Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake & Strawberry Sauce

So I combined two cheesecake recipes in order to use the ingredients I had on hand. Every other recipe I found required something I didn't have, and as this baking adventure began after 10 p.m., I needed to get creative. It worked. Here are the tasty results below.

2.25 c. Oreo crumbs
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 pkgs. (8oz/250g each) Light Cream Cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk (light if they have it)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 pkg. (8 squares) 70% Baker's Chocolate
2 c. Strawberries (frozen works great)
scant 1/3 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

DIRECTIONS for Crust and Filling:
1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 10" springform pan. (I press the crust about 1 inch up the sides as well, but that is a matter of personal preference, if you like crust on the side or not)

2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth. Be very careful not to scorch, and remove from bottom of boiler when the chocolate is melted. Set aside. (I don't have a double boiler, but use a small metal bowl over a small sauce pan of hot water on the stove.)

3. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, and vanilla until really smooth.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating on low just until each is combined. (If you beat too hard, your cheesecake will crack because the eggs hold air that collects during the beating process.)

5. Pour over crust. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Then turn off oven, crack door open and bake another 10 minutes. This will help set the cheesecake and help prevent cracks in the top of your cheesecake. (You'll still have one or two, but they shouldn't be major. I actually had a few that corrected themselves during the 10 minutes that the door was open.)

6. Remove and cool on wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour. Gently run a knife along the edge of the pan, and then place in refrigerator. Do not disassemble the pan yet! Cool overnight.

7. Carefully disassemble the edge of the springform pan. Cut into 12 pieces. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. (I set aside a few pieces, and then individually wrap and freeze the rest for other occasions. It freezes well for a few months in a deep freeze.)

1. Cut strawberries in pieces and place in small sauce pan. (If frozen, thaw a bit first.) Add sugar and vanilla.

2. Heat on medium low heat and stir until bubbly and thickened, about five minutes. Remove from heat and mash with a potato ricer. Cool in refrigerator.

3. Pour a few tablespoonfuls over individual pieces of cake and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Asian Veggie Wraps & Artichokes

We had some serious leftovers to deal with in the veggie department, so I got creative. It was absolutely yummy and incredibly healthy. Because everything was naturally low in fat and high in fiber, the dip we made for the artichokes wasn't even a cause for guilt. I'll share it all below.

Asian Veggie Wraps for two or three...
Butter Lettuce Leaves, washed and crisped whole (I buy living lettuce, which actually comes with roots in a bit of soil enclosed in a plastic box that you just water and keep cool until ready to wash and use.)
2 c. Butternut Squash, cut in large chunks
1/2 c. Brown Rice
1.5 c. water
1/2 c. Eggplant, cut in small bites
1/2 Portobello Mushroom (or whole, whatever you have on hand), cut in small pieces
1/4 c. Red Onion, chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped fine
1 T. Fresh Rosemary
3 T. Asian Ginger & Sesame Sauce (I use Trader Joe's Goya Sauce, but anything Teryaki Flavored will work. The key is boldness.)
1 T. Olive Oil

1. Prepare the Lettuce leaves as above, and set aside in the frig for later. (Butter lettuce is sometimes called Boston lettuce or Bibb lettuce.)

2. Prepare Brown Rice and water. I put both in a pot with a glass lid, bring to a boil for a few minutes, and then turn down to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Then I turn off the heat and leave it covered for another 35 minutes to finish steaming. If you do it this way, you just have to make sure the water does not completely evaporate while the stove is still doing its thing. So if your brown rice comes with other instructions, do whatever it says to do for 1/2 c. of dry rice.

3. Steam the squash until tender enough to mash by hand. Mash with a fork or potato ricer and add to finished rice.

4. Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic, eggplant, and portobello in olive oil until tender. The onion will be nearly translucent. Add the rosemary and Asian sauce in the last couple minutes of cooking, stirring in well. When all is tender and combined, add to squash and rice mixture, stirring in well. (It will look weird, but it is totally delicious.)

5. Serve by spooning into the lettuce leaves and rolling up like a burrito, or you could serve it on/in pita bread. It's savory and deliciously healthy. We loved this experiment, and are so glad we tried it.

*This dish does NOT need any added salt since the Asian sauce has plenty of sodium.

Steamed Artichokes & Dip
1 Large Whole Raw Artichoke
Juice of one lemon
1/3 c. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. White Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Dash Black Pepper

1. Prepare artichoke by cutting fresh end off of stem, cutting tips off of leaves, and cutting whole artichoke in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the choke - that's the "hairy" part in the middle - and throw away. Brush lemon juice (or cut lemon half that is slightly squeezed to release some juice) all over the artichoke to prevent browning.

2. Place artichoke halves cut side down in steamer pot and steam on medium low heat for around 40 minutes, or until heart and leaves are tender.

3. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the lemon juice and all other ingredients in small bowl. Taste to see if you think it's to your liking, and stick in frig until ready to serve.

4. To eat the artichoke, remove leaves one at a time; dip into mayo mixture, and eat by scraping the fleshy inside part of leaf against your bottom teeth. Discard the tough part of leaf in bowl reserved for that use. Keep removing leaves until you get to the stem and heart. This can be eaten in its entirety.

5. You may have some dip left. It will keep a few days in the frig and is great to add to sandwiches, as a veggie dip, or to use with rice or potatoes to add zing.

*If your artichokes are on the small side, you could serve a whole one for each person. It's not too hard to gently open center of leaves to scoop out the choke without having to cut the whole thing in half. Then you would just steam upside down for same amount of time or a bit longer.

*These recently got press as being the top Super Veggie. (Don't know if they can fly though.) So it's worth trying. And the fiber from these yummy treats is a whole lot tastier than metamucil!