Friday, April 22, 2011

New York Cheesecake

The Mission:
To make a cheesecake for my husband for his birthday.  Even though his birthday was two weeks ago, I figured he'd still like one!  I've only made one cheesecake in the past, but since he's not a fan of raspberry, I decided to go with a tried and true New York style using a recipe that I stole from my sister.  Since I had the day off and my husband had to work, I planned to have this delicious dessert prepared for him when he got home as the grand finale to a yummy meal of corned beef with cabbage and potatoes.
The Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted 
  • 4 (8 oz. each) blocks of cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk 
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice 
The Instructions:
  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar.  Pour in the melted butter and stir with a fork until crumbs are evenly moistened.  
  2. Press the mixture firmly and evenly onto the bottom of a 9" spring form pan.  
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually beat in the sweetened condensed milk until mixture is smooth. 
  4. Add in the eggs, flour, and lemon juice, mixing well.  Pour cheese mixture into the pan.  
  5. Bake in a preheated 300*F oven for 1 hour and check - the edges should be solid and the center of the cake should be jiggly (like pudding) - it will set as it cools.  If cake is too jiggly or liquidy, bake longer, checking every 5 minutes or so.   
  6. Cool cake on the counter for an hour and then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.  Serve with whatever topping you'd prefer (raspberry sauce, cherry pie filling, etc.) or enjoy plain.   
The Results & Reviews:
YUM!  It turned out fantastic.  My husband was very, very happy with his birthday cake - he's very reluctant to share, so I'm not sure I'll get any other reviews..... though I'm pretty proud of myself that it turned out so well on the first try.  I used a dark non-stick spring form pan, which made my cake bake a little quicker than usual, so I adjusted this recipe to bake for 1 hour instead of the extra ten minutes my sister's recipe had listed.  The flavor, density, and creaminess of this cheesecake are an excellently rich combination.  I'd recommend not taking too big a piece, since a little goes a long way with this delicious dessert.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Menu: January 30th - Feb 5th

Sunday:  Hot dogs with meaty chili and potato chips - our favorite brand was on sale this week!  I love stocking up on a good sale.

Monday:  Roasted Pork Loin with cheesy mashed potatoes (out of a bag) and green beans - pork loin was also on sale.  It was a good week at the grocery store.

Tuesday:  Grilled chicken breast (not sure what I'll marinate them in quite yet.....) with mac'n'cheese and peas

Wednesday:  Fried Pork Chops with pinto beans (yuck) and broccoli (yum)

Thursday:  London Broil with baked potatoes and California blend veggies

Friday:  Chicken Pot Pie

Saturday:  ???????

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekly Menu: January 23rd - 28th

Sunday: Grilled chicken, side salad, and rice.

Monday:  Lasagna

Tuesday:  Soup and Sandwiches

Wednesday: Beef Stir-fry

Thursday:  Hot dogs with chili, raw veggies on the side

Friday:  Roasted beef with sauteed mushrooms.  Baked potato for my husband and a side of zucchini for me.

Saturday:  Take out - probably Pizza - and hanging out at a friend's house.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pecan Pie

The Mission: 
To use some of the pecans that husband's friend gave us after Christmas.  I'd heard that The Pioneer Woman makes a fabulous pecan pie, so I went to her website and decided to use this recipe.  I was pretty pleased to see that I had all of the ingredients on hand.... though I chickened out and used a store bought refrigerated pie crust instead of making my own.  (Though I do  plan on trying my hand at pie crust some other time..... eventually..... when I find my courage the time.)

The Ingredients:
  • pie crust - unbaked 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 cup corn syrup (I used light) 
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (salted) 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 heaping cup of broken pecans   
The Instructions:
  1. Prepare the pie crust in a 9" pie plate.  
  2. Pour the pecans into the unbaked crust.  
  3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and pour mixture over the pecans.  
  4. Cover the top and crust of pie gently with aluminum foil.  
  5. Bake in a 350*F oven for 30 minutes.  
  6. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes.  
  7. If the pie is too jiggly, re-cover with foil and bake until set.  (My pie took an extra 15 minutes in the oven until I felt it was solid enough.)   
The Results & Reviews: 
 Okay.  Let's start off with things that were good... 
1 - For the most part it tasted fine.... well at least the filling did.  The crust edges were a bit too done for my taste.
2 - It was easy enough to make, though apparently I'm missing something since it wasn't perfect (or even close to perfect).

