Saturday, November 30, 2019

Carrot Cake Cheesecake



 
Carrot Cake Cheesecake



My parents recently moved into a great assisted living community. The food there is pretty delicious, from what I've tasted--particularly the food they serve for their Sunday brunch. Oh my goodness, that brunch is awesome. The dessert table is almost always stunning.

One Sunday when my husband and I were there, we shared a slice of carrot cake cheesecake that was so creamy and so flavorful, I can't get it out of my head.

So, we have a post-Thanksgiving gathering to go to this Saturday, and I decided to give this cheesecake a try. I did not get a recipe...all I have is the pic I took of our half-eaten piece with my mom in the background.

This cake is everything delicious about carrot cake and cheesecake all in one slice. There's the sweet creaminess of the cream cheese frosting next to the light spiced cake with a few nuts, and then there's the dense not-too-sweet creaminess of the cheesecake. The kicker is really the speculoos cookie crust. It just adds a deep caramelized spiced and a little bit salty element to the whole thing. Honestly, it's one of the better things I think I've ever made.

I'm hoping the folks at the post-Thanksgiving party enjoy it too. I cannot bring this home with me. (And yes, I did slice it and try it BEFORE taking it to the party. These folks understand that I'm quirky like that.)


Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Carrot Cake (Adapted from CakeWhiz.com)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts tossed in 1/8 teaspoon flour
Cheesecake
  • 1 cup speculoos cookie crumbs or graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 -8 cups of hot water (for water bath--not for the cheesecake)
Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened but cool
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cup (1 pound) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup (approximately) toasted chopped pecans for garnish
Particular Equipment and Materials needed
  • 7-inch spring form pan 
  • plastic roasting bag
  • roasting pan
  • mixer
  • spatula
  • measuring tools
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • First make the carrot cake layer.
    • Line the bottom of a 7-inch spring form pan with a parchment circle, and then butter and flour the sides.
    • In a small bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
    • Add the dry ingredients and the carrots. Stir just until combined. Then fold in the walnuts.
    • Pour and evenly spread the batter into the prepared pan.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few crumbs.
    • Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and then remove the sides and bottom of the pan.
    • When the cake is cooled completely, wrap in plastic wrap.
    • Wash and dry the pan.
  • Next make the cheesecake.
    • Again line the springform pan with a parchment circle.
    • Mix the cookie crumbs and butter and press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan.
    • In a large bowl, or in the bowl if a standing mixer, mix the 16 ounces of cream cheese until smooth.
    • Add the sugar and mix until smooth again.
    • Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until smooth.
    • Add the sour cream and heavy cream, mix until incorporated.
    • Pour batter over the prepared crust.
    • Place the pan in a roasting bag and gather up excess in one or two places, and secure the excess with a twist tie. (You need to basically water-proof your spring form pan so you don't soak your cheesecake. Watch this video for a basic tutorial on another way of doing a water bath. Here's another good idea.)
    • Place the cheesecake pan in a roasting pan that is at least 2 inches wider than cheesecake pan on all sides.
    • Place the pan in the 350 degree oven and carefully pour water in the roasting pan to create a water bath for the cheesecake while it bakes. Water should come up about halfway up the side of the cheesecake ingredients in the pan.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until center is completely set and only gently giggles like set Jell-O when tapped on the side of the pan.
    • Remove from oven and remove the cheesecake pan from the water bath. Place the cheesecake pan on a cooling rack and carefully remove the plastic roasting bag.
    • Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Assemble the cake.
    • Unwrap the carrot cake layer and carefully place top on the cooled cheesecake in the pan. 
    • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably over night.
  • Making frosting and putting it on the cake.
    • Beat the 8 ounces of cream cheese and the 1/4 cup butter until smooth.
    • Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
    • Mix on low until sugar is incorporated, and then beat on medium speed until frosting is completely smooth and creamy. Try not to whip air into the frosting.
    • You will probably only use 1/2 to 2/3 of the frosting, depending on how thick you like frosting.
    • Frost the entire cake with the cream cheese frosting. 
    • Using a large spoon, scoop up some chopped pecans and gently press the pecans into the bottom edge of the frosted cake. Pick up and place any fallen pieces onto the cake.
    • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. I like to put cocktail umbrellas into my cake so the plastic wrap does not stick.

Makes about 8-12 servings



A pic of Mom with the original at Celebration Village 
 Water bath

Carrot cake and cheesecake layers ready to join forces
Just drop that cake on top.
Ready for frosting
I generally start frosting from the top, but I'm no pro cake decorator.
I've found this is the best (and cutest) way to keep frosting intact.














Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Rice Krispie & Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Treats

 
Rice Krispies & Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Treats


These are good. I don't feel like writing more about them. This is what's become of me.

