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US Cooking Tour Stop 5: NEW YORK

My fingers have smoke billowing from them trying to catch up on my Cooking Tour recaps! I am half way through the recaps now, so hopefully I can roll the rest out this week and stop bombarding the blog with mostly cooking content. Remember, each state is saved to my highlights on Instagram if you want to see the video version of me cooking these recipes! {}

New York! One of my favorite states. I've been on 5 trips to NYC, and when we lived up north we were right by the state line, so we had many adventures in New York State. Thinking back one single memory in this state is next to impossible - we had many fun times in Rochester, Buffalo, etc. But I do have one story that just sticks out in my mind because it was truly an adventure. 

We had just moved to Pennsylvania and had only been there for about a month before my husband had to go on a weekend trip to Wisconsin. It was a work trip with the other sports med fellows, so the boys and I couldn't accompany him and had to stay home alone in our brand new town where we knew no one and no one knew us. 

Well, that wasn't going to stop me. We were going to go on an adventure! The boys and I have a tradition where we pick blueberries every year and since the move across the country took up our summer, we hadn't yet gotten around to doing it. I searched the internet for the best blueberry farm in the area and stumbled upon the quaintest, sweetest little blueberry farm in about an hour from us in a small little New York town. 

I also searched for the best ice cream so we could stop for a refreshing treat when we were done. We got up early and set out on our adventure and could not wait for the day before us. We were trekking through back roads, enjoying the beautiful scenery around us, laughing and pointing things out as we passed. Suddenly, I realized I didn't know where I was anymore. The blueberry farm wasn't where it was supposed to be (in my mind), and I was in the middle of no-mans land with no clue how to get back from where I came. We happened upon a little roadside stand and asked the gentleman manning it to point us in the right direction and thankfully he knew exactly where to send us. I breathed a sigh of relief when we found the farm and it was everything we hoped it would be. The owners could not have been nicer - we chatted about their business and where I was from/how I found them, and it was the first time I felt welcome as a southerner up north. I still to this day receive their e-mails when berry season starts and it makes me smile. 

After picking our berries we made our way to the ice cream shop, but to my surprise, it wasn't just an ice cream shop. It was a teeny tiny convenience store that also sold t-shirts and flip flops. To be the top-rated ice cream shop in the area, it sure was an interesting twist. Not what I expected. We walked up to the ice cream counter, and I had read online that their hot fudge sundaes were the best thing to get. I told the boys all about it on our drive. None of us could wait! "I'll have 3 hot fudge sundaes, please." The lady kept an eye on me as she scooped our ice cream into the cups while teenagers in their bathing suits ran in and out of the store, barefoot. I saw her grab a jar and head to the microwave and the boys eyes glistened as we wondered what kind of special extra topping we were about to get. 

Um. Yeah, that "special topping" from the microwave was a jar of hot fudge she pulled from the grocery side of the store and she gave it a quick stir with a spoon. She glugged the gloopy half-melted "fudge" onto our ice cream and it literally clumped up and fell over to one side. We sat down at the lone table in the corner and the three of us just stared at our "sundaes" and at each other trying to contain our laughter. You've never seen anything like it. It was the single worst hot fudge sundae I have ever had (or seen) in my entire life. I'm convinced it got such good ratings because we were in the middle of nowhere so it had to be the top rated ice cream shop in the area. Oh man, we can't eat a hot fudge sundae without thinking back to that day. What a memory. Terrible fudge sundae and all, it was one of my favorite days. 

My research for New York's meal quickly led me to something I had never heard of - Chicken Riggies! Cheesecake was the dessert - no surprise there. The Chicken Riggies (a chicken & rigatoni pasta dish) were such a hit that my family has requested it several times since making it. It's the one recipe in this challenge so far that we've repeated. Also, it is the most made recipe from all of the others who are following along on my tour. So trust me when I say this recipe is one to save! 


2 Tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
2 large roasted red peppers, sliced into thin strips
6 hot cherry peppers, chopped and seeded
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 C cooking sherry or chicken stock
1 C water
1 lb uncooked Rigatoni
1 C pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter
1/4 C heavy cream
2 tsp fresh basil
Salt & pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add in the garlic and chicken. Saut├ęs the chicken until it is just browned on the outside but not cooked through. 

Stir in the roasted red peppers and hot cherry peppers, and sauce for a minute. Add in the crusted tomatoes and sherry or chicken stock. Add in the water and pasta and bring to a low boil. (If there isn't enough liquid, add a bit more water.) Continue to cook, stirring often, until the pasta has cooked to al dente, about 15-20 minutes. 

Reduce heat to low and add in the butter, basil and salt. When the butter completely melts into the pasta, add in the cream and cheese. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top with additional cheese, basil, and red pepper flakes. Serve warm.


For the crust:
1.5 C graham cracker crumbs from 12 graham crackers
5 Tbsp butter, melted 
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt

For the filling:
32 oz (four 8 oz blocks) cream cheese, room temp
2 C sugar
3 Tbsp flour
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
6 large eggs
1/2 C sour cream

9 or 10 in springform pan
Aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 375. Wrap the springform pan in foil, covering the underside and extending all the way to the top. Spray the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Make the crust: In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt. Stir until well combined. Press the crumbs into the pan and bake for 10 minutes, until set. Remove pan and set aside. 

Make the batter: In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream cheese, sugar, and flour tighter on medium speed until just smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to be sure the mixture is evenly combined. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Beat on low speed until just combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on low. Mix in the sour cream. Don't overmix. 
Cool oven to 325 and set the cheesecake pan in large roasting pan. Pour the batter on top of the crust. Pour water into the large roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the side of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is just set, 1 hr. 30 min. 

Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and set on wire rack. Cool cheesecake in the water bath until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Enjoy, friends! 
I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.


  1. Being from Erie County and having family just over the line in New York State, I'd love to know the name of the blueberry farm. I'm thinking of two and wondering if you visited either. Would also love to know the name of the ice cream shop, but that would be be advertising; and I don't think you'd do that!

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