Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake



  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 3 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • whipped cream



Preheat oven to 350°. Make the crust by combining the gram cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a medium bowl. Stir well enough to coat all of the crumbs with the butter, but not so much as to turn the mixture into paste. Keep it crumbly. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about 2/3 of the way up the sides of a spring form pan. You don’t want the crust to form all of the way up the back of each slice of cheesecake. Bake the crust for 5 minutes, then set it aside until you are ready to fill it.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice and continue to beat until smooth and creamy.

Pour the filling into the pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes. Top will turn a bit darker at this point. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool.

When the cheesecake has come to room temperature, put it into the refrigerator. When the cheesecake has chilled, remove the pan sides and cut the cake into 8 equal pieces. Use dental floss to make a clean cut. Serve with a generous portion of whipped cream on top. Serves 8.


Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Apple Snacks and Crafts


In many regions across the country, September marks the start of apple season. From Granny Smith to Red Delicious, there’s usually a wide variety of apples to be found at your local farm or grocery store. Celebrate autumn by enjoying this fruit with the entire family – whether you’re looking for a snack or some fall-themed arts and crafts, apples come in handy.

Thanks to new twists on classic recipes, caramel apples are a favorite seasonal treat that never gets old. For kids, making them is half the fun. The U.S. Apple Association provides a recipe that will please everyone’s taste buds: Instead of popsicle sticks, use licorice or cinnamon sticks, and top the caramel layer off with granola. Not only do these caramel apples taste wonderful, but they make one-of-a-kind rustic centerpieces as well. Find the complete recipe and other delicious apple ideas at

Both young children and teens will love painting with apples. All you need are some apples, acrylic paint, popsicle sticks and paper. Slice an apple so that the inside surface is flat and even. Push a popsicle stick into the outside layer of the fruit for leverage, dip the flat side of the slice into your paint then go ahead and make a masterpiece. You can even experiment by cutting out shapes like stars, on the inside part of the fruit to make cool patterns and stamps. Adults will have to do all the cutting for younger kids, although you can use plastic knives for shape cutting. Check out websites like Make and Takes for more crafty food projects.

With help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the New Jersey Team Nutrition Project offers some great recipes for apple lovers. If you enjoy entertaining or need to bring hors d’oeuvres to a dinner party, try getting creative with dips. Coat your apple wedges with strawberry cream cheese dip or blended peanut butter and orange juice. Check out other state resources, including more dip recipes from the New Jersey Team Nutrition Project, through the USDA at and

Packed with nutrients and flavor, apples are a healthy choice, whether enjoyed on their own or as an entrée ingredient. Have fun experimenting with new recipes and crafts all year long, or get into the autumn spirit with a whole month of apple-related projects. Learn more about this tasty fruit at




Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

The Potato Recipe


Chief Financial Officer Sue Savat shares one of her favorite recipes from the Merchants Family Cookbook. “I really like this recipe for three reasons – it is really easy to make, really delicious to eat and really easy to clean up!  All very important factors in my cooking!”


  • 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes



Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In large plastic bag or bowl, add all ingredients. Shake or stir potatoes until completely coated. Empty potatoes into shallow baking or roasting pan. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until tender and golden brown.


Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Pretzel Salad



Sandy Kramer of Winona shares one of her favorite recipes. “I love this salad because it’s salty AND sweet. It is ALWAYS a hit when I take it to a potluck.”


Pretzel Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter



On a cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Stir and watch closely to prevent burning. Set aside and cool.


Mix together and chill:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip
  • 20 oz. crushed pineapple, drained


Add the pretzel mixture just before serving.

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Rich Raspberry Scones



  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup Crisco, butter flavored
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk or half and half
  • Cinnamon and sugar mixture



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the Crisco with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently stir in raspberries, taking care to keep them as whole as possible. Whisk eggs with milk (or half and half). Lightly stir into the flour mixture. Turn dough out onto a floured board, handling as little as possible. Shape the dough into two (6 inch diameter x 3/4 inch thick) rounds. Score each circle into wedges with a sharp knife. Brush with a bit of milk, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Test with toothpick after 15 minutes of baking.


Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Bailey’s Irish Cream



  • 1 cup light cream
  • 14 oz. can Eagle sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 2/3 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 2 Tbsp. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract



Combine all ingredients in a blender set on high speed for 30 seconds. Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. The liqueur will keep for at least 2 months if kept cool. Be sure to shake well before serving. Makes 4 cups.


Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Waikiki Meatballs


  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2/3 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. shortening
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 13.5 ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup green peppers, chopped



Mix beef, crumbs, onion, egg, salt, ginger and milk thoroughly. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into balls. Melt shortening in large skillet. Brown and cook meatballs. Remove meatballs. Keep them warm. Pour fat from skillet. Mix cornstarch and sugar. Stir in reserved pineapple juice, vinegar, and soy sauce until smooth. Pour into skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Stir while boiling for one minute. Add meatballs, pineapple tidbits and green peppers. Heat through.



Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.