Cheese and Chive Challah Rolls

Ok, there is only ONE DAY LEFT to vote in the Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest!!!  Please go here for all the information, and please vote – if you have already voted, consider voting again.  I just found out that the winner is also going to be on TV, do you believe it??  That is really the last thing I need right now, but it would be an experience I would never forget, and my girls would go NUTS!!

I was talking to one of my favorite people at work today.  I won’t go into more details to protect their identity, but this person was asking me if I ever felt like one of those chinese acrobats that spins plates.  That analogy never occurred to me, but YES, all the time – in fact I am doing it as I write this right now.  Lately this person has felt like that quite often, and boy do I understand.  I am constantly focussing on the plate that is just about to stop, and it is a hard game, let me tell you.  I didn’t know what to tell the person other than, hang in there.  Eventually the plates will start spinning on their own, at least that’s what I keep telling myself…

Every once in a while though, and only when I can see the forest through the trees – I decide to make bread.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light at least a year or so ago, and it has been sitting in my pantry ever since, just waiting for me to see that forest.  When I finally made it, I had every intention of following the recipe exactly and making a Challah.  Unfortunately I don’t see the forest that often, and the bread flour I used was probably past it’s prime.  During the first rising, it hardly rose at all.  So, I quickly decided instead of chucking the dough all together, I would try making rolls, and see if I could salvage the ingredients.  Luckily for me, it worked.  They ended up rising during the second round, and in the oven, and they were excellent.  Nice and fluffy on the inside, a little crusty on the outside, and just all around a good recipe.  So – the next time you see that forest, treat yourself to some bread making.  Maybe while you are waiting for the dough to rise, you can spin some of those plates that stopped a while ago.  I know it alway makes me feel better.


  • 1 cup warm 2% reduced-fat milk (100° to 110°)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded aged fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 10 7/10 ounces bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 13 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, divided (about 3 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Stir in butter, salt, 5 egg yolks, and 3 eggs. Stir in fontina and chives. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 10.7 ounces bread flour (about 2 1/4 cups) and 12.4 ounces (about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour to yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down dough; cover and let rise 50 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

To make Challah, follow these instructions:  Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a rope about 15 inches long. Place 3 ropes parallel to one another; braid ropes. Pinch ends together, and tuck under loaf. Repeat procedure with remaining 3 ropes. Place loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

To make rolls following these instructions:  Cut dough into 24 equal portions.  Create a round ball out of each portion by tucking it under itself.  Place the balls into two 12 cup muffin tins.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water, stirring well with a whisk. Brush loaves  (or rolls) gently with egg mixture. Sprinkle loaves (or rolls) evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano (which I didn’t do, and they were still amazing). Bake at 375° for 25 minutes (or less if making rolls) or until golden. Remove from baking sheet; cool on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cheese and Chive Challah Rolls

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Smoked Leg Quarters with Fresh Herbs

For the most part, I am not really a superstitious person.  I have never really liked Friday the 13th, although my father was born on one, so he claimed it was his lucky day.  I hated when a black cat would cross my path, but I would usually find something about the cat that was not all black, or say that a street is not really a path, so it doesn’t count.  The one superstition I have never really been able to get away from is that things seem to happen in threes, especially when it comes to death.  I try to convince myself otherwise, but time after time, it seems to hold true.  This week was no exception.  My heart goes out to my friends and family that are grieving right now.

So what does this have to do with smoked chicken?  Well, when my kids were young, they went to bed really early – and so I fed them before my husband got home from work, just so they wouldn’t fall asleep at the dinner table.  Sunday nights was usually the one night we could count on where we would all sit down together – and we would call it “family dinner.”  As they got older, we have transitioned to eating together each night – which I love, but for some reason Sunday night dinners will always be my favorite.  It is the one night a week that I can really focus on food.  Recently, Sunday night dinners have taken a new spin in our house, they have turned into “Egg Night.”  I cook the sides, and my grill-master husband smokes something on the Big Green Egg.  We have been doing this for months, and he is getting better and better.  This chicken that he smoked was AMAZING!!  It fell off the bone, and had the most delicious smoked herb flavor, it was just a party in my mouth.  This came from the Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book – thank goodness Amazon screwed up during the holidays and sent us this book by accident, the recipes are incredible!  Well, the girls cannot get enough of the egg, and neither can I.

