Jalapeno Lime Fried Chicken

I found this gem of a recipe years and years ago on a really nice food blog called Ceramic Canvas, which sadly no longer exists. I didn’t have the recipe memorized, and couldn’t find it online anywhere, so I thought it was gone forever. This made me very sad because it is by far one of the most successful recipes I’ve ever made–people inhale it. The other day I was going through some old notebooks, and I came across the ingredients scribbled on a spare piece of paper. Jackpot!

I always serve the chicken along with guacamole. It’s flavorful and delicious by itself, but when paired with guacamole, it is impossible not to eat all of it in a single sitting.

Ingredient list: 2 lbs of chicken breast trimmed and cut into long, thin strips, canola oil, salt/pepper, sesame oil, corn starch, Chinese 5 spice, red pepper flakes, oregano, limes, jalapenos and 2 egg whites.

Mix up the egg whites, sesame oil, corn starch, spices and a dash of salt/pepper until it forms a brownish liquid. Pour it over the raw chicken, and mix it up until each strip of chicken is evenly covered. It doesn’t look like much right now, but just wait.

If you don’t have a deep fryer, a wok will do. When the canola oil is extremely hot, add in the chicken strips in batches using tongs, about 5 at a time. Keep moving them around so they don’t stick to the bottom or each other. When the chicken turns a light golden brown, after about 3-5 minutes, take it out of the oil and set on paper towels. It will turn a slightly darker color a minute or so after you take it out.

Add the cooked chicken, a cut up jalapeno and a lime cut into eighths into a large bowl and toss for a couple minutes, until the outside of the chicken has absorbed the lime and jalapeno flavor. If you aren’t a fan of spice, remove the jalapeno seeds before this step.

Prepare the guacamole, to be used as a dipping sauce. Click here for my guacamole recipe.

Jalapeno Lime Fried Chicken
Serves 3-4, cook time half hour

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into long, thin strips
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1.5 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice
  • 1.5 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 limes, 1 cut into eighths, 1 for garnish
  • 2 jalapenos, 1 cut into eighths, 1 for garnish
  • Guacamole for dipping
  1. Combine the egg whites, sesame oil, Chinese 5 spice, oregano, red pepper flakes, corn starch and a dash of salt and pepper in a medium bowl until it turns into a brown liquid.
  2. Add in the raw chicken strips and stir until each piece of chicken is evenly covered in the brown mixture.
  3. Pour 2 cups of canola oil into a wok, and turn the burner on high heat. Once the oil is ready for frying, add the chicken in batches (about 5 at a time). Make sure to keep moving them around to keep them from sticking to the bottom or each other. When they turn a light brown color, remove them from the oil and set them on paper towels.
  4. When all the chicken has been fried, pour them in a large bowl, along with the cut up jalapeno and lime. Toss the contents for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken has absorbed the lime and jalapeno flavors.
  5. Serve with lime slices and guacamole.


Bacon Wrapped BBQ Shrimp with Cheddar Grits and Collard Greens

This is my first attempt at any sort of southern/soul food. If we are judging success based on the amount of leftovers at the end of the meal, this would be a 10/10. I doubled the recipe, in a vain attempt to have food for Ben and I for the next couple days. By the end of the day, it was all gone. Also of note, if you are planning to make this meal, I would suggest doing so before the new year (if you are planning on any sort of weight-related resolutions). I’m not counting calories until 2014.

I found everything pretty easy to throw together. The only tricky part is the timing – The greens take 45 minutes, the shrimp 20 and the grits are instant. So planning is important if you want everything to be hot all at once.

It may not necessarily look pretty, but this food is incredibly good. The ultimate guilty pleasure, if you will.

ngredient list: SHRIMP: 1 bottle of BBQ sauce, 1.5 packs of bacon, sliced in half, 1 lb of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined. GREENS: 1 bunch collard greens, washed, trimmed and chopped, 1 sliced shallot, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1.5 cups chicken broth. GRITS: 4 packets of instant grits, 1.5 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup half n’ half, 4 thinly sliced scallions, salt and pepper.

