Christmas Recipes

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Christmas Recipes

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Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

No-Bake Limoncello Cheesecake

No-Bake Limoncello Cheesecake

I almost considered calling this cheesecake “My Favorite Cheesecake!!! Seriously, THE Best Cheesecake I Had in a Long Time” Right...I know, it's super silly. And it may even seem as if I'm exaggerating. But truly, this is the best cheesecake for me!

No-Bake Limoncello Cheesecake

Please don't tell my mom I'm saying this! She is the cheesecake QUEEN and that is why I never make a cheesecake. She takes her time.

No-Bake Limoncello Cheesecake

She actually takes a few days to create her pièce de résistance. She gets requests for her cheesecake for holiday parties and birthday parties alike.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure why she's not selling them!

Scroll down to find an amazing list of recipes by wonderful bloggers celebrating National Cheesecake Day. A BIG thanks to Roxana of Roxana’s Home Baking for putting together this delicious event.

So you see, the pressure is on when I think of baking a cheesecake, because it has to be as good as hers or I may as well not even attempt one! The truth is, my family is totally satisfied when I make this no-bake version. My husband declared it, "So light and really good!". My son told me I make the best cheesecakes ever, as he was digging into the pan with a spoon!! Yikes! You know what that means, it's time to make anther one!

It's not completely no-bake. I did make my own graham cracker crust and baked it for about 8 minutes (just to firm it all up). Be sure to completely cool the crust down before you add the filling. You could go ahead and use a ready-made crust...but really, why would you? It's SO easy to make your own crust and trust me, the flavor blows away the ready-made kind. I use olive-oil in my recipe to make it a little healthier. If you prefer butter, go ahead and use that instead! I recommend letting this chill for at least an hour before slicing. A warning: it will be very hard to wait that long! If you don't wait that long, it will be almost like pudding texture when you slice. If you do not have limoncello available, you could substitute fresh lemon juice.

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No-Bake Limoncello Cheesecake

for the crust
12 full-size graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar, optional
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
for the filling
10 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon limoncello (or lemon juice)
1 cup heavy cream 
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Blend the graham crackers and sugar until it is finely ground. Add the olive oil; process until moist crumbs form. If it seems to dry, you could add a little water (or milk) a tablespoon at a time until you reach the right consistency. (If using graham cracker crumbs, you can use a bowl and wooden spoon to mix the olive oil in, with the sugar added. )
  2. Press this mixture into a 8-inch springform pan (or pie plate); press a little up the sides to form a slight ridge. Bake for about 6-8 minutes (make sure it doesn't start to brown...every oven is different). Let pie crust cool in fridge while you make the filling.
  3. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and limoncello (or lemon juice) in a bowl until smooth; set aside.
  4. Lightly whip the cream, and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the graham cracker crumb base and smooth with a spatula.
  6. Put it in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

Shannon L. Kenny and The Delights of Dining with Kids in Italy

Dining with Kids in Italy

A guest post: Dining with Kids in Italy

Dining with Kids in Italy

I Sensi (The Senses)

Food is beautiful. It comes from a place. It is best enjoyed with friends and family. Visiting Italy is a sensory experience in which food plays a fundamental role. When focusing on a family travel itinerary, as parents we can easily get caught up in ticking off a list of sites or activities, whereas it is just as valuable to provide time to slow down and let the kids experience the simpler elements of Italian culture that in fact are so profound, like food. As director of the Italian children’s program Arte al Sole and editor of, over the course of almost a decade I have listened to trip stories and tips from both parents and children. In asking kids about their memories of Italy travel, they invariably include details about new and delicious tastes, smells, or experiences on a farm or street market.

Among my daughters’ favorite places in Italy is the tiny town of Minori, on the Amalfi Coast. When I asked them why several years ago, my eldest replied, “Because it smells like lemons.” Several years ago, we branched out from our usual beachfront lodging to stay up on the hill at the family B&B Orto Paradiso, quite a hike up the path into the hillside (but so worth it), immersed in the espaliered lemon trees adorning the ancient terraced cliffs that descend down to the sea. The owner, Flavio, had a simple but very abundant garden on three levels of terracing, with a few grape vines for wine, vegetables, and an orchard. As we lingered at the property in the early evening, Flavio invited my daughters to help him pick fagiolini from the garden, and prepare them in the outdoor summer kitchen as part of an aperitivo for their guests. The girls enjoyed this so much, they insisted that we return in time to help each day.

