Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I opened some pumpkin puree a while ago and it has been staring me in the face. I finally decided to do something with it and made a pumpkin cheesecake. I topped it with cranberry sauce and some candied walnuts.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.
Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Cranberry Sauce

I cup craisins
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of cinnamon
Combine the craisins and water in a medium saucepan. Turn on medium-high and boil for a few minutes to rehydrate the cranberries. Stir in the sugar. Simmer until mixture is the consistency like that of cherry pie filling. (You may need more or less water.) Turn off the heat, and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Cool and spread on top of cheesecake.

Candied Walnuts

1 cup walnuts, coarsely crushed
drizzle of vegetable oil
1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture
Lay the walnuts on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Stir with hands. Bake for about 10-15 minutes in a 300 degree oven, or until toasted. Check and stir several times during baking. Cool and sprinkle on top of cheesecake.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wedding Cater...wahoo!

So I just did my first official cater for a wedding...and I got paid too! Yay! I was very excited to finally get money for my services. The wedding reception was outside, so that posed a number of challenges: how to keep my food cold, where to put all my coolers, how to keep my area clean without running water, etc. But I managed and although it was a TON of work, it was fun too. The food I made included Lemon Poundcake Mini-Cupcakes, Fruit Tarts, Pita Chips with Hummus, and Cream Cheese Pinwheels.

The food turned out really well. It was all yummy and the food received many compliments. The question most frequently asked was: "What is hummus?" I tried to explain it to people, but they had no idea what I was talking about. Haha, what do you expect from a town full of cowboys?

Lemon Poundcake

1 cup margarine (or butter)
2 3/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
Cream the margarine and sugar together. Add the eggs and lemon extract, mixing well. Stir in the 1 cup flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the sour cream. Stir in the last 2 cups of flour. Bake in a sprayed and floured bundt pan at 325 degrees for 70-90 minutes. For the mini-cupcakes, bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Frost with the Raspberry Sauce (recipe below). --This recipe makes 115 mini-cupcakes.

Raspberry Sauce

1 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Stir and smash the raspberries with the sugar in a saucepan. Heat until it starts to boil. Remove from stove and spread on cake.

Tip: when making the mini-cupcakes, pour the batter into a icing-tube to distribute the cake batter quickly and easily. This also keeps the area less messy. I used this awesome cooking spray for my mini-cupcakes. It is called Baker's Joy. It is a non-stick cooking spray that has both oil and flour in it. It works like a charm; I highly recommend it those who love to bake.

Fresh Fruit Tart

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and sliced
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh strawberries, kiwi slices, blueberries, raspberries
1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipped cream, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust: In a food processor, combine the confectioners' sugar, flour, and butter, and process until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, taking care to push the crust into the indentations in the sides. Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
For the filling and topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Add another circle of strawberries, filling in any spaces with blueberries. Cluster the raspberries in the center of the tart.
For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart. You will not use all of the glaze.
Keep the tart in the refrigerator. Remove about 15 minutes before serving. Slice into 8 wedges and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
*To make mini-fruit tarts: roll out your tart dough until thin, cover mini-cupcake liners with the dough. Bake in a mini-cupcake pan at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Use the icing-tube to distribute the cream cheese filling into the mini-tarts.


4 garlic cloves, minced and then mashed
2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2/3 cup of tahini (roasted, not raw) --use real peanut butter if you cannot find tahini
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Pine nuts (toasted) and parsley (chopped) for garnish
In a food processor, combine the mashed garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt, starting at a half a teaspoon, to taste. Mix in cumin to taste.
Spoon into serving dish and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.
Serve with crackers, raw dip vegetables such as carrots or celery, or with pita bread. You can cut the pita bread into thin triangles, brush with olive oil and toast for 10 minutes in a 400°F oven to make pita chips with which to serve the hummus.
Makes about 3 cups.

Herbed Cream Cheese

1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely shopped
2 1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 pounds cream cheese
Mix all the ingredients together in a food processor or mixer.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

2 cups pumpkin puree
8 ounces cream cheese (or more)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Whip all the ingredients in a mixer very well.

