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      Recipes — tongan vanilla extract

      Sweet Heart's Cherry Cheesecake

      Sweet Heart's Cherry Cheesecake

      Ok. Here’s a throwback recipe I’ve had for years! You know that cookbook that just shows up in your college apartment and you’re not sure who’s it is? It may have even been there from the girls before.  I still have it:)

      I used this cheesecake recipe for a Valentine’s dinner for my then college boyfriend, now hubby for over 20 years!  

       Since then we've enjoyed many Valentine's dates. Some romantic,  Some with our boys and chocolate treasure hunts. 

      But that very first Valentines Day, I remember, mostly because of the company, and partly because of the cheesecake. Who doesn’t love cheesecake?! 

       Truthfully there isn’t anything fancy or unique about this cheesecake. It’s just a good fool proof recipe you can count on. But what I’ve learned through the years of baking is this…. quality vanilla can transfer your confections from good to great! Tongan rum with it’s cherry undertones is the perfect companion to these cherries.  If you’re in hurry, by all means, use the canned cherry pie filling at the grocery store.  Although, if you want to make your own sweet cherries, go to our previous post cherry hand pies. Either way don’t forget that yummy vanilla!




      1/3 cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies or vanilla wafers

      1/4 cup melted butter

      2 tablespoons sugar


      4 Large eggs

      ½ cup butter softened

      2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

      1 cup sugar

      1 tablespoon cornstarch

      1 teaspoon baking powder

      1 tablespoon lemon juice


      1 cup sour cream

      2 tablespoons sugar

      1 teaspoon Vanillapura Madagascar/vodka vanilla extract


      -1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

      1 tsp of Vanillapura Tongan/rum vanilla extract

      -3 tablespoons kirsch or orange juice, if desired

      - Or make your own cherry hand pies



      1. STEP 1

      Heat oven to 325°F. Wrap outside of 9-inch spring form pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease inside of pan. 

      1. STEP 2

      Combine all crust ingredients in bowl. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool.

      1. STEP 3

      Place egg whites into bowl. Beat at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form. Set aside.

      1. STEP 4

      Combine 1/2 cup butter, cream cheese and egg yolks into bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add all remaining filling ingredients except egg whites. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Gently stir in beaten egg whites.

      1. STEP 5

      Spoon filling into crust. Place cheesecake onto center rack of oven. Place pan of warm water on rack below cheesecake to prevent cracking. Bake 55-65 minutes or until center is set and firm to the touch. Cool 15 minutes.

      1. STEP 6

      Loosen sides of cheesecake from pan by running knife around inside of pan. Cool completely. (Cheesecake center will dip slightly upon cooling.)

      1. STEP 7

      Combine sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in bowl; mix well. Spread evenly over top of cheesecake. Spoon out 2 to 3 tablespoons cherry sauce from pie filling; drop by teaspoonful onto sour cream topping. Carefully pull knife or spatula through cherry sauce to form hearts. Cover; refrigerate at least 4 hours.

      1. STEP 8

      Stir together remaining pie filling and kirsch in bowl; spoon over cheesecake at serving time.  Don’t forget to add the vanilla. Store refrigerated.

      A big thank you to Land O Lakes for this long time favorite recipe.



      Cherry Hand Pies

      Cherry Hand Pies

      Valentine’s Day is coming up and I’m starting to think of some fun sweet confections.   My hubby is a nut for cherry pie. But it can’t be just a boring regular pie. It’s Valentine’s Day for Gosh sakes.  You gotta go the extra step and make them heart shaped hand pies!  This makes them easier to eat and  guilt free for eating more than one or two! The cherry filling is homemade which makes all the difference. Don’t forget to add Indonesian/rum Vanilla. It will bring out the cherry overtones and send these hand pies over the top.  They are irresistibly delish!


      • 1 can red tart cherries in water; reserving half of the liquid (I buy Oregon Fruit Products, usually sold in the canned fruit section rather than with the canned pie fillings in the baking aisle)
      • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
      • 1/3 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
      • Scant 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
      • 1-2 tsp Vanillapura Tongan/rum vanilla extract
      • 1 recipe pie crust (see below, or buy if you prefer)
      • Egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water) 


      1. Mix the cherries, half the liquid from the can, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes or until the liquid turns thick, gels, and bubbles. Remove from heat add vanilla and let cool.
      2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Also, bring the pie crust dough out of the fridge to soften slightly (15 min).
      3. Roll out half of the pie crust on a floured surface. Use a 3 inch, heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts out of the dough. Transfer to parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets.
      4. Spoon a couple tablespoons of cherry filling onto the center of each heart.
      5. Cover each with a second dough heart. Press the edges closed with fork tines.
      6. Use a sharp knife to cut an X (for a kiss) in the top crust.
      7. (Alternately, use a tiny heart cookie cutter to punch a heart out of the center of the top crusts, before placing them over the filling.) Brush each hand pie with egg wash, then sprinkle with sugar.
      8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown at edges.
      9. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.


      Protein packed vanilla blueberry pancakes

      Protein packed vanilla blueberry pancakes

      January always seems to come with new goals to eat better and live better. Although, better doesn’t necessarily mean starve yourself, give up all carbs, be unhappy, lose a ton of weight, which will be impossible to keep off.  You don’t have to give up good food. You can still enjoy those yummy pancakes! This recipe is protein packed. It’s made with wheat flower, greek yogurt, fresh fruit and of course some good clean vanilla. Don’t give up the good stuff just make smarter choices!



      1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour

       2 scoops vanilla protein powder

       1 tbsp baking powder

       ½ tsp Celtic sea salt

       1 ⅓ cups milk of choice. I use vanilla almond milk

       2 tbsp plain non-fat Greek yogurt

       1 cage free egg white

       2 tsp Tongan/vodka Vanillapura extract

       ½ pint fresh blueberries you can use frozen as well


      Instructions: Serves 4

      -In a large bowl whisk together the flour, protein powder, baking powder, and salt.

      -In a smaller bowl whisk together the milk, Greek yogurt, egg white, and vanilla extract

      -Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together until smooth

      -Gently fold the blueberries into the pancake batter with a rubber spatula

      -Using a 1/4 cup measurer, add the batter to a hot prepared non-stick griddle or skillet

      -Cook the pancakes on the first side until small bubbles form on top, then flip over and cook on the other side for another couple minutes. Place 3 pancakes on a plate and enjoy

      Notes: You can serve pancakes as is or you can reserve some of the fresh blueberries from the batter and use them to make a blueberry sauce by packing them in a sauce pan and heating slowly until softened and slightly thick. Just top your pancakes with a couple tbsp. of fruit and serve.