Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dumpling Perfection

Since I started making Chicken and Dumplings gluten free something has always seemed a little "off". The dumplings created with gluten free Bisquick are a little more grainy and dense. They also have a corn undertone that can't be ignored. If you want to make a quick meal with chicken and dumplings than Bisquick is probably your ticket. If not then here is your new recipe for fluffy dumplings.

(Original Chicken & Dumplins)

You'll need:
4 oz Millet Flour
4 oz Brown Rice Flour
4 oz Potato Starch
2 oz Sweet Rice Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Guar Gum
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 stick Very Cold Unsalted Butter
3/4 c (give or take) Milk

Combine all your dry ingredients and stir until they become one. If you are feeling supremely adventurous you should really sift all of this. But that is time consuming and I am lazy.

Cut in your butter until your mix is the consistency of beach sand. I like to do this with my hands, it's easier to feel when everything is mixed.

Add in your milk and mix thoroughly. Your dough should be sticky, just a little past biscuit dough. If you need more milk, add more.

Drop heaping spoon fulls into a pot of boiling chicken soup and cook for 10 minutes uncovered followed by 10 minutes covered.

Enjoy completely, trying not to burn your tongue because you are impatient like me.

Happy eating!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

What is December without a little gingerbread and eggnog? Before I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance my mom and I would make the 40 minute drive to Whole Foods, get some of their killer ginger snaps (with candied ginger chunks, so good!) and be content. This year if I wanted ginger I knew I would need to get creative.

I am pretty happy with how this batch of cookies turned out. I would have liked some more spice. I like to get the "you have just been punched in the face with a whole ginger root" feeling. Unfortunately someone (the Nerd) can't handle the spicy, but it's okay. I love him anyway :).

You'll need:
1c Butter
1c Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1c Molasses
1tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Clove
1tsp Nutmeg
1tsp Ginger
1tsp Black Pepper
1tsp Salt
1 1/4c Sorghum Flour
1/2c Tapioca Flour
1/2c Almond Meal
1c Sweet Rice Flour
1c Corn Flour
1c Potato Starch
3tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2tsp Xanthan Gum

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream together butter and sugar on medium speed. Then add eggs one at a time until they are fully incorporated. Add molasses and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Combine all your dry ingredients and spices. Mix, and mix, and mix, until everything becomes one.

Turn your mixer back on at medium speed and add in your "flour" 1/4 cup at a time. Cover the dough and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (The longer you chill this dough the more infused the spice flavor becomes. I like the cookies I made 2 days later better than the cookies I made after 2 hours.)

Once your dough is sufficiently chilled roll it out, using powdered sugar to keep the dough from sticking, to 1/8in thick. Cut it out in your favorite crazy shapes, or as traditional gingerbread people.

Bake for 13-18 minutes at 350° then set out on a rack to cool. Top with Royal Icing and enjoy!

Royal Icing:
1lb Powdered Sugar
3Tbsp Meringue Powder
6Tbsp (give or take) Water

Sift your powdered sugar into your mixer bowl (this is one of those times that it is so much better to have a stand mixer) and then turn on low speed using a whisk attachment. Add your meringue powder and let mix for about a minute. Make sure you have your splatter shield on and turn the speed ALL THE WAY up.

Slowly add you water 1 Tablespoon at a time. Watch the consistency as you go. If your icing is still too think after 6 Tbsp or is still making funny little goop balls add one SMIDGE of water at a time until it looks better. If the consistency looks perfect before you hit 6 Tbsp, stop adding water. You want your mixer to be able to beat the icing without fighting it too much but it should not be overly shiny and liquid either. You should have a fluffy mix that has a bit of stiffness to it.

Once you have the right amount of water walk away and let it whisk for 10 min.

Store in an airtight container until the end of the world or pipe onto cookies. Do not refrigerate.

Happy eating!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

They were supposed to be crescent rolls....

If you've done any amount of cooking from scratch, (truly from scratch, no book or recipe to guide you) you know there are flops. There are those recipes that are so awful you wouldn't serve them to your mother in law (of course I have a great relationship with my mother in law so my bar is a little higher than most). They come out of the oven and you lovingly give these "creations" to your children or the neighbor kids and tell them to go build a fort. Here's a brick to get you started. It happens to all of us.

