Monday, December 31, 2012

The Wonderful World Of Cheesecake

Cheesecake, you wonderful heavenly gift that has put more inches on women than chocolate and ice cream combined. A must for any "Golden Girl" and my down right favorite dessert. New York Style, With Strawberries, chocolate, turtle, you name it. It doesn't matter. It is an addiction I don't ever plan on giving up.

Sad thing is with any addiction comes the down side and I am not talking inches on the waist. I am talking making them. They are a pain! I have pulled my hair out more times trying to get a cheesecake right than I have trying to keep a soufflé from falling in a house full of kids. I swear I have read every tip and trick out there and some work, some don't and a lot need repeating.

So here I am, repeating the tips and tricks I have learned and been taught over the years.  These are what work for me.

1. Have a good recipe. If you are just starting I honestly recommend the one from Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  It is a good start.

2. High quality ingredients. This is not something you want to skimp on.

3. Room temperature ingredients. Your cream cheese and eggs for sure.

4. Do NOT overbeat! Seriously, air is your enemy. I usually cube my cream cheese before it softens and then just blend it on low with the sugar until smooth with my mixer. After that I fold in the rest as each step calls for it.

5. Springform Pan, Baking Spray, Oven Bag. Repeat this with me - Springform Pan, Baking Spray, Oven Bag. Set this up before you even start mixing. Spray your springform pan down with baking spray, including the sides and then set it in an oven bag.  (Use parchment on the bottom to make sure it comes off easy from the pan, spray that as well!) Now you can press your crust into the pan.

6. Water Bath. Once you have the pan in the oven bag and the crust is pressed in, place it in a roasting pan and fill the pan up with water - 1 inch deep around the pan.  This helps keep the oven air moist and gives you a creamy finish to your cheesecake.

7. Do NOT overcook! Most cheesecakes will still be jiggly in the center when time is up. For my personal recipe I cook it 1 hour and no more.

8. Cool in stages. Once the timer for your cheesecake goes off do NOT open the oven. Just turn it off and walk away for 3 hours.  Pretend if you open the oven it'll blow up or something. Just leave it be. Once 3 hours pass, remove it from the oven, carefully pull it out of the water and remove the bag. Place it on a cooling rack now and let it cool fully. After this cover the springform pan with a paper towel, not touching the cake and then cling wrap and shove it in the fridge overnight. (The paper towel will catch condensation instead of letting it build up on your  masterpiece.)

9. Remove from springform pan the next day. Yeah I know, you want to tear into this thing right away but seriously waiting makes it better. Next morning, if it hasn't already pulled away from the sides, just loosen it with a knife before removing the sides of the pan.

10. Decorate, enjoy, show off, share or keep to yourself. ^_~

Now, cheesecakes can still fall or crack even under the best of times don't worry. It will still taste great. If appearances are everything for you and it cracks here is a tip to fix small ones. Once the cake cools slightly but not fully, between the removing oven and putting in fridge stages, cover with plastic wrap and rub the crack slightly. This can help. That or you can go with toppings at this point. Drizzles of chocolate or caramel, some strawberries, almonds, whip cream. ^_~ Oh yeah, just enjoy it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jumbo Cookies

Oh, just dropping in for a quickie show off! I just finished up 2 jumbo cookies that I put up for sale on Etsy - and I mean jumbo! They are nearly 8 inches! OMG What a cookie(s)! Snowflake with delicate decorations and an ornament with candy stained glass inlays! I love them!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Cookies!

That time of the year and I just posted my holiday cookies to Etsy! So now I am just jumping by here to show pictures of them. ^^ And the fact that I adore my cookies stands! LOL

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Thanksgiving Menu

Here in the United States we are approaching one of the biggest holidays in our nation. Honestly though in this day and age I think it is just an excuse to overeat and fight with family but you know what? I'm cool with that. Fighting with family just lets you know how much you love them. How? Because you speak with them again, that's how. :P

I was going to make this post on my other site but frankly I like this one better and enjoy posting to it more, so you just gotta deal! Mwhahahah!!! 

