Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe sounds slightly complicated but in truth it is relatively easy. I have a personal bad habit of adding chocolate to most all of my crusts, this is easy enough to explain, my crusts have an issue with crumbling. If you add extra butter this is not very often an issue. Some people find chocolate to rich an additive, if that is the case feel free to remove it. It is always fun to change recipes so I challenge you to trying different ingredients. Next time it may just be pumpkin spice instead of all the different spices. Remember adventure is out there and every recipe book has at least one good recipe.

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Crust:
2 Cups Cinnamon Graham Crackers
¼ Cup Melted Butter

Gnash:
1/3 cup milk (the richer the better but skim works too)
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Filling:
32oz Cream Cheese soft (4 8oz packages)
1 ½ Cup Sugar
4 Eggs (room temp)
1 Can Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 ½ Tsp Ginger
1 Tsp Cinnamon
¼ Tsp Nutmeg

Tools:
Food processor (or a zip-block to crush graham crackers)
Glass Bowl
Hand mixer (or kitchen aid, or just a spatula for the truly dedicated)
9inch Springform pan
Spatula
Measuring cups/spoons

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300*
  2. Grease Springform pan with shortening.
  3. Crush graham crackers and combine with butter.
  4. Press into pan creating 1 inch border on sides if possible.
  5. Cook 10 min and cool 5 min.
  6. Microwave milk for 30-60sec.
  7. Pour chocolate into milk and let sit for 2 min.
  8. Stir until blended then layer on top of crust.
  9. Put in freezer until filling is prepared.
  10. In a large bowl use hand mixer to cream the cheese into a smooth texture.
  11. On low slowly add sugar then eggs 1 at a time until blended.
  12. Spoon 3 cups of mixture into pan evenly.
  13. Add remaining spices (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg) and pumpkin to remaining mix.
  14. Pour remaining mix on top of original.
  15. Bake for 1hr 25-30min (or until there is a slight jiggle left).
  16. Turn oven off and prop door open leaving cheesecake in the oven for another 30min.
  17. Remove from oven and run knife around edges.
  18. Let stand for 30 min then cover and refrigerate. (ideally between 6-24hrs)

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Pecan Pie

In my ventures to expand my horizons this holiday I have learned many new recipes and found many lost family favorites. One such favorite is Pecan pie. If I learned anything in all this, the pie should be in the fridge for at least one or two days before you cut into it. If you do not you will be spooning the filling into a bowl and watching your masterpiece deflate. Well here we go!

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Crust:

Just follow the crust recipe on my earlier post. Freezing the dough, when done correctly, works great if you only need one pie. Just thaw it out in the fridge prior to use.  https://hodges14blog.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/double-pie-crust/

Filling:

2/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Butter (melted)
1 Cup Corn Syrup
1/2 Tsp Salt
3 Eggs
1 Cup Pecan halves (find the pretty similarly sized ones if you are OCD like me)

Tools:

Bowl
Spatula
Pie Pan
(see instructions for crust)

Directions:

1. Roll dough out and place into pie pan. If you do not have a fancy pan use a fork to pattern the edges of the crust.

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2. Heat oven to 375*

3. In a bowl mix all filling ingredients but the pecans.

4. Pour filling into crust.

5. Place halves carefully on top of filling starting on the outside working in. Save the smaller or broken pieces to fill in holes and when you reach the center.

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6. Cover crust with foil to prevent burning (or get a fancy crust cover) and bake it for 40-50 minutes.

7. Let it cool then place it in the fridge until it is time to eat.   (I prefer to microwave my piece for 10 seconds to warm it up then add a “healthy” scoop of vanilla ice cream)

Honey Bread

So I learned in my not so long ago past that my great grandfather was a baker. I was elated to learn that my passion for baking run in my blood, until my mother followed up with the word step… all that potential running through someone else’s veins. To me that just means, master this skill and possibly become a baker so my children, or my children’s children will not feel the disappointment of their passion having no roots. Oh well, se la vie.  Disclaimer-I have not mastered bread making. True to my word I saved the post until the bread tasted good, it just looks lumpier than my predecessor.