Then there's the miraculous "oops" recipes that turn into something delicious. Like my not so crescent dinner rolls here. These were a complete and total accident. I was trying to make crescent rolls and the dough was gooey not quite biscuit not quite bread consistency. Not roll out and cut crescent dough. It smelled so good though. I had that funky yeasty bread smell wafting through my kitchen. Not to mention gluten free baking supplies are expensive. I did not want to waste my precious flours! So I plopped dollops into a muffin tin. Yes, really. And put my creation into the oven that was preheated to 375º and cooked them for about 20 minutes. I should have timed it. I just watched. I'm sorry.

These. Dinner. Rolls. Are. Delicious.

What a stinkin happy accident. I would horde these if my husband wasn't so hungry and craving bread. They have the crispy outside like a good dinner roll, with the yeasty fluffy innards. Gosh I wish I had some home made preserves! It's amazing what can happen when you mess up.

What you'll need:
1/2 c Tapioca Starch
1/2 c Potato Starch
1/2 c Sweet Rice Flour
1 c Sorghum Flour
1 c Millet Flour
1 Tbsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
2 c Milk
2 Tbsp Sugar
1Tbsp Yeast
1/2 c (1 stick) Frozen Butter
1/2 c Vegetable Oil

Preheat your oven to 375º.

Put your milk in a sauce pan over low heat and bring to 110º F. Remove from the heat and add your sugar and yeast. Let that sit there while you prep the rest.

Mix all your dry ingredients (Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Sweet Rice Flour, Sorghum Flour, Millet Flour, Xanthan Gum, Baking Powder, and Salt) thoroughly until they become one.

Then finely grate your frozen butter in and cut in with a pastry cutter, or two forks, or work in with your hands. It should be the consistency of beach sand. This is where the magic happens. If you like to bake you are familiar with adding little cubes of butter and cutting them into the dough. Trust me, grate frozen butter in. This trick changed my life!

Then make a well in the middle, pour in your oil, and fold it into the dough. Once that is fully incorporated do the same with your milk mixture.

Lay a damp kitchen towel over the bowl and let the yeast do it's thing for 20 minutes or so.

Spoon good size dollops into a muffin tin. My dollops were slightly over the top of each mold.

Then put your rolls in for 20-25 minutes (This is a complete guesstimate. I did not look at the time. I'll pay attention next time and let you know for real. For now watch until they are golden brown and when you can flick the outside and it gives a nice "crack" sound.)

Top with your favorite things and enjoy thoroughly!

Happy eating!

Baby Bites - Why the Freezer Aisle is Your Friend

Here we are. Not only is it the end of fall, in central TX we are in the midst of a pretty major drought (Although we have rain today!!!!!). This means that fresh kid friendly veggies are getting harder to come by at the farmer's market. Now my little one loves winter squash, and sweet potatoes are always a hit. I know that brussels sprouts are in season, but who really has a kid that loves those? My kid likes peas. They are round, she can pinch them, and they have fun insides that pop out. Not to mention her Moo-moo taught her how to zerbert them across the kitchen.

Unfortunately it is not spring. Meaning I won't be picking up some fresh organic peas grown by a local farmer. I'll have to get something else. Don't worry! It's okay! There is a solution!

Head to your local grocery store and head straight to the freezer aisle. Trust me, there are organic frozen veggies. Frozen veggies are easy to keep (duh freezer), and they don't have that scary aluminum taste like canned veggies. (I really haven't done that much research into canned veggies, but I don't like the taste or texture so I never ever buy them. Aside from Ro-Tel..)

I love frozen veggies because you can get them out of season. Now I can't stress enough how much I love fresh organic produce. It tastes better. You can get it before it's been blanched. While blanching and flash freezing is amazing in it's own right, there are a few vitamins that are water soluble like vitamin C and vitamin B that loose some of their punch in frozen packages. That being said, frozen veggies are often picked when things are their ripest and the flash freeze process preserves MOST nutrients. Not to mention frozen veggies are often cheaper during the winter and easier on the wallet.

There are a couple things to be careful of when buying frozen. Make sure to read the allergy alerts. Sometimes, but not often, you will run into an issue with veggies being run on equipment that also processes wheat. This has only happened to me once with chopped spinach. Also know the dirty dozen rules still apply. There are things that you absolutely should not compromise organic on.

So like all things be informed before you buy. Look for organic, even in the freezer aisle. Read your labels, and buy fresh when you can.

Happy eating! (or throwing, mashing, and giggling)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mini Meatloaf

I love meatloaf. I know it's the meal in every family movie that people love to hate. But I really like it. It's easy to make, it tastes good, and you get mashed potatoes with it. There's really nothing to hate in my book.

