Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

I am a fan of cheesecake. A big fan! This was my favorite (plain) recipe so far. I substituted the innards of a vanilla bean for 1 of the teaspoons of vanilla extract.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup melted margarine


4 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

½ cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 eggs


1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place a large pan or oven-safe skillet (that the cheesecake pan will fit inside) filled with about 1/2 inch of water into the oven while it preheats. This will be your water bath. (I used a cake pan. Surprise, surprise, I know. I had to put more water in because it took me a while to get the rest together and most of the water had steamed out of the oven before I was ready to put the cheesecake in).

Combine 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon into a medium bowl. Mix in 1/3 cup melted margarine. Press the crumb into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been lined on the bottom and side with parchment paper. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 2/3 the way up the side. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to keep the cheesecake dry when placed in the water bath in the oven. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.

Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese with sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Blend mixture for a couple of minutes or until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and then add them to the cream cheese mixture. Blend the mixture just enough to integrate the eggs.

Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the filling into it.

Carefully place the cheesecake into the preheated water bath. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool.

When the cheesecake has cooled, combine ½ cup sour cream and 2 teaspoons sugar. Spread the sweetened sour cream over the entire top surface of the cheesecake. Cover and chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Sweet Potato Pie

I have never made sweet potato pie before. Actually, I've never even eaten sweet potato pie before! After this one, I'm completely won over. This one is completely from scratch (although I cheated and used a pre-made pie crust). I loved this pie and this recipe!

1 (1 pound) sweet potato
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
  1. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.
  2. Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Beef Stew

Stew is a comfort food for me. For some reason it reminds me of my Mom and a warm house on cold days. It's the perfect dinner for autumn. This recipe took me maybe 20 minutes to throw together (chopping veggies and all) in the morning while we were eating breakfast and dinner was ready with no work at all in the evening. I definitely needed that today!
The meat turned out so tender this way. I would recommend adding a bit more flour to make the roux after the meat is cooked. Mine ended up still very liquidy when all was said and done.
12 small red potatoes, cubed
1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes1/3 cup butter or stick margarine
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon celery seed (I used celery salt and it turned out just fine)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
  1. Place potatoes, carrots and onion in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large skillet, brown beef in butter. Transfer beef to slow cooker leaving juices in the pan.
  2. Stir flour into the pan drippings until blended; cook and stir until browned. Gradually add water. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add salt, parsley, celery seed, thyme and pepper; pour over beef. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Georgia Chicken

This is one of Paula Deen's recipes. We really really like it! It's a good everyday recipe. Tonight I made it for the boys and I with some mashed potatoes. So good! I often forget the mozzarella. I like it just as well that way.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (I've substituted olive oil before successfully, but it does change the flavor some)
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced shallots (I usually use yellow onions)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese

Melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes. Add chicken and cook 10 minutes on each side, or until tender. Transfer chicken to platter and sprinkle with grated cheese. Top with mushroom mixture. Cook and let stand 5 minutes or until cheese melts.