Cheesecake Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust, for My Guest Post at The Gingered Whisk

May 24, 2012 at 10:56 am | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Fruit | 41 Comments
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Last March, Jenni, of the beautiful blog, The Gingered Whisk, asked me to do a guest post. Naturally, I jumped in, and wanted to get to work on it immediately. Jenni and I have been friends since 2009, and we hosted the Daring Cooks Cassoulet Challenge together at the end of 2010. Then, some not so great stuff happened on my end, and Jenni found out she was moving.  Several times, between us, the date changed.  Now that things have calmed down here, and Jenni is all settled into her new home..it’s finally happening.


I made a lot of commitments prior to life semi-combusting, and now those commitments are piling up all at once.  I like it, though – it feels great to get back into the kitchen a little more.  I still don’t have much time due to work, but I squeeze it in as best I can.

SO, do you love banana pudding, the kind with the vanilla wafers (is there any other kind?)?  Do you love caramel?  If so, you’ll love this twist on banana pudding and vanilla wafers in a cheesecake.  It’s gooey, it’s rich, it’s sinful, it’s worth the calories.  Portion control are my key words for this cheesecake.  In this case, TWO big slices equals one portion, k? Bananas are good for you!  Potassium!

To get the recipe and see more photos, although I really couldn’t gussy it up due to rain and muggy weather melting ev-er-y-thing, click HERE and please check out Jenni’s blog. This chick can cook and bake like nobody’s business.  She could make the tar on a beaten path in NYC in 98 degree heat taste good!

That said, a note.  Not all of the caramelized bananas will look beautifully caramelized inside of the cheesecake once baked.  The cheesecake batter dilutes a lot of that golden beauty.  I had to cut through the whole cheesecake to find one slice where some of the bananas remained that beautiful color after baking, for photo purposes.  If you look closely at my slice photos, you’ll see the washed out color of some of the caramelized bananas.  But, no effect on flavor or texture, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust
On another note, I was nominated for a Food Stories Award by Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef. To say I’m surprised is an understatement. I’ve just been journaling a memory from a happy, innocent time to soothe my aching grown-up soul during a difficult period the past few months – I guess you could call it my own personal therapy. Glad some have enjoyed it.  However, before my Bad Boy First Love memoir, there are loads of mile long food stories, so I hope those are taken into consideration.  Who could forget the squirrels that ate my joconde paste?

As part of this nomination, they’d like a random fact about me.  Here goes …..

As much as I wax poetic about baking and cooking from scratch, I’m a slave to the occasional fluffernutter sandwich, and it must be marshmallow cream from a jar. Also, sometimes I scrape the cream from the oreos with my teeth, and ditch the cookies. Lovely, huh? I’m a vanilla gal to the bone.


They’d also like me to nominate 5 other food bloggers for this award.  This was so tough to narrow down because there are SO many great food story writers out there, but I finally managed to choose 5.  Here they are;

Lifes a Feast – Her memories intertwine with the food effortlessly.  Not only can Jamie tell a story , but she does it with such flair, amazing imagery and love..happy or sad.  A fabulous, gifted writer in every way.

Bibberche – Lana’s stories have made me laugh, cry, literally feel her every emotion.  A beautiful writer and storyteller.

Creative Culinary – I love reading Barb’s posts because she flows….her writing is breezy, not to mention, she never holds back when it comes to controversial issues.  She tells it like it is – no sugar-coating.

A Few Rotten Vegetables and Moldy Cheese –   A friend linked me to her site, and I read the whole damn blog in one sitting.  I can identify with most everything she talks about – been there/done that.  She doesn’t know me, so I guess I’m her stalker – huge crush.  I wish she would post more.  Oh, she is NOT a food blogger, just a chef who writes – she makes that very clear.

La Mia Cucina – Lis, the founder of Daring Bakers, doesn’t blog anymore, but I wish she would.  Go read her blog now.  You will be spewing all kinds of matter all over your computer screen.  Not only great writing/story telling, but ‘effin HILARIOUS!  THIS post still brings on wheezing, tearing laughter.

To accept your nominations, click HERE to read about it.

