Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pumpkin Cheesecake...Perfect for Thanksgiving

My very first taste of Pumpkin Cheesecake was the cheesecake was heaven. This comes in at a close second to the Cheesecake Factory. Sometimes I think Pumpkin Pie is a little too pumpkin-y, so this cheesecake is the perfect balance and sweet ending to a Thankgiving dinner. I made this to take to my in-laws for their Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night and hopefully, I won't come back with any left.

Pumpkin Cheesecake (Cooking Light)

56 reduced-fat vanilla wafers (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted
Cooking spray

3 (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 (8-ounce) blocks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

PreparationPreheat oven to 400°.

To prepare crust, place wafers in a food processor; pulse 2 to 3 times or until finely ground. Add butter; pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Firmly press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

To prepare filling, beat cheeses with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Add the granulated sugar and next 8 ingredients (granulated sugar through vanilla), beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin; beat well.

Pour cheese mixture into prepared crust; bake at 325° for 1 1/2 hours or until almost set. (Cheesecake is done when the center barely moves when pan is touched.) Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool to room temperature; cover and chill at least 8 hours.

More of the best of...

This is the second recipe I've made from Cooking Light's 20th Anniversary magazine edition where they featured 20 best recipes from the past 20 years. Baked Potato Soup won the best soup and it was awesome, especially for a Sunday night. I made a few small changes...I used 1% milk instead of 2%, but added approximately 1/2 cup heavy cream. I also added a little more salt and garlic. This makes a pot full, but we're looking forward to the leftovers for lunch this week.

Baked Potato Soup (Cooking Light)
4 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces)
6 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extrasharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Cracked black pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°.

Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes; coarsely mash.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flour in a large Dutch oven; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 8 minutes). Add mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup cheese, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup onions. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons onions, and about 1 tablespoon bacon. Garnish with cracked pepper, if desired.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A feast...

I haven't cooked like this in forever and boy do I miss it. Lately it seems we just have casseroles all the time. But tonight I was craving fish...salmon. I've made an adaption of this recipe for years now, but didn't have all the ingredients and improvised. Ben said I couldn't make it the old way anymore now since this was even better. I should make fish more often, it's not only quick and easy, but so good for you too. I served the salmon with roasted potatoes, lemon and asparagus, salad and whole wheat rolls...what a feast for a Monday night!

Apricot Sesame Glazed Salmon

2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup
3 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspon chili pepper
1 lb salmon

Combine first seven ingredients to make a marinade. Salt and pepper salmon and place on broiler. Top fish with marinade. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Top fish with remaining marinade and broil for 4 minutes.

BBQ So Quick and Easy

This Sunday we went to the Panther's game and after each game when we get home late I'm too exhausted to cook. I made a plan to do something in the crock pot and we continued our tailgating back home with BBQ sandwiches. It was no NC BBQ, but still turned out awesome. I used a recipe I found online, but added and changed a few things. Any cut of pork will do...I used pork sirloin roast, which was inexpensive and very lean. Feel free to use a pork lion, ribs, pork butt, etc...

BBQ Pork Sandwiches

3 ounces pork sirloin roast
1 can beef broth
8 oz dark beer
1 small onion, sliced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili pepper
1 bottle bbq sace

Pour beef broth and beer into a crock pot. Add sliced onions and chili pepper. Spinkle pork with garlic powder, salt and pepper and put in the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork with fork and pour bbq, mix well. Serve on buns.

Even more pumpkin...

This pumpkin dip tastes just like pumpkin pie. It's perfect with apples, ginger snaps, cinnamon graham crackers. Serve in a hollowed out pumpkin for the perfect centerpiece.

Pumpkin Dip (Allrecipes)

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

This is salad....???

Who knew salad could be so fabulous. This super sweet, seasonal salad is a delicous and simple dessert that tastes exactly like caramel apples. I've made this 3 times and everyone has asked for the recipe.

Caramel Apple Salad

6 Snickers bars
6 granny smith apples
1 pkg dry butterscotch pudding mix
12 oz Cool Whip

Chop apples and Snickers and combine. Mix dry pudding with cool whip then stir into apples and snickers. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin...

During the holidays I get obsessed with pumpkin. I've found by far the best pumpkin bread...chocolate chip pumpkin bread. It's really easy and makes 2 loaves...Perfect for making one for you and sharing the other! This bread is made with pudding, which makes it super moist. And you can eat a slightly bigger piece since it's a light recipe from Cooking Light.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (Cooking Light)
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding
4 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.