My mom used to make us meatloaf (I'm sure you recognize this) with an egg, some Lipton onion soup mix, and breadcrumbs. This was good meatloaf. Now I'm a little older, and just a hair wiser. This does not make great meatloaf. Don't get me wrong, it tasted fine. I ate it. I enjoyed it. But it wasn't great.

I was devastated when I found out onion soup mix had gluten in it. There are so many recipes in my box that called for this cheap and easy ingredient. Now I'm glad that I got to stretch my culinary muscles a little bit. I don't need onion soup mix! I have a pantry full of organic spices and REAL onions! Seriously! What was I thinking! Down home comfort food, that's what I was thinking. I'm here to tell you it can be done, and it can be done right.

You'll need:
1lb ground beef
1 egg
1 small onion, minced
1/4 c milk (we used unsweetened soy milk and it tasted just fine)
1 c crushed gluten free cereal or gluten free bread
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (We use Lea & Perrins)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400º

Take everything and put it in a bowl. No particular order. Truly. You also don't need real measuring spoons if you're like me. Every measurement here is an approximation. It should actually say something like "Some milk" and "enough gluten free cereal to hold it together" or "this much kosher salt [insert funny graphic here]".

Now comes the fun part, the part you should let the kids help with. Or the hubby. Since we kick him out of the kitchen for every other frightening gluten free endeavor. Or let him whisk all the flours together so he'll stop asking if he can help and he won't feel useless. This is something he can truly help with. It's hard to mess up meatloaf. Dig your hands into the bowl and mix. Squish the meat between your fingers. Get slimy. Make sure everything gets mixed in completely.

Now make your loaf. Or your mini loaves. Or your giant meat balls. Or your meat bundt. There are so many ways to shape this, it would take forever to list them all. Then top your meat shape with ketchup, or BBQ sauce, or chili sauce. Whatever. Now pop it in the oven.

Your cooking time is going to vary GREATLY depending on what shape your meat is. The important thing is that the internal temperature at the thickest part of your loaf reaches 160º F. I have a fancy probe thermometer that will beep at me when the mini loaves are done. It takes about 30min when you are working with small meatloaves. (I would highly highly recommend getting a probe thermometer like this one. I use mine all the time.)

After it is done cooking serve up with some mashed potatoes and corn, then enjoy! This meal also makes great leftovers.

Happy eating!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sugar Cookies

There is nothing more special than participating in holiday traditions year after year. That being said my husband and I never bake cookies, until now! After the ease of this year we may just do it more often though. Not to mention it will be fun with the little one once she is a little bigger. These sugar cookies have just a hint of sweetness so that you don't end up with a sugar high after icing them. I'm sure they will be a hit at any Christmas party.

1/2 c (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
1/2 c Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 c Sorghum Flour
1/2 c Tapioca Flour
1/2 c Sweet Rice Flour
1/2 c Millet Flour
1/2 c Corn Starch
1 tsp Xanthan Gum

Cream together butter and sugar until you get a fluffy paste. Then add in eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed until well blended.

Take salt, baking powder, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, millet flour, corn starch, and xanthan gum and mix them all together. Then mix some more, Then mix some more. Once it looks like one flour add your dry to your wet 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well as you go. You should end up with a slightly crumbly but rollable dough.

Take your dough and pour it out on some parchment for rolling. I didn't need any flour to keep my dough from sticking. Roll out your dough to about 1/8 in thick and cut out your favorite shapes.

I haven't tried refrigerating this dough yet. I wanted cookies, and I wanted them now!

Bake at 350º for 10-15 minutes. Then set out to cool.

2 lb Bag Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Salt
4 tsp Vanilla (Colorless)
2 Tbsp Milk
6-10 Tbsp Water
2 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup

Mix everything together until it is a paintable consistency. Then add food colorings and use brushes to "paint" your cookies.

Our 10 month old picked the cookie cutters so we have Santa, a pumpkin, a giraffe, a bell, and her daddy's ninjas.

We enjoyed these cookies quite a bit, my husband even says they taste like "real" cookies. That is high praise! If you don't plan on icing your cookie I would add a tad more sugar. Play around with it and figure out what is best for you and yours!

Happy eating!
Tori Kieschnick

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Budget Shopping

One of the most frustrating things about going gluten free is it's affect on your wallet. Not only does your diet NEED to fundamentally change, all the sudden you have to dish out 3 or 4 times as much cash for your groceries. Not to mention you still seem to be getting less food. It's enough to make a person lie face down on the computer and wish their budget software would just die. Take this crummy grocery budget and die. I have been there. Recently.

