Baker’s Delight: Baked Breakfast Cheesecake

In about 30 minutes you can have a crust-less, breakfast cheesecake on the table. And while cheesecake definitely isn’t for every breakfast, this lightly-sweet version makes a simple, special breakfast treat. I served this topped with fresh strawberries and bananas, with a spinach frittata to round out the meal.

The recipe calls for using a springform pan. If you don’t have one, just butter a pie dish (this will be more difficult to serve, but won’t effect the flavor at all). I actually halved this recipe and used a 7-inch pie pan and it worked great.

BAKED BREAKFAST CHEESECAKE
(from River Cottage Every Day)
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21 ounces of cream cheese or ricotta cheese
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 Tablespoons quick oats or flour (I used gluten-free quick oats)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges, plus 1 Tablespoon juice (I used 1 Tblsp oj concentrate instead)
3 Tablespoons raisins (optional)

Serve with fresh fruit or fruit compote

Preheat the oven to 325¬įF. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Beat the cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the melted butter, oatmeal, salt, sugar, eggs, orange zest and juice, and mix well (you can mix all in a food processor if preferred or use a hand mixer). Fold in raisins, if using.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, until just set, with a slight wobble in the center.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with fruit. Serves 10

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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.

BANANA CHEESECAKE
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Crust:
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut
2-3 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Filling:
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. ūüôā

Weekend Fare & Winners!

First, we are so pleased to announce that the winner (by popular vote!) of the Friday Feature naming contest is Amy E. with her suggestion of Foodie Fridays! Congratulations, Amy! We will send you the Salad Cookbook. Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions! We look forward to beginning our new feature in September and we hope that many of you will join in with your recipes and photos and food stories!

And the random winner of the Deceptively Delicious Cookbook is Monica! Congratulations!

Today I wanted to share a couple of baked blueberry recipes. Blueberries are my husbands favorite fruit and I grew up picking and freezing blueberries every year – something I have continued to do! So, needless to say, we make lots of blueberry items. I tried a couple new recipes this week. The first is a crumb cake which I thought was good but a little dry – I should have baked it for a little less time. The second is cheesecake bars which were absolutely wonderful and the recipe would be quite adaptable for a variety of flavors – it will definitely be added to my regular dessert repertoire.


BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE – Ina Garten
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For the streusel:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:

Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high-speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low-speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. 

LEMON BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS
(Adapted from Tyler Florence)
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For the base:

Butter, for greasing
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Gently mix in the blueberries.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Garnish with fresh blueberries if desired.

Weekend Fare: Mini Cheesecakes

I’m digging through my archives today because the truth is,¬†we are¬†still living in a hotel. The only opportunities I’ve really had to cook are at my¬†parent’s house.¬†Hopefully we will be back home by the weekend. I’m anxious to begin cooking¬†again – I’ve missed it!

This recipe is so simple and so delicious! I love them for showers or holidays or pitch-ins. You can easily modify this recipe by omiting the lemon zest and adding mini chocolate chips or by using lime or orange zest, or whatever else sounds good! They are wonderful and quick for unexpected company or weekend treats.


MINI CHEESECAKES
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1 c. crushed vanilla wafers
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Fresh fruit Рstrawberries, kiwis, blueberries, whatever you like tossed with a bit of sugar and citrus juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line miniature muffin tins with miniature paper liners. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the crushed vanilla wafers into each paper cup.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fill each miniature muffin liner with this mixture, almost to the top.

Bake for 15 minutes. Cool. Top with fruit just before serving. Garnish with whip cream if desired. Makes about 48 miniature cheesecakes.

Dinner for Two

Note: My oven decided to not work (of course! :)). Therefore, your spinach will look much nicer than mine… My sincerest apologies. It’s been quite the week!

My favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to cook a nice dinner and enjoy it with my husband. It’s quiet and romantic. I choose a nicer menu and we enjoy it after our rowdy boys are in bed. These easy recipes are sure to¬†impress!

FILET MIGNON w/BALSAMIC REDUCTION
(Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis)
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1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 Tb. sugar 
1 Tb. butter
2 (5 to 6-oz.) filet mignon steaks (each about 1-inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 oz. goat cheese, gorgonzola, or bleu cheese

Boil the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Melt the butter in a heavy, oven-proof¬†skillet over medium-high heat. Pat filet dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks to desired doneness, about¬†4¬†–¬†4 1/2¬†minutes per side for medium.¬† Crumble the cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates. Drizzle the balsamic sauce and serve.

GARLIC ROASTED POTATOES
(adapted from Ina Garten)
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1 pound small fingerling or red potatoes 
 2 Tb. good olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh parsley (opt.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes in quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan and spread out into 1 layer. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking in order to ensure even browning.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, toss with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

CREAMY SPINACH
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1 Tb. butter
1 sm. onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (16 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 c. heavy cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
3 Tb. fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 c. shredded swiss cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add the spinach and cook until warm. Stir in cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook for 2-3 more minutes or until slightly reduced and creamy. Remove from heat and  stir in swiss cheese and 2 Tb. parmesan. Divide between 3-4 ramekins. Top with remaining parmesan and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.   

CARAMEL MACCHIATO CHEESECAKE
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
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2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 Tb. white sugar

FILLING:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 c. white sugar
3 eggs
1 (8 oz,) container sour cream
1/4 c. brewed espresso or strong coffee
2 tsp. vanilla extract

GARNISH:
Caramel ice cream topping
Fresh whipped cream
Grated Chocolate or Hard shell Chocolate Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons of sugar until well combined. Press into the bottom of the prepared springform pan, and 1 inch up the sides. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Beat the softened cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup of sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, espresso and vanilla. Pour batter into the baked and cooled crust.

