Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baby Cheesecakes

I felt like cheesecake last night but making a 10" cheesecake wasn't an option.  First of all, I would eat it.  Secondly, I would eat it.  Actually, what really got me thinking about scaling down the recipe was I have been obsessed with developing a tasting menu at home.  I love the idea of being able to have "tastes" of several different kinds of dishes without feeling like you ate the world.  When I wasn't having much luck with that, I moved on to recipes that I could scale down....which brought me to cheesecake.  I don't see the clear connection anymore....but still, it worked.

I tossed around the idea of adapting my other cheesecake recipe to be the size of cupcakes.  I must remind everyone that I do not adapt anything.  I follow the recipe and especially when I am baking.  But I mostly wanted to see if it could be done while retaining the lightness and integrity of the original texture/taste etc.

The picture really doesn't do justice to how totally yummy this cheesecake actually is...but I was in a hurry to get the results on the blog, so what you end up with is a sub-par picture.  It really doesn't matter, because these are so tasty it's fine if the picture is bad.

Here is how I adapted the recipe...I made the crust the same except I melted the butter and pulsed the graham crackers, sugar and melted butter in the food processor together.  I lined muffin tins with the little cupcake papers (do these actually have a name?) and put about a tablespoon or so of crust in each one and tamped it down with a shot glass, then I baked them for 3 minutes to set the crust.  I really don't think I needed to do that step, but I figured I would at least mention that I did.  I made the filling as per the original recipe (follow the link above) and filled the little paper thingies to within about 1/4 or a touch less from the top (remember that there is a topping you bake quickly later).  I baked them at 375 which was the regular temp for 13 minutes.  I played around with 12, 13 and 14 minutes.  12 minutes I couldn't tell if they were done or not.  13 seemed good...and 14 overcooked some while others looked fine.  Remember that you don't want them to crack (which is what happened at 14 minutes).  I cooled them per the recipe and then added the sour cream topping to fill the rest of the cupcake paper thing, baked for 3 minutes and let set overnight in the refrigerator, (after cooling completely).

I strained some raspberries for the sauce but seriously, I am very pleased with how these came out.  It was sketchy there for a minute or so.  I may even try and adapt more recipes!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Product Review - Kirkland Signature marinara sauce

I am one of those fanatically loyal Costco shoppers.  No, really.  I teeter on the verge on cuckoo when it comes to that store.  You would think I get paid to say that?  I don't, but will certainly entertain offers ....Costco?...hello? me. *wink*

Truth be told, I have not tried a Kirkland Signature product I haven't liked and I am pretty picky about name brands vs. house brands.  Typically, I am let down.  Not with Costco's house brand...if you don't make it a habit to buy them, you should...they don't disappoint.  And if for some crazy reason you aren't 110% satisfied?  March it back.  Their return policy is better than Nordstrom.  Seriously.

Costco has just recently come out with their own marinara sauce.  Now, I am so NOT a jar sauce lover.    They usually always taste "jarred" or something.  I can't quite place it but if I have to use a jar I cook the "jarred"(craptastical) taste out of it while adding spices and what have you.  It's really silly and quite a process but it's the only way I can look myself in the mirror.  Jarred sauce?   Uggg.  As much as I totally heart Costco and all of it's products, I was skeptical.

Um, can I just tell you that I am so happy to be wrong.  I don't know how they did it.  This marinara, while having a slightly acidic taste right out of the jar was the most authentic flavor I have tasted in years.  The only exception (again, sold at Costco albeit not their house brand) was this other marinara called Victorias, or something.  That stuff rocked.  Now, this stuff rocks.  I could taste fresh tomato, garlic and basil.  It tasted almost freshly canned ...if that is even possible.  I loved it!

Even though I enjoy the process of making my own marinara....the new Kirkland Signature brand is my new go-to.

Cooking Competition

About a week or so, Antonio came home from his dads wanting to make chicken parmesan.  Random, but I was jazzed that he was interested in a different dinner.  The repetition can be a killer.....

