Key Lime Cheesecake. Yes. Amazing.

A little back story.  When my husband and I first started dating years  ago I found out that one of his favorite desserts happened to be cheesecake.  I called my Mama and asked for her recipe, she had always made amazing cheesecakes so there was no better source.

I was asked to bring dessert to Easter Dinner, and I wanted something fruity, so I decided to try to manipulate my Mom’s regular cheesecake recipe into a Key Lime Cheesecake, it turned out pretty well!

Just a warning this isn’t a very dense recipe, not New York Style.

First you will need to make (or buy) a  Graham cracker crust.  I do this in the blender, I actually do the whole thing in the Ninja, but a mixer works just as well for the cheesecake part.

Preheat oven to 350

Mix 10 Sheets of Graham crackers with 1/3 cup of sugar, when they have mixed about add 1/3 cup of melted butter.  Mix again, pour into pan and press to the sides.

I used a deeper pie pan….

Now bake this at 350 for eight minutes.IMG_2526

 

 

Now, take:

  1. 2.5 blocks of softened cream cheese
  2. 1 cup of sugar
  3. 1/2 cup of Lime Juice (8 limes for me)
  4. 3 eggs

Blend this very very very well, rather in a Ninja or Hand Mixer or KitchenAid, it might take a few minutes.

 

 

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Pour into prepared pie shell.

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Bake at 350 45-55 minutes.  It is done when set and toothpick comes clean.  If it cracks then its most likely done, not big deal there….just cover it with Whipped Cream 🙂

IMG_2535 Done 🙂

Let cool till room temp, and then refrigerate for several hours at least! I make these the day before I take them anywhere.

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Best Dang Carrot Cake

Growing up I was never a fan of Carrot Cake, just wasn’t my thing.  I liked the Cream Cheese Icing, but that was about it.  A few months ago I flew down to Texas to see my PawPaw (for you northern folk, that is a term for Grandfather) for his 75th birthday.  My Aunt had made him a Carrot Cake, as that was what he requested.

Now my Aunt convinced me to try her Carrot Cake, because after all HER CARROT CAKE was going to make me change my opinion about carrot cakes in general.  I begrudgingly took a bite,  expecting to dislike the piece of Carrot Cake as I had so many before….and well.  I had to admit.  I suddenly became a fan of Carrot Cake.

After I got back home and my husband returned from his deployment I had her send me the recipe, because Carrot Cake is his favorite cake, after eating it he told me it was the BEST cake I ever made, and I have made some pretty awesome cakes…..  So here it is, the Carrot Cake of Carrot Cake recipe, slightly tweaked but almost the same.  I made it this week for a friend’s birthday, but it would also be a great addition to any Easter Meal this weekend

First things first, turn oven to 350 and then prepare three nine inch cake round with grease and flour.

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In a medium sized bowl stir together the following, and then set aside

  • 2 Cups of flour
  • 2 TSP of baking soda
  • 1/2 Tsp of salt
  • 2.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

In a large bowl add and cream:

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Cups of Sugar
  • 1/2 Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Then add to the egg mixture:

  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Slowly add the dry to the wet, and it will look something like this: (Don’t over beat)

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Now FOLD in

  • 8 ounce can of DRAINED crushed pineapple (don’t skip this)
  • 1 cup of chopped Walnuts (optional, but it gives it a nice texture)
  • 2 cups of grated carrot

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Evenly spread batter into the cake pans and bake 23-28 mins

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Now, we will make the buttermilk glaze.  This makes the cake so moist…..don’t you dare skip it.

In a saucepan add and bring to a boil, let boil for 4 mins then remove from heat. Stir continually.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of butter

Remove from heat and add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla

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When the cakes come out slowly pour evenly on them. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely before adding icing.

Now mix together in a bowl the cream cheese icing:

  • 2 Packages of cream cheese
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of  vanilla

Beat till the icing is light and creamy, add more powdered sugar if it isn’t sweet enough for you, but it should be 🙂  My husband was pretty happy when he got the beaters 🙂

 

 

Now assemble IMG_2504 and then put the finishing touches on…..

Warning, I am not the greatest at decorating, so I just like making it decent looking. I with I had the artistic touch, but some people don’t have the touch….

 

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ENJOY!  And Happy Easter!

 

Beka

 

 

Blueberry Spice Chiffon Cake

A little while back my husband was in Seattle for the day and stopped by the Amazon Book store.  He saw “The Joy of Cooking”, realized that it looked like a popular cookbook,never recalled seeing it on my shelf, and then bought it for me.  I collect cookbooks, and it has become a nice addition to the family.  This recipe is adapted from the  basic Chiffon Cake.

