Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I was going to say this post is over a month overdue, but that's only because I keep thinking it's already September. Oops. Actually, it's only 20 days overdue. I made this cheesecake for July 31st: National Cheesecake Day. I subsequently told Leslie I would post this about 18 days ago. Here it is, FINALLY. Enjoy:

The strawberries look absolutely massive on that slice, but that's because it was a very tiny slice to begin with, and the end of it also broke off. I will say, though, the strawberries absolutely made this cake.

Graham cracker crust:
From The Good Housekeeping Cookbook
-1 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 rectangular crackers)
-3 T. melted butter of margarine
-2 T. sugar

-In the cookbooks it says to mix everything initially in the pan, but I did it in a separate bowl. After all the crumbs are evenly moistened, pour into the springform pan (which should already be ready with the foil--see my note at the bottom of the page) and press it firmly onto the bottom of the pan with your hand. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, and cool the pan completely on a wire rack.

Adapted from Mike's Table
-24 oz. cream cheese at room temperature (I actually used neufchatel cheese)
-1 cup sugar
-3 eggs at room temperature
-1 cup heavy cream
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1 Tbsp vanilla extract
-3 oz bittersweet chocolate
-1 Tbsp cocoa powder

-Beat the cream cheese and sugar until it reaches a light texture. Add the eggs one at a time and beat between each addition. Add the cream, lemon, juice and vanilla. Beat the batter, but be careful not to overbeat since it can cause too much air.
-I divided the batter in half and added the chocolate chips ---EDIT: I remember now that I actually did NOT use chocolate chips but very fancy Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate because I also read it's good to use high quality choclate for cheesecake. I think I read it somewhere on the internet, and I always trust the internet. EDIT OVER---(the original recipe says to microwave, mix, microwave until it's melted, but I always just use a double boiler. I feel like it's easier for me to keep an eye on it that way. Let the chocolate cool slightly before you add it). Then beat in the cocoa powder.
-I added the chocolate batter first, and then tried to add the plain. In my head I pictured perfect layers of two flavors, but the vanilla kind of just sunk in the middle. It still turned out ok, but not exactly how I pictured it.
What to do to bake (I think a bulleted list will work better than actual sentences):
-Water bath
-Oven at 350 degrees, bake for about 50 minutes (just keep an eye on it to see if the edges start to firm, but the center should still be a little jiggly.)
-Once the edges and middle look how they should, turn off the heat, but keep it in the oven for another hour.
-After the hour was up, I still kept it in the oven for another 30 minutes with the oven door ajar.
-Cool for another hour, then refrigerate for at least 8.

I forget where I found these tips now, but a couple useful things I found:
-line the bottom of the spring form pan with foil, then assemble the pan. Wrap more foil around the whole thing to ensure the water bath doesn't leak in.
-tap the pan to make sure you get all the air bubble out.
-make sure when you take out the cheesecake it's in a non-breezy area, and also run a knife around the edge of the cake when you take it out of the oven to prevent cracks.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Banana Nut Muffins

I really like being on a schedule. It seems when I don't have work or school or just a specific place to be at a certain time, I get kind of lost. For example, I used to eat a banana every day during my mid-class break. I don't even like bananas, but they're pretty cheap and transport well if I'm careful. So now I live in Virginia, have no job, don't have class, but still...I buy bananas. Why? Habit. Which brings us back to the point of me not liking bananas. Because I don't like them, and I don't have a reason to eat them, they end up just sitting there, getting over-ripe. At least that's the perfect excuse for banana bread.

This is from my mom's bread cookbook. It's really old. I don't know what it's called or who the author is. Anyway, here's the recipe:

2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
(1/2) t. salt
(1/2) c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. mashed, very ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
(1/3) c. milk
1 t. lemon juice
(1/2) c. chopped nuts

Sift the flour with the soda and salt.
Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar. Mix well.
Add the eggs and bananas and blend thoroughly.
Combine the milk and lemon juice, which will curdle a bit.
Slowly and alternately fold in the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition.
Sit in the nuts, then pour the batter into a buttered 9 x 5 x 3'' loaf pan.
Bake 350 degrees for one hour, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched in the center.

This is for one loaf, but since I only had one banana, I halved the recipe and made 9 muffins. My mom says to bake those for 20 minutes, but I actually had them in there for maybe 23-25 minutes. Just keep a keen eye on them because they go from looking just underdone to being just right really quickly. My mom also notes that 1/2 the recipe can make a mini-loaf (bake for 45 minutes) and 2-3 muffins.

Try it! It's good!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Buttermilk Cake


I really do love this cake recipe. I made it last weekend also, and when you have a container of buttermilk, finding little projects that use up the bottle is coming in very handy. Last time I made it with blackberries and it was great. This time I used peaches and strawberries, but I think the sugar in all the fruit, plus the sugar I sprinkled on top, did....something....(chemistry help, Zoe?). Anyway, it's kind of hard to see from the top, but big chunks of the bottom were stuck to the pan when I tried to take it out. Last time that didn't happen, and this time I still used butter, pan spray, and floured the pan. Oh well.

At least that gave me an opportunity to taste it, and mmmmhmmmmm. Divine.

Recipe from Elly Says Opa!
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1.5 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken lowfat buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 oz.)

Preheat the oven to 400, with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour a 9″ cake pan (I used a springform pan – I no longer mess around with trying to get cakes out of pans).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Beat together the butter and 2/3 cup sugar at medium-high until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, and then egg.

At low speed, mix in flour in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.

Spoon batter into a cake pan, and smooth the top. Scatter raspberries on top, and sprinkle remaining 1.5Tbsp. sugar.

Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then turn onto a rack and cool to warm, 10-15 minutes.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Eggs Benedict. Eh.....not really but kind of.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who, when mapping out daily meals, thinks: "Hmmm. I better eat a real meal now if I want to be hungry for ice cream later." However, I still like to believe thinking like this should be lauded if it leads to something this good.

Welcome to my bastardized eggs benedict. It's true: I was expecting failure. And when I took them out of the water, I thought these eggs were utter disaster. It's odd when you can overcook something in two minutes.

And they probably were a little overcooked compared to other poached eggs I've had, but after I put everything together with Drew's sweet potato biscuits (they were great and thank you) and Morningstar sausage patties, I was delighted to discover that they were DELICIOUS. I can't emphasize that enough, so it gets caps, bold, and italics: DELICIOUS.

(I took that picture to emphasize the disappointing yolks. But then when I started eating them the yolk did break. By that time, though, I wanted to eat, so that part of the actual success gets no picture.)

Then I added some chili lime Cholula I found in the fridge and ohhohohoho...ZOMGZ. So good.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yellow Cake with Sour Cream Frosting

My dear friend Leslie's birthday is tomorrow, June 1 (Hooray!), but her birthday party was last night, and I thought I would bake her a cake. At first I was frustrated because all I wanted was a recipe for normal yellow cake, and apparently, on the interwebs, this does not exist. Even the simple recipes seemed a lot more difficult than I was expecting. So last weekend when I was at my parents' I looked in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook my mother's had for about four decades.

Ah-HA! The very first recipe was for yellow cake and just made sense. Unfortunately, I got batter all over my copy, but I'll try to get it again and post it sometime.

Even though the cake was great, I was a little disappointed with the frosting. First of all, I take issue with the fact that that is called a "frosting" in the first place. It seems more like an icing or a glaze to me. Other than that, the taste was good. I like the idea of a sour cream frosting, so I might try to play around with it a little. I should also point out that the runniness might be my own fault since I melted the butter in the microwave, and that consequently melted everything else, but whatever. I also omitted a bag of chocolate chips that was supposed to be double boiled with the butter, so that probably had something to do with the consistency also, now that I think about it. Oh well. It was delicious none-the-less!

Happy Birthday Leslie!!!!

Sour Cream Frosting
(This is enough for 2 9'' cakes)
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sour cream
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
2(1/2)-2(3/4) c. sifted confectioner's sugar

Melt the butter, and blend in sour cream, vanilla, and salt.
Gradually add sugar for spreading consistency, and beat well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chai Tea Latte

This post could almost be entitled, "Treasure Island is a very dangerous place." For those of you not in the know, Treasure Island is a Chicago grocery store called "The most European supermarket in America" by Julia Child. It's amazing, and I really need to learn self-control when I go in there. So far I've come out with wasabi mayo, liquid smoke, 6-packs of Aranciata and Limonata Sanpellegrino, and a loaf of Lithuanian bread that I bought only because I was unfamiliar with the bakery. I almost bought wasabi cheese and korean bbq sauce, but I stopped myself. I'm trying to conserve room in my car when I move.

Anyway, on my last trip to Treasure Island, I grabbed the last thing on my list (organic chipotle salsa, which is what makes me want to try the liquid smoke in normal salsa), turned around, and saw this:

People are very passionate about the chai tea lattes. I first found this out when I was in Caribou and a woman who had just gotten her drink stormed back in--livid--marched up to the barista and said, "This is NOT a chai tea latte. I get one every day, and I know what it is, and this is NOT a chai tea latte." While I'm not as crazy as that miss, I still don't really blink at dropping $5.00 on a small drink. (That's really not an exaggeration since soy milk is 40 cents extra and Chicago has a 10.25% sales tax). So I was especially excited when I found this lucky package.

This is a really long post for something so simple. Really, you just mix 1 part milk (since it's a "Vegan" chai tea mix they say to use soy milk, but really, who cares) to 1 part mix and heat it up.

ZOMGZ. It's good. Really good.

Crustless Quiche

First of all, I want to address something that I was initially concerned about: why is this a crustless quiche and not a frittata? Well, friends, it's not a frittata because it's not in a skillet, and I didn't broil it. Now onto bigger and better things.

I had a pretty lazy day today. I didn't work out because my muscles were killing me. I had Coldstone ice cream around 5:00 because tomorrow is the last day to use the free coupon from my birthday. And as I was lighting the flame to boil my water for my Friday night macaroni and cheese, I told myself, "no." I deserve something that requires effort. Luckily, Joy the Baker's blog has two different quiche recipes I wanted to try: Crustless Quiche with blue cheese, spinach, and mushrooms, and Creme Fraiche Quiche with (obviously) creme fraiche, gruyere, and bacon.

I didn't feel like waiting for a pie crust to thaw, so I went with the crustless quiche, but decided to add bacon (I know..ME! Cooking meat!), mushrooms, gruyere, and I had some red bell peppers, so I added that as well.

Proof of the bacon:

Here's the recipe I followed:

Slice bacon (I used 7 strips because it was hard to cut through the fat and I got frustrated) and fry it. Slice some mushrooms and red bell peppers, and sautee those in the bacon grease. Toss those into a buttered pie plate. Meanwhile, whisk 3 eggs, and then whisk in 1 cup of half and half (I want to point out that I actually almost got fat free half and half, but then I thought about the rest of the ingredient I was using, and decided that would just be stupid). I sprinkled the bacon crisps over the mushrooms and red pepper, topped that with shredded gruyere, and then poured the egg mixture on top.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until it's browning on top.

I really don't like cooking in my apartment kitchen for some reason, so I was proud of myself for actually making something. Hurray!

It was nice having the gruyere crust on top, but I still think I'd prefer to have it incorporated throughout. Next time I also would add shallots and spinach.