Dining with Kids in Italy

La Cucina (The Kitchen)
As the heart of the home, the kitchen is important. In Italian kitchens, the same simplicity of the food applies to the kitchens, which are typically simple, practical, and convenient, a place for socializing. Considering the comforts of the kitchen is one of the top items on our list when we source vacation rental properties to recommend on and for Elaia Travel clients. In doing so, I have to mediate between American expectations and Italian realities, focusing on functionality above all. For example, with ample dishes, pots and pans, appliances and silverware, this tiny kitchen had everything we needed to prepare simple summer meals for a family of four! As the saying goes, “La cucina piccola fal la casa grande”—“a little kitchen makes a large home,” a poignant reminder that it’s our connections as people that matter as we enjoy preparing and eating meals together.

La Cultura (the culture)

During each session of our children’s cultural program, we have a local cook teach the students how to prepare regional specialties. Food is in every way one of the “arts” the children are exploring, and indeed beyond being an art to prepare, food’s presence in art is a reflection of its cultural value, laden with symbolism, a fun theme for children to consider whether from the perspective of art history (what did the Ancient Romans eat and how is it reflected in art) to sourcing inspiration for their very own paintings, picking an olive branch or assembling fresh fruit with a vase for a still life. This year, in fact, we have themed an entire week around food as art, with “Art in the Kitchen” at cookbook author and instructor Pamela Sheldon Johns at her farm in Tuscany. We can’t wait to see what the kids create this time!

About the Author

Shannon Kenny is Editor-in-Chief of, an online resource for families traveling in Italy, Director of the children’s cultural program Arte al Sole, with 6 locations in Italy, and Founding Partner of Elaia Travel, a specialty travel concierge with expertise in family travel to Europe.

Thank you for this wonderful guest post, Shannon!
Here is where you can find Shannon:
Arte al Sole


Oven-Baked Strawberry Pancake

Oven-Baked Strawberry Pancake

I'm having some blogging issues these days. I'm trying to get back into a sort of rhythm with my blog. My blog didn't start out as a business for me. It was a hobby and I made a little bit of money with it.

I always knew there were ways to make my blog more of a profitable business, but I never took my blog all the way to that level. I have done sponsored posts with brands I love and I work with an ad network. There once was a time that I felt I had to finally buckle down; to take this blog seriously. It probably was as soon as I returned from IFBC New Orleans (an amazing conference). I felt inspired and I felt like my blog was insignificant. Insignificant for the fact that my photos weren't the best (I learned so much from NY Times Andrew Scrivani at IFBC...he taught a priceless session that pushed me to take better photos). Insignificant because my writing wasn't the best. I knew so many other talented writers out there that inspired me.  I had to work on my writing and treat this blogging thing more seriously.  I know that sometimes feeling insecure about your talents can push you to do better. Those same insecurities can sometimes create the opposite effect and they can create a wall.

Another thing I had to work on was social media! Oh, social media. I love you and some days I don't like you very much. When I started my blog 4 years ago, I was tweeting and pretty much, that was it. I didn't even have a Facebook page in the beginning months. Then along came Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus! What...WHATTTTT!?! I was cool with just posting and tweeting. Oh, I forgot something! In those beginning days there was also the wonderful Foodbuzz. It was a fantastic place where I met most of my original food blogging friends. We would share posts there, comment to each other, click when we liked a post to give the post some buzz. I made their Top 9 various times and I felt like I was doing something right (Foodbuzz is now DailyBuzz).

Oven-Baked Strawberry Pancake

I think I also was probably baking a little bit more. My father was very ill and I had a mission to try to fatten him up with my sweets. It also was the motivation I felt from him when I brought him something delicious: a new cake, an incredible bread. His smiles and his encouraging words pushed me to try different things for him. I not only baked for my kids, I mostly baked for him. When he passed away a year and a 1/2 ago, I lost my baking spunk.

I have some fun things planned for this blog. I will still be posting recipes and sharing some other wonderful things! Things will quiet down here when school starts up again and I will dedicate more time to my favorite place!!