In a large pan, saute the shallots and garlic in a little oil. Next, add in half the chicken broth and let simmer for about 30 seconds.

Add in the chopped greens, salt and pepper to taste, and the rest of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Let cook about 45 minutes. Check/stir every 10 minutes.

Next, prepare the bacon wrapped shrimp. In a bowl, toss the bacon strips in enough BBQ sauce to coat all the bacon. Wrap each shrimp in a slice of bacon and place on an oiled baking sheet. Tin foil was a good move here, because scraping off baked-on BBQ sauce is not a fun job. Dribble a little BBQ sauce over the top of the shrimp, and throw them into the oven at 425 degrees F for 20 or so minutes. You know they are done when the BBQ sauce is sizzling and they look almost crunchy.

After you put the shrimp in the oven, make the grits. Empty 4 packets of grits into a bowl, and heat 1 cup of water and 1 cup of half n’ half to a boil. Slowly mix in the water/cream mixture to the grits. Add in the shredded cheddar, butter and salt/pepper to taste. Kind of looks like bland porridge here, but trust me–these are full of flavor.

When the greens have completely wilted and absorbed all the liquid, and the bacon wrapped shrimp are done, it’s time to plate. Top the grits with the sliced scallions, and dig in. The grits, bacon and collards alone may not be particularly impressive, but get all 3 on your fork and take a bite. Soo gooood.

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Shrimp with Cheddar Grits and Collard Greens
Serves 5, cook time 1 hour

  • 1 bunch collard greens, washed trimmed and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1.5 packs bacon, cut in half
  • 4 packets instant grits
  • 1 cup half n’ half
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large pan, saute the shallot and garlic in a little oil over medium heat, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in half the chicken broth and stir.
  4. Add in collard greens, the rest of the broth and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the greens are completely coated. Bring liquid to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and cover for about 45 minutes, or until the greens are totally wilted and have absorbed all the liquid. Check and stir every 10 minutes or so.
  6. After you leave the greens to cook, prepare the bacon. Coat the bacon strips in BBQ sauce, and wrap each shrimp in a strip of bacon.
  7. Place the bacon wrapped shrimp on an oiled baking pan covered in foil, and pour a dollop of BBQ sauce onto each shrimp.
  8. Bake shrimp in the oven for about 20 minutes. When the bacon is hardened and crispy, and the BBQ sauce is sizzling, they are done.
  9. When the shrimp have been baking for about 10 minutes, Start on the grits. Empty 4 packets of instant grits into a medium sized bowl.
  10. In a pan, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup half n’ half. Bring to a boil.
  11. Slowly mix in the water and cream mixture with the grits a little at a time. Mix in the butter and shredded cheddar, and salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Take the greens off the heat, take the shrimp out of the oven, and top the grits with chopped scallions.

$7 Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic

I make this chicken several times a month for a couple reasons. Firstly, it’s delicious. I have never in my life tasted more tender or flavorful chicken, and the skin always turns out extra crispy. Secondly, it’s cheap. Whole chickens are around a dollar a pound, but can feed you for days. And lastly, as you’re about to see, it is extremely easy to throw together.

Beautiful golden brown roasted chicken, full of flavor and the crispiest skin ever.

ngredient list: Salt, pepper, a whole chicken patted completely dry, melted butter, a lemon cut into eighths, a head of garlic cut in half, and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme.

You will need a large pan and a roasting rack. Lay the chicken breast side up.

Make sure to pat down the chicken completely with paper towels. The more thoroughly you do this, the more crispy the skin will be. Generously salt and pepper the inside of the bird, then stuff the thyme sprigs, garlic and lemon inside. Next, rub lots of melted butter all over the skin. Don’t be afraid to give it a good massage–something the chicken would really enjoy, were it still alive.

