Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New York Cheesecake

 You know how doctors have been telling us for years that we need to have more sugar and cream cheese in our diets? Well this recipe has it all :) This is seriously, hands down, the best recipe for cheesecake I've ever made! I've been using it for a couple of years now and it always turns out beautifully.  It's easy to adapt up or down to make different size cakes but this recipe makes a standard 9 in. round cheesecake.

When it comes to cheesecake the actual baking is the tricky part.  The ingredients are pretty standard but the instructions are especially important.  You'll want to get ingredients to room temp, not over beat the eggs, and take a lot of care setting up your water bath to bake it in. The other tip is that I think it's best if you make it a day or two before you want to eat it.  The recipe says to let it sit 4-6 hours but really 24 hours is the best.  I usually make the cheesecake two days before I want to eat it and then put the topping on a day before. But that's just my own recommendation. It might sound daunting but after a few times it becomes a pretty simple process.

Although this recipe always turns out beautifully it usually does still have a little crack or two in the top that I cover up with the sour cream topping but this was the first time that the top came out PERFECT! Not even one little crack.  My husband was pretty amused with how excited I was about it! But look at that smooth perfection...bam...

Gorgeous right!!?? It's the little things in life I guess. Give this recipe a try and make your own special treat for you next birthday/holiday/date night/long weekend/just because day!!

New York Cheesecake:

9 in. spring form pan
18 in. aluminum foil
large roasting pan or 12 in. round cake pan
boiling water

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used about 1/2 a box)
3 T. sugar
1/3 cup butter
pinch salt

4 (8 oz.) bricks of cream cheese (splurge and use Philadelphia brand!) (room temp)
1 T. vanilla
pinch salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs (room temp)
2/3 cup sour cream (room temp)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream (room temp)

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Set out your cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and whipping cream about 30 min. prior to starting to make your cheesecake to bring them to room temperature.

Using the large aluminum foil completely cover the bottom and sides of your spring form pan.  I usually do 2 or 3 layers.  This is to keep the water out during the baking process.

In a food processor combine graham crackers, sugar, butter and salt until course crumbs are formed. Press crust into the bottom of your spring form pan and about half way up the sides.  A cup with a flat bottom can help press your crust into a more uniform thickness (about 1/4 in.) and get it in the corners of the pan.

Bake crust for 12 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown.  Set aside.

While crust is baking put 6-8 cups of water on to boil.

In a large stand mixture, beat cream cheese, vanilla and salt on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Turn speed to low and slowly add sugar.  Scrape sides of bowl and beat on high for 1 more minute.

Return speed to low and add eggs one at a time, beat just until incorporated.  Don't over beat once the eggs are in or you'll end up with cracks! Scrape sides of bowl and add sour cream and whipping cream and return to high for one more minute.

Place the spring form pan inside the larger roasting or baking pan. I use a 12 round cake pan that works perfectly.  Pour the filling inside of the crust and smooth with a spatula.  Move the rack in your oven to the bottom third of the oven and turn the temperature down to 325.

Place the pan on the rack and carefully fill the outer/larger pan with boiling water (taking care not to get any water on the actual cheesecake itself.

Bake at 325 for 2 hours.  When cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven, slightly open the oven door and leave cheesecake in the oven for another hour.

Remove cheesecake from oven and leave on counter for 30 minutes to continue cooling.  Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (I recommend overnight or longer!)

Use a knife to make sure your crust is completely seperated from the sides of the pan and remove the pan. Top cheesecake with sour cream topping and allow to set another 4 hours before serving.  Top with fresh fruit, chocolate or caramel drizzle, etc if desired!

Beef and Broccoli

Here's another delicious meal I found and adapted for freezer meal night.  My kids were big fans even with the giant pieces of broccoli staring them down. We served it over rice and added some extra stir fry veggies as a side and it fed the 7 of us no problem.  If your kids are older or you are serving all adults I'd say you might want to double this recipe.  It's a pretty quick one to throw in a crock pot fresh but it also freezes beautifully if you want to make it ahead and save it.

Beef and Broccoli
Recipe adapted from lecremedelacrumb.com

1.5 lbs. flank steak, thinly sliced and cut into 2 inch strips
1 cup beef broth
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. minced garlic
¼ tsp. red chili flakes (optional…but worth it!)
4 cups broccoli florets
2 T. cornstarch+ 4 T. cold water (added during cooking)

Slice and chop flank steak and place in a large crock pot.  In a small bowl combine beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and chili flakes.  Pour mixture over beef. Cover crock pot and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until beef is cooked through.

Combine cornstarch and water and pour into crock pot along with the broccoli.  Stir all ingredients together. Recover and continue cooking 30 minutes or until broccoli is tender and sauce is thickened. Serve over rice.


Freezer Meal Prep Instructions:
Slice and chop the flank steak and place in a gallon sized freezer bag.  Add beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic and chili flakes.  Close bag and knead until meat is well covered and sauce is combined.