So I bought the stuff and figured tonight that I would cook a kid friendly version (rather than a company new fangled recipe version) and then if he liked it...I could show him.  Frankly, with his patience level I wasn't keen on him observing my wing-it thought process.  So during the pre dinner discussion it is made known that he loves his fathers chicken parmesan.  Really now?  I am asking him how he cooks it, etc.  I want to keep the look familiar to Antonio (if you know him, you get it) but I know that his dad and I have different styles of cooking it.  I'm pretty competitive and for SURE don't want to be bested in the kitchen.  It's like stabbing me in my happy place.  Game on!

I sliced the chicken breasts lengthwise  so they would cook quicker and not just be a hunk of chicken with sauce.  Pan sautéed them in some olive oil.  oh, before that I seasoned them (always do that first!) dipped them in egg wash (fresh eggs thanks to Crystal!) and parmesan bread crumbs from Progresso.  Product review?  I found the bread crumbs pretty salty.  Next time, I will stick with what I usually do which is get plain bread crumbs (or make them) and season to taste.  After they were browned, I baked them in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes.

Covered with marinara (Kirkland Signature brand) - um, yummy! and mozzarella cheese.  Angel hair pasta on the side.

When Antonio was done he said that he liked mine just as much as his dads.  I'll take that.

The picture really doesn't do the dish justice.  Trust me, it tasted better than it looks here.....

Soup Base (It's not what you think)

One of the things I like to do (time allowed) is cook up some dishes on Sunday for the week that can be easily reheated.  Who has time to cook a new dinner EVERY night?  I don't know about you, but I WORK!  As much as I love cooking, I just don't have time/energy to do it every single night.  Antonio is getting pretty good at tossing hamburgers on the George Foreman, or making spaghetti but even he has homework etc.  Which cements my theory that doing a bunch of cooking ahead on a Sunday is a good thing indeed.

With that said, last Sunday I made a big pot of vegetable soup.  Why?  Well, it's inexpensive, can be easily reheated and best of all..YOU know what went into it so it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you like.
So I cut up all my veggies and into the pot they went.  I baaaaaarely had room for water!  I know, I got a bit carried away.
So I am eating this soup last night and thought, "this is boring".  Then it hit me.  Side bar: just so you know..I fully realize that I didn't invent the concept I am about to share.  It just kind of dawned on me.  The way pain medication "dawns" on a mother in labor.  Mother in labor - screaming and panting.  Husband/partner - would you like pain medication now?  Mother in labor - "yes!!! what a great idea".  You get the picture.

My epiphany is that this veggie soup is just a "base".  A base for soup add ins.  I guess I like the idea of veggie soup because you don't have to commit to adding a protein to it, or noodles (they mush out after a couple of days anyway) and you are free to add or not add.  Tonight, I added a handful of egg noodles and a small handful of chopped rotisserie chicken (from Costco, of course).

I know, not a new concept.  I just was thinking quasi clearly for once.

Majorly tasty.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Semi-Homemade Pancakes (the non matchy matchy version)

This post is dedicated to Jordyn S.,  who made me remember that it had been way too long since I had updated it....

This is seriously one of the ONLY recipes where I actually start from a mix and doctor from there.  Unlike the ultra matchy-matchy, chunks of food floating in your cocktail version...this version is from the Diet Coke drinking, yoga pant wearing, pony tail having variety of cook.

Any young person I have ever come into contact with loves pancakes.  To me, they are just ok.  To's like the queen is coming to breakfast!!!  Go figure.

Ok, so you take regular Krusteaz and as you are making it like the package says...incorporate:

(Sascha, don't complain about the lack of measuring...)

A splash of pure vanilla extract (please, NEVER use imitation...yuck)
A splash of vegetable oil
A shake of cinnamon

Make as directed.  You would be surprised how much adding these few things really elevated pancake mix!!  Don't question it...just try it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Abracadabra bread!

...Thank you Kristin!

I totally renamed this bread recipe.  I renamed it mainly because it was like I mixed some ingredients up and ....abracadabra!  Bread.  Not just bread...but bread I ACTUALLY wanted to eat.
It isn't crap
It isn't a paperweight
It is actual bread, bread!
Like, I would totally serve it to people.
I can't even give hints or tips.  I just followed the recipe and bread came out!
It's magic.
I got the recipe from a friend who got it from a demonstration at a local winery.  I slightly adapted it and can't believe how easy it was.