Oh, one more thing.  My 4-year Blogiversary is coming up on the 28th.  I’ll be celebrating it with a HUGE giveaway.  Be sure to check back since you won’t want to miss this one – seriously.

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Skinny Cheesecake for SRC and New Weight Watchers Fresh Meals

March 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Fruit, Healthy, Rainbow, SRC | 60 Comments
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For this months Secret Recipe Club, I decided to keep it skinny, since I also happen to be reviewing a few new Weight Watchers Fresh Meals in this post.  When I saw this Cheesecake with Sour Cream at Cook Book of Trial and Error, the blog I was assigned for March, I knew I had to try it.  Look at how creamy and decadent it looks!  Would you believe it has almost 5 times less calories than a full fat cheesecake?  Trust me, you’d never know it.  It’s lighter in texture, more like a a mix between a ricotta cheesecake and full-fat cheesecake, but the flavor is closer to fatty the cheesecake, I was pleasantly surprised.


I was a bit devious, though.  I had a few questions about the recipe and since it’s supposed to be a ‘secret’ when you have someone’s blog, I left an innocuous comment asking those questions.  When she quickly responded with the answers (less butter and crumbs in lieu of powder), she asked me to let her know how it turns out.  I told I would definitely let her know – 100%.  Now, I’m letting her know – It turned out amazing and everyone who tried it cannot believe it’s a skinny cheesecake!

Then again, I didn’t post as Guest or Anonymous, so I’m sure she put two and two together and figured it outAlso, I tried to emulate the cinnamon zigzag in her photo, freehand, but it didn’t quite work out – so excuse the strip that looks like dirt. 

That said, please be sure to visit her blog, she’s got some really fantastic recipes!

On another skinny note..

Remember last September when I reviewed Weight Watchers Fresh Meals and Deli Salads?  Well, Catherine Bowen Brophy of Greencore/Weight Watchers sent me 5 new fresh meals to try and tell you about.  Like I mentioned in the previous review, I like Weight Watchers because it’s a sensible way to diet and the food is delicious and filling.  The meals I received, in order from favorite to least favorite, are;

Photos above courtesy Weight Watchers

Beef Steak Tips with Potatoes and Vegetables - This was my favorite of the 5.  I wanted to lick the carton clean when I was finished.  20 minutes later I realized I was full and satisfied.  This is what I love about Weight Watchers.

Southwestern Style Turkey Chili - I loved the heartiness and flavor of this chili, but it needed a bit more spice.  But, again, it filled me up, so that’s a gold star.

Teryaki Chicken - The sauce was really good, and it tasted pretty close to what you might get at a good Japanese restaurant.  However, it needed salt and teryaki should never,ever need salt.

Chicken Curry - Again, like with the chili, I felt it needed more kick, but I love really hot and spicy food, so maybe it’s just me.  Nice flavor and the sauce was silky.

Wild Alaskan Salmon - This was the least of my favorites.  The salmon was bland, dry and the texture not pleasing at all, but, what do you excpect from pre-frozen packaged fish?  That’s a tough one to pull off. I wanted to dredge each side in cajun seasoning and give it a quick sear, THEN, smother it with some kind of sauce, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? They need to rework this one.

You can always add extra spice to kick up the heat, so I’m giving these 5 new Fresh Meals a 7.5 out of 10, the main caveat being the salmon.  You won’t get 5-star caliber food here, but you will get tasty food that fills you up, without deprivation . My favorite diet plan out there, by far.

Before I get to the cheesecake recipe, I’d like to thank my friend, Mandy, from What the Fruitcake?! - for converting the measurements in this recipe from metrics to US for me.  Also, to see all the delicious dishes my fellow SRC’ers made from their assigned blogs, click on the blue frog below.


