Friday, October 24, 2014

Nutella Speckulas Cheesecake

Bf and I were supposed to go to a friend's place for dinner this week, so I made a cheesecake. Then it was cancelled, so oh well, we'll just eat the whole thing!

A few years back I was experimenting with nutella cookies, this time I wanted to make a nutella cheesecake. One of the really great things about cheesecake is you can add about a cup of anything and give it a different flavor without messing up the baking science too much. Experiment!

When I went to the grocery store, I was excited to see Speckulas cookies! If your not familiar with speckulas, they're a spiced German/Dutch cookie commonly eaten in the fall and around Christmas time. They are very thin and normally shaped like windmills.  My boyfriend has been steadily working his way through the leftover cookies for the last few days.

If you're trying to find speckulas, I found mine at Aldi but you can also try World Market or Trader Joe's, I have seen them at both. If it's not fall you might have a hard time, in which case you can use a graham cracker crust or try shortbread!


If you have a basic cheesecake recipe you like, you can use it and just mix in 1 cup of nutella. If you cannot find speckulas Or if you need a little more direction you can follow my recipe here:

Crust:
25 speckulas cookies (about 1 cup crumbs)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon sugar (optional - I think the cookies already have enough, you might taste one first)

Filling:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3   eggs
1 heaping cup nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place speckulas cookies in a zip bag. Crush into fine crumbs using rolling pin. Combine crumbs, butter and sugar (optional); mix well. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of springform pan . Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.

Meanwhile, place cream cheese in large mixing bowl with sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla or almond; beat until smooth. Pour batter over slightly cooled crust. Return to oven. Bake 50-55 minutes until center is just set.

Remove from oven. Cool 20 minutes and carefully run sharp knife around edges of cheesecake. Allow to cool and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

fried "rice" quinoa

Over the past two years, quinoa has quickly become one of my favorite grains! If you haven't tried this super food yet, you are seriously missing out! Don't let the funny name intimidate you! It has a slightly nutty flavor in my opinion but you can use it basically as a substitute for rice.

It's definitely pricier than rice, if you have a Trader Joe's nearby I have found them to have the most competitive prices for quinoa.

Quinoa made like fried rice has become a favorite meal for boyfriend and I, especially during the busy work week. It's gluten free and can be made as a vegetarian main dish or as a side dish.
Quinoa fried "rice" as a side for ginger chicken

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
Chicken or vegetable bouillon (use vegetable to make it vegetarian)
1 Tb of olive oil 
1 Tb of minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1-2 large eggs

for sauce:
2 Tb of soy sauce
1 Tb of Teriyaki sauce
1 Tb of sesame oil (can substitute olive oil)

Directions:
Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Cook quinoa in bouillon, refer to package directions for the amount of liquid needed to cook 1 cup of quinoa, typically 2 cups of liquid. Allow quinoa to cool, this step can be completed the day before.

Heat 1 Tb of olive oil in a a large skillet, add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add peas and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they are about half of your desired tenderness. If you are using frozen peas, you might need to cook slightly longer than 3 minutes. Add in carrots, mixing them with the other vegetables.

Add cooked quinoa to the skillet and mix with vegetables for a few minutes allowing the quinoa to heat up. While the quinoa is warming, mix all of the sauce ingredients together in small bowl. When the quinoa is warm, pour the sauce over the top and stir all ingredients together.

Push the quinoa and vegetables to one side of the pan, making a small pocket of empty space. Crack eggs in the small pocket of empty space and scramble them a few minutes until cooked fully. Note this can be done in a separate pan if you don't have enough room. When the eggs are fully cooked, mix them in with the quinoa and vegetables thoroughly. Serve hot.

Servings: 2 main dish or 4-5 as a side dish

Friday, June 27, 2014

Whipped cream explosion!

For my birthday last year, I asked for a whipped cream dispenser. What can I say? I'm a woman with limited interests and these days they primarily consist of food and sewing.

It started when I saw the one Boyfriend's parents have a few months beforehand, before then I had really only seen them at like Starbucks and it did not occur to me that this was something people had in their own kitchens. And it was amazing. You fill it with cream, snap in the little nitrous cartridge, shake it and bingo! Fresh whipped cream.