Rice Krispie & Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Treats

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (16 oz) bag marshmallows (I used mini marshmallows today)
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 4 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
  • 2 more tablespoons butter for pan and hands
Instructions:
  • Grease a 9x13 inch pan with one tablespoon butter.
  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. When butter is melted, add the marshmallows.
  • Measure out the cereal and keep it in a large measuring cup/bowl, or other bowl.
  • Stir marshmallows occasionally until almost completely melted. Then turn off the stove and continue stirring until marshmallows are completely melted.
  • Add all of the cereal all at once. 
  • Gently stir and fold cereal into the marshmallow mixture until incorporated.
  • Using a silicone spatula, pour and scrape the cereal into the prepared pan. 
  • Butter your (clean) hands with the last tablespoon of butter and press the cereal down evenly into the pan. Pack the cereal in pretty tight but try not to break the Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
  • Allow to cool for at least half an hour before cutting and serving.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Makes 12 good sized servings




Sunday, August 11, 2019

Strawberry Milk

Strawberry Milk


I made this recipe up several years ago one night when I was hungry but didn't want to eat food food because it was too late, and I didn't want that ate-too-late-stomach-ache.

It's refreshing, satisfying, and just filling enough. It tastes similar to Nestle Strawberry Quik, but without that artificial flavor aspect--tastes like fresh strawberries.

I'm not even a huge strawberry fan, but for some reason, every once in a while, this hits the spot.

Strawberry Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (approximately) frozen sliced strawberries
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like your milk)
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a blender or a tall plastic cup (if you're using a hand blender). Blend until strawberries are completely pureed into the milk.

Pour into a glass and drink with a straw.

Makes 1 serving

Recipe is easily doubled

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Starter-Leavened Sourdough Bread

Two lovely loaves of starter-leavened sourdough bread


Although this bread does not have the tangy flavor of a San Francisco sourdough, it is leavened only using the yeast in a sourdough starter. It's more of a hearty French bread with a nice chewy crust and a moist, tender interior. My boys use it for toast and panini. I just eat it with butter, even though I shouldn't eat any of it.

I'm not really feeling like elaborating on this. I really just wanted to have the recipe here at my fingertips so I can finally close the KAF tab on my phone, as I've already made this bread four times this summer. No wait...make that five times. It's that good (and really that easy, after the first couple of times anyway).

Give it a go. Email me (or King Arthur Flour) if you have any questions.


Starter-Leavened Sourdough Bread
     --Adapted from KingArthurFlour.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (ripe and from the fridge)
  • 1 scant cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • 5 3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 cup room temperature water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
Instructions:
  • The night before, place the sourdough starter, 1 scant cup flour, and 1/2 cup water into a large mixing bowl. Mix ingredients thoroughly, cover, and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  • Add the 5 3/4 cup flour and 1 3/4 cup water to the starter mixture and mix thoroughly. (I use a King Arthur Flour bowl scraper for this, but you could just use a wooden spoon.) Cover and allow to rest fro 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, add the salt and mix thoroughly. Then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.
  • Return to the bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 1 hour.
  • After the 1 hour, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten slightly. Fold into thirds (like a letter) and then fold in thirds the other direction, so you end up with a chunky square. 
  • Place the dough seam side down in the bowl and allow to rise for another hour.
  • After that hour, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flatten, and divide in half. Pull up the edges to make a pouch and pinch the edges together in the middle so that you have a rough circle pouch of dough.
  • Lightly flour the dough pouches and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  • After the rest, shape the dough pouches into nice, tight loaves (see this Youtube video for instructions).
  • Place shaped loaves onto a baking sheet lined with a clean floured dish towel or baker's couche. Cover with another clean floured dish towel, or flour the loaves a bit and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a baking stone or steel, make sure it's in the oven preheating too. Also preheat a cast iron skillet on the bottom of the oven/bottom rack--this will be the receptacle for the water you will put in with the loaves.
  • Line a baking pan or pizza peel with parchment and set aside.
  • Allow to rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until puffed. I usually test by poking the dough gently with a finger. I the indentation remains, it's ready. If the indentation disappears, the dough needs to rise longer.
  • Once loaves have risen, gently transfer them (seam side down) to the lined pan or pizza peel. Slash the tops of the loaves and slide onto your baking steel/stone. Quickly and CAREFULLY pour 1 cup of boiling water into the preheated cast iron skillet at the bottom of the oven. (The steam will burn you if it hits your skin, so be very careful.)
  • Close the oven door and allow loaves to bake for about 28-35 minutes (fatter loaves will take longer; thinner loaves will take less time).
  • When finished, place loaves on wire rack to cool.
  • Cool completely before cutting.
  • Freeze any leftovers in a zip top plastic bag at the end of the day.
Starter, flour, and water mixture after an overnight sit
Just starter, all the flour, and water, resting fro 20 minutes
Salt was mixed in, and the dough kneaded to smooth elasticity
After the folding
Dough has been divided
My not-so-tidy pouches, waiting to be formed into loaves
Loaves at the start of the last rise (sorry I did not take a pic of the risen loaves)


My first two loaves from this starter
I divided the dough into fourths so I could share more easily
These three went into the freezer (one is still in there)
I used half a batch to make these pretzel twists. I ate too many of them.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Egg Souffle

 
Egg Souffle/Breakfast Casserole

Dad and "the Girls"