Here's a few fundamental tips for easing the grocery crunch:

Shop store brand whenever possible: Here in central TX that means HEB. I've heard that Trader Joes and Kroger also have their own lines of gluten free product. If your local grocer is anything like mine they may have started labeling EVERYTHING. at HEB if it is gluten free it has a brown "GLUTEN FREE" label next to the price. Many of the store brand items such as spaghetti sauce, cornstarch, and sugar are made on dedicated gluten free equipment. The price of these items is substantially cheaper and you can often get in store coupons or deals.

Find coupons: Visit the websites of your favorite GF products (Bob's Red Mill, Schar, Udi's...) and check for deals. If you had a bad experience with a product, let the company know. They may just send you coupons you can use on something else. Check your newspaper. Sometimes you can find coupons for fresh fruit and produce, or dairy products. Don't clip coupons for things that you don't normally buy. Couponing is only effective if it helps you save money on products you need. (Sorry friends, not an extreme couponing stockpiler here...)

Find your local farmer's market: Although it is still cheaper to buy meat at your local grocer often times you can get fresh produce for cheap at farmer's markets. It is also easier to find organic growers and get produce that is in season. If you are lucky there may be some bakers there who are gluten free.

Most importantly MAKE A LIST: If you have a game plan going into the store you are less likely to buy things that will go to waste. (This is an area where meal plans are great) There are great apps for smart phones where you can record the price of an item and save the information for later. That means that you can plan ahead and know how much you will spend before you ever set foot in the store. (see If you don't want to use an app, keep a price book.  I've tried both and I find the app much more efficient but either way you have a detailed plan in hand.

Now tackle your grocery store with a list in hand and conquer the crazy!

Happy eating!
Tori Kieschnick

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fried Rice

This is a great easy and quick meal. The thing that takes the longest to cook is the rice. My husband doesn't like any food that is remotely Asian so thanks for reading and giving me an excuse to make this :). This is also a great meal to make a copy cat of for little ones.

1c brown rice
2c water
1-3 lbs your favorite meat (we used thin sliced chuck roast cut into strips)
1 carrot julianned
1/2 c edamame
1 bunch green onions chopped
3 eggs

1/3 c Rice Vinegar
4-5 Drops Sesame Oil
1/2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce (I use Kikkoman Gluten Free)
1 tsp Sugar
Dash of Wasabi

Bring your 2c of water to a boil then add the rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

Combine Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Garlic, Soy Sauce, Sugar, and Wasabi. (If you are using closer to 3lbs of meat double the recipe.) Cut your meat into bite size pieces and place in the marinade. Let sit for 20min to 4 hours. If marinating more than 20 minutes cover and refrigerate.

Scramble your eggs then grease a skillet and cook them into an omelette like disk. If you can't flip it don't worry. Let the egg cook through and pull raw egg to the sides to cook. It'll go back in the pan later. Pour out the egg onto a plate and cut into strips.

Put your veggies in the skillet and stir fry, then add your meat and sauce and cook until meat is done. Add your rice and egg strips.

Top with soy sauce and peanuts if you want, or anything else you desire!

If you want to make a copycat meal for your little one take out 3 Tbsp of steamed rice, add in a few strips of egg, and some steamed peas.

This is one of those versatile meals that will go well with about any veggie combination. Add in some bell peppers, a regular onion, snap peas, go crazy!

Happy eating!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chicken Nuggets

One of the things I missed most after going gluten free was nugget night. I know that chicken nuggets aren't that healthy. I know that the commercial ones that we used to buy are full of crazy scary stuff. What can I say, I love chicken nuggets.

That was why my first gluten free cooking experiment was the chicken nugget. The first time I made these they were not good.. I only had salt and pepper in my breading, I smashed my Chex in a Ziploc bag instead of food processing it, and I fried the heck out of them. Now they are nuggets to rival Tyson.

2 Chicken Breasts
2 eggs
1 1/2  c Cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tbsp Paprika
1/2 Tbsp Black Pepper
A dash or two of dried mustard
3 cups Chex (or other gluten free cereal, my mom used to use corn flakes)

Start off by heating some cooking oil to at least 360º, I prefer 370º. You can use a pot on the stove and a thermometer, we have used the electric skillet, or a deep fryer. If you are using a deep fryer make sure that you are using one that has never ever, ever even once had gluten in it. Gluten gets trapped between the heating elements and in all the joints. It's near impossible to get off.