I will start you off with a basic Thanksgiving Menu that is one I remember eating many holidays and provide you with various links if I have them to some good recipes. I will also be providing you with 2 recipes. Well 1 recipe and 1 how to as it were. I reposted my mothers cornbread dressing recipe and since then I have been asked several times for just a cornbread recipe as well as how to cook a turkey. So will cover both those here today. 

Let's get started. First thing is first - The Menu. For me the menu comes from what my Grandmother Jewell would have at her home every year. It was a combination of her recipes and a lot family brought with them. Now this will be a long menu because Jewell always cooked enough for an army and then some. There were many times we had over 20 people in the house as well as her preparing some for my uncles firehouse and taking some down there. So needless to say you will probably not need this much unless you are feeding a military base or just don't want to have to worry about cooking again until 2012. 

The Menu
I am sure I probably left something out of that menu but hey, the woman cooked a lot! Some of the recipes link to recipes of my own or families, others link to various websites I have used before and trust the recipes of.

Now onto some other things. First thing is first. The Turkey. I mean come on, what is Thanksgiving without that big gobbler on a platter? ^_^ So, gonna tell you real fast how to roast a turkey. It is really very simple.

What you will need:

  • Turkey - Duh
  • 1 Roasting Pan
  • 2-4 of each of the following - Carrots, Celery, Onion - All large rough chop
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper (Black is fine but I use white due to an allergy.)
  • 1/2 Cup Butter - Softened (Most will say unsalted, I prefer salted for this. Irish or New Zealand if you can get it.)
  • About a quart of Turkey/Chicken Stock if you are planning to want a lot of drippings for gravy.
  • Turkey timer/Meat Thermometer
  • Foil
  • An Oven, lol
Seriously, that is really all you need. 

  1. Make sure you defrost your turkey and it is ready to go. 
  2. Open the bag it is in and remove the neck and giblets. Toss them if you don't use them, keep them if you do. (I toss, lol) 
  3. Preheat the oven to 325F and move your rack to the lowest in your oven.
  4. Rinse the turkey inside and out. 
  5. Drain out the water and pat it down with some paper towels.
  6. Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in your roasting pan. (If you don't have a rack that is okay. Most years I used those cheap foil pans and never had one.)
  7. Make sure your legs and wings for the turkey are all tucked. If they aren't and you haven't done this, check some videos on 
  8. Toss the onions, celery and carrots into the cavity of the turkey. 
  9. Rub the outside of the turkey down with the butter
  10. Sprinkle the top with the salt and pepper.
  11. Pour a couple cups of stock into the bottom of the roasting pan.
  12. Stick the turkey in the oven uncovered.
  13. Now, here comes the fun part. Depending on how large your turkey is will depend on when you do the following steps. Follow the chart here for UNSTUFFED birds on the following website - Let's Talk Turkey - to get a general idea.
  14. Check on the turkey about every 30 minutes to an hour and add more stock if you are using it to the bottom of the pan.
  15. Now some will want to baste the turkey, honestly I never have. If you want, do it about every 30-60 minutes. If not, it is okay. At most I will rub down with a cold butter stick from time to time.
  16. Once the Turkey is the level of brown you want, cover it with foil. 
  17. Cook until your turkey time pops or until your meat thermometer reads 180F when stuck in the thickest part of the thigh and away from the bone. 
  18. When it is done remove it from the oven and carefully transfer it to a serving platter.
  19. Let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving. This let's it cool enough to handle and helps the turkey stay moist. 
  20. Carve, enjoy and get ready to make a lot of left over Turkey Sandwiches over the next week.

See, not hard! Now, only recipe number 2. Cornbread. This is a classic recipe I use each year as a base to my mother Cornbread Dressing, (link above) This recipe is an revised version of one I found online a while ago. Now, the way I am telling you to make it...DO NOT EAT JUST AS IS! It is altered to work with the Cornbread Dressing recipe and does not taste the best on its own!

