Monday, April 19, 2010

Sharon's Cheesecake

My friend Sharon Garcia is famous in our little town for her cheesecakes. For our R.S. cooking class we asked her to teach us and she so kindly shared her recipe, so now I'm sharing with you. It is delicious.

She makes a raspberry swirl, which I find heavenly. I tried making one with raspberry topping rather than swirling in and I have to say the swirl tasted so much better, so I'm doing that next time.

She prefers using coconut cookies for her crust. I didn't have those and ran out of graham crackers so used animal crackers for mine and I actually like them the best. So play around and vary your crust for fun flavor. Oh, and I used two fat free cream cheeses and one full fat- and all generic brands- so you can play around with the level of fat and not have to feel quite as guilty when you eat six pieces (I promise you won't be able to stop at one).

Crust:

1 1/2 cookie crumbs (I like animal crackers)
1/4 cup melted butter (add more if crumbs don't stick together)
1/4 cup sugar
Filling:

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened (can use generic and 1/3 fat)
5 eggs
16 oz sour cream
3 tablespoons lemon juice (don't omit this- it really adds awesome flavor)
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla (or pure vanilla extract)

Use a food processer to grind crumbs, or just place cookies in a ziploc freezer bag and roll with rolling pin. Mix cookie crumbs with sugar then add melted butter (if crumbs don't stick together, add more butter). Cover bottom of springform pan with wax or parchment paper so cheesecake can easily be lifted out of the pan. Firmly press cookie crumb mixture on bottom and sides of pan.

For filling: place softenend cream cheese in large glass mixing bowl. Add sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time just until well blended and creamy (over mixing incorporates too much air in the cheesecake and can cause cracking. Sharon's tip for getting bubbles out is to pound the bowl against a table until the bubbles pop). Stir in sour cream just until blended.

In a separate bowl mix lemon juice and corn starch until smooth, add to cream cheese mixture. Add vanilla and mix just until combined, pour over crust. If you're going to swirl berries in- you can use jam or just take some frozen berries with jam or 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste) and heat over stove until syrup forms (see below for more details & pics). Using a knife, gently swirl berries into cheesecake using soft up and down swirling motions.

Bake at 350 for one hour. Do not overbake. If the cheesecake begins to inflate or "poof" on the edges, it is done. The center of the cake (approximately 2" diameter) will look soft or damp and may be like thick jello, but not liquidy. Let cool for about an hour before placing in the fridge (I turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool- it usually takes an hour and then I don't see and smell the cheesecake and be tempted to cut into it early). Chill before serving, best if chilled overnight.

I found that unless the cheesecake was chilled overnight in the fridge it was too soft- so you can either cook it a bit longer and risk cracking, or be patient and wait. I personally don't mind cracks in my cheesecake- as long as it tastes good. But the flavor is better the next day too.

If you'd prefer to serve it with sauce rather than swirl in, it's just as easy to do. Use frozen raspberries (or any fruit) and heat in saucepan- add strawberry jam to sweeten them up, or about 1/2 cup or more sugar, the sugar in either form will cause the fruit to "bleed" making it a thin syrup- if you want it thicker just sprinkle a little flour or cornstarch in and mix until it reaches desired thickness.
  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Whole Wheat Tortillas


We eat a lot of beans and rice around our house. It's the easiest thing in the world to cook and is my lazy day go-to food. Tortillas are really easy to make and they are so yummy.

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (fresh ground or King Arthur)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil butter, softened (just discovered butter works so much better!)
1 cup hot water

Mix flour, salt and baking powder together. Mix in oil butter and slowly add water until a soft dough forms (not sticky). Cover and let rise 10-15 minutes.

Heat a cast iron pan (or nonstick pan) over medium heat until nice and hot. While the pan is heating up, pinch off a small amount of dough (about the size of a lemon) and roll into a flat circle (a pizza roller works best for this).

Cook tortilla on preheated pan and once bubbles start to form, flip it to the other side and cook until heated through. Entire process should take a few seconds. If you cook it too long it will get crispy and won't fold well, so it's better to undercook than overcook.

If your pan isn't hot enough the first few won't turn out as well- just like crepes or pancakes you need to make sure the pan is good and hot before you start cooking, and only flip once.

Whole wheat tortillas taste just as great as white flour tortillas but are not as pliable. For softer tortillas try using half whole wheat and half white flour.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Southwestern Barley Salad

I know I promised barley recipes, I just got distracted. Here is a really yummy one. It's great for the summer because it tastes great warm or cold and can be eaten plain or with tortillas.
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup barley
1 can corn (or 1 cup frozen)
1 can black beans (or 1 can dried, cooked beans)
1/2 chopped red pepper
1/2 chopped yellow pepper
1/2 onion chopped
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin

Bring chicken broth to a boil in medium saucepan, stir in barley. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until barley is tender, about 40 minutes. Chop all vegetables. Roast onions and peppers in oven on broil for 5-10 minutes or until tender. Toss all vegetables with lime juice and cilantro in a large bowl. Stir in warm barley. Serve warm or cold with avocado, sour cream and or salsa.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Asparagus Scalloped Potatoes & Honey Glazed Ham

It's been a busy week! I'm finally getting around to posting the rest of what I made for Easter, but better late than never I suppose. Simple honey glazed ham and this yummy potato asparagus casserole was a big hit.