Place your cornstarch in a large flat dish, put your eggs in a separate dish and scramble, then crush or food process your cereal and spices and put in a 3rd flat dish. If you crush your cereal you will have very crunchy almost sharp nuggets, if you pulse the mix in a food processor it will be more akin to fast food.

Cut your chicken into 1 inch cubes then dip in your egg wash. After the egg dip it in the cornstarch and coat completely, then back in the egg (coat completely), then into the breading (coat completely).

At this point get as many nuggets together as will fit into your cooker of choice. I usually let my nuggets hang out in the breading bowl until I have several ready. Then check to make sure your oil is at temperature.

Put your nuggets into the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes. Remove the nuggets from the oil, place on a paper towel, then allow them to cool for 1 minute. Now enjoy!

You can also fry these for 2 minutes then freeze them and fry again for 5 minutes taken directly from the freezer. They are a great kid friendly meal for those days you have a sleepover with a picky glutenated kiddo. If you don't say anything the other kids will never know. (Serve up with so Annie's gluten free mac and cheese and you are golden!)

Happy eating!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Perfect Baked Potato

Baked potatoes are the go to easy meal in our house. They are naturally gluten free and you can put whatever you want on them. If you put two together you have a giant deli sized potato that is definitely enough for a full dinner.

Now everyone cooks baked potatoes their own way. You have the nuclear style microwavers. The extreme steam mondo foil wrappers. The one layer of foil and some season salters. I don't even know how many more.

Here's my version of my perfect baked potato. I like the inside to be soft and steamy, and the skin to be crisp so I can make potato skins later if I am feeling particularly piggy.

Take your potatoes and wash them well then pat dry. Immediately coat those potatoes in vegetable oil. The oil keeps the skin from burning while creating a barrier to trap in moisture. Poke holes so the potato can breathe, coat lightly with kosher salt or your favorite steak seasoning, put the potatoes directly into a preheated 375º oven, and cook for at least an hour. 

We have taken to lining the bottom rack of the oven with foil so that we can catch the drippy bits. We also usually end up leaving the potatoes in for almost 2 hours.

Top with your favorite things and enjoy!

Happy eating!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Product Review

HappyBaby Organic Puffs - Sweet Potato

Living with an infant that cannot have gluten isn't always the easiest thing in the world. One of the major challenges I ran into was the ever elusive gluten free cereal puff. I searched in my local HEB and Sprouts for the fabled HappyBaby gluten free puffs I had found on the internet to no avail. Then on a chance visit to my local WholeFoods store I saw a container with a HappyBaby label proclaiming "Gluten free!" I was elated and immediately snatched up the one container they had in stock and guarded it jealously on my way to the check out line.

Immediately upon returning home I opened the (very cute) container and popped a puff in my mouth. After all, I want to know what I'm getting my kiddo into. These puffs are delicious! If my daughter didn't like them so much I would eat them like popcorn. They have the perfect balance between melt and crunch for little ones just learning how to chew or those who still simply suck on their foods.

I was not the only one who loved these. My daughter will eat these for hours. I give her about 15 as a snack and she likes to hide them under a panel on her play mat and savor them. I love that they are organic, she loves the sweet flavor. It is truly a win win situation. 

I would recommend HappyBaby puffs to any parent, gluten free or not. They also have Strawberry flavored gluten free puffs, but we have a family history of severe strawberry allergies. As strawberry is a high allergen food I was a bit surprised at this flavor choice. I was advised by my pediatrician, before revealing the family history, not to introduce strawberries until after 1 year of age.

I would rate the Sweet Potato flavor puffs a definite 5 out of 5. They are a great first finger food!

Because I was not able to purchase any other flavors I would rate the HappyBaby puffs line a 2.5 out of 5 overall. 

The true question is, will this gluten free HappyBaby trend expand?

Happy eating!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sinfully Sweet - Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Spiced Almond Crust

I wanted to make pumpkin cheesecake last year for the holidays but I was pregnant and on bed rest so other things took over. Not to mention my mom was trying to bleed to death from a tonsillectomy so I had to devise a cold liquid Thanksgiving meal from bed for her ha ha ha. So I decided this year I would take my cheesecake recipe and make pumpkin cheesecake out of it! I made a few tweaks, looked at some recipes for inspiration, tweaked some more and the result was AMAZING! I am a pumpkin pie lover but this may have turned me. I think this is going to become an annual dessert in my house. It is good enough to change the traditional menu.

Spiced Almonds
2 1/2 c raw almonds
1 egg white (Save the yolk for the cheesecake filling later!)
1 tsp COLD water
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat your oven to 250º. Then put parchment paper on a sheet pan large enough to lay the almonds in one layer. 