I feel like using my I-Phone is a wonderful way for me to sometimes capture something to share here that I may not have thought of posting when I came across the recipe. Some mornings I make something spontaneously and I don't have the desire to grab my camera. For example, when I baked this large and wonderful pancake.

I came across it in a Martha Stewart issue and thought it was something for sure we had to make. I have a cast-iron skillet and my kids love pancakes. I thought, I had to give this whirl!

I made the batter and posted it on Instagram (yes, I'm talking again about Instagram!). I thought it was funny that it was not something I planned to share here. It ended up being  one of my posts with the most likes, so it inspired me to create a post and share it with all of you!

So here is a breakfast idea that is fun and really easy to make. It saves you the time of waiting at the stove flipping pancakes. Most of my family loved it. My smallest critic told me he prefers my "real pancakes" and asked "when are you making them again, mommy?".  I thought this was a wonderful way to use up some of my mangoes. They were just delightful sliced on served on the side with this delicious pancake!

Very slightly adapted from Martha Stewart.

Oven-Baked Strawberry Pancake
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  5. 3/4 cup whole milk
  6. 1 large egg, room temperature
  7. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon for pan
  8. 1 cup strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced in chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in upper third. Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other nonstick ovenproof pan) in oven. Whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together milk, egg, and melted butter in another bowl. Whisk milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined.
  2. Remove skillet from oven and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, swirling to coat. Pour in batter and smooth top with an offset spatula. Sprinkle evenly with strawberries and remaining 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.
  3. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 5 minutes before dusting with confectioners' sugar and serving with syrup.

Apricot Summer Bread - #TwelveLoaves

Apricot Summer Bread

Summer I tend to bake a little less. Not that I don't LOVE to bake. Not that I don't have little customers complaining at my lack of baking activity.

But you see, we were just in Italy for the first part of the summer and I didn't do much in the kitchen, other than help stir a risotto or slice fruit for one of my mother-in-law's amazing crostatas.

Teresa's (my mother-in-law) kitchen is pretty small and let me tell you, she moves at lightning speed! So it's better that I do as less possible in the kitchen. Something unavoidably happens when we get back to our little Florida kitchen, I don't know where to start! I lean towards creating Italian recipes I saw Teresa make. I try to find the same ingredients and do my own riff of her culinary genius.

Apricot Summer Bread

Apricot Summer Bread

Deciding on what to bake was pretty easy! I have been obsessed with sweet apricots in Italy and here in Florida. I couldn't wait to cook some up and top a super easy (and reliable) dough that I use almost every week.

I found the apricot bread recipe here in Bon Appetit and adapted it slightly (fresh apricots, used different dough recipe, no anise in the dough). Feel free to use only dried apricots if you can't find any ripe fresh ones!

I use this recipe for the bread dough found here.

 Apricot Summer Bread

  1. for the dough (see notes)
  2. for the topping
  3. 2 cups dried apricots
  4. 3 apricots, sliced in small pieces
  5. 1/2 cup sugar
  6. 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  7. 1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract, divided
  1. Combine apricots (dried and fresh) and 2 cups water in a large heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring and mashing apricots occasionally, until fruit is very soft and broken down and most of liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar; stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in preserves and 1 tsp. almond extract. Let cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
  2. Follow directions for focaccia.
  3. Punch down dough; divide in half. Place half of dough in the center of a 12-inch-square piece of parchment paper. Using your fingertips, shape dough into a 9-inch round. Slide dough on parchment paper onto one end of a large baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough on another piece of parchment; transfer to other end of baking sheet. Divide apricot mixture between rounds, leaving a 3/4 inch plain border.
  4. Loosely cover tarts with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until puffed but not doubled in size, 45–50 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Beat egg with 2 tsp. warm water in a small bowl.
  6. Brush border of dough with egg wash. Bake until crust is golden, 25–30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.
  7. DO AHEAD: Bread can be baked 1 day ahead. Let cool completely. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature. Reheat in a 350° oven until warm, 10–15 minutes. Alternatively, freeze in a resealable freezer bag for up to 1 month. Thaw before reheating.
  8. Dust hot bread with powdered sugar. Serve at room temperature.