Skinny Sour Cream Topped Cheesecake
Recipe from Cooking with Trial and Error, via her friend’s Mom, with my revisions for an 8-inch springform pan
Approximately 2950 calories, 12 servings, 245 calories per serving

Crust
4.6 ounces animal or graham cracker crumbs (I forgot to measure after I weighed, but I will do that later with remaining crumbs)
3 to 5 tablespoons melted butter (it could get too greasy with 5, so start with 3, which worked for me)

Cheesecake Filling
1 3/4 cups Farmers Cheese *
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Buttermilk or Yogurt *
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar

Topping
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar

*  The Farmer’s Cheese plus buttermilk amounts can be substituted with all Quark or Greek Yogurt – 500 grams total.  Next time I’m going to make yogurt cheese with the Greek yogurt, and try this recipe with that instead of the farmer’s cheese and buttermilk.  I’m pretty sure it will be closer in texture to full fat cheesecake since it’s creamy.  Strain about 600 to 700 grams low-fat or regular Greek Yogurt so you end up with 500 grams yogurt cheese, which is about 2 cups.

UPDATE - I made it with the yogurt cheese and it’s exactly like a full-fat creamy cheesecake.  If you use cottage or farmer’s cheese, you get more of a ricotta cheesecake, which is also delicious, of course.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the animal or graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a clean bowl and drizzle in the melted butter, stirring, until it holds together somewhat.  As mentioned above, you shouldn’t need all 5 tablespoons, the cheesecake filling will bind it together when baking.

2. Press the crumbs into a greased 9-inch cake pan – just the bottom. Use the bottom of a glass to really pack it in.  Place in the freezer while you make the filling. You can also use a 5”x7” square Pyrex pan, if you want to make cheese cake squares.  *I used an 8-inch springform pan, which doubled the baking time.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling until uniform and silky. Remove the graham cracker crust from the freezer, and pour the filling on top of it.

3. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 350 degreees F and bake for 15 minutes.

4. Combine the sour cream with the sugar. After the cheesecake has baked for 15 minutes at 350F, remove it from the oven and spread the sour cream on top evenly – be gentle, as it will be slightly jiggly in the middle. Bake for another 5 minutes.

5. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.  I topped my mini cheesecakes (I cut them out of the leftover large cheesecake with a round biscuit cutter) with a melange of cut up fruits and honey.

* As i mentioned above, I used a 7 1/2 to  8-inch round springform pan.  The baking time was 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, then 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees F, and another 10 minutes with the sour cream topping.

I was not compensated monetarily for my Weight Watchers Fresh Meals review, only sent the meals free of charge.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Skinny Cheesecake made with Cottage or Yogurt Cheese.  Super creamy and delicious - you'd never know it was only 245 calories a slice!

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Jumbo Cheesecake Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins with Toffee Streusel

December 9, 2011 at 8:49 am | Posted in Breads, Cakes, Candy, Dessert | 49 Comments
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Once again I come armed with pumpkin, cheesecake and a squeeze bottle of chocolate ganache, which is a combination you’ve seen on my blog twice in the past month, from pie to these muffins.  Not to mention pumpkin nutella snickerdoodle bars, pumpkin povitica, and pumpkin gnocchi. Five pumpkin recipes in a little over a month.

Pumpkin, Sage and Sweet?


Wellll…I told you I wasn’t done with pumpkin.  Actually, I made these back in October, but was going to make them again because I made a small mistake which led to an aesthetic issue with me.  This is the life of a food blogger, if it ain’t pretty, you hem and haw, and sometimes make it again, even if it’s absolutely perfect in the palate department and the last thing you need is another batch of whatever you made hanging around for you to consume.

People eat with their eyes when they look at food blogs, so it’s up to the food blogger to put out as pretty and mouth-watering a photo as he/she can get.


In my case, that’s not an easy task.  The cheaper artificial lighting is not kind to the details that make one’s mouth water.  BUT, I do my best..and I do have that small, patch of dim sunlight I just found,  As I mentioned above, these photos were shot weeks ago, before my mediocre ‘light patch’  discovery – which needs a lot of futzing with before I decide that either A) The small amount of light is not worth the blur since I can’t fit  a tripod in that area, and it needs a tripod even more than my artificial lighting! or B) I start to experience physical pain from twisting my body into unnatural positions just to get the shot in this small nook.

Having said all that, my mistake, which I will get to in a moment, led to messy muffin tops, except for one.

