Monday, August 29, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake

For me, having company is the perfect reason to indulge in a special dessert; something that you don't make all the time. My sister recently came to visit and I immediately made plans to bake my delicious puffy chocolate chip cookies and this cheesecake.

This rich and creamy cheesecake with a touch of lemon to brighten the dessert will certainly have you coming back for more. I loved the lemon flavor; it wasn't overpowering and sour, it was sweet and subtle. This refreshing cheesecake is the perfect end to any summertime meal.

Lemon Cheesecake
Prep: 20 min + cooling / Bake: 40 min + cooling
Yield: 12-14 servings

2-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 40 squares)
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine crust ingredients. Press onto the bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack to cool.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs all at once and beat on low just until blended. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.

3. Pour filling into crust and return pan to baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set.

4. Remove to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Then cool in fridge, uncovered, for 3-4 hours. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and cool for 6 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to serve, carefully remove cheesecake from springform pan. Slice the cheesecake (with a warm, dry, straight-edge knife) while it is cold. For best flavor, let the slices sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before enjoying.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

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My Review

Monday, August 22, 2011

Skillet Squash

Zucchini and yellow squash are bountiful right now. This side dish is so simple and delicious, you may wonder why you have never made it before (at least I did). Squash is almost tasteless and will pick up any flavors that you toss at it. Recently I have enjoyed making a combination of zucchini and yellow squash with either Mexican or Italian seasonings to compliment the main dish. In this picture, I made Mexican seasoned zucchini to go with the fantastic cheesy chili mac. It takes about 10 minutes to make this side dish. I don't really have a recipe, but do give credit to Deborah over at Antiquity Oaks for the inspiration. This is simply a method to help you get creative with some squash!

Skillet Squash
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Olive or canola oil
1 small zucchini or yellow squash, thinly sliced (or do a combination of both)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 1/4 cup diced onion
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed

Mexican Seasoned
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Chili powder

Italian Seasoned
Dried or fresh basil
Dried oregano

1. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Season squash with salt, pepper and either Mexican or Italian spices.

2. Place squash and onion in the skillet. Let sit for a couple minutes then begin to stir. When the squash begins to look transparent on the edges add the garlic. Continue to cook until squash is transparent to the middle of the slices a little bit of browning is okay. Serve immediately.

My Review
  • Preparation: 5
    • Super fast and simple
  • Taste: 5
    • I have made this side dish many times
  • Cost: 5
    • Inexpensive and healthy
  • Clean-up: 5
  • Changes
    • Experiment with some of your favorite flavors. Squash is so easy to cook with!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

These blueberry muffins are absolutely amazing. I've shared some other muffin recipes before and these are definitely tied for first place (if not the winner!) with the oatmeal blueberry muffins. I love blueberry muffins, even though I don't like blueberries by themselves. These muffins have intensified blueberry flavor with the addition of a simple syrup. People make the mistake of adding more and more blueberries to boost flavor, but then they get a soggy muffin. The genius chefs at Cook's Illustrated have proven that concentrating the blueberry flavor is key. And then they decided to take delicious to the next level and add a lemon sugar topping that really makes these muffins special. You have to give these muffins a try!

Blueberry Muffins
Prep: 20 minutes / Bake: 16-18 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins

Blueberry Syrup:
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup sugar
zest from one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, combine blueberry syrup ingredients. Cook and mash berries slightly over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, 10-15 minutes. I stuck mine in the fridge to cool. You may find that the frozen blueberries take longer to cook down.

2. While the syrup cools, wash remaining blueberries and dry on paper towels. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until thickened. Slowly add the butter and oil into the egg mixture, whisking continually. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla. Fold egg mixture into flour mixture just until moistened. Do not overmix, the batter will be lumpy.

3. Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.

4. Fill the muffin cups until 3/4 full. Spoon a teaspoon of the cooked blueberry syrup into the center of each cup. Use a skewer or toothpick to gently swirl the syrup into the batter. Sprinkle lemon topping over the muffins.

5. Bake for 16-18 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack. Wait 5 minutes before serving.

Click here to print this recipe!

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated and My Kitchen Cafe

Linked up with Mingle Monday
My Review

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rabbit Fricasee

Yes you read that correctly. This is a rabbit recipe. I ate it, I survived, and I actually enjoyed it; quite a bit to tell the truth. After much convincing and pulling teeth, Jeremiah finally managed to get me to buy rabbit. I'll admit, I was really grossed out by the idea. And rabbits (bunnies!) are so cute and fuzzy, how could I eat one?? Ah well, this little bunneh was mighty tasty. To tell you the truth, that ol' saying is right on target: "it tastes like chicken." The meat was very tender and the flavor of the gravy fantastic. If you feel like being adventurous, give this one a try! The ingredient list is long, but you probably have most of it already. And in case you're wondering, don't ask me how to pronounce the title, because I still have no idea.

Rabbit Fricasee
Prep: 20 min / Cook: 2 hours, 40 min
Yield: 4-6 servings

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 box frozen rabbit, thawed and cut into pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (I accidentally forgot this one)
4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock or broth (or homemade turkey)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried parsley
Cooked rice, for serving

1. In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Combine the spices (paprika through thyme) and season the rabbit with the spice mixture. Brown rabbit on all sides in the pot and transfer to a plate (it does not have to be cooked through).

2. Add the flour to the oil in the pot and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk until the roux is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, tomatoes and garlic. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. It may look like a strange pasty consistency at this point.

3. Stir in the tomato paste and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the rabbit pieces and salt. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hours until the rabbit is very tender. Stir occassionally and add water if the sauce gets too thick.

4. Add the parsley. Serve rabbit and gravy over white rice.

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

My Review