Tag Archives: bake

Strawberry Cheese Pie

Standard

Image

I don’t tend to try to follow diets.  This is not to say I don’t watch what I eat and exercise, I do, mostly by refusing to eat fast food despite my love of curly fries.  Ummm….curly fries.   And I have this belief, which may be incorrect, that as long as I make it myself regardless of the amount of whipping cream or butter I use, it’s still healthy.  I’m sure that logic is sound.

While this logic works for me, and a lot of Zumba, it does not work for everyone.  In the last week or so I’ve had a few comments, both from my coworkers who beta test my food, and from a few people on line, that I might be a little too heavy handed with the whipping cream and butter.  So I have decided to post something a little healthier, and because nothing can ever be easy, I’ve decided to make a healthy cheesecake.  Yes, I said that right, this is a healthy cheesecake.

Those are two words that are probably not uttered together with any frequency, and it was the belief of one of my beta testers that it should not have been attempted, but he was actually satisfied with the result.  By using cottage cheese and sour cream instead of cream cheese and whipping cream the cheesecake is significantly healthier, this is a desert that would not break your diet, though it would probably bend it a great deal.

The balance with these ingredients is that the cheesecake will be much lighter, not as dense or creamy as a traditional cheesecake, which is why I am calling it cheese pie, with a slight tart taste from the lemon.  This makes it perfect for summer, and picnics to dazzle everyone.

Enjoy

Ingredients

Honey Graham Crackers

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

¼ cup sugar

1 quart strawberries

3 eggs

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

¼ cup cottage cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

½ cup sour cream

1 lemon

Image

Preheat oven to 325OF

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.  Gagh I know, just get everything out and then watch Iron Chef for 30 minutes.

Crush the graham crackers to a fine powder in a blender or food processor.  You will need 1 ½-2 cups of crushed graham crackers, which takes about ½ of the box.  Take a cake pan and rub the butter stick around it liberally, buttering the cake tin.

Pour the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar into a mixing bowl.  Add the butter, cutting it into small pieces.  Mix by hand until the butter is fully incorporated.  The final mixture will not be completely mixed like a pie dough, but will still be very much like graham cracker crumbs.

Image

Take handfuls of the graham cracker mixture and scatter them into the cake tin.  Press down firmly to the bottom and then turn the tin on it’s side and repeat around of the sides.  Make sure there are no cracks and that the surface is well covered.  This does not have to be perfect, if it’s not even on the bottom or the sides it will still bake just fine.

Image

Wash the strawberries, cut off the stem, and cut the strawberries in half.  Fill the bottom of the cake tin with the strawberries, in whatever pattern you would like.  Refrigerate the crust while making the filling.

Image

Blend together the eggs, cream cheese, and cottage cheese, this is much easier with a hand mixer than by hand.  This will not make a completely mixed product, as the cottage cheese will not break up.

Add the powdered sugar, the sour cream, and the juice and zest of the lemon and mix well.

The zest of the lemon is the peeling, I find the easiest way to zest the lemon is to use a cheese grater, and to zest the lemon before cutting it.

Spoon the mixing into the prepared crust making sure to completely cover the strawberries in the bottom.  If you overflow the crust a little, that’s okay, but don’t overflow the tin.

Image

Bake for 45-50 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in.  The cheesecake should be slightly golden on the top and the crust might be very dark.  Don’t try to cook the cheesecake longer even if it isn’t completely set up, since this could lead to the cheesecake burning.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven until the oven is completely cool, or at least 2 hours.

Image

Refrigerate the cheesecake for 6 hours-overnight.  Before serving garnish with additional halved strawberries.

Image

I’d say this is a little bit of a more complicated recipe; the hardest part is making the crust, which isn’t difficult but does take some time.  Total prep time is about an hour, and total cooking time, not including refrigeration, is about 3 hours.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Oven Barbecued Chicken

Standard

Image

As I’ve mentioned before, I cooked dinner for my Mom for Mother’s Day, as I do every year, but this Sunday my Mom decided to surprise me, and cooked dinner for me.

She made fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and I made bread.  We had a really good time, though I did find out that while cooking my Mom cannot support a conversation, which was not something I had noticed when I was living with her as a child.

We did have some nice conversation while we went shopping together for all the ingredients, and she insisted on buying me some pantry items I was missing.  Thank you Mom.  We also got one of those gigantor packages of chicken legs which has 14 pieces in it.  It was much cheaper per pound than the smaller packages, but obviously had more chicken in it than Mom had any intention of frying for two people.  I told her I would find something to do with it.

So I made Oven Barbecued Chicken.  The great thing about this recipe is that, except for the chicken legs, these are all pantry items for me, so it’s a recipe that needs very little fore planning and is pretty quick to prepare.  As an added plus it tastes great.

Of course, since my Mom did buy this chicken, I had to make it for her, and now she says she owes me dinner again.  I can see this cycle repeating for a very long time.

Enjoy

Ingredients

7 chicken legs

¾ cup sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon honey mustard

1 teaspoon fish sauce

½ teaspoon chili powder

Image

Preheat oven to 350OF

Personally I usually remove the skin from my chicken unless I’m frying it.  This is because a lot of times if I cook it in a sauce, like these are, the skin tends to absorb a lot of the flavor but the meat does not. When I remove the skin the meant tends to absorb the flavor a great deal better.

The easiest way to remove the skin is to hold the leg under running hot water and grasp the skin at the thickest part, and pull the skin.  Hard.  It won’t be that hard as long as keep the leg under the hot water, but the hardest part will be down at the joint.

Place the chicken legs in a deepish baking dish.

Mix the remaining ingredients well in a large bowl and pour entire contents over chicken.  Turn the chicken legs with a spoon a few times to ensure they have been completely coated, if you try to turn them with your fingers you’ll season your fingers very well, but will actually be whipping the sauce off of the chicken.

Image

Bake chicken for 30 minutes.  Open oven and turn chicken, again using a spoon.  Bake for another 30 minutes or until the meat begins to pull away from the bone.

Image

When serving, spoon extra sauce over the chicken and extra sauce with either rice or buttered noodles.

It does take about an hour, since that’s how long you bake it, but the prep time for this recipe is minutes.  It takes longer to just get everything out of the refrigerator than to make the sauce.

Enjoy, if you notice the final photo is actually what I took for lunch.

Pistachio Pie

Standard

Image

I have succumbed to the pudding pie.  You are just so quick, so fast, so easy, so cheap.  You have 4 ingredients none of which require any more prep than opening.  My stove is not even consulted (except for baking the pie crust).

If this was anything else, I would probably try to figure out how to make this without using the pudding.  But, alas, I am a graduate student or aka poor.  I went to the store and I literally had in my hand the package of pistachio nuts, and the package of pistachio pudding mix.  Hum….$10 or $0.49….did I mention I was poor?

This is the same feeling I have when I read recipes where they garnish with macadamia nuts, or they use truffle oil on cooking shows.  Really.  You think normal people have access to that?

So I went with the pistachio pudding mix.  Artificial flavoring is my friend, apparently.

In the theme of fast food, this is a as you like it kind of recipe (Burger King reference).  By varying the amount of pudding mixture used, you can drastically change both the flavor and the texture of the pie.

1 pudding mix will give you a slightly green pie that will have the consistency of ice cream and have a slight pistachio flavor and is not overly sweet.

2 pudding mixes will give you a greener pie, but it will still be reminiscently milky, and the consistency will be a little less like ice cream and more like frozen yogurt.  It will have a slightly stronger pistachio flavor, and a much stronger sugar flavor.

3 pudding mixes will give you a GREEN pie and the consistency will be like pudding, even after it’s been in the freezer overnight, it will just be like frozen pudding.  It will have a strong pistachio flavor, and a strong sugar flavor.

4 pudding mixes would be excessive and possibly implode.  But definitely let me know if you try it and survive.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 ½ cup cold milk

1-3 packages instant pistachio pudding mix

1 cup whipping cream

1 9 inch pie crust

Image

A note on the pictures.  Since the different amounts of pudding used make the pies look very different at all steps, I have included pictures from the 1 and 3 pudding pie.  The picture on the left is always for the 1 pudding pie.  The picture on the right is always for the three pudding pie.

Heat the oven to 350OF.

If you’ve let your pie crust warm up, you can directly roll it into your pie tin.  If you’ve just taken it out of the refrigerator and are impatient, like I was, roll it out on a flat surface.  This is a little easier and will lead to fewer tears in the pie crust.

Take your pie crust and firmly press it into the pie tin on both the sides and the bottom.  With a fork, stab the pie crust multiple times making sure that there is no space bigger than your thumb that isn’t pricked.  This always makes me feel that a porcupine has had a fight with my pie.

Take the top edge of the pie crust, and fold it between your thumbs in order to make the ruffling.  Try not to pull the pie crust away from the side of the pie tin when you do this, as it can lead to the pie sinking down, which actually did happen to me with the 1 pudding pie.

Also, don’t look at the pie crust from the 3 pudding pie too closely, I tried this new gadget when I was making it and it didn’t work at all.

Image

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  After pie is done baking, remove from the oven and let cool completely.

In a mixing bowl combine your cold milk and pistachio pudding mix.  Even if you use three packages, this will mix pretty easy with just a spoon.  Mix until the pudding mix is completely incorporated.  If you are using 1 or 2 mixes, this will be pretty smooth, but if you’re using 3 mixes it will look a little grainy and be very thick.

Image

Pour the milk mixture into a freezer safe container, preferably with a lid, and freeze for about 30-45 minutes until the mixture is completely solid and cold to the touch.

After the milk mixture is frozen, take it out of the freezer, and scrap it into a mixing bowl.  You can use the same one as before and add the whipping cream.  If you’re using 1 pudding mix this will blend really easily with just a spoon and will be almost white, with 2 mixes it will be a little harder but you should still be okay to use just a spoon, with 3 mixes you’re probably going to want to use an electric beater since it gets really thick and it will be GREEN.

Image

After the whipping cream is mixed in, pour the mix into the prepared pie crust.  Smooth out if necessary.  Return to the freezer and freeze overnight.

Image

While this does end up taking you awhile from all the freezing steps, I’d say all and all you’re actually actively working on the pie for less than 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

And I just think this looks funny, this is what the 3 pudding pie looks like when you first pour it into the pie crust.  It’s defying gravity!

Image

Coconut Cream Pie

Standard

Image

Coconut probably is one of my favorite ingredients.  When I found out that South Indian cuisine had a lot of coconut in it, I went on a quest to find someone from South India who could give me some recipes.  I was successful in finding two.  Unfortunately, one of them doesn’t cook with coconut much, and the other one was vegetarian.  But never fear, my quest continues.  I’m hearing batman music right now, that’s probably just in my head.

But until then, there’s always pie.   Ummm….pie.  Pie should be its own food group.  And since I’m not likely to be leaping any tall buildings any time soon, bring on the pie!

Just so as you know though, this is a pretty healthy pie as far as pie goes.  This is an old school recipe, back before pudding was used as a base for cream pies, so you cut back on preservatives by making the pudding base yourself.  Also, it has only a small amount of butter, and less than a cup of sugar.  If you’ve got a sweet tooth and trying to cut back on the sugar, or if you’re not really a fan of suggery sweets this is the pie for you.

If you want an even healthier pie, or a lighter pie, you can separate out your eggs and use only egg whites, it will make your pie whiter, where this one has a decided yellow tinge, and it might also make it a little firmer, but it won’t affect the taste much.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 pie crust

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ -2 cups coconut

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

Image

Preheat oven to 350O F

Take the pie crust and carefully unroll it into a pie tin that is dry.  Do not butter or oil or flour the pie tin.  If you let the pie crust sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, this is easier, but it’s not essential if you’re careful.

Press the pie crust firmly down into the pie tin, and then pinch the upper crust between the forefingers of both hands in order to create the ‘wrinkle’.  Do this all the way around the pie, this will both make the pie have the traditional look, and help prevent it from sinking or burning.

Again, make sure the pie crust is pressed down well and is not lower on one area of the pie tin than another.

Take a fork and pierce the bottom and sides of the pie crust making sure there are no open space of more than 1 inch.  This will let air out of your pie crust while you bake it and prevent it from puffing up.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until the pie crust is golden brown.

Image

You might want to check it occasionally, and if it starts to puff up anyplace, you might be able to save it by pulling it out of the oven early.

While the pie is baking heat the milk in a saucepan under medium to low heat.  Add first the flour, cornstarch, and finally the salt a small amount at a time stirring well after each addition.   Make sure you completely blend in each of the dry ingredients into the milk and don’t leave any lumps.  Should take around 5-10 minutes, the smaller the measurement of the dry ingredients you try to add at each time the easier it will be to blend.

Add the sugar ¼ cups at a time and stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken.  Takes about 5 minutes.

Image

Turn the heat down to low and stir continuously to incorporate ½ cups coconut and butter until the butter has melted.  Takes less than 5 minutes

Add the eggs, one egg at a time, stirring continuously until the eggs are well blended.  Pour into the prepared pie crust.

Image

Top with the remaining coconut.  Chill overnight.

Congratulations, that was it, you’re done!

Image

Takes about 20-40 minutes cook time and needs to chill overnight to set up.  Since it hasn’t been baked at all, it will only be semi-solid even when it has set overnight, so try not to leave it out of the refrigerator for long.

Enjoy!

Chai Cheescake

Standard

Image

The first time I made this was actually for a going away party for one of my coworkers.  I had a reputation in the department as being a good baker, and I asked her what she would like me to make.   She asked if I could make a cheesecake out of tea.

Well, I have to say, that was one of the strangest things I had ever heard, and I definitely hadn’t expected her to say that.  It had never occurred to me to try to bake tea into a cake, let alone a cheesecake.  She was a pretty good friend of mine, so since she had asked, I set out to apply.  So I did what any 90s kid would do.  I googgled it.

And…there are a lot of recipes for green tea cheesecake.  They all use the same basic ingredient list, tea, cream cheese, sugar, and eggs.  That’s not very hard.  Since she was Indian, and not Japanese, I figured she would prefer Chai tea to green; and that was when the recipe building began.  Several pies, and one very happy but sugar high family later; I had made my very first recipe.

It also started a persistent need to improve upon every recipe I’ve cooked since.   I’ve ended up with some really good recipes, some really awful recipes, and sometimes a very angry Megan.  But meh.  You win some, you lose some.

Anyway, Enjoy!

Ingredients

6 Chai tea bags

I used the Bigelow Spice Chai, which has a lot more flavor to it; I’ve also used the Bigelow Vanilla Chai which yields a much milder cheesecake which tastes a little more like regular cheesecake.

1 cup water

2 8-ounce containers of cream cheese

½ cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust

Image

Sorry I forgot to include the lime juice in the photo, I just use the Kroger brand.

First thing, get the cream cheese out of the refrigerator.  I really hate to wait for things to come to room temperature, and I’m usually the one who gets impatient and just uses the butter cold, but unfortunately with this recipe it actually has to be room temp.  Unfortunate.   Cut the cream cheese into cubes, and it will defrost faster.

Heat water to boiling and measure out 1 cup of boiling water and put in all six tea bags.  Cover the 1 cup of water with a plate or anything else non-paper that will completely cover the container’s mouth in order to steep the tea.  I actually used the pie crust tin.

Image

Preheat oven to 350OF.

After the cream cheese has come to room temperature, about 20 minutes when it’s cut up, add the sugar and blend well.   If you’re using a hand mixer this will only take a few seconds.

Image

Add the egg, the steeped tea, and the lime juice and blend well again.  This will be pretty messy as it makes a really liquidy mixture so make sure you’ve used a bowl with high sides.

Image

This should make a completely viscous mixture.  If your mixture looks like the above picture, skip the next paragraph.

If your mixture has lots of little white chunks in it, that’s the cream cheese, because it was not at room temperature yet when you started.  You can blend all you want, it won’t get well incorporated.  Don’t worry though, you can still bake it.  It will just not have as even a consistency, as those little chunks of cream cheese will bake differently than the rest of the mixture.

Image

Pour the mixture into the graham cracker pie crust; do not over fill the pie crust so you will probably have a little filling left over.  Very carefully place the pie crust in the oven; it will be very easy to spill so watch your step.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is starting to turn brown.

Image

Pie should still be a little jiggly, like jello, if touched, but should appear solid and a little puffed up.  Turn the oven off and leave the pie in for an additional 1-2 hours, until it is no longer jiggly.  Try to open the oven as little as possible, since this lets out your heat.

Image

When the pie is done, it will have deflated and will pull away from the tin slightly.  It will still be a little semi-solid if you serve it immediately, for it to properly set up it has to be refrigerated for 3-6 hours.

Sever warm, or refrigerate for 6 hours to cool completely.  Enjoy