I finally decided not to make a new batch and post as is.  I just couldn’t have another few of these tempting me, all in the name of perfectly beautiful muffins for my blog.

I cobbled these muffins together using a recipe for Jumbo Pumpkin Pecan Streusel muffins from Taste of Home that I like – minus the pecans in the muffin batter, but doubled the streusel and added chopped chocolate covered toffee to it.  I used some homemade toffee in the freezer, from this recipe, but you can use chopped Skor or Heath bars if you like.


We all love muffin tops
It’s the stumps that get the raw end of the deal.  If there’s nothing in the stumps (chocolate chips, nuts..fillings), they’re usually kind of boring and, I’m sure there’s been times your stumps have ended up in the trash.  The big, fluffy muffin tops are always the star, and usually pretty filling..so the stumps are a 50/50 deal.  Eat or chuck – unless you can wrangle up a ‘Cleaner’.

Here’s the part I really love. I filled my stumps, but not only filled them, REALLY filled them.  You don’t just get that usual one bite circle of filling in these – every bite of the stump contains creamy cheesecake.   There’s one full-proof, fantastic way to do this, that doesn’t involve a spoon, which leads to a messy batter ‘plop and splatter’, and not that much filling once baked.  OR – you don’t bake them first, then cut a  gaping hole in the bottom, basically emptying out the stump, piping in a cooked or eggless cheesecake whip, and plugging with the jagged, crumbly part you cut out. Annoying.

Kind of looks like bacon streusel, doesn’t it?  Although I think that’s an idea waiting to happen, it’s the chocolate toffee melted on the streusel crumb.

This is what you do, and I got this brilliant idea from Chef Dennis from A Culinary Journey via his exquisite Black and White Muffins.  You fill a pastry bag with the infamous 1 bar of cream cheese ‘cheesecake recipe’ of no known or definitive origin.  Next, you fill your jumbo muffin cups half way with the pumpkin batter and then, stick that cheesecake batter filled pastry bag with a plain tip, or ziplock bag with an end snipped off, smack dab in the middle of the pumpkin muffin batter and squeeeeeze…

…squeeeeze until that pumpkin batter rises in the muffin well until it’s about 2/3 to 3/4’s full.

Here’s where I messed up, but didn’t really mess up because it’s a question of…

To dome or not to dome?


Do you see that little white circle of cheesecake in the middle of the pumpkin batter in the demo photos?  If you do not cover it with more pumpkin batter, the toffee streusel will sink into it, as you see in most of my photos.  BUT, this is not a bad thing.  What you lose aesthetically as far as a big, fat, fluffy, streusel topped domes go, you make up for with extra gooey melted toffee streusel in part of the cheesecake filling.

On the flip side, you cover up that little hole with pumpkin batter, and the streusel topping remains on top, along with a beautiful dome, like you see in the first photo with the black background.

I did not cover the cheesecake batter circles on 7 out of 8 of my muffins.  The last one I did because there was only enough cheesecake batter to rise it to a little less than 2/3’s full – so I scraped out every last bit of pumpkin batter, and filled it the rest of the way.

SO, your choice, big, beautiful ‘impress your guests/recipients’ domed jumbo muffins with a crumbly, crunchy toffee streusel, or a flatter topped muffin with melted, gooey streusel inside-out.  You can’t lose either way..unless it’s a beauty contest.

Muffins and Tiaras.


If you find gooey, muddled, flat top muffins ‘too ugly’ to present to guests or for gifting, just drizzle melted chocolate on top of them.  I think that hikes the beauty quotient up quite a bit.  Melted, chocolate drizzle is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

Hmm..but then the same can be done to hotty dome queen and it’ll look even more gorgeous.  Who said the life of a muffin was fair?

Finally, I think my giant, rough and tumble looking muffins would have a mad crush on these beauties. So delicate and tea party with white gloves, ready – the antithesis of my scruffy, muscled blue-collar workers with calloused hands.  The Muffin Notebook.

