Blackberry Mountain
 
Cheesecake is a delicious treat but I find that not many people attempt to make their own.  It really isn't too bad and this recipe is especially easy for the first timers.  The recipe originally came from Southern Living magazine but has been adjusted a bit.  Give it a try...if you like cheesecake and/or red velvet cake...you will be very happy that you did!

1 1/2 cups crushed Oreos
1/4 cup melted butter
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4  large eggs lightly beaten
3  tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1  cup sour cream
1/2  cup buttermilk
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1  teaspoon white vinegar
1  bottle red food coloring

Preheat oven at 325 degrees.

Stir together Oreos and melted butter (add a little butter at a time—you may not need it all because of the Oreo cream).   Press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Beat 3 packages cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium-low speed for about 1 minute. Add eggs and next six ingredients (cocoa, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring), mixing on low speed just until combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300 degrees, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes longer or until center is firm. Run knife along outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from pan. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake sit in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from the oven; cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Cover and chill for 8 hours.

Frosting:

1  (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4  cup  butter, softened
2  cups  powdered sugar
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
Crushed Oreos (optional)

Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup butter at medium speed until smooth; slowly add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly over top of cheesecake. Sprinkle with a few crushed Oreos if you wish.  Remove sides of springform pan. 

 
 
It is not the season to buy fresh apples but this can be done quite nicely with apples from the grocery store...or you can store the recipe for a later date.  Apple butter is one of my favorite toppings for biscuits and toast  so I have tried making it a few times.  I have found that recipes call for various cooking times.  While most of the time it is important to follow the recipe, in the case of cooking apples it is really up to the person that will be eating the apples.   I prefer cooking them starting early in the morning and going throughout the day because I can watch the progress and avoid overcooking.   When you have fresh apple butter, make some biscuits or fresh bread and slather it on.  Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

Crock pot of peeled, cored, sliced apples
1 cup water
4 cups sugar (may reduce if you wish)
1 tsp cloves (add more to taste)
1 TBSP cinnamon (add more to taste)

Put water and apples in the crockpot.  Cook on high until the apples start to get soft or the mixture comes to a boil and then turn to low.  Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.  Add sugar one cup at a time with an hour in between.  Taste before you add more so that you are sure it is properly proportioned with the amount of apples and your family's taste.  Add spices to taste.  Some would suggest cooking for 18 hours.  I find that this is too long.  Aim for 10 to 12 hours but you should be able to tell when the apple butter is at the right consistency for you.  This is a fun recipe because it allows you to be creative and there are not too many things that can be messed up.  Once you are finished with your preparations you can freeze (if you make a large batch) or process pints in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.