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Megans Cookin: April 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cheesecake Bites

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

We were allowed to express our creative side with this challenge
and I couldn't resist but to make mini cheesecakes in several different flavors.
A few flavor combos I've been wanting to try for awhile now
and a few I know the family would love to try.

I had much success but a few disappointments.

This is my cheesecake journey! :)

I made the original recipe using a vanilla bean scraped and omitting the lemon and booze. I then divided the batter into five different bowls and added my flavors.

I decided to make the following flavors.

Lemon Thyme

Rose with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Peanut Butter Cup

Chocolate Hazelnut


Lemon Thyme.
I wanted to top it with a lemon curd but it was a lemon marmalade that I had in the pantry. I han go with the pantry stock but next time I'll do it with a curd. I would also add a little more thyme to my batter. I was very conservative because I didn't know how much to add and I only made a few of these. It's topped with a pretty Thyme flower.

Rose Dark Chocolate Chunk.

My changes for next time?
I would a a little more rose water.
(it was hard to determine amounts when making just a few)
I would also top it off with a chocolate ganach instead of just melted chocolate.
And I'm thinking a chocolate rose petal would work great here!

Peanut Butter Cup!
Just chop up some Reese's PB cups and add to the batter.
Drizzle with chocolate.

Chocolate Hazelnut.
Add Nutella to the batter.

Next time?
Frost with Nutella!
Hazelnut on top

Snickers Cheesecake Bits!
Add chopped up Snickers.
Top with a pool of Carmel and drizzle with chocolate!

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice I didn't use
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)I used vanilla bean innards!
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake-I didn't use
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath. I didn't bake in a water bath either. But I made mini cheesecakes!
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Dinner For Friends

We went camping this last weekend for a few days during Spring vacation. My old chilhood friend, Kim, whom I haven't seen in 11 years, lives in S. Oregon. We've been chatten a lot lately and and although I know she has missed me, I believe she has missed my food as well.

We planned on getting together and have a wine pairing dinner. I had been planning on what to make for weeks, and I decide on this menu of my favorites. And I was able to pull it all together in the confines of our little 5TH-wheel camping trailer. At a picnic table. But I was so caught up in the moment and the fun, especially after a couple glasses of wine, that I didn't get any pictures of the dinner it's self. But I'd like to share my menu with you along with what pictures I do have!

The Menu!

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Chevre Cheesecake in Biscotti Crust

White Wine

Artisian Cheese and Fruit

Grilled Proscuitto wrapped Pear On Baby Greens
Macadamian Nuts and Goat Cheese
Raspberry Honey Vinergerette

Red Wine

Beef and Spinich Pasta Ravioli and Wild Mushroom Ravioli
in a Bechamel Sauce

Beef Tenderloin Steak
Topped w/ Blue Cheese

Spiced Merlot Molten Lava Cake
with Chocolate Dipped Strawberrys

Dessert Wine

We started with appetizers .
Bacon Wrapped Dates stuff with a pecan is one of my favorites. I love the crunchiness of the pecan, the sweetness of the date, and the saltiness of the bacon. When Kim saw this on the menu she was quite unsure of what to think. Contemplating a "HELL NO", she took a bite and was smitten.

Another one of my favorites,
Chevre Rosemary Cheesecake with Biscotti Crust!

A sweet/savory cheesecake that has the tang of Chevre cheese,
the unexpected flavor of rosemary, and a sweet biscotti cookie crumb crust.
An explosion of flavors complimented by a glass or two of white wine.

The Assembly Line

One bottle of wine that I served was a Mt. Rainier white, that I bought at Harry And Davids in Oregon. It was a light, crisp, fruity wine that I served ice cold in chilled glasses. It paired perfectly! I should have bought a stash of that.

The next course was a cheese platter.

I served slices of Ile De France Brie. A soft ripened cheese that is mild and buttery.

An Aged Cheddar from KerryGold that was rich and smooth.

and KerryGold Dubliner that was nutty and had strong characteristic of a Parmesan.

The last cheese was a dry Jack cheese, The Hubby's favorite.

Served with a mango coconut roll, a spicy slice of mango,
on a lemon leaf lined plate.

Crackers included!
Cook's note: Bring cheese to room temperature before serving!

For the salad, nothing better then a

Served with Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc!

The Reds!

I made Beef Ravioli when we had our Daring Baker's Lasagna challenge, just for this occasion.
An hour before we left, the UPS man showed up at our door with
a trial of the new Riserva pasta line by Buitoni, Wild Mushroom Ravioli.
I served both pastas together with a simple white sauce, aka Bechamel .

What a treat!

Thank you Buitoni and Foodbuzz!

