Cream Cheese Pie

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This is the cheater’s version of cheesecake, but equally delicious and so quick to make!  And you don’t have to worry about those pesky water baths or long baking times.  Make sure to plan ahead so you have enough time to chill the pie…but a quick chill in the freezer or even a slightly warm pie will do in a pinch and still be delicious (just sayin’, I might have resorted to this a few times).

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Cream Cheese Pie


Yield: 6 to 8 servings



1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

7 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

4 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, split in half and seeds scraped with the back of a knife

2 large eggs, at room temperature


1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split in half and seeds scraped with the back of a knife

Splash of vanilla extract


Make the graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 350°.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring to combine thoroughly.  Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake for 10 minutes until set.  Cool completely before filling.


For the cream cheese filling: with a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs in a medium bowl, ensuring no lumps remain in the mixture.  Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust and bake until just set but still slightly jiggly in the center, 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before topping.


For the crème fraiche topping: combine the crème fraiche, granulated sugar and vanilla in a small mixing bowl.  Pour onto the cream cheese filling, spreading to cover completely.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.  Serve chilled.


Inspiration: Cream Cheese Pie on


Rosemary Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad with Spicy Roasted Garlic Dressing

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Anybody besides me love a dinner salad?  Or is it salad dinner?  I kept seeing this one pop up on the blog How Sweet Eats and the pictures alone sold me on this salad; never mind the bacon, chicken cooked in said bacon fat, and rich, creamy avocado.

Rosemary Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad with Spicy Roasted Garlic Dressing-2.jpgI wasn’t a huge fan of the rosemary vinaigrette, so it was back to the drawing board to find a dressing that befit the delicious ingredients.  Hook me up with a garlicky dressing and I’m good to go!

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Rosemary Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad with Spicy Roasted Garlic Dressing


Yield: 2 to 4 servings 



2 heads garlic

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1 sprig rosemary

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chile paste, or hot sauce, to taste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely minced, or to taste, optional


4 slices thick-cut bacon

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

6 cups spring greens

2 cups watercress

4 to 5 green onions, light green and white parts thinly sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, split in half, pit removed and thinly sliced


Preheat the oven to 450°.  Cut across the top of each head of garlic to expose some of the garlic cloves.  Place the garlic, cut-side-up, on a small pieces of aluminum foil; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the rosemary sprig on top and fold the foil around the garlic to enclose completely.  Place on a small baking sheet and bake for approximately 1 hour, until the cloves are golden brown and soft.   When cool enough to touch, squeeze the cloves out of the skins and discard the skins.


In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the dressing ingredients, except the oregano.  Add 2 tablespoons of cool water.  Process until thickened and thoroughly combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in the oregano, if using.


Preheat the oven to 400°.  Lay the bacon in a single layer on an aluminum-foiled lined baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.


Pour 2 tablespoons of bacon fat into a medium skillet and preheat over medium heat.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and the minced rosemary.  Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing.


Assemble the greens, green onions and tomatoes; top with the sliced chicken, bacon and avocado.  Drizzle the dressing on top.


Inspiration: Rosemary Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad on; Garlic Dressing, Urban Italian by Andrew Carmellini




These might just be the most addictive cookies you ever make!  Anybody else have a weird addiction to crispy things? A quick Internet search turned up articles like “Why Do Humans Crave Crispy Food?” and “Appeal of Crunchy Food-Why We Love Crispy Things?” so it must be real.


These are so sugary, buttery, crispy, caramel-y because you are actually just layering puff pastry and sugar.  That’s literally the recipe!  Anything with puff pastry generally gets a thumbs-up in my book, and it makes it THAT much easier to throw these together.  I absolutely love Dufour puff pastry-it’s the only all-butter puff pastry I can get my hands on.  It is significantly more expensive than your typical supermarket puff pastry made with shortening and it can be quite difficult to find, but if you can and you want to splurge, I suggest trying it.  Pepperidge Farm is still delicious, more easily accessible and has a better price-point (see taste testings between Dufour and Pepperidge Farm here).

You can watch my girl Ina make these here because the folds might trip you up, like it did me (I’m a visual learner).





Yield: approximately 24 cookies


1 cup granulated sugar

Big pinch of kosher salt

1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted in refrigerator


Preheat the oven to 450°.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.