Salt and pepper the outside, tie the legs together with kitchen twine (yes, I used a hair tie), and tuck the wings underneath the body to ensure even cooking. Pop it in the oven for 20 minutes per pound, and take it out when the skin is golden brown, the juices are sizzling and your house smells incredible.

Roasted Chicken 012

$7 Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic
Serves 6, cook time 2 hours

  • 1 whole roasting chicken, about 5 lbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, cut into eighths
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Remove the chicken from packaging and pat completely dry. Lay breast side up on a roasting rack.
  3. Generously salt and pepper the inside of the bird.
  4. Stuff the chicken with the thyme sprigs, lemon wedges and the garlic head.
  5. Pour melted butter all over the skin and massage it in with your hands.
  6. Salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.
  7. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck the wings underneath the body.
  8. Cook approximately 20 minutes per pound. I usually shorten the time–for example, this chicken was 5.88 pounds, and it took about 110 minutes to cook. The inside should be at 185 degrees F.
  9. Take it out of the oven, let it rest for about 10 minutes, and carve.

Quiche Lorraine with a No-Roll Crust

I recently purchased a tart pan to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, and have decided to get more use out of it. This week, I made the traditional French dish Quiche Lorraine, and boy, do I feel domestic. I don’t own a rolling pin, though, so I’m not that domestic. Instead of spending 2 hours covering every inch of myself and my kitchen in flour, I opted for the much easier no-roll press-in-the-pan dough. It’s not as lazy as the frozen variety, yet not as work-intensive as roll-out dough.

Quiche Lorraine with bacon and leeks: perfect Christmas morning breakfast!

Quiches are really difficult to mess up. Pie crust + meat/veggies + eggs + cheese/milk = quiche. Don’t even measure it out. As long as it’s cooked all the way through, it will be good. Quiche Lorraine, however, is a different story. Its characteristic creamy and fluffy texture is achieved by using very specific ratios of cream, eggs and Gruyere cheese. It’s about as French as you can get.

Ingredient list: Grated gruyere cheese, diced onions, sliced leeks, salt, flour, nutmeg, olive oil, cream, pepper, milk, bacon lardons, minced garlic and eggs. You will need a tart pan with a removable bottom, which Target sells in many different colors.

If you’ve never cleaned and sliced leeks before, watch this short tutorial. The first time I ever cooked with leeks, the finished product tasted strangely crunchy and grainy. Come to find out, that was straight up dirt because I didn’t wash my leeks properly.

To make the crust, mix together all the ingredients until a dough forms. Grease your tart pan well.

Quiche Lorraine 083
Using your fingers, spread the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, until smooth and even.

Saute garlic, onions and leeks until translucent, about 6 minutes. Fry the bacon lardons until crisp. Lardon is just a fancy term for bacon cut up into little squares. Kitchen scissors works well for this.

To make the filling, whisk together cream, eggs, yolks, s/p and nutmeg. Add in the cheese.

Quiche Lorraine 101???????????????????????????????
Pour the veggie mixture into the tart pan, then sprinkle the bacon on top.

Lastly, pour in the filling and cheese mixture over the veggies and bacon. Throw this baby in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes. It’s done when the top is lightly browned and the middle is set (check this with a toothpick). If you’ve reached the 40 minute mark and your quiche is still a little raw in the middle, cover with foil and cook 5-10 minutes more.

Let cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the tart pan, and it’s ready to eat. If you remembered to grease the tart pan, it will pop right out. If not, good luck with that.

Quiche Lorraine with a No-Roll Crust
Serves 6, cook time 1 hour

  • 1.5 cups + 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pack bacon, diced into small lardons
  • 1 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • s/p to taste
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To prepare the dough, mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add in oil and milk, and mix until a dough forms.
  3. Grease your tart pan. Press the dough firmly and evenly into the sides and bottom of the tart pan using your fingers.
  4. Using olive oil, saute the garlic, onions and leeks over medium heat until soft and translucent; about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. In the same saute pan, fry the bacon lardons until crisp. Remove the grease with a paper towel.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, eggs and yolks. Season with s/p and nutmeg. Add grated cheese.
  7. Sprinkle the veggie mix evenly into the tart pan, then add the bacon. Pour the filling mixture and cheese over the veggies and bacon.
  8. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. When the top is lightly browned and the middle is set, it’s finished. If the middle is still raw after 40 minutes, cover with foil and bake a couple minutes more, checking often.