The main course was Blackened Beef Tenderloin topped with crumbled Blue Cheese.
The picture says it all!

The dishes waiting to be filled and baked with Merlot Spiced Molten Lava Cakes. Another one of our favorite decedent desserts that we just love to find an excuse for.

A special dessert for a special occasion! Just wish I had a picture. I guess that just gives me another reason to make this cake! :)

The Aftermath!

Last was the dessert wine by the rip roaring fire. I've tasted many dessert wines and all are expensive. We found one at Trader Joe's that we just love, again, our favorite. It's Trader Joe's Moscato Dessert Wine. Priced at $4.99 for a small bottle, it's a little luxury I can afford!

I hope you enjoyed the dinner as much as I did.

It was a weekend of good friends, good food, and good weather.

The wine? It was great!!! ;)

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Coconut Lime Cake

I hope everyone had a happy Easter. We didn't do much. We stayed home and had the usual Easter festivities among the three of us. We're going out of town this Spring break, so I need this time to get organized and ready.

Dinner? Awe, thanks for asking. It was lovely!
We had a spiral ham with Mac and Cheese. Kellie LOVES macaroni and cheese and this was the perfect opportunity to make this recipe again. Served with fresh roasted asparagus, it was delicious!!!

We also had a Coconut and Lime Cake that was scrumptious. I decorated it a bit for Easter. The coconut topping was perfect to decorate for the holiday and I used some leftover flowers I had from my wedding cake project.

I figure I better show this cake now, even if it's after Easter. I don't want the pictures to sit on my computer like my Christmas cake did. Who wants to see a pretty Christmas cake come Valentines? Exactly! You know what I'm talking about. So I don't want to show you my Easter cake on the 4Th of July. I can be lazy like that sometimes.

But don't think of this as an Easter cake! It was just decorated with an Easter theme. This is an everyday cake that's perfect with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning! ;)

I first saw this cake over at Maria's blog, Two Peas and Their Pod. She used buttermilk, I used regular. Go ahead, you can check out her cake here!

Coconut Lime Cake
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups Cake flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir together flour and 1/2 cup coconut (reserve remainder for topping). Stir together milk and 2 Tbsp lime juice. At low speed, mix flour and milk mixtures into egg mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour.
Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to warm, then turn out of pan and discard parchment.
Whisk together confectioners sugar, remaining 2 Tbsp lime juice, and rum (if using) and pour over cake. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Orange Glow Cake Recipe!

I have to say,
You guys came up with some great guesses as to what the secret ingredient was.
And a few ideas that I might just have to try. :)

But the secret ingredient,

the item that gave it so much kick


Tabasco Sauce!

And what a kick it had.
The recipe called for a tablespoon of the hot sauce
to be used in a orange juice mix.
I was a bit concerned after tasting the spiked O.J. mixture.
but I thought the sweetness of the cake would
mellow the kick of the hot sauce.

You add orange zest to a yellow cake mix
made according to package directions.
Throw it in a Bundt pan and bake it up.
It was mistaken for a lemon cake a couple of times so
I think it would be better to start with an orange cake mix,
(instead of yellow) if you can find one.

Poke holes in the hot cake with a wooden skewer and
pour 2/3 of the spiked OJ over the cake.
It soaks into the cake, but the bottom was spicier!
Use the rest of the O.J. to make a glaze.
Pour the glaze on top and your good to go.

An Orange Glow Cake that carries a punch.

But if your afraid of the punch,
leave out the Tabasco
and you still have a beautiful orange Bundt cake
perfect for the lighter days of spring!

Orange Glow Cake

From:Cake Mix Magic Cookbook

1 (18.25 oz) yellow or orange cake mix
1 TBS grated orange zest
i cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Tabasco
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 cup Bundt pan. Prepare cake mix according to package directions adding orange zest to mix. Bake 35-40 minutes

Mean while, heat orange juice, sugar and TABASCO Sauce to boiling in a 1 quart saucepan. Reduce to low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Reserve 1/4 cup orange juice for glaze.

Remove cake from oven. With a wooden skewer, poke holes in cake (in pan) in several places. Spoon remaining orange juice over cake. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Invert pan onto wire rack an cool completely.

Combine reserved 1/4 cup OJ mixture and powdered sugar in small bowl until smooth. Place cake on platter and spoon glaze over cake. Makes 12 servings.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Orange Glow Cake

Do You like citrus?


Then you'll probably love this cake.

It was different, I will confess.
It had... a bit of a bite.
That was from the secret ingredient.

Want to know what it is?


Well, I have to run to San Francisco for the weekend,
so let me know if your interested in this cake.

Until then... any guesses to what that secret ingredient might be?