Sunday, January 27, 2013

Best Lemon Cheesecake Ever

So Cheesecake is tough to turn down anyway, but throw freshen it up with a bit of lemon and we're in business!  My friend Sabey made this and had us all foundering on it... my mouth is watering all over again just thinking about it.  I enjoyed the glaze!
*She added about 1 tsp more of lemon zest using fresh lemons.  I loved that she added the mixed berries.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart- not to mention beauty. :) YUM!

Best Lemon Cheesecake Ever (Sour Cream Cheesecake)

2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 8 hours
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
1 pint sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Using your hands or the back of a spoon, mix all crust ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
Press into bottom of an 11 to 12-inch spring form pan.
Bake for 5 minutes.
Let cool; refrigerate until needed.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese at high speed until completely smooth.
Add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.
Beat at medium speed as you gradually add the sugar, then flour, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla, mixing until well blended.
Stir in lemon zest.
Pour into crust; bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
Blend sour cream with remaining teaspoon vanilla and 3 tablespoons sugar; set mixture in warm place.
Remove cake from oven, and gently spread sour cream mixture on top.
Return to oven and bake for another 12 minutes.
Cool on rack for 30 minutes.
Refrigerate until topping is cool, but not completely chilled.
Combine all glaze ingredients and blend until smooth.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened (3 minutes).
Chill until cool, but not set.
Spread on top of cheesecake.
Chill overnight.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Broccoli Chicken Casserole

You know a casserole is good when your crew wipes out the whole dish. :)  This was a real hit with the family.  The seasonings from the stuffing mix come through and help give it some good comfort food flavor, without the heaviness.  This was a tasty one that didn't take long to make.  In the words of my hubby, "You can definitely make this one again!"
Don't mind if I do.

Lyd's Tip: I don't know about you, but when I throw raw broccoli into a casserole, it always comes out kind of crispy still- just seems like it takes longer to cook.  I like to put it in a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for just a few minutes before I put it into the casserole so that it comes out tender and tasty... instead of totally raw... which is probably better for you, but hey, don't push me, at least I put it in. :)

Broccoli Chicken Casserole (Taste of Home)
1-1/2 cups water
1 package (6 ounces) chicken stuffing mix
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed broccoli cheese soup, undiluted
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in stuffing mix. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, layer chicken and broccoli in a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. Top with soup. Fluff stuffing with a fork; spoon over soup. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutritional Facts
1 serving (1-1/3 cups) equals 315 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 66 mg cholesterol, 1,025 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 23 g protein.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Coconut-Lime Cake

Someone very special to me had a birthday. :)  Now German Chocolate Cake has always been the stand-by for this guy, but he was sweet and let me switch it up.  He loves lime and he loves coconut... so of course you "put de lime in de coconut and drink 'em bot' up." :)
And SWEET would just about cover the description... cloyingly sweet.  It was too much for me, but it was still really fun to try something new- really labor intensive icing- I've never tried the kind where you have to dissolve and melt the sugar and meringue-ish the egg whites etc.  I know this is probably illegal to say, but to me it tasted just like that marshmallow jet puff spread, which could really save some time.  Basically sweet (cake), on sweet (icing), on sweet (coconut flakes).  We had company, and they said it was good, but you never know if they are "just being nice" or if they really liked it. I liked the lime, but the actual cake wasn't very moist... on the whole, this isn't one I plan on making again.  Just not a winner for me, but fun in theory.   And the birthday boy was still happy, although I'm imagine he was dreaming of German Chocolate. :)

Coconut-Lime Cake
For the cake:
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 Tbs. finely chopped lime zest
4 eggs
For the frosting:
4 egg whites
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans; tap out excess flour.

To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and lime zest and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, spreading the batter evenly. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto the rack and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a handheld whisk, beat together the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and salt just until combined, about 30 seconds. Place the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan and whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

Set the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the outside of the bowl is cool and medium-firm peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1 cup of the coconut just until incorporated.

