Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mrs. McCartney's Red Velvet Cheesecake

One afternoon, I was chatting with a few of the kindergarten teachers at Em's school and we got on the topic of Red Velvet.  She mentioned that her cousin makes an awesome Red Velvet Cheesecake. I asked her to track down the recipe, and she did!  It was so yummy and beautiful!  This cheesecake would be a great addition to a Christmas dessert table, and you could make it a day or two ahead.  You will also need a 9" springform pan to make this fabulous dessert. Here is the recipe with a few minor adjustments and a couple tips:

For the crust: 
1-1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1-1/2 Tablespoons sugar

For the cheesecake:
3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, gently beaten
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa*
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 (1 oz bottles of red food coloring) *

For the icing: 
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust:  Stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and the sugar. Use a glass to press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Set aside.

For the Cheesecake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat the 3 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese and 1-1/2 cups of sugar with a mixer on medium-low for 1 minute. Add eggs and remaining ingredients on low until combined. Pour into crust.

Bake at 325 for 10 minutes, then REDUCE the temperature to 300 degrees, and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until center is firm. Run knife along outer edge of cheesecake. Turn oven off. Put cheesecake back in the oven and let it sit in oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Icing: Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth,  gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla beating until smooth. Spread evenly over top of cooled cheesecake. Remove sides of pan and serve.

*Callie's Notes:  I used 2 Tablespoons of regular unsweetened cocoa, and 1 Tablespoon of the Hershey's Dark unsweetened cocoa.  I am pretty sure you can use whatever cocoa you have, but I wanted to amp the chocolate favor a bit.

The BEST place I have found to buy red food coloring is Smart and Final.  I bought this 16 ounce bottle for around $4!  That is what you would normally pay for one teeny bottle at the grocery store.  For this recipe, you need 2 ounces, which equals 1/4 of a cup of the coloring.  It looks like this:
Happy Baking!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze

This one is delicious and just in time for fall!  The recipe calls this a "bread", but we think it is more like a cake.  Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or snack.  Scrumptious!!

Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze
adapted from: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

For the Cake:
1- 29 oz can of sweet potatoes, drained
2 cups of sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups of pecans, coarsely chopped

For Glaze:
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rum
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a round Bundt pan.

1. With an electric mixer (use paddle attachment if using an upright model...)  mash the sweet potatoes until smooth. Add the sugar and oil.  Mix to combine.  Add the eggs- one at a time- mixing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Add to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing after each addition.

3. Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool 20 minutes before removing from pan, and inverting onto a rack or serving dish.

4. Meanwhile, prepare glaze.  Combine orange juice, rum, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan. Bring to simmer over low heat and reduce by half.  Remove from heat, and allow to cool about 10 minutes before glazing.

5. Using a pastry brush, glaze generously over the still-warm bread. Wait 10 minutes before glazing again. (We had a hard time waiting!!!)

Serve at room temperature.  Sweet potato bread keeps well, wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to three days.  (Even better the next day... if it lasts that long!)  The recipe says that you can also freeze if it is wrapped in plastic wrap and then in foil, for up to three weeks. 

Printable Recipe

Friday, July 22, 2011

Homemade Pretzels

We had a playdate on Tuesday and we made yummy soft pretzels with the kids.  I had to dust off the archives to find this one, since I haven't made them since the good 'ol Home Ec days.  I would call them easy, but with a lot of steps. It sure was a crowd pleaser!

Homemade Soft Pretzels
1 package dry yeast
1-1/3 cup warm water plus an extra 2 Tablespoons
1/3 cup brown sugar
5 cups flour
1/2 baking soda
water for boiling
sea or kosher salt for sprinkling
3 T. melted butter

Optional: Cinnamon sugar, mustard, nacho cheese, or pizza sauce are all nice toppings.

Dissolve the yeast in the 2 tablespoons of warm water.  Add remaining 1-1/3 water and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve. Gradually add 5 cups of flour. and mix in a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Mix until dough forms into a ball.

