July 23, 2014

New York Cheesecake



While I was in Portland this past week, I was fortunate enough to spend a good amount of time with my Aunt Nancy.  Well, guess what? She's a foodie too!!  

I know, right?!

So, we had lots to talk about and had a blast making this cheesecake for her husband's birthday.  My aunt has been to New York many times and so she had some first hand experience with the cheesecake there.  She said this recipe was right on!  Since I've never been to New York city, I'll take her word for it. 

Can you believe I've never been to New York city? I've driven around it many time but have never actually stopped to check it out.  Oh well, maybe someday. 


We drizzled the top of the cake with some chocolate syrup first, then had some masserated berries nearby for those who wanted to add them on top. 

I have to tell you, this is one of my very favorite cheesecake recipes.  Exactly like you would expect from a great restaurant, only you get to eat the leftovers. :)  

Creamy texture with that little bite of sour cream on the top, combined with the graham cracker crust and honestly you don't even need other toppings.  It never hurts to add to perfection however, so pile on your favorite toppings!

New York Cheesecake
Recipe from Cooking With Sugar


Ingredients

Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted
Filling
  • 4 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Sour Cream Topping
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Topping suggestions: 
  • Strawberries - fresh and a strawberry sauce will be beautiful and delicious. 
  • Chocolate - sauce and/or shavings or even chocolate chips. 
  • Whipped cream
  • Mixed berries or any other type of fruit such as sliced peaches or even canned pie filling. 
  • Crushed cookies (such as Oreo's) or candies.  
  • Nuts such as chopped walnuts or pecans, alone or mixed with some of the options above. 
  • NOTE: I wouldn't put the toppings on the whole cake, I would wait until it's been cut and plated before adding the toppings just in case there are leftovers.  Some of the suggestions above might become soggy if they are left on top the cheesecake and then refrigerated again as a leftover. 

Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 325º
  2. Wrap tin-foil around the outside bottom and sides of the springform pan, this will prevent anything from seeping out of the pan. 
  3. In a bowl, mix the crust ingredients together and press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan. 
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. After you remove it from the oven, leave the oven on at the same temperature. 
  5. While the crust cooks, make the filling.  In the bowl of your stand mixer add the cream cheese, vanilla extract and lemon juice.  Mix until smooth. 
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each egg addition. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Add the flour and mix until smooth. 
  8. Let the crust cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the filling.  Once the filling has been added, bake for 50-55 minutes.  The filling is done when the sides are pretty set but the center is still slightly giggly. 
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes while you make the sour cream topping. Leave the oven on at the same temperature. 
  10. Stir all the sour cream topping ingredients in a bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and mix until smooth. 
  11. Once the cake has cooled slightly, spoon the sour cream mixture over the top and bake for about 10 minutes. 
  12. Once removed from the oven, run a butter knife around the edges of the cake.  Let cool completely on the counter before refrigerating.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. 
  13. Slice with a hot, wet knife.  Wipe the knife each time a cut is made.  This will help make the slices easier and prettier. 
  14. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. 

July 21, 2014

VooDoo Doughnut's - my Portland adventure


Some of you may know, and some of you may not, that I was on vacation this past week.  Well, first stop on my West coast adventure was Portland, Oregon.  Otherwise known as the place my mom and her family lives. We made the crazy decision to make our way into Portland one day for an adventure to find this well known doughnut shop.  VooDoo Doughnut has been featured in MANY ways, from blogs to television, it's a Portland must see spot. Their many varieties of doughnuts make this a favorite for everybody!


My mom, daughter and I caught a train into the city and then began our walk to the shop.  You see, it's not on the train route so get your tennis shoes ready because you WILL be walking.  Better yet, just drive there. After many city blocks and one wrong turn we finally made it.


The menu is extensive and so is the showcase.  There was a long line when we arrived but it moved quickly.  Lucky for us, there is a dozen doughnut option where they'll choose for you.  That's what we did.  There just wasn't enough time to sit and peruse the menu.


As you can see, we had plenty to choose from!


Now that I think about it, maybe walking was the best option.  At least we could burn off a few of those calories we consumed.  Don't worry, we brought the rest back for family to munch on.

Here's my breakdown.  Totally delicious and super unique and interesting options. I recommend you try something outside of your comfort zone and opt for something you will ONLY find at VooDoo Doughnut.  There are Vegan options as well. These toppings are truly unique and only found here so step outside of the standard "box" and try something new!

This is one of a couple of posts that I have from my vacation.  The others are recipes and then I can share some pictures.  It was such a fun trip!  Great to see all my family and friends, some of which I hadn't seen in 20 years!  Oh yea, that's because I went to Montana for my 20 year high school reunion! I just can't believe it!

July 9, 2014

Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze



Blueberries are in season right now, quick go pick some!  Just kidding, well not about them being in season.  They are, and you should if you're able. 

I have two blueberry bushes in my back yard and they are nowhere near enough for my family.  I pick about 20, bring them in and watch my daughter devour them.  If I want any, I better eat them outside.  Luckily there are plenty of farms around here where you can go pick your own.  My daughter and I did go pick a half gallon and it's already gone.  Took about three days. 

This bread was one that I made for the 4th of July party with my neighbors. Very moist, yet light and the fresh blueberries just popped in your mouth.  I topped mine with some leftover lemon glaze I made for the lavender cookies I brought.  (link below) and I thought it was a great combination.  You can't beat the taste of lemon with blueberries.  This recipe is nice because you can use frozen blueberries too, making it a bread you can enjoy anytime.  I'll make it again, for sure. 
Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze
Recipe form Taste of Home


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, while the mixer is on low. 
  5. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until creamy and smooth. 
  6. Add the flour and baking powder to a separate bowl and then slowly add to the creamed ingredients until smooth. 
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the blueberries, incorporate carefully by hand so they don't break. 
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the top comes out clean.  The loaf should be nice and golden brown on top. 
  9. Let cool completely before adding the glaze. 
Glaze recipe found here

July 7, 2014

Lavender Cookies with Lemon Glaze



This is the beautiful lavender I am growing in my garden. It smells amazing!  This is the first year I've grown it and I'm very surprised at how many things there are that you can use lavender in.

I had read a book one time that the character used lavender in cookies and I haven't been able to get that out of my head.

So, here's a quick run-down on lavender drying.  If you grow any yourself, just make sure not to spray it with any chemicals.
Cut the stalks that have the flowers on them.
Use a rubber band to tie around the bottom of the stalks.
Hang the bundle upside down from a wire hanger with a cloths clip, or some other type of clip.
Put a clean towel or sheet under the bundle so when the flowers dry up they can fall onto the sheet. Hang the bundle in a cool dry area, like a closet. (I hung mine from a cabinet on the counter because I don't have a clean empty closet)
It took about 4 days to dry.
You can either pluck the remaining flowers off my hand or you can roll the bundle in a clean pillow case and then pick through and get the buds.


I was able to find a ton of lavender recipes on Pinterest and the Internet.  I would like to try several more before the summer is over. 

Be careful not to use too much until you're sure you and your family like the taste.  It is a wonderful flavor but if you use too much it can be sort of perfume-y.  

I used a lemon glaze on top because I thought it might help those who didn't like the lavender flavor.  Turns out that it compliments that lavender so well, and I used the same glaze on a blueberry cake that I made as well. It is delicious!  It's got plenty of lemon flavor, I loved it!

Oh, and I brought these cookies to the 4th of July celebration in my neighborhood and everybody tried one.  Some of my neighbors LOVED them.  Makes me happy. 
Lavender Cookies with Lemon Glaze
Recipe from Taste of Home


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp dried lavender flowers (purchased from a spice shop, or if home grown, not treated with pesticides) This amount can be doubled, if you're already familiar with, and like Lavender. 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the shortening, butter and sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and blend, then add the vanilla and almond extract. 
  5. In a separate dish, combine the flour, lavender, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and then slowly add to the mixing bowl while the mixer is on low speed. 
  6. Use a teaspoon to add a rounded ball of dough to the cookie sheet.  
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Will be golden brown around the edges and pale on top. 
  8. When the cookies are cool, top with the glaze (see below)

Lemon Glaze
Recipe from Martha Stewart


Ingredients
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients with a whisk until smooth.

June 30, 2014

PW's The Best Baked Beans



I had to turn my oven on for this recipe. I only say that because it's really hot outside, so this took some serious commitment. I'm glad I did it though.  They were pretty darn delicious.

I was invited over to a friends house for dinner so I made these.  They are easy to make, it's really a quick process at first but you do have to bake them for 2 hours, so factor that in.

There is a good reason that beans are an outdoor party favorite, they aren't going to go bad if out in the sun.  With the 4th right around the corner I think you might want to consider this recipe.


PW's The Best Baked Beans
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
  • 8 slices bacon, halved
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium green pepper, diced (optional)
  • 3 cans (28 oz) pork and beans
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup distilled vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 325º
  2. In a large pot, brown the bacon until partially cooked. You need about 1/4 cup of bacon grease. Place the partially cooked bacon on a paper towel and set aside.
  3. Add the reserved 1/4 bacon back into the same pot and add the onion and green pepper if you're using it. Cook about 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the remaining ingredients (not the bacon) and stir together. 
  5. Transfer the mix to a 9x13 inch pan, top with bacon and bake for 2 hours. 
  6. When done, let cool slightly so the sauce will thicken. 

June 23, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting



It seems to be birthday season in my neck of the woods.  We've attended more birthday parties since school let out then we did all year.  The birthday party I attended this past weekend was one that I made cupcakes for. I made both chocolate and vanilla, and was very happy with how they both turned out.  However, the frosting started to melt before the birthday girl even got to blow out the candles!  It was HOT outside!

At least they tasted good, and I did get this picture taken before the frosting melted. :)

I wonder if there is a good frosting recipe out there that won't melt in the hot weather….I'll have to research that.

I think the flavor and texture of these cupcakes are right on.  Very nice vanilla flavor, soft with a good crumb.  I will definitely make these again.

Oh, and the frosting recipe below is NOT the one I used for this recipe.  I used this recipe because it was requested by the birthday girls mom. It's delicious, but melts!

Vanilla Cupcakes
Recipe from Cookies and Cups


Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Line cupcake pan with liners
  3. Use your stand mixer to add the first 5 ingredients. Use the paddle attachment to combine thoroughly.
  4. Begin adding the butter a little at a time until it's all added and the mixture looks like wet sand.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer on low.
  6. Add the milk and vanilla while the mixer is still on low and then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
  7. Fill the cups 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes until the centers are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream
Recipe from Cookies and Cups


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 7-8 cups (2 LB) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Use your stand mixer to cream together the butter and shortening. About 3 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar while the mixer is on low speed, once it's all added you can increase the speed until it's about medium high and whip for 1 minute.
  3. Add the milk slowly until the desired consistency is reached, if you get it too thin just add more sugar.

June 19, 2014

Mushroom Bacon Bites


I know I'm a little late posting a new recipe this week.  Sorry about that.  I was on vacation last week and it's taken me this long to get my act together.  

Well, it also explains why we had appetizers for dinner one night.  Actually, I could eat appetizers for dinner every night.  I just love them. 

This recipe was in my Taste of Home magazine/cookbook.  I'm weird, I keep all those things in addition to all the cookbooks I already have.  I make our lives interesting each time we have to move. :)
Anyway, it's super quick and super easy and SO delicious!  I had left over bacon so I wrapped some other things from my garden which I will post later.  When is anything wrapped in bacon NOT delicious?!

Mushroom Bacon Bites
Recipe from Taste of Home


Ingredients
  • 24 medium fresh mushrooms
  • 12 strips bacon, halved
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
Directions
  1. Cut the bacon strips in half. 
  2. Wrap one piece of bacon around each mushroom and secure with a toothpick. 
  3. Top with barbecue sauce and grill, uncovered, over indirect heat for about 10-15 minutes.  Turn over and add more barbecue sauce about halfway through.  You're looking for the bacon to become crisp and the mushrooms to soften.