Zut alors, c’est magnifique!

Tasty Fresh Fried Rice

So. I really, really love fried rice, particularly Thai style. It’s greasy, spicy and loaded with different flavors. I’ve spend years–literally, years–developing this recipe with the goal of creating the perfect fried rice. This includes watching tutorial after tutorial on YouTube, many visits to the oriental market, and once I even called in to a Thai restaurant to ask if they used a certain spice because I was allergic to it. But really, I just wanted to know if they used it. Too far?

Lots of people might think “what’s the big deal? Just toss some rice and soy sauce together and call it good.” Oh, no. No no no. Making quality fried rice is a complicated process that requires preparation, methodology and no cutting corners. The cooking process is really quick–about 10 minutes–but technique, order, and quality of ingredients are key if you want it to taste right.

Piping hot fried rice, served with lime slices and an over easy egg.

Today, I chose to use shrimp and imitation crab meat as the main ingredients. Really, you can use anything–chicken, pork, steak, tofu. Just add it to the wok after the garlic/peppers and before the onions. Also, use whatever veggies you want–diced tomato, basil, peas and carrots, sliced bell peppers, mushrooms. Just make sure to add in the veggies in order of how long they require cooking. Example: If you are using onions, tomato and mushrooms, add the onions first, then mushrooms, and then tomato, since onions take the longest and tomatoes just need a couple seconds.

Some tips before we start:

  • Always use a metal wok and spatula. A Teflon pan just won’t get you the same results because it just won’t get hot enough. My wok is literally over 30 years old, but it’s still going strong! Also, an electric stove just won’t work–you definitely need to cook over a flame.
  • Buy a good soy sauce at an oriental market. The stuff at the grocery store just tastes like salt, and will completely spoil the flavor. My favorite is dark mushroom flavored soy sauce.
  • Cook your rice a day ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Day old rice is dry and loose, and won’t be mushy. If you forget this step, like I do, a couple hours in the fridge is good enough.
  • Use an oil with a high smoking point–peanut or canola oil work the best.
  • Do your self a favor and do not smell the fish sauce. Let’s just say the smell will probably make you want to pour it down the drain. Although it’s rank, adding a little bit to Asian dishes really brings out the flavors. It’s used in every Thai dish you’ve ever eaten.
  • Have all your ingredients measured out, chopped, minced, opened and lined up within arm’s reach. Woks cook food incredibly quickly, and if you aren’t prepared, the cooking process can be extremely stressful.
  • During the cooking process, never stop moving and tossing the ingredients around the wok, to ensure everything cooks evenly without burning. If ingredients are sticking, add a little more oil and scrape the side of the wok so it doesn’t burn.

Spices and sauces: Day old jasmine rice, fish sauce, mushroom flavored dark soy sauce, peanut oil, Sriracha hot sauce, sesame oil, pepper and sugar.

Fresh ingredients, counter clockwise: Minced garlic and Thai chilis, diced sweet onion, eggs, shrimp, imitation crab, scallions and lime slices for garnish.

When the oil is almost smoking, add the garlic and chili peppers for a few seconds. Then add egg and scramble.

Add in onions until caramelized, then seafood. Next, add rice, pepper and butter.

Add soy sauce, then fish sauce, then sugar and sesame oil, a squirt of Sriracha, and throw in the chopped scallions at the end.

Serve hot, with slices of lime and an over easy egg. Try to eat it with chop sticks. When my hand cramps up, I usually admit defeat and switch to a fork halfway through.