Jumbo Cheesecake Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins with Toffee Streusel
Adapted from Taste of Home, with my revisions
YieldL About 8 – 10 jumbo muffins – 18-20 standard size muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup roasted pumpkin puree (If using canned, strain puree overnight in a colander)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Toffee Streusel
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
2/3 cup finely chopped chocolate covered toffee
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients.

2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened – do not overdo it, you’ll get tough muffins.  Just a few folds until no flour remains.

3.  Make the filling. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla beat until smooth.  Do not over beat.  Spoon the cream cheese filling into a pastry bag with a medium plain tip or a zip-lock bag with one end snipped off.  Set Aside.

4. Make the streusel topping. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans, chopped toffee and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Place in fridge, covered, until ready to use.

5. Grease the top of the jumbo muffin tins lightly, making sure the  area around each muffin well is greased.  These babies rise a lot and spread a bit. If you don’t use jumbo muffin liners,  grease each well too.

6. Fill the 8 to 10 greased or paper-lined jumbo muffin cups half way with pumpkin batter.  Place cheesecake batter filled pastry bag in the middle of each half filled muffin well, and squeeze in the filling until the batter rises and fills the lined muffin wells 2/3 to 3/4ths full.  Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles, which I forgot to do, hence some of the holes in my cheesecake filling.

7. Cover white circles of cheesecake on top with any extra pumpkin batter, or just scoop from the sides or underneath.  If you don’t care about a big, muffin dome, skip this step.

8. Dump large handfuls of toffee streusel over muffin batter.  Make sure to keep it contained in the muffin well -mounding it like little mountains.  Any that spills onto muffin pan, wipe off or brush into one of the wells. Ignore my raw streusel photos…I wiped all that extra crumb off ;D

9. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes (about 15-18 minutes for standard sized muffins) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

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Three Pies in One – Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie & The Giveaway Winner!

November 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Dessert, Giveaway, Pies/Tarts, Puddings, Vegetables, Vegetarian | 110 Comments
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Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, I think of pie.  Bulging golden apple pie, deep orange, custardy pumpkin pie, gooey sweet, toasty pecan pie, luscious, rich…well, you get the picture.  Don’t get me wrong, visions of stuffing and candied sweet potatoes dance through my head too, but for some reason, since I started food blogging – PIE is the Footloose Kevin Bacon doing the handsprings on the dance floor of my cerebral cortex.


Pumpkin pie has always been a favorite of mine, a pie I crave when the weather starts to cool and the leaves start falling.  The reason it became a favorite might have been because it was the bad boy pie, the elusive pie, the pie I wasn’t allowed to date or hang out with because my parents didn’t approve.

My family hated pumpkin pie.

As a child and young teen, how I craved a taste of those smooth, burnt orange, shiny surfaced pies, beckoning me with a whiff of pumpkinny goodness every time I saw one, whether it be at the supermarket, when I tried to sneak one into my Mother’s shopping cart, or the Fall bake sale at school, where I was only given enough money to buy some chocolate chip cookies.


I’ll never forget the day I got to finally sink my teeth into the creamy, spiced custard in a buttery, flaky crust, that is pumpkin pie.  I was about 15, and the Fall bake sale at my HS was in full bloom, packed with kids and teachers vying for that last rice krispie treat, almost stampeding over each other to grab a bunch of the ‘good’chocolate chip cookies that one Mom was known for (I always felt sorry for the other chocolate chip cookie Mom’s, who’s plates of cookies remained untouched).  I took baby steps toward a pumpkin pie, cut into slices, at the edge of the table.  I couldn’t just steal a slice…I needed to do this in a somewhat civilized manner, as in errr…

“I’m doing a report on pumpkin pie, and I’ve never tasted one.  I wish I could buy a slice, but I don’t have enough money”

The PTA Mom winked at me and slyly slid a slice my way, ignoring the fact that my parents could probably afford to buy me a slice of pumpkin pie.

One bite and I was in heaven.  I knew we were meant to be.  From that day forward, even though pumpkin pie was still met with grimaces come Thanksgiving, my parents were nice enough to buy me a pumpkin pie.  Of course, I couldn’t eat it all, and had to endure the “Yuck, how can you eat that?” barbs and jokes, but it was well worth every bite.

