Baker’s Delight: Banana Cheesecake

On Valentine’s Day Jeremy and I went to a favorite restaurant. For dessert I decided to try Fresh Banana Cheesecake (the favored choice of the restaurant owner). I like bananas, I like banana bread, I like banana muffins, but somehow anything else banana never really appeals to me. However, that first bite of banana cheesecake was unbelievably delicious. It tasted somewhat like banana cream pie (which I guess I also like), but even better.

Since then I’ve been dreaming about making it at home. Last week I decided to give it a try. I’d done recipe research and concocted my own. And to make it even more challenging, I decided to try baking it in my crockpot (why not try two variables in my first go at it?!). It turned out quite well (thought admittedly not quite as memorable as the piece I’d eaten). And until I try another piece someday, this is the best it will get.

The standard cheesecake crust is typically crushed cookies of some sort. Being gluten-free around here, I decided instead to try a shredded coconut crust. I mixed it with melted butter and cinnamon. However, feel free to use your crust of choice.

Also, I used a 1 1/2 quart corning ware dish to make my cheesecake, since I was using the crockpot. To bake in the oven in a springform pan, you will likely need to double the ingredients.

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1 1/2 c. shredded coconut
2-3 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 blocks of full-fat cream cheese (room temperature)
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1/2 c. plain yogurt
2 just ripe bananas, mashed

Press your desired crust onto the bottom and slightly up the sides of a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart pyrex or corning ware dish.

In a bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each. Stir in the plain yogurt and the mashed banana. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of your crockpot (I used 6 quart). Lower the dish inside. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. The cheesecake is done when the edges are no longer shiny and have set. (It took close to 3 hrs for mine.) Let the cheesecake sit in the cooling crockpot for about an hour. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Garnish with freshly whipped cream, chopped pecans, chocolate drizzle. Or just eat plain for breakfast. 🙂

Crock-pot Cooking: Baked Maple Apples

I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. To try and unstuck myself, I’ve been checking out cookbooks from the library, reading favorite cooking blogs, perusing cooking magazines. This weeks cooking inspiration attempt is my crock-pot, helped out by the newly released cookbook, More Make if Fast, Cook it Slow, written by the crock-pot queen herself, Stephanie O’Dea.

Monday nights I get home from yoga around 7 p.m. I need something easy for supper. This week I knew I was serving leftovers, but I wanted a little something extra. So, I quickly put together these baked apples. And in two hours we had a nice little treat. Super easy and perfect alongside a meal, or as a lightly sweetened dessert.

We love cinnamon in our house, so I sprinkled these with cinnamon before baking. The orange juice added a bit of a tangy quality to the sauce. If you don’t prefer that, you might try substituting apple juice.

(from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow)
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2 large apples, cored and cut in half
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c. orange juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Whipped cream, if desired

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Put the apple halves into the bottom of the slow cooker, flesh-side up. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the orange juice and maple syrup. Spoon the butter and syrup mixture evenly into the apple halves. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, or on high for 1 to 2 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Crock Pot Cooking: Dessert

I love my slow cookers (yes, I have two). One of my goals has been to make sure and put dinner in the crock pot at least once a week when I work. The wonderful food fills the house with delicious smells while slowly cooking to perfection. It takes little effort and generally yields great results. Planning ahead also means saving time in the evening and means less temptation to order out thus saving money. We’ve enjoyed various soups, chicken, and roasts.

Yesterday, I used my crock pots for Sunday dinner. It made for a very nice but easy dinner. I decided on a Chicken Rice Soup for the main dish since I had left over chicken already on hand. It was quite good with a basmati/wild rice mix in it. 

When we got home from church, I quickly made pretzel shaped rolls (from my pizza dough recipe) and a salad to accompany it. 