Look!  Look!  It's bread.
Bread even I can make.....


3 cups flour total (I used 2 cups white and 1 cup wheat)
¼ tsp instant dry yeast
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups water

Mix together dry ingredients
Mix in the water until incorporated.  Dough will look like wet oatmeal (mine didn’t…but it still worked out)
Cover with plastic or put in air tight plastic container with hole drilled in it for venting.
Let sit in for 12-18 hours (I put it on top of the refrigerator)

Turn out onto well floured surface, flatten gently then fold in three like a letter then in half
Cover loosely with plastic and rest for 15 minutes
Transfer to enameled cast iron dutch oven lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic and a towel and put back on top of the refrigerator (or somewhere warm) and let rise about 1-1/2 hrs.
Bake covered in a preheated oven at 450-475 degrees for 45-55 minutes.  Take the lid off the last few to brown the top.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to make a fantastic smelling paperweight.

For the love of bread.
I love bread. It's comfort. I wanted some "Joy the Baker's blog"!!!
Oh, I just heart this blog. Love her, love what she cooks, love how she writes. Plus, she can bake..which, clearly I cannot.

She had this garlic bread recipe on there the other day. It looked yummy AND easy! It IS, in fact, easy. The yummy? Well, I wouldn't know because I have ruined it twice in a row.

It smelled good though.

My father was a baker for crying out loud.


I don't know what happened. The constant in the two failures is me. So I did the math. Sigh....

I took a dark, last minute pic of my paperweight. The house smelled fantastic. The bread didn't rise and it was like cutting through a potato.

Below is the link to the recipe. It looks amazing! Joy is a great cook and she JUST published a cookbook!

Please make her bread and tell me what I did wrong.

Easy Spicy Garlic Bread in a Pot - By Joy the Baker...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Again, with the heavy cream....

I know, I haven't been blogging. If it helps, I haven't been cooking. Cooking anything new, that is.

I missed you, so...a blog is what's on the docket today.

My sister-in-law, Crystal just finished sitting my dog for, and on about 3 weeks. And I was trying to figure out a way to say "thank you". We decided that I would cook and deliver her family dinner! Ooh, an excuse to cook! These days, I haven't been too motivated so an excuse to cook is always welcome.

Which, turned into an excuse to blog.


I made ziti.

I have made this dish successfully, and not so successfully in the past. Today, I made a list! I had some running around to do and I was going to hit the store on the way home, cook dinner, and deliver at 6! Seems simple enough.

So, I'm cooking away and I get to the part of the recipe where I need heavy cream. Remember the blog where I forgot to put the heavy cream in the recipe? Well.....THIS time, I forgot to BUY the heavy cream.


Turn off the stove, stop the simmering, get my purse and go to the store. This is another pet peeve of mine...forgetting something at a place where I just was. Grrr.

Long story short, the fricken fracken ziti is in the oven and I am back on track. The sun is streaming in the window as it sets and I am blogging away with Sirius radio on.

All's well, that ends well.

Just thought I would share.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Produce Delivery

It's 2012...and in an effort to help this year not suck, I thought I would try to do things differently.
1. Not care so much if odds and ends are picked up.
2. Take the dog for more walks
3. Play more board games with my son
4. Blog more
5. Keep my nails looking pretty
6. Cook with more veggies
Which leads me to the topic of today's post....
7. Have local farm deliver said veggies.

Klesick Family Farm is right here in Stanwood. They offer several versions of fruit and veggie boxes for delivery. Can you afford this service? I am glad you asked....

Yes you can!!

Seriously, if you are a veggie lover (as I am) then you know how much decent produce can be. Factor in your time to go to the store, gas and implies purchases and you have wracked up a bill that is certainly more than it costs to have this box of yummy delivered.

I am tickled pink...and the best part is that I see what is fresh each week and create from there. The creations have been pretty bland so don't expect to see barn burners such as "steamed green beans" on the blog. But....I am getting better at creating things from what is given to me. The produce is crazy fresh and the best part is I didn't have to leave my house. Which, is a huge plus.

Try it.
I'm just sayin...