November 25, 2015

Fresh Orange Cranberry Sauce

This is the cranberry sauce I make every year for Thanksgiving. It's so easy and only has three ingredients and no cooking. I usually make it a day or so ahead so I don't have to worry about it on the big day.

I use my food processor and it chops it up in 10 to 20 seconds or so.  It makes almost 3 cups but if you need more just double the recipe. Easy peasey.

One 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries (I use Ocean Spray)
1 navel orange (try to get an orange that has smooth thin skin)
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Wash and drain the fresh cranberries. Wash the orange and cut off the ends. Quarter the orange leaving the skin on and take out those little white pieces in the center.

Add the cranberries and orange quarters to the food processor and pulse for 10 second intervals until desired chop is achieved. Pour into bowl and add sugar. If you like it a little sweeter just add a little sugar at a time. Done. See how easy that was and you can say "I made this, no canned cranberry sauce for us".

Tip: Also great with some over cream cheese to use as an appetizer.

November 13, 2015

Ella's Perfect Cheesecake

Ella's perfect cheesecake with red raspberry puree.

I have the cutest nieces and nephews and I love them all. I call them my faux grandchildren. This is Ella (pictured below with her Mom) and she is thirteen and she is just a chip off the old family block. She loves to work in the kitchen and let me tell you she can do anything you can do, only better. She is much more handy with a knife than I will ever be. Her Dad used to be a chef so she has been properly trained. I don't think at this age I could have baked a cheesecake that tastes and looks this good.  She made this cheesecake for her Mom's 40th birthday and it was fabulous. 

Ella and her sister Emily (now driving every chance she gets).

Lucas, Ella's brother who throws an unbelievable baseball with strength and accuracy.

Give this recipe a try and keep up with a thirteen year old. 
I guarantee you won't be disappointed .

You will need:
9 inch, 2 3/4 inch high springform pan
Heavy-duty, 18 inch wide aluminum foil
A large, high sided roasting pan


2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
pinch salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted butter, omit the pinch of salt), melted

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

12 ounces frozen raspberries
1/4 cup for less, to taste

1. Prepare the springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking. Place a large 18 inch by 18 inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil on a flat surface. Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the outside of the pan. Make sure to do this gently so that you don't create any holes in the foil. If there are any holes, water will get into the pan and ruin the crust. Press the foil around the edges of the pan. Place a second large square of foil underneath the pan, and repeat, gently folding up the sides of the foil around the outside of the pan and pressing the foil against the pan. To be triply safe, repeat with a third layer of heavy duty foil. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third of the oven. Pulse the graham crackers an a food processor or blender until finely ground. Put in a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and salt. Use your (clean) hands to stir in the melted butter.

3. Put all but 1/4 cup of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the springform pan. (Save the remaining 1/4 cup for if you happen to have any holes that need to be filled in, either while you are making the crust , or after the cake has coked and you've unfolded its.) Gently press down on the crumbs using your fingers, until the crumbs are a nice even layer at the bottom of the pan, with maybe just a slight rise along the inside edges of the pan. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. 

4. Make the filling:
Cut the cream cheese into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer, with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth, soft and creamy. Add the sugar, beat for 4 minutes more. Add the salt and vanilla, beating after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the sour cream, beat until incorporated. Add the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and scrape up any thicker bits of cream cheese that have stuck to the bottom of the mixer that paddle attachment has failed to incorporate. 

5. Cook the cheesecake:
Place the foil wrapped springform pan in a large, high sided roasting pan. Prepare 2 quarts of boiling water. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, over the graham cracker crust. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan with the springform pan in it, in the oven, on the lower rack. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan (without touching the hot oven), to create a water bath for the cheesecake, pouring until the water reach halfway up the side of the springform pan, about 1 1/4 inches. (Alternatively you can add the water before putting the pan in the oven, whichever is easier for you.) Cook at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

6. Turn off the heat of the oven. Crack open the door about an inch and let the cake cool in the oven, as the oven cools, for another hour. This gentle cooling will help prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking.

7. Cover the top of the cheesecake with foil, so that it doesn't actually touch the cheesecake. Chill in the refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.

Raspberry Puree for topping:
1-12 ounce bag of frozen unsweetened raspberries
14 cup granulated white sugar, less if you don't want this much sugar, what ever your taste is.

Thaw the unsweetened frozen raspberries in a fine mesh strainer placed over a large bowl. (This will take a few hours at room temperature or you can defrost them in the microwave. Once the berries have completely thawed, force the juice from the berries by gently pressing the berries with the back of a spoon. All that should remain in the strainer are the raspberry seeds. Throw away the seeds. Add the sugar to the raspberries and stir until sugar dissolves.   Makes about 3/4 cup. 

adapted from Simply Recipes

September 23, 2015

Kathy's Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup

Still feels like summer outside but I just wanted a little taste of fall. This soup is fabulous especially if you like butternut squash and it has a hint of sweetness with the apples, seasoned perfectly and just the right consistency with the cream. Will definitely make this again and again. It's so easy in the crockpot because you don't have to babysit it. As I said below you can put this in a stand blender when cooked but an immersion blender is really nice to use. I find many uses for mine. I have a Cuisinart Smart Stick and I love it. I had another brand and I really didn't think it did the job but my Cuisinart is perfect.

1 whole butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cubed)
2 apples (peeled, seeded and cubed)
5 leaves of fresh sage
1/4 onion (diced)
pinch of cinnamon
sprinkle of celery seeds
sprinkle of salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Peel, seed, and cube squash and apples. Put into crockpot and add sage, onion, celery seeds, butter, brown sugar and chicken stock. Salt and pepper as much as you choose.

Put crockpot on low for 6 hours or on high 3 hours. I do the high setting. Cream with immersion blender or stand blender. Watch out not to burn yourself.  After blending this is when you can add the cream and blend by hand. You can also put a swirl of sour cream or other garnishes as desired when you serve it.

Makes about 6 cups depending on the size of squash you use.

August 28, 2015

Pumpkin Banana Bread

Pumpkin time will soon be fast approaching and you have heard me say many times, I love anything pumpkin. Just as I am typing I had a vision of pumpkin chocolate swirl fudge. I think I may put that on my list to make. I'll have to find a good recipe. Anybody have one? So back to the banana bread. How can you go wrong combining banana and pumpkin for this bread. The only thing better is to add milk chocolate chips. I think I need my glass of milk now. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup mashed bananas (usually 2 bananas)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk chocolate chips (optional but wonderful)

Mix well all wet ingredients together in mixer bowl. Add dry ingredients except chips and mix well. Add milk chocolate chips and blend.

Spray metal or glass loaf pan with baking spray. Pour in batter and bake on 350 degrees for at least an hour. Check with cake tester to see if it is done.  Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes and then turn out on to cooling rack.