Last Summer, towards the end of my pregnancy I couldn’t really do much, but I wanted to be outside.  My husband and I would go to the local berry farms and pick our weight in berries.  It’s now Spring the following year and I am just starting to get to the end of the bags, and as I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of them I got the idea of this cake.  I wanted something with a bit of spice, but the fruity taste and lightness of a chiffon cake.

*Warning*  This cake has several steps, so make sure you have the time when starting it.

To start with preheat your oven to 325 and set 9 eggs out to get to room temperature…

Next take a measuring cup and add blueberries, sugar and cinnamon.

  • 1 cup of blueberries filled with water
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon

 

Ignore my flour covered Ninja, we had a run in earlier.  The Ninja won.

Now grab a big bowl and sift the following:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/8 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

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Now, set that aside.

Separate five eggs into two larger bowls, be careful and make sure none of the yolk gets in the white, this will keep it from forming correctly later, set the whites aside. .  IMG_2338

To the 5 egg yolks add:

  • 3/4 cup of the blueberry mixture (you will have some left over)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix egg mixture, and then add flour mixture.  At this point all you will have left separated is egg whites.

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To egg whites, add 4 more whites till it totals 9, and 1/2 tsp of Cream of Tarter.  Mix till soft peeks begin to form, this will take several minutes.  Once peeks are formed add 1/4 cup of sugar slowly and continue to mix until hard peeks are formed.  By “peeks” I am referring to the ability of the egg white to stand at a “peek” off the edge of a spatula or spoon.

 

Now, when the eggs are nice and mixed up add approximately 1/4 of the whites to the batter, gently fold in till the mixture starts to get lighter, then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in.  BE GENTLE! The whites are going to be what gives this cake it’s fluffy texture.

Now, put in an NON-Greased Angle Food Cake Pan and bake for 55-65 mins, till toothpick comes clean. Cool Upside down for an hour and a half.  Remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar or glaze. The last picture is me removing the sides, keep the side part on while it’s cooling.

My pan doesn’t have the little feet, so I cooled with a wine bottle, also my cake stuck a bit to the pan, so I just flipped it back over 🙂

IMG_2359  I dusted with powdered sugar and realized it needed something else, so I mixed 1/4 cup of milk and 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon and spooned the glaze over the cake….I mean, why not add MORE sugar.   This step is completely optional, it is great either way.

I am sending this cake to work with my husband tomorrow….It doesn’t need to be in the house..

IMG_2365.JPG I didn’t even use all of it, but gave it a little bit of moisture. IMG_2446 (2).JPG

 

Ask if you have any questions, I tried to make it as clear as possible, but there are many steps involved.  YouTube can probably explain the “peeks” reference better than I.

 

Here is the list of ingredients:

For Blueberry juice:

  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • Water
  • 2 Tsp of Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of sugar.

 

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/8 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

 

Egg YOLK mixture

  • 3/4 cup of the blueberry mixture (you will have some left over)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 5 egg yolks

 

Egg White Mixture

  • 9 Egg Whites
  • ½ Tsp Cream of Tartar
  • ¼ Cup of sugar

Optional Glaze

  • 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup Milk
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon.

 

Beka

Slowcooker Bacon smothered Porkchops

One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to cook onions for a stew or soup or sauce.  I love the smell of the simmering onions, nothing could make it better.  Except to add bacon to the simmering onions.  Now that’s magical.

You know what else is magical?  A Slow Cooker.  I love lazy Sundays, and nothing is lazier (or more efficient) than fixing the majority of your dinner 8 hours before you actually eat it.

You will need:

  • 4-6 Boneless Pork Chops
  • Medium onion
  • 6 Pieces of Bacon
  • 1.5 Tablespoon of minced garlic.
  • 3 Cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon of Red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Mustard
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.

 

I started with 6 Pieces of bacon and a small onion, both diced.  I added them to a pan at medium heat, this is where the smell started getting real.

On a side note, my husband (who I love dearly) is worse than a child when it comes to onions. While he KNOWS I put them in almost everything I cook, if there is a “crunch” he won’t eat it.  I have learned that a nice caramelized onion goes undetected, hopefully if you have a picky child this will work as well!

When the bacon and onions are close to being done make a circle in them and add pork chops, 20 second on each side.

Pull the pork chops out, and place them in an empty slow cooker.  Pull onion mixture off heat and add 1.5 tablespoons of minced Garlic, mix with spatula for about 30 seconds and return to heat. Now add 1 cup of the 3 cups of chicken broth.

And mix in:

  • 2 Teaspoons of Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon of Red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Mustard
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.

