Highland Springs Ranch Lavender Cheesecake

lavenderbannerEvery year, for about 5 weeks, at the Highland Springs Ranch in Cherry Valley, California, one of the best smelling, and best tasting, festivals takes place on the largest organic lavender farm in Southern California.

During the Annual Lavender Celebration, guests can tour 20 acres of the grounds in hay filled, horse drawn wagons sipping on lavender lemonade or licking creamy lavender ice cream cones.  There’s an organic marketplace to buy lavender infused honey, balsamic vinegar, essential oils, fresh lavender bouquets, plants and even lavender-stuffed toys.  There’s an oil distilling demonstration and plenty of fun activities for the kids, but, more than anything, it’s the food people come to sample.

Although The Ranch Restaurant closed in 2018, my favorite festival treat is still their Lavender Cheesecake with a crust made from homemade graham crackers.  It’s #ToDieFor but it takes some time to prepare (much of which is chilling time), so don’t plan to make this as a last minute treat.  Thanks to Betsy Andrews at Eating Well Magazine, I can make this treat at home anytime I want to!

Highland Springs Ranch Lavender Cheesecake

  • 6 TBLS Unsalted Butter, softenedHSRanchLavenderCheesecake
  • 2 TBLS Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBLS Granulated Sugar
  • 2 TBLS Honey
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1+1/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1+1/2 TBLS Light Olive Oil or Canola Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add honey and ¼ teaspoon vanilla; mix until combined. Add flour and ¼ teaspoon salt; mix until combined. Form the dough into quarter-size chunks, about ½-inch thick, on the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and firm around the edges, about 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer the crust pieces on the parchment to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes. Pulse in a food processor until finely ground
  4. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Mix the crust crumbs with oil in a medium bowl; press into the bottom and about 1½ inches up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:

  • 3 – 8 ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 TBLS Ground Lavender
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 TBLS Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. To prepare filling: Put a tea kettle of water on to boil for the water bath. Combine cream cheese, sugar, lavender and salt in the stand mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add lemon juice and vanilla; mix until combined.
  2. Tightly wrap the outside of the pan, bottom and sides, with heavy-duty foil. Pour the filling into the crust. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 1 inch up the side of the springform pan to create a hot water bath. Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the center of the oven. Bake until the cheesecake is set around the edges but the center still jiggles slightly, 1 to 1¼ hours.
  3. Let the cheesecake cool in the water bath on a wire rack until the water is room temperature, about 1 hour. Remove the pan from the water and remove the foil. Refrigerate, uncovered, until very cold, at least 4 hours.

This cheesecake can be made ahead and kept very cold for 3 days.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Creamy Bacon-Mushroom Meatloaf

baconmushmeatloaf

Our electrician came by to install a new #Ring camera-light-siren unit on the front walkway today, the one where you can yell at people (I’m so excited), and whistled appreciatively at the smells coming from my kitchen.  As soon as I told him I was making a meatloaf, his attitude changed and he was disappointed.  Why does meatloaf get such a bad rap?  I loved my Mom’s meatloaf…

I’d have no problem serving this meatloaf to guests.  It’s not your Mom’s fatty ground beef, ketchup on top meatloaf at all.  I use high quality ingredients, the sauce is #ToDieFor, the flavors and ingredients pair well with red wine, and it is #KetoFriendly to boot!

Smothered Creamy Bacon-Mushroom Meatloaf

  • 3 Pounds Ground Beef (No leaner than 85/15)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 6 Pieces Thick Cut Bacon (Cut into 1/2″ Chunks)
  • 2 TBLS Butter
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 12 Baby Bellas, Thick Sliced
  • 2 TBLS Worcestershire Sauce
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, eggs, onion powder and a generous amount of salt, and pepper well with your hands and set bowl aside.

In a Dutch oven that will be large enough to hold your meatloaf (5 1/2 Qt), over medium heat cook your bacon until brown and crisp but not overdone.  Remove bacon from pan to drain on paper towel and drain the grease from the pan.  Return pan to medium heat.  Add butter to pan to deglaze.  When butter is melted, add garlic and mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes until mushrooms become just tender and reduce slightly in size.  Add Worcestershire sauce and bring just to a boil then remove from heat.  Stir drained bacon back in until well coated.

Pour mixture into mixing bowl with meat and then, using hands, incorporate the bacon and mushroom mixture into the meat until it’s well distributed.  Return the meat mixture to the Dutch oven and shape into a rough loaf.

Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the very center of the loaf reads 145°F .  Remove from the oven and tent with foil for about 10 minutes.  This will give you medium-well ends and medium in the center.  You can adjust your cooking time for the degree of doneness you like your ground beef/meatloaf.

bmmeatloafplated

Creamy Bacon Mushroom Sauce

  • 4 Slices Thick Cut Bacon (Cut with kitchen shears into 1/8″ strips)
  • 8-10 Baby Bella Mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 TBLS Butter
  • 1 Clove Garlic Minced
  • 1 Cup Beef Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp Dried Marjoram
  • Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

In a small heavy gauge sauce pan, fry the cut bacon until browned, but not over crisp.  Remove bacon from pan to drain on paper towel and drain the grease from the pan.  Return pan to medium heat.  Add butter to pan to deglaze.  When butter is melted, add garlic and mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes until mushrooms start to become tender.  Add the beef broth to the pan and bring to a boil.  Return the bacon to the pan, add the marjoram and cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally.   Add the cream and cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring constantly.   Remove from heat and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Spoon Sauce over sliced meatloaf.

This sauce is also great over pork chops and chicken.   #ThisGirlLovesToEat