Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Every Thanksgiving I have to go search for the paper with this recipe on it. One year I couldn't find it and made another recipe I found online. It was nowhere near as good. Thankfully I did find the paper again and we have been able to eat this cheesecake every year. It's deliciously decadent and a wonderful way to enjoy pumpkin. I haven't eaten a slice of pumpkin pie since trying this cheesecake. It's just so much better!

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake


5 ounces graham crackers (9 whole crackers), broken into large pieces
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
11/3 cups granulated sugar (10 1/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese , cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
5 large eggs , left at room temperature, about 30 minutes
1 cup heavy cream


  1.  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
  2. Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot. Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside. To dry pumpkin: Line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back towels. Repeat and flip pumpkin onto baking sheet; discard towel.
  3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.
  4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  5. Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.
  6. Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake can be made up to three days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only one day. To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels. 
Recipe Source: Cooks Illustrated magazine

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Blueberry Cake

Ah, the return of fresh blueberries! We go to pick your own places and buy at least 20 pounds. My kids will eat several pounds in a few minutes before I shoo them away. We freeze many of them to use the rest of the year but we bake several delicious goodies immediately. This cake is one of those lovely things that you must try. However, please go pick fresh berries and don't use those marbles that they call blueberries in the winter months.

Blueberry Cake
9 oz cake flour, approx 2 cups
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger, ground
2 oz unsalted butter, room temp
5 1/4 oz sugar (approx 3/4 cup)
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
15 oz (approx 3 cups) fresh blueberries
3 1/2 oz sugar (approx 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 oz cake flour, (approx 1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 oz unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Spray 9 oz glass baking dish with cooking spray. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and ginger, set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add egg and beat well .Add 1/3 flour mixture, beat on low speed just until mixed, then add 1/3 of milk and mix well. Repeat alternating additions until all combined. Gently stir in blueberries and pour into prepared dish. In small owl, combine sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork to combine. Continue until crumb like texture. Sprinkle over top of cake. Bake in middle rack of oven for 35 minutes until golden in color. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Alton Brown's Good Eats TV show

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

Soccer season is coming again. We have soccer in the spring and fall here which means dinner on the run. Frequently this means how many different ways can I serve sandwiches? This is my version of a recipe I found on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Sometimes I even assemble the wraps before the games. Usually however you'll find me with a cooler that contains the pieces, assembling this dinner on the sidelines of a soccer game.

Chicken Caesar  Salad Wraps
3 cups shredded/chopped cooked chicken breasts
2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (about 1 head)
1/2 cup Cardini's Caesar Dressing
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
6 Whole wheat tortillas

Mix shredded chicken with Caesar dressing and Parmesan. Spoon about 1/2 cup of mixture into each tortilla. Add a handful of lettuce to each tortilla. Roll up and serve.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I use bottled Cardini's dressing (prefer the flavor and less work) and just cooked chicken breasts instead of rotisserie.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Dearest Jill, I miss cooking with you. Whenever we eat this delicious thai flavored soup, we all think of you and your lovely family and how much we miss hanging out at your house. You are such a good friend, it is horrible that we are separated by thousands of miles now! Love you bunches!

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

4 cups water
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed
1 package pad thai noodles (wide rice stick noodles)
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tsp red curry paste
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp  red pepper flakes
7 lime wedges

Bring water to boil. Add spinach and peas, cook for 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon to another large bowl. Return water to a boil and add noodles, cook 3 minutes. Drain, and mix noodles with spinach mixture. Heat oil over medium high heat in separate pan. Add shallots and spices through garlic, saute 1 minute, stirring constantly .Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk and reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken, onions, sugar, and fish sauce, cook 2 minutes more. Pour chicken mixture over noodle mixture in bowl. Add cilantro and red pepper flakes. Serve with lime wedges.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Grandma's Granola

I'm not a new year dieter. I do set resolutions but they are adjusted year round. I don't believe in dieting though. I believe in healthy eating habits that include delicious treats. However, my mom brought us this granola last year and we love it. Granola is health food right? Well, whether or not you agree, try this recipe, we love it.

6 cups regular oats
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 bag coconut
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp Coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup raisins or dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350. Mix oats with nuts, seeds, cinnamon, & coconut. Put on heavy baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until oats are golden and toasted. (About 10 minutes) In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine oil, sugar and honey. Bring to a boil and stir until all melted. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over toasted oats and mix thoroughly. Return to baking sheet and spread out with spatula. Bake until fragrant and golden, 10-13 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes, then break into smaller pieces before totally cool.


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