To this day…my family still hates pumpkin pie or anything pumpkin in general.  To quote my father – from a very recent conversation we had about Thanksgiving this year;

“I just hate the smell of raw pumpkins”

“Have you ever tried it cooked?”

“NO, and I don’t want to, so don’t try to push pumpkin pie on me, my stance hasn’t and never will change”

Oh, wow..all these years, and no pumpkin gene has kicked in – no moment of discovery when finding out something he ate contained pumpkin.  Does that mean I’m not bringing one to Thanksgiving dinner? A big HELL no.  For years, coconut custard pie was the ‘pumpkin pie’ replacement at our Thanksgiving dessert table, and I do love me a nice slice of coconut custard pie, but once adulthood set in, no one could stop me from placing a gorgeous, homemade pumpkin pie beside it. Someone always found a way to push it to the side, the dark corner of the gymnasium during the HS dance – a total dessert outcast – shunned, blackballed…a scarlet P on its shiny surface. I was the ‘friend’ who stood by it, the one who would never leave it to stand alone – in other words, I slid it back into the rotation every time I passed the dessert table, IN FRONT of the coconut custard. Ha ha.

Once I learned to bake pies, I tried many variations of pumpkin pie, from pumpkin cheese pie, to pumpkin pie with pecan streusel, to a recipe an ex BF’s Mom gave me where the cream cheese layer was beneath the pumpkin filling.  I LOVED that idea, and the pie itself, so that was my go to for many Thanksgivings to come.


Present day – as in today..well, last night.  I decided I needed to get at least one Thanksgiving pie favorite of mine up on this blog.  At first it was going to be the old pumpkin ‘cheese layer’ pie, but then I had this hankering for pecan pie too, and couldn’t decide which direction I wanted to take.  Then it hit me…why not combine all three, as in turning the pecan streusel from one pumpkin pie recipe into a more pecan pie like topping?  It worked – crunchy and gooey.  Three pies in one.  No choosing, no juggling a slice of cheesecake, pecan pie and pumpkin pie on one plate, trying not to look silly as you take bites of each at once.

I almost added caramelized apples to the cheesecake layer to make it a Pumpkin Apple Cheesecake Pecan Pie, but decided that was overkill.  What do you think?

The cheesecake layer is your standard formula for swirling into brownies, filling cupcakes or muffins , marbling into cake batters and sweet breads etc, prior to baking.  It’s a formula that I’ve had memorized for years and it always works. No specific place where it comes from – it’s all over the net.  1 bar of cream cheese cheesecake creator – do you exist?


Finally, I submitted this Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Pie to the Food Network’s Virtual Thanksgiving – A Communal Table.  The hashtag on Twitter is #pullupachair – I couldn’t resist.  Below is the virtual Thanksgiving menu created by all of us.  What a feast, huh?  Click on the links and be prepared to drool.

The Food Network Communal Table Thanksgiving Feast

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:

Eat Be Mary: She’s Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup

Mains:
Examiner.com: Grilled Quail with a Warm Beet, Frisée, and Pistachio Salad
She Wears Many Hats:
Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

Sides:
Living Mostly Meatless: Vegan-Friendly Corn Casserole
Healthy Green Kitchen: Red Kuri Squash Pie
The Naptime Chef: Crispy Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
Gluten-Free Blondie: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes
Burnt Lumpia: Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Empanadas
Panfusine: Pan Fried Polenta Seasoned With Cumin, Ginger & Black Pepper
Homemade Cravings: Warm Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Slaw
Bakeaholic Mama: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto
Show Food Chef: Beer-Braised Brussels Sprouts
T’s Tasty Bits: Sweet Empanadas with Pumpkin and Lupini Beans Filling
The Amused Bouche Blog: Braised Kale
The Little Kitchen: How to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Desserts:
The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That’s Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes

Even more:
Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table

Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie – (with alternate pecan topping, scroll down after recipe)
Yield: 10 to 14 ‘small slice’ servings – about 8 – 10 regular slice servings

Flaky Pie Crust
Adapted from Tish Boyle, with my revisions

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, chilled
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks and frozen
1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening, frozen
6 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold water ( I add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and remove 1 tablespoon water in all pie crust recipes – it tenderizes the crust)