Mix the sugar and salt together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the sugar on a marble or wood surface large enough to roll out the puff pastry.  Unfold the sheet of puff pastry on top of the sugar, ensuring the sugar covers and is pressed into the bottom of the dough.  Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of the puff pastry, spreading it to evenly cover with the back of a spoon.  Roll the puff pastry into a 14 x 14-inch square, ensuring the sugar is pressed into the surface of the dough.  Brush off the excess sugar; you may not use all of the sugar, but make sure the dough is evenly covered.  Fold each side of the dough onto itself, halfway to the center.  Repeat the fold to bring the two folded pieces to meet in the center.  Fold a final time so one half of the dough is on top of the other half, as if you’re closing a book.  You will have a total of 6 layers.  Press the dough down lightly to seal.  Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving some space between each cookie to allow them to “puff” (pastry, duh).


Bake one sheet of cookies at a time to ensure even browning.  Place the second sheet in the refrigerator until ready to bake.  Bake each sheet for 6 to 7 minutes, until the tops are golden and the sugar is caramelized.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 2 minutes before flipping.  Return the cookies to the oven to bake for an additional 3 to 6 minutes, until golden brown and caramelized on the second side.  Allow to set on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to cool on a cooling rack.  Repeat with the second baking sheet.

Random Musings

Here’s what’s happening in my neck of the woods (cue Al Roker voice)

Hi all!

Just wanted to give you a few updates from me (aka this is NOT a recipe post).

I’m working to improve my knowledge of blogging, branding, design, food photography, and writing in a hardcore manner right now.  I’m so excited for you to see some of my new pictures coming very soon.  I have to finish posting all the so-so pictures I took before with all the NOT so-so recipes, but soon you will hopefully notice a big difference in my food pictures.  I finally broke out that DSLR I impulsively purchased years ago when I was totally going to start photography, sorted through all the dog pictures I had on it from the two weeks I used it, and actually started learning about it.  And I figured out how to put pictures in Lightroom! And edit them! What the what…these are things so many people have no trouble figuring out, but this literally took me months to do.  I suppose if you’re going to call yourself a food blogger you should expand your horizons and use all these amazing tools at your fingertips.  And oh boy, did this make a difference.

I’m also working with a local Des Moines company to upgrade my website!  I can’t wait to unveil it in the next few months.  A couple things you’ll see…better functionality/usability, more features, a working recipe index (with pictures!) and, a working subscription link so you never have to miss a recipe again, a new logo and colors, links to hiring me for catering or as a private chef in the local area, an overall more professional appearance and a few more things that I can’t even remember right now because I’m so excited. Most importantly, A NAME CHANGE!  I have never loved the name of my brand/site-too hard to pronounce or spell to direct people to the site and the connotation of ‘amateur’ is misleading in the English language-but I could never think of anything I liked better that wasn’t already taken.  I suppose that’s the peril of joining the blogging game so late when there’s literally millions of other food blogs with all the fun, cute, or catchy names already spoken for!  One day I was sitting on the couch, mindlessly watching some show that I can’t even remember now, thinking about everything and nothing, and a new name popped into my head.  I checked to see if the domain was available, and it was…fate, as my mom said. She also confirmed that the name was a million times better than my current name and it was a done deal.  Domain purchased, a few social media accounts quickly migrated so they wouldn’t be taken later, and we’re off to Eat Like Amanda.  Mostly because, I want you to eat and most importantly, cook the recipes I post.  You can still use the link to get to the site for now, but soon will be where you can find all the exciting new things I hope to bring to you in the future.  Thanks for your support and keep on cookin’!


Pimento Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Jalapeños


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Who loves a good grilled cheese?  This girl loves a good grilled cheese! If I’ve done my research, you probably do too.  Who knew four ingredients would make such an addictive combination?

You will want to make a big batch of pimento cheese to A) make this sandwich and B) just to have around to eat out of the bowl (did I really even need to lay that out?).  Please don’t omit the piquillo pepper sauce!  Make the recipe and dip your sandwich in it…SO SO SO DELICIOUS.


Pimento Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Jalapenos


Yield: 4 servings


1 pound of thick-cut bacon

1 cup pimento cheese

30 pickled jalapeno slices

8 slices good-quality sandwich bread

1/4 cup mayonnaise, for spreading on outside


Preheat the oven to 400°.  Lay the bacon in a single layer on an aluminum-foiled lined baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.


Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat for at least 10 minutes.  Lay the bread slices out and spread approximately 2 tablespoons of pimento cheese spread on each side.  Arrange the jalapeno and bacon slices on one side of the bread and top with the second slice.  Spread both outsides of each sandwich with a thin layer of mayonnaise.  Grill the sandwiches for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Keep warm in a 200° oven if you have to grill the sandwiches in batches.  Allow to cool for several minutes before serving.


Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon

It’s cold here in Iowa and it’s the weekend, so that calls for a day in the warm kitchen, leisurely thumbing through cookbooks while a pot of beef stew simmers away.  This is the most perfect version in my opinion; a classic French stew with bacon, mushrooms, red wine, hearty beef chuck, and delicious toasty bread for sopping it all up.  I make this a couple times a year; rain, snow or shine, summer, fall or winter…it makes no matter.  It’s good all year round!

Aside from your initial time investment to prep and start the stew, this is an easy, relatively hands-off dinner.  Make a veggie side or, if you want to go all in, some rich and buttery mashed potatoes.  Invite some friends over while it’s cooking to enjoy some wine and allow them to bask in your Julia Child-ness.  Or, more accurately here, your Ina-ness.

(Let’s all just admit she’s the queen.  P.S. this is her recipe.)

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Beef Bourguignon


Yield: 4 to 6 servings


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces Applewood-smoked bacon, diced

2-1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes (remove large chunks of fat)

1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks, optional (if you’re like me, leave them out!)

2 yellow onions, sliced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup Cognac

1 tablespoon tomato paste

One 750-mL bottle good dry red wine, such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir

2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, divided

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 pound frozen whole pearl onions

1-1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Country or sourdough bread, sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Preheat the oven to 250°.  Heat a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat to cook the beef in, reserving the remaining fat in case you need more to sear the beef.  Turn the heat to medium-high.


Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.  In batches, taking care to keep beef in a single layer, sear the beef in the bacon fat for 4 to 6 minutes, turning to brown each side.  Remove the seared beef to a plate and continue searing until all the beef is browned.


Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the carrots (if using), onions and salt and pepper to the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned and softened.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute, until fragrant.  Add the Cognac and tomato paste and stir to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until the Cognac has reduced, about 2 minutes.  Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with all the juices that have accumulated on the plate.  Add the bottle of wine and beef stock and ensure the meat is almost covered; add additional liquid if necessary.  Add the thyme and kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with the lid and place in the oven for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.  Remove from the oven and place on the stove over medium heat.


Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew.  Add the frozen onions.  Heat 2 tablespoons of butter to a large skillet over medium-high heat; sauté the mushrooms for 10 to 12 minutes, until softened and lightly browned.  Add to the stew.  Bring the stew to a boil , then lower the heat and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until the liquid has thickened.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


To serve, toast the bread slices in the oven or on a grill pan.  Rub each slice with a cut clove of garlic.  Sprinkle the stew with parsley and serve with the grilled bread.


Inspiration: Beef Bourguignon by Ina Garten on


Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad-2

To say I’m obsessed with any salad is saying a lot: to say I’m obsessed with THIS salad should tell you everything you need to know to convince you to make it ASAP.  There’s something so messy and unkempt about this salad, different than those beautiful composed salads you see everywhere, but that’s okay because that’s exactly how it should be.  Throw it all in a bowl, toss it around and dive in.

Reminiscent of those airport or chain restaurant salads but better because, you know, you made it yourself.  And not lacking the most important part…the crispy wonton strips!!!!! That’s what makes me feel okay about eating just a salad for dinner.  You’ll probably be able to eat this whole thing by yourself, but if you feel like sharing, you can make a quick meal out of it, even quicker if you buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it up.  Oh, fry up some extra wontons because, just like crispy bacon in my house, they disappear faster than you can make ’em.

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Chinese Chicken Salad


Yield: 2 to 4 servings



10 to 15 wonton wrappers, cut into 1/4-inch strips

Peanut oil, for frying

Kosher salt


1/3 cup peanut oil

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon hot Chinese mustard

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon Sriracha

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

1/2 head Napa cabbage (about 6 cups)

1/4 head red cabbage

1 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and cut into thin julienne strips

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

4 scallions, thinly sliced


To make the wontons, heat approximately 3 inches of oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet or saucepan.  When the oil reaches 350°, add a handful of wonton strips, ensuring not to overcrowd the oil.  Fry until golden and crisp, about 20 to 30 seconds.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the strips to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle immediately with salt.  Repeat with the remaining wonton strips.


Preheat the oven to 400°.  Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the chicken breasts on the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and cut the chicken from the bone.  Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.


In the blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.


Using the shredding disk in a food processor, shred the Napa and red cabbages.  Alternatively, you can use the coarse side of a box grater or a knife to cut into thin slices.  Add the cabbage to a large bowl, add the cilantro, carrots, red onion, scallions and chicken. Pour in about 1/2 of the dressing and toss to coat.  Top with the crispy wontons.  Serve the remaining dressing on the side.


Inspiration: Chinese Chicken Salad with Crispy Wonton Skins, Cravings by Chrissy Teigen