Place one cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. Using an icing spatula or a knife, spread some of the frosting evenly on top. Place a second layer, top side down, on the first layer and spread some of the frosting evenly on top. Place the remaining layer, top side down, on the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Press the remaining 1 1/2 cups coconut onto the top and sides. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting.

Serves 12.
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Wheat Berry Pudding

So I was recipe hunting and a recipe for "Wheat Berry Pudding" totally caught my eye, because even with my love for a good bowl of cracked wheat, no matter how much sugar you put in it, you just can't call it dessert... wouldn't you agree? And let me back up and say that my love is sincere.  I have fond memories of mom at the stove in her PJ's on a cold winter morning, cooking up some good old fashioned cracked wheat before we had to catch the bus.  I'm pretty sure I was the only one who gobbled it up without complaint.  Ok- so I have unusual taste buds.  I am embarrassed to admit that sometimes it sat there all day- undisturbed, with one big scoop missing, and I would eat it again for my "after-school-snack." Yep- just had to make sure you understood that I really like hot cereal. :)  So I didn't have a food processor or the dutch-oven to try this out, but I followed it as closely as I could and tried to speed up the process a bit.

Lyd's Tip:  I used cracked wheat because it cooks a lot faster. (If you only have wheat berries, you can just pulse them a couple times in the blender—it will be noisy, but it will cook in about half the time.)

Dessert or not?  I'm still a little undecided.  I liked it a lot, but then I liked it before, so I'm probably not the best judge. :)  I liked the cinnamon a lot though and I just got a food processor for Christmas (can we say REALLY HAPPY ME!) and I am anxious to try this out again using "proper methods" just because I am truly fascinated that cracked wheat could be served as a healthy, delicious dessert. Who knew?  Who still doesn't know?  Me either...
I'll keep you posted on my findings, but here is the recipe so far:

Wheat Berry Pudding (EatingWell)

1 cup wheat berries, (see Note) (Remember my tip about the cracked wheat)
2 tablespoons plus 3 cups low-fat milk, divided
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip orange zest, (1/2 by 2 inches)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup low-fat maple yogurt, (optional)

Sort through wheat berries carefully; discard any stones. Rinse well. Place in a large heavy saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, adding more water if necessary, until the wheat berries are tender, about 1 hour. Drain well.
Place the wheat berries and 2 tablespoons milk in a food processor. Pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, until most of the wheat berries are coarsely chopped (some may remain whole).
Combine the chopped wheat berries, the remaining 3 cups milk, cinnamon stick, orange zest and salt in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the mixture is very thick, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; discard the cinnamon stick and orange zest. Stir in maple syrup and vanilla.
Serve warm or chilled, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with a dollop of maple yogurt, if desired. (Stir in more milk if the pudding gets too thick as it stands.)

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the cooked wheat berries (Step 1) for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Cover and refrigerate the pudding for up to 2 days.
Note: Wheat berries of any variety (hard, soft, spring or winter) can be used interchangeably. Labeling is inconsistent—you may find them labeled “hard red winter wheat” without the words “wheat berries.” Find them in natural-foods markets and online at Some recipes instruct soaking overnight, but we found it unnecessary.
To cook: Sort through wheat berries carefully, discarding any stones, and rinse with water. Bring 4 cups water or broth and 1 cup wheat berries to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, but still a little chewy, about 1 hour. Drain.

Per serving: 182 calories; 2 g fat ( 1 g sat , 0 g mono ); 6 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 71 mg sodium; 43 mg potassium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 1 starch. 1/2 low-fat milk, 1 other carbohydrates
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Crash Hot Potatoes

Happy New Year!!!  Hope you are ready to ring in the new year with some good recipes!  This was one we made over the break and it made an easy tasty side.  Pioneer woman rocks... but then I'm sure you already knew that. :)

Crash Hot Potatoes (Pioneer Woman)
12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt To Taste
Black Pepper To Taste
Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.
On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.
With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)
Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
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