Friday, December 5, 2008

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd

I found this recipe on another one of my favorite sites, Taste and Tell and was just itching for a chance to try it out. I decided to make it for Thanksgiving and LOVED it! Oh wow. It would rival any Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. The lemon curd on top was divine and good enough to eat alone. This was best the next day so make sure you give it plenty of time to chill before you plan to serve it. My only complaint was that the crust was a bit soggy, but not bad enough that it was gross and not any soggier than a crust at Cheesecake Factory. Oh, and I have to mention that my cheesecake didn't crack! It came out perfect (which never happens for me). I simply loved this cheesecake. It definitely filled my Cheesecake Factory void (I haven't been since August...) Oh, and Caden loved this cake as much as me! He probably ate half of my slice!

5 ounces Animal Crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz.) sugar
1 tablespoon grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 1-2 lemons
1 1/2 pounds (3 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup juice (from about 2 lemons)
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325F.
2. In a food processor, process the animal crackers until you have fine crumbs. You should have about 1 cup.
3. Add in the sugar and pulse.
4. In a steady stream, add the butter while pulsing, about 10 1-second pulses.
5. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the bottom.
6. Bake until fragrant and golden brown. The instructions say 15 to 18 minutes, but mine was done at about 12 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.
7. When cool, wrap the pan with 2 18-inch square pieces of foil. Set the pan in a roasting pan.

1. Process 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon zest in a food processor until the zest is broken down and the sugar turns yellow. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the rest of the sugar.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese to break it up and soften it slightly, about 5 seconds.
3. With the machine running, add the sugar mixture in a slow stream; increase the speed to medium and beat until combined, creamy and smooth - about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs, 2 at a time. Beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl before each addition.
5. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix to combine.
6. Add the cream and mix until incorporated, about another 5 seconds.
7. Give the bowl a final scrape and pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan.
8. Fill the roasting pan with enough water to make it about halfway up the sides of the pan.
9. Bake until the center jiggles slightly, the sides start to puff, and the surface is no longer shiny, about 55 to 60 minutes. The center should read about 150 degrees F.
10. Turn off the oven and prop the door of the oven open with a potholder or wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the water bath in the oven for about an hour.
11. Transfer the springform pan to a wire rack and run a small paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Let it sit to room temperature for 2 hours.

1. While the cheesecake is baking, heat the lemon juice in a small non-reactive pan on medium heat until hot, but not boiling.
2. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then gradually whisk in the sugar.
3. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the egg/sugar mixture, then return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 170 F and is thick enough to cling to the spoon, about 3 minutes.
4. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add in the cold butter and mix until incorporated.
5. Stir in the cream, vanilla and salt, then pour through a strainer(I didn't do this) into a small nonreactive bowl.
6. Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

When the cheesecake is cool, top it with the lemon curd while still in the springform pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, but 24 hours is better. To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and cut into wedges.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I found this recipe on and needed something easy for dinner group this week and this fit the bill. I had everything on hand or could easily substitute stuff and how can you possibly go wrong with pasta? And I'm so glad I tried it because I loved this! The sauce tasted like something straight out of a fancy Italian restaurant.... it was amazing. The flavor was fantastic and the dish didn't end up being spicy at all. I've changed the recipe just a bit as I did find the sauce to be a bit runny and decided to add some sour cream to thicken it up a bit. How much sour cream you use is definitely up to you. I used about 2 cups cream and 1 cup sour cream. I also added some more cajun sesoning at the end. This is definitely going to be a regular dish in our house.

3/4 pound bowtie pasta (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, plus more to taste
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 red bell pepper, sliced
3 green bell pepper, sliced
12 fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 green onion, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 -2 cups sour cream (you want to plan on 3 cups, between the sour cream and cream)
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. Slice the chicken into strips or large chunks and place in large skillet. Sprinkle liberally with Cajun seasonings as you cook and saute the chicken in butter or margarine until almost tender (5 to 7 minutes). Another alternative is to place the chicken and the Cajun seasoning in a plastic bag and shake to coat and then saute it.

3. Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, mushrooms and green onion. Saute and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat. (I varied the recipe here by cooking my chicken until done and removing it to a separate plate and then adding my veggies. I find that I always cook my peppers too long and wanted to cook them as needed without worrying about whether my chicken was done or overdone.)

4. Add the cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese, and more cajun seasoning to taste. Heat through. Add the cooked linguine, (and your set aside chicken if you cooked it like me) toss and heat through. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cabinet Mountain Inn Rolls

2 pkg (4 1/2 tsp) fast rising active yeast
2 c warm water
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c shortening
1 tsp salt
4 plus c flour

Dissolve yeast in water; set aside 10 minutes. Blend in sugar, shortening, salt, and flour; knead well. Dough will be sticky; add more flour if needed until workable (I add quite a bit). Place dough into a buttered pottery bowl; cover with cloth and let rise in warm place for 1 hour. Remove cloth; punch down and roll into 2 inch balls. Place in buttered muffin tins or baking pan and let rise 1 hour or until doubled. Bake at 375 or until lightly golden. Makes 24 rolls. These are our favorites!

Note: If I do them in a large baking pan, I will sometimes drop the temperature to 350 and cook a little longer to make sure the middles are cooked.