Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Cheese Cake With The Fewest Ingredients

Our children typically ask for cheesecake for their birthdays.  Long, long ago, my teeny almost 6 year old asked for grasshopper cheesecake.  She had no idea the ingredient list included Creme De Menthe.  I still have an almost full bottle in my freezer from all those years ago.

Here is a photo of the tiny cheese cake for the tiny birthday girl.  It was about 2.5 inches in diameter.

It really is worth making again.  And I should.  And I probably will.

Lately we had a high school graduation to celebrate which called for another made from scratch cheesecake.

This time there were a variety of toppings.  Our graduate made huckleberry jam with his grandmother last year and that was the most popular option.  Also our daughter and son-in-law brought fresh strawberries.  So we were all very happy.  The 9 of use ate it right up with nothing left over.  YUM!

One photo this time.  It's so unlike me.

I am inspired to post this blog for two reasons. 1. We visited "The Dog Spot" in Joseph, Oregon last weekend and they offer about 4 varieties of cheesecake per day.  2.  My sister asked about the take away from the experience.

The offerings on that day were Thai ice tea (with coconut) cheesecake, New York cheesecake, Cabernet cheesecake and root beer cheese cake.  I am most interested in the Thai ice tea with coconut milk cheesecake.  I didn't have any because I was full.  But next time...

Here is the recipe I am currently using for cheesecake:

3 Eight ounce packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Graham cracker crumb crust:
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers
5 Tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

I use the Demarle (company recently changed it's name to bon COOK)  flower mold and press the crumb mixture in the bottom.

Below is an old photo sent to me by one of my sisters who made a turtle cheesecake in the flower mold.  I would definitely like to make this recipe too.

Once the cheesecake mixture is well mixed (I use the Bosch mixer), pour on top of the pressed down crumb mixture.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Bake for 85 minutes and then turn off the oven and crack the door for 45 minutes.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Scalloped Potatoes in Le Creuset Au Gratin Cast Iron Pan

Today when I went to a local church rummage sale, I found a vintage Le Creuset enameled cast iron 3 quart (36 cm) au gratin pan.  It was just $3.00 and I was very happy to find such a treasure at such an affordable price.

I brought it home and cleaned it up (not much clean up needed) and decided to make scalloped potatoes for the very first time.

First I rubbed the pan with a garlic clove and then chopped it small and mixed it with two tablespoons of butter and rubbed that all over the bottom and sides of the pan.

2.5 lbs of red potatoes peeled and thin sliced (1/8 " thick) with a mandoline.  I even managed to cut myself twice.  Who knows where the hand guard part is?

Alternate in three layers.  Potato slices, butter, salt, pepper, grated cheddar cheese, heavy cream and dried French thyme.

I didn't measure anything.  Just layered three times.

Then I topped it with Panko bread crumbs.

Baked for 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Then let stand for 10 minutes while I made a salad.  I still burned my mouth.  So I think maybe next time I will let it stand 15 to 20 minutes before eating.

I wanted to eat the whole thing but I didn't.  Even the kids liked it.  They thought they would not like it at first as they were sure they could see onions in there.  After assuring them there were no onions they ate it and wanted more.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Quest for Healthy, Light and Flaky Pie Crust for Raspberry Pie.

One of my favorite restaurants will close at the end of this year due to the owner's retirement.

Along with my daughter, we have gone there as many times as we could which was 5 times since we learned of the pending closure.

This owner/operator couple has a lot of talent in the fresh food arena.

The husband creates stunningly tasty sauced entrees which has brought him a devoted following over the past 39 years.

The wife has faithfully made fresh from scratch lovely desserts for years and years.

I really wanted her raspberry pie recipe before the 12-31-17 closure.

I got it from her.  Today I am making a version of it.

Out of respect for this couple, I am not revealing their recipe.

And as is usual, I am changing it up with healthier ingredients.

I have made holiday pies plus a few others over the years.  I'm not a pro at making pies, but I can get the job done.

Now I am in search of my favorite pie crust recipe.  I've pinned a great number of them.

I prefer staying away from hydrogenated vegetable shortening.  My daughter suggested I look for shortening that is healthier. 

I found what I was looking for in the health food section of the grocery store.

It's Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening and it is non-hydrogenated.

I've even made crusts with only butter and others with lard.  I think they were all good, but not as light and flaky as I would have liked.   Probably was a lack of understanding and technique.

I have an ally in my husband who brought me 4 packs of fresh raspberries, a bag of Bob's Red Mill Unbleached White Fine Pastry Flour and a package of unsalted butter.

The crust recipe has a lot of sugar.  No wonder I like it.  I hope to post pictures and other pie crust experiments in the future.

I used an old fashioned pastry cutter to cut the flour into the butter and shortening to obtain pea size pieces. also added salt and sugar.  Then ice water at the end and mixed it as little as possible.

My current experiment is in the fridge getting cold for the next step.

Put rack on bottom of oven.

Preheated oven to 500 degrees.

Assemble the pie.

 Fresh raspberry pie ingredients in Emile Henry clay (glazed) pie dish.

