Chocolate Cheesecake

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's my birthday today! I wasn't going to post on my birthday because I'm not cooking on my birthday (not even for my crying son who is begging for funnel cakes) but my mom made me this chocolate cheesecake so I couldn't resist posting it! This is the first thing I've ever posted that I didn't make myself (I must admit it feels a little weird to post something I didn't cook)! This chocolate cheesecake was perfect, and so delicious with the fresh berries! Mmmm!
So, guess what I got for my birthday?! I'll give you a clue... the first thing I opened was butter! Then I got a pearl necklace... then two Enameled Cast Iron Pots... and three Julia Child books! My presents were Julia Child themed, how cute is that?! I have such a wonderful family! Ingredients
1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate, cooled slightly
Fresh berries, for garnish (and to eat with the cheesecake)
Whipped cream, for garnish
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if using a silver springform pan, or 325 degrees F if using a dark nonstick springform pan).

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the chocolate wafer crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom of springform pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining cup of sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is almost set. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the pan and allow cake to cool on a wire rack before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Cheesecake may be made up to 2 days in advance before serving and will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Top the cheesecake with chocolate shavings and serve garnished with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Savory Chicken Breasts

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I found this recipe on Allrecipes, I've always liked that website and how guests rate recipes... this recipe was 4 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars) with 379 ratings, so I thought I would give it a try! It was super easy and turned out really good! I will definitely make it again! It's a great weeknight dinner!!
So, why am I posting so late at night? Because I took a nap, grr! Don't get my wrong, I LOVE naps... but taking just a quick nap when I get home from work will keep me up for hours past my bedtime. Thus, I try to avoid taking naps so I don't throw my sleep schedule off. Today I just couldn't resist napping! My wonderful friends took me out to lunch for my birthday (we went to Ingredient) and they brought chocolate cheesecake and strawberry shortcake for dessert! So, I came home, sprawled out on the couch (like a beached whale), and napped. Sigh...

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts in a baking dish. Season with pepper and top each breast with a slice of cheese. Mix together the soup and milk and pour mixture over chicken. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and drizzle with melted butter. It doesn't look like much right now but just you wait, it's magic in the making! Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown. When you serve, spoon a little of the sauce from the pan onto the chicken!

Cobb Salad

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I love Cobb Salad! But it has to be a GOOD Cobb salad, they’re hard to find you know! Justin and I have had many disappointing salads from our local grills and steakhouses. Homemade is usually the best because the ingredients are fresh and cold! For my upcoming birthday I am going to the restaurant Ingredient, they have THE BEST salads! There are a couple rules to a good salad:

  • Rule #1- Lettuce needs to be chopped into small bite sized pieces! There’s nothing worse than digging into your salad only to get a head of lettuce on your fork!
  • Rule #2- Serve the salad already tossed/mixed together! First put the dressing on the lettuce and stir. Next are all the toppings and then stir it again! I know in restaurants they serve you a salad with all the ingredients neatly laid out on top but it never mixes together the same once you pour the dressing on.
  • Rule #3- Eat everything that comes on the salad! This is a salad, not a salad bar! If Andrew made his own salad it would only have bacon and cheese (my boys hate eggs and avocados, but too bad)! You can’t taste individual ingredients in a salad and each ingredient has a special purpose! Once I’ve mixed everything together the boys happily dug into the tossed salad not even knowing what’s in it… and you know what? THEY LOVED IT!
2 heads of Romaine Lettuce
8 slices bacon, crumbled
1 hard boiled egg, diced (I would prefer 2 eggs but my boys draw the line at 1)
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken meat (I sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning on my chicken as it's cooking)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used Cheddar but any cheese works great)
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup Ranch salad dressing (make your own, it's so much better! 1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise, 1 cup milk, and a pack of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mix)

Place egg in a saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and dice.
Lay bacon in a 9x13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and crumble into pieces.
Put your chicken breasts in a baking pan, sprinkle it with lemon pepper seasoning and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

While everything is cooking you can chop your lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado. Before/after chopping keep everything in the fridge to keep it cool. I even put my chicken, bacon, and eggs in the fridge! When you're ready to serve the salad get a large bowl and toss in the lettuce. Drizzle the ranch over the lettuce and toss it together with two large spoons. Now add the rest of the toppings (bacon, eggs, chicken, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese). Use the large spoons to toss everything together. Plate the salad on a serving platter or on individual plates.

