Sunday, February 27, 2011

Almond Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping

My mom celebrated her birthday on the 22nd of February and she requested an amaretto cheesecake. She loves almond flavored things and I knew if I got this right it could really make her day special. I wanted something more than a regular cheesecake with almond extract added to it for the almond flavor. I looked at a lot of different recipes and finally settled on one with a couple changes I wanted to make. I really think the almond paste makes this cheesecake different, so I wouldn't skip it. I found mine at our local grocery store in the baking isle. I really think the crust in this is fantastic and the almonds give it a little extra crunch. You could also change the topping to any berry that you like. I had considered cherry, blueberry, or strawberry, but raspberry just seemed like the perfect match to the almond cheesecake. I also apologize for not having a picture of this since we celebrated my daughter's birthday the same day and I didn't feel like I had enough time to stop and take a picture and it really did not last long. 

Almond Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 full crackers)
1 cup sliced almonds
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 7-ounce package almond paste
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (not reduced fat), room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs

12 ounces frozen raspberries (or fresh)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon corn starch

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan and put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom (I took the side part off and put it back on over the parchment). Set aside. Put sliced almonds on a cookie sheet and broil for 2 minutes (keep a close eye on this as they are very easy to burn) or until golden brown and toasted. Set aside to cool. In a food processor pulse graham crackers and toasted, sliced almonds until crumbs. In a medium bowl, add the butter, brown sugar, and salt and mix well with a fork. Press mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake for 7 minutes, or until set.

For filling:
Break apart and pulse almond paste in a food processor to ensure there are no big chunks. Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the almond paste, cream cheese, and sugar for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Occasionally, scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in eggs until just blended. Pour filling over crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees for about 45 minutes longer, or until the center is set and the top looks dry. Remove from oven and let cool.

For sauce:
Puree raspberries and water in a blender. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the majority of seeds (if the seeds don't bother you, skip this step). In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, and corn starch. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Continue boiling for 3-4 minutes or until it's starting to thicken. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Spread sauce over cooled cheesecake and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Adapted from Epicurious and Smitten Kitchen

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

Sorry I haven't posted very often lately. Life has gotten kind of busy with my daughter turning 6 and throwing her a party and then just every day things that come with having 4 kids. This blog got put on the back burner for a while. I'll make it up to you, I promise (talking strawberry cake, almond cheesecake, and mini crab cakes). I have some fabulous recipes coming for you! I got a new Bosch mixer (I had a Kitchen Aid before) for Valentine's Day (yes, I am spoiled, what's your point?), so I have been loving using it! Any excuse I can find to use it, I jump at baking something (even more so than before).

This is one of my husband's favorite bread recipes that I make. I used to make bread over dry by adding too much flour to it and couldn't figure out why it was always SO dense. Now that I have it figured out, it almost always comes out good. This doesn't have the texture of oatmeal at all... it kind of just blends into the bread and gives it the flavor of oatmeal. This recipe makes 2 loaves, so if you only want one, half it.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 Tablespoon salt
5 3/4 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 beaten eggs
Extra rolled oats
1 beaten egg white
1 Tablespoon water

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let rest 5 minutes. In stand mixer, combine boiling water, 1 cup rolled oats, molasses, butter, and salt; cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, beat well. Add the softened yeast mixture and 2 beaten eggs and beat well. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. Knead in your mixer (or by hand) until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Shape dough into a ball.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down, turn out on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half by either using a serrated knife to cut it in half or pulling it apart with your hands. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Coat two well-greased loaf pans and sprinkle about 2 Tablespoons rolled oats for each pan and then shake around until the pan is lightly coated. 

Shape dough into loaves and place in pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (45 to 60 minutes). Brush loaves with a mixture of egg white and water. Sprinkle tops lightly with rolled oats. Bake at 3:75 degrees until done, about 40 minutes. Cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes if tops are browning rapidly. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cook Book

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dehydrated Apples

Ok, so anyone who knows me well know that I am a bit into food storage. I also like to do anything I can myself. Not only do I enjoy learning how it's done, but I really think that by doing it at home I can get a superior product and as an added bonus, it's just the way I like it because I control what is being put into it. So, the last couple days I've been working on dehydrating my own apple slices. Everyone loves to snack on these and they are as healthy as can be for you. They are actually kind of addicting... I dare you to eat just one. I also love these broken up and put in my oatmeal. So easy and convenient and it really takes my morning oatmeal to the next level.

 I have one of these handy dandy apple slicers that I used to slice and core all my apples. I left the peels on for added flavor and nutrition, but you could take the peel off if you want to. You don't have to use one of those if you don't have one. Just core and slice your apples thinly by hand. They will still turn out just as good! I usually slice and core about four at a time and then cut them in half. After that I lightly spray them with lemon juice (I bought a spray bottle just for this use) so they don't brown and it adds a little extra vitamin C back into them that they will lose during the dehydrating. Then I lay them out on my dehydrator tray. Once I have a tray full I sprinkled very lightly with cinnamon. You don't need much at all to give it a little extra flavor. I think apple pie seasoning would be great on these too, but I didn't have any on hand. You can really do whatever YOU like on your dried apples. That's the great thing about doing it at home.  I only sprinkled a few of my trays with cinnamon because I like them both ways and it's one less step to just leave it off. I set my dehydrator at 110 degrees and it took them about 15 hours to get dried enough.