Meanwhile, boil 2-3 quarts of water with the  baking soda and preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Continue to knead ball until smooth.  Pinch off dough into golf ball sized chunks.  Roll the dough into a long snake.  Twist into a pretzel shape.

Lower the pretzel into the soda water and allow to boil for 30/60 seconds (or until it floats.) Remove from water and place on a greased cookie sheet. Spread with melted butter and top with salt, if desired.

Bake for 10 minutes in a 475 degree oven until golden.  Brush with butter again, Serve or roll in cinnamon sugar for a sweet version.

Embarrassing-ly Easy Chocolate Cookies

People may or may not know this, but mom and I had a craft business for many, many years called Hen and Chick.  We would peddle our wares at craft shows across the valley and eventually opened a storefront in Chino Valley for 2 years.  We tried to keep a country store atmosphere, handmaking most of the items.

One of the products we would distribute were these little recipe booklets from Jackie Ganaway. They were inexpensive and had good, tested recipes in them.  One book, "Lookie, Lookie, It's Going to be a Cookie!" had 50 recipes to make cookies out of cake mixes.

Our favorite is the Chocolate Cookies. They are the EASIEST cookie EVER!  The batch makes about 30 cookies, and we only have 9 left.  'nuff said.  :-)

Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies
1 box of devil's food cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together and form dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar.  Place on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes until puffed and crackled. Cool on a tray.

Makes approx. 30 cookies.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yummy Taco Mac

So this little tasty surprise came out of another one of mom's Taste of Home Cookbooks, but I altered it some. It was originally called Chili Cheddar Penne, but I like Taco Mac better.   We ate it as a meal itself, but this meatless dish would be a yummy side, too.  This is my version:

Taco Mac 
3 cups uncooked penne pasta
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
3 cups (12 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 teaspoons taco seasoning
1-1/2 cups fresh corn, removed from the cob*
1 large can chopped green chilies, drained (mine was 7.5 oz)
large handful chopped cilantro
corn tortilla chips (optional, but yummy!)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Three minutes before pasta is finished cooking, add the corn to the boiling water.  Bring back to boil for remaining time, and drain the corn with the pasta. 

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for three minutes or until thickened.

Reduce sauce to medium. Stir in the cheese, taco seasoning, and green chilies.  Drain the corn and pasta; stir into the cheese sauce. Cook and stir until heated through. Add half of the chopped cilantro.

Garnish with crumbled corn tortilla chips and remaining cilantro. 


Notes:  The original recipe called for frozen corn that was thawed, so you could use that, too.  I just happened to have some delicious fresh sweet corn and used that. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sugared Cherry Jewels

These were from one of Mom's cookbooks... The Best of Country Cookies.  Crisp and buttery on the outside and chewy in the middle these are quite the tasty treat.  Instead of vanilla flavoring, almond compliments the cherry nicely.  These are pretty at Christmas, but are delicious anytime of the year!

Sugared Cherry Jewels

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks) 
1/2 cup sugar (+ more for rolling) 
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 eggs, separated 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or almond) extract
2-1/2 cups flour
1 (10 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in corn syrup, egg yolks, and flavoring. Gradually add flour. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until it is easy to handle. Roll into 1" balls. Beat egg whites until foamy.  Dip the balls in the egg whites, then roll in sugar.  Place about 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke a whole it the top of the cookie.  Place a cherry half in the hole.  Bake for 14-16 minutes in a 325 degree oven or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mango Black Bean Salsa

This recipe is another one that became a favorite while I was teaching home economics. I received a grant from Wells Fargo to plan and implement an "International Food Festival." My junior high students researched and prepared food samples representing 42 countries. It was amazing! This recipe was brought in by one of my students (can't remember who... boo!) to represent Cuba. It's fresh flavors are awesome in the hot summer months, and the black beans are so creamy, that the textures just marry so nicely.  I can eat a whole bowl in one sitting!

Mango Black Bean Salsa
2-3 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (more if you like more heat!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped fine
1-2 limes, juiced (depending on size... I usually use 2)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients.  Serve with chips.  This also makes a lovely garnish or topping on chicken tacos.