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 2/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using canned, strain in a fine mesh sieve for several hours to overnight, covered, in the fridge)
1 cup heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

*Pecan Pie Topping
1 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

MAKE AND PARBAKE PIE SHELL:
1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse on and off until combined. Scatter the butter pieces and the shortening, in large chunks, over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 tablespoons of the ice water and process until the mixture just starts to come together. If the dough seems dry, add the remaining 2 tablespoons water as necessary. Do not allow the dough to form a ball on the blade, or the resulting crust will be tough!  You want a raggedy mess of crumbly dough, with lumps of butter showing.

2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it in half, and shape each half into a disk – gently pressing each raggedy mess together, (DO NOT press into each disk or try to squeeze it together so the dough is uniform – it will come together in the refrigerator). Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. You will only need one disk for this recipe, so you can freeze the other disk for later use.

3. Lightly flour a large work surface. Allow the dough to soften at room temperature just until it is pliable (about 10 minutes). Place 1 disk on the floured surface and sprinkle some flour over it. Roll the dough from the center out in every direction, flouring the work surface as necessary to prevent sticking. You want a round of dough that’s about 1/4 to 1/8 inch and about 3 inches greater in diameter than the pie pan/plate you are using.

4. Transfer the crust to a 9 1/2 to 10-inch deep-dish pie pan (if you don’t use a deep-dish pan, there will be pumpkin filling left over, not to mention you run the risk of overflow) by rolling it loosely around the rolling pin and unrolling it carefully over the pan. Press the dough first into the bottom of the pan and then against the sides. Patch any holes or cracks with dough scraps. Trim the edges of the dough with scissors, leaving about 3/4 inch of overhang. Fold overhang over and crimp as you please.  Place shell in the freezer and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

5. When oven temperature is at 400 F, remove the pie shell from the freezer and line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

DIRECTIONS FOR PIE:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, then add vanilla and 1 egg. Beat mixture until smooth.

2. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of the par baked pie shell, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.

3. In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream, the 2 lightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform.

4. Remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.

5.  Combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extraxt and salt in a bowl.  Stir in pecans.  Remove pie from freezer and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.

6. Place pie on the middle rack of your preheated oven.  Cover edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it  to prevent excess browning some time toward the end.  Keep checking every 20 minutes.

7. Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 60 to 75 minutes (It really depends on your oven.  In one oven I used, it took 75 minutes, in another, 60 – so keep checking for it to be sturdy, but still a tad jiggly in the middle).  The the pecan pie topping should be dark and bubbling a bit.

7. IMPORTANT –  Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours before slicing and serving.  Also, sometimes some of the cheesecake filling or pecan pie filling affects the color of the pumpkin filling.  It may not look a beautiful, dark orange, but rather a yellowish color.  No worries, still tastes awesome!

8.  Drizzle with melted chocolate or chocolate ganache for extra decadence!

*Alternate Pecan Pie Topping and Directions (this is the first recipe I played with..for a more crunchy than gooey topping)

Pecan Pie Crunch Topping
1 1/4 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons melted butter

Directions after Pumpkin Layer above – Step 7

7. After pie has been in oven for 50 – 60 minutes, remove from the oven and remove silver foil around edges of crust. Sprinkle pecan pie topping evenly over top – the pumpkin pie layer will sink a bit because the pecan goo is heavy, do not worry! Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and the pecan pie topping is bubbly. Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours before serving.

8. Drizzle with melted chocolate or chocolate ganache for extra decadence!

Thanks to Melissa Green for emailing me about some ingredients I left out in steps 3 and 5 for the pumpkin and pecan fillings.  The recipe is 100% correct now – no ingredients missing in any of the steps.

Time for the winner of the Cuisinart DLC-2 Mini Prep Plus Food Processor. After I generated the number via random.org, and counted over and over, skipping over a few of my own replies, I wasn’t shocked to see where it landed.  There were several entries from people who battled and survived breast cancer, people who’s loved ones battled and survived breast cancer, and sadly, some who lost loved ones to it.  Well…random.org chose one of those people, or maybe something/someone else did.

