I Wanna Marry You

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

 choco_caramel_cheesecake

Welcome to #15Cheesecakes – an anniversary celebration for Camilla and her husband.  Like Joe and I, Camilla and her husband also celebrated their vows with a delicious cheesecake in place of the standard wedding fare.  So when I saw her call for 15 bloggers to make a cheesecake to help them celebrate I KNEW I had to be involved.  My first plan was to recreate our wedding cake, a fantastic Dulce de Leche creation but that didn’t exactly work out due to poor dulce de leche making skills on my side – thankfully I had back-up ingredients.  One of the biggest take-aways from doing all these blog challenges is to always, always, always have a back-up plan in place.  Sometimes the recipe just won’t cooperate while other times it will be life in general.   Thankfully my back-up cheesecake worked out perfectly!  The real trick is to gradually lower the temperature of the cake to prevent it from cracking – or at least that’s what I heard many moons ago and so far the “trick” works.

I Wanna Marry You

Ingredients

  • 2 cups honey graham crackers (or honey Teddy Grahams in a pinch)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp caramel syrup, divided (I use Monin)
  • 2 oz blocks of cream cheese, one reduced and one regular
  • 1 8oz tub of plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated dark chocolate

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, blend together the melted butter. 1/2 tsp of caramel, and graham crackers. Pulse until pieces are pea sized. Remove from processor and gently press in to an 8 inch springform pan - working from the middle and up the sides. Set Aside
  2. Cream together the sugar and cream cheese for 6 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time, continue to cream then add the yogurt and caramel and cream for a final 6 minutes, or until mixture is creamy. Fold in half of the grated chocolate
  3. Preheat oven to 375
  4. Pour the cream cheese mixture in to the crust and spread out evenly, then top with the remaining chocolate. Bake for 35 minutes, then turn oven to 250 and bake for a final 15 minutes. Turn the oven off but keep cheesecake inside with the door slightly propped open. Once cool cover and place in the fridge for at least two hours.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/i-wanna-marry-you.html

Happy 15th Anniversary Camilla and!  May you have dozens and dozens and dozens of more cheesecakes together!  Also a happy early anniversary to my husband – 5 years together tomorrow and 3 years married (!!!) next month :-)

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Don’t We Go

Banana Cream Pie

banana_cream_pie

A bit late, but finally have my post from Pi Day!  Since Pi Day was also game day I knew I had to make something, and it had to be something awesome.  Thankfully /r/52weeksofcooking pointed me in the right direction with their banana theme.  I had never made/had a banana cream pie but figured it couldn’t be too hard – just a more solid version of banana pudding.  I searched the internet for inspiration but most of them involved ingredients I didn’t have on hand, and since I was doing this last minute the day after an embryo transfer going to the store just wasn’t going to happen.  So I decided to use a custard recipe I acquired many moons ago and just modify it as needed.  For the crust I went with my standard push-in-pan using vanilla wafers.  One day I’ll figure out how to roll a pie crust but until then push-in-pan it is!

 

Banana Cream Pie

Serves: Serves 9 - 12

Ingredients

  • 2 very well ripened bananas
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • favorite crust

Instructions

  1. Puree the bananas with the greek yogurt and set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the milk and sugar and bring to a low simmer. Meanwhile beat the eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl.
  3. Slowly whisk the eggs and vanilla into the milk and continue to simmer for 5 minutes before mixing in the banana mixture. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, being sure to not let the mixture bowl.
  4. Meanwhile prepare your favorite crust.
  5. Remove custard mixture from burner and allow to cool for 30 minutes (or move to a freezer for 10)
  6. Preheat oven to 375. Pour the custard into the prepared crust and bake for 30 minutes. Turn heat to 250 and bake for a final 10 minutes or until custard is solid.
  7. Allow to cool then Serve topped with whipped cream!
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/dont-we-go.html

Hope your sweet tooth is ready for this week as I’ll have another dessert recipe on Wednesday as part of #15Cheesecakes!

On Patrol

Spinach and Shells

spinach_and_shells

Trying something new with my site, in theory things should now be MUCH faster and hopefully posts/updates will stop disappearing.   Today’s post is a healthier twist on my standard lazy night dinner, a recipe that started back in college as it is easily double and can be made on little to no sleep.  Just requires some pasta, a leafy vegetable, and shredded cheese of some form!  In college this normally meant thin spaghetti, frozen spinach with onions, and whatever fake stuff was on sale.  Now that I have a bit more money, and still no time, I’ve been able to upgrade this recipe while reducing the sodium that goes along with fake cheese and fake (or canned) vegetables.  It still comes together in under 30 minutes, so perfect for late nights after work or for a late lunch when the day is slipping away.   As a bonus – it’s a green dish perfect for St. Patrick’s day!!!