Egg Cornbread For Cornbread Dressing:

  • 2/3 Cups Salted butter Softened
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 2/3 Cup Milk
  • 2 1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Cornmeal
  • 4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Table Salt
  1. Preheat your own to 400F
  2. Grease a large cast iron skillet. (If you do not have one, use a 13x9 baking dish)
  3. In a large bowl cream together your butter and sugar.
  4. Add in your eggs and milk.
  5. Sift together the rest and then add to the bowl.
  6. Mix until smooth.
  7. Pour into the skillet.
  8. Put into the oven
  9. Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes on rack.
  11. Remove from pan, rest on rack until fully cool.
  12. Use for Cornbread Dressing!

And that is that. I hope this helps you with your Thanksgiving Meal Planning! Now! Go! Give Thanks! Over Eat! Pass out while watching Football! And don't forget, enjoy your family and friends this Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Everyone Needs Warm Wishes

Everyone needs warm wishes this Holiday Season. No one more so than our Military, past and present. They do so much for us each and every day and now that Winter is upon us they are giving up even more. So many are away from their friends and family this holiday season. Others are home but what has happened while they were deployed is still there, in the back of their mind. Even those retired many many years still carry the scars of a life that many of us will never have to face and much of that is because of what they have done and what they do every single day.

It is no secret that this girl loves her some Military men and women. So, I am teaming up with another protect of mine, Baking For Our Soldiers, to put together a care package to send to someone you nominate. I would love to send one out to each and every member that is nominated this year but sadly I cannot but I can send out at least 1. (If more bakers wish to get in on this and donate a care package of your own I will happily up the number of winners. Just contact me on Facebook.)

Now are you a member of the military and you want this care package? Are you a Veteran? Feel free with leaving your own name!

What will be in the care package?
Well cookies! But the rest will be left as a surprise for the recipient. ^_^

So, all you have to do to enter is follow the instructions in the Raftecopter Widget below. There are entries that can be done daily to up your nominations chance of winning! For ones you have to repost about, leave a blog comment, etc. All winning entries are verified.)

**Please only nominate people who are current or past members of the U.S.A. Military. I hope to extend this to other military members at a later year but right now I only know how to ship to our country and bases. I am very sorry.**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas & Hanukkah

I, normally, cannot stand for anyone on any level to do anything Christmas related before Thanksgiving. It is not that I have anything against Christmas, I don't I adore the holiday more than I can express but in this day and age it seems people are trying to shove it down your throat earlier and earlier each year so by the time it is finally Christmas Season you are just about Decked The Halls out.....

Usually I reserve anything Winter themed until at least Thanksgiving Day. Then we would break out the tree, and the ornaments. After which, while trying to fight off a Turkey induced coma we would decorate. Yet as with all things in life, things change. Besides just having to get holiday cookie designs out in time for people to order I find myself wanting to pick up where Ma left off.

This will be the first Christmas without her and this was her holiday. Certain foods had to be made each year, decorations out and more. I'm the eldest daughter, so it feels as if I need to really be the Matriarch now of our branch of the family tree. Whether I am or not doesn't matter and even if all my family is back in Ga seems to be of little consequence. I swear this Christmas Clock ticking is worse than any biological one I have dealt with.

So here I am...Preparing for Christmasfest 2012. Cookies are being decorated, menus for the holidays are being planned, lists being made of what to make and send to family and right now my house looks like a Holiday Tornado went through it as I am trying to pull down Fall and put up Winter. Taking a small break from all that right now. Got pictures taken of my first holiday cookies and wanted to share those.

Now, onto the cookies. First up I have the one I am most proud of! A Cookie Advent Calender! I am so happy the way this turned out. Now the size of the calender backing is 9x11. It is a cookie and is roughly 3/8 inch thick without the flooded icing on top. Each of the days is a smaller cookie, about the size of a US 50 cent piece.

