Chocolate 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 375
- 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.
- Serve and enjoy!
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
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
Found out late last night (2/12) that one of the Dancing Veggies readers WON the Acala package as part of the TripleSBites challenge! So with that, CONGRATULATIONS to Jeanne
New post coming tomorrow (2/13) and then a special Valentine post on 2/14!!!!
Again, HUGE congratulations to Jeanne!!!!
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
I can’t believe it’s already day 5 of TripleSBites! Last night we had our awesome twitter party, which included a few of our awesome sponsors and lots of tasty recipes. Today’s feature is one that takes a bit of prep work but offers a great twist on a classic dish. While a few of my twists on Mac & Cheese haven’t been blogworthy (hello, cauliflower) but this one is out of the world! To save some time I used a few of my Gourmet Garden treats and also added just a touch of a new goody: Chili Cumin from Acala Farms. Normally I use mustard seed in my mac & cheese but decided to switch it up this time!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp chili cumin oil
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs), halved
- 1 lb elbow noodles
- 1 tsp Italian Spices paste (Gourmet Garden)
- 1 tsp Chunky Garlic paste (Gourmet Garden)
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (optional)
- Turn oven to 425. Mix together the olive oil and cumin oil and pour in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the squash in roasting pan, cut side down. Roast for 45 minutes.
- Turn oven down to 350 and remove squash from oven for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile cook the elbow pasta per the box, rinse and then return to the pan.
- Stir the squash in to the cooked pasta, along with the spices, greek yogurt, and goat cheese.
- Place in to a casserole dish and top with the breadcrumbs. Then bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
Another HUGE HIT! For a quicker version, drop the baking part and serve right after mixing everything together. Always been a big fan of the breadcrumb crunch but some nights there just isn’t time. If using a gluten free pasta, add 2 tbsp of milk to the dish before baking to prevent the noodles from drying out.
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Butternut Squash Dressing
I’ve always found that it’s hardest to be a vegetarian around the holidays – so much of the celebration revolves around food and so much of that food involves meat. From turkey to brisket to ham to venison, the traditional feasts revolve around a core protein of the animal variety. When I first went vegetarian I had to accept that my holiday meal would consists of sides and for the first few years that was rather rough though there was always one exception: the dressing. More often then not, the dressing would feature breadcrumbs of some form with vegetables and even tho it was normally on the dry side since no gravy – most of them were rather amazing. For the past few years my contribution to the holidays have been my sweet potatoes but this year I wanted to try and completely veganize a stuffing that would be moist and amazing regardless of gravy. So I set out to search the internet and various grocery stores to see what all was out there for me to mess with. In the end I came up with this (in my opinion) awesome dressing that could work for more than just the BIG holiday meals. In fact, I think it would be the perfect stuffing for an acorn squash!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh sage
- 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 vidalia onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- Bag of plain vegan stuffing (Wegmans brand, Pepperidge Farm, etc)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup cranberries
- Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat, add spices and cook for 1 minute while stirring frequently. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 10 minutes, or until onion is golden.
- Preheat oven to 375
- Add the butternut squash and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes, stirring as needed.
- Once the squash is soft, add the stuffing mix along with the stock, water, and cranberries and mix well.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until stuffing is warm throughout.
by AmandaE at dancingveggies.com
I was surprised how many stuffing mixes were vegan as I was expecting most of them to feature whey, eggs, and/or turkey. Most of the “plain” and “original” varieties turned out to be vegan while most of the ones featuring spices or seasoning were generally vegetarian – featuring whey. The stuffing was fantastic and moist tho most of us did enjoy it with some vegan mushroom gravy from Whole Foods (seriously, that stuff is insanely good). All in all an awesome side dish that can be enjoyed by vegans and turkey-eaters alike!
As of now I’m not really that much of a fan on 2015 – the year has just started and so far it’s been rather annoying. Our first attempt at DIVF was a bust, our FET has been put on hold, my car is on the verge of dying as is our oven, while my cell phone had an accident this morning so it’s basically busted. I know that most of these things, okay all but the cell phone, are out of our control but at the same time – this is just insane!!! I thought bad things happened in groups of three and so beyond three at this point.
Happy New Year! Not going to lie, 2014 was a rather rough year and I’m not exactly sorry to see it go. While I was able to accomplish some goals, new job and new features here on the blog, my biggest “goal” was not reached and there was nothing I could do to change that – just have to accept that there are things in life that are impossible to control. I did fall a bit short on a few of my blogs goal, mostly due to interference from the goal not met -but I’m okay with that because I did the best that I could. I messed around with some new ingredients and new cooking techniques and while I didn’t do every week of /52weeksofcooking I did more than 2013 so that’s something! September was also the BIGGEST month ever for the blog, which was an awesome birthday present. I can only hope that 2015 sees such incredible support. With that said, time to talk about the recipes that gave such awesome numbers with the top 5 recipes of 2014. The top 5 are based off of unique hits as recorded by wordpress, and limited to recipes posted in 2014.
#1: “Sausage” and Spinach Stuffed Shells which was made in May for /52weeksofcooking’s soy challenge. I love it when a savory recipe takes first place!!!
#2: Taco Bowl an awesome recipe for when you are craving tacos but either don’t want, or can’t have the shell. Adding more gluten free recipes to the blog was one of my big goals for the year, and more than 30% of all recipes in 2014 were/are gluten free!
#3 Buddha Bowl which is probably one of the healthiest recipes on my blog as it features raw veggies and delicious whole grains. This was part of the clean eating challenge on /52weeksofcooking and is also a great recipe for starting out the New Year!
#4 Sweet Potato Falafels with Garlic Hummus came from a Secret Recipe Club Challenge, which I’ll be continuing in the New Year. Posts will be the first Monday of every month as part of the awesome Group A, which occasional guest posts and features sprinkled throughout the year.
#5 Watermelon Feta Salad which is surprisingly the “sweetest” thing in the top 5 – which goes to show that cookies aren’t always #1. This salad caused a bit of drama when the original post omitted a few key sentences, but it’s an awesome dish and I’ve made it a few times since.
There they are! The top 5 recipes of 2014 which happen to be all savory – which I wasn’t really expecting. While I haven’t most as many sweets this past year, just assumed those few would be the ones to take the care. So with that – enjoy your new year! I have a few posts in progress and will once again be setting the goal of posting three times a week, but we’ll see what life has to say about that little plan.