Country Bob's Marinade

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I got a new grill from Walmart and I LOVE IT! The pan sets over two stove burners so I can easily make 8 pancakes (on the griddle side) or lots of meat (on the grill side). The best part is that it was only $20 and washes up easily in the dishwasher!! You see, anything I grill tastes like lighter fluid (my family prefers I never grill) so to be able to cook on my stove and have those beautiful grill lines... it's a miracle! I wanted to cook some chicken and steaks so I went to go look at the marinades and saw Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce, I looked on the back and sure enough there was a marinade recipe! We've never tried Country Bob's before and honestly it isn't something I would use often but it was nice for a change, it's like a mix of A1 and BBQ sauce. So yeah, the grill pan ended up being a better find than this marinade, but that's ok... not every recipe is a winner.

13 ounce bottle of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper

Place your meat (we used chicken breasts and thinly sliced sirloin), garlic, salt, pepper, and Country Bob's sauce in an airtight container or bag and marinade for 6 hours or overnight. Grill and enjoy.

Here's my grill pan in action, I really do love it!!

Spaghetti a la Philly

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I was glancing through Kraft's website because I had some extra Philadelphia Cream Cheese and saw this recipe! The concept is simple... adding cream cheese to your favorite spaghetti and meat sauce. However, the result is surprisingly good! It gives this creamy lasagna-like quality to the spaghetti. I am not a huge spaghetti lover but we eat lots of spaghetti at my house; it's cheap and easy so we end up eating it once a week. I LOVE this twist!

1 large jar spaghetti sauce
8 ounces spaghetti noodles
1 pound ground beef (I sprinkle some Italian seasonings and garlic in my beef)
8 ounces cream cheese
Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook the beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. I like to season my meat with a teaspoon of Italian seasonings and garlic but you don't have to. Pour off any fat. Add the spaghetti sauce to the meat. Cut the cream cheese into chucks and add it to the red sauce. Stir the cream cheese into the red sauce over medium-low heat until it's completely incorporated. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss to coat.

Cherry Dump Cake

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I forgot all about this "cobbler" until I saw it on Three on Food's Favorite Dessert of 2009! Reason number #128 to have a food blog... you'll never forget and lose your recipes again! I can't tell you how many recipe treasures I have lost along the years that I wish I could get back from previous co-workers and deceased relatives. I wish I would have kept better track of recipes... and of my boys' achievements (I hope Abbott never asks "how old was I when"... because my poor 2nd child's baby book is practically blank)!
This is one recipe I am SO glad to have back! Abbott's kindergarten teacher used to make this dessert for us. Justin said "Wow, this is extremely easy and extraordinarily good", my thoughts exactly! I want to make this again with apple pie filling, OR peach pie filling, OR blueberry pie filling... so many possibilities, I can't decide!

2 cans cherry pie filling
1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup butter (2 sticks)Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. In the prepared dish, layer the cherry pie filling. Then sprinkle the dry cake mix over the top, covering evenly. Slice the butter up and lay it onto the cake mix. Bake 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until browned and bubbly. Store in the fridge. We love to eat this cold the next day - the crust stays good and crunchy! If you eat it warm it must be served with vanilla ice cream, yummmmmmm!

Mom's Chicken Tetrazzini

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini is my ultimate comfort food. It is creamy, cheesy, chicken spaghetti... it really is a fabulous casserole! I grew up eating it, for my Birthday I always asked for Grandma's Chicken and Noodles or Mom's Chicken Tetrazzini. It’s my favorite! When the chicken is boiling your house fills with the smell of bay and celery, it’s amazing... I wish they sold bay leaf and celery candles! This is also the perfect dinner if you need to make a casserole for someone because a whole chicken usually yields 4 cups of shredded meat, so you can easily make two casseroles (one for you and one for a friend in need)!

1 whole chicken
1 pound spaghetti noodles, broken into pieces
6 celery stalks, cut in half
1 bay leaf
3 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed Saltine crackers

Put the celery, chicken, bay leaf, and chicken in a large pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fill the pot with water until the chicken is completely submerged. Boil on medium-high heat for a 1 hour (or until the chicken is cooked through). After cooking remove the chicken and celery from the pot. LEAVE THE BROTH AND BAY LEAF (your going to cook your spaghetti noodles in this broth)! Break the spaghetti into 2-inch pieces you'll have around 2-3 cups. Turn the heat to high and cook the spaghetti in your chicken broth for around 10 minutes or until the noodles are soft. I know this picture just looks like broth but the spaghetti noodles are in there, promise! While the noodles are cooking shred your chicken and discard the bones and celery. You only need two cups of chicken for this casserole so you can save the extra chicken for another recipe or make a 2nd Chicken Tetrazzini casserole (this is what I suggest... but in all honesty myself and the boys have immediately gobbled up the extra chicken- true story)! When the spaghetti is done dip a measuring cup into the pot and retrieve 2 cups of broth. (Don’t burn yourself!) and strain the rest of the broth out and discard it along with the bay leaf. In a bowl (or your pot) dump the spaghetti noodles, 3 cans cream of mushroom soup, 2 cups of cheese, and chicken. Stir it all together. Now start adding the chicken broth, beginning with 1 cup. Stir it up, then add a little more. You want the mixture to be stirrable, but definitely not soupy. I usually stop just short of using the full two cups. Place mixture into a 9x13 casserole pan and top with crushed saltines. Yum, yum! At this point, you can cover it well and freeze it, unbaked. Or you can cover it and refrigerate it, unbaked, for up to two days before baking. Or, go ahead and bake it at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until hot & bubbly. And here’s what you’ll have:

Meatball Sub

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We got 3 snow days this week, woohoo!! It's been great, I just made brownie batter and called it "dessert"! I served it in little bowls with miniature spatulas.... because batter ALWAYS tastes better on a spatula than it does from a spoon! You can't scoop it into your mouth either, you have to lick the spatula! Can you tell I'm still thinking about our yummy dessert? Dinner was good too, promise! Justin LOVES meatball subs, and I love how easy this dinner is! It's really not a recipe, but it's an easy meal idea for a weeknight dinner! Ingredients
A bag of your favorite crusty rolls
A bottle of your favorite Marinara sauce or make your own
Mozzarella Cheese
Frozen Italian Meatballs (sometimes I cut them in half-- less likely to "pop out" of the sandwich for the boys)

Pour the sauce over as many meatballs as you like. Heat the meatballs in the oven or stove according to the directions on the package.
Split the rolls, sprinkle on the Mozzarella cheese, and toast under the broiler.
Assemble and serve with some fresh fruit and carrot sticks... at least that's what I do!

Coconut Cake

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This recipe is from my wonderful Aunt Mina, she's full of great recipes (like her Cheese Blitz)! Aunt Mina is a retired teacher and this coconut cake is one of those recipes she picked up from another teacher. Teacher potluck lunches are the best... every teacher brings something spectacular to share with the other teachers, it's heavenly! This cake is heavenly too! I am sorry for the terrible picture but I forgot to take a picture at home so this is a quick picture I snapped before serving it at my mother-in-laws. I took this cake for our family Christmas dinner and my Aunt brought it to our Thanksgiving dinner. It's SO good!

On a side note my cousin Holly (Aunt Mina's daughter) wrote a book called Faith Postures. You should check it out! I am hoping it will teach me to be still and listen, boy does this book have it's work cut out for it! Ingredients
1 box white cake mix (and the eggs, oil, etc. to make it)
1 bag of angel flake coconut
1 can cream of coconut
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tub of whipped cream

Make the cake as directed on package. Mix 1/2 the bag of coconut in with the cake batter and cook in 9 x 13 pan. When finished baking, take a wooden spoon handle (or straw) and poke holes in cake as soon as you take it out of the oven.
Whip together the cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk and pour over the cake and holes. Put in refrigerator and cool. Top with whipped cream and the rest of the bag of coconut!

Sweetie Pie's Mac and Cheese

Friday, January 1, 2010

I haven't had much luck with homemade macaroni and cheese...
Attempt 1, 3 Ingredient Macaroni and Cheese was the first recipe I ever posted on my blog (the picture makes me laugh, you can see my shadow... we've learned a lot about taking pictures these last 3 years). This is a great stove-top macaroni and cheese but it's not that wholesome macaroni and cheese casserole old ladies bring to pot-lucks.
Attempt 2, The Lady's Cheesy Mac was dry and tasteless.
Attempt 3, Betty Crocker's Macaroni and Cheese was the best so far but it tastes EXACTLY like Stouffer's macaroni and cheese which you can buy in the freezer section of the supermarket for $2.

Sweetie Pie's was my 4th attempt and hallelujah, I've met perfection! It was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives... It was terrific! It was creamy with the right amount of gooeyness but the flavor is what sets this macaroni and cheese apart. It's got a hint of sour cream and sweetness but full of stringy cheese! My only complaint is that my 9x13 pan overflowed in the oven, so next time I am going to try using only 1 can of evaporated milk, I will adjust my blog recipe if it goes well! Ingredients
1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
1 cup whole milk (I didn't have whole milk so I used heavy cream... don't judge me)
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
1 pound Colby-Jack cheese, shred it yourself (the pre-shredded cheese in bags is covered with flour and can make your macaroni oily)
1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, shred it yourself
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into small chunks
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Now, Sweetie Pie's mixes everything in the casserole pan but our 9x13 pans aren't big enough, so I used a LARGE bowl. In a large bowl combine the whole milk, evaporated milk, sour cream, and eggs. Mix with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the butter, Colby-Jack, Cheddar, and Velveeta cheeses to the pasta. RESERVE A CUP OF CHEESE to sprinkle on the top. Pour the cooked pasta noodles into the cheese mixture and season with salt, pepper and sugar and toss. Now transfer the noodle cheese mixture to a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the remaining cup of cheese.Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.