Turn the temperature down to 425 degrees.

Put pie in the oven and bake 25 minutes.  Covered the rim with a silicone ring.

Rotate the pie, reduce temp to 375 degrees and bake another 30 minutes until deep golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack to room temp. before serving.


End result was that the pie crust was too stiff.  Not light and flaky.  I don't know if the recipe with the altered ingredients was the problem or the high starting temperature.  Maybe both, so the experiment continues.

Next experiment will be this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma, Farmer's Market cookbook.  The picture looks so flaky and beautiful.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fig Pizza

This is an amazing recipe.  My favorite.  There are still children in my household who refuse to try it.  It's okay...leaves more for me.

Takes awhile to prepare so start early in the day.

A closer photo:

For starters, I had lunch out with a girlfriend last week and had the best pizza crust I've ever had.  

That's saying something.  I have made a LOT of home made pizza over the years plus dined out on pizza.  I rarely meet a pizza I don't like.

I set out to create a pizza crust like that one.  Not too thick or dark or heavy.  It was thin and slightly chewy.

Thin Chewy Pizza Crust 

Started with a pizza crust recipe from "Gourmet" and adapted to my taste.
Makes two 12 inch pizzas.  

2+1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 + 1/2 cups 115 degree water
2 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 + 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all purpose white flour (Wheat Montana)
3 teaspoons avocado oil  (olive oil would work too)

Combine, yeast, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 cup warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to proof yeast.

Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, oil, proofed yeast.  Mix together.  It will be soft and sticky.

Knead by hand, adding flour to my fingers as needed to keep it from sticking.  About 7 to 9 minutes of kneading should do it.

Let it raise for an hour or more, covered.

Roll out into two 12 inch rounds and let raise about a half hour to an hour.

I put them on a clay pizza stone.

Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.  Oven was preheated.

Pull out of oven and add toppings.  See below.

Bake another 6 to 8 minutes with toppings.  Serve hot.


A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an idea for an unusual pizza.  I liked it and wanted to try it with this new crust idea.

 Toppings for Fig Pizza

Started with a Taste of Home recipe and adapted it to my own taste.

Do ahead all these steps so ingredients are ready to quickly add to precooked crust:

Mix first 3 ingredients together and spread over crust
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon oil

Saute one Walla Walla Sweet Onion in one tablespoon oil
add 2 cloves, minced garlic at end of cooking and cook another 2 minutes 

Chop 9 ounces dried figs in small pieces

Thin slice and chop 2 cups of cooked ham

2/3 cup pine nuts
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese

Add the ingredients to the pizza in the order given.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spanish Rice from Coaching Partner Kristen

Today I had a delightful coaching partner call with my associate, Kristen.

Our coaching session evolved into talking about the challenge of keeping everyone fed.

This is a quick and easy recipe she makes about once a week and her children and husband love it.

So I am hoping this will be an easy go-to recipe for our household too.

I am making it right now for tomorrow night's dinner to be served with coleslaw and refried beans if I need to stretch it for guests.

One pound ground beef, cooked with
One chopped onion,
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chili powder

Top with

1 cup white rice, cooked (about 2 cups cooked)
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
grated cheese (about 1.5 cups)

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Or if baking directly from the fridge, 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

First layer is the meat with onions, garlic and chili powder added.  
I used ground sausage instead. I also substituted chipotle chilies which was too spicy.

Second Layer is 2 cups of cooked rice.

Third layer is one 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes.

Fourth layer is about 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

This is ready for tomorrow night's supper.  It's going in the fridge at this point.

Next day update:  I thought this tasted great.  The kiddos weren't too keen. 
I liked it even better a day later.

Gluten Free Apple Pies

My uncle eats gluten free.  So I made these for his birthday.

I made it home  from the store with gluten free bread mix instead of flour so I improvised rather than go back to the store.  He said they were good.

I have misplaced the recipe and anyway, as I said, I improvised and can't remember what I did.

Even so, I like how they turned out.

I will make them again sometime and put new photos and the recipe.

My uncle would love it if I make more for him.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jalepeno Chili Cornbread Stuffing Waffles

My dear friend Patty and her husband came for dinner tonight.

This is her guest post.

She showed me this photo she had taken of Thanksgiving left overs.

I will be trying this recipe out.  It sounds wonderful.

She made cornbread stuffing with jalepenos for Thanksgiving and the leftovers became waffles with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy on top.

She sent the recipe and today it arrived.  It was adapted from a recipe from

Patty's Cornbread Stuffing with Chilies and Jalepenos

1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1  Eight ounce package Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
1/4 pound sage Jimmy Dean's Sausage
1 4.5 ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Jalepeno Peppers (she did not say how many)
craisins (she did not say how much)

1.  Heat oven to 350
2.  Melt butter, add onion and celery.  Cook to tender, crisp.  Remove from heat
3.  Add broth, stuffing, cooked sausage, chilies, jalepenos, craisins and cilantro.
4.  Mix lightly.  Spoon into greased 2 quart casserole.  Cover the casserole.
 5.  Bake for 30 minutes until mixture is hot.