg until smooth. Add lemon zest and juice. Pour cream cheese mixture onto crust, and sprinkle blueberries just so they sit on top of the filling layer (it's ok if they sink just a little bit).
Mix together streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and sprinkle on top of everything.
Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and the middle doesn't jiggle too much. Cool completely before cutting.


The Life.

Excuse my absence and lack of posts.  ^^ This is what I've been up to lately....
Even in a place where it's always "summer," life always has a way of getting too busy, too crazy, and I tend to lose focus.  Summertime is a breath of fresh air that I have been d.y.i.n.g. for. It means family time, relaxing time, and a whole lot of focusing time.

What do you love about summertime?


Mother's Day.

My day consisted of a feast of a breakfast made by my boys. Spending time with my loves. And topped off with this lovely mother's day gift. Hope all you momma's out there had a fabulous day, you ALL deserve it.

Happy mother's day!


Turkey Sandwich with Papaya Seed Dressing

Have you ever had a sandwich at a really good bakery or a cafe and wanted to recreate that same flavor profile in a sandwich at home? I went to Storto's Deli in Haleiwa last month. Their Sunset sub was so delicious and left an impression on my palette ;). It had turkey, roast beef, and ham on a soft, quite long, submarine bun. I got all the veggies on it and their must-have papaya seed dressing - absolutely amazing! I was craving it all this week and decided that I had to make it myself.
This was my attempt:
  • 2 slices of good, soft bread
  • mayo (optional)
  • sliced turkey and ham
  • baby spinach leaves
  • sliced cucumber
  • very thinly sliced onion
  • sprouts
  • Papaya seed dressing **
  • Havarti cheese or provolone
**OPTIONS: the Hawaiian Hula Dressing Original Papaya Seed Dressing (also available at Foodland, for all you locals), use the recipe below to make it yourself, OR substitute a poppy seed dressing, although I highly  recommend the papaya seed.
Papaya Seed Dressing
(makes about 1.5 cups of dressing)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh papaya seeds
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 2~3 Tbsp honey (to desired sweetness)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
In a blender or food processor, blend together vinegar, sugar, honey, salt and mustard. With blender running, slowly stream in the oil. Let it go until well blended and emulsified. Add seeds and onion; blend until seeds look like ground pepper. Pour it over your favorite salad or add it to your sandwich for a sweet and tangy kick.

Vermont Maple Blueberry Salad

I am absolutely obsessed with this salad!  You'll know what I mean once you take a bite.  My favorite part about this salad is the maple dressing, or maybe it's the crunch of the cinnamon almonds.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  This salad will make your taste buds dance.

1 head romaine lettuce
2 granny smith apples chopped into small bite size cubes
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or blue cheese (I used feta)
1/4 cup crushed cinnamon almonds (I bought them by the pound at SUNFLOWER MARKET or you can make your own.  Click HERE to learn how).

Dressing Ingredients:
1 small clove of garlic
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Blend all of the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender until completely smooth.

Toss all of the salad ingredients together then drizzle the maple dressing on top right before serving! Taste it, you'll love it!


Turn a Sweater into a Cardigan

I bought a yellow crew neck sweater from Target a couple years ago. I bought it because I liked the mustard color, I liked how soft it was, and that it was only $5! How could I pass up a deal like that? I thought that I would wear it if I had it in my closet. In all actuality, I probably wore this sweater 2, maybe 3 times. In the mean time, I had been looking around for a mustard yellow cardigan, but I couldn't find what I was looking for at the right price.  This crazy idea popped into my head, why don't I just make one myself??....so...I did.

I'm sure it's not the first time it's ever been done, and it probably isn't as creative as I thought I was being....but I am pretty proud of how this whole thing turned out!

(keep in mind I am no seamstress or tailor, so this is not very "professional" or precise)

What you will need:
* sweater/shirt of your choice (knit is preferable because it doesn't unravel as much as a woven)
* scissors
* sewing machine, serger, OR needle, and thread matching your sweater
* ribbon/lace/trimming for the finish (optional)

Fold the shirt in half with the back sides touching each other. Cut just the outer layer (this is important!) along the straight edge, so that when you open the shirt, it has just the front side opening down the middle.
Using a sewing machine/serger (or by hand), finish the edge so it won't unravel or fray. Knits don't unravel as rapidly as woven fabrics, but it is still important to do so just in case it starts to.
I used a zig zag stitch all along the edge of both cut sides. You can take it one step further and hem the edge, for a nicer finish. I skipped this step because (if you look close) the edges sort of rolled in on itself, so I didn't feel that it was really necessary.

 You can take it even another step further and go for a cleaner finish, by using a ribbon or some lace. This can also add some flare to your new cardi (example below). I kept it simple this time, but I am loving all the different options and possibilities! Also, to have it close in the middle, consider adding loops/buttons or hook/eye.

Now go through your closet and find that sweater that's been collecting dust, and make it a staple in your wardrobe again!


Penne Rosa

I've been craving pasta lately and this recipe hit the spot!  Have you ever been to NOODLES & COMPANY?  Well, this is a similar recipe and it's really simple to make.
(Recipe adapted from BACKTOHERROOTS.COM).

1 box of Penne pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced (I don't like mushrooms so I omitted it)
2 medium tomatoes chopped
1/3 of an onion chopped
4 cups fresh spinach
2 medium chicken breasts, cubed and cooked.  I seasoned it with garlic powder, salt, and pepper
1 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1.  Cook the penne in boiling water.  Drain and set aside.
2.  Add oil to a skillet.  Cook the chicken.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook until garlic and onions are soft.  Add the red pepper flakes.
3.  Add mushrooms, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms begin to release their water.
4.  Add the spinach.  Cover and let spinach wilt for 2 minutes.
5.  Remove lid and turn heat to low.  Add the penne pasta, sour cream, and marinara sauce.  Mix well until pasta and veggies are coated.  Heat until warmed through.  Serve with parmesan cheese and more pepper flakes if desired.

Try out this recipe and let me know if you like it!  Enjoy!