Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake

Since my s'mores cheesecake was such a hit a few weeks ago, I thought I'd give cheesecake another try. I looked in my America's Test Kitchen Baking cookbook for a plain New York style cheesecake. BD was peeking over my shoulder and spied a recipe for lemon cheesecake.

Can you guess which one I ended up making?

This one has crust made from animal crackers instead of the typical graham cracker crust.

The recipe had a bunch of fussy instructions about cooking the cheesecake in a water bath -- in the springform pan inside of a roasting pan filled with hot water. I didn't have a roasting pan big enough to hold the springform pan anyway, so I skipped that part and just baked it directly in the springform pan.

I baked it for less time than the recipe instructed, and it came out perfectly after about an hour.

The cheesecake batter has lemon juice in it, and it also has a fresh lemon curd topping. I've never made any type of curd before, but this one was easy enough to do. It refrigerated while the cheesecake cooled.

I let both the cheesecake and the lemon curd chill in the fridge overnight. The cheesecake top cracked a little as it cooled.

After I spread the topping, it went back into the refrigerator for several hours. This probably wasn't necessary since it has already chilled overnight, but I wanted to be certain that the cheesecake was set.

It was finally ready to eat so I removed the springform pan. The sides had browned up nicely when it baked.

I was a little worried about the texture because I had used reduced fat cream cheese, but it was perfect!

How come the first slice of pie never comes out looking good? It may not have looked pretty, but it tasted pretty delicious!! The cheesecake is rich and creamy and the lemon curd has just enough tangy to make a good balance to the sweetness.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beach Souvenir

When we were on vacation on Hilton Head Island last month, BD found two sand dollars in the ocean. I had never seen live sand dollars, so I was excited!

Live sand dollars look nothing like the beautiful white sand dollar shells that you see in souvenir shops, so I had to google to find out what to do with them.

The process for preserving the shells was pretty easy - first we soaked them in fresh water. We did this at the condo while we were still at the beach.

We brought them home with us in a ziplock bag, and the next step is to soak them in diluted bleach.

They didn't come completely clean, so this took a few repetitions.

Finally they were completely white. They are really fragile, so BD coated them with diluted glue to make them a little stronger.

Then we had to figure out what to do with them. We had a self-portrait that we took on the beach, so I thought it would be cute to display them together.

I found a shadow box frame at the crafts store, but it was only available in black or dark brown -- not a very beachy color.

Time for the magic of spray paint!

After the frame was painted (Rustoleum brand in Lagoon from Home Depot, if you're interested), I arranged the picture and sand dollars on the mat.

I wrote the location and date on the smaller sand dollar, so we could remember where it came from and then assembled everything together.

It's living on the mantle for now until I decide on a permanent location.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Turkey...It's Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore

If you would have asked me yesterday I would have told you that I'd never cooked a turkey. Nope, not even for Thanksgiving. We usually do something non-traditional for Thanksgiving, or we call up our friends at the Honeybaked Ham Co. 

Today I could tell you that I can cook a mighty fine turkey in the slow cooker.

I did a 5lb turkey breast in our 6qt slow cooker.

Here's the down and birdy:

(get it?! instead of down and dirty?! hahaha! I kill me!)

(1) Defrost the turkey for 24 hrs (or so) in the fridge, then pat dry with paper towels

(2) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker

(3) Chop an onion (I used yellow) and stuff a few in the rib cavity and put the rest around the turkey

(4) Pour in 2 cups of white wine and 1 stick of butter

That's it!

I cooked it on low for 8 hours, and it was perfectly done when we got home from work. And, the house smelled delicious!

The meat practically fell off the bone when BD tried to slice it.

I'm not so great with the food photo staging, obviously, but you get the point. We ate this with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli with cheese sauce.

recipe source

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cookies N Cream Cookies

I can't find the source of the recipe I used for these cookies. They are basically a chocolate chip cookie dough with crushed Oreos instead of chocolate chips.

The dough is really sticky -- a cookie scoop is very helpful.

I got 30 cookies out of the batch. (And I obviously didn't bother to clean off the counter before baking!)

The cookies baked up perfectly on a silicone mat. They are a yummy twist on the traditional chocolate chip!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Honey Crunchy Chicken

A healthier version of a common Chinese restaurant meal...recipe and source below.

We started with broccoli, red bell pepper, and sugar snap peas -- sauteed in a little olive oil and garlic.

Dip chicken pieces in egg whites and then dredge in corn starch.

Sautee coated chicken pieces in olive oil. The cornstarch will give the chicken a crispy tempura-like batter.

Add veggies back into skillet -- toss in honey (about 1/4 cup) and soy sauce.

Serve over white rice.

Honey Crunchy Chicken

2 whole Egg Whites

⅓ cups Cornstarch Or Flour

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 cup Broccoli Florets

½ whole Red Pepper, Thinly Sliced

¾ cups Sugar Snap Peas

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

1 clove Garlic, Minced

1 pound Thin Sliced, Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

¼ cups Honey

Salt And Pepper

Prepare and slice all veggies. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add veggies with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add in soy sauce and garlic and stir so veggies are coated, about 60 seconds. Remove from skillet and set aside in a bowl.

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat the same skillet (or you can use a different one, I just use the same to make it easier) over medium-high heat and add remaining olive oil. Dip chicken pieces in egg whites and then lightly dredge in cornstarch or flour. (The cornstarch will yield a crispier tempura-like batter.) Add to the skillet and let brown for 2-3 minutes, then flip. Continue with remaining chicken pieces, and do so in batches if needed.

Once chicken is cooked, add veggies back in the skillet. Add honey and thoroughly mix to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, additional honey or soy sauce. Serve with rice.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Everybody Likes [Strawberry] Parfait

Donkey: You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious!

Shrek: NO! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story! Bye-bye! See ya later.

Donkey: Parfait's gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!


I made these back in May but just realized I never posted about it. I got this idea from a pie made by one of my co-workers and just adapted it for parfaits.

Hull and wash a handful of strawberries.

Slice, sprinkle with sugar and set aside.

Crush up cookies of your choice. I used Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux cookies, but really anything would work for this.

Combine a package of cream cheese, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 pkg of instant vanilla pudding with 2 cups of cold milk. Put it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.

Layer cookies, pudding mixture, strawberries, and cool whip. Repeat layers, ending with cool whip.