My house smelled fantastic as these were drying and the kids kept asking what the yummy smell was.  I like doing these types of projects in the winter when there isn't a whole lot of produce on sale, not any produce stands around anymore, and my garden isn't keeping me on my toes with fresh veggies.

These really are simple as can be to make yourself. Next time you see apples on sale (I used fuji here, but you can use any apple you like to eat), grab more than you normally would and put some in your dehydrator. I think you'll be surprised at how easy and good it really is made at home.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Apple Streusel Cake

I love everyday cakes like these. Simple, but tasty. Something that you can eat after dinner and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy. My kids told me that they wished they got dessert every day after dinner (which is quite a dream). This cake came together easily (which with four kids running around is a must sometimes) and was a real treat. I love the seasonings in this and it reminds me of fall with the apples. I didn’t make the glaze to go with it, but I think it would be better with it, so next time I’ll use it.

Apple Streusel Cake

For the streusel:
1 cup chopped apple (about 1 medium apple)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 Tablespoons melted butter

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup softened butter
½ sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup orange juice

For the glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ teaspoons orange juice

Making the streusel:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan well. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, apples, almonds, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in melted butter. Set aside.

Making the cake:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl occasionally. Add vanilla.

Set mixer to low and alternately beat flour mixture and orange juice into the egg mixture. Spoon half of the batter into the bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel over the batter.

Spoon the remaining batter over the streusel and spread evenly. Swirl batter with a knife to create a marble pattern.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining streusel. Return cake to the oven and bake an additional 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Making the glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice. Mix well. Turn cake out onto a serving plate. Drizzle glaze over cake and serve.

Friday, February 4, 2011

No-Fuss Potato Soup

Hopefully you all aren’t sick of all my soup recipes! I made this when I was babysitting two extra kids in addition to my usual four. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to cook dinner, so when I had a little down time, I threw this in the crock pot and let it go. By the time it was dinnertime, I was exhausted and we were all hungry, so this was really a lifesaver to have waiting for us.

So, I don’t have a picture of this because, well, it was one of those days where nothing is going the way you want them too and my family and I ate this faster than I could get a picture. It is too good not to share with you and if you think you don’t like mushrooms, then try it with them anyway. It gives this soup such a good flavor and if you don’t cut them too tiny, you can pick them out later (which is what my lovely daughter did).

No-Fuss Potato Soup

6 cups cubed potatoes (I prefer them not peeled)
5 cups water
4 chicken bullion cubes
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped broccoli
½ cup chopped mushrooms
¼ cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon dried parsley

In a large crock pot, combine everything except the evaporated milk. Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours or until vegetables are tender. Add milk and mix well. Cover and cook 30-60 minutes longer or until heated through. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spaghetti Pie

This is a fun twist on regular spaghetti. I normally put ground beef in the sauce (which is what I’ll put in the recipe), but since we were out, I used chicken instead. You could also double it if you have a lot of people to feed and put it in a 9x13 pan. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law when I got married as one of those family recipes and it’s easy to put together and so good! It’s one of our family’s favorite comfort foods. 

Spaghetti Pie

6 ounces spaghetti (or angel hair) noodles
¼ cup butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1 ½ cups spaghetti sauce
½ pound ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used Colby jack because that’s what I had on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well and put back in pan. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese until butter is melted. Slightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and then stir into spaghetti. Make the “crust” in a 9-inch pie pan by putting the spaghetti noodles in the bottom of the pan and press down until shaped to pan. Spread the cottage cheese evenly over the top of the noodles. Brown the ground beef with the onion. Once no longer pink, mix the ground beef and onions with the spaghetti sauce and spread over the cottage cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Return to oven for 5 more minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mini Quiche

 You could do a pre-made (or homemade) pie crust and put this in a regular pie pan for the traditional quiche. You just want to bake the crust for 10 minute before you put the filling in and increase the time to 45 minutes. I don’t know why, but for some reason it is more fun to eat something that is in individual portion sizes. You can pretty much put any veggies you think would be good in this or have on hand (spinach comes to mind). Any kind of cheese will do as well. I really loved the feta in this as I thought it took the flavor to the next level. 

Mini Quiche

6 pieces bacon
½ cup chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
6 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup cheddar cheese
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat until done. Remove to a plate and let cool. Crumble bacon into small pieces. Drain all but 2 Tablespoons of the bacon grease out of the pan. Cook the onion and garlic in the bacon grease until the onions are soft and clear. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, mix the eggs and milk until beaten well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Spray muffin tins well with cooking spray and fill to the top with the egg filling. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until set and turning brown on the edges and top. To remove from the muffin tin, slide a knife around the edge and gently scoop it out.

Adapted from