Bake cheesecake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes; then turn the oven off, partially open the door and allow the cheesecake to rest for 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven, and run a knife around the edges. Cool cheesecake on a wire rack to room temperature, then cover the springform pan with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

To serve, cut the cheesecake into wedges and garnish each slice with whipped cream, caramel sauce drizzle, and chocolate curls OR spread caramel sauce on top of cheesecake and drizzle with hard shell chocolate.

Or if you prefer a simpler dessert, I recommend one of these desserts or perhaps a cappucino and cookie. Enjoy!

Baker’s Delight: Citrus Desserts

I LOVE citrus desserts. I grew up enjoying lemon glaze cake, lemon meringue pie and more. The combination of sweet and tart is delightful.

These orange brownies were unbelievable!There is no chocolate in them Рthey are simply a dessert bar. We will definitely make them again for a wonderful treat!

ORANGE BROWNIES
(slighly adapted from Paula Deen)

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tsp. pure orange extract (I didn’t have this so I used 2 tsp. orange juice and 1 tsp. of a citrus extract)
Zest of one orange
1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a¬†9×13 pan.

Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator.

ORANGE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4 Tb. butter, softened 
1 (1-lb.) box confectioners’ sugar (3-4 c.)¬†
 zest of one orange 
2 Tb. fresh squeezed orange juice

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over brownies.

I’ve not been a huge fan of key lime desserts until the last few years. This key lime cheesecake is delicious. It’s light and creamy and the fresh squeezed limes make it so fresh. I like to garnish this with fresh whipped cream, fresh lime¬†slices,¬†and white chocolate curls.


KEY LIME CHEESECAKE

CRUST:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
6 Tb. butter, melted

FILLING:
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 Tb. cornstarch
3 eggs
1 Tb. grated lime zest
2/3 c. key lime juice

Combine cookie or graham cracker crumbs with butter or margarine. Press into bottom and partially up sides of 9 inch springform pan. Refrigerate.

In a large bowl, beat with an electric mixer the cream cheese, sugar, lime peel, and cornstarch until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, blending just until smooth. Add key lime juice with mixer on low. Finish mixing by hand. Do not overbeat, or cake will crack during baking. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 300 degrees for 55 to 65 min., or until set. To minimize cracking, place a shallow pan half full of hot water on lower rack during baking.

Turn oven off, and let cheesecake stand in oven 30 min. with the door open at least 4 in. Remove from oven. Refrigerate cake overnight, and up to three days.

This cake is so lemon-y! We all loved it! I served it topped with blueberry sauce but it’s great by itself, too. It’s like a pound cake.

LEMON CAKE
(Ina Garten)

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 c. granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c. grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

GLAZE:
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3 1/2 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2-in.) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 min. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 c. lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 min. to 1 hr., until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 c. granulated sugar with 1/2 c. lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

BLUEBERRY SAUCE
3 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 c. sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tsp. cornstarch

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened.

Gluten-free Goodness: Holiday Treats

There are some really great options for gluten-free desserts that don’t compromise flavor at all! I made this macaroon¬†cheesecake and it got rave reviews from everyone. It’s creamy and¬†delicious – the flavor profile is¬†wonderful!

COCONUT MACAROON CHEESECAKE
(Taste of Home)

CRUST:
1 c. flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 c. ground pecans
2 Tb. butter, melted

FILLING:
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract

TOPPING:
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. flaked coconut, toasted

In a small bowl, combine the coconut and pecans; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Beat in extracts just until blended. Pour over crust. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350¬į for 35 minutes. In a small bowl, beat egg white and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. Fold in coconut. Carefully spread over top of cheesecake.

Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 12 servings.

We called theses peppermint chocolate meringues “Martian Eggs” when we were kids and they were an annual tradition – especially at our family gathering. The green-tinted egg like cookies are crispy on the outside and¬†a little softer on the inside with delicious chocolate chips.

PEPPERMINT CHOCOLATE MERINGUES

2 egg whites
dash salt
2/3 c. sugar
green or red food coloring (opt.)
6 oz. mint chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat egg whites and salt until frothy. Slowly add sugar and beat until stiff. Add food coloring if desired. Fold in mint chocolate chips.

Drop on ungreased cookie sheet. Turn off oven and put cookie sheet in oven and leave in oven for 2-6 hours or until crisp on outside and chewy on inside. (Mine took 2 hours 15 minutes but it depends on the humidity.) Makes about 3 dozen.


ALMOND MACAROONS
(adapted from Christmas Cookies, by: Lisa Zwirn)

2 c. almond meal
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 lg. egg whites
1/2 tsp. almond extract
6 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (opt. – but you really should…)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine almond meal, sugar, egg white, and extract in lg. bowl. Beat with mixer until thoroughly combined and dough is a thick, sticky paste.

Drop the dough by level tablespoonfuls, arranging about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Using a pastry brush lightly moistened with water, brush the tops and sides of the macaroons, gently pressing down on them to form smooth rounds about 1/2 in. thick and 1 3/4 in. in diameter.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until the macaroons are lightly golden. They should feel crisp on the outside but soft inside.  (Rotate cookie sheets halfway through if using two).  Cool for 5 minute, then use a thin metal spatula to remove the macaroons from the paper. Place on rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE: Melt chocolate and dip, drizzle or ice the cooled macaroons.

Store layered between wax paper for up to 5 days. Without chocolate, the macaroons can be frozen up to two months.  Makes about 32 cookies.