Tasty Fresh Fried Rice
Serves 2, cook time 30 minutes

  • 2-3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 1-2 Thai chili peppers, minced fine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced or sliced
  • 1 package imitation crab meat, broken into chunks
  • 10-12 frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and dried
  • 2 cups cooked, day-old jasmine rice
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons quality soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 generous squirt Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • Lime slices for garnish
  1. Wash, dry, chop, mince, open and measure all ingredients. Set them up in order on the counter top next to the stove. Loosen any clumps in the rice.
  2. Turn the burner on high, and add peanut oil to the wok. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the minced garlic and chili pepper. Using your metal spatula, continuously and vigorously move the garlic and pepper around the bottom of the wok until the garlic starts to brown. If the oil is hot enough, this will only take a few seconds. Be careful here, there’s a very small window between browned and burned.
  3. Add in the eggs. Scramble until dry.
  4. Add in the sliced onions. Toss around the wok until caramelized–about 2.5 minutes.
  5. Add in the imitation crab chunks and shrimp. Toss around until heated and coated in oil, about 1 minute.
  6. Add in the rice, pepper and butter. Toss with your spatula until the grains are evenly coated, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add in soy sauce. Continue to toss the mixture around for another minute, until the soy sauce is evenly distributed in the rice. Add more if the color is too light.
  8. Add fish sauce and sugar. Stir and cook another minute.
  9. Add sesame oil and Sriracha. Stir and cook for another minute.
  10. Add in chopped scallions. Serve hot with lime slices and an over easy egg (optional).

Crab Cakes with Sriracha Remoulade

Crab cakes are one of those things that seem fancy and impressive, when in reality, they can be thrown together in under 15 minutes (if you’re quick) with non-perishable items you likely have in your cupboard. After realizing how easy and inexpensive it is to get near-restaurant-quality crab cakes at home, I now scoff at the $13 appetizer offered at your local fancy restaurant. Thanks, but I think I’ll just bring my own crab cakes from now on.


My recipe for the crab cakes is inspired by this food blogger, who uses fresh crab, and a lot of it. Maybe for special occasions I’ll bust out the fresh crab, but on days like today, I’m opting for the canned lump variety. Crab cakes always need a sauce to go with it. And no, I don’t think tartar sauce makes the cut. I whipped up a simple Sriracha remoulade inspired by this recipe. Since Sriracha may soon be hard to come by, it was difficult to part with even a few drops of what I consider to be the world’s single best hot sauce. On a side note, the city of Irwindale, California needs to suck it up. Burning eyes and headaches are a small price to pay for living in such close range to a Sriracha factory.

Ingredient list: Sriracha hot sauce, olive oil, panko bread crumbs, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, a lemon, an egg, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley, chopped celery and canned lump crab. If you want bigger chunks of crab, go ahead and use 2 cans.

To make the remoulade, mix together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt/pepper, and enough Sriracha until the desired spice level and color are reached.

Mix together the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, celery and parsley.

Then, gently fold the crab meat and panko into the mixture, taking care not to break up the crab lumps. Nobody likes a crab cake without crab lumps.

Divide the mixture up into 6 even parts, about 1/4 cup each. Roll them into balls, and then shape into a patty. If the mixture is too runny, add some panko. Too dry, add more mayo.

In a medium non-stick pan, heat olive oil to med-high heat, and add in the crab cakes. Cook on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes each side.

Top with the remoulade and serve with slices of lemon.

Crab Cakes with Sriracha Remoulade
Yields 6, cook time 20 minutes

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 2.5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stalk finely diced celery
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 cans lump crab meat
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon slices for serving
  1. Make the remoulade by mixing together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add in Sriracha a little at a time until desired spice level has been reached. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, salt, red pepper flakes, celery and parsley.
  3. Gently fold in panko break crumbs and lump crab meat. Make sure crab is fully drained of liquids.
  4. Divide evenly into 6 patties by rolling into a dense ball and then forming into flat-topped shape.
  5. In a medium non-stick pan, heat olive oil. Once hot, add in the crab cake patties and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Once golden brown, flip patties and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer the crab cakes to a paper towel to remove excess oil.
  6. Top with the Sriracha remoulade and serve hot with lemon slices.


Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Caramel Topping

First off, I want to say that I am not a skilled baker. I like to get creative with recipes, and since baking is an exact science, this often does not turn out well. I would also like to add, though, that these little cheesecakes might be my crowning kitchen achievement to date. If you plan to make these, I hope you have a house full of hungry people to feed. If not, I would highly recommend bringing them to work to lessen the risk of eating every single one, on the couch, by yourself, watching guilty pleasure TV in sweatpants.

The finished product, in all its glory.

I followed this recipe exactly, except I didn’t make any caramel from scratch. I’m clearly not as fancy as the Cooking Classy blog writer, who is a boss when it comes to desserts. But that’s okay.

Ingredient list: Sugar, butter, graham crackers, light brown sugar, caramel topping, heavy whipping cream, eggs, muffin cups, pumpkin puree, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon, cream cheese, vanilla extract and sea salt.

The single hardest part of this recipe, besides the waiting period, is grinding the graham crackers down into a fine dust, especially if you don’t have any appropriate kitchen appliances to assist. After testing out several methods which covered my kitchen in a thin layer of dust, I found the most effective method is to place the graham crackers into a large plastic bag, and jump on it for about 5 minutes. Make sure the bag doesn’t break, to save your cheesecakes from tasting like feet.

Cheesecake2Mix the cracker dust, sugar and butter. Add a heaping tablespoon to each muffin cup, and then push down into a dense, even layer of crust. Bake for 5 minutes.

Stir the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour and spices until it looks like smooth desert sand. Then, add the cream cheese and mix until smooth. Crack in an egg in one at a time, then mix in the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Finally, add the heavy whipping cream. Don’t forget to bang the bowl against the counter, to ensure the air bubbles are released and your downstairs neighbors are annoyed.

Using a 1/4 cup, pour the mixture in to each muffin cup until it’s almost full. Be sure to leave a little room for the caramel topping. Bake 20-25 minutes, until nearly set.

Here we have the nearly-finished product hot out of the oven, sans caramel topping. When the cheesecakes are finished baking, remove them from the cupcake pan and let cool, about 30 minutes. Then comes the hard part – transfer to the fridge and let them set for about 3 hours. During this time I would suggest maybe doing some exercise in preparation for what’s coming next.

Just before they are ready to eat, spoon a couple teaspoons of caramel topping on each cheesecake, and sprinkle a little bit of sea salt. Beautiful!

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Caramel Topping
Yields 24, cook time 1 hour 15 minutes

  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker dust
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 packages cream cheese (24 oz. total)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 jar caramel sauce
  • sea salt
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Melt the butter and crush the graham crackers into a fine dust. Place all crackers in a large, heavy-duty zip-lock bag, and by whatever means necessary, crush them until no pieces remain.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together crushed graham crackers and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Pour in melted butter and stir until coated.
  4. Line cupcake pans with 24 muffin cups. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of graham cracker mixture to each, and press down firmly into an even layer. I had a lot of the mixture left over, so don’t use all of it unless you want half of the muffin cup to be crust. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.
  5. In a mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until smooth.
  6. Add softened cream cheese. If you have a hand mixer, blend on low until smooth, about 30 seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, wash up and use your hands.
  7. Add in eggs 1 at a time, then mix in pumpkin puree and vanilla. Lastly, add in heavy whipping cream. Stir until smooth – no lumps!
  8. To release air bubbles, bang the bowl against the counter about 30 times. Try not to disturb the neighbors.
  9. Add about 1/4 cup of the mixture to each muffin cup, until the cup is nearly full but not quite.
  10. Bake in oven about 20-25 minutes, until nearly set and not giggly. Remove and cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to fridge for 3 hours.
  11. Just before serving, spoon in a thin layer of caramel topping to each mini cheesecake. You should use no more than half of the jar. Top with a little sprinkle of sea salt. Store any leftovers in the fridge.