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New York Cheesecake in the Deep South? What Would Scarlett Say About That?

Caramel Apple Nut Cheesecake

I have no grudges against Yankees…really, I don’t.   Sense I started blogging, I have been following many blogs, particularly in the area of interest…food.  I am in awe of the people of New York. I read food blogs like smitten kitchen. I just love to read reports of the day to day life of people in New York. Fascinating!  Obviously, it is and will always be the culinary haven of the world.  I’ve only had a two-day visit long enough to tour the Botanical Gardens but if I had the fundage, New York would be one place I would spend a month.

I’m just not a fan of what has become most popularly known as the New York Cheesecake.  I feel like it would make a good weapon if attacked while walking down the street carrying one.  It’s heavy. While, I only experienced one cheesecake slice while in New York for my two day visit, it may not have been a good example but it was the only example I had to go by…and it was called “New York Cheesecake” on the menu.  I’ve also had cheesecake from the well know franchise “Cheesecake Factory” and I’ve also had cheesecake from various restaurants.  They always seem so thick and heavy.  I decided I wanted to try to make one slightly lighter in consistency.

This recipe of mine took months to develop and get to the right consistency.  I sent this cheesecake to my husband’s office and he reported back that it was eaten while the other desserts on the table had been left.  What a compliment.  My other compliment is from my son who always ask for this on his birthday.  This is also my contribution to my family reunion this weekend before Christmas.

UPDATE: There is a downside to this recipe. After the re-union mentioned above I learned this:  Never take this cheesecake to a Christmas family reunion when you did not attend Thanksgiving Holiday with same family members. While eating this cheesecake during the Christmas party, my family raved over the “pumpkin cheesecake to die for” served at Thanksgiving. This recipe was a huge let down and in fact a cheesecake forgotten. Too bad I didn’t inquire the dessert at Thanksgiving or I wouldn’t have made this. My bad.

My Southern Style Recipe of Caramel Apple Nut Cheesecake:

Slice of Cheesecake

Ingredients

10 inch Spring Form Pan
One stick of butter
2½ cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 cup of sugar plus 2 Tbls.
Four-8oz. pkgs Cream Cheese
Three eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
tsp lemon juice (optional)
One cup Sour Cream
One Granny Smith Apple
One Cup pecan chips
One jar Caramel Sauce  (Use only about 4 oz. from the jar to adequately cover the cheesecake)

The Process

Preheat Oven to 450°
Slowly melt butter, you don’t want to burn it.
Mix graham cracker crumbs with 2 Tbls sugar
Pour melted butter into graham cracker mix
Spread mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan and slightly up the sides.
Place in the freezer while you prepare the cheesecake.

In a mixer on medium speed add the cream cheese and mix for two minutes. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, eggs and vanilla. Scrape the side of the bowl for a well blended mixture.
Fold in the sour cream.
Pour into the spring form pan

Bake for 10 minutes at 450°, then reduce the temperature to 200° and continue baking for 45 more minutes.
Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Topping

Dice the apple in small bits, sprinkle a little lemon juice to prevent browning. Mix the pecan pieces with the apple.
Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the cheesecake allowing for some to spill over the sides.
Spoon the apples and pecans over the caramel. Slightly pat down into the caramel sauce.

The International Holiday Cookie Exchange

This year I participated in The International Holiday Cookie ExchangeI signed up and was given an e-mail address for which I would send a cookie recipe.  In turn, someone else was assigned my e-mail and forwarded to me their recipe.

I am excited to participate in this friendly exchange.  This is my first adventure into exchanges of recipes.

The recipe I received was from Flex Your FoodMy first gut re-action when I received my e-mail with the recipe was to have my grandsons help.  Especially since it involved peanut butter.  They love baking cookies.  After carefully reading over the entire recipe however, I realized having a four and three-year old stand over a gas flame stirring a pot wasn’t a good idea.  So…, I made them instead and will give the boys the cookies later.

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe makes 24 cookies.

Two cups granulated sugar
Half cup milk
Half cup cocoa powder
Half cup butter
Pinch of salt
One cup peanut butter ( I used creamy )
One tsp vanilla
Three cups Rolled Oats ( I used quick cooking* )

Stirring over flame

Mix the sugar, milk, cocoa, butter, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once it begins to bubble, cover and let boil for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until incorporated.  Fold in the oatmeal until evenly coated.  Spoon heaps onto a waxed covered cookie sheet and allow to cool and set.  They’re ready to eat.

Cookies on Wax Paper

* I made this recipe with the rolled oats and felt they were chewy…a little too much for my grandkids so I re-did the recipe using quick cooking oats.  Much better.  The taster of the house knows.  A Thumbs up.

Tasting the cookie

Pumpkin Pie and Martha Stewart


Many year’s ago, pre-incarceration, I went through a Martha Stewart phase. No one knew this secret about me. I was…a closet Martha fan. Domesticity was frowned upon by Women’s Lib groups. I owned all Martha’s books and secretly subscribed to Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I was a full-time stay at home Mom. What else was I suppose to do? Play tennis? Right… As soon as the kids were in school, I would quickly complete a chore or two maybe run an errand and by 10am I would rush to my favorite chair and cozy up with a cup of tea, obviously sipped from fine china as only Martha would do.  I would watch for one solid hour all that Martha could perform from digging in the dirt, whipping up some dessert, to sewing slip covers for her divan located inside the alcove of the widow’s walk atop her home at Turkey Hill. I was green with envy over her garden and loved her oh so organized kitchen and pantry. One must understand my thought process. I didn’t watch soap operas so I justified my daily dose of Martha Stewart as though I was watching a “How To” program on PBS.