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Ingredients:
2 Cups Warm Water
2/3 Cups Honey (Local raw is tastiest, just saying)
1 3/4 Tbs Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
6 Cups Flour (AP or Bread works)
Cooking Spray

Tools:
Pot
Bowl
Whisk/Spatula
Towel
2 Bread Pans

Directions:

1. In a pot warm water (bring it to boil then let it cool to touching temp)

2. Mix in honey until completely dissolved

3. Sprinkle yeast across the top and let it sit 10-20 minutes (it should be a nice froth of yeast)

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4. Add flour one cup at a time, adding salt in the last cup (salt slows the rise of dough it it should be among the last.)

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5. Flour your hands and get your knead on. Knead for 5 minutes ( I knead in the same pot that I did everything else, but that could just be me.)

6. Grease bowl, put dough in bowl, cover with a towel and place in a warm place (oven, top of fridge, laundry room)

Note: If the area is too warm it will kill the yeast, too cold and it hinders the rising, yeast is a fickle beast)

7. 1 hour later, if done right, the dough should be at least twice the size. Punch it (deflating the bubble) and knead for another 5 minutes.

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Note: The more times you repeat step 7 the lighter the bread and more developed the taste. If your bread tastes “yeasty” it just needs more alone time before you bake it.

8. Divide the dough into two and place them in greased pan. Towel on top and let rise another 30 minutes in that warm spot.

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9. Heat oven to 325* and bake 30-35 minutes (that nice golden brown of bread.)

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10. Remove from oven and, at this point, let the bread cool before you cut into it (When I get overexcited there are dense spots)

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It makes great sandwich bread, and even better french toast!098

Christmas Fudge

It is official, when I woke up this morning the spirit of Christmas hit me hard. It could have been the craziness of shopping at Walmart on a pay day (It was crazier than my Black Friday) or the mini tree I decorated with all of the ornaments my grandma has given me over the years. In the end I wanted fudge, cookies, and sappy Christmas movies. The heart wants what it wants, I made cookies, cupcakes, banana bread and the fudge. I also watched a shameful number of movies during this time… 6.  I dont have all the bells and whistles for the fudge my mother did but it still tastes good off of the pinterest recipe. I will probably try a different one next time, I just couldn’t bring myself to using a whole bag of powdered sugar on fudge when Russian Tea Cakes were on the line. Either way wit was tasty and I licked the bowl clean right after.

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Ingredients:

3 Cups Chocolate Chips
2 Tbs Butter (salted if you can)
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14oz)
1 Tsp Vanilla
5 Pecans (perfect if you can find them)
2 Red round sprinkles (again if handy, they are just for decoration)

Tools:

Bowl (microwave safe)
Spatula
9 Inch cake round pan
Foil
Glass cup
Measuring Cups/Spoons

Directions:

1. Line pan with foil

2. Combine chocolate and butter in microwave stirring in 30 second intervals until blended. (It may take a few minuets each time to work out lumps, don’t overcook.)

3. Stir in Milk and Vanilla

4. Place glass cup in center (choose big or little side based on how thick you want the fudge)

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5. Pour fudge in, smoothing into place and adding  pecans and red sprinkle ( I didn’t have sprinkles)

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5. Let set, good in fridge for 2 hours, enjoy.

Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

In some misguided attempt at knowing exactly what goes into the food I eat, this past fall I decided to make my own pumpkin puree. See a later post for the directions on that. It is surprisingly easier than it sounds. Anyway, the recipe below is from scratch all the way down to the pumpkin so it looks a little different, but let me assure you… out of the different pies offered mine was the crowd favorite Thanksgiving night.033

Ingredients:

1 Cup Pumpkin Puree (1 can pumpkin)
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk (14oz)
2 Eggs
1 Tbs Pumpkin Pie Spice
Cooking Spray or Crisco
1 Pie Crust ( I bake in doubles, see Pie Crust recipe post. pre-made crust is chewier than I prefer)

Tools:
Bowl
Spatula
Measuring Spoons
Measuring Cups
9-inch Pie Pan
Foil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425*

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2. Prepare crust and roll it onto the pie pan (don’t forget to grease it first)

3. Combine pumpkin, eggs, milk and spice and mix until creamy.025

4. Pour into crust and cook 15 minutes ( just until crust is golden)027

5. Line the pie with foil (this keeps the crust from overcooking) and cook at 350* for 35-40 minutes. (It should pass the toothpick test, if not cook until it passes the test)

6. Its best if you let it cool, then put it in the fridge overnight. See the post on whipped cream if you do not have cool whip.