I remember many Sunday night dinners when our friends would come over, we traded houses every Sunday – and we did this for years while our kids were young. Now that they are older, we have grown apart, but I used to love when my friend’s mother would visit and join us for dinner.  She was hilarious, and had a great sense of humor.  She would say things under her breath, but I always heard them, and laughed.  She passed away this week, and will definitely be missed.  Sonya, this chicken is for you – I know you would have loved it, along with banana bread baking in the oven…


  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 6 chicken leg-thigh quarters


Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.  Reserve 1/2 cup of marinade for basting and then pour the remainder into a shallow dish or a resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken and turn to coat.  Cover the dish or seal the bag and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.

Build a fire (wood or combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking.  When the temperature is approximately 300 degrees F, remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill, skin side up, away from the coals.  Cook for 45 minutes, then flip the chicken, baste the reserved marinade, and cook for an additional 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F.

For a printer-friendly version of the recipe, please click here:  Smoked Leg Quarters with Fresh Herbs

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Lavender Honey Madeleines

If you have not been following along the last couple of weeks, don’t worry, you still have time to vote!  You can get all caught up here.  In addition, the Seattle Times decided to write about this little contest going on and I was thrilled to see my picture was used.  Hopefully this generated some votes as well…

I love Madeleines, they are definitely one of my most favorite french treat.  I have to say though, there is really nothing better than popping them into your mouth right out of the oven, once you have eaten them that way, it is hard to go back.  I recently read about a new bakery in NYC where you can order them and they will make them fresh for you while you wait.  I can’t wait to go there this summer and try them.

This holiday season one of the people on my team surprised me with some wonderful treats that he mail-ordered from Fouchon – one of the most amazing food stores in Paris.  He gave me some to-die-for caramels, and some lavender honey…  I wanted to open the honey right there and dig in, but I knew I needed to wait for something…although I wasn’t sure what.  One day I was flipping through my recipe pile in the pantry, and found one out of Bon Appetit for Orange Honey Madeleines.  That’s when it hit me, wouldn’t they taste better made with lavender honey instead??  I whipped out the honey and started baking.  The great news about madeleines is the batter can sit in your refrigerator overnight – and they are so easy to pop in the oven, so there is no excuse not to make them fresh.  These came out wonderfully, with a subtle taste of lavender.  They were crisp on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, they were perfect.  So, the next time you are looking for a special treat to serve your guests after dinner, look no further.  Make the batter the day before, and then pop these in the oven after dinner.  Your guests will think you are a brilliant – and you can package up some leftovers for them to take home, that is if there are any left…


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lavender honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla  extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange  zest
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted,  cooled, plus more for molds
  • special equipment

    One 16-cookie madeleine pan with 3×2″ molds


Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Using  an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow and  thick, about 4 minutes. Beat in honey, vanilla, and orange zest. Gently fold in  dry ingredients. Add 5 Tbsp. melted butter; gently fold into batter. Press  plastic wrap directly onto surface of batter; chill for at least 3 hours.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°. Lightly  brush madeleine molds with butter. Place pan on a baking sheet. Drop 1 scant  Tbsp. batter into each mold. Bake until golden and a tester inserted into center  comes out clean, about 10 minutes.

Remove pan from oven, invert, and quickly knock madeleines out  of pan. Serve warm with some powdered sugar dusted on top.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Lavender Honey Madeleines

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Forked Oven-Roasted Potatoes

If you did not see my last post, you still have plenty of time to vote and let me know your charity of choice, just in case I happen to win.  I am keeping my fingers crossed, but with the way the voting works, I am not that optimistic.  I would assume that most people’s strategy will be to vote for the person you want to win, and then your next two votes will go to people who you don’t think will win – well, if everyone does that, and everyone agrees on the recipes least likely to win, they will actually win.  I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens.

The potato challenge in my house has gotten easier and easier, we are now to the point that almost all the potato recipes I make, both of my girls will at least eat a small portion.  A month of so ago, Bon Appetit highlighted a number of wonderful potato recipes, of which I have been trying a little at a time.  This one really caught my eye, mostly because I have been eyeing these baby potatoes in the market that I have been wanting to try for a while.  I actually cut the recipe in half, and didn’t even use all the oil that was specific below, and my potatoes came out wonderfully.  They were a little more involved than making normal roasted potatoes, but boiling them first and then roasted them really made all the difference.  They were super crispy on the outside, and soft and creamy on the inside – they were excellent.  Both my girls liked them, so I will definitely be making these again.  Next time I might serve them with some sour cream and chive sauce on the side…just for dipping.  I can’t wait!


  • 6 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes (1  1/2″–2″-diameter), peeled
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus  more
  • 1/2 cup olive  oil


Preheat oven to 425°. Working in 2 batches, cook potatoes in a  large pot of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer  potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet. When cool enough to handle, firmly scrape the  tines of a fork up and down potatoes, creating a rough, grooved  surface.