While Julia Child was actually my mentor in the kitchen, it was Martha Stewart who gave reason to my existence. I soon began collecting things like…butter pats, knife rests, salt and pepper wells with the tiniest of spoons to scoop the seasonings out. I couldn’t wait to have the extended family in for that old-fashioned holiday dinner. I had so many decorations, it would take weeks to set up and months to take down. I started early, cooking and baking, preparing for the big feast. I was giddy with Christmas music, singing along with Johnnie Mathis, The Carpenter’s and Bing Crosby.

I copied a recipe for pumpkin pie from Martha’s magazine. Never before had I seen pie made from pumpkins. Even as far back as my grandmother. I only remember pie from a can. Who knew? Martha made it look so easy. Just cut the pie pumpkins, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, bake in the oven, scoop the meaty part out into a bowl, purée it and add a host of ingredients to the now cooked, puréed pumpkin and bake it again. “and while the pie is baking, don’t forget to roast the seeds for a delicious, fun snack for the children”.

A few weeks ago was my son and daughter’s birthday and they asked for pumpkin pie. At that time, pie pumpkins were not in the store so I opted for the can of pumpkin pie mix. But this week, I happened upon the pie pumpkins and decided to re-live the old days and bake pumpkin pie the Martha Stewart way. Suddenly, the memories began flooding my mind when I took the knife and started to cut into the first pumpkin. It was gripping to say the least. Scooping the interior stringy junk was no better…and those seeds. Ugh! I flossed, rinsed with mouthwash and an hour later, those crappy little kernels were still rolling around my mouth.

Despite my efforts, I was determined to make this pie from scratch only I discovered I had not bought pie shells and since pastry and I don’t get along well, I decided on pumpkin custard.

Note the Gerber spoons.  These small dishes are for my grandsons.  They told me to write that the custard was delicious.

So here is my take…I wasn’t able to locate Martha’s recipe unless I googled it but I did find deep in a box my own recipe for whatever my reason was for not repeating Martha’s recipe. There must have been something she included in the ingredients list that didn’t suit me. As I do with anyone’s recipe, I generally alter to suit my needs or taste.

In the end, I do remember that my children preferred the pie mix from a can over my recipe from scratch. I was satisfied with that. The same amount of ingredients come with the can as they do with the pumpkins. While I consider it important to experience “from scratch”, I  think, when the subject tastes near the same with less work, go for it. After all, Martha only sleeps four hours a night. She has the time, the help and the money to not only grow the pumpkins, but send employees out to harvest the pumpkins and someone to bake the pumpkin pie or in her case pies for all the people she forces to sit at her table in front of the camera.

My variation of pumpkin “custard” from scratch.

Preheat oven to 425° F

Ingredients:
Two pie pumpkins which lends three (3) cups pumpkin mixture
One cup sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves *A substitute for spices is 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs, beaten
12 oz. Can of Evaporated Milk

Cut in half the pumpkins. Clean out seeds and stringy material, using an ice cream scoop if you have one, Place halved pumpkins on cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil on inside pumpkin to moisten. Bake in the oven for approximately one hour. Check each half with a fork for tenderness and remove any halves done.
Prepare an 8×8 glass baking dish by smoothing butter on interior sides and bottom.
Scoop out pumpkin from outer shell and place in a bowl or blender. Purée using a hand mixer or the blender. If you used a blender pour mixture into a bowl.
Add dry ingredients. *Note substitute for cinnamon, cloves and ginger.
Stir by hand to blend dry and wet ingredients.
Add vanilla, beaten eggs and evaporated milk, stirring as you add same.

Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F then reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking for 45-50 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

Whip Cream

Pour a half pint container of Heavy Whipping Cream into a mixer. Whip on high-speed. When beginning to solidify, add 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Continue whipping until peaks form.

Spoon custard into a bowl, top with whip cream and sprinkle cinnamon over whip cream.

Taylor’s Mom’s Brownie Recipe

A Food Writer’s Blog I follow, Taylor Takes a Taste , was showing a tutorial on the use of Tungsten Lighting and he just happened to include his Mom’s brownie recipe. Any child who believes what their Mom makes in the kitchen is the best, makes me want to try it out.

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These are the ingredients. I, of course, cut the recipe in half. Should you want the actual recipe, connect to Taylor’s site I’ve included in this post and scroll to the bottom. If you’re a Tailgater, subscribe to his Tailgating site. He offers up some fine foods from all his travels to football games.

In a deep pot, at least 3.5 or 5 quart size, slowly melt the butter.

Add the sugars and dissolve.
Add the eggs one at a time and work into the mixture.
Add the flour and cocoa, then vanilla and salt.
For this recipe, I baked in an 8×8 size glass pan in a preheated 350° for approx. 35 minutes.
I like to pull out sooner than later for the moistness.
Test with a toothpick and if a small amount of batter adheres to that toothpick, I consider it done. It will continue baking while cooling down but not so much it will be over-baked.

Personally, I thought this recipe was the best. This past weekend, my daughter brought a box of Ghirardelli Brand Brownie Mix. I’ve also made other box mixes. Growing up on Hershey’s, I guess, in my opinion, there is only one chocolate flavor and it’s Hershey.