 This was a really fun piece to make. I hand cut the background and used some mini cookie cutters for the smaller pieces. If you enjoy cookie decorating I would really suggest you try one of these yourself. I have a large cellophane clear gift bag I will be wrapping ours up in each day while it hangs to keep it fresh for the month. (Remember sugar cookies and royal icing hold up very well!!! Much better than most cookies)

Now, this second set started out as something totally different but ended up as something I just adore. I made several other sets. Some small ones, some regular sized ones and some giant. All were going to be different sets but as I got to looking at them all completed I felt they worked better together. So a few found flats together and some thick royal icing and suddenly I had found I have created a full 3d Winter Scene. It was just too cute not to share!

Now this took a few days to do and was actually really easy. (Most of it was just drying time) Thing is that it is already mostly gone and I just finished taking pictures. It wasn't that it didn't hold up. It was that my youngest wanted a cookie house really bad it seems and ended up devouring the small one with the house on it. He did feel guilty and managed to make me a lego version of it to replace it. (After he found my forgiveness he went and ate the bigger one. -_- So I gave up having it last any longer. LOL I am sure Mongo there and Gingy will be the next to go. Their days are numbered and there is a gallon of milk in the fridge. I can hear it now, "Beeeeeeee goooooood."

And finally, the last set I completed will be on Etsy for sale later on. (The others are just too fragile for shipping but hey, if you are in Moses Lake and want me to do something like that, contact me for prices.) These are my first Hanukkah Cookies. Many may not be aware of it but I am half Jewish, so I figured it was about time that I let my Jew show :P (Now me being good in math makes sense LOL Oy-Vey!)

Aren't they precious! I had a lot of fun doing those and I hope to do more. (Just so hard to find any cookie cutter that is Hebrew. Will have to keep an eye out for more.)

Now for the reason I know many are reading this. New recipe time! Oh yeah! I did these cookies in 2 flavors. One is a Chocolate Buttermilk that is just smashing but I ain't sharing. :P The other is one I think many would enjoy making this holiday season. Eggnog! Now this this a variation on another recipe that is not my own. It is Georganne from LilaLoa. This Eggnog recipe is a variation of her The Vanilla Variation, yes the same one I did a Churro version of. This is my Holiday Eggnog and I hope you love it as much as my family is!

Holiday Eggnog Rolled Sugar Cookie:
1 Cup Unsalted Butter - room temp 

1 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Eggnog
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
4 Cups All Purpose Flour

  1. Cream the butter and sugar
  2. Add in the eggnog, mix to combine
  3. Sift together 1 cup of the flour with the salt, nutmeg and cinnamon
  4. Add to wet mix, combine
  5. Slowly add remaining flour
  6. Roll out between pieces of wax paper to desired thickness
  7. Refrigerate 2-3 hours
  8. Cut out designs, place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Refrigerate another 30 (helps keep from spreading)
  10. Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes - depending on size. 
  11. Remove from oven, cool a couple of minutes before moving to a wire rack.
  12. Cool fully and decorate!

Well, there you have it! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pumpkin Carving 2012

Finally getting around to posting my pumpkins this year. I swore with the way everything was going I wasn't going to get around to carving anything. Thankfully I did. Now only one was done before Halloween, the rest were actually carved the following days. I figured what the heck. We had them, might as well carve them. LOL We still have some left, including a white one. We are thinking of holding them and carving one for Thanksgiving and Christmas. ^_~  Anyways! Here we go!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Family Pumpkin Carving 2012

Cannibal By Jason
Finally starting to get all these images together to show off. Those that have me friended on Facebook have been getting bombarded by these this week, lol. Going to start off with the ones that the family did this year. I will post all mine later on. Still getting those images together. >.>

What can I say, I went a little overboard this year, heck the whole family did. Here is it November 3rd and honestly we are still carving. With everything that happened this past month we really got behind in what was supposed to get done. We had a lot of pumpkins left over after Halloween and figured, what the heck! We can still carve. So we have continued to carve a couple each day and rotate them out on our display out front while we toss the ones that are ready to meet their pumpkin god, lol.

First three are Corporate Logo's Jason of Cynical Cuisine did this year. You can find more of his work on Deviant Art under the screen name Sigil79.

And now for the rest....