Pour oil onto another rimmed baking sheet; bake (to heat oil)  for 5 minutes. Add potatoes; turn to coat. Season with 1 tablespoon salt. Roast,  turning 3 times during cooking and occasionally basting with oil, until browned  and tender, 60–70 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Forked Oven-Roasted Potatoes

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Swedish Meatball Stoup

I found out today I am a finalist in the Girl Scout Cookie recipe contest with my Chocolate Peanut Butter Tag-A-Dos Cheesecake!!!  I am thrilled, but now I really need your help – the winner is determined by who gets the most votes, so I really need you to go here and cast your vote.  Now for the fun part…so if I win, I get $250 (plus Girl Scout Cookies, for my team at work).  I have never done a give-away on my blog before, so I am going to try something new.  Please leave me a comment on the charity you think is most deserving of the money – and as a bonus, the wonderful company that I work for is going to match my donation, which means $500 to a deserving organization.  The only rule is that it must have a valid 501 (c) (3) public charity status.  My daughter will pick a random comment, and if I win – that charity will be given $500.  So please send this blog post to your friends, ask them to vote, and leave a comment with a the charity of your choice – and better yet, post a link on your Facebook account or Twitter – this is a great cause!!

On a completely different topic – I have some milestones that I would like to acknowledge – I just posted my 300th recipe – can you believe it?  I certainly can’t – but again, I do cook a lot.  I love looking back to the first few posts, to see how much the blog has changed.  In addition, I am one person away from having 500 subscribers – now that is even more amazing to me than the number of blog posts!  When I started this blog, I never imagined that anyone would ever read it, outside of my family and friends.  Then I discovered Foodgawker and Tastespotting, and now I have Pinterest to thank.  It is amazing how these sites can get people to your blog – so thanks to all those sites that have helped me reach these milestones.

It must be my lucky day, because my blog friend Kirsty just posted her Banana Bread recipe contest, and my mother’s recipe came in a tie for second.  I am thrilled, and so should you Mom!!  She had a lot of great recipes, so I am honored to have come out almost on top.  Thanks Kirsty!!

And, I almost forgot – Kristi from Necessary Indulgences awarded me a Liebster’ed Award – this is my first blog award!  Thanks very much Kristi – I really appreciate it, and what a surprise that was!!  Kristi has a lovely blog, so please check it out…

Now, I think I have used up my blogging time tonight…so I leave you with this recipe for Swedish Meatball Stoup, which I adapted from Rachael Ray.  Normally, I am not a huge fan, but I must say – she makes some great dishes with meatballs.  I made this for a crowd of people the other weekend, and it was a huge hit – for the kids and the grownups.  It will take you longer than 30 minutes to make this, but it is worth it – and while you are waiting for it to cook – maybe you can vote for me again…


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) (once around the pan)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut into rounds
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1 quart chicken stock or broth
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/3 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 2 rounded teaspoonfuls Dijon mustard
  •  1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup plain bread crumbs (about 3 generous handfuls)
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound medium or wide egg noodles
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or fresh dill, your choice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and butter and when the butter melts into the EVOO, add the mushrooms, celery, carrots, onions, and bay leaf. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the celery, carrots, and onions begin to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the flour. Cook for another minute. Whisk in the beef and chicken stock to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

While the soup comes to a boil, mix the meat with the mustard, egg, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Roll the meat into small balls, 1 inch in diameter, tops.  Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until slightly browned.

Remove the lid from the soup and add the balls. After 2 to 3 minutes, stir in the egg noodles and cook for 6 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir the sour cream into the stoup. Adjust the salt and pepper and fish out the bay leaf. Serve the stoup with a generous sprinkle of either chives or dill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Swedish Meatball Stoup

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Truffled Mac and Cheese

I am holding up the white flag.  I feel like I was run over by a truck this week, and I can seem to get the skid marks to go away.  What a week – between my older daughter’s rehearsals and performances for Annie Jr. and people coming and going from our home – that alone could have been enough to drive someone over the edge.  Add to that my husband was travelling, and work seemed to explode into hundreds and hundreds of emails, all needing attention – but I was too busy in meetings to respond.  I am seriously surprised I am still coherent enough to talk about it.  I am sorry I missed my usual Wednesday post – but after reading this, I am sure you understand.  Something (actually many, that I don’t wish to talk about right now) had to suffer – and this week my blog was one of them.