For the cream cheese pinwheels: spread the cream cheese over a wrap. Cover with one layer of deli meat. Fill with assorted vegetables. Roll and cut into one-inch slices. For the reception, I made 2 types of pinwheels: Pumpkin Cream Cheese with turkey, cranberries, and walnuts & Herbed Cream Cheese with ham, red peppers, cucumbers, and grated carrots. These cream cheeses are really yummy; you can use them for sandwiches, dips, etc.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicken and Chocolate

Hey everyone! Sorry, I have been busy lately and haven't had time to blog. It's been weeks since my last post...oh well :) Stu and Amber came to visit us, so for dinner I made Roman-Style Chicken. It had a good flavor and was moist, from what I heard. For dessert I wanted to do something special. Amber LOVES peanut butter, so I made her a chocolate peanut butter cake. I posted this recipe months ago, but I decided to make it again. It was delicious! Definitely one of my favorites, and this is coming from a girl who doesn't really like cake all that much.

Roman-Style Chicken

4 skinless chicken breast halves, with ribs
2 skinless chicken thighs, with bones
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
3 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

If serving immediately, add the capers and the parsley. Stir to combine and serve. If making ahead of time, transfer the chicken and sauce to a storage container, cool, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat the chicken to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Chocolate Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Frosting:
 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes so it can get light and fluffy. TO ASSEMBLE: place one cake on a plate. Cover with half of the frosting. Sprinkle on chopped peanut butter cups. Stack second cake on top. Cover with rest of frosting. Sprinkle on remaining peanut butter cups.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

This week, Spencer and Shannan and their three adorable little boys came to visit us. It was so much fun to be with them. The first night they were here, I made something that no one can resist: breakfast for dinner. I decided to make something a bit more unique than the traditional breakfast...Pumpkin Pie Waffles and Banana Bread Pancakes. Top the Pumpkin Pie Waffles with whipped cream and the Banana Bread Pancakes with Banana-Pecan Syrup, and you have yourself a scrumptious meal. Easton ("Easy E") loved the Pumpkin Pie Waffles...both are yummy though.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles
(makes 4-6 round “Belgian” style pumpkin waffles)
• 1/4 cup light brown sugar
• 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
• 1 1/4 cup flour (I use whole-wheat)
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
• 2 tsp. ginger
• 1/4 tsp. cloves
• 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/4 tsp. dried/ground nutmeg)
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
• 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and warm
1. Lightly oil the waffle iron with vegetable oil, and set it to the desired temperature.
2. Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Whisk together to break apart the cornstarch. Add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk to blend.
3. Separate eggs: yolks go in a medium sized bowl and whites get set aside in a smaller bowl.
4. Add pumpkin and milk to the egg yolks. Whisk to blend and set aside.
5. Whip egg whites with a hand mixer on high until stiff peaks form – about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Set aside.
6. Pour melted butter into the yolk/milk/pumpkin mixture. As you pour, whisk to combine.
7. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined. A little lumpiness is fine. That will smooth out when the egg whites are added.
8. Slide the whipped egg whites out of the bowl and onto the mixture you just prepared. Gently fold them in until no white bits are obvious.
9. Once the waffle iron is heated, you’re ready to pour the batter! Cook until slightly crispy.
I got this recipe from this awesome website: Check it out to get your waffles to be just perfect.

Banana Bread Pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cups flour (I use whole-wheat)
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed with 2 Tbsp. applesauce
  1. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, and vanilla. 
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry one, mixing only until combined.
  4. Stir in the bananas.
  5. Cook the batter on a large skillet or griddle. 
  6. Serve with sliced bananas and Banana-Pecan Syrup.
For the Banana-Pecan Syrup:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 small bananas, mashed (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  1. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the nuts and saute for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. 
  3. Add the bananas and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the syrup and cook for about 1 more minute, or until the syrup is hot and slightly thickened.
  5. Remove from the heat and set aside in a warm place.
  6. Serve over the pancakes.

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