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Double Pie Crust

I think it is safe to say that I have gotten proficient at graham cracker crust. I have discovered recently that the same cannot be said of my traditional crust skills. The recipe is easy enough, the real struggle lies in not over mixing the dough. If you stir to long it becomes tough and breaks easily, not enough and you get a Crisco marbled pattern. The main thing to know is follow the baking instructions of the recipe you are using it for. There is no special temp or time I have for this crust.

Tools:
Bowl
Spatula
Fork
Hand Blender (optional)
Saran Wrap

Ingredients:
2 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Salt
2/3 Cup Shortening
8 Tbsp Ice-Cold Water

Instructions:

1. Mix dry ingredients (flour and salt)
2. Mix in shortening, this is when you pull out your dingle hopper (fork for you non Disney fans). Continue this process until well blended.
3. Add water, the original said 6-8 tbsp but I always needed 8 and some for while I was rolling the dough out. Using the fork cut it until you and make balls with your hands. When done the dough should not stick to your hands.
4. Once well blended split in half, wrap in suran wrap  and put it in the fridge for 45min.

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5. Pull out of fridge and roll out to whatever shape your recipe calls for. (The recipe always seems just  shy of the amount I need, feel free to add a little of everything to make it go a little further.

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Tips:

When rolling apply flour to the surface and your rolling pin or improvised rolling devise.

The edges tend to get thin and split, depending on the split you can push the edges together again or use a little of the water to glue it back together.

When you are done rolling it is helpful to have a spatula (lovingly called a flipper in my house vs the baking spatulas with rubber edges.) to scrape it off the surface and transfer it to your pan or whatever you needed the crust for.

Banana Bread

I always seem to have a few bananas that I cannot eat before they turn black. At this point I am faced with a few different options. Option 1: throw them away Option 2: peel them and freeze them for new attempt on ice cream Option 3: Make delicious banana bread.

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Today you will hear of the fruits of option 3. Growing up we had banana bread fairly often. My favorite was when mom added a crumble top and blueberries. Since leaving home I have lost access to all of my most treasured recipes and am forced to scour the internet for the tastiest alternatives I could muster up. In this one instance I think I have stumbled upon an even more flavorful recipe than I started with. The biggest trick is to not overcook it. I prefer under-cooked gooey middle banana bread, but since putting the bread into mason jars I discovered that it creates a more even cook.

Tools:

3 Bowls (dry, wet, and banana mashing bowls)
Spatula
Hand mixer (optional, I prefer using my hand)
12 mason jars/cupcake pan/loaf pan

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
3 1/3 Cups Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
1/4 Tsp Ginger (more like a dash of Nutmeg and Ginger)
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract (again I didn’t measure, it just sounded good)
2/3 Cup Crushed (Fill in nut of choice. I used Walnuts, the recipe said pecans)
2/3 Cup Shortening
2 Cup Sugar
4 Eggs
2/3 Cup Water
4 Over Ripe Bananas (If they were in the fridge let them get to room temp and make sure they are all the way ripe. The darker the better the flavor)

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl mix together the dry ingredients (Flour, baking soda, baking flour, salt, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg)

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2. Mash the 4 bananas well. It should be a nice mush.
3. In large bowl mix together the shortening, sugar and vanilla, when blended add the eggs one at a time. Add bananas and water.
4. Spray mason jars and/or cupcake/loaf pans.
5. Fill receptacles half way.043

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6. If using mason jars place in a cake pan for stability (I didn’t the first time and ended up cleaning banana bread from the bottom of the stove)
7.Place as close to center of the top rack, cook for 40-45 min or until it passes the poke test.
8. When removed add the lids, the heat will cause the jars to self seal (It worked if you hear a pop).
9. When not scalding hot enjoy! I find butter isn’t even needed with this recipe.009

Cookies and Cream with Oreo Butter

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There has been a lot of experimenting in the kitchen lately. I am floating along without any real direction and the results are mixed. Gone are the wonderful days when someone made a request and I was able to look for the recipe of choice. Now are the days where I have to find something of the most random nature or I am getting pictures of recipes stunting my creativity. This is the most redundant sounding cookie but it is everything it promises and more.

