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Honeymoon Ravioli

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Easy Italian Pulled Pork

Learn to Make Fresh Pasta (with a video!)

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Make Homemade Limoncello


These Aren't Pasta Noodles - They're Zucchini Noodles!

Tips for Homemade Marinara Sauce

Breakfast Fruit Walkaway is a family favorite

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

A Delicious Vegetarian Dish: Pasta alla Norma

Love knitting? Come read my knitting blog, Italian Dish Knits.

Eating Our Way Through the Amalfi Coast

My Camera Bag that does not look like a Camera Bag!

Make Whipped Cream That Lasts

My Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe

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Lemon Cake from Capri

Butternut Squash Soup

Cacio e Pepe

Thoughts About Making Espresso

 Thanks, Mom!


Cranberry Cake for the Holidays


Green Bean, Potato, Pasta Salad with Pesto

Learn How to Make Artisan Bread with no Kneading for Pennies


Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits Require No Baking

Make Pie Dough in 60 Seconds!

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


Spicy Bucatini all'Amatriciana - a Roman Classic

My Mom's Pork Chops

Chocolate Panna Cotta


My Five Inexpensive Kitchen Essentials

Beet Ravioli with Goat Cheese


Mini Cheesecakes with Cranberry Topping & Chocolate Crust




Sometimes serving individual little cheesecakes is just a little more special than slicing servings from a large cheesecake.  If you're having a small dinner with just a few people, mini cheesecakes are a fun option.  I have two ways to make mini cheesecakes, which are easy and work well - one is Wilton's inidividual mini cheesecake pans and the other is this Norpro mini cheesecake pan.  But what if you don't have these pans and don't want to invest in something like this when you're only going to use them once in a blue moon?  You can bake a whole cheesecake in a 9x13 pan and just cut out individual cheesecakes with a cutter.  


Wilton mini cheesecake pans and Norpro Small Cheesecake Pans


The cheesecake needs ample time to chill before cutting, so making it the day before you plan to serve works out well.  It can chill all night in the fridge and be all ready the next day for cutting. You can also make the cranberry orange topping the day before.  

Using individual little cheesecake pans works the best and this method of cutting them out with a round cutter works well, but it does take a little fiddling - the cheesecake is very sticky and you will have to wash the cutter out between each cutting.  You also will have a lot of cheesecake "trimmings" but hey - they're still great the next day!   But this is a method for you to use if you don't have a specialty pan. 

The crust is made from chocolate graham crackers and the topping is an orange infused cranberry sauce.  The combination of chocolate with the orange and cranberry is, I think, a great holiday flavor and looks so pretty!


Mini Cheesecakes with Cranberry Topping & Chocolate Crust

for a printable recipe, click here

makes about 8 mini cheesecakes, depending on the size you cut them.  You can also just serve this in the pan, and just cut them into bars.  You can also make this recipe in a regular 10" springform pan.

This cheesecake needs ample time to chill in the refrigerator before cutting. You can make this the day before and let it cool overnight in the refrigerator.

You will need about a 3" round cutter

1½ cups ground chocolate graham crackers (about 12 whole sheets)
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, melted 

5 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3 Tablespoons flour
1 8-ounce container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons orange liqueur, like Cointreau or Triple Sec

¾ cup sugar
4 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
1 bag fresh cranberries (12 ounce bag)
2 oranges to zest (for the topping) and peel (for garnish)

Make crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grind the chocolate crackers and the sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until blended.   Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray (I use nonstick foil so I don't have to do this).  Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan, using a flat cup of some kind. Bake for about 10 minutes to set crust.  Remove from oven and let cool.


Make the filling:

Lower the oven heat to 325°.  Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer until soft. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the flour and then the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg well before adding the next.  Add the sour cream and the vanilla extract and orange liqueur.  Blend.  

Pour the mixture on top of the crust in the pan.  Flatten with a spatula.  Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, just until set.  Remove from oven and allow to cool and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.  


Make the topping:

Stir sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.  Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a simmer.  Add the cranberries and cook until they begin to pop, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Stir in the zest of one orange.  Remove  from heat, place in a bowl and cool completely in the refrigerator.  

Assemble cheesecakes:

Spray a 3" round cutter with cooking spray or run under water.  Cut out a cheesecake, making sure to press cutter all the way down through the crust. With a spatula, remove the cheesecake.  Wet a spoon with water and remove the cheesecake from the cutter by gently pressing with the wet spoon.  The cheesecake comes out better if you press it out from the crust side.  This is a very sticky process and you may need to take the wet spoon and fix any damage to the crust.  Turn the cheesecake right side up on your serving plate.  Fix any ragged edges.  Clean the cutter and cut the rest of the cheesecakes.  

When all the cheesecakes are cut out, top with the cranberry sauce and garnish with fresh orange peel.  

(Save all the "trimmings" for future snacking - they keep well in the fridge for several days.) 




Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and so I thought I would compile a little roundup of recipes from the blog that might give you some new ideas or helpful tips. These are some of my favorites - some oldies but goodies! There's everything from a very different way to make turkey to a fun version of pumpkin pie.  I hope you enoy some of these posts!

Happy Thanksgiving! 


Make Ahead Buffet Mashed Potatoes 

Worried about having the time or energy to make mashed potatoes while you're juggling the turkey, side dishes and all your relatives?  You can make this dish the day before Thanksgiving and have it all ready to pop in the oven on Thanksgiving Day or even the week before Thanksgiving and freeze it.  It's delicious. 



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Announcing November Pizza Making Class

Pizza Making Class

Sunday, November 13, 2016

1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

** SOLD OUT **

 at my Okemos, Michigan home 

Come join the fun and learn how to make homemade pizza!

You will learn how to make easy homemade pizza dough,
the best flour to use and the secrets to making terrific
Neapolitan style pizza. We will also make six different kinds
of pizzas, which we will enjoy that afternoon. 

You will also make your own homemade dough
and get to take it home.

Space is limited. Please e-mail me for details or click
on the "Cooking Classes" tab at the top of this blog.