Let the mixture simmer for about three minutes and all of that goodness soak in together. Pull from heat and pour over the chops, then add the remaining two cups of chicken broth and move chops around till they are all fully covered. If you need to add more broth, do so.   IMG_2301

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Now, close the lid and go do something productive, or binge watch Netflix, whatever.  You can relax knowing you have braised Pork Chops simmering for dinner.

If you are leaving the house I suggest keeping it on low (not warm).  You don’t want a boil.  If you are staying home and looking for faster results you can start on High for about 30 minutes, and then turn down to low for 5-7 hours.

You will know when it is done by the “spoon test”. Yes, I said spoon.  Stick a spoon in the middle of one of the chops, if it falls apart then it’s done.  Serve on top of potatoes, rice or noodles.  Make sure to strain some of the bacon and onions to top it with! IMG_2303

 Enjoy!

Simple White Gravy

I don’t know many people who don’t like gravy, and it’s probably a good thing, because I don’t know if I could be friends with those people.  Is it healthy?  Absolutely not.  Is it amazing?  Absolutely.

Gravy can intimidate some people, I know this because why else would they have pre-made gravy powders at the grocery store?  The thing is, it isn’t hard. Not one bit, and I have step by step pictures to help you out!

First you need to obtain grease.  If you are making bacon, that’s perfect.  Sausage grease works well, but you may have to add a bit of butter to make enough.  Chicken Fried Steak for dinner??  Perfect, use the grease.  Keep a jar of bacon grease handy for when you just want gravy.  This morning I was going to cook bacon, so I just used that.

I fried up six pieces of bacon and left in the pan was about 1/3-1/2 cup of grease.  I just went with this, if you fry up a bunch of bacon you will want to pour some out till you have around 1/2  a cup.  Please don’t try to do to much measuring…this is going to be very hot, don’t burn yourself, this isn’t a recipe that has to be exact.

Next add flour, and keep it moving with a whisk. Your oven should be on a medium heat, I added just under 1/2 a cup, but do it in slow increments.  The flour/milk mixture should become pasty, if you add to much flour and it becomes flour balls you can add some butter to thin it out.   Keep whisking on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste (1-2 teaspoons each) Also, I add about 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne for kick, completely optional.

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When the Mixture resembles the picture SLOWLY add milk, while constantly stirring.  I usually start with adding enough to fill about 1/3 of the pan and then as that becomes thicker add more to reach desired consistency. This process will take 4-6 minutes.  Some people are more fond of a thinner gravy, and some want it so thick they can feel their arteries clog.  It’s up to you when you pull it from the stove, and how much milk to add.  Personally, I like it on the thicker side.

IMG_2281  If you think you added to much milk, just let it cook for a few more minutes, and it will also thicken as you remove it from the heat and it starts to cool.

 

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Gravy is pretty forgiving, just don’t let it get to hot, simmering is fine, but don’t let it boil.  Also, remember to add the milk very slowly, to fast will cause lumps.

Pour on your favorite dish! IMG_2287

Comment if you have any questions! This also goes great on dinner dishes, not just for breakfast!

This gravy is also amazing if you add a pound of cooked breakfast sausage to it and then pour it over the biscuits.

Best Baking Powder Biscuits!

 

When my husband and I were at our last duty station, and both a bit younger we had a three bedroom house and tons of friends that liked to hang out in our garage and drink beer.  In an effort to keep them from driving home I always bribed them with a bed and breakfast the next morning.  I am convinced that there are some people who really didn’t drink all that much, but stayed over for breakfast….not that I minded, I love cooking for friends and family.

My biscuits and gravy was always a fan favorite,  I usually make sausage gravy, but today I made regular white gravy from bacon grease and it is more versatile.   We are going to start with the biscuits though!

 

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Step One.  Put 1 and a half sticks of butter in the freezer, and preheat oven to 450 I promise this will make sense in a minute.

In a decent size bowl combine:

3 Cups of Flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons of baking powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Sugar

1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

1 teaspoon of Salt

Pretty simple so farIMG_2239

At this point grab your cheese grater and grate the butter: 3/4 cup of butter (1.5 sticks)

IMG_2242 it sounds odd, but it’s easier and faster then using a pastry cutter. It has to be done quickly though, and the butter needs to be cold!

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Add butter to flour mixture and gently toss, coating the butter. You do not want to be adding a bunch of pressure here, just make sure the flour and butter are evenly distributed throughout the bowl.  Now, slowly start to add your milk (1 Cup), while simultaneously mixing the dough, you may use a little less then a full cup of milk, you want the dough to be pulling away from the bowl, but not mushy.

When the mixture is starting to pull away from the bowl, it is time to flip it onto a lightly floured surface.  IMG_2247

IMG_2248Place dough onto the counter and fold onto itself around 10 times.  IMG_2249

IMG_2252  Now it’s time to roll!  Gently roll out till dough is about half of an inch.

IMG_2255Now, grab a small bowl of flour and a drinking glass, or a biscuit cutter if you’re fancy like that….Dip the rim of the glass in flour, and then place it in the dough like so….

 

IMG_2257  IMG_2258If you want more biscuits try to stay as close as possible to one another.  I was only going for a few here.  You can roll the dough back out for a second session of cutting, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that more then once.

I use a bench scrapper to get them off the counter top, and then place in pan.  I Put them close, but not quite touching.

Now pop in the oven for 11-13 minutes.  Pull out when golden brown! IMG_2285  MMMMMM.  If you want, just go ahead and rub some butter on top of those bad boys!

Serve with jam.  Or gravy.  Or just stuff them in your mouth.

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Cast Iron Chicken

I LOVE to bake.  But a soul cannot live off baked goods alone, at least not survive and manage to stay in the same pair of jeans for an extended period of time.

One of my favorite things in the kitchen is my Cast Iron.  I LOVE it.  Especially for Sunday morning biscuits and gravy….YUM!

Anyways, when treated right and loved correctly, a Cast Iron can be a girls (or guys) best friend in the kitchen. In today’s installment of Cast Iron Specials I present to you…THE CAST IRON CHICKEN!

You know when you see the weekly supermarket add for whole chickens and a fairly cheap price?  You think to yourself, “what would I do with that”?  Well.  I have the answer.  A very simple and delicious answer.

Take an EMPTY Cast Iron and put it in the oven, turn on oven.  Keep it there till your oven is at 450.

In a small bowl mix the followig
1 Tablespoon of salt
1.5 teaspoons basil
1.5 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon of Cayenne
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

 

Take a whole chicken, make it dance.  When you’re done playing with your food wash is off (clean out innards if there is anything hanging around in there), pat dry, coat with olive oil and seasonings.

Pull Out Pan, place chicken in pan, return to oven and let cook for 15 minutes at 450.  After 15 minutes turn oven down to 375 and let finish, will take around 45 minutes.  Let sit for about ten minutes in pan before carving.

This will be the hardest part of the whole process, because by this time your kitchen will smell like so much goodness.  Be wary, men and children will try to come and snack off of your beautiful chicken before it hits the dinner table. Serve with veggies, or potatoes, or really anything.  Keep the leftovers if there are any, they become versatile!

Chicken whole

 

 

 

Blueberry Cobbler and Facebook Reminders…

 

 

As some of you may have noticed Facebook has a nice little habit of reminding you what you were doing on the exact date, but past years.  This is usually sweet little reminders, good times with friends, work or being overwhelmed with school.  A nice little blast from the past.  Unfortunately these reminders can also remind us of a our goals and plans we once thought we would obtain.

This happened to me today.  I saw a post I made this time last year, it was a blueberry cobbler made in my cast iron that I made and posted, with every attempt to start a cooking blog.  I was almost five months pregnant and cooking on the reg.  Now I have a six month old baby boy, but I feel as not much more has been accomplished in the past year.  So here I sit today, finally making my blog, and posting the recipe I concocted One Year Ago.  Today.

I am also completely knew to this whole “blogging” thing, so cut me some slack if this isn’t the prettiest recipe out there, I took the pictures with my phone.  Here goes nothing!

In a Cast Iron add:

5 cups of blueberries
1/4 cup of butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
heat to medium and let simmer 8-10 mins (till it becomes thick but not all the blueberry’s fall apart)

Blueberry Skillet 1

At this point it should look something like the basic picture I have above.

While the berries are getting their simmer on, grab a medium size bowl and mix the following together.

2 cups of sugar,
2 1/2 cups of flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
after all this is whisked add milk and mix until blended (do not beat excessively)
1 3/4 cups of milk.

At this point you remove the berries from the heat, and pour in HALF of the batter.  Make some fun lines, DON’T STIR!Blueberry Skillet 1.3

Pretty huh?

Once there are some lines swirled in, add the rest, or until pan is about 3/4 ways full, whatever comes first.

Blueberry Skillet 1.5Now, bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes!  If you want, dust with a bit of cinnamon sugar when it’s done.

I would recommend Ice Cream or Whipped Cream for this bad boy!

If you don’t have a Cast Iron, I would recommend getting one.  If that isn’t an option you can simmer the berries and then add to a baking dish…the edges wont be as crisp, but it will still be delicious!

Blueberry Skillet 2

 

Enjoy!

 

Beka.