Whisk your egg white just a little bit then add your cold water until the egg wash is frothy not firm.

Toss your almonds in the egg whites until they are all evenly covered then pour them out evenly onto the pan.

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves until everything is nice and mixed. Then sprinkle mixture over the almonds.

Put everything in the oven for an hour stirring occasionally or you will end up like me. A girl with a block of sugary almond brittle. If you forget to stir it's okay, it's going in the food processor any way.

1 3/4 c ground spiced almonds (I obviously made mine at home but I suspect store bought ones will work fine)
1 stick melted salted butter

Put out your cream cheese and Greek yogurt for the filling so it can come to room temperature. (You'll thank me later!)

Mix the butter and the almonds well in a bowl. If you have made cheesecake before you will not end up with a crumbly crust you need to pack down. If you get goop, you have done it right. Pour your goop into a springform pan lined with parchment paper. (I suppose you could also grease your pan really well, I just love using parchment for cheesecakes. I think it makes the bottom and edges come out much cleaner.) Place this in the freezer to harden and start on your filling.

3 8oz pacakges cream cheese at room temperature (if they are cold they will be too hard to whip properly)
1 can of pureed pumpkin (or 2 cups if using stewed pumpkin from home, thanks mom!)
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 c Greek yogurt (you can also use sour cream, I personally like the taste with the yogurt for cheesecakes)
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 350º. Put a oven safe dish of water on the bottom rack of your oven. (This makes it so there is a better level of humidity in the oven to reduce your risk of cracked cheesecake. If you are impatient like me and don't let it cool in the oven it will crack anyway....)

Beat cream cheese until smooth. I use a stand mixer on medium for about 3 minutes, scraping when necessary.

Mix pumpkin, yogurt, and eggs in a bowl until incorporated then slowly while mixing add to your cream cheese. Make sure to scrape down the sides and incorporate all your cream cheese.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cornstarch until incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients while mixing. Scrap down sides and make sure everything is evenly incorporated. 

Pour filling over frozen crust and bake for 1 hour.

After 1 hour turn off heat and leave cheesecake to cool for 20 minutes in the oven.

Then take the cheesecake and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to cool (or realize that you won't have it cooled in time for a blog entry, slip it in the freezer, and widen your already lovely crack)

Slice and enjoy!

Cutting tip: Run a long thin knife under hot water for your cuts. Rinse and let the knife get warm between every cut and your cheesecake will look like it was cut by the pros!
I hope you enjoy this cheesecake as much as I do. Now excuse me while I go get seconds! Yummy!

Happy eating!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bacon Risotto

To some risotto may sound like a daunting task, others have no idea what I'm talking about. I will warn you this is a fairly time intensive dish. It's best to make it when you truly have 30min that you can spend exclusively at the stove because you will be stirring... and stirring... and stirring... and stirring... Personally I think it's well worth the work. I am a risotto fan! Today's recipe calls for bacon but you can really make it with almost anything. I know a lot of people use asparagus, or mushrooms. I don't like either of those so I improvised!

1/2 lb of Bacon
3/4 c Arborio Rice (an Italian short grain rice that is very starchy, you really can't use regular white rice)
2 1/2 c Chicken Broth - Heated
2 tbsp Cold Butter
1/4 c Grated Parmesean

First things first, cut your bacon into 1/2in strips. Then cook your bacon to your desired done-ness. I like crispy crunchy bacon, it also adds a nice counterpoint to the creamy risotto.

Set your cooked bacon aside to drain on a paper towel and drain your bacon grease into a container for later. At this point I clean the saute pan that I was using to get all the dregs off but if you want you could use a new pan. Pour about 2 tbsp of the bacon grease back into the pan and put it over medium heat.

(If you are a real Italian you will cook a diced onion in the grease right here. I've been too lazy to try it so far, but an aromatic would probably make this lots better. If you're REALLY Italian there is also garlic and wine involved..)

Once it is hot put the rice in the grease and stir for about 3 minutes. This part is important for taste and color, don't skip it! It comes out funny later. I rushed it once and I never ever will again.

Now add in 1/2c of the hot broth and stir continually until most of the liquid is absorbed. Lather, rinse and repeat until all the broth is absorbed.

After all the broth is soaked up turn off the heat and add your cold butter and Parmesan, stirring it in until it is fully incorporated. Then add the bacon, stir, and serve!

Don't be afraid to get creative and try your favorite meats and veggies in your risotto. Have fun!

Happy eating!