Yes, I know it's not that hard to make the old fashioned way. Be honest, how often do you do it? That's what I thought. Plus after the Thanksgiving when I made it alone with a whisk, not a mixer, I have become lazier than normal.

Since getting my new gizmo, there has kinda been fresh whipped cream on every dessert. And not just plain, flavored. Some of my best experiments are below. You can make this the "old-fashioned" way if you don't have the gizmo :-) or you can buy the gizmo from amazon for $30-100. I have this one from Amazon.

All of the recipes I have below call for Agave syrup because I have found it mixes in easily when using the dispenser, you can substitute 3-5 Tb of powdered sugar. The cream will keep in the dispenser for at least 3-4 days, I suspect up to a week but we always use it all before then.

Plain
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup (really, I do three good squeezes of the bottle)
1 tsp of vanilla

Orange dream (I served this with at New York Style cheesecake)
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup
1 tsp of orange extract*

*Do NOT use orange juice, the citric acid in the juice will curdle your cream.

Chocolate cream (I served this with a raspberry swirl cheesecake)
1 pint of heavy cream
2-3 Tb of Agave syrup (Or 2 squeezes of the bottle)
3-5 Tb of Chocolate syrup (Or 3 good squeezes of the bottle)

I also made a chocolate with coco powder that was more a subtle chocolate, too subtle for my taste, but if you want something less chocolatey (I can't imagine why!), you could use 4 Tb of coco powder.

Peppermint (excellent on a chocolate cheesecake or in coffee)
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup
1 tsp of peppermint extract

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Almond milk quiche

My boyfriend introduced me to almond milk last year and I have to say, this stuff is amazing (see my post on making pudding with almond milk here). Almond milk is great for anyone who doesn't use enough milk to use it before it spoils. Almond milk will last unrefrigerated for months as long as you haven't opened it, so it's great to keep on hand for cooking. It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks after it's opened (I think the box says 10 days but we've kept it much longer without a problem).

For the most part, you can substitute almond milk for cow's milk in recipes but sometimes, it will change the taste of what you are making or the chemistry of using milk is important, so you have to be careful and maybe give it a trial run before you serve it at a dinner party or something. There are also lots of different types of almond milk - sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla - which you'll want to take into consideration when buying some to keep on hand. There are problems with this at my house because I will use a small amount for cooking and would prefer the unsweetened, unflavored but the person who ends up finishing it has different preferences when it comes to using it in coffee or on cereal...these are the issues of small household management.

Keeping this in mind, I wanted to make a quiche. Normally, I would use light cream (or maybe heavy mixed with a little milk, depending what was in the fridge) but this requires the purchase of dairy products, ergo advance planning. After a little online research, it seemed like making quiche with almond milk was possible so a I gave it a whirl, doing what I normally do but using almond milk instead (see my post about my first time making quiche (the standard cream way), a bacon-cheddar quiche here) .

This quiche turned out fluffy and delicious! If I hadn't told you I made it with almond milk, you never know the difference. Not only do I not have to make a trip to the store for cream, using almond milk instead of cream is much healthier. Enjoy!



To make a quiche with almond milk:
1 cup almond milk to every 4 eggs, ideally you want an unsweetened vanilla almond milk but I actually used a vanilla flavored one and we could not taste the difference.

The quiche shown above used:
1 pre-made crust
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups almond milk
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup lightly sauteed mixed pepper strips (originally frozen)
6 strips chopped bacon
1 Tb Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute (or other seasoning you like on eggs)
1/2 Tb of garlic salt (I was trying to counteract the vanilla flavor)

Baked 28 minutes at 350 degrees.

Different quiche recipes will call for different numbers of eggs, amounts of milk but honestly you will probably have to adjust depending on the depth of your pie plate and how much cheese/toppings you put in. It's pretty hard to screw up, don't be afraid because it has a fancy French name!