Place broccoli in a separate gallon sized freezer bag.  Place broccoli bag and beef bag in another gallon sized freezer bag.  Label and freeze.

Freezer Meal Cooking Instructions:
Place contents of meat bag in a large crock pot and cook on low 5-6 hours. 

Combine 2 T. cornstarch and 4 T. cold water and pour into crock pot.  Add the broccoli and stir all ingredients together.  Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until broccoli is tender and sauce is thickened. Serve over rice.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Breakfast Scrambles

Meet one of our favorite dinners: Breakfast! My kids love breakfast for dinner and so do I! It's usually pretty fast and people can adjust it how ever they want.  One of our favorite dinners is the breakfast scramble.  Potatoes, veggies, sausage cheese and eggs all in one delicious dish!  Alex and I are trying to cut carbs so ours are usually light on the potatoes and heavy on the veggies, the girls think veggies suck a part of their souls away so they prefer more potatoes.  It all evens out! Give it a try!

Breakfast Scrambles
3-4 T. butter
3 large baking potatoes, diced thinly (or frozen diced hashbrowns)
1 tsp. seasoned salt
pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red onion,diced
1 cup cheddar cheese
cooked meat of your choice (sausage links, bacon, or diced ham)
1 dozen eggs (fried or scrambled)
Ketchup or hotsauce (optional)

Cooking Instructions:
Melt butter in a large frying pan.  Add potatoes and toss well to coat in butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and let cook until softened and browned, flipping every 5 minutes or so. The whole process should take about 15 min. If pan is beginning to stick you can add more butter. Add diced peppers and onion and continue cooking until veggies are tender (3-4 minutes more).  

Meanwhile cook meat and eggs to your liking.  Place potato/pepper hash on plate and top  with cheese, cooked meat and eggs.  Serve with ketchup or hot sauce and enjoy!

How To Fry An Egg

So before I post about one of my family's favorite meals...breakfast scrambles...I wanted to take some time to talk about fried eggs.  Eggs are something I eat almost daily! Fried or scrambled. With cheese, or avocado, or salsa, or toast. So many yummy ways to eat them!

There's also a lot of ways to cook an egg and people like them in various states of liquid/solid.  I like as much of the golden gooey yolk as possible but with my egg whites cooked.  A lot of people accomplish this by flipping the egg over (over easy) but my Grandma taught me a quick and easy way to get perfect eggs every time without flipping so I thought I'd pass that on to you! 

The secret ingredient is...water! This helps the egg steam from the top and cooks the white through evenly without having to flip it.  It's kind of a cross between poaching and frying really but it comes out delicious each time! yay!

Fried Eggs

small frying pan with lid

1/2 T. butter
2 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tsp. of water

Cooking Instructions:
Melt butter in frying pan (just until melted and pan is coated). Turn temp down to medium. Crack both eggs in pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes until edges of egg whites are just starting to turn opaque and solid. Pour water evenly around the edges of the egg white. Cover immediately with lid and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes or until egg whites are completely cooked and yolk has turned slightly pink on top. Keep a close eye on it so that you don't overcook that delicious golden yolk. Remove from pan immediately. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Ham and Bean Soup

I seriously forgot how delicious ham is! This soup smells amazing cooking and tastes great too. Growing up we used to have bean with bacon soup all the time and this reminded me of that!  My kids gave it mixed reviews (as they do most meals other than pizza) but they all ate it gone anyway.  It was very filling and great for a cold day. 

If you have a ham bone or a little bit of fat left over from your ham throw that in the pot too for flavor and just remove it before you serve. 

You can make it in the crock pot, on your stove top or freezer meal. I recently adapted it for a freezer meal workshop so make it ahead and put in your freezer for a day you don't feel like cooking! 

Ham and Bean Soup
(adapted from dinnerthendessert.com)

3 cups cooked diced ham*
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 yellow onion, diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cans great northern beans or white cannellini beans, drained
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
4 tsp. chicken or vegetable bouillion
4 cups water (divided- if making freezer meal)
*If you have some pork fat or bone left from your ham throw that in for flavor while it cooks and remove it before you serve

Crock Pot Cooking Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot.  Cook together on low for 5-6 hours or until veggies are tender.


Stove Top Cooking Instructions:
Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add onion, carrots and celery and cook until veggies are softened.  Add garlic and ham to pan and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add beans, spices, bouillion and water and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.  (I let mine simmer about an hour and half to let the flavors really mix).


Freezer Meal Prep Instructions:
Dice and chop ham and veggies. Combine all ingredients (except for water) in a gallon sized freezer bag.  Add 1 cup of water. Knead bag to combine. Label and freeze.

Freezer Meal cooking Instructions:
Add contents of bag and 3 cups water to a large crock pot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours until soup is heated through and veggies are tender.