My mom and her friends have done an annual trip for the last 10 years or so. We all lived in California at one time, but now, we are from Texas, Oklahoma, California, North Carolina, Iowa, and Georgia. Life has really spread us all out over the years. 
The annual get-together started as a couples thing, but has gradually turned into a "girls' trip." My mom hasn't been able to go in recent years because of my dad's health, so the girls decided to make Georgia their destination, so they could visit Mom and Dad. 
I decided to make the trip too and was so blessed by all of these ladies who were really like aunties to me all during my growing up. I haven't seen some of them in nearly 20 years, but they are just as fun and delightful as I remember. 
My fantastic brother and my sister-in-law hosted a brunch for everyone. Heidi and her mom made this over the top delicious "egg souffle" breakfast casserole, and I just couldn't get enough of it. I think all of us asked for the recipe, and I've finally decided to post it here for safe keeping and so that others may enjoy it as well.
I think it's safe to say that cheese is the star of this dish with loads of cheddar and Swiss, all melty and full of savoriness. Mmmmm. The buttery corn flake topping keeps the cheese from getting tough on top AND it adds a beautiful buttery crunch to every bite. 
This is probably one of those casseroles you could easily customize by omitting the meat, or using bacon instead, or maybe adding some diced green chiles and making it a vegetarian (not vegan) dish.
Make sure you let it rest, though, so that it can be cut up and served in nice squares.
Oh, and I halved the recipe you see below because I have no business having a whole 9x13 inch pan of this in my house.

Aunt Beth's Egg Souffle


Ingredients:
  • 6-8 ounces ham (sliced or chunk), cut into squares/cubes
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar (Heidi used white cheddar & I used yellow), shredded
  • 1 ½ cups Swiss cheese, shredded or cubed
  • 6 slices white bread, cubed (Sheepherders or other artisan loaf bread-- about 6 1/2 to 7 cups cubed)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk (I used 2% milk)
  • ½ teaspoon onion salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
Topping:
  • 3 cups corn flakes
  • ½ cup melted butter
Instructions:
  • The night before, spray 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
  • Cover the bottom with bread cubes (over half the bread).
  • Spread all the ham evenly over the bread.
  • Mix the cheddar and Swiss cheeses and spread half of it over the ham.
  • Layer on the rest of the bread.
  • Sprinkle on remaining cheese.
  • Whisk together the eggs, milk, onion salt, and mustard. Then pour that liquid evenly over the casserole.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • The next morning, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Crush the cornflakes and mix with the melted butter.
  • Sprinkle evenly over the top.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
  • Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes about 18 servings




Dad and "the Girls"-- more like how they really look when they're together
The original recipe in Heidi's recipe book

Friday, March 22, 2019

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup II


Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (What you see pictured is less than half of what this recipe makes)

My sister-in-law makes this soup, and every time she does I eat more than is sensible. It's a perfect soup, though, creamy, salty, flavorful, thick, and just tasty. I've made some changes from the original version which called for 3/4 cup butter and 3 cups of light cream. This version isn't exactly "light," but it's got less fat than the original. Good enough for me.
Rather than blather on about my thoughts and feelings about this recipe, I'm going to stop and let you check this out. Hope you like it as much as I do.
  
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup II
     —adapted from PaneraSoupRecipes.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 half chicken breasts* (you know, two pieces), cooked and shredded
  • 1 large box Rice-a-Roni Long Grain and Wild Rice (or two small boxes)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery 
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups milk (Original recipe calls for “light cream;” I used 2% Fair Life milk.)

Instructions:
  • Bring broth and chicken to a boil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add just the rice from the box, setting the seasoning packet aside. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and set aside. 
  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter and then sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until soft. 
  • Add the seasoning packet from the rice (If using a large box, use half to all of the packet. If using two small boxes, I recommend using only one seasoning packet, unless you and those eating the soup have no worries about blood pressure.) Stir to incorporate the seasoning. 
  • Add the pepper and flour. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring somewhat constantly. 
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, trying to keep it as smooth as possible. 
  • Reduce heat to medium low and cook milk and veggie mixture until thickened. Then stir it into the broth, rice, and chicken pot. 
  • Reduce heat to low and cook for another 10-15 minutes stirring frequently, until thick and delicious. 
Makes about 10-12 servings

* You can also use about 3 cups of shredded leftover rotisserie chicken.

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Almond Flour Chocolate Muffins (Gluten Free)



Almond Flour Chocolate Muffin

Based on my Almond Flour Cinnamon Muffins, these muffins here are chocolatey and satisfying. That's all I have to say right now because I don't feel like going into it. These muffins feed my tummy and my soul.

Almond Flour Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups almond flour (made from blanched almonds)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (preferably room temperature)
  • 1 large egg (preferably room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place cupcake liners into 11 cups of a muffin pan.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the almond flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking powder with a wire whisk.
  • In a small bowl or a measuring cup, mix the buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla extract with a fork.
  • Thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients, and then mix in the chocolate chips, reserving a few to sprinkle on top, if desired.
  • Evenly divide the batter into the 11 cups (I used a large cookie scoop) and sprinkle with a few chocolate chips, if desired.
  • Bake a 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Store uneaten muffins in an airtight container and eat within 3 days or freeze.

Makes 11 muffins










A little crumbly, but still moist, chocolatey, and delicious.







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