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Ok I admit they do not look like much and well my artistic flare with the camera has been less than exceptional but I never promised good pictures just honesty in my ventures. I will only post a recipe if it is tasty, if it failed I will keep trying until it is edible and will then share my findings. Lessons were learned and listed below.

Off of my tangent…

Supplies:
Food processor (or a really dedicated person with a ziplock)
2 Bowls
Spoon
Rubber Spatula
Mason jar
Measuring Cups/Spoons

Ingredients :

Oreo Butter:

2 Cups Oreo Cookies ground to dust (big chunks are better for ice cream)
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil (room temp if possible)

Cookies:

1/2 Cup Oreo Butter (it takes time to set, plan ahead)
1/2 Cup Shortening (not butter)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/8 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Tbsp Milk
1 3/4 Cup Flour (All Purpose)
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar (roughly speaking to coat cookie dough)
3 Doz Cookies & Cream Hershey Kisses.

Instructions:

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Oreo Butter:

1.1 Combine cookies (roughly 2 rows) in food processor with coconut oil. The processor should heat up the oil and create a peanut butter consistency.

1.2 Dedicated and/or no food processor, crush cookies in a ziplock with your hand, or a rolling pin etc. until fine.  Mine was not very fine but it tasted great! After destroying the cookies I melted the oil and mixed them together.

2. Let the mixture set for a few hours, best if overnight. AKA let the oil re-solidify.

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Cookies:

1.Beat together Oreo Butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy.

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2. Add the baking powder, baking soda, egg, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.

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3. Add flour (sift with fork, it makes the flour lighter), mix into dough.

4. Chill dough (it helps keep the tall form of the cookies)

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5. Make small balls (cookie scoop size), roll, and coat in sugar.

6. Bake at 350* for 10 Min.

7. Press Hershey kiss into center of cookie, let them cool. (cookies will melt the chocolate so be careful)

8. Cool on rack

9. Enjoy with Oreo Butter and milk!

Whipped Cream Home style

Every pie needs a little whipped cream. Honestly during pumpkin season, anything with pumpkin flavor needs whipped cream. The recipe here is so easy that I am surprised that there is still pre-made whipped cream in the stores.

Since most often when I bake it is for the experience rather than some planned party I made a very small batch.

Ingredients:

1 Pint Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla (I do not actually measure but this sounds close…)
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Tools:

Medium bowl, preferably metal
Electric mixer, working by hand  takes a lot of energy if you can work fast enough
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Directions:
1. chill bowl in freezer, it only takes 5-10 min (It helps consistency and time needed)

2. pour heavy cream into the bowl, add your vanilla and start beating.

3. slowly add sugar while whipping the cream, do not just pour it in.

4. When the cream starts to peak (aka sit up on its own) you are ready to serve on top of your dessert of choice.

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German Pancake

Lets be honest, when I share this recipe it is more so that I can reference it when my mom is no longer in the same room as me when I make them. She started making them about a year ago, but informs me it is a family tradition… ok mom.

It is a really easy recipe, kinda sad that I do not always remember it. Thus is the way of life.

Ingredients:

(depending on the size of your cast iron pan. For the purpose of this recipe think traditional size)
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla (roughly, I never measure)
1-2 tsp butter
 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400*

2.Add butter to pan and place it in the oven while its heating up

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3. Mix ingredients together

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4. When oven is to temp. pour mixture into pan and place back in oven

5. Cook for 12 minutes or until the pancake starts to pull away from the pan

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Place on plate and top with favored toppings. Enjoy!

Variation A: I ran out of milk and only had 1 egg. I used almond milk and my final egg. It did not rise as high but it was just as tasty. The variation also made it a little more dense.

Variation B: Add a dash of all spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This gives the Fall, almost pumpkin twist and if you love sugar as much as I do you add chocolate chips too. I topped it with cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and my left over cannoli filling, it tastes much better than it looks. Never stop changing the recipe, you never know what you will find!

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