Congratulations, Stephanie!  I hope your Mom chops, grinds and purees her heart out :)  Sending you an email to get your mailing info, right now.

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Braised Chicken Thighs, Killer Cheesecake and the Winner of the Free Lotion

March 7, 2010 at 1:20 am | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Dinner, Giveaway, Poultry | 44 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve never been a fan of those network morning talk shows that dominate our TV’s from 9 am until noon.  Regis and Kelly?  The perky factor is just too much to take (how much caffeine runs through her veins?).  When I was at the rehab facility for my knee last year, I had an older roommate, (for a month) who would blast Regis and Kelly every single morning.  I almost smothered myself with pillows, 5 days a week, trying to cover every sense above the neck.

Braised Garlic Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs with Shallots

Last week, as I was getting dressed, my TV, which seems to have a mind of its own at times, decided it wanted to watch one of these shows.  Well..it wasn’t too bad since it was Martha Stewart, and loud, screechy and insanely perky aren’t adjectives you would use to describe Martha Stewart.  Sure, there are a few others that would fit, but no need to bash Martha because, well..she cooks, bakes and makes elaborate chandeliers out of paper clips. Anyone who can do that, and still tend to farm animals and every vegetable, herb and flower garden known to man, is pretty cool in my book.

On this particular show, which stopped me mid-dress to actually pay attention, she had some of her slaves cooks from a show called Everyday Food, promoting a new cookbook.  John Barricelli (the baker dude) made an apple brown betty and a ricotta lemon tart, and both looked great – but what really caught my eye and taste buds was a braised chicken with shallots that some nice lady whipped together.  Naturally..I had to get the recipe and try it – so I did.

Today’s post was dinner and dessert at my house last night.

Does the phrase ‘Lick your plate clean’ entice you?  It should, because you will do just that.  I know it seems like a lot of shallots, but trust me, they melt into the sauce and catapult the flavor to the point where you might utter, involuntarily,  “OMFG”.

I added a few tablespoons of honey to this particular recipe..but you know what?  It really doesn’t need it because the melted shallots provide just the right amount of sweetness to counteract the mustard.  YOU MUST TRY THIS.  I’d be shocked if any of you were disappointed.

Mascarpone Cheesecake

On another yummy note..while looking for a great way to use up the rest of the homemade mascarpone cheese from the Daring Bakers Tiramisu challenge in February, I came across a cheesecake that has comfortably settled into my top 5 cheesecakes of all time, along with Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake from the Daring Bakers April ’09 challenge.

Yes, the amount of mascarpone in ratio to the amount of cream cheese makes you wonder why it’s called Mascarpone Cheesecake, but that small amount provides such a rich flavor and creamy texture, I won’t ever question it again.  So, you have three elements of creamy in this cheesecake – cream cheese, mascarpone cheese and sour cream!

The only thing I did differently was bake it a bit longer than the recipe states..but that’s because my oven tends to run a little wonky at times, so 10 minutes longer is probably the way to go.  Oh, and I drizzled it with some of the leftover caramel sauce (again) from my take on the Tiramisu challenge.   Once again, YOU MUST TRY THIS..too.  Recipe for Mascarpone Cheesecake.

Finally..*drum roll, please* – the winner of the free lotion, according to random integer.com, issss…Claudia of Honey from Rock, who was the 60th comment.  Send your name and addy to lismi171@yahoo.com, Claudia, and Skin MD will send your free bottle right out to you :).

Braised Garlic Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs with Shallots

Braised Garlic Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs with Shallots
From Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast
8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound small shallots (about 12), peeled and halved
5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1.Season chicken with salt and pepper; coat with flour, shaking off excess.

2.In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Cook chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove; set aside.

3.Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in honey, mustard and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil.

4.Return chicken, bone side down, to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Add tomatoes to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook on high until sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and return chicken to pot; cook until heated through. Serve, garnished with tarragon, if desired.

Three Cream Cheesecake.  A slice of creamy, fluffy heaven.

Braised Garlic Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs with Shallots and Cherry Tomatoe

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