Annie’s Lemon-Raspberry Cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust

My friend Annie is an excellent cook and baker. Her sugar cookie decorating is flawless (I’ve actually invited her over for a lesson) and after more than one meal I have requested recipes because of being blown away by her flavor combinations. It just so happens that she also creates perfect cheesecakes. Thankfully for me she is also completely generous with her time, ingredient lists, and instructions!

As organic as possible:

For the Crust:

1-8 oz pkg of macadamia nuts, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup of sugar

3/4 cup flour

Mix all 4 ingredients and press into 9″ cheesecake (spring form) pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.


2 lbs of cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups of sugar

1 Tbsp flour

3 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp fresly grated lemon zest

1 tsp of vanilla

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Using a stand up mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar and flour. Then add eggs and yolks one at a time. Add the zest and vanilla and mix until combined. Lastly, add the heavy cream and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the batter into the macadamia crust-lined pan and bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then 200 for 30 minutes. Turn it off and let the cheesecake sit in oven for 2 hours. When cooled completely apply topping as follows if desired:
The topping is from Ina Garten online (1 cup of raspberry jelly melted over low heat, then mixed with 2 pints of fresh raspberries until all the raspberries were coated)

Featured Image courtesy of Ryan French

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like a lemon poppy seed muffin. They’re like light little yellow cakes, beautifully polk-a-dotted with tiny black beads. Like little cake pieces of art, that you can eat- that taste like lemon. They are great for luncheons, brunches, and breakfast… nice with coffee or tea. Lemon poppy seed muffins are perfect to serve alone or along side a salad. And they are great in all sizes from jumbo to mini-muffins. I just love ’em.

Makes 12 medium muffins

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened

3/4 cup Sugar

2 Eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups Flour

1 tsp Baking soda

2 Tbsp Poppy seeds

zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Milk

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbsp)

1 tsp Vanilla


Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with a hand held mixer (or a spoon and determination), until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, trying to keep a creamy consistency but not over-beating. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, poppy seeds, zest and salt. Thirdly, in a liquid measuring cup, stir milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Alternate adding and mixing the “dry” ingredients (flour mixture) and the “wet” ingredients (milk mixture) to the creamy butter mixture- just until incorporated. When all ingredients are combined, scoop batter into prepared muffin pan about 3/4 full. (Side note: I like to use an ice-cream scoop to keep an even amount in each cup. It helps them bake evenly.)

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until edges are just starting to brown and cake is light and spongy. Insert a clean toothpick into center muffin to test. If it comes out clean, they’re ready!




Sadie’s Fruitcake

I can’t tell you why fruitcake gets a bad rap. Maybe I haven’t eaten a bad one. I can tell you that I could eat this one every day. I’m really proud of it. A blogger friend of mine, Natascha of Natascha’s Palace, made a fruitcake challenge and I accepted. I’ve tweaked this cake to perfection, if I do say so myself. It’s a little sugar, spice and everything nice (with less emphasis on spice or heavy on the everything). This fruitcake is dense and moist and outright delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

As organic as possible:

3 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/3 cup chopped dates, pitted

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10 cup tube or angel food pan. (Do yourself a favor and do not choose a decorative bundt cake pan, trust me on this one.) Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large a bowl. Gently toss the pecans and walnuts in the flour mixture. Next add the dates. I like to toss these carefully (a few at a time) in the flour nut mixture because they are the stickiest. Once the chopped dates are coated with the flour mixture, add the cherries, cranberries, regular and golden raisins, and coconut. Gently toss until all fruit is lightly coated with flour mixture.

In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and beat with the butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, a scoop full at a time to creamed butter mixture, until all is combined. (I like to mix this part by hand, to not over-mix.) The batter will be very thick (like the consistency of  a thick drop cookie). Spoon the batter in the prepared pan, and gently even out the top with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake the cake for 1 1/2  hours. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the cake and place onto cooling rack to cool completely before serving.


Spicy Pesto Perfecto

Aunt Leann makes amazing pesto, the dilemma is like a chef she doesn’t write down measurements. She was very sweet to give me her best estimates, and I tweaked them slightly according to taste; which basically means I added more Parmesan and pine nuts. Yum! Our family is not afraid of a little heat, so the cayenne adds a nice kick and the lemon really brightens the up the dish! Also known as Aunt Leann-ish Pesto, the result is as follows:

As organic as possible:

2 cups tightly packed Basil
1/4 cup tightly packed Mint
1/4 cup tightly packed Parsley
1/2 cup Pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
The zest and juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp course Salt
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne
1/2 cup Olive oil (give or take according to preference)

1 pound Linguine (or pasta of your choice)

Roughly chop the the basil, mint and parsley and place into a food processor. Add pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, salt, pepper and cayenne. Put the lid on the processor and pulse a couple times. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in until somewhat liquified, but still thick. Taste! If need be add more vinegar, cayenne, salt, etc. It should have a strong flavor! You can use it right away or let it sit in the refrigerator until dinner time. It’s a great recipe for making ahead!
Cook noodles according to package directions and strain. When ready, add pesto to hot noodles and toss. Add freshly grated Parmesan as desired for serving. Enjoy!

(Psst, pesto makes a great sandwich spread too.)

Lemon Bread

I appreciate the sour note of a lemon, especially in something sweet. This bread is great in the morning for breakfast, it works as a dessert, and can be served on the side of a salad. But my favorite way to eat this treat is in the afternoon with a cup of coffee (or tea for my English friends). It’s the perfect little bright pick-me-up.

Makes 1 Loaf

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp lemon zest

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk


1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 Tbsp lemon zest

2 pinches sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease (or spray) a loaf pan and set aside. Beat the butter with an electric mixer (or your strong arms and a utensil) until creamy. Add the half the sugar and beat into the butter, then add the other half of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and zest, mix until blended. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the glaze. Place the powdered sugar and lemon juice into a bowl and stir until it makes a thick, sticky, yummy liquid. Remove the loaf from the pan and place it on the serve ware of your choice. Spoon the glaze onto the loaf, allowing it to flow down the sides like lava out of a volcano (just the flow part, not the fire or sputtering).

Before the glaze dries sprinkle the zest and pinches of sugar evenly across the top. Serve at will.