So, what do I make for dinner when my husband is away?  There are times when the answer is “nothing,” although that does not make my kids very happy.  Normally we have pasta.  spaghetti and meatballs seems to be the fan favorite – but macaroni and cheese is another one high on the list.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I really couldn’t get past the “Truffled…”  Last year when I took my older daughter to Paris, she had Truffled Mac and Cheese one night for dinner – and she still talks about it.  It was the best Mac and Cheese she had ever eaten.  Well, this was not as good as the one in Paris (which probably had fresh truffles in it), but it was pretty darn delicious – especially for a light recipe.  All of us had at least two helpings, and there was plenty left-over for the next day.  It re-heated wonderfully for a Mac and Cheese recipe.  I highly recommend it – the cheese was creamy, and the truffle oil really gave it that special kick.  So – I am not going to tell you that this recipe will turn chaos into order, but it certainly is a nice treat.  Now, back to the laundry…


  • 2 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
  • 2 cups sliced onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Comte or Gruyere cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white truffle oil
  • 2 ounces French bread baguette, torn
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


Heat 1 3/4 cups milk, onion, and bay leaf in a large saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edges (do not boil). Cover and remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Strain milk mixture through a colander over a bowl; discard solids. Return milk to saucepan over medium heat. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Gradually stir flour mixture and salt into warm milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 6 minutes or until mixture cools to 155°. Gradually add fontina and Comté cheeses, stirring until cheeses melt. Stir in pasta and truffle oil. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart broiler-safe glass or ceramic baking dish.

Preheat broiler.

Place bread, Parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor; process until coarse crumbs form. Drizzle with olive oil; pulse until fine crumbs form. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pasta. Place dish on middle rack in oven; broil 2 minutes or until golden brown.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Truffled Mac and Cheese

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Tag-A-Dos Cheesecake

It is almost that time again…that time we all love…yes, Girl Scout Cookie season!!  It is definitely one of the highlights of winter.  A few weeks ago, a woman on my team (who just happens to be a Girl Scout Troop Leader) told me about this recipe contest that the Girl Scouts of Western Washington were holding.  I gave it a quick glance, but thought of all the things going on in my life right now, and politely declined.  Well, she didn’t give up that easily – and pretty soon recipes started floating around in my head.  I couldn’t get them out, they were haunting me.  I knew what I had to do.

My first thought was Thin Mints, everyone’s favorite – but I just couldn’t come up with anything that original.  Then I moved onto Peanut Butter.  There were two cookies of that variety, and I decided I had to come up with something that had both.  I was inspired by this blog, but decided to go the cheesecake route.  I finally decided on a chocolate cheesecake with a Do-Si-Dos crust – but then I needed some type of ganache or frosting on top, so I could put 1/2 Tagalong cookie on top.  I settled on a cream cheese peanut butter ganache.

I brought them to a Super Bowl party tonight, and they were a hit.  The best quote of the night was “I feel like I am biting into a giant Tagalong cookie.”  He was right – as soon as I tried one, that was exactly my feeling as well.  So – right now I am hoping to be a finalist.  If I am, I would like to do something I have never done with my blog before.  If I win the grand prize, I would like to donate the money to a charity – and I am going to ask you – my readers – to choose the charity.  That’s right – so stayed tuned for more on that – no sense in giving more details if I am not a finalist.  I will be keeping my fingers crossed – but in the meantime, Angie – these are for you – and there will be plenty to taste at work tomorrow!  For everyone else – Girl Scout Cookies are on sale from March 2nd to the 18th – and they have even created a cookie locator, as well as an app, that tells you exactly where girls are selling cookies in your neighborhood – so then you too can support your local Girl Scouts!!



  • 20 Do-si-dos (1 box)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted, divided
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs, lighted combined
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 Tagalong Cookies, cut in half

Makes 24 standard cupcakes sized cheesecakes



Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Line standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Place Do-si-dos in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Mix with 1/4 cup of melted butter to make a crust.  Press 1 scant tablespoon of crumbs into the bottom of each cup.  Press down using the back of a wooden spoon.  Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Let cool.

Stir together the cocoa and rest of the melted butter (1/4 cup).  Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add the cocoa and butter mixture.  Gradually mix in the sweetened condensed milk.  Lightly mix the egg and vanilla, then add to the cream cheese mixture until combined well.  Spoon into the cups (about 3/4 full).  Bake 30 – 35 minutes, or until set.  Cool.


Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer on medium speed. Add salt, then peanut butter, then vanilla. Add the cream and blend well.  Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour.  Once the cheesecakes are completely cooled, pipe the ganache onto the cheesecakes, leaving a nice border around the edge.  Place a Tagalong cookie (that has been cut in half) in the center.

Keep the cheesecakes chilled until ready to serve.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Tag-a-dos Cheesecake

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