Honey Glazed Ham

Whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 325. Slice ham into thin slices and stud with whole cloves. Bring all other ingredients to a boil. Pour glaze over ham, between each slice. Cover with tin foil. Bake according to directions on package (about an hour). Every 15-20 minutes baste glaze on top of ham to keep it moist. During the last 4-5 minutes turn oven to broil, baste top with glaze and broil to carmelize the glaze.

Asparagus Scalloped Potatoes

1 cup chopped cooked ham
1 bundle fresh asparagus spears cut into pieces
5-6 medium potatoes thinly sliced (could use hash brown potatoes)
1/2 onion chopped
2 cups shredded cheese
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Thinly slice potatoes and chop ham, onion and asparagus, grate cheese. Beat eggs with milk. Layer in casserole dish potatoes, onion, ham, egg, salt, pepper, cheese and asparagus. Bake for 35 minutes. 

Mix bread crumbs with butter. Sprinkle over casserole and bake for 25-30 minutes longer or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lion House Orange Rolls

Well, I say Lion House, but of course I had to change the recipe, so if you want their original one that could feed an army go visit this website. I only needed a couple dozen for my little family so I modified the recipe. These are so soft and yummy you could eat them for dessert.

Rolls:

1 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted or oil
1 tablespoon yeast
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3-4 cups flour

Orange filling
1/4 cup butter, softenend
zest from 1 orange
1/8 cup sugar

Orange Icing
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons heavy cream or half & half (if you use milk just use less)

Dough: Heat milk and butter just until milk is warm (don't get it too hot or you'll kill the yeast), stir in yeast and sugar and let sit until foamy. Stir in salt and egg. Mix in flour one cup at a time until soft dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 10 minutes. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Orange Filling: zest one orange and mix with 1/4 cup softened butter and 1/8 cup sugar. Set aside.

Orange Icing mix powdered sugar, orange juice and milk until smooth. If you want a thicker icing or are going to frost while rolls are warm use less cream/milk for a thicker icing.

Divide dough in half and roll each into a large circle. Spread each circle with Orange Filling mixture. Using a pizza cutter, slice dough into thin triangles like you would cut a pizza. Roll each strip up starting at the wider end up to the tip and place tip side down on baking sheet. Let rise 40-60 minutes or until double in size.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, drizzle with Orange Icing and eat warm!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies (whole wheat!)

I've never really been a big fan of oatmeal cookies. But I was trying to think of "healthier" snacks I could feed the boys and figured it was time to try them again. I used 100% whole wheat flour and you can sneak in all sorts of things like flax seed or wheat germ- you can't even taste it.

These little cookies are so addicting- you can't eat just one. The cinnamon mixed with raisins and a hint of chocolate are just so fabulous, we ate three batches in two days! If you choose not to use whole wheat flour the consistency might be off- just make sure they're not too sticky or too crumbly, they should be just moist enough to stick together without falling apart.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seed (optional)
1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter with sugar, cinnamon, soda and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix just until crumbly. If it's too sticky just add a bit more oats to the mixture. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cookies cool before transferring to wire racks otherwise they will fall apart. Another yummy variation is to use dark chocolate and cranberries instead of raisins and chocolate chips.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Almond Cream Crepes

I made these for Easter Sunday breakfast. They are SO delicious! I love crepes for breakfast. I usually fill one with scrambled eggs and potatoes and the other with fresh fruit and cream.

If you're just going to do dessert crepes, you can add more sugar so they will be sweeter. The key to perfect crepes is to have the skillet hot and greased. If it's not hot enough the first few won't brown well and if it's not greased enough they will stick and fall apart. I usually make the first few small because it usually takes a few tries to get them just right. Also, I served this one with strawberries, but raspberries would actually go better- the strawberry flavor was a bit too strong for the almond cream.

Crepes
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Mix flour and eggs. Add milk and water. Add salt & butter and beat until smooth. Pour onto heated, lightly oiled griddle. Tilt pan and spread batter over entire surface in circular motion so batter will expand to size of pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until browned. Flip once, just until brown. Serve warm with fruit, eggs, or desired filling. Makes 8 crepes.

Almond Cream Filling
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup toasted almonds, for garnish (just broil a few minutes- careful not to burn)

In small saucepan combine sugar, flour and milk. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, cook and stir 1-2 minutes. Beat the whole egg with egg yolk. Gradually stir in half the hot mixture into the eggs then return all the mixture back to the pan. Cook a few minutes more over low heat, careful not to boil. Stir in butter, vanilla and almond extract.

Spread filling in each crepe and roll as desired. Top with cream, toasted almonds and fresh fruit.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Veggie Pizza


I am pretty much a pepperoni girl. I really don't care anything else on my pizza. But...just before I had Grant, my in-laws got some papa murphy's veggie delite pizza and it was awesome! So this is my attempt to copycat.

For great info on making pizza with a stone- check out Forno Bravo, it's pretty comprehensive and their recipe is great- mine is just scaled down to make one pizza. You can use ranch dressing for the sauce, or if you prefer a more cheesy sauce, try the garlic cream cheese alfredo sauce I posted earlier (don't use store-bought alfredo sauce, it doesn't taste good for this).

Pizza Dough (makes 1 pizza)

2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups flour
Ranch dressing
1 clove garlic, minced

Mozzarella cheese
Spinach leaves
Tomato, chopped
Mushroom sliced
other veggies as desired

Mix water and yeast until foamy. Add all remaining ingredients until soft dough forms, rise 1 hour until double in size.  Roll into circle the size of your pan. Spread ranch with garlic on crust, top with spinach, cheese and other veggies. Bake in 500 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until crust is crisp on bottom.
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