Saturday, April 24, 2010


These mini cheesecakes are wonderful! Very simple and I definitely encourage you to try them!

from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbooks by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen


6 ounces (about 2/3 cup) dry-pack frozen whole strawberries(unsweetened, not in syrup)thawed and drained well
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature, (use only full fat)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 recipe Junior’s Signature Strawberry Sauce (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13 muffin cups with silicone, foil, parchment or paper liners. (If you only have 12, use a custard cup for the extra batter)

2. Pulse the thawed strawberries in food processor until smooth (you need 1/3 cup of puree). Set aside.

3. Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining package of cream cheese. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until it is completely blended. Be careful to not overmix!

4. Divide the batter among the 13 muffin cups. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the puree in the center of each, pushing it down slightly. Using a small knife, cut through the batter just until pink swirls appear. (Do not mix in the puree completely or the cakes will turn pink and the swirls will disappear). Place the muffin tin in a large shallow pan, place pan in the oven, then add hot water until it comes about 1 inch up the sides of the tin.

5. Bake the cakes until set and slightly puffy and golden with red strawberry swirls, about 45 minutes. Remove the cakes from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours. Cover the cakes with plastic wrap (do not remove from the tin) and put in the freezer until cold, at least 1 hour. In the meantime, make the strawberry sauce if you wish.

6. To remove the cakes, lift them out of the cups with your hands and peel off the liners. Place the cakes, top side up, on a serving platter or individual dessert plates and refrigerate until ready to use. If there are any cakes left over, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator, or wrap and freeze up to 1 month.

Junior’s Signature Strawberry Sauce

• 2 quarts fresh ripe strawberries
• 1 cup cold water
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 2 to 3 drops red food coloring (optional)
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract
1. Wash, sort through, hull, and slice the berries 1/2 inch thick, vertically from top to tip, into a large bowl.
2. Bring ¾ cup of the water and all the sugar to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan over high heat.
3. Boil for 5 minutes.
4. Mix cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup water together in a cup until the cornstarch thoroughly dissolves and mixture thickens and turns clear, about 2 minutes.
5. Remove the syrup from the heat and whisk in the food coloring if you wish.
6. Stir in the extracts and gently fold in the strawberries.
7. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month

MY COOKS TIPS- I followed recipe exactly- and the batter filled 12 muffin tins and 2 custard cups. From previous cheesecake experience, be sure you don't skip on the water bath- your cheesecake won't be moist and it will crack if you don't use it!

The only complaint was "Mom! Why didn't you make a double batch!?" haha My husband said you wouldn't be able to find anything better at the cheesecake factory, so that was definitely a compliment. I think next time I honestly won't bother with the signature sauce as I felt it had so much sugar. I will just use fresh strawberries and slice then sprinkle a little sugar on top to pull out all the juices. These mini cheesecakes were definitely a winner, and I look forward to trying the next recipe from this cookbook!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cowboy Spaghetti

I know, I am WAAAY behind in my posts. I have been incredibly busy these last few weeks; and simply not enough hours in my day! I have a bunch of new recipes that we have been cooking and baking, and plan to type and upload for you, and hope to get caught up this weekend. Here is a recipe for spaghetti you might like to try; a little different and has a nice kick!

COWBOY SPAGHETTI- Rachael Ray- 30 minute meals cookbook and on her tv show as well

1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
1 pound ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Ground black pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce, eyeball it
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
1/2 cup beer
1 (14-ounce) can, chopped or crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1 (8-ounces) can, tomato sauce
8 ounces sharp Cheddar
4 scallions, chopped
Heat a pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and salt the water. Cook to al dente or with a bite to it.

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and bacon. Brown and crisp bacon, 5 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon. Drain off a little excess fat if necessary. Leave just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add beef and crumble it as it browns, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, garlic and stir into meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Add 1/2 cup beer and deglaze the pan. Cook 5 to 6 minutes more then stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Add hot spaghetti to meat and sauce and combine. Adjust seasonings and serve up pasta in shallow bowls. Grate some cheese over the pasta and sprinkle with scallions. Garnish with crisp bacon

COOKS TIPS- - Only change I made was adding the bacon into the sauce, so no one would fight over it! ;-)

FAMILY CRITIQUE-- It's good! That was the same quote I received from everyone. It is nice for a change of pace from other typical pastas we consume. I like the smoky bacon and the kick! My son thinks it needs more bacon so he can have a BPB (bacon per bite) ratio! Haha My 12 year old wouldn't try it yet as she is still in a "no sauce" kick. I also really enjoy the scallions and cheddar on top! Also, if you like a lot of sauce, then you might want to add either another can of tomato sauce or the fire roasted tomatoes. This will simply coat all the pasta the way it is made above-- which is the typical Italian way I might add! Enjoy!

Here is a picture of how my husband enjoyed his: On top of a slab of garlic bread!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pork Chops in a Sweet Chili and Onion Sauce

Pork Chops in a Sweet Chili and Onion Sauce

My son Michael picked out this recipe from the bookshelf:
From Rachael Ray’s 365: No Repeats Cookbook

Coarse salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 (1 ½-inch-thick) boneless center-cut pork chops
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder (a heaping palmful)
½ tablespoon ground cumin (half a palmful)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO (twice around the pan). Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper. Place the chops in the skillet and sear for about 2 minutes on each side to caramelize. Transfer the chops to a rimmed cookie sheet and place in the oven to finish off, 7 or 8 minutes, until the meat is firm to the touch, cooked through but not tough. Remove from the oven and let the chops rest, covered with a piece of aluminum foil, for a few minutes.

While the chops bake, return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO, three quarters of the chopped onions, the chili powder, cumin, two thirds of the chopped garlic, the brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half. Once reduced, turn off the heat and whisk in the cold butter.
Pour the sweet chili-onion sauce over the rested pork chops

First, the recipe was written to be served with a creamy cilantro potato salad. It sounds good but I had no cilantro in the house so didn’t make that. Part of the onion and garlic listed above was supposed to be used towards the salad. I used the entire onion and all the garlic for the pork chops as our family enjoys garlic. I also forgot to add the butter at the end; oops. It most likely would have tasted richer and been shinier in appearance, not sure how else it would have changed it.


This was made for Scott and Michael, per Michaels request. I told him we had pork chops I was making and go pick a new recipe, he picked this one. Ashley won’t eat pork chops and Zoe wasn’t home for dinner; although she didn’t like the smell as it was cooking. I wasn’t eating meat so I didn’t sample it. Scott and Michael really loved it and said they would definitely like it again in the future. Michael said first taste reminded him of tacos- probably due to the cumin; but then that flavor went away into something he couldn’t quite into words; only that he really liked it a lot. I made them each two, and they were eaten following day as afterschool snack. I told Scott I forgot the butter, it says it is obviously not needed, so may as well save the fat. They enjoyed it just the way it was and don’t want it changed.