Shells with Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb shells
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, then add the garlic and onion and cook for an additional 10 minutes before adding the basil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta per instructions then reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Return the pasta, water, and garlic/onion mixture to the pasta pot.
  3. Stir in the spinach then top with cheese and season to taste with pepper and Enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/on-patrol.html

I’m also sending this over to /r/52weeksofcooking for their hangover challenge as I’m fairly certain the first time I made this in college that was the case.   This recipe is also a great way to clean out the fridge or freezer, and no need to stick to just one vegetable!

Thinking Outloud

Sugar Cookies

sugar_cookies

Not a surprise to anybody who knows me in real life, but I’m a HUGE fan of reading – and have been from a very young age.  Reading was a way to escape to a different time or place or both and whether it be a galaxy “far far away” or a war between cousins, I’ve always had an appetite for expanding my world via the written word. Which is why I was BEYOND thrill to see /52weeksofcooking was doing a challenge based on book inspiration.  The hard part was finding a book to pick from the hundreds on my shelves, but in end I had to go with one of my favorite “YA” books.  Eleanor & Park is technically a YA book, but it’s also a great “remember when” book for anyone that grew up in the 80s – or anyone still bitter about the cancellation of My So Called Life (or Freaks and Geeks) during the 90s.  Without giving too much away, we’ll just say that Eleanor’s home life is bit rough and while she loves her mom things aren’t always the best between them.  However one happy moment between the two takes place in the kitchen when her mom dabs vanilla extract behind her ears as a cheaper perfume option.

'I do it,' her mom said, 'because it's cheaper 
than perfume, but it smells just as good.'

This smell is the one Park remembers, lingering while they are on the school bus – causing him to think of sugar cookies and other vanilla treats.  However, I knew that I couldn’t just make any sugar cookie to represent Eleanor & Park, it needed to have some sort of a twist.  So I decided to merge my favorite snickerdoodle recipe with my favorite sugar cookie recipe in order to create and sugar cookie with a bit of added texture and just slightly cracked.

Sugar Cookies

Serves: Yields 48 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually - then blend for 10 minutes. Add eggs one at time, mixing well between additions, then add in the vanilla.
  2. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt gradually to the creamed mixture, and combine until just mixed. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or baking sheets.
  4. Roll dough in to two inch balls then place on the sheet - do not flatten!
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8 -10 minutes or until cookie has a golden appearance
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/thinking-outloud.html

These cookies didn’t last long, becoming a treat for my co-workers to celebrate a recent achievement for one of then.  Before anyone gets concerned. I did allow Joe to have the ones in the photo as it’s only right to pay the photographer!

Pain in to Power

Persian Raisin Cookies

raisin_tea_cookies

Hello and welcome to March’s Group A SRC reveal!  I was soooo excited to see that this month I was partnered up with a “new to me” blog: Della Cocina Provera which is run by the awesome Francesca a DC ex-pat living in Amsterdam.  Her “poor kitchen” is stuffed with delicious Italian and Iranian meals reflecting her background.  I knew from the start I wanted to go for a Perisan dish, growing up in an Italian family I knew most of those recipes and part of the fun with SRC is branching out and trying new things – so Persian it was!  Eventually I was able to narrow it down to 5 options, including a yogurt dip, an eggplant stew, some raisin cookies,  and two not so Persian dishes that just sounded fantastic: Blue Cheese Pasta and Cauliflower cous-cous.   In the end my need for sweets won out and I went out to get some raisins for some delicious cookies.  I was a bit nervous with these cookies as they are missing some of the more traditional ingredients (salt, baking soda, etc) but that’s part of the reason why these cookies are that easy!

Pain in to Power

Serves: Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 1/3 cups flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking sheet.
  2. Add the melted butter, oil, and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream, then add in the eggs ones at time.
  3. Stir in the raisins and then fold in the flour.
  4. Drop a tsp of batter on to the sheets being sure to leave at least 2 inches between cookies.
  5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly golden.
  6. Allow the to sit on the sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Allow to finish cooling then serve and Enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/pain-in-to-power.html

I hope to make these cookies again when my oven is cooperating as I had a bit of trouble getting these to cook properly.  Regardless of if they bake “correctly” they were fantastic, and went perfectly with iced coffee.