Now let's talk about what is not so good.
1 - Even though I recovered with aluminum foil in order to bake the jiggly pie an extra 15 minutes, the crust came out too done and the top tasted a tad burnt.  (and the filling somehow managed to stick to the foil and peeled off - you can see in the pictures.)
2 - it was UGLY.  Really ugly.  Again - see pictures.
3 - The crust cracked during baking and syrupy filling got underneath and stuck everywhere.  Not quite sure how that happened.
4 - As the husband pointed out, the gel part of the filling wasn't smooth but instead had turned lumpy and weird.

Overall score:  No one else ate or saw the pie except for the two of us, so I don't have many reviews to go by.  If I do make pecan pie again - which I will soon - I will try a different recipe.  Obviously I missed some key step in this one in order to have it turn out lovely and rave-worthy.  But since we ate it and didn't throw it out, I guess it wasn't all that bad.  I'm just glad I didn't attempt this for company!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Asian Chicken with Broccoli

The Mission:
Make something a little different using the chicken that I thawed.  We haven't had any Chinese in a while, so I figured that a chicken/broccoli stir-fry would be tasty and easy enough to make.  So I added broccoli to the grocery list and hit up for a simple recipe.  Hopefully I have sesame oil.... I can't remember if I ran out or am almost out.  Oh well.  I added in some cornstarch to thicken the sauce a bit as well. 

The Ingedients: 
  • 4 cups cubed chicken 
  • 1 bag ( 16 oz) frozen broccoli florets 
  • 4 cloved minced garlic 
  • 5 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil - I was out so used peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated ginger root 
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp oil (I used peanut oil)
  • rice to serve with 
The Instructions: 
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet. 
  2. Add the chicken and the garlic and stir-fry until chicken is no longer pink. 
  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the sauce ingredients (brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and cornstarch) until smooth. 
  4. Pour over chicken and stir. 
  5. Add broccoli and stir-fry until broccoli is tender (but not mushy) 
  6. Serve over hot rice. 
The Results & Reviews:  
This recipe is a definite keeper.  Not only was it super easy to make, my husband just raved about it.  I'm glad I decided to make extra.  As mentioned above I was out of sesame oil, so I just used peanut oil.  Though the sesame oil would've given it a slight bitterness to offset the sweetness of the brown sugar, I think the full third cup would add too much bitter, so when I make it again I will start with adding just a tablespoon of the sesame oil to see how it turns out.   Adding the cornstarch to the thicken the sauce gave it a great texture - so that was a definite plus.  I have a feeling that my husband is going to be requesting this meal often.  Actually - he thinks the sauce would be good with beef, so I'm sure I'll be blogging about that in the next few weeks!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekly Menu: Jan 9th - 15th

Sunday: I'll making a new recipe! Asian Chicken w/ Broccoli to serve over white rice.

Monday: Roasted Pork Loin with mac'n'cheese and mixed veggies.

Tuesday: London Broil with baked potatoes and green beans.

Wednesday: Sandwiches and possibly soup.

Thursday: Venison Steaks - sides to be determined

Friday: Fried Pork Chops with pinto beans (yuck) and some veggie.

Saturday:  Up in the air!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Food Orgy Finale 2010!!!"

This is what my bestest friend in the whole wide world dubbed our New Year's Eve Celebration.  He picked me up early on the 31st to hit the store after we got our menu together.  Our spread was to include:

Cheese Sticks & Marinara Sauce
Honey BBQ Chicken Bites
Sliced Sausage with Cheese and Crackers
White Trash Puff Balls
Cocktail Weenies in BBQ sauce
Sausage Balls
Tiny Piggies in Blankies (made with some of the cocktail weenies)
Lemon Meringue Pie

Basically we ate our way into the new year.... which was tasty and fantastic!  When the ball dropped at midnight we attempted to wake up my husband so we could toast the new year.  Unfortunately it was a futile attempt, so instead we went out side with our glasses to see if we could spy any fireworks that the neighbors were setting off. 

Ironically enough we both resolved to lose more weight in 2011.  So our days of gorging ourselves on fantastically delicious and horribly unhealthy food will be limited.  Oh well - we did decide that we can splurge every now and then and are looking forward to making some wonderfully tasty dishes in the near future.