Demon Spider By Jason

Cannibal By Jason

Penguin By Jason

Gir By Jason

Skelly By Jason

Mr Moustache by Jason

The Patio On All Hallows Eve

Now granted all those were created by Jason but I have 3 more to show off....

This is Phoenix, King Heartless and Spider Mania. These were created by the kids - Rhi, Alex & Jack. Instead of using patterns this year they pushed those aside and all three of them clamored into the kitchen, spread out their own tarp and went to work on their own. Mommy nor daddy were allowed to help in any way. Needless to say this is one proud mama seeing her kids bloom artistically. ^_~

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Banana Bread Recipe

I was asked this morning if I knew any tricks for Banana Bread or had a recipe and of course my answer was yes. ^_~ So, here I am, posting it for a dear friend, as well as anyone else that wants it. It is a very simple recipe and I my favorite thing about it is that I don't have to wait for overly ripe bananas. I have made this with fresh out of the store bananas and ones that are sickeningly ripe. Each time it comes out perfectly.

Now, this recipe is not originally mine. I will admit the base recipe is from a 1970's Betty Crocker Cookbook I picked up over a decade ago in a used bookstore. It is my holy grail, lol. I have made some alterations to the recipe that I very much enjoy and I hope you will as well. Now for the pictures of this recipe I did not use Walnuts in this batch. If you don't like walnuts but have another nut you enjoy, go for it. heck dump dried fruit in there, chocolate chips, what ever. Enjoy it!

Here we go!

1 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Margarine
2 Eggs
2 Cup Mashed Bananas
1/3 Cup Water
1 2/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

1. Preheat over to 350F
2. Grease 1 loaf pan with non-stick baking spray
3. Cream margarine & sugar
4. Add eggs
5. Add bananas & water
6. Mix in remaining ingredients
7. Pour into loaf pan
8. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean
9. Remove from oven, loosen from sides of pan
10. Let cool 5 minutes
11. Turn out onto wire rack
12. Cool fully
13. Enjoy!
If you look behind the bowl you will see my recipe book.
It has seen better days, lol

Everything mixed together

See, lumpy is okay!

The little white bits on top are parts of unsquishified banana. I love them!

Side view

*Tip - Mashing your bananas should be done by hand and with kids if you got them. LOL I just dump 5-6 bananas into a bowl and use my hands, squishing it between my fingers until nice and mushy with some lumps. I also recommend doubling this recipe as this only makes 1 loaf and I assure you that you will want more than 1! It goes fast! 

The Harry Potter Party

Crest Cookies 

     Sorry it has taken so long but I have been running around like a wizard without a wand for the last month. Finally am able to sit down for a few and post about my daughters birthday party! YAY! Most of this will just be quick pictures but at the end will be links to other Harry Potter posts I have made to help you cast your own Wizard Worthy party as well as links that I used to pull this off! So enjoy! And watch the video at the end!

And remember, most everything I did here cost me less than $5 to create - Like the Dementor and the Sorting Hat. It goes to show with some time, creativity and cheapness you can pull this off no problem!

Potion Area created from colored water, flours, sugars, printable labels and jars I found at goodwill

Chocolate Pumpkins created from Wilton Melts and Pumpkin Shaped Ice Cube Trays

Snitches, made from Ferrero Rochers and Craft Feathers

House Cookies - Edible images cover colored dough in the center. Break open and reveal your house!

Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans - Jelly Beans & Printable Boxes

Chocolate Frogs and Wands - Frog Molds, Twizzlers, Dipping Chocolate and Printable Boxes

The Dessert Set Up

Colored Corn Chips

Redid the Harry Potter Wanted Sign with my Daughter in there. 

We actually still have this hanging on the bathroom door, lol.

Cannot read it well but it says - This Way To The Ministry Of Magic

The Dinner Bar

Pumpkin Pasties!

Our Sorting Hat

Another Angle of the Dinner Bar

The Food Area
The Cake

Now watch the video to see all the decorations through out the house! 

Now for those links I promised you!

I know there are more links, will have to dig them out. 

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