Update: after this worked the first time, I've made a bunch of quiches with almond milk. It's a great week night dinner for us. However, I tried coconut milk recently, because it was all we had and I expected it would work the same and it did not. The quiche was very rubbery and I won't be trying it again.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sausage Tortellini Soup

It's not really the soup season anymore (or so I would like to think, the weather has been crazy) but I've made this soup twice recently and it was very good, especially for a 20 minute dinner!

I found this recipe via pinterest and you can find the original here and I've put the directions below.

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked Italian sausage (see my change below)
3 cups uncooked tortellini
4 cups water
1 can evaporated milk
6 chicken boullion cubes - (I only used 2-3, seemed like a little bit much to me?)
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp. chives
salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Put all ingredients except tortellini in medium size sauce pan and bring to boil.  Allow to simmer about 15 minutes.  Add tortellini and allow to boil according to pasta pkg. instructions.  Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.

I did not have any pre-cooked sausage. I had uncooked Italian turkey sausage, I sliced my sausage up and cooked it lightly in the olive oil in the bottom of the pot. After my sausage was cooked I added all the other ingredients except tortellini per the directions above.

Cooking the sausage in the same pan you are going to use for the soup will add all the juices from the meat to the soup = extra flavor!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bacon quiche

Why have I never made a quiche before? Don't let it's French nature make you think it's complicated.

I made a fritata a while back and I thought that quiche would be more or less the same just with a crust. No, no, no. This quiche was amazing, much better than a fritata. It was one of those times I was glad to live alone, so no one was around to see how much I ate.

I adapted a bacon quiche recipe because frankly, I wasn't willing to purchase two different milk products. What am I going to with all the leftover half and half and cream? Also, I'm just saying half and half is part cream and part milk, am I wrong here? So the simpler much Lacey version is below, so this might not be super authentic but I assure you, it was delicious.

Lacey's easy bacon quiche

1 frozen pie crust, 9" deep dish, thawed
5 eggs
1/2 pint light cream (aka 1 cup but the package at the store says a 1/2 pint)
2 Tb flour
8 strips of bacon, cooked, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded swiss
1 Tb of Tradder Joe's 21 seasoning salute *this is great in eggs but if you don't have a TJs around, you can substitute another seasoning blend
dash salt
dash pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs and cream thoroughly. Mix in flour, cheeses, bacon and seasonings. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until center of quiche is firm.
EDIT: I have recently moved and thus have a new oven. It bakes this same quiche in 25-30 minutes,  you definitely want to check the time the first time you make a quiche in your oven.

I cannon stress enough how good this quiche was. It does take quite a while to bake all the way through, mine was in the oven at least 45 minutes, so be prepared for that. Also, the pie crust will be really full, I spilled it all down the cabinet, my dog had a great morning licking it up while I was putting the quiche in the oven. The (very limited) leftovers are going to work for lunch tomorrow. Now, go be fancy and make yourself a quiche!

One strange thing that happened, possibly because it was so full, the crust popped right out of the plate! I've never seen that happen!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cheesecake brownies

If you've been on pinterest ever, you've probably seen some of these brownie + other dessert recipes (mostly they're brownie cookie combos). I recently saw one for cheesecake brownies. I love cheesecake and I love brownies. Cheesecake because it's delicious and brownies because they're easy and delicious.

The inspiration for the cheesecake brownies came from this recipe for frosted cream cheese brownies but to be honest, it looked a little complicated and I thought that frosting brownies was overkill on the sugar.

My version went like this:

Brownie mix, family size, prepared

Cheesecake mix*
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt

*You might want to double the cheesecake mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9 x 13" pan. Prepare your brownie mix according to the package directions and set aside. In a medium sized bowl beat the cream cheese, egg, vanilla and salt together. Pour brownie mixture into your pan, reserving 2 cups. Scoop the cheesecake mix on top and then the remaining brownie mix. Using a knife swirl the brownie mix and cheesecake together. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

The cheesecake was a little lacking in the brownies, so you might want to double that. The pan will be full so definitely use a 9x13 pan, you'll get pretty thick brownies even with the larger pan.

Enjoy!