Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cheese Cake

My latest passion, and one that needs to be restrained, is making cheese cake. My kids like it, but not enough to eat it before I do, except Soni, my partner in crime. So here it is...and of course there is no picture...just imagine my hips an inch or to wider.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 whole crackers crushed)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted

2 1/2 pounds (five 8-ounce packages) cream cheese. at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Topping (optional)
1 cup red jelly (not jam). such as current, raspberry, or strawberry
3 half-pints fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter, mix until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Using your hands, press crumbs into bottom of pan and 1 inch up the sides. Bake 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Increase oven temperature to 450. Place cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and blend on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, combing well after each addition. With mixer on low, add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into crust.

Bake cake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 225 and bake an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off oven and open door wide. Cake will not be completely set in center. leave cake in oven with door open 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit at room temperature another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove cake from springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of cake. Retain bottom of pan for serving.

To make the topping, melt jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, gently toss raspberries and jelly until well-mixed; using a spoon, arrange berries on top of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

* I halved the recipe and put it in a large pre made crust, bought frozen strawberries heated them up with sugar and a little water for the topping.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cake Pops

Surely this is more of just an idea than an actual recipe, but the possibilities are endless....and I warn you they are VERY addictive. This army of snowmen look a little angry here, but they pleased Austin's entire class and tonight I find myself making more. I also bought an edible marker to put smiles on they're not so scary. Pretzel arms or some kind of a hat might be a nice touch too. These were the only three left standing....until Phil got home.
Soni didn't want snowmen for her class party, she is all about the cupcake. I'm not so sure if they look like cupcakes, but they were the first treat gone from the table....yes, my competitive little self was watching to see.

What's in these things anyway?

Cake mix and frosting of your choice.
Candy melts or chocolate.
Whatever decorations you need to finish the effect.

Bake the cake according to directions. Let it cool enough that your not burning your hands when you crumble it all to tiny pieces in a large bowel. Mix in about 2/3 of your container of frosting so that it is a nice gooey consistency.

Roll into balls. Put a dab of melted candy on the end of your stick and insert into your ball. If your making the snowmen repeat the process for the second ball stopping just short of going all the way through.

Freeze for an hour or two, then dip in candy melts or chocolate.
Add extras immediately as it hardens pretty fast.

Google cake balls for more ideas. They range from silly to very fancy, and made from just about any combination of cake and frosting. Limited only by your imagination.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cajun Chicken Fettuccine

I found this in a magazine and turns out, hubby and I both really liked it...very rare. The kids tolerated it, (that is pretty good for my kids) until the heat caught up with them...except Laser Boy, ever since the Tabasco fiasco the kid can take just about anything, and he had three helpings. Sorry no was pretty, and went pretty fast.

8oz uncooked fettuccine (I used penne)
1 large sweet onion halved and sliced
1 med green pepper cut into 1/4 in. strips
2 T olive oil
2 C cubed cooked chicken
4 tsp Cajun seasoning (use your own judgement)
1 tsp minced garlic (I used about 2)
1 jar (17 oz) Alfredo sauce
1/2 C spaghetti sauce
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese (I didn't have any so I left it out)

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onion and peppers in oil until tender. Add chicken,Cajun and garlic; heat through. Add drained fettuccine. Stir in Alfredo and spaghetti sauces.

Transfer to a greased 13X9 baking dish. Sprinkle with cheeses. Cover and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 min longer or until golden brown.

Note: I used the frozen pepper/onion mix so it all went together really quick. When I have more time I'd like to try it from scratch, including the spaghetti and Alfredo...I have a spaghetti recipe that I think would work great, but I've never tried Alfredo sauce.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lightest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Anywhere!

At least that's the title of the recipe I'm passing along from a compilation my church put out while I was in South Carolina (thanks Bro. Langdon). Unfortunately, I didn't discover it until couple months ago. I have tried so many different whole wheat recipes with no success. Even if they are good when they come out of the oven they taste dry and old the next day. This one stays fresh all week which is how long it takes my family to eat all three loaves that it makes.

To start:
3 T yeast
4 C warm water
4 C whole wheat flour
Mix these ingredients together and let sit until double (usually 15-30 minutes). This step is called a sponge and is very important to allow the yeast to get a head start. If this takes a long time, or doesn't rise at all, your yeast is probably old. You can continue on, but you're bread will be heavy, or you can throw it out now and save yourself wasting the rest of the ingredients.

1/2 C butter or oil
2/3 C honey or molasses
3 tsp salt
6-8 C whole wheat flour (more for low elevations, less for high..I barely use 6)

Mix this together and knead for 15-20 minutes. Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise again until double (about 30 min). Punch down and shape in pant. Cover and let rise again until double (20-30 min). Bake at 350 for 30 min. Oil/butter top of bread for a nice shiny crust.

Just some side notes: The bread rises faster in warm humid conditions. I'm in a cold dry house, so I cover it with a warm moist cloth. If not, it still rises, but it takes longer. Also I have found that if I knead the dough for 15-20 minutes it get way to tough...5-10 minutes works for me...too much muscle I guess..haha.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bread Heaven

I finally figured out it was the stupid rectangle box pan holding back my true art... I let this bread rise and then made two long ropes and swirled them... to get the golden outside crunchy crust with a warm soft center just use a spray bottle and spray water in the hot oven while the bread is baking...

2 pkgs yeast
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water, add sugar, salt, beaten eggs, and oil. Mix in three cups flour. Continue adding flour til soft dough forms.

Knead dough out on wheat flour surface. Place on well greased baking pan, cover with a cloth, and let dough rest 2 hours or until doubled. Knead dough out on wheat flour again and half dough. (this is when i freeze one half)

Make two long ropes with dough then twist up into a loaf back on pan. Cover with cloth and let rise 2 hours longer.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes. YUM!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pumpkin Butter

I wanted to post this all day, but I waited until the kids and I could officially sample the final product...mmmm, so tasty, so here it goes. I got the recipe from a lady named Heidi Calder who did a little cookbook on just pumpkin recipes, and since we had a ton (I'm not kidding) of pumpkins, I am just eatn' it up...literally.

4 cups pumpkin pulp (or 2-16oz cans pumpkin)
1 package fruit pectin (1 3/4 oz size)
1 T pumpkin pie spice
4 1/2 cups sugar (please forgive me)

Combine pumpkin, pectin and spice in a dutch oven or large sauce pan. Cook and stir on HIGH until very hot. The mixture will be too thick to actually boil. (ok, mine did)

Stir in sugar. Continue stirring until mixture boils over most of the surface. Boil 1 minuter longer, stirring constantly.
Ladle into hot clean jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims thoroughly, adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

It should make about 4 pints. I doubled it and got 8.

Whenever I can things like this it always inspires me to clean my it all matches, clean and sparkly.
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