But I also decided to try making a dessert…Hot Fudge Cake to be exact. I saw the recipe in Fix It & Forget It Lightly and was intrigued. This deliciously moist pudding cake creastes it’s own hot fudge sauce underneath. I served it warm with fresh whipped cream but vanilla ice cream would also be good. I decided that some fresh raspberries or a raspberry puree would have made it just about perfect. It was very easy and took a little under two hours on high until it was done. So, it you want a yummy, fudgey, easy dessert, you should definitely give this rich cake a try. If I were to make it again, I would reduce the amount of sugar – it’s quite a lot. But for an occasional dessert treat, I was willing to overlook that. 🙂

Fix It & Forget It Lightly
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1 ¾ c. brown sugar, divided
1 c. flour
3 Tb. plus ¼ c. cocoa powder, divided
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. milk
2 Tb. butter, melted
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ c. boiling water

In a mixing bowl, mix together 1 c. brown sugar, flour, 3 Tb. cocoa powder, baking powder, & salt

Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla.

Pour into slow cooker sprayed with non-stick spray.

In a separate bowl, combine ¾ c. brown sugar and ¼ c. cocoa powder. Sprinkle over batter in the slow cooker. Do not stir.

Pour boiling water over mixture. Do not stir.

Cover. Cook on high 1 ½ – 1 ¾ hours, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

Slow Cooker: Appetizers

What do you have planned for the weekend? Company? Olympics? I think these two cheesy appetizers will be perfect for your weekend plans.

We loved this orange cranberry dip. It was delicious! I used the zest and juice of one fresh orange – yum!

(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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8 oz. cream cheese
2/3 c. shredded swiss cheese
2 Tb. orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c.  dried cranberries

Plug in your Little Dipper to get it started warming up. Shove the block of cream cheese down into it. You may need to squish it in with a spoon. Shred the swiss, and add it. Grate the orange and add the zest. Add the orange juice and pecans. Cover and let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour. When the cream and swiss cheese have fully melted, stir in the dried cranberries.

Serve with your favorite crackers or fruit slices.

We’ve established how much I LOVE brie. And so when I saw that the crockpot lady had a slow cooker brie recipe, I really, really wanted to try it! However, I haven’t tried it yet. I have all the ingredients and I plan to but instead we’ve had strep and haven’t felt like eating a whole lot. But I decided that I should still share it so you can try it. And I will try it when we are feeling better. 🙂 It looks amazing!

(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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1 large round or wedge of brie (the round I used was 13.2 oz)
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
2 Tb. brown sugar
2 Tb. water
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Use a 1.5 mini round crockpot. If you are going to use a big one, put the brie in an oven-safe dish. As long as the dish and the crockpot heat together, you’re all good.

Cut the top rind off. Put the brie into the crockpot. In a bowl, mix the chopped apricots, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, water and rosemary together. Spoon on top of the brie. Sprinkle on the chopped walnuts.

Cover and cook on high for 1-2 hours, or on low for about 3. Check after an hour in both cases just in case. Serve with your favorite crackers or fruit slices.

Slow Cooker: Alaina’s Favorite Pot Roast

This pot roast became a favorite a few years ago – I think it maybe originated from Taste of Home. I never buy packets except for this recipe – it calls for a packet of au jous. It’s worth it. We love this roast!

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1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 lbs. or so)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 c. water
1 c. ketchup
¼ c . red wine or beef broth
1 envelope au jous
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tb. cornstarch
¼ c. cold water

Place meat in crockpot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the water, ketchup, wine or broth, gravy mix, mustard, worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder; pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or until meat is tender.

Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth (I don’t always do this). Stir into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until gravy is thickened. Remove meat from slow cooker. Slice and serve with gravy.

Makes about 8 servings.

Slow Cooker: Heather’s Favorite Pot Roast

This week Alaina and I will both be sharing our favorite slow cooker pot roast recipe. A good pot roast is one of the most delicious comfort foods there is and can be very simple to make. Pair it with mashed potatoes, a steamed green veg or salad, and you have a hard-to-beat meal. This recipe is one that I found soon after I was married and have used without fail ever since.

(Rival Crockpot Cookbook) 
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3 lb. roast
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard

Rub pepper and garlic into roast. Place roast into crockpot. Make several shallow slits in top of roast. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over meat. Cover; cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours.

NOTE: Sometimes I add a few peeled carrots in with the roast.