Thursday, April 29, 2010


A favorite story in my family is how when I was little I didn't like pie.  I must have been very very young because I remember being very particular to Peach and Cherry.  I didn't want other kinds.  Anyway... One time someone made a cheesecake, I don't know if it was baked or not.  probably not baked, I don't ever remember anyone making a baked or newyork style cheesecake ever in our house.    And since they called it "cake" I ate it and forever after loved pie.  It's true, pie is one of my favorite deserts.  I don't know if cheesecake is technically cake or pie but I've always put it in the pie category.  Probably again because of the no bake type.

This cheesecake recipe is supposedly adapted from America's Test Kitchen or Cooks Illustrated.  I like this show on PBS, the host looks a lot and sounds a lot like my past neighbor.  Yet he denies even knowing about the show.  The horror!   I don't know how close this is to their actual recipe.  You need to pay to get content on their site so I didn't bother to check it.  I've seen a few versions like this around.

I made this for Easter.  That day turned out to be rather a bad kitchen day.  My main items to cook all required the oven and thankfully I made this first but still dinner was late.  This recipe calls to cook for an hour.  I ended up cooking it for a good 2 hours plus and turning up the heat towards the end.  It may be that at low temps my oven doesn't work right.  Because of all this I was hesitant to even try it then I thought, it's just cheese and eggs, both of which even if raw probably wouldn't kill me, the chances of samonella in raw eggs being pretty low.  And after all It was in the oven for a long long time.   It wasn't dark skinned like a new york cheesecake but it wasn't sinking either.  It felt fairly firm and looked evenly done.  In fact it looked very good, no cracks and perfectly smooth.  Any cracks you can make out on the below picture were made by little curious fingers.  And even after 24 hours it never sank.  I was fairly proud about this.
So how did it taste?  Well I must divert here and tell you about the crust.  Still being on the wheat free diet I tried to change a basic nut crust recipe, instead of flour I used some of the left over rice flour I had made and a little Soy flour.  Oh My Gosh!  YUCK YUCK YUCK.  It almost ruined the whole dessert.  Really it was awful.  For my part the small amount of quinoa I put in the flour really stood out was grade A nasty.  There had to be less than a teaspoon of that quinoa in the whole crust yet it stood out a lot.  Of course I already told you I think how sensitive I am to the quinoa flavor,  I think its like how Cilantro tastes like soap to some people (I love it).

The texture of the thing wasn't so cakey, you know how a typical new york cheesecake is dense and can almost be crumbly at times.  This was very creamy.  Almost like a no bake cheesecake.  It was incredibly smooth.   I didn't know what to feel about that at first but I ended up really liking it that way.   The flavor was not much different than you would suspect, a bit tangy and just sweet enough.  I liked it. I did throw some of the leftovers out because of the crust.  Truly it was that bad, I could hardly get over it to appreciate the cheesecake part.  

I very much intend to make this again.  I already have the cream cheese in the fridge.  I think I will increase the oven temp a bit, I think my oven really is to blame on this. I think it will firm it up a little, while I liked the creaminess I think a little firmer will be good.  Also I'm sticking with graham crakers next time.  I have to have a crust because my almost new pan leaks.  It didn't leak the first time I used it but it did the next.  Someday I'll tell you the story of my Zebra cake disaster.  

Other notes:  Do use a water bath.  Cover your pan with tinfoil and immerse in a larger pan on top of a baking rack and fill about 1/3 the way up with water. (after you put it in the oven.) I didn't have the time to let mine sit for an hour in the oven so I placed it by the oven vent which is quite hot.  Also by the time we ate it several hours later (at least 4) it was still warmish from just sitting on the counter but after being in the fridge a day the texture wasn't much different.  The bit I found at Cooks Illustrated said to bake at 200deg. for 90 min.  That matches my experience better but that one mentioned more eggs and cheese in it.  I'm going to say use the crust of your choice on this.  The recipe I found said to just brush the pan with butter and sprinkle crumbs on top.  Seems barely a crust and hardly worth the effort.  but it may be good that way.  Definitely  less calories.  If my next try turns out the same - minus the crust - I will be happy with it.



    * 2 pounds Philadelphia cream cheese (4 bricks), at room temperature
    * 1 cup sugar
    * 4 large eggs
    * 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    * 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
    * 1/4 cup heavy cream
    * 1/4 cup sour cream

    Beat the cream cheese in a standing mixer until very smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed until sugar dissolves (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl after each addition. Add lemon zest and vanilla and beat just until incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in cream and sour cream with a wooden spoon.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cheesecake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 200. Bake until the cheesecake’s perimeter is set, but center jiggles when pan is tapped, about an hour.  Turn off the heat and use a long-handled fork or spoon the hold the oven door open by about one foot. Let the cheesecake rest for an hour, then place it on a wire rack and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake and refrigerate it until chilled, at least 4 hours.

See the creaminess?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Orange Chicken and My Potatoes

Tonight, the first suggestion that was given to me when I posed the ever-popular question "What should we have for dinner?" was Orange Chicken.  Now in reality my youngest son meant Orange Chicken from Panda Express.   But my brain knew that I could make this recipe quick and easy so that is what I chose.   This is the same recipe in my previous post and knowing that I was going to make a post on it made it that much easier to choose.

Also while I thought what to make with it, my easy fries were a win win also.  Mostly I made this choice based on the fact that the bag of potatoes in the pantry won't last much longer.  Not because I did it before.  Also by some weird coincidence we also had green beans again. This because making a salad took more effort and just plain carrot sticks didn't sound so good tonight and I didn't want to go to the basement to find a bag of peas.  So when I opened the freezer, there they were.  Toss in a bowl and microwave.  Voila!

I know!  How on earth could I make the exact dinner twice like that without truly conscienctiously trying too.  Well I can't answer that.  So here is how dinner went.  Oldest who likes the chicken, hates green beans.  Youngest who will tolerate the green beans convinced himself the chicken was yucky because it wasn't the Orange Chicken he wanted.  Thus both boys sat there after dinner for over 1/2 and hour being made to eat their yucky food.  We aren't always this strict but tonight we were feeling more like mean parents.  Finally we let oldest eat twice as much broccoli that was left-over in the fridge but youngest still had to suffer through his chicken.  And believe me, when he thinks he doesn't like something he can chew FOREVER.  Why do kids do this??????  no matter how much you tell them that if they chew it longer they will taste it longer, they still chew forever.  Poor kids.   

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Perfect Crispy Potatoes

Not a pretty picture.  I forgot to take a picture until the very last second and it was too hard that day to replate the food.  SO, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit!

Now, on to the food. First the potatoes, I'll do chicken next time.

This dinner from Melissa D'Arabian (again, what can I say she cooks a lot like I do.  I have even seen her do two of my potato dishes that I thought were pretty original. One is above, slightly different though.)  This kids really liked these potatos.  The main difference between hers and mine, well ok, two differences, is that she uses butter and I use the microwave. Also I usually cut mine larger, like steak fries, ok and I put on paprika.  OK OK, they are different but the method/theory is basically the same.  But since it was all about trying something new I followed her directions.    Her potatoes were good but I'm going to go back to my way, easier and faster.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Where did all the Granola go?

 This is a phrase I often say out loud to myself.  My kids love when Dad makes granola.  They can smell it a mile away and look in the kitchen to proudly announce that "Dad's making granola! :)"  He has come up with his own recipe that I can not duplicate.  In fact one day out of the blue my youngest pipes up "Mom, you don't make granola right.  It's not very good."    He was right, the one time I tried to make Dad's granola it was not very good.    This time however I think I actually beat Dad's version.  

This was a lot.  It filled my 19x13x2 inch pan.   Therefore you can see why two days later when I went to get a bowl of granola for breakfast and was greeted with this empty bucket (Of which there were at least two-8 cup containers full after I made it) I said the famous phrase.

I suppose you could substitute your favorite nuts or fruit or what have you in this.  I stuck to stuff I had and stuff my kids would eat, thus no fruit.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easter Dress

Since Most of our basement is in our main floor, the Sewing machine has taken up a permanent residence on my table.  Therefore this project totally qualifies for A Good Table. 

I've always wanted to, but never made an Easter dress for my daughter.  She found some material she liked and it actually started as a project for her.  She did some of the sewing but lost interest soon like many projects.   It turned out HUGE on her.  I took in a few inches on the side and I still had to pin it in.  Poor girl is tall and extra thin.  I only hope for